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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – My Struggle, My Story

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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.

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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

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Just Tomato Soup

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“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.

 

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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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One Day, One Step, One Moment at a Time

It has been a bit of a whirl wind of a week. In fact since school has been back in things have gotten a bit crazier. Do you feel it too?

We all know that getting back into a routine can be difficult. Just remember that it can be tough on us as well as the kiddos. By day 3 of school last week Facebook seemed to be a buzz with parents discussing how tired their children were; we felt that here as well. It seems one minute we are basking in the sunshine of summer, kids are playing outside, and meals are whatever, whenever. The next moment kids and us are having to get up early and we are back to work/routines as per regular hours. Add to that a bombardment of school papers coming home, fundraisers (already!), volunteer work, as well as extracurricular activities (for us and the children) starting up.

I used to get very overwhelmed by it all. Yes I do enjoy a bit of structure but boy how I miss my bare feet on the grass. I enjoy being able to jump in the car with the kids to go exploring, sleeping in that little bit longer – well you get the point. But alas seasons change, times change, schedules change and we are back at it.

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I just want to let you know dear souls that you do not have to do it all. Do only what speaks to your heart. I know, I know easier said than done. Simplifying our lives means that we need to take a step back and re-evaluate. I encourage each of you to think about what brings you joy and fulfills what you need at this time. For me it is to feel connected and nourish those relationships close to me. If you are involved with several committees and having trouble having any energy left to bring back to your home (the place that should be the most comfortable, stable, loving place) then step away from the ones that you can no longer give your time to. If you are running out the door every evening, all evening and every person is out of sorts despite your best efforts of taxiing them there and funding their activity then realize that maybe someone or some activity needs to give.

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It is perfectly fine to not do it all. You do not have to feel guilty (I know – easier said than done). But really you don’t. Unless an activity brings you happiness; why are you doing it? I recently read this (Adapted from Michael Hyatt – Intrinsic Motivation). “Author and researcher Marcus Buckingham was surprised with research he did at Gallup that showed that women’s happiness had plummeted over the last forty years—the exact opposite of men” (See Find Your Strongest Life).He devoted himself to figuring out what made the happiest women happy. He found that the happiest women tended to focus on the few areas where they excelled. If a woman loved marathons, she didn’t waste her time on home decorating. If she enjoyed studying rocket-science, she didn’t focus on entertaining friends. You get the idea.”

Yesterday I had this great plan to work my day, go to book club, have the kiddos try out a class with a friend, work out put kiddos to bed. There was also the school BBQ and Meet the Teacher Night which I had already decided would not work for us (not a big deal) as I have already met the teacher as my other two kids also had her for a teacher and I am more than familiar with the school. Fairly standard day right? Yeah…so work went late, which meant I missed book club, a buddy stopped over which meant  we missed workout. Kids to bed on time? Well…not quite. But I didn’t stress about it because by taking each moment and realizing that I can only do what I can do I was able to roll with it and do the things that I could do to the best of my abilities.

Quite simply even if you were 100% organized, life has a funny way of throwing curve balls at you. Just roll with it sistah! Do the best that you can. With the time that you have. Every day.

I just wanted to send you a virtual hug; or if you aren’t so much a hugger let’s pound it. If you are feeling overwhelmed right now with decisions, papers, work, classes, tired kids, you are not alone. Hang in there. Words of advice from the SLC Gals Simplify Life’s Celebrations, Celebrate the Simple Life. In other words don’t make your life so complicated that you cannot enjoy life’s every day pleasures – the simple things. 🙂

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Enjoy your day and all of the simple things that go with it!

k

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Flip Those Disorganized Moments

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Disorganized Moment

I didn’t get my legs shaved in the shower this morning

Flip to an Organized Moment:

I’m wearing pants today anyway and this will give me an excuse for a relaxing bath later!

Disorganized:

I forgot to get envelopes for the mail I need to mail today.

Organized:

They have some at the post office and I only want two anyway instead of a whole box.

Disorganized:

I missed getting Lucas new shoes for school

Organized:

He doesn’t really care and we’ll shop local which is better anyway.

Disorganized:

I didn’t get any social media posts done up last night.

Organized:

I did get a lot of other work done that I wanted to do and then took a much needed break which made me much more ready and able to face a new week (and I got a shower idea anyway because my mind was clear!)

Disorganized:

I didn’t leave enough time to go and buy a coffee.

Organized:

I have coffee at home and a very handsome hubby who made one for me anyway! Plus I saved money!

These are just a few examples of those frustrating moments where you can choose to have a little freak out and over-reaction (which, yes, I have done) or you can choose to flip it around and see the “silver lining” as the saying goes. We are all disorganized and imperfect. It’s about time we chill out, don’t you think? I choose freedom and peace instead.

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What are some of your disorganized moments that you turned around and changed your attitude about? Fess up in the comments!

Want to turn over one of those frustrating “to-do list” things to someone else, like meal planning? We’ve got it covered for you in Badass in the Kitchen Meal Planning. We do it for you. Read more here: Badass in the Kitchen

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How Do You Decide Which Activities to Put Your Kids In?

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Gretchen Rubin explores many things in her home life in the book, “Happier at Home“. In the January section, she has goals surrounding Time. One of these is to Guard My Children’s Free Time. She discusses the very common dilemma we parents face when deciding what activities our children should be involved in.

 

This is the time or year for registering our kids in a myriad of opportunities. We want to give them access to all kinds of things to “make them a better adult”. We worry about what other kids are involved in and if our child will be left behind if they are not. We want them to get out and get involved in something so that they meet new people. We want to make sure that they are physically active and learning new things. We worry that if they aren’t in this activity or that sport that they will feel left out.

This is something that we have struggled with many times in our house. I worried about my daughter being involved in dance so much that she was missing out on other opportunities, yet if she didn’t do all the dances her friends were in, she would feel left out. I have forced my boys to do activities that they really didn’t like because everyone should know how to skate or to swim. I felt like I was a neglectful parent if my children were not involved in some sort of music or art class – after all, they would be left behind academically if they were not fluent in some sort of artistic endeavor. And oh my, what if they don’t have any friends!? Or what if their friends were able to go to this camp, but not my child and then what would they talk about? It would be horrible to be the one who was left behind!

And so we ran. We ran this way and that. I barely saw my husband except in passing or to make a demand that he pick so-and-so up so that I could get another one to that activity. I spent countless hours being the perfect volunteer parent. The one who always helped out. The one who always watched every activity. The one who organized this and picked up that for the team.

 

I threatened and physically dragged my children. I ignored pleas and tantrums because “you have to go”. Guilt trips and negative talk were the order of the day, especially during competition season. After all, this was what all the work was for, right!? How could you let your team down if you don’t go?

 

We were eating on the run, in cars and corners of a gymnasium or arena. Saturday mornings were rushing to this thing and money we didn’t have was spent on hotels and stuff we barely used before the season was over and the kid had outgrown it.

 

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It put a strain on everyone. I was yelling all of the time, finding myself saying horrible, mean things to my children, to get them to go, to get them to do better, to push them harder. It stressed us financially and our marriage suffered because we barely saw each other. So much resentment because I felt he didn’t help enough and he felt I helped too much. It strained our health from eating too much fast food and not eating together. The stress of the constant running around took a toll on my body. I began to forget things, or do something poorly just to get it over with and not doing it perfectly strained my nerves even more. I begged my friends each spring to remind me to not get so involved in stuff the next fall; but each fall I would repeat the pattern again. Each fall, the crazy life would start all over again.

 

And then there came a time when it was too much. My daughter hated the dancing that she once loved. She barely got enough sleep and spent almost as many hours at dance or travelling to it as she spent at school. She cried at night because her legs ached so much. I had to drag my boys along or to their stuff or ended up missing them completely because we were so busy. I’d forced them to do things from my own guilt because, well, they should have to do things like their sister did. It was only fair that they had opportunities too!

 

I broke down one morning, about 4:30 in the morning. I’d realized in the middle of the night that I had forgotten to do something very important for my son’s Cadets. I had forgotten a few important things recently and felt like a complete failure. I sat in the dark and cried and cried over my keyboard. I wrote a letter to a friend and fellow Cadet mom who had had to pick up the pieces where I’d made a mess. I couldn’t go on like this anymore.

 

That next fall, we didn’t do dance. Instead, we let our daughter try other things; things that didn’t take as much time and that she was curious about like fencing. I stopped forcing my oldest son to take swimming lessons or learn to skate. He hated swimming and was never going to pass that first level. I stepped down from many of my volunteer responsibilities and let someone else step up. I stopped forcing my youngest into groups like cubs where being around all those other kids completely overwhelmed him. I started to say no to activities and yes to guarding my children’s time (and my sanity).

 

Now, she’s dancing again, but in a less competitive way more fun studio. She is able to try out high school sports she is interested in and work part time to support her own makeup artist interests. My oldest is away from home now and plays ball again, a game he’d begged me to let him stop playing as a kid. Now he plays again on his own terms, because he wants to have fun. My youngest isn’t involved in very many things except more solo things he’s actually interested in, like guitar lessons. He feels listened to and I understand that he thrives when he’s allowed to do what he loves instead of what I think he “should” be doing.

 

Yes, I am criticized sometimes and I’m my worst critic. Sometimes I worry that I shouldn’t let her do all the different things she does because she does way more than the boys and “it’s not a fair distribution of resources”. Many things, she pays for herself (like one of her dance classes this year). I think this does more to teach her responsibility than denying her. I am criticized that my youngest spends so much time online and doesn’t get out as much as other kids. It is what he loves to do and he does it with friends and his sister and his cousins. He plays guitar in his own time and reads books too. He enjoys the quiet and solitude of being with himself. It is who he is and I will no longer force him to be someone he’s not. I will encourage him to stretch out (and he has, joining a tech camp over the summer for example). He is willing to try things when we allow him to try them on his terms in line with his personality and recognizing his strengths.

 

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We are learning together how to better manage our time so that each of us is able to pursue things that light us up instead of stress us out. My girl is so like me in wanting to try everything, but she is learning how to manage her own time as I have her consider that if she says yes to something, she will have to say no to something else. She realizes that she cannot do it all at a way younger age than I was. And that’s a very good thing!

 

We are busy, but we also have time when we are able to eat dinner together and do other things… or even do nothing! We can sit and watch movies all Saturday or go on a date or just read a book. There is life outside of our activities and we are allowing each other to have that life. The activities are that much better because we have the time to actually enjoy them.

 

I know what it feels like at this time of year. How you desperately want to give your kids everything. How you are afraid of missing out. I am not condemning anyone who chooses to keep a very full schedule with your kids. That is your choice.

 

I am just advising that you consider the cost of these things before you say yes. Consider what you are saying no to when you say yes to one more thing. Remember what it felt like last fall and is that how you want to feel this year? Talk together as a family and really listen to what your kids have to say. Listen to what your heart tells you. How do you want to feel? How does your daughter want to feel? Your son? Your spouse? Then decide together what you will do to feel that way.

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Cleaning the Bathroom Sucks…and Other To Do List Problems

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There are just some tasks that really suck, don’t you think? Like cleaning the bathroom. It just gets dirty the instant you walk out the door. A-L-L…T-H-E…T-I-M-E!! You just look at the bathroom the wrong way and it’s dirty again! Having kids getting older was supposed to make it easier! The mess is just bigger, that’s all.

As you sit down with your gargantuan Saturday “to-do list” and a cup of coffee, decide which tasks will best serve your highest purpose. What will make you FEEL good (or at least better).

 

Is there stuff on there that you can just say, you know, I really don’t care that the book shelf gets dusted today, it doesn’t actually bother me that they’re a little dusty. I’d rather read one of them for a little while out on my sunny deck! Would that be more in line with how YOU want to feel today?

Are you cleaning things because “you’re supposed to” according to some “rules” someone created? Are you cleaning things just for the sake of cleaning them? Do you actually read or even want the books on the shelves? If not, wouldn’t your time be better spent gathering them up, donating or selling them and leaving that space for something else that you love (and doesn’t need dusted as much)? Gasp! What if you even were able to get rid of the whole shelf entirely? Then you wouldn’t have to dust it ever again! Hmmmm…..Less stuff to dust; less dusting! How would that make you feel?

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What about that bathroom?…it has to be cleaned for sanitary reasons. I get that. But, if cleaning the bathroom causes you stress, can it be delegated? Perhaps we need to let someone help us…perhaps we can let go of the need to be the only one who does everything around the house (I’ve never said that…yeah right, Miss Martyr…being a martyr feels so great….NOT!)

Maybe it can be less perfectly cleaned by someone else, and you can feel better about asking for help and allowing that you don’t have to do everything. (What!!??! I don’t have to do everything myself? Oh, but the taps won’t be perfectly sparkling! Have you ever taken the time to show someone else how to do it? Ummmm no, I haven’t, because that’s too hard…uh huh…so….it’s easier to freak out about having to clean the bathroom myself all the time? Hmmmmm….maybe not…)

If it can’t be delegated for whatever reason, then what about a different approach in how we FEEL about cleaning it. Can we change our attitude?

Yep, my attitude is in MY control. I can spend the morning being pissed off that I have to clean the bathroom again or I can approach it differently. I love how the mirror looks when there are no tooth brush crime-scenes splatted all over it. I can stop and admire that hot momma in the clean mirror when it’s done.

 

I can pull out the “good towels” and enjoy a clean, luxurious bath in the clean bathtub later when it’s all done. Clean the tub for ME! I love the smell of a clean bathroom. It just makes me feel good. How about I focus on that instead?

Or what if I got rid of all these almost empty bottles sitting on the counter/ledge so that it’s way easier to quickly clean these areas. I can control what’s in my bathroom. If there are a ton of knick knacks that always get dirty, why am I keeping them there? Do I even like them? If not, let’s simplify this whole bathroom cleaning job! That makes me feel waaaayyy better about cleaning the bathroom.

These are the ramblings of a to-do-list-aholic. Over the years, I’ve re-evaluated the whole idea of them and how I approach my list. I do still get a little Martyr-Crazy and scream and yell, but not as often. This is a process, not perfection. Join me today as you look at that list. Try just re-thinking ONE thing on the list:

  1. Re-evaluate – does it really need to get done NOW?
  2. Delegate – do you HAVE to be the one to do this?
  3. Re-frame – can you change how you approach this task?

Please let me know how this goes for you. Your To-Do list doesn’t have to make you feel overwhelmed or anxious. It can make you feel good. Feeling good is what life is all about in my opinion. #DesireMap

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wasting time

What is a Clean House?

I could be cleaning

My house isn’t clean by some standards. In fact, it’s pretty dirty by some standards.

  1. My windows are especially dirty because heights freak me out. But mostly because cleaning windows, especially really dirty ones, takes a really long time…longer than I feel like doing right now.
  2. My carpets are rarely vacuumed, let alone washed. Right now, I can see the faint 1 1/2 meter long line where B recently spilled his entire glass of RED wine in the living room. We ‘cleaned’ it with club soda right away, but it’s still kinda there. It blends in with all the other splots of wine and food because yep, I let everyone eat in the living room…often…so you can picture what my carpet looks like. And we have a dog…
  3. My kitchen table is constantly covered in things like Magic the Gathering cards, spilled salt, someone’s empty water bottle, nectarines in a paper bag, a cool sculpture my son made that reminds me of one of those little dippy bird thingys that people keep on their desks and coupons that I keep forgetting to take with me to the store.
  4. Books are piled in various places throughout the house, in different phases of being read. Some from the library, some purchased by B, some by me, some by her. There’s also singing bowls and tarot cards and candles and incense lying around without a ‘home’ because they are constantly moved from one place to another.

dippy bird

I know how to clean a house. In fact, I’m actually really good at it. My mother taught me well. I even recently cleaned her house – thoroughly – for her while she was away. I can do it. I used to do it all the time.

I have videos of the kids on a Saturday morning that has occasional glimpses of a woman in frumpy, over-sized clothes, without a shower, frantically cleaning everything in one day. She often ended up yelling at someone that day or she was full of resentment and the feeling of being alone in the struggle of perfection. And she never seemed to be able to get it perfect.

Worst of all, in those videos are moments she missed:

  1. The little boy playing a board game with his “evil” twin because no one had time to play. That grown man is too busy for a board game, even when she asks him to play and tries to bribe him to come over for his favorite food.
  2. The baby girl dancing in the living room to music only she can hear. She doesn’t even like her mama to see her practice at dance class, let alone find her dancing at home.
  3. The quiet little boy creating worlds only he knows the story of. She wishes she could write those stories down, but they’re gone now.
  4. The chance to curl up with him and the 3 of them in bed, reading it “just one more time” because they used to love the sound of her voice and their favorite book

Yes, there are moments that she didn’t miss, but not as many as she’d like.

She doesn’t live here anymore. She has been replaced by a “sometimes-cleaning” lady. This lady is happier. She doesn’t miss as many moments that are so quickly disappearing. There is less stuff, more time but she the sometimes-cleaning lady doesn’t use that time for cleaning very much. I use the time for non-cleaning things.

  1. I don’t need to look out the dirty windows because I’m “out there” a lot more than I used to be. My skin is no longer pale and hidden from the sun. I am in my garden, snacking on a lettuce leaf or a strawberry. Or on a walk with whoever will go with me, enjoying being outside. My feet are dirty from walking barefoot in the grass, reconnecting with Earth. tomatoes
  2. The dirty carpets show that we live here. The time spent not washing them is time reading a book or watching a movie. Popcorn and wine and spots of food ignored. It’s time spent showing our kids that you’re never too old to learn or try something new. You can see the carpet now that we have fewer things covering them up, stains and all.
  3. My kitchen table is quick to clear when I need to. For now, I will enjoy the bird and find the coupons when I need them. I’ll grab a juicy nectarine just because it’s summer. The sea salt makes my real food taste even better and the Magic the Gathering cards will be needed again when we all go play again this Friday. And I’ll need my water bottle for yoga later.
  4. The books are being read; the cards are too. The incense and candles fill our home with peace and tranquility as we are learning to be more connected with ourselves instead of all those things that we used to try to fill our home with. We are together more in these quieter moments without a vacuum cleaner filling the house with noise.

I do not have a perfectly clean house. I’ll have plenty of time for that some other time.

office hours

Right now, this moment, I will let the dust sit on the shelf and the crumbs on the floor while I write a little. I will leave the dishes in the sink while I visit a friend I have missed. I will wash the floor another day because tomorrow, I’m going for a pedicure with my mom, sister and my daughter. This is what I choose to clean up – my life; my time with the people I care about and my love of myself. This is what a “clean house” is. The temple of me.

wasting time

To you: I challenge you to allow yourself to ‘waste time’. As the Dixie Chicks say in this song, “Tomorrow, there’ll be so much to do. So tonight, I’ll drift in a dream with you”. Forever is never enough time with them. Clean the right house.

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.

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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?

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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?

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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
trust

Trust

 

trust

 

I was going to write about Spring Cleaning today but the word trust kept popping into my head. I know -big difference in subject matter!! This is how I write now. I write about what moves me and the thoughts that I feel HAVE to be put down on my computer.

I used to be the BIGGEST worrier. I would fret about work; who would I be working with? Was it going to be a good day? Would I be able to handle my workload? Could I be a good nurse for my patients? Would it be so crazy on the unit that I would forget something?

I would worry about my kids. Are they doing ok at school? Did they get their assignments done? Did they hand in the paper that was due today? Are they in the right extra-curricular activity? Is he able to handle going to parties? Will they make good decisions?

I would also worry about whether I had paid all the bills before their deadlines. What I would make for supper that the family would enjoy. I would worry if I hadn’t heard from my friends for a while. I would feel so awful for what others were going through that my day would not be good.

I think you get the point. I would actually feel ill quite often with my stomach doing flip flops because I could not escape the thoughts. I took the weight of the world on my shoulders and I did not know how to cope with the thoughts that bombarded me on a day to day basis. I did not understand that all of these things were out of my control. My worrying did not make a bit of difference on the outcome of these situations and quite frankly looking back it was simply exhausting to have these negative feelings all of the time. It was like I was anticipating a negative outcome before it had even happened.

So moving on to trust. What is trust? Well the online dictionary defines trust as such:

trust

[truhst]

noun

reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.

confident expectation of something; hope.

confidence in the certainty of future payment for property or goods received; credit: to sellmerchandise on trust.

a person on whom or thing on which one relies: God is my trust.

the condition of one to whom something has been entrusted.

 

The definition that I am talking about is the first. “Reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.”

You see I have had to be able to trust more than I ever have before. In doing so I am able to live much more freely.

 

When we are babies and even small children we don’t know anything but trust. It is only after a child has been let down, lied to, or treated adversely that they begin to not trust people at times.

As adults I find that it is more difficult to put your trust in something or someone. Through experience we know that trust can easily be shattered and is very difficult to recover. We know that trust has to be earned.

 

However…

 

If we are able to  open ourselves up to trust in people and situations then we are able to live in the moment without defining what ‘could’ happen and not robbing our life at the present time of all that it is.

 

Yesterday was a prime example of ways that I trusted everything would work out. I went through my usual work day trusting that I could get away on time in order to pick up my daughter and get her to dance competition on time. I trusted that my parents would pick my kiddos up from school and my Mom would get my daughter’s hair all curled and styled for me so that we wouldn’t be late. I trusted that my husband would remember to pick up my youngest son and get everything done so that we would be ready for school the next day. Lo and behold I got a flat tire on the way to dance competition. I now had to trust that I could get the tire changed and get into the theatre on time to watch my daughter dance. Luckily my bff changed it and we got finished up just in time. After the competition I had to trust that I could get back to my town on the little spare tire on the busy highway.

It all amazingly worked out.

 

Another thing during my daughter’s dance routine there is a part where some of the girls have to lift my girl up in the air while she is in the splits. Their job is important to keep her safe from falling. She has to trust them 100% and they trust that she can hold the move. The old me would have worried so much about the outcomes of all of these things.

 

My son recently turned 18. I keep thinking and wondering if we have given him the tools to be able to get by in the world. As parents we have to be able to trust that he can make good decisions at this point and trust that he will come to us for advice and help when he wants it not just when we think that he should have it. We have to put trust in our children and let them make decisions for themselves.

 

Another thing in my life that I used to worry about extensively was money. When my husband I were first starting out we barely made above minimum wage. I panicked about whether we had enough for this or that. I managed it all for years. One day I realized that I just had too much on my plate and my husband and I decided that I would hand over the financial stuff to him. We still discuss finances but now he is responsible for paying the bills and managing the accounts. This was tough for me to let go of and trust that he could manage this but he really stepped up and does a great job.

 

I also used to stress about being able to do it ALL. I think this is common for women. We don’t have to participate or volunteer with everything ALL of the time. Of course we have feelings of guilt around all of this. (That is a whole other topic.) As May is often the busiest month in my house I trust that if I take things day by day then my days should play out as they are supposed to.

 

I am not saying that you have to trust every person that you come across. I am saying that things happen for a reason and you should always trust in the outcome. We are not meant to see the big picture.

 

trust3

 

Here are more few examples about how I am able to trust.

 

  • Friendships – I trust that my friends will be open and honest with me, not play games, and have my back if I need them
  • Children- I trust that they will be safe every day, do their best, and learn from their mistakes
  • Husband – I trust this man with all my heart. I know that I can count on him for love and support.
  • Job – I trust that I have the knowledge to assist people to the best of my abilities.

 

I hope that you are able to let go of the need to try and control every situation that comes your way. Sometimes you just need to listen to that gut feeling, go with the flow and live in the present with every cell of your body!

trust1

Blessings,

Krystal

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