challenging

Santa’s not going to do this by Himself.

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I better get cracking.  My starting point: I have nothing planned for Christmas and I am mentally and emotionally spent.

In my de-cluttering mode I sold our fake artificial Christmas tree.  I had no place put it anyway and I figured we would get by with less.  Everything else for the holidays  is in here.

Just an fyi, if anyone is seeking a nice Christmas tree, Costco has beautiful real trees, cut, for 29.99.   They even tempted me.  They have short needles and are a good height and shape.  I think the tree is a good value plus you get that fresh pine scent in your house.

This year’s challenge is to make Christmas memorable,  fun and easy with low stress levels – without spending a ton of cash.

Unfortunately, it’s a super busy month even without the holidays.  First I have a business trip to Monterrey.  It will be beautiful, maybe stressful but maybe not.   Next I’ll be driving to NYC to chauffeur  two of my children home.  I’m not complaining at all, I love both places,  it’s just time consuming.

In New York I’d be happy to walk around with a coffee.  I like the sparkling silver star that hangs high above 5th Ave near Tiffany’s. ( if you go to Tiffany’s jewelry repair, 6th floor as I recall, you an get an awesome view of the silver star)   I also love looking at Bergdorf Goodman’s windows, they never disappoint.

We’ll play it by ear.  It’s not like my kids are teens and I can tell them what we are doing.  It’s more like they are mini-grown-ups, you know, with big ideas of their own.  I remember when I was their age, I went out partying all winter break, without my parents.

You know what?  I am going to buy that Costco Christmas tree and put it up. Why not?  Dress it with lights, garland and ornaments, and put some presents underneath.  Bake some cookies for everyone to decorate and make hot chocolate. Wow, a somewhat normal and simple Christmas.  So what if it’s in a basement?

That’s all it ever has to be….simple and real.   In my heart, I knew this all along.

Post Script: We lost the second house we bid on.  It was a multiple bidding situation once again.  Heavy sigh.  I feel like the world is telling me something, something like “stop what you’re doing- it’s not working.”

Tip: Concentrate on shared experiences instead of things.

Inspiration: ” Discovery is the ability to be puzzled by simple things.” ~ Noam Chomsky

One-day one-thing: If you’re giving gifts, wrap them as you get them –  it’s the only way.

Thankless

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Hopefully you are in a place where an abundance of joy and love are thriving.  Maybe you are visiting your new grandchild for the first time.  Maybe you are sleeping in or making an early morning  trip to buy bagels for everyone, before a day of cooking commences. Maybe you are hosting and cooking a turkey for the first time ever.

I am having dinner at a restaurant with three siblings who have shown me nothing for as long as I  can remember.  But the part that really hurts is that during my last very rough year and a half, not a word.  Not one single communication.   Not a single mention of empathy or kindness.  Not one offer of help.  Zero compassion.  Zero anything.

I don’t expect anything  from them and I never will.  So for me to write about me being thankful for them, is like person lying about being married. It’s untruthful and I  don’t care to live like that.  I am am thankless for them.

 (sounds harsh to even me, but it’s true)

Obviously, I have a different definition of what “family” means than they do.  I carry my idea of family to my family, my husband and my three children and our pets.  I even extend that level of caring to my friends and co-workers, even most strangers; ( believe it or not ) that is without breaking normal boundaries.

I’m going to this dinner solely for my 84 year old mother. She asked us to join them and I first said,” No thank you.”  She said ,”Well they’re coming over here anyway, whether you come or not.” (we are temporarily living in my mother’s house until we buy our own)  I said, “Okay we’ll go.”

What I learn from this is that I am not alone.  Many people have families full of dysfunction.  This holiday, there will be families who dis-own their own children and grand children solely because of sexual preference.  There will be racists remarks made to bi-racial couples who are nothing but deeply in love.  Political differences will spark arguments.  And I know this is morbid, but there will be Thanksgiving killings today.  Some families should just stay away from each other no matter what man-made holiday tells them they need to be together.

So to those of you out there who will suffer through this holiday, acknowledge you don’t have to be thankful for the toxic people in your life, even if you are breaking bread with them or if you are related by blood.  Remember you are not alone.  Family wounds run deep and never truly go away, this I know.  At the table, I will say a silent prayer of support for you and your struggle.

Take this day and be thankful that you can create your own life to be the way you want it to be.  Be thankful that holidays only occupy a small segment in the timeline of your life.  Be thankful for the lessons learned of how not to be.   Be thankful for the people, or person, in your life who is kind.  Be thankful for your dog or cat, or whatever little soul you consider part of your family.  Be thankful  that you have the power to spread kindness to others.  Be thankful to know compassion.  Be thankful you can express gratitude.  Be thankful just to be.

Cheers to you!

Tip: Concentrate on these tips to get through the day.

Inspiration: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie

One-day one-thing: Keep your sense of humor today, as this too shall pass. :)

Giving up?

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Wow, can it be happening? Is giving up the same as surrendering?

I wish I knew.  Because I am trying , really trying hard to figure this all out.

I don’t think it is, but it’s awfully close.

Look at the note under my photo to the right.  I adjusted our goals.  I left the old “goals” there so I don’t lose sight of them.  Am I changing because we can’t get the other, am I finally learning that there are some things that can’t be left behind.

We all have commitments.  And the commitments that we can not or do not want to give up are what holds us back.  You can have all the open mind you want but you have to be realistic. Yuck!   I hate being realistic.   It’s no fun.

On the flip side, once you look at the circumstances realistically, it may be easier to focus.   Which is another one of my weakest skills.  Focus.  Blah.

I don’t like the idea of giving up.  I don’t like not getting what I want, in others words, “failing.”  And I hate to feel limited.  No one like those things.  To top that off, once again, I find I am quickly re-learning lessons of compromise and patience. (more of my weaknesses)

Sure, I can change my perspective.  Easy peasy.  Change your mind change your world.  (I do believe in  this)  But to do this at the same time I am redefining our goals, well, it seems a bit disingenuous.

So am I giving up?  Maybe.  But not without getting something out of this.  I have a plan to do something new, to try something, it’s a small independent business not like our other business at all.  It would be mine and have absolutely nothing to do with servers and corporate events.

I think I can manage to make this all work together.  And that idea right now is what is rumbling inside my brain and holding me together.  Keep thinking. Cheers!

Tip: Realize that life is full of unpredictable events, attempt to be flexible.

Inspiration: ” Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” ~ Albert Einstein

One-day one thing: On strike until the children go back to school. :)

Grinchy

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Okay here we go, into the holidays a time when people buy gifts for people because they are supposed to, or because they really want to, or because it’s tradition. Many people do this knowing that they really can’t afford to spend their cash, or worse their credit, and they do it anyway.

I used to love the holidays. Loved them. One year I even dragged my DH to the mall on Black Friday just because I wanted to be part of the chaos. Another year I flew to NYC and back the same day, just to be there on Black Friday for the fun of it.

I use to buy things for people I barely knew, just because it was fun. Fun to shop, fun to buy, fun to wrap and fun to give. Also I bought gift for people in case I ran into them somewhere. Many of those gifts are in my box of “new” things in our storage unit. ( somewhere )

When the children were little I spent every Christmas Eve wrapping while watching “The Christmas Story” marathon, I never went to bed. I would finish about six a.m. and they would be wide awake shortly there after. Those were the good years, even if I was sure to end up exhausted and full of champagne by noon. It was fun and exciting. They were always so surprised and honestly very cute. It was unpredictable and all brand new to them..

After many years of playing Santa Claus I started to find myself a little burned out, but it was still fun.

This year is drastically different. Here are the factors: My children are young adults. They either don’t want anything or what they do want is way too expensive. As for us, we are trying to declutter, so we don’t want anything. Nothing please. Additionally we are in a savings mode, because in the back of our minds we think we’ll be looking for a house again soon.

There will be no decorating, because we aren’t living in our own home. We won’t have our own tree, our own music or anything. And seeing as we were never church goers, we don’t have that tradition to fall back on.

I guess we’ll do the usual, the annual Christmas exchange of cash inside cards for the cousins. (that’s what everyone in the entire family does – every year) We never know if they will be there or not? But I always have the cards with cash ready.

It will be cold. It’s always cold.

This past many years have taught me so much, but right now I am tired of learning these life lessons. Enough already.

( which normally means I am about to get slammed with another one )

So this year I’ll be asking Santa for a big red velvet bag full of love, joy and peace, life lessons NOT included. That’s all I want.

“Pssst Santa, can you hear me? “

Tip: Remind yourself it’s only one day and read Gandhi before company arrives.

Inspiration: ” Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.” – Mohandas K. Gandhi

One-day one-thing: Send someone who has crossed your mind a seasonal card even if you haven’t stay in touch.

Garage Abyss and other Lovely Thoughts

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Well, a few weeks ago, we placed a bid on a house.  And that stopped me dead in my tracks on my journey to living better with less.  I thought I better not get rid of anything until we find out if we got the house.   Well we didn’t get the house.  I wont go into how perfect is was for us, because then I start to cry.   I am not depressed, I swear.  But I get really sad when I think about that house, because I knew we should have offered more.  I didn’t follow my instinct.

Trust your gut feelings always; no exceptions

So like a wounded wild animal I am ready to lash out at all this crap in my life.  Look at the mess inside this garage.  It’s embarrassing.  I didn’t even take photo of all my lawn furniture that’s in the driveway and patio.  Winter’s coming.  Snow flakes fell today.  I am going to be ruthless.  I swear. Watch out sh*t, you are going to hit the fan.

nightmare

Bird feed, I am giving you all to the birds on the same day, today.  Eat like kings little birdies.  A bunch of old liquor, I think I will dump it down the drain.  Garden hand tools: keep the best sell the rest.  I have to sort my framed photos one more time and move the “keepers” inside, because they will just get ruined in this damp garage.

I am never going to get over losing the house.

It’s funny what a “house” does to you.  It changes everything.  I am not sure that is a good thing.  Because I stopped.  I stopped doing what I really wanted to do.  I stop dreaming of new places.   I put my goals on hold.   I think I even stopped breathing.  I was holding my breath waiting to hear.  I fell back into old habits of  placing importance on “things.”

I need something peaceful to look at.

I am so torn between what I know, what I’ve learned and an unknown future.  I really thought we were close to a solution which in turn would become our decision.  Now we’ve returned to the unknown.

To top off my disaster-week, I had to tell my husband I agreed to go out to Thanksgiving dinner with my mother and my three brothers who don’t even acknowledge our family exists.   Why would I would I agree to  such a dumb-ass thing?  Well because until we find/buy a house, we are living in my 84 year old mother’s house. (I like to think of it as my Dad’s house, but he’s no longer living. )  She asked and she let me know that the “boys” were coming over here for cocktails before dinner regardless of whether we joined them or not.   How lovely.  So I said yes.

Post Script: I will make sure Thanksgiving a nice day for my husband and my children and our dogs.  That will be easy.  I like the idea of no dishes, and no cooking, so this will be okay.  And two or three hours of dysfunctional-family-torture won’t kill us.  We will be counting our blessings, that’s  for sure!  Because no matter what,through thick and thin, I have my Husband, my children and our animals.  That’s all I need.

Cheers.

Tip: Never search for “tummy” or “gut” on Google.

Inspiration: “What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” ~ Oscar Wilde

One-day one-thing: Make plans for Thanksgiving weekend, it’s a fun weekend don’t let it slip away.


Unpack the Rat’s costume: a novelist

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I have fallen behind in my de-cluttering of useless stuff, the junk in the garage, etc…. and now I am about to write a novel.  I still have no clue as to what I am going to write, but it starts November 1, 2011, which is tomorrow.

I will be busy with that, and won’t have much time for Unpack the Rat.   I’m going to  continue my journey to living better with less for sure.  Unpack the Rat has been the best thing that ‘s happened to me in a long time!  I’ve learned so much.

Happy Halloween-from my friend Unpack the Bat

Clearing out the emotional clutter was is so incredibly important to me.  Well come to think about it, all the cluttered areas are equally important to me.  They’re all connected and they influence each other.  I never, in a million years, imagined that clearing out boxes and shoes would lead to clearing out everything else and re-inventing my life.

I have a long road ahead, more work to be done, but it’s not as overwhelming as it was before.  I hope to have some great accomplishments, tips, and stories to write about when I return to Unpack the Rat.  I am excited.  Life is good, even when it’s not. :)

Thank you for reading.  I’ll be back.

Until then I wish you peace and love,

Shirley Trevor

PostScript: I really value Unpack the Rat as a place I can unload my feelings, so I may not be able to stay away. This whole “novel” writing adventure is getting a bit intimidating.

Tip: “Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.”~John Lennon

Inspiration:

Every-day one thing: “Extend to each person, no matter how trivial the contact, all the care and kindness and understanding and love that you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.” – Og Mandino

Tree at the end of my street -fall color- nature’s incredible design. click for hi-res

Re-wire your brain – light up your life.

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It’s time.  This time, not next time, right now and right where ever you are.

(Please know I am addressing myself as well.)

No more excuses. Change your mind and change your life.  Decide today that you are worth taking care of.  Believe that there is nothing more important that taking care of yourself.   Other people do it.  We look at them in awe.  We question how do they do it? Sometimes we get jealous.  Maybe we claim they don’t have troubles, or they are younger, healthier, or they are rich, or they don’t have to work so they have the time. Over and over again we convince ourselves that they can have it all, because of something they have that we don’t.

Each time we make any excuse as to why we are not living our best life we are bullshitting ourselves – every single time.

I have no room to talk.  I am right there with everyone. I have attempted so many times to get my sh*t together that I have all the tips embossed into my gray matter.  Those tips, and they are good ones,  didn’t help me at all.  You know why?  Because I never followed through with what they said. I would read self help books up to about page 30.  You wouldn’t believe how many of these books I donated in my de-cluttering.  I had to remove all the pathetic book marks. I never stuck with anything long enough to get to the point where I knew I was living my best life.

More importantly MOST importantly, I never cleared out all the other toxic beliefs, grudges, and negatives in my heart and mind.  You have to have an open mind, that’s true.  I had an open mind.  What I didn’t have was any extra room in my mind.  You have to have a clean slate, or at least some free space in your head where new ideas can begin to live and grow.

It’s somewhat like a chalk board. Try this:

Fill a chalk board with every thing that you have issues with, and things that makes you angry, and people who have  hurt your feelings.  Write down the negative things you say to yourself.  Right down every regret you have.  Write down any and all shame you carry.  Write down the reasons you don’t exercise or eat right. Write down names of people who screwed you, or lied to you. I think you get the point.

Now step back.  Look at that mess. There’s no room for anything else.  Your board is full.  Full of sh*t.

It’s time to erase that nasty chalkboard.  Everything you wrote down doesn’t matter.  Erase it. It just doesn’t do you any good, in fact every day you keep it on your board (in your brain), you suffer.

This can be a long painful process, but at a certain point in time you will reach a tipping point where, letting go of the ugly past/present becomes easier.  You may even wonder why you didn’t do all this sooner, don’t worry that’s normal.  Here are four simple things you can do this weekend to start re-wiring your brain.

1. Don’t gossip:  It can be a habit.  Just stop it.  It is negative energy that saps you of positive emotions. It’s not nice and it attracts people who are not nice.

2. Compliment yourself: Acknowledge something that you do or did well.  Be proud of it.  It can be anything, even something as simple as cleaning out a cat box.  Just say to yourself, “That was nasty but I did a good job of cleaning it and now it’s done, the cats will be happy.”

3. Be grateful: Every day express gratitude, and recall that gratitude throughout the day.  Key word “express.”  Let someone ( even yourself) know you are grateful.

4. Stop complaining: Cold turkey on this one.  If you can’t say something nice stay silent.

This is only a start. I don’t know if this will work for anyone else, but I have used these four things and they have helped me.

I am working on changing my mental wiring, my life.  I am starting to actually see a difference.  It feels good.  My old issues, they are still there, but they have no power less influence over my thoughts and my decisions.  Letting go doesn’t make things disappear, it just means  you are no longer holding on to them.

Be conscientious of these four simple things for the entire weekend, what do you have to lose?   Happy Friday. Cheers- I love Fridays!

And if you really want to enjoy your weekend try Sunday, simply.

Tip: Don’t be hard on yourself, stop talking yourself down.

Inspiration:

This is my goal in life.


One-day one-thing: Set one realistic goal to accomplish this weekend and do it.

Breaking Holiday Dread.

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It’s October, and the pressure is already mounting.  We all know what’s around the corner.  The holidays.  The days we smile and laugh and share good times with those we love or those we are related to.  Some people are lucky and everyone they know fits into the “I can’t wait to see you this Thanksgiving” category.

Me, not so much.   So without going into the gory details, my task here is to learn how to simplify these awkward family celebrations.  I am tired of stressful holidays.   They must end and end this year.   This is a huge challenge and it weighs heavily on me.  I could say I hate it but I don’t want to be a hater.

(I’ll save the financial stresses of holidays for another post.)

I have gathered a list of what I am going to do to handle this holiday season.  I hope it works.  And maybe this list will  help someone else out there in a similar situation.

(Warning:This list is for those who have issues, if you don’t have these issues ignore #1,#2 & #3.)

1.)  Give up hope:  Give up the hope that our families will act perfectly, or even remotely close to reasonably well.  We know what to expect, and we need to acknowledge it isn’t going to be perfect or even close.  Eliminate all your expectations.

2.)  Give up control:  If you have been deeply wounded by your family stop trying to control them.  You will never control someone’s actions or words.  Accept full responsibility for your healing.  Only you can control your thoughts.

3.)  Go late, leave early: If you must go into an uncomfortable situation arrive late, have an early exit plan, and leave early.

4.)  Say “no.”  Having extra responsibilities during the holidays is normal, but don’t let yourself be the go-to person for everything that no one else wants to do.  Be prepared to say, “no.”

5.)  Be rested and well fed: This is key.  So many times we become so busy we  don’t even realize that we haven’t eaten or that we are getting too little sleep.  This makes you emotional and weak which in turn leads to intense sadness and poor decisions.

6.)  Be selfish: Schedule some interrupted time every day to do something just for yourself, this is also critical to improve your mood and it makes you stronger in handling uncomfortable situations.

7.)  Go for a walk:  No matter what – go for a walk.  It doesn’t have to be a long walk, but get up and get out of the house.  Clear your head and get a break from all the pressure at home or at a gathering.

8.) Above all practice gratitude:  This will help you during the holidays and every day of the year!

I would love to hear your suggestions and or tricks…..add them in the comment section.   Cheers – I am enjoying this season this year no matter what!!!

Tip: Don’t drink too much. I speak form experience it’s not good thing, even though it felt good at the time.

Inspiration: “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. ” ~Epictetus

One-day one-thing: Sort your holiday stuff, throw away anything broken, donate items you will no longer use. Do not hoard anything for someone else or for another season.

Nanowrimo

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I have sign up for Nanowrimo.   National Novel Writing Month.

Why did I do this?  Well, I thought, why not?  I mean in all reality, TV is really crappy and it’s a waste of my time.  And what else do I have to do, besides get rid of all my stuff, work, and take care of our family and our dogs and cats, paint and exercise?

Why not write a novel?  I have never really ever even considered writing a book.  Why not try?  What else is there to do in November other than write about 1667 words per day?  In the end,  I will have something I didn’t have before.  I’ll meet some “writer” people and learn something along the way.  Plus it doesn’t cost a penny.  Sounds like a good thing to me.

I’m kind of excited.  I bought a WordPress theme called “Chapters” and I am almost ready to go.  Oh wait, I need a plot and a story to tell.  Hopefully within the next 22 days I can think of something.

Peace.

It’s Sunday, I shouldn’t even be writing this.

Tip: Write even if you only have 15 minutes.

Inspiration:  “And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.  The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”  ~Sylvia Plath

One-thing one-thing: Un-clutter your day: Make a schedule for tomorrow and see if you can stick to it.

On two wheels

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When you looked at your first bicycle, did you think; oh I can’t do that, I’ll never be able to ride that, everyone will laugh at me when I try? Did you tell yourself , “If I can’t ride this bike the very first time I try, then I’ll never try again?” Were there small voices in your head saying you’re not talented enough, not tall enough, not strong enough to ride a bike like this.

I doubt it.

I want to go back. I want to feel the freedom that comes with being four years old. At four we made our lives fair, we didn’t play with kids we didn’t like or who weren’t nice. There was no drama. “She’s mean. I don’t want to play with her.” And that was that. No big deal.

At four, if we were pretending to something different from ourselves, it was only because that was the game we agreed to play. Remember “make believe?” At four years old, if your pal was crying you wanted to know why and you tried your best to make it better. That’s was important. Being four could be little complicated since you couldn’t drive a car, but it was manageable because we knew all we needed to know to get by.

Some time has past since I was four and the world I am living in seems somewhat off kilter. There’s too much negativity and troubles. Grown ups are old and crabby. They don’t appear to know how to play. Too much stress and worry is occupying the space their heads and hearts. I see them all the time in shiny cars wearing bitter frowns as they scurry about the city.

But I know, in that very same city, there’s a bunch of four year olds living the good life, living large with eyes wide open and playing by their own simple rules.

So that’s what I am going to do. I am going to be four again.

I am going to follow my own rules and have fun.

Cheers.

unlimited possibilities

Tip: Think like a child when you meet a new challenges; worry less and do your best.

Inspiration: “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” ~T.S. Eliot

One-day one-thing: It’s Sunday do whatever you want.