I have put off writing this post for a long, loonnng time. Not because I am afraid people will think I am a freak but because I want to portray this behavior accurately and maybe even help just one person who also struggles and can relate to what I speak of.
We all have a story – a part of us that we can choose to share or choose to protect and keep hidden. I finally feel as though I can share the raw, gritty details of my anxiety disorder even if it feels as though I am ripping off a Band-Aid to a wound that is always at the surface.
So now that I have finished procrastinating I am ready to finally share a chapter of my story. First let me give you some background…
I grew up in a loving home in a teeny tiny town with two working parents and an older brother. We always had what we needed but not a lot of the extra, fancy stuff. We had more than enough though. My Mom was a pretty decent housekeeper and like any parent who works full time there were the occasional times where things got messy and untidy. My parents were quite traditional in that Mom did the majority of the cooking and cleaning and dad did more of the yard and vehicle maintenance. As a small child I always liked things neat and tidy. We didn’t have a ton of stuff, definitely not many brand new things; even a large portion of my wardrobe were hand-me-downs from my cousins (I was the youngest). I didn’t mind though. I just liked my home and my belongings to be in order. I found myself always looking through catalogs and getting rid of the ones that expired, I put things neatly in piles, I was always looking to get rid of food that was past its prime and I enjoyed vacuuming, (I still do!) I liked things in straight lines and symmetry was my friend. Then there was my room. My parents NEVER had to tell me to clean or pick up my room. I wanted my closet to be organized and would only keep the clothes that fit and so I hung them according to type and even colour. Ok now this is the part where you might think I am insane; that’s ok. I would also space my hangers evenly because I thought that it looked neater. My dresser, bedside table and bookcase would always have a clean and uncluttered look. I would never, ever have clothing, garbage or items that were not put away. My posters were carefully placed on my walls symmetrically. I was constantly trying to make my room look nice. Only when I thought it looked perfect was when my mind could rest.
I loved reading and art. Ahhh, art was a passion of mine. I also played piano, loved my dance classes, and played the odd sport. I found school projects would take a long time for me. It wasn’t that I didn’t do them. I was quite eager to please, it was just very stressful and I was a perfectionist – and then some. My grades were usually average or above. Not because anything came easy to me but because I worked my ass off for every mark that I got. Like I said I loved art, I even took an advanced art class by correspondence. Any poster or project that I ever did took me hours upon hours to complete. I would draw and erase and draw and erase. I was meticulous with shading and tried to get everything looking as life-like as possible. Some might say that the process was pain-staking. I don’t think that anyone noticed how school work gnawed at me at times. I got my work done and I did fine so no one paid much attention.
It wasn’t just about order and neatness for me. A big part of my life has been worry over this and that. Sometimes things that one might consider worthy of worry and much that people wouldn’t think twice about. I would and still do agonize over many things – comments, things that have hurt me, even other people’s issues. I do not take lightly to anyone hurting those that I love – call me loyal or call me the grudge. But when I was hurt I felt it and still do for a long, long time.
It is interesting now that I think about it. I always enjoyed going to my friend’s house SO much. I didn’t care what their home or rooms looked like. Their messiness didn’t bother me… unless it was extreme chaos. I felt like I could relax. I didn’t have to think about things being in order because it wasn’t my stuff. I have always offered to help clean up though, I still do. Sometimes I will just start doing dishes at my friends’ houses after a meal. I never want to be a burden. My hubby says that isn’t necessary but I look at it as helpful. The way I look at it, is if someone is kind enough to invite me to their home for a meal then the least I can do to show thanks is help clean up. That is partly my upbringing too.
As I grew up and got my own home and had children suddenly things got a little more complicated. I wanted my home to remain clean and tidy with everything put away in its place. We all know that is easier when you are alone but with the addition of more people under one roof things become more complicated. They don’t clean up the way you think they should or even at all. I was becoming agitated when my son was making ‘messes’ with his toys, or when my husband was not helping out with chores to my standards. I was literally picking up toys behind my little boy. All. Day. Long. My husband, bless his heart would get frustrated with me as he felt like I was just going to go behind him and re-do anything that he had tried to help with. I would sometimes point these things out. That was hurtful to him. I would refold the laundry. I would also re-clean in all the nooks and crannies that I felt he missed. I understand why this would be upsetting to him, yet I could not (sometimes I still can’t) leave it alone. We have even joked that I would be really good at being one of the basic training officers in the Military with a white glove, going around and inspecting the recruits’ rooms. Making sure that everything was ship-shape. The truth of the matter is there have been frustrations on both sides. I have been a puddle of tears many-a-day over things that I know should not be a worry – things that most ‘normal’ people don’t think twice about. I have had days where I want to call-in sick and stay under the covers and just not face the day and all of the constant harping thoughts in my head. It can be exhausting. Some days it can be a chore just to get out the door as I cannot leave until everything is done.
I admit I have some crazy habits. (This is the part of my story where you will think I am a freak.) Deep breath. Here I go… I like to run my hands over the counter tops and feel a smooth surface with no crumbs. If I feel like they are too dirty then everything gets moved off of them and I clean them from the back splash to the edge of the counters which often leads to wiping my cupboards. I sweep and vacuum regularly – sometimes daily. It honestly depends on the day and what is weighing on my mind at the time. Sometimes it is counters, sometimes it is a project, sometimes it is errands or items out of place. I try not to get too busy because the overwhelming feeling is almost unbearable. It suffocates me. I have wondered what it would be like to not have the obsessions and compulsions. I can’t imagine how freeing it would be.
So you probably guessed that I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Here is the official definition as per anxietybc.com.
“Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that affects about 1-2% of the population. People with OCD experience both obsessions and compulsions.
- Obsessions are unwanted and disturbing thoughts, images, or impulses that suddenly pop into the mind and cause a great deal of anxiety or distress.
- Compulsions are deliberate behaviors (e.g. washing, checking, ordering) or mental acts (e.g. praying, counting, repeating phrases) that are carried out to reduce the anxiety caused by the obsessions.”
I was once informed by a Counselor that we all have some OCD tendencies. Many of us have habits or things that we like done in a certain way. You may have to load the dishwasher a certain way, put your groceries on the belt in the store a certain way or fold your laundry exactly the way you like it. When you have OCD it’s not a matter of having a few habits. It is also about the thoughts that play over and over in your mind until they are ‘dealt’ with. In other words if I see something that is out of place it might be on my mind over and over until I put it back where I think it should be. It doesn’t just go away on its own. It can be quite stressful for me especially if I am tired and don’t have the energy to get it done. But I do, no matter the time. <Cue frustration with my family who don’t see ‘the problem’.>
You may think then why do you let these things happen? Well OCD can be a debilitating disorder. I put on a pretty good front and joke about it at times. Most of my friends laugh about it and say that I should go to their homes and clean. Often I take it in stride and it doesn’t bother me – there is the odd time that it does. I don’t think many people understand the ins and outs of it. Sometimes when we think of OCD we think of the person that washes their hands repetitively until they are raw. But there are so many forms of it. I should also add that I don’t always let it get the ‘best’ of me but sometimes I feel like I can’t control the beast.
This is adapted from the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health
When the fears reflected in the following obsessions are experienced, they usually result in immediate anxiety. Some of the more common obsessions are:
- fear of contamination by dirt, germs, or other diseases (for example, by shaking hands)
- fear of own bodily fluids
- fear of not having done a specific act that could result in harm (for example, turning off the stove, hurting someone in a traffic accident or leaving a door unlocked)
- making a mistake
- fear that things will not be “just right” and become distressed when things are shifted or touched
- focus on exactness and order
- fear of having blasphemous thoughts
- preoccupation with religious images and thoughts
- fear of harming oneself (for example, while eating with a knife or a fork, handling sharp objects or walking near glass windows)
- fear of harming others (for example, poisoning people’s food, harming babies, pushing someone in front of a train or hurting someone’s feelings)
- fear of blurting out obscenities in public
- forbidden or unwanted sexual thoughts, images or urges
- fear of being homosexual
Most people who experience obsessions engage in extreme rituals, or compulsions. Acting out these compulsions does not give them pleasure, but it can help them feel less anxious or distressed. Compulsions can be very rigid and involve elaborate steps. They are either not realistically connected with what they are meant to stop or they are extreme beyond reason. Although by no means an exhaustive list, common compulsions include:
- washing hands too often or in a ritualized way; showering; bathing; brushing teeth; grooming a lot or having detailed toilet routines; cleaning household items or other objects
- avoiding objects and situations considered “contaminated”
- checking that you don’t harm others or yourself; checking that nothing terrible happens; checking that you don’t make mistakes
- making sure things are just right, or are consistent with a specific rule, such as bed sheets or notes on the desk
- collecting seemingly useless items, such as paper, magazines, towels, bottles or pieces of garbage
- unable to throw these same things away
It is unknown as to what causes OCD. Some think that it may be genetic (which I am unsure of as I am adopted). Recently research has identified that people with OCD have low serotonin levels. It is one of the brain’s chemical messengers that transmit signals between brain cells. Serotonin plays a role in the regulation of mood, aggression, impulse control, sleep, appetite, body temperature and pain. All of the medicines used to treat OCD raise the levels of serotonin available to transmit messages. Some other studies say that the brain activity is different in people with this disorder. All I know is there doesn’t seem to be a clear answer.
So what can we do? It wasn’t that long ago when doctors thought that this disorder was untreatable. Cognitive and behavioural therapy and medication (anti-depressants) are a couple of ways that people seek help. I cannot speak for either though I am learning about them with research. Many people with OCD benefit from supportive counselling in addition to treatments aimed at reducing the symptoms of OCD. Individuals may see a therapist one-on-one, or they may involve the partner, spouse or family in counselling. Group therapy (with people who have similar concerns) can also help. There are options which is encouraging.
I just want people to know that they are not alone. Though it can feel like it at times; like you are a prisoner of your own thoughts. It is not hopeless. You should not feel ashamed. You are worthy. Seek help with a specialist that understands anxiety disorders. Find a support group and surround yourself with people who accept you know matter what.
For me the pain isn’t gone nor is the sadness, the tightness in the chest, the palpitations when something is weighing on me. Yes my loved ones have been victim to the wrath of getting in my way to get things done. Yes I have yelled, screamed, cried and freaked out. There is no cure but each day is a new day with new possibilities and I know that those closest to me love me anyways. I will continue to try every single day to keep the upset to a minimum. I know I have come a long way and still have a ways to go. I know that I can take this curse and turn it into a gift as I have with helping others strive to get out of their chaos and get more organized. I can take each day as it comes and look forward to the possibilities instead of dreading the worst. I. Am. Me. And I too am deserving of a life that is valuable.
If anyone out there reading this, thanks for stopping by to ‘hear’ my story. If you have anything to share I would love to listen.
Hugs and happiness,
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In this day and age, social media is predominant in our lives. I can’t speak for all social platforms but I do know that Facebook is the number one form of social media with about 900,000,000 people using it around the world! Facebook can be a wondrous place for keeping in touch with friends and family EVERYWHERE. We can share pictures, post updates, share news and information, ask for help, reconnect, find recipes, etc. etc. It can be very addicting. What on earth did we do before Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest?!
With anything of this capacity there can also be drawbacks. I have witnessed many a’ catty arguments, rude comments, and some pretty intense rants. The most innocent culprit I would say though would be our own judgement of ourselves and each other. The ‘good’ ole comparison game.
For example, your friend goes on another exotic vacation sans children. <You wondered how long it would take her to post about her ‘super-fun’ time.> She is laying on a beach with her man beside her, <naturally it is minus one thousand degrees here…> The water looks crystal clear and the sky has never looked so blue. <She is obviously having the BEST time ever.> She is relaxing with not a care in the world. Her picture looks like a post card. You know the one where you can see their bronzed legs and feet, the sand and a strategically placed slush drink with an umbrella. Oh and of course the book casually laying on their lap. It is difficult not to be jealous when yet again, you are strapped for cash. <How do they do it all the time?> <Who watches their kids?>
We have all felt Facebook inspired pangs of jealousy from time to time. These envious feelings have to do with the comparison between ourselves and our ‘friends’ or dare I say our distant online acquaintances in many instances? We get jealous of their better job, their perfect home, the awards, promotions etc. etc. We can even beginning judging each other’s business pages.
I just have to say that most people when they post on Facebook are putting their best foot forward. They are rarely writing a status that talks of their latest dinner time struggle getting the kiddos to eat. You won’t often hear about an argument between a husband and wife splashed all over the page, and are you going to admit that really embarrassing thing that you did today? Not likely. You are more likely to post the amazing recipe that you or your hunny made, the romantic thing that your significant other did, pictures of a well put together family.
Let me tell you that it is a-ok. You don’t know what happens behind closed doors. You don’t know what struggles people have. That well put together person may be falling apart behind that screen. She may have major feelings of inadequacy. Remember we generally only see each other’s highlights. The good stuff. Not the bad and the ugly! The real skinny is everyone has their own shit, their own struggles, and their own pile of stuff to sift through. It is called a normal life!
I just read a post by Jon Acuff that said, “Inspiration tells you anything is possible. Comparison tells you everything is impossible.” He went on to say that, “Inspiration drives you forwards. Comparison pulls you backward. Inspiration tells you there’s still time to accomplish something amazing while comparison tells you it’s too late.” Full post here http://acuff.me/2015/01/inspiration-vs-comparison/
So how do we get out of this trap? It’s really quite simple and might take some practice. But here’s what you do…ready for it? You celebrate others. Let me repeat. You plain and simply celebrate others. You try and be happy for them.
Start to want the best for others and hey maybe they will also want the best for you. What a lovely little thought! So next time your buddy posts a success, gets that major opportunity, or goes on the trip of a lifetime. Dig deep and celebrate with them. Xxxxx
Wishing you the BEST Xxxx,
“What’s for supper”
A text message from my daughter interrupts my work just I’m about to finish up for the day. Annoyed, I ignore it, though I am dying to reply “idk, what are YOU making?” but I let the moment pass since it doesn’t serve either of us. I do ponder yet again why I don’t have the kids make more meals…and why I have kids in the first place.
I’m tired today. Some days, I just want to go home and curl up with a good book and fall asleep at 8. Some days I crave it so badly it brings a tear to my eye when I realize I just can’t today. I let that moment pass too.
I walk home and trip over everyone’s shoes at the front door. Then I grab my other mitts and shovel for the next half hour, listening to my music. I feel the cold air on my exposed face. It feels good to feel my heart pounding and I hear nothing else but my music and the scrape of the shovel. I could get them off their butts to help me. Yes, they should have had it done before I got home. I let them have their space and I greedily take mine. Outside, no one in my head or my ear. Just me and the winter. And the day melts away.
Back inside, I am asked again “What’s for supper?”
“Tomato soup and grilled cheese” I reply.
Yep, just tomato soup. No Facebook-worthy vegetarian gourmet meal. No old family recipe that I’ve been making for ages. Nothing that will find it’s way to a Pinterest board. Just tomato soup.
No Facebook-worthy vegetarian gourmet meal, just tomato soup.
I pull out the relatively expensive box of amazing organic tomato soup that I didn’t make myself but discovered that everyone loves. I start to warm it on the stove. I cut up the delicious Gouda cheese, and a little bit of the jalapeno Havarti. I slather butter on one side of some yummy, soft rye bread I bought yesterday. I grab a few slices of the ham I bought for lunches. I assemble and cook them into toasted, melty goodness and pour the soup into bowls. Cucumber slices circle the plates and I deliver them to children who stop what they are doing to exclaim “Thanks Momma!”
I love it when they are like little kids again. Gleeful, calling me “Momma”, full of excitement and gratefulness for one of their favorite comfort foods. It fills my heart more than the winter air did. We sit together and visit about any little thing that comes to their heads. I crumble exactly 5 perfect plain crackers into my soup. I’ve always done it that way. Exactly 5, gathered together and lovingly crushed and sprinkled into my tomato soup. And I am 13 again too. With my own Momma and brother and sisters, talking about nothing and everything all at once.
I love it when they are like little kids again.
Melty cheese is stuck to her chin and we laugh. I quickly make another for him. Suddenly I realize that he is taller than me and finally I understand why he’s always scrounging for something else to eat! My heart aches a little as I think about how quickly their older brother grew and now makes his own tomato soup in a different house, thankfully, not too far away. But away, just the same. My tomato soup silly evenings are disappearing fast.
I am savoring every moment with them, every simple slurp of their teen lives and the melty bites in between where they allow me to be their “Momma” even for a minute. Hugging me with my head on their shoulders now that they are so much bigger than me. I relish every complaint about the beautiful meals I make them that they like less because someday, I will be eating without them.
I am savoring every moment with them
It doesn’t matter what we eat. It matters HOW we eat. Take in every morsel with exuberance and with attention to who you are with. Put down your damn phone and be with the food. Be with them. Be with yourself for a few minutes. Indulge yourself with the expensive favorite dessert, the steak dinner that he made for you, the bowl of cereal you manage to squeeze into your morning, the apple at your desk.
Feel every single piece of life that it has to offer. No criticism, no guilt, no remorse that it could have been healthier, cheaper, easier, more gourmet. Just eat.
Tomato soup simple. Just tomato soup. Just for today.
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It seems that in our culture, we’ve kind of lost the Community.
It’s often seems difficult for women to gather. There’s always someone who needs us to do something. There’s always a mess to cleanup or one more thing to get to. We rush around and rarely seem to stop. When we do gather, the depth seems to be missing because there are so many walls and guard rails put up that get in the way of real connection.
Throughout history women have gathered – it’s an important part of who we are. It is integral part of being women. Through that gathering, we affect change, we are the holders of wisdom. Thankfully, there seems to be a hunger for more gathering. Women have begun to seek connection with other ‘kindred spirits’ in more meaningful ways. Yet, so many are still feeling in isolation, like they are missing something. A phantom limb. This need to gather is repressed because there is just so much to do. My need to gather does not disappear, it is “cut-off” for a time. But this is not permanent. We can reconnect!
We often think that this ache for real connection can only be filled by a relationship with a man. That is part of it, but even being in a relationship with a great man, we still feel like something is missing. Maybe this phantom limb needs to be acknowledged and addressed? Maybe we need to fill that gap? So many women haven’t had meaningful relationships with other women. It feels too scary, too vulnerable. Yet when we really connect, it’s in these vulnerabilities that our strength is finally found.
What is lost if we don’t re-establish the Community?
Everything! Everything that we are as women! We need each other’s advice, support, love, nurturing. We are human; we cannot live in isolation. We need each other’s voices in the dark. My mother’s generation sacrificed everything for their children, including friendships with other women, because they thought they had to sacrifice to be a good mother. They didn’t have quilting bees or ladies auxiliaries – they were the rebels of the sixties that became mothers in the 70’s and lost a part of themselves, and many, I think, resented that. My mom and others like her are just realizing again how beneficial those relationships are as they lean on each other because their busy children (my generation) aren’t devoting our lives back to them. But…I am learning to INCLUDE my mother in my Community, understanding how important different generations are in this Community – how I need her wisdom and different opinions. I talk more to my mother now than I ever did, in-depth conversations that I was afraid to have with her before.
What is gained when we establish Community?
I am blessed to know many good, strong, supportive Communities now that I have made it a priority. My first “Core Desired Feeling” is Connected. It has made my heart soar again with the knowledge that I’m not alone in my questions, my passion, my life! It has brought depth to my relationship with my family, freedom to speak the truth and the ability to encourage them to do the same. Learning to have meaningful, open conversation has enabled me to have the same with my husband – talking through things instead of ignoring them and hoping they will go away. It has brought me peace and meaning to my life. There was such an ache before…such a need to be accepted, to be loved. I did not know what it was because I didn’t have those kind of relationships growing up – I was always too afraid to be myself, be my own truth. I just did/said what I thought everyone expected of me. But the ache and longing were there, always persisting, always waiting for me to hear it.
What am I afraid of?
I lived in constant fear of the “competition” of other women. When I was young, I felt I was in competition to be a better friend than the next person. Afraid that if I wasn’t the perfect friend, I would lose that person to someone else. In the end, it pushed them away anyway because I was holding on so tightly for fear of that competition! I didn’t want the group of friends because it was so hard to please them all.
And then, when I got married, I was so jealous of every look, every glance, every woman around. Who was I to have such a wonderful, handsome husband? I was so plain and imperfect. They were all so beautiful and exciting. I would constantly believe that they were trying to steal him from me and that he deserved “better” than me. I didn’t trust them, I didn’t have faith that I was good enough for him.
I was hiding, I was pretending – I still do sometimes, but my Community is helping me so much! I was hiding the real me – the imperfections, the fears, the feelings of being less than everyone else. I was hiding from my truth. I was just being what everyone wanted me to be. And whenever I failed at being that perfect picture, when I disappointed them; I would sink and wallow in self-pity. I would give up and hang my head in shame, waves of guilt crashing over me. I would use anger and frustration to hurt everyone around me, when really I was frustrated with myself and trying to blame everyone else for my failures of perfection.
What would it be like to remove the fear?
Tears fill my eyes as I think of this. It has been such a long journey to slowly remove that veil. It has been so powerful, so mind-blowing, knowing that I really am worth being seen! Living my truth! My heart overflows and the words just pour out of me in the conversations in real life and onto the screen in front of me. And that I’m not alone in this?… oh, the tears flow. My Community is here, right here. Accepting, loving, nodding, understanding, smiling, surrounding me. There is such depth and peace in my real life conversations. I see the beauty, I hear the Universe calling me, I feel my sisters around me.
What does it feel like to trust?
There is such a relief in trusting other women. In knowing that they are not perfect either and that they feel the same. And this incredible movement that seems to be all around us in the past few years. So many examples of women supporting each other. Schools making spaces/communities where girls can be their true-selves. Celebrities shunning those media images of perfection. My heart cries out happiness that we can be together in our truth. It surprises me all the time when I write in my blog or talk to incredible women that they are seeing this as well. That these stories resonate with them, that we are all aching for that veil to be lifted.
As soon as I heard the words,”the Goddess is awakening“, I was filled with such hope! I thought to myself, “This is it! There really is a change happening in the world! We are making a difference! We are creating a world of peace and love and understanding!” It isn’t just a dream! It is becoming a reality! She is awakening and she is here!!! in me!! Very cool, very exciting, very liberating!!!!
I want to shout out to everyone: “Come! Join Us! Be free! Be released!” I am aching to have every women feel this way! I know too many that do not, and I long for them to find this peace, this love of self!
Can I be my truth in the Community?
Most days, the veil is off. I am no longer hiding. However, there are still those days where I doubt, where fear takes over and I crawl back underneath. I find them happening less and less. When they do, I have learned where I can go to find the Goddess again – to my Community. Writing lifts me out of the veil again. Reading the words of others, having those conversations, all raise the veil again and I am free.
I have resisted telling my truth to those who I perceive as unable to understand. I am afraid that they will see me as weak, overly sensitive, strange, or “weird” is a word I like to use when I think of what they will think of me. I have resisted my truth with them. And then, I’ve wondered why? Why should I? What does that say about the relationship? Maybe they are longing to hear the truth too? Who am I to judge that they will not understand? The more I speak my truth, the more others like me gather in the Community. I am not alone. It’s as if we just needed a little sign saying that it was OK. A little spark to light the fire. And so it burns.
Where can I find more Community?
I totally agree that the Internet was born for this! It has been partly because of writing my blog and here on SLC and starting to tell my story “to the world” that has enabled me to continue. It has been the connections and conversation that have come from twitter and Facebook and other blogs that have been the example to me that it is alright to be me, that there are others like me, longing for the truth! Many say that the Internet keeps us apart, but I disagree.
My Community is so much larger than it was. I don’t think I would be as far as I am without the Internet. I think it would have come, albeit slowly, because of books and real life conversations, but I don’t think it would have been as far-reaching and powerful without it.
We talk about how we can make the world better for our children; it is time for action. I am trying so hard to set the example for my children and their children. I talk about my truth with my children, which in turn gives them permission to do the same. I encourage them to be themselves in their relationships and not to hide. To be who they really are. To be part of a Community that supports and nurtures each other.
Encouraging this Community of women is extremely important to me! This is want I want to do. This is what I want my kids to see me do. It is what I want to shout out about everywhere. I want every woman to live her life based on how she wants to feel and who she is.
How do we make time to be with our Community?
It is not easy to make time to be with our Community. I began to make it a priority a few years ago, it started with escaping for a weekend retreat with friends in October every year. It became addicting! But I can’t do this every weekend (though wouldn’t that be nice!) Other ways I’ve done this:
- Divine Goddess Book Club – often, we don’t even talk about the book, we talk about ideas that have come up from it or things that are simply on our minds. It’s about being who we are and exploring new ideas and new ways for being in the moment. Always positive, always rewarding.
- Solving every problem I’ve ever had (well, it felt like it anyway) by walking for hours with my best friend, training for an event but actually just learning to be a better listener and a better friend/wife/mom/employee. If those roads could talk…
- Cycling with another close friend, riding for hours, talking about everything. I have had the most amazing talks about life, spirituality, love! And what better setting than cycling along quiet back country roads?
- Working out almost everyday with a group of girls – this time together, supporting and nurturing ourselves was beneficial to all of us in a lot more ways than physically. It was the main reason why I created the Secret Goddess Society and the The Divine Goddess Circle – another way to gather and support each other. So needed.
I stand on rooftops and shout out these words: “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing”. Can you hear her too?
This is a post inspired by my Core Desired Feeling: Connected. This is how I want to feel, every day. I base my daily/weekly/monthly goals on how I want to feel. I have used the Desire Map process for over a year to help me. And now I am an official Desire Map Facilitator! I will be holding workshops early in 2015. Sign up below to get on the list and be the first to know about the Desire Map Experience.
We all struggle from time to time when it comes to pairing down our belongings. People keep and accumulate things for different reasons whether it be sentimental reasons, fear of being without, ‘needing’ the thing one day, or there’s simply a great sale deal that might not come around again. The truth of the matter is that everyone needs to declutter sometimes. Making those decisions when getting organized can be really difficult. What can you do?
As you evaluate the things in your home ask yourself these questions:
- Do I love this item? It is more than ok to keep things that you love. If you love it then it will make you happy to look at it, use it, and own it.
- Do you use it regularly? A lot of times we purchase things because we think that they will be useful. It is important to consider how many times you may actually use the item. It may not even be worth your time and money to own it. Also if you haven’t touched it in the last 6 months (unless it’s a seasonal item) ask yourself if you really need to keep it.
- Am I saving this just in case? Perhaps you are keeping multiple items ‘in case’ one breaks. It is a legit fear that people have – to get rid of something that they may end up needing one day. Ask yourself if having a clutter free space is worth more than the what- ifs. I am guessing it will be.
- Is this item worth the time that I spend cleaning it? I have come to realize that there is a price that comes with owning collections and knick-knacks. That precious commodity is my time. My time is worth so much more than the time it takes to move, clean, and store these things. (Unless I really love it! Another thing is to evaluate how much time you have spent going through a storage room time and time again just to remember what is in there? Why do you store these things? Are all of the items necessary for your life?
- What could I use this space for? Shawna and I always tell people to think of their space as prime real estate…because that is exactly what it is! Every item that goes into your home is taking up room and we all know that square footage is not cheap. Let’s say you have a small 10×10 room that you use for storage at $175/sq ft. that room suddenly becomes a $17,500 storage unit. Yikes!! So if you weren’t holding on to this clutter what could you do with this space?
- Am I going to fix it one day? We all have good intentions but do we have the time, the patience and the know how to actually make it functional again? Be realistic and set a time limit – if it is not fixed within two weeks then recycle it or give it to someone that will repair it.
- Do I have multiples? Do you have more than one of the same thing? How many plastic food tubs, shopping totes, purses, and kitchen utensils do I have to have? Keep in mind that if the multiple items are making you more efficient on a regular basis then by all means keep it.
- Am I keeping this because I feel that I have to? Yuck – keeping things out of obligation never feels good. Ever. We have all received something at some point from someone that we really don’t need or like. Do we have to keep it? The answer is no. The thought was lovely but it wasn’t something that you asked for and it is your home – you are in charge of what stays and what goes. Again if you don’t love it or use it then why hang on to it?
- Are you hanging on to it because you don’t want to be wasteful? We have bought things at one point or another that we really thought we would love, brought it home and not touched it. It sucks but it happens. Sometimes we get caught up in the hype of the latest trends and the popularity of things that we don’t stop and think if it is right for us individually. It’s fine though – return it, sell it or give it to someone that will appreciate it and move on. We all make mistakes.
- Do you have things that have multiple uses? Some of our specialty tools especially in the kitchen may not be needed as another basic tool will suffice. The same can go for hair products, accessories and even furniture.
Also here is a neat little list (oh how I love lists!) before you buy something consider obtaining the item in one of these ways. Only if you really need it or love it tho. 😉
Don’t forget to reward yourself with a little self care after you have spent some time decluttering. You are important. You are worth it! May you create a beautiful space to just BE.
I’m getting better at just listening.
Not the kind of listening where you’re hearing what they’re saying but you’re already thinking about what you’re going to say.
Not the kind of listening where you are smiling and nodding but are secretly checking your phone or checking things off on your mental to do list.
Not the kind of listening where you’re constantly interjecting with a contradiction or an example “one-upmanship”.
I’m getting better at the kind of listening where I don’t notice my phone going off.
The kind of listening where I am hearing the story; seeing how the story-telling is making the other person feel. I notice the things she doesn’t say. I see the gears turning as she considers the next thing she is going to say.
The kind of listening where it’s no longer about me. Where it’s about the connection, this moment, right here where someone is sharing a part of their world.
The kind of listening where I no longer judge what she says. Where I just see her for who she is at this moment in time. And we each are better for it.
That’s the kind of listening I want more of. Not me speaking. I do enough of that here in my writing and with people all around me. I want more of that real connection. I want that person in front of me, no matter how scared or hurt she is to be able to turn to me and be able to open up. To be able to share even just a little bit of her story and be assured that she will not be judged. So that she can begin to heal. That she is safe here.
This is my Core Desired Feeling: Connection. And this is why I love Divine Goddess Book Club, in whatever way it manifests itself: 1 or 10 people or even some day 100 or 1000’s.
It’s so much more than talking about a book. In fact, many times we find ourselves not even really talking about it; it’s just a conversation starter. It has become a curling up around a fire, quiet corner of light in an ocean of darkness where I can just listen. That is why I love it.
The bedroom is a space that can VERY easily get messy. It is also an area that is often the last to get organized.
Any of this sound familiar?…
Do you have clean and dirty clothes laying around?… Piles of laundry that haven’t quite made it to their drawers. How about those Christmas presents that you don’t want the kiddos to see or the stuff you shoved in your room because company is coming? Then there are those dresser tops that are a catch all for clutter. Oh dear, there is always something isn’t there?
It happens to all of us! What we want is a lovely, quiet, calming place to lay our head at the end of the day not a space where we quickly clear off the bed to make room to sleep and close our eyes before the mess gets to us.
Here are three quick tips for clutter control:
1) Laundry! This one is a biggie. Put dirty clothes in your clothes hamper as soon as you take them off. Anything that you want to wear again before washing hang up and place on a hook behind your door or have a pretty basket in your room to fold it neatly until you wear it again.
Personally I have this issue with putting away clean laundry. I am not sure why as the task is almost done. Try and put away laundry after you fold it. This also prevents others from asking where their clothes are!
1 Load a Day. To try and keep the mountain-o-laundry from catching up with you. Throw in one load a day. There is always something that can be put in the machine to be cleaned.
2) Storage. If you have a tiny room, a small closet or just not a lot of storage in your home then this can cause clutter because everything does not have it’s place. The first thought I have is not to buy a bigger house but to purge. Take an inventory of what you need and don’t need. Donate clothes or anything that no longer serves a purpose with you.
Also remove anything that does not belong in your bedroom. Designate a certain spot in your home for storage items.
Rotate your seasonal clothing. Use clear bins and label winter clothing/summer clothing and pack up what you won’t be using for that particular season. This will free up some room in your closet/dresser.
3) Dresser and night stand tops. These easily become a catch-all. Take two minutes before bed to clear these off. Keep a small basket where you can put these things and when it is full empty it by putting things back in their spot.
A good Feng Shui bedroom is a calm and peaceful room that invites you in. It promotes a flow of nourishing and sensual flow. Sounds good to me! We all deserve to have a beautiful, comfortable space at the end of the day to retreat to.
I wish you sweet dreams, a restful sleep and whatever else may arise from your beautiful space. Xxxx
“Day is over, night has come. Today is gone, what’s done is done. Embrace your dream, through the night, Tomorrow comes with a whole new light.”