Voila!

It turns out that I’ve been doing life all wrong…and now I’ve got it all figured out (not really, and I would never tempt fate or the universe by saying something that outlandish.)

 

All this time I’ve been making a list of everything that needed to be done and then failing to complete the list.  Therefore, at the end of the day, I felt like a failure.

On Monday, I just put three things on the list that had to be done and completed all of them:  I took a shower, successfully taught my art class and washed my bedding and remade the bed.

Win!

I also accomplished some other stuff that was on the “would like to get done” portion of the list.  I don’t remember what those things were since it was days ago, but I know that I felt good about it nonetheless.

So, the choice is make a short list and get it done and be happy…

OR

Make a long list and don’t get it done and be unhappy.

I’m going to choose the short list and be happy.

Voila!

Lesson learned.

Who knew that I couldn’t do it all?

Well, I knew it of course, but I kept trying to do it anyway.

Maybe this time I’ll remember to be more realistic (and kinder to myself).

Or, more likely, I’ll be writing a post similar to this in a couple of months.

Still, I’m going to count it as a positive step forward on my journey and it’s even in the “right” direction!

P.S. Of course, I forgot to put “feed and water the baby chicks” on the list and that’s a pretty important thing to do.  BUT, I remembered to do it and they lived another day so we’re not going to let that detract from my success.

Taking a Deep Breath

Mondays.

I don’t know why we make such a big deal of them.  Especially in my case where the majority of my family works in retail so Mondays aren’t the first day after two days off.

Almost every day is a work day for someone in my family.  It is a rarity for us all to have the same day off.

Still, I wake up on Monday with a vague sense of anxiety about all that I need to accomplish, and that needs to be dealt with before it blows up into a disaster…mood wise.

I have a friend who is dealing with Stage 4 colon cancer and is participating in trial treatment at MD Anderson.  She writes every day on her Caring Bridge site.

I take great inspiration from it.  She regularly talks about managing time and energy and the challenges of that for her.  In her previous life she was a very active pastor, activist, writer and just general accomplisher of everything.  She had a journal calendar that was bursting with notes and memos and appointments.  She was a marvel.

She still is.  Just in a different way.

Her musings on making time for what’s important…including rest and walking have made a difference for me this Monday.

I am taking a deep breath to calm the anxiety.

I am making a list of the things that have to be done to stop the swirling thoughts in my head.

I am reminding myself that it doesn’t all have to happen today.

Tomorrow is a viable possibility for some of the to-do list.

Today I need to take a shower.

I need to make a doctor’s appointment for tomorrow or the next day before I run out of meds.

I need to gather all of my supplies and teach my art class this afternoon.

I would like to wash my sheets and bedding.  That has been pushed to tomorrow too many times.

Cooking dinner would be a plus, but realistically there is food and everyone is capable of fending for themselves.

They will probably still love me if I don’t get that done.

The house has moved past the lived-in stage and is teetering on the edge of possible crime scene.

I am reminding myself that the state of my house does not necessarily make me a bad person.

As I make my list, I am realizing that today is doable.

I’ve got this.

Anxiety, go somewhere else.

This Monday is not yours.

It is mine and I may not do it perfectly, but I will do it with a smile.

Peace.

 

 

I woke up this morning wishing, once again, that I could hit the pause button.  I started off the week with what I thought was a reasonable list of things to do.  I have been accused of being unrealistic in my expectations in the past…with good reason.  I’ll freely admit that I’m a perfectionist although I’ve been working on being a kinder and gentler me.

This was just one of those weeks where the interruptions became the real work to be done.

What I failed to do was realize the amount of unplanned stuff happening and adjusting my expectations.

This morning I was thinking about what I hadn’t gotten done and not what did get done.

Not helpful.

This intentional living stuff can be hard.  It requires diligence, optimism, and a lot of thought.

Mostly it requires a lot of change…a change in attitude, as well as behavior.

Perhaps it can be summed up as learning to be flexible as I change my expectations in alignment with what’s going on around me.

This week four people had to go to work at different places and different times.  We had one car since the truck was still in the shop.  I did quite a bit of driving to and fro.  We made it work, but it took a lot of time.  With patience and planning this is a workable situation.

On Wednesday, I was awakened early by my son with the news that he had “rolled” his ankle and it was very, very swollen.  I told him to prop it up for a bit and we’d see if the swelling would go down.  Then I fell back asleep and failed to wake up in time to go help my sister shop.  Next up, a doctor’s appointment and x-rays.  The ankle is not broken.  This is not actually good news.  Breaks heal more easily than whatever is wrong.  Monday is an orthopedic appointment and probably and MRI.    Not a good day.

On Thursday morning we were able to pick up our truck.  Yea!

On Thursday night the key to our other car broke.  Our only key.  Not good….at all.  One place wanted almost $200 to make a new key.  Another would make it cheaper but required a copy of the title (which I can’t find because the house is a bit untidy and disorganized).

On Friday, the truck would not go into gear properly. Now we have no transportation.And everybody needs to go to work…

Husband manages to get the truck to the repair shop.  It turns out that the cardboard seal on the bottle of transmission fluid ended up in “the thingie that holds the stuff that feeds the something that makes the transmission work”.  I am not mechanically inclined.  That’s the best I’ve got as far as what was wrong.  An easy fix.  Anyway, the truck is running beautifully.

Oldest daughter found a place to make a key for the other car for only $5.  Now both cars are running.  This is very helpful!

This was a challenging week.  The Christmas tree is still not up.  I’ve not shopped much for Christmas.  A LOT of things that I wanted to get done are undone.

There have been a lot of times when I’ve felt frustrated and angry…with myself.  How can a reasonably competent grown-up find it so difficult to keep up with a house and family? This thinking is not helpful.  It just piles on more stress and makes it even more difficult to cope.

I did accomplish a lot this week…just not the things I had planned on.  The emergencies got handled.  Three big bags of stuff left the house.  The studio is unpacked and organized(ish).  The hallway/classroom is set up and workable.  Progress has been made in laying the new floor in the apartment. (I didn’t actually do any of the work on the floor other than moving stuff out of the way.)  We did a lot of school work.  Everyone got fed and has some clean clothes.

I’m starting up the decluttering project in earnest again.  There is just too much stuff around here.

The laundry piles up at an alarming rate.  We have too many clothes.

I’ve once again slowly accumulated to many art project “possibilities”.  More material doesn’t translate into more art.

The same goes for school stuff.  It’s so easy to gather too many potential things to study and learn.

This is all part of my unrealistic expectations.  There are only so many hours in the day and they cannot all be spent in action.  I need to quit trying to “get it all done”.  This attitude is not helpful.

There will always be something that needs to be done.

I can’t do it all.

The important work to be done is to more intentionally seek out simplicity, peace and joy.

That must be number one on the list…

New Day

clutter-is-not-just-physical-stuff-717x1024….from the website becomingminimalist.com

Today is a new day.

-and this was the first email I chanced upon (out of the more than 900 that fill my inbox).  I’ll take that as a sign.  A positive sign.  A bit of encouragement and a thought to carry around in my brain for today.

…while I wash some laundry (including the “doggy” sofa cover), wash some dishes so that we have clean silverware, blow off the carefully planned menu of new recipes and just make some food that I know everyone will eat…

try to accomplish a bit of schooling, sort through the winter clothes and see what fits and doesn’t, fill a box (or two) with giveaway…

put my fitbit on and work towards 10,000 steps while avoiding the bag of candy corn that I bought to decorate cupcakes for my husband to share at work.    I probably should avoid the cupcakes and frosting also.  Crap!

…take a deep breath and balance the checkbook and update our online budget plan.  Remember that these are first world problems and that we are making progress…slowly…

hug and love my family (and myself)…

I’m NOT going to make a list of everything that needs to be done around here and “beat” myself up for not accomplishing it all.   I’ll do the things I listed above and if more happens I’ll celebrate.

I’m NOT going to try and deal with all 900 emails today…although I will try and figure out why I have so many and unsubscribe to the ones that no longer add value to my life.

I’m NOT going to get so focused on following the planned school schedule that  it causes stress. “Rabbit trails” are part of homeschooling. The point is to learn, not to check off items on a list.

Today, I am going to live in the needs of the day.  Do what needs to be done.  Be open to the interruptions – aware that sometimes they are the work I need to do.  I’m going to enjoy the tasks at hand and keep my mind focused – not running ahead to the next thing on the list.

There will be laughter and rest and hugs and smiles and…

it will not be perfect.  And that’s ok.

Time

Monday morning here at the old homestead and it’s quiet.  Such a change from yesterday (all last week really).

Husband and oldest daughter are at work. Second daughter is back at school. Son is in his room.  Youngest daughter is at a friend’s house.

Just me, the dogs, chickens, rabbit and the kitchen.  Today is kitchen cleaning day according “The List”.

It’s actually a great relief to have the list to fall back on today.  I’m really worn out mentally and physically from all the activity and people of late.  I got up and looked around at the state my house is in and sorta freaked out.  Then I sat down at my desk and saw the list.

I don’t have to clean the whole mess up.  I just have to clean the kitchen.  The rest will wait.  I suppose that some people have brains that would logically come to that conclusion, but I don’t.  And that’s okay.

I’ve resisted the urge to WRITE IT DOWN for a long time.  I didn’t want to admit that I struggle with whatever brain oddity I struggle with.  I just want to be competent and organized and have it all together.  But I don’t and that’s okay.  I’m getting it all together…slowly.  At the end of today, I will have a clean kitchen.  YEA!

What else has been happening here, you might be asking…well, maybe not, but I’ll share anyway because you are obviously reading this…

I am reading a book.  Just for fun.  Nothing intellectual or informative or on the best seller list.  Just a book.  I used to read all the time.  Back before kids and stuff.  My daughter is in the summer reading program and I decided that I could read this summer too.  In fact, I actually wrote it on my list.

I don’t know at what point in my life I quit reading.  I guess it just got put on hold until there was time.

I’ve rediscovered the fact that we only “have time” for what is important when we “make time” for it.  It’s another one of those things we have to make a conscious decision to do.  Otherwise, the time we have just seems to drift away from us and we never get to what’s important or what we enjoy.

How many times do I catch myself saying “I’m going to………”

  • I’m going to paint the pantry that still has ugly vinyl manufactured home wallpaper
  • I’m going to paint the living room that is still beige ten years after I moved in – I HATE beige
  • I’m going to start on that giant canvas that’s been waiting a year
  • I’m going to lose weight
  • I’m going to read that book
  • I’m going to call that friend

You get the idea…

I don’t have forever to wait.  I have right now.  And maybe tomorrow.  Nothing is guaranteed.  I’m not going to quit planning on tomorrow, but I am going to quit waiting on it.

My next list is the “what I want to do list”.

Just write

IMAG0799So, I haven’t written here in a couple of days.  It’s not because I’ve been too busy.  Just my normal busy.

But, I’ve been feeling pretty sad.  Not because of anything in particular that’s happened.  Just sad.

And when I get sad, I get quiet.   Until I’m not quiet and then I’m normally yelling and screaming about whatever is really bothering me.  The thing that even I didn’t realize was bothering me.  Until I started yelling.

Mental illness, crazy, anxiety, depression, chemical imbalance…I don’t care what it is called.  Labels don’t matter.  The ups and downs are what is frustrating.  My family looking at me with concern…walking on eggshells until the yelling part hits.  Not knowing what might trigger the outburst. Days where I’m “together” woman followed by days when I just want to take a nap…all day.

It has gotten better….way better.  I’ve had some pretty magnificent mood swings in the past.

But there has to be a better way.  A way to work through whatever is going on without the yelling.  (Not that yelling isn’t appropriate sometimes…toilet paper on the bathroom counter instead of on the toilet paper dispenser thingie, for instance.)

What might be bothering me?

The house.  I’m still doing the “20” list.  I’ve even taken it a step further.  I assigned each room(s) a day of the week and then I actually typed out a general list of what should be done in each room to pull it together.  That daily list gets copied over to my “20” list each morning. IMAG0795IMAG0796 (1)

I didn’t use to be a totally disorganized person.  Now, I find that I can be easily distracted by something (anything that I’d rather be doing than housework).  Then I realize a couple of weeks have gone by and I never got around to dusting the living room (for example).  Or, I’ll open the fridge and gaze upon a science fair project.  That would actually work for us since we homeschool, but is probably not a good idea on a regular basis.

Having a list gives me focus and the satisfaction of crossing a completed item off the list.  And last night, the kitchen looked great.  Family even washed their own dishes at the end of the evening instead of piling them in the already towering pile.

As I’m writing, I’m thinking about other things that have been going on lately.  The house is what I’ve talked about mostly, but there have been other things as well.  I think the house is just representative of how I feel my life is going.  It’s just a glaringly visible picture of how the inside of my “head” feels.  Of how “out of control” my life seems right now.

And this blog is one of the places I’ve been working things out for myself.  I’m not okay with things being just okay anymore.  I want GREAT!  A great life.  Not “a drifting along with the current” life.  I want to make choices that change things for the better. If I don’t know how to fix a problem, I want to have the courage to figure out how to do so.  And, if I problem truly doesn’t have a solution, I want the strength to ride it out.

The house isn’t the whole problem.  It’s a symptom.

And I’m glad I started writing here today because I feel a lot better.  Laying things out in black & white is good for a visual person like myself.

Just to keep the “positive” mood going – here is a gratitude list for today.

  1. The kitchen is clean!
  2. Our chicks are happy and healthy in their new completed coop my family built.
  3. I have two art projects going.
  4. Our trash can is less than half full because we started recycling again.
  5. Our second car is paid off because of a new part-time job.
  6. I got 15,000 steps on my fitbit yesterday.
  7. I don’t have a huge pile of lost socks anymore.
  8. My whole family will be together under one roof tomorrow night.
  9. I am reading a book just for fun.
  10. I have 3 full boxes to donate to the thrift store.
  11. We have enough food ’til payday (and some after that).
  12. I wrote this blog post and I feel better.

The Home Sweet Home List

I think I have blindly and accidently stumbled upon something brilliant.  Last week, I made a list.  A list of things to do. Note to reader:  I realize that list-making is not a new concept and that I did not personally discover “the list”. I was hoping it would help me focus on specific things that needed to be done AND help me stop before I lost focus and became discouraged.   I wrote down numbers 1 – 20.  Why twenty?  It seemed like enough tasks to make some progress and challenge myself a bit, but not too many to accomplish. I didn’t get everything done on the list.  And I forgave myself.  I just “rolled over” the undone tasks to the next day. The items were very specific.  I didn’t write “clean the kitchen”, for example.  I picked the most urgent tasks.  Wash the dishes (so we actually had some clean ones) and sweep the floor.  Once those were done, the kitchen was somewhat presentable and I was able to move on to another area. The idea is to deal with the worst of the situation and end up with a reasonably lived-in home that is not overwhelming and discouraging.  Spending all my energy and time on one room results in one clean room, but I’m eventually going to have to leave that room and come face-to-face with the rest. I’m not going to write down “finish the laundry” because the laundry is never finished (unless we all walk around naked for a day).  I’m going to do a load of laundry a day or two if there’s a lot. I’m not writing down “weed the garden” because that’s not doable.  I’m going to weed for 15 minutes. Small wins…the satisfaction of crossing something off the list. And when the day is over and it’s time to rest, I can do so knowing that I’ve taken steps in the right direction.  Progress. To celebrate that – and to ensure that there is creativity in even the hardest days – I’m going to paint over the day’s list and do a quick journal page.  Nothing fancy.  Just a symbolic gesture.  That day is over and done.  It can’t and shouldn’t be re-lived.  Let it go and move on. IMAG0715 I’m three days in on the list-making.  It may not be a forever thing.  All I know is that it’s working for me right now. It was an awesome weekend.  Lots of family, friends and accomplishments.  Oh, and LOTS of rain.  Did I mention that it rained this weekend?  It’s raining now.  I’m not complaining (much).  We’ve been in a drought.  I would imagine that it’s over. It’s part of who I am to start worrying when things are going well.  When is the other shoe going to drop?  This happiness can’t last.   Something is going to go wrong. What a horrible way to live. Missing out on the good because of worry about the bad. I’m going to work on changing that.  It may be an actual item on the list today! Good things will happen.  Bad things will happen.  That’s just the way it is.   One doesn’t cancel the other out.   It’s a matter of perspective. In reality, my problems are still with me.  The financial issues aren’t resolved…and a thousand other things.  I’ve just changed my focus and moved the good stuff into the forefront.   Perspective.  It all needs my attention, but in equal measure. There is that balance thing again I am a work in progress – with a list.

The List

Just a quick follow-up ’cause I gotta go work my “part-time out of the house for a little bit o’ cash”  job.

Yesterday’s list was a success.  I got almost everything done with a little bit of help from the family.  The things that I didn’t get done are just going to roll over to today and I’ll fill back in the list up to 20.IMAG0608

I’m actually happiest about the things on the list I didn’t do.

Why?

My husband has been working crazy, long hours.  I’ve barely seen him all week.  Last night, he got home around eight.

I had actually cooked a real meal (with veggies and everything).

I chose to sit down and eat a meal with him…and then didn’t get back up.  We spent the time together.

Stuff on the list may not have gotten done, but something more important was accomplished.

My goal is not simply about living in a more organized, tidy home.  The home is important, of course.

My hope is for a simpler, less complicated environment that lets what is really important be the focus…my family, our life,

my life…