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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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Why I Love Book Club

old-books-436498_640This week, Divine Goddess Book Club was just me and J. And I didn’t care. I loved it. And we didn’t even talk about the book. Mostly she told a story and I just listened.

I’m getting better at just listening.

Not the kind of listening where you’re hearing what they’re saying but you’re already thinking about what you’re going to say.

Not the kind of listening where you are smiling and nodding but are secretly checking your phone or checking things off on your mental to do list.

Not the kind of listening where you’re constantly interjecting with a contradiction or an example “one-upmanship”.

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I’m getting better at the kind of listening where I don’t notice my phone going off.

The kind of listening where I am hearing the story; seeing how the story-telling is making the other person feel. I notice the things she doesn’t say. I see the gears turning as she considers the next thing she is going to say.

The kind of listening where it’s no longer about me. Where it’s about the connection, this moment, right here where someone is sharing a part of their world.

The kind of listening where I no longer judge what she says. Where I just see her for who she is at this moment in time. And we each are better for it.

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That’s the kind of listening I want more of. Not me speaking. I do enough of that here in my writing and with people all around me. I want more of that real connection. I want that person in front of me, no matter how scared or hurt she is to be able to turn to me and be able to open up. To be able to share even just a little bit of her story and be assured that she will not be judged. So that she can begin to heal. That she is safe here.

This is my Core Desired Feeling: Connection. And this is why I love Divine Goddess Book Club, in whatever way it manifests itself: 1 or 10 people or even some day 100 or 1000’s.

It’s so much more than talking about a book. In fact, many times we find ourselves not even really talking about it; it’s just a conversation starter. It has become a curling up around a fire, quiet corner of light in an ocean of darkness where I can just listen. That is why I love it.

DGC Book Club Meets:
at Pandora’s Boox and Tea in Olds
Thursday Nights 5:00 – 6:00
It’s never too late to join in the conversation and Goddess Gathering
(you don’t even have to read the books. Our conversations are open to anyone and are always meaningful.)
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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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Ditch the Clutter 10 Day Challenge

books to let goKrystal and I have some more stuff to let go of (there’s always something, isn’t there?), so we thought we’d make up a 10 day Ditch the Clutter Challenge for all of us to kick start the process.

For each of the 10 days we have a list of ideas for what to let go of. Day 1 will have one thing, Day 2 – two things, Day 3 – three things and all the way up to 10 things on the 10th day. To make this more fun and supportive, we’ll be posting what we’re letting go of on our Facebook Page (and Twitter for those of you who follow us there).

You can post your photos there too and/or comment and let everyone know what you’re able to let go of. Often we just need that little push of accountability to get something done. Let’s do this together!  Follow the posts on our Facebook page here: www.facebook.com/simplelifecelebrations Share this with your friends so that they can join in the Ditch the Clutter Challenge too.

Ditch the Clutter Challenge

                                          Choice One                           OR                     Choice Two

DayOne Piece of furniture that you’re not using Board Game or other Game
DayTwo  2 items from coffee table or side table  2 cleaning supplies/tools you’re not using
Day Three  3 travel items (incl. bags, backpacks)  3 pillows or cushions that you don’t need
Day Four  4 items from under the sink  4 items from the TV stand
DayFive  5 old or outdated things from the fridge  5 knick knacks or decorative items
DaySix  6 pairs of shoes/boots/footwear  6 items from the bedside table
Day Seven  7 things from your workout stuff  7 things from the junk drawer
Day Eight  8 kitchen items that aren’t being used  8 school supplies/papers that aren’t needed
Day Nine  9 shower/bath items that are just taking up space  9 things from the creative corner/crafting supplies
DayTen  10 pieces of clothing (kids, adult, seasonal)  10 bookshelf items (books, magazines, clipped articles etc)

 

These are ideas to get you started. If you have other areas/things you’d like to let go of…GO FOR IT! Also, you can let go of more things each day too! Share your photos/lists on the Facebook page (or comment on this post and tell us what you’re able to get done!)
Don’t forget to get these things out of your home as soon as possible. Garbage to garbage, recycling to recycling, donations donated. Do not let them taking up any more of the precious space in your heart and home! For our local peeps, Krystal gathered together a list of where you can take your stuff. Download it here: Local Places to Donate

I also created a Decluttering Divas Play Sheet (kinda like a “game card”) that you can use to track your progress each day. Download it here: Decluttering Divas Play Sheet

UPDATE: PHOTOS FROM THE CHALLENGE SO FAR

If you have questions or ideas about the Ditch the Clutter Challenge, please email us or post it on Facebook. We are here to help!

minimalist-dresser

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pocket icon

Get Pocket!

I love to read blog posts. It’s a big chunk of my day. They inspire me, teach me and/or make me laugh. Sometimes I share them with you. Most of them come to me in my email which is cool. However, I also don’t like to have a crazy full inbox – I’m a professional organizer! LOL! I’ve been a mostly-zero inbox person for a very long time. Discovering this tool has made this even easier!

pocket website

The tool is called Pocket (it used to be called Read it Later or something like that). Basically, it allows me to skim through my email for the posts that I simply MUST read. I click to open the post. If I have time to read it then, I will. Most of the time, I don’t have time to read then(FOCUS!), but I want to be sure to really read it later. I go to the post and then click the little “Pocket” icon to stash the post for reading when I have time.

pocket icon

 

The reason this works is that it allows me to stay out of my email until the few times a day when I go through and do my focused email maintenance time (batching, peeps, STOP going into your email every 10 minutes! and definitely don’t have it running while you’re trying to WORK! Focus people!)

 

During this focused time, I’m creating a focused READING time because all of the MUST reads are together (and are visually appealing!) I don’t have these cluttering up my inbox. Then when I’m waiting for kids or just sitting down to read for a few minutes, I flip over to my Pocket app and do some quiet reading! Again, focused on only reading, not being disturbed by emails coming in because I’m not in my email!

Let’s face it: we really can’t do multiple things at once. It’s EXTREMELY inefficient to be constantly jumping around between things. I know. I’ve tried it. It simply doesn’t work. You have to STOP pretending it does.

This doesn’t mean that I now have another app full of junk that I’ll just get overwhelmed with. I’m keeping it to around 5-10 things each day that I read (or use the link in a post or something; whatever I was going to do with the post) and then purge from Pocket (yep, DELETE). I’m RUTHLESS and fricking honest with what I’m actually going to read. If it doesn’t light me up at first glance (like, OMG I HAVE to read this!) then it doesn’t get “pocketed”.  If I’m glancing through email and kinda go, “well, this would be cool, don’t know when I’ll get to it” then it gets deleted. I just don’t have time for wishy washy shit. It has to light me up or make me go, “Wow”!
 
I’ve got about 10 “other” things sitting in there that are project based that I’ll be moving elsewhere in the next week or two. There will always be some that need a bit more “work” to deal with before they are purged too. This number will not get higher than 10, because again, I need to keep a realistic expectation on what I’m actually going to do.
 
pocket snapshot
 

Keeping up on the reading in this is easy to do because there’s an app on my phone (and I’m putting it on my Kobo – just haven’t done it yet) and it will even work offline. It’s visually easy to read (no distractions from other website stuff that you normally see when you’re in the post reading on the site) and feeling like I’m reading a magazine.

Get Pocket and move one step closer to getting more reading done (that you want to do!) and less distracted! Get Pocket

I’m a techie and have worked in IT (and been a full time working mom) for over 20 years, so I’ve got lots of tricks on how to make your email work for you. This tool is just one of them! (I’ll share more tools with you in the coming weeks. I’m creating an in depth course that will include deeper insight and how to use these kinds of things. Sign up to be the first to know about it: Goals Goddess Registration)

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self-care thursday

Self-care Sunday

Thursday evenings are often quiet evenings for me. My family is usually busy with other things and it’s nearing the end of the week, so things are settling down in general. The picture above was from my last Thursday evening.

I’m a big proponent of practicing self-care. I used to think that doing things for myself was “being lazy” or “selfish”. However, I noticed that the more I did NOT do for me, the more I was filled with resentment and anger and frustration. I thought I was being a good mother but would find myself yelling at my kids ALL the time – in a very unhealthy way. I would be secretly angry with my husband, especially when he was doing things he enjoyed doing for himself. This would build up inside until it would come exploding out one day out of the blue and the poor guy wouldn’t know what had hit him! I didn’t feel like I had time for making time for me. Who would take over when I had some quiet time? Wasn’t time for me selfish? I still ask myself those questions sometimes.

I’ve discovered that when I’ve just been going and going and going; rarely taking the time to re-charge, I am exhausted and feel like I can’t get anything accomplished. Headaches haunt me and I just don’t feel like myself. It’s then that I remember how much practicing self-care helps me. Better still, I now practice it more often so that I don’t get to that stage. I’m sure to schedule in time for me so that I’m able to be a better Mom, a better wife and a better person.

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Sometimes, it’s curling up under my warm, soft blanket from my best friend that’s all mine and reading a book. It could be playing a game on the computer, quilting, writing or just sleeping a little bit longer than everyone else. My family supports me in this because they know how much it helps me. It’s a habit I want to make sure that they learn (especially my daughter) by seeing me do it.

I created a little download for you if you’re searching for ideas for practicing self-care. Click here to grab your copy (and share it with your friends!)

What are some of your ideas for self-care? What are some of the benefits you see when you do something for you? Leave us a note in the comments!

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goals goddess

Setting Goals Goddess

I’m working on my first “real” webinar called: “Go Goals Goddess” I’m really excited about it because I have learned a lot over the years in my different careers and as I’ve been raising my kids. I’ve learned what doesn’t work for me and what does. Of course, being techie, I’ve found and tried lots of different tools. But, as you can see in the picture above, I also love a pen and paper.

My current system is a combination of a few things; web based and on paper. I find this works really well for me. In the past year or so since I’ve been doing it this way, I’ve tweaked and refined it and come up with a way that I’m able to keep track of things and forget less and get more done. Saying that, I also DON’T get things done! So, the other thing I’ve been learning is how to let those things go. It used to really bother me, but I’ve been much better about that.

The Go Goals Goddess webinar will give you helpful tips and tricks on setting attainable goals. I’ll show you lots of different tools and give you ideas on what works best. It will help you set goals, get some done and be ok with the rest! It’s this Thursday, March 20 at 7:30.

Register for the webinar here: Go Goals Goddess Webinar (it’s free to join!)

How do you feel about goal setting? Share your comments below!

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valentines card

A Love Note to Myself

This was a love note that I created for myself on Valentine’s Day. “I love you Shawna. You are everything to me. I will cherish the beautiful soul you are.” was the inscription

It’s Sunday, a great day to make a habit of self-care. Self-care is NOT selfish! You are a better Mom, Lover, Sister, Friend when your cup is full. Do whatever it takes to fill it up!

For me, tonight, I have plans to connect with fellow Goddesses for the latest Goddess Gathering (connecting is one of my Core Desired Feelings for 2014). I will also be curling up and starting a new book (I have several to choose from!)

Leave a comment and let us know!

If you need ideas, I created a simple little download for the Divine Goddess Circle (www.divinegoddesscircle.com) if you’re a member, grab it out of the Free Downloads section. if you’re not a member yet (why not!?) you can still grab a copy here: Self-Care Ideas

 

 

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