Open post
worthy

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – My Struggle, My Story

simple love

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

Common Obsessions

When the fears reflected in the following obsessions are experienced, they usually result in immediate anxiety. Some of the more common obsessions are:

Contamination

  • fear of contamination by dirt, germs, or other diseases (for example, by shaking hands)
  • fear of own bodily fluids

Repeated Doubting

  • 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

Ordering

  • fear that things will not be “just right” and become distressed when things are shifted or touched
  • focus on exactness and order

Religious

  • fear of having blasphemous thoughts
  • preoccupation with religious images and thoughts

Aggressive

  • 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

Sexual

  • forbidden or unwanted sexual thoughts, images or urges
  • fear of being homosexual

Compulsions

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:

Cleaning/Washing

  • 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

  • checking that you don’t harm others or yourself; checking that nothing terrible happens; checking that you don’t make mistakes

Ordering/Arranging

  • making sure things are just right, or are consistent with a specific rule, such as bed sheets or notes on the desk

Hoarding

  • collecting seemingly useless items, such as paper, magazines, towels, bottles or pieces of garbage
  • unable to throw these same things away

OCD

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.

happiness

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,

Krystal

worthy

 

 

Open post
soup-bowl-425168_1280

Just Tomato Soup

winter-20248_1280

“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.

 

soup-bowl-425168_1280

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.

love-538432_1280

 

 

We all struggle with the whole meal planning thing. We’ve worked out some help for you, our free Meal Planning Hat Trick has tons of ideas and free recipes. Sign up below.

What are your biggest struggles with food? We want to help. Let us know in the comments or email us. We are here for you.

Open post
king-penguin-384252_640

Community

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.

You are worthy of your desires

I am one of the first

#DesireMap Licensees!

This means I’m

officially authorized

to host workshops based on

The Desire Map book,

by @Danielle LaPorte.

Plans for my first workshop

are already underway.

Sign up below to get more

information as it comes out:

Open post
walk-2021_1920

Another Ordinary Day

walk-2021_1920I see you, on the ordinary street. You are wearing ordinary clothes and your hair is ordinary. Your face is ordinary. You walk in an ordinary way going to your ordinary job. If I knew your name, it would be ordinary too.
But you are far from ordinary. And I see that too.
You are more than the alarm clock beside your bed. Grateful to find yourself in a new day, you rise with a smile. You think about the quiet space that awaits you in your little corner of the room. The soft light welcomes you to your comfy chair. Silence surrounds you. With a loving heart, you pause, reflecting on the people you love and the life you are leading. Gentle music lifts your spirits and you listen to your angels as they whisper to you in your space.
In the shower, you let the hot water stream down your shoulders, caressing and warming your skin. You hear applause in the noise of the jet stream and you imagine yourself five years from now in another place, doing other things. Again, you pause in gratitude for where you came from, and where you are but you know that this is not where the story ends. You smile as you hear the applause again.
You let your hands rub the oils on your skin, taking pleasure in the simple joy of allowing yourself this little indulgence made just for you. The clothes you select make you feel good and comfortable, it does not matter to you what name is emblazoned on the tag. It all makes no difference as long as it makes you feel like you are you.
standing-336554_1920
You are more than the ordinary breakfast you have this morning. You choose that orange carefully. You smell the tangy citrus as you peel it. You notice the tiny spray of orange drops as you pull the peel from the flesh. You taste the bold sweetness as it drips down your chin.
The street is far from ordinary to you. You notice the songs of the birds on your walk. You wonder how soon they will heading south. You catch a glimpse of the growing garden in your neighbor’s yard and you remind yourself how good fresh picked peas taste at this time of year. You notice that there are a few leaves that have changed color and you remember how fleeting summer days are. Your mind recalls all of the adventures you have had so far and you smile at the ones to come today.
Your job is not who you are, but you bring yourself to your job. Each day, you do whatever you can to help someone, even if it’s just one person. Your smile brightens the world of someone who is struggling today in their cubicle. You don’t know this, but you smile anyway. There are days when you struggle too, but you have also witnessed the days when things go right. You choose to accept those tough days as lessons and move on to the next.
You leave your job, there at the office. You know that carrying that burden further into your day serves no one, least of all you. You have done your best with the resources you had control over. You breath and you move on.
You hear their voices long before you see them. Again, you marvel at how much they have grown. She towers over you and on this day, she ventures to hug her ordinary momma. Tomorrow may be different, so you gratefully return the embrace. He barely acknowledges you right now, and that’s ok, you know he hears your love in your questions about the day. It is all he needs for now. Later, he will sit beside you on the couch, feeling safe in the knowledge that he doesn’t have to say a word and you are there for him.
Together, you enjoy an ordinary meal that nourishes more than your body. It nourishes your soul as you share the food with those you love. You reflect on how much you have changed what you choose to eat over the years. You don’t criticize, you just understand that you are learning and growing and becoming more.
Dishes done, the house settling, your ordinary day draws to a close. You welcome the peace and tranquility of your room. You share this room with your true love and you adore this part of the day. The warm, soft blankets, the amber light, the protective arms and kisses that make you feel like so much more than ordinary. Quiet surrounds you as you curl up next to him with your latest book. Both of you make sure that at least a foot or a hand is touching the other as you fall asleep.
And there you breathe; your ordinary breath, at the end of a far from ordinary day.
walk-3641_640
This post inspired by the Writing Prompts over at Mama’s Losin’ It and My 500 Words writing challenge from Jeff Goins.
Open post
self-care thursday

Bringing Happiness Closer

self-care thursdayI read this very timely post from Joshua today: 7 Questions to Bring Happiness Closer. It’s what we were discussing at Divine Goddess Book Club last night as well (we are talking about the book, Happier at Home right now). It seems that so many of us keep striving to find happiness outside of ourselves. Gretchen Rubin discusses “Interior Design” in her book which focuses on what can I do INTERNALLY to create my own happiness.

I was compelled to answer Joshua’s 7 questions from his post for myself and thought I’d share my answers here with you.

1. What can I be thankful for?

Oh my, I am so thankful for so many things. Practicing Gratitude regularly has completely changed how I perceive my day. Right now, for example, I am grateful for this summer of being home. I’ve been spending really amazing time with my kids, my extended family and with my friends. I’ve been spending time with myself as well and this has changed me. I am happier because I am grateful for what I have right now instead of all the things I wish I had.

los-cabos-68861_1920

2. Who do I know that loves me?

The list is long, but this is something that I have struggled with (still do). This one has affected my happiness the most – still does some days. Too often, I base my happiness on the HOW others love me. I have been striving for acknowledgement and recognition of their love. I have held lofty expectations of the HOW they should love me – they should love me the way I love them! And then when they don’t, I’ve been disappointed and unhappy. I am learning though that they love me in their own way – and they love me very much and for who I am! I am learning to just be happy in the recognition that I am indeed loved so very much.

3. What progress have I made?

Wow, if you could have seen me even just 5 years ago…some of you have, I know. When I look back and see pictures of the woman I used to be, I recall the huge sadness and hurt that followed me. It was a choice I made each day. Now, I choose differently and most days, I have the guts to see just how truly blessed and happy I am. You’ve come a long way, baby! 🙂

4. What contribution do I bring? 

Though sometimes I struggle with my need for acknowledgement, most days, I know that I am helping people with my words that I write and ideas that I share. I help people by being the listener who I love to be. My children and husband are happier and content because I am contributing to it and inspiring them to be happy in themselves. I believe that I am someone who is making the world a better place as I let my light shine (and it gives others permission to do so as well).

5. What pursuits bring me the most joy?

Finally, I am no longer afraid and rarely feel guilty for pursuing my own desires. I allow myself the comfort and support that I know I need. I follow my heart daily by focusing on creating a life that brings me joy. I do not expect the world to make me happy – that’s my job. I pursue that pretty much every day!

cape-verde-320815_1280

6. Who can I help? 

I long…no, I crave…helping thousands of women. Especially working women. I have known so many in the past who long for a peaceful life and a life free of guilt. Women who put everyone else’s needs in front of their own and struggle to find even the smallest sliver of light in themselves. So many who long to be free of the unrealistic expectations of today’s society. Who just want to be great at everything that they do but feel like they fail at everything instead. I know these women well. I have been her. She is so much more that what she sees of herself right now. That’s who I want to help. I pray that I will reach her in some small way with my words of encouragement.

7. What choices do I have? 

My biggest one is that I get to choose how I want to live my day. I choose to be happy. Right now. in this very moment.

What are your answers to these questions? We’d love to hear them here in the comments (or shoot us an email if you’re shy 🙂  )

Judge a Little Less; Support a Little More

 

“If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”
― Paulo CoelhoThe Alchemist

 

Super Mom can Suck It. That’s right.  I said it. The idea that the modern working and or stay at home mom can do it all perfectly is a figment of our imaginations. It is fake and I am calling Bullshit.

bullshit

Why oh WHY must we try and pretend that we have got it all together. You know what I am talking about. And just for the record ladies just because someone posts a picture of a decadent, gourmet, perfectly healthy, balanced diet, raw food meal that her AMAZING husband made doesn’t mean that she wasn’t scarfing down a fast food meal yesterday because she really wanted a night off of cooking and her family has been running ALL damn week. Remember all that you generally see on social media are the highlights. Though I do find it refreshing when peeps/bloggers post real life incidents that we can all relate to and gather support from.

You see in fact it was just yesterday while I was at work I found myself saying that, “Today I am the disorganized organizer. “ I won’t give you the sob story but my day was tight. I mean really hectic and I sort of forgot that it was my co-worker’s birthday party and I was responsible for it. Fun right?! Well yes it really is because we get to celebrate each other, hang out and have a little shin dig party. But holy shit if I didn’t forget until I was driving from one of my clients and that fleeting remembrance struck me and almost made me drive off of the road. I mean I didn’t have a card or anything. Thank goodness I had the cake all pre-planned! So here I am between client visits, running for a card, flowers, the cake and beverages. Sigh. Talk about a mega fail. But guess what?! It went well despite me having a full work day – it all came together. Unbelievable. I am supposed to have my shit together right?

I am just like everybody else. I have a life that involves more than just myself and these things happen. And correct me if I am wrong but I am not the ONLY one who messes up am I? Am I the only Mom in history that forgot to put pajama day in her calendar? Even if my son says that he was the ONLY one that wasn’t in his pj’s in the class picture?

It was just last night. I was solo parenting and I was tired from the day (refer to above birthday story). I actually bribed my children to bath the dog. He (the pup) smelled like he slept in the garbage can all day and I could not muster up the energy to bath him. So I did an awful parenting thing and told the kiddos that if they bathed the dog then they could stay up an hour late. Yup. I did. No one said that I was nominated for parent of the year. I think sometimes we just have to do what we have to do. It was Darwin that advocated survival of the fittest right???

Just to top it off yesterday. My daughter gave me an invitation to a birthday party that was the next day. Right. After. School. Say what?! So there I was “that customer” in Walmart a half hour before it closes frantically looking for a present for her friend. That I know nothing about. Don’t even get me started about the other birthday that we have tomorrow, Father’s Day and the OTHER birthday that I pretty much forgot about. There goes the budget.

For the love of ____ can we just stop judging each other?

Some things that annoy the hell out of me…

How about those peeps that judge those on Facebook? I like Facebook so please don’t sit back and say that it is rendering my ability to communicate or love my family.  I am not a Pinterest gal – does that mean I am not able to make nice things and be creative?

moms

I like healthy foods and sometimes non healthy foods BUT for the love of gluten free, paleo, raw food, and quinoa sometimes I just want a damn bag of chips!

I don’t pick my children up for school in the latest fashions with perfectly manicured nails and magnificent hair, sometimes yoga pants and a ponytail are about all that I can/want to muster up. That doesn’t make me less of a person.

Ever feel like this?

Mom3

When people bad mouth their boss when it isn’t justified. I mean really if you think that you are qualified for the job then why didn’t you apply?

Don’t judge me if my house is messy and don’t judge it if it is clean. Who cares?

Don’t judge me for what I  have and don’t judge me for what I don’t have. Those are just things.

Is it so awful to be happy for each other? Is it?!?!?!

There is nothing wrong with admitting that things are not awesome.awesome

All I am saying that it doesn’t matter if we aren’t perfect (whatever the hell that means!) as long as we strive to be a better version of ourselves every day. If one day you eat poorly then the next day try and eat a nutritious diet. If one day you find yourself yelling and freaking out then the next day try and find ways to stay calm and peaceful.

Whether you are a single Mom, a Step mom, a Foster Mom, a Mom of one or six, a stay at home Mom, or a career Mom. Kudos to each and every one of you. You are freaking awesome.

So though sometimes it is difficult let’s judge a little less and support each other a little more.

mom

Hugs

Krystal

Open post
sushi

Why I Ate Sushi (and I hate fish)

It lay there, beautiful displayed. The setting was perfection. I had been having a wonderful, just-the-two-of-us-vacation. It was our 15th Anniversary. We were alone, at the back of the restaurant, in a traditional Japanese private room. I like sushi…vegetarian sushi…I don’t like fish. Hate it. I’ve tried and tried again, but I still hate it. I knew what was in it – BBQ eel. Yep…I said eel. And raw salmon and banana of all things…

sushi

Why did I do it?

I am 43 years old. I have been married for 15 years. Not all good years. In fact, some were really shitty, my heart broken beyond repair. I have been “Mom of the Year” and yet close to strangling my own off-spring. I have changed careers (not jobs – careers) 4 times and gone back to school twice. Some days were easy and on some I thought of pulling the plug – literally, on those darkest days. I have been afraid. Heart pounding, gut wrenching afraid. And I have stood still, paralyzed and unable to move.

I have lived to tell the tale. I have grown stronger with each jagged heartbreak. I have chosen to love anyway because it’s what I do best. I have yelled and screamed and crumpled in a heap in despair. My tears have filled an ocean and my knees are bruised from falling down so often. Each time, I get back up and clear the rubble once again.

There’s been help. Shoulders to lean on, tearful wits-end conversations with people who still love me for some crazy reason. Banks renegotiate loans, parents give support and windfalls come in the nick of time. Someone comes to the rescue before I commit a crime on my own kids. Yes, there has been help and I am so grateful.

Through it all though, one thing was constant. One thing.

There were many, many times I could have let the darkness take me. Times when I could have just said, fuck it. I came so close. But one person would not let me. She was there, she knew that just one more step would move me forward. She pushed me and I took the step, sometimes unwillingly, but I did.

And that is why I ate the damn sushi. I was in the moment. In the perfect spot on a perfect day with the man I love with every part of my soul who actually loves me back.

Really, what other choice was there? Sitting there, wondering what it would be like? How gross it could be? Wishing we had chosen a different restaurant? Resenting him for all the mistakes he’s made? Beating myself up for all the times I’ve been less than awesome? Thinking of the what-if-I’d-done-that-instead-of-this scenarios? Oh, there were a lot of choices I could have made. But…I chose the fish…the raw freaking fish

I smiled, I chop-stick-handled, I dipped and I stuffed it in my mouth. But…I savored the moment. I chewed and tasted the flavors and the textures. I gave it the “old college try”…

…And I absolutely loved it. LOVED it! I couldn’t believe it. I had more, I ate it without the sauce, I ate it with the banana. Another plate came and it was better than the last. Delicious. I was ecstatic! And I am alive and I am blessed and I am grateful. I wanted to shout from the roof tops, “Sushi rules!” We laughed, we enjoyed, we loved every precious, perfect moment.

…but there will also be many, more days of glorious Sushi and I will savor each and every bite.

….

I would love to hear your sushi story. We are the same, you and I. Let’s chat! Email Shawna: shawna@simplelifecelebrations.com

Open post
Light_Painted_Acoustic_Guitar

The Blister

He’s a quiet one, my youngest. So much the opposite of his sister. He’s easily ignored, well, maybe that’s not the right word…overlooked. It’s not that we mean to. It just happens. We get so involved in what she is doing that we miss what he is doing. I’ve noticed that it happens all too often.

My feelings of guilt then take over. I immediately think about compensating with money – we spend a lot on her activities and he gets nothing or very little as far as dollars spent goes. I try to think of ways that I can spend money on him. Money that we don’t really have as “extra”. He doesn’t ask, he doesn’t complain. It’s not something I want to teach him either. I don’t want him to think that he’s less “worthy” or that he’s missing out just because I don’t spend the money on him. It’s not a message I want to send. Their “value” to me is not related in any way to how much I spend on them. I don’t ever want them to feel that.

So…then what do I do? How do I stop overlooking him? He doesn’t speak up, so I need to see it without him saying so. Or, maybe he doesn’t need it as much as I think he does. Here I am, again, projecting how my feelings work onto someone else. Not everyone feels like me! Sheesh! Not everyone needs constant feedback to feel connected. Maybe he’s content! Have I asked? Yes, I have and he says he’s fine. He says he’s happy. He certainly acts happy. So why don’t I believe him? It’s my usual way. I keep thinking that there must be something wrong, even when there isn’t. Always trying to fix things that aren’t broken. 🙂 I’m working on that. A lot…

Last night, I listened. I left the phone in the truck and I stayed in the moment. And I listened to him play.

I ask again. “Do you want me to sit in on your lesson?” He says yes. And so I listen,. I catch myself tearing up as he plays. I had thought he hadn’t been practicing because I never hear it (because I’m always with her). But he has – on his own, in the quiet house. It’s only his third lesson and I can see his concentration. I can hear his practice. I can feel his love for that little guitar I got when I was his age and never learned to play. Now he learns instead. I hear music already. The quiet gentle tones of an acoustic guitar. So much like him. Quiet and gentle. The tear sits in the corner of my eye. This, I can do. I can be here, right here where he wants me to be. Listening to him play.

He doesn’t ask for much. He doesn’t want an electric guitar or a new acoustic – he is content with what he has. And yet I worry. For no reason. He is good; he is great. He is not the same as her and that’s OK. He is himself and I am so blessed to have him.

He proudly shows me his blister from playing and asks me about blisters. I give him medical mumbo jumbo and I offer to help him put something on it. He thinks about it and then declines. He asks about when his Dad will be home and I let him stay up; knowing that this is the moment he wants to share with his father. The pride of an earned blister. My boy is growing up in his own way, at his own speed. A tear again as I realize this and vow to let him be him. Blisters and all. I love you my little guitar man.

Light_Painted_Acoustic_Guitar

Doing what I can, when I can, the only way I know how.

That’s all they ask of you. Isn’t it time you allowed it for yourself?

Open post
applesauce

Practice Makes Perfect

applesauceI love spending time learning to cook traditional foods with my Mom. This weekend, we spent a warm Sunday afternoon making applesauce with apples from her two apple trees. It was just Mom & I because my kids & hubby had other things to do and Dad was doing stuff outside. We experimented with the applesauce last year and loved it so much, we decided to do it again.

One of the reasons I love spending time with her is the stories we share. We talk a lot about different things from when I was growing up. We talk about the way things are today. We talk about healthy and frugal living. Mom comes from a long line of women who could make something from nothing and know what hard work means. She also comes from a long line of women who are always sacrificing themselves for the sake of others. It’s hard for my mom to relax; to do something that is just for pleasure. There’s always more work to be done.

My Mom’s house is beautiful. It’s perfectly clean and organized. Always has been. I can’t remember it ever being messy. If you needed something, there was always an exact place to find it. She still finds teaching moments for me to learn how to clean properly. I caught her doing it several times as we did the applesauce (it’s a messy job!) It made me smile every time – I’m 43 years old and my mom is still teaching me how to clean a stove!

Just a few years ago, I would have resented the teaching. I would have felt like a failure, thinking she assumed that I don’t know what I’m doing. I would have felt small and childish. I would have drummed up that old attitude of thinking I’m never good enough for her. I would have been hurt and upset that she thought so little of me. I would have put all kinds of thoughts in my head about what she was thinking as she showed me these things.

I’m older and wiser now. I’ve come to terms with that kind of thinking. My Mom does not tell me these things because she thinks I’m not good enough. It’s not about me at all. In fact, I know my Mom thinks I’m pretty damn awesome. She may not say so, but the fact that she wants to do these things with me is the best indicator I know that she cares. She does these things because it’s what makes her feel good. She feels important and respected when she is able to teach me something new or show me something she is good at. And she is great at taking care of her family and her house. No one can clean like she can.

She was teasing me about how I talk about organization here on Simple Life Celebrations and she knows just how disorganized I can be. Oh yeah, she’s seen some pretty messy days at my house. She’s seen me forget things, burn muffins, indulge my kids, change careers, cry about my relationships, and have a lot of dirt on my window sills. She doesn’t understand any of these things. It’s not her way at all (and certainly not the way she taught me).

Oh yeah, she’s called me out on these things. She’s my Mom, it’s her job. Yep, I’m 43 years old and my Mom is still telling me I need to wash my walls. If she didn’t, I’d wonder what was wrong.

My Mom has also seen me get, not one, but two diplomas from SAIT (with honors) while being a single mom. She’s seen me raise thousands of dollars for causes I believe in. She’s seen me fall in love with someone who is my best friend. She’s seen my kid still hug me even when he’s 22 years old. She’s seen the wonderful people my children are becoming. She’s seen me write the stories of our lives. She’s seen me try and try again.

Mom is perfect. She is able to do things I never will. I’ll never have a house that clean or everything perfectly placed. She will always be teaching me how to make a bed or organize a pantry, hopefully when I’m 86 years old. To me, she’ll always be perfect. Teaching equals helping others. She comes from a long line of women who teach the next generation. Who accept that times change and that’s OK. There are new ways of doing things and they are open to learn too. My Gramma learned how to use a computer and how to make the BEST pizza you’ve ever had. These were not skills she grew up with. My Mom can install a printer for my Aunt and can drive a tractor as good as my Dad. Again, she didn’t grow up with this. She learned. They practiced until they got it right. Practice Makes Perfect.

To my Mom, I am perfect. I may forget to call or forget about so-and-so’s wedding shower. I may have a dusty bookshelf. I may have laundry piled in the kids’ rooms. I may not know where my stapler is. I may have given away my mother-in-law’s china. But to her, I am trying, I am learning and I am teaching others as I go. That is all she’s ever asked for. That is her most important lesson: Practice Makes Perfect. Sharing what I’ve learned here with you makes her proud to say, “That’s my daughter. She learned that from me.”

What lessons are you learning? What ways can you teach others? Share in the comments or over on our Facebook page: Simple Life Gals

School Daze

Snuggle Bugs

It’s early. I’m sipping my luscious latte (I love that word…luscious…I’ve used it several times this weekend…oh dear, distracted again! LOL! Like I said, it’s early. 5:30 and I’ve been up for an hour.)

As I sip, I’ve checked the schedule and plans for the week. Thought about priorities and things that need to get done. I smile at the remembrance of a very “luscious” weekend of connection and being with people I love. August draws to a close, with warmer weather and for me, a little bit of sadness and a little bit of pride.

Each year, they change so much. We measured yesterday and both of the “little guys” have grown over 1 1/2 inches since their winter birthdays! She is much taller than me, and he isn’t far away. And my oldest tells me he’s starting to look for a place of his own and he’s got a few job ideas and plans in mind. She’s excited about high school and the youngest is ready too. I didn’t have to stress at all about getting them ready; we’ve done all that. They mostly did it themselves.

They are happy and content for the most part. In fact, yesterday, she posted a pic on FB and said, “Click like if you’re having an awesome day like me”. She has been watching apparently. Learning to appreciate the good days and accepting and moving through the not so good ones. My boys don’t stress about anything much really. They are happy if the women in their lives are happy. LOL! I’ve trained them well 😉 Seriously though, they are just so good at going with the flow. I am grateful for healthy, happy children. I’d like to believe that I’ve had some part in that.

I do reminisce this time of year. I no longer regret the years passing by though. I am more “in the moment” most days, so I remember more and feel like I’ve really lived. I feel like I’ve been a part of my kids’ lives and for that I am grateful. I have no regrets about school days passing. The rush of the school year can make that difficult, I know because I’ve been a mom for almost 23 years.

Each year, I let them bloom a little more; relaxing my grip on their childhood. Some days, this is easy and some days I want to hold so tightly to a moment that takes my breath away. I pause, I take a mental picture, I say thanks, and I let the moment be. Sometimes I write down those moments, sometimes I don’t. But I remember and I smile each time I tell the story.

School begins again and another year is passing quickly. No regrets, my friends. This is a new year, a new chance to make changes. Breathe, love and LIVE these moments. Don’t be in a SCHOOL DAZE and miss out on the what is right in front of you.

I swear that this year will be different….
And every year, it’s the same thing:
    • Over-scheduled extracurricular activities
    • Homework incomplete
    • Too many late nights
    • School paper overwhelm
    • and I can’t wait for summer…and it’s only October!
Yep, we feel the same way you do! This year WILL be different!
Fill in your details below and get your FREE copy!

3 Ways to Stay Sane this School Year

 

Posts navigation

1 2 3