life

The Perfect Gift – Encouragement

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(written Saturday night)

To tell you the truth, I don’t even think I have a positive thought in my brain right now.  Do you ever feel that way?

Just another day of house hunting disappointments.  Actually two on one day, no make that three. I sick of moaning about it, so I will keep this short. The first and second house of the day were no good.  The first one was okay but not right for us.

The second one, which was my only remaining  “maybe” out of about 30, I found out  is in a neighborhood that is fighting a huge incinerator installment.  The incinerator will bring 500 diesel fueled garbage trucks thorough their neighbor 24/7 from all over the county.

People from the Sierra Group have even  joined the fight to protect the health of the animals at the nearby Zoo.  No incinerator like this one exists anywhere in the USA.  I learned all this from homeowners who had activist signs in their yard.  It’s horrible what the city is doing.  As I was leaving,  I told her her neighborhood was nice she answered,” Yes it is very nice, but you know we all have guns…… it’s Cleveland after all.”

The third house lifted me up.  It matched all the crossed off goals under my photo. It had everything, even enough land to build a Eco-house if we wanted.  We stopped for some Mexican food and margaritas.  I was so excited my husband said I sounded like I was on drugs.  I just kept saying, “It’s perfect.  This has everything we want! ” On and on, even the food was great. When we got home and we called for the lock-box code, but we were too late the house already sold.  My heart sank.

I did learn quite a bit  today.  I know where I don’t want to live.  I think I know where we do want to live, so that means I have gained some focus, and direction.  That is, at least for now, and that alone is wonderful because it was just yesterday that I had absolutely zero vision.  I’m still in limbo but with a much better  idea of where we are going…….eventually.

I like this even better than the last one.

Here’s the thing, I could have stayed home, done laundry and moped around because I had no idea what to do.  I was blank screen.  And honestly I would have done just that, except the laundry.  But my Husband made encouraged me get out of the house, and just drive through various neighborhoods.

Even now  although I’m still bummed, at least for some amount of time today I was overjoyed, excited and deliriously happy.  I felt like we hit the lottery or something.  We both were so hopeful and life felt fun.  Those moments with those great feelings we shared were wonderful.  Some days you get those moments other days you don’t. Some day you think you’ll never have another fun day the rest of your life.  Believe me I know.

The lesson learned:  You have to shake it up when you least want to.  When you want to craw inside a cave and let the dishes pile up because you just don’t give a sh*t – that is exactly the time you have to force yourself to do something, anything.  I am as bad, if not worse,  at doing this at the the next person.  It can be really tough to pull yourself up, by yourself.  I know for sure I wouldn’t have budged an inch, without loving encouragement from my Husband.  Thanks MrRat.

Cheers to the great moments.

Tip: You can give up once in awhile but you really can’t quit.

Inspiration: ” One of the most beautiful gifts in the world is the gift of encouragement. When someone encourages you, that person helps you over a threshold you might otherwise never have crossed on your own.” – John O’Donohue

One-day one-thing: Encourage someone, anyone.

I am not what I own

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Which is good.  Because I don’t want to be a bunch of old crap in a storage unit, or and minivan with a crack windshield, even though I love that van.  ( stigma= soccer mom car – but I was a soccer mom )  I am about to break 100,000 miles on the Odyssey, and all those trips represent my family’s travel only.  Kind of sentimental, or maybe only mental, it makes no difference.  Now I use it for my dogs and to my transport of children to and from college.  I’d like to convert it to a camper some day. (hey Pimp-My_Ride pick me)  It’s so useful I will own until the day it dies.

In any case, I confess when I was younger I was into everything materialistic.  Brands and designers, oh yeah.   Not that I thought it made me better, just that I thought is was better to have.  This is quite embarrassing to me now, but most my gifts (from my husband only)  were from Tiffany & Co.   I saved all the boxes.  Those are somewhere inside another box, God-only-knows where.  The beautiful nuggets that were inside those blue boxes are locked in a safe and rarely come out to play.  Which makes it all the more ridiculous.

I love those gifts.  They were given to me with love and that’s what makes them special.  However one of my most treasured gifts is a rock that has “I love you” written on it with chalk.  It was handed to me while having a dinner picnic at the beach.   It’s from one of my children, they don’t remember, and I don’t remember which one, so my mind lets me believe  it ‘s from all of them.

And I don’t own that rock, it belongs to the earth, but I choose to own the sentiment.   Though all my chaos, I have made it a top priority to preserve that rock.  Protecting it for years, maybe as many as 11 years, because I don’t want the chalk to wear off.   I don’t want to ever lose that moment, even though the moment is long gone.

There is no easy way to do this.  People  have tried to protect the famous chalk words of Premier Wen Jiabao,” “distress rejuvenates a nation.” He wrote this while was pointing out to high-schoolers,  that despite all of the hardship that the Wenchuan earthquake had brought to the students, their families, and the people of Sichuan, it wasn’t the end of the world.  They put glass over the words on the chalkboard, which is still in the school.

"distress rejuvenates a nation"

My point, do I have one?  Yeah I have one.  We are not what we own.  We are nothing but what we think or believe at any moment.  If we choose to feel and think  hatred and venom then that is what we are.  If we choose to think/ live with love and compassion then that is what we are.

Make no mistake, we forever adapting fluid beings that can change moment by moment.  When someone is spewing hate in your direction, the first response is fight or flight.  Too often we think we can win by fighting, when in reality we win by simply walking away and letting it go.

And remember it’s no crime to experience an wide spectrum of emotions, we have emotions for our own protection.  Don’t beat yourself up if you get angry, but do take the time to examine and figure out how to get un-angry.

You are never going to be the car you drive, no matter how spectacular (or crappy) you think it is.  It’s not who you are.

Cheers!

Tip: Pick what you want to be and try your hardest to be that as often as possible.

Inspiration: “Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.”- Barbara De Angelis

One-day one-thing: When stress hits you today, for one minute mentally imagine yourself somewhere peaceful. Repeat as needed.

(I am so writing this for myself)

Late to the Party

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Linus: “Life is difficult, isn’t it, Charlie Brown?”

Charlie Brown: “Yes, it is. But I’ve developed a new philosophy. I only dread one day at a time.”

I admit, I am a little late to the Charlie Brown party. When I was young I never paid him any attention. But now I love him.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I basically hate the holidays. Last year my friend died on or about Christmas day, I knew she wasn’t a picture of health, but I had no reason to think she would die. I didn’t get to say good-bye. Rather I had to call the police to do a “welfare check.” The next car to arrive was the coroner’s. My gift to her was returned to me by her brother and it sits in my office hallway still wrapped.

We moved out of that neighborhood. Her house was sold. One day I drove through the old hood, and her house was leveled. In an instant her house was gone, just like she was. Also last year, a high school senior who played soccer with my son committed suicide early Christmas morning. When I was in college my friend hung himself the night before Christmas. The Christmas before my Dad died, I was too sick to make it to the celebration. It was his last Christmas.

I’ll stop, because it’s too sad.

The holidays are brutal for many people. We have been lead to believe that Thanksgiving through New Year’s is some sort of never ending party; full of good cheer, and laughter and love. Everyone is in love, presents flowing and good times rolling , smiles abound, no worries, no real problems. We are bombarded with images and ideas that are unachievable for nearly everyone. Yet we still ooh and ah at these images.

When we don’t experience that euphoric holiday scene, we feel sad and we think somehow we are lesser people, we feel a sense of hopelessness. I don’t like it, I don’t think it’s right.

I don’t believe fighting over cheap sh*t from China has anything to do with the Christmas spirit. Nor does spending more money than you have because you are “expected” to be somewhere far away, or you’re “expected” to get everyone in your family a gift.

(btw : One of my New Year’s resolution this year is to stop swearing….)

My hope for this year’s holiday season is to get through it without becoming emotionally battered. The other night at Thanksgiving dinner, I was told (to my face) that a 3000 square foot house isn’t really too big for a single person, two people at the table agreed. Hence the can of emotional whoop-ass was opened and directed straight towards me.

Anyway, I know and I realize, I have to make it the best I can. I am grateful for so many things, and many more people. I have to be grateful that I am even allowed to live in my Mother’s house until we find a place. I’ll make it through, but I will be wounded and scarred. I know it, because it’s already started. It’s no wonder I dislike the whole season so much.

I have decided I will be donating chickens to needy families and put the donation the family names as a gift. Step one accomplished, make something good out of a crappy situation.

“………… I only dread one day at a time.” That’s pure gold Charles Schulz. Thank you.

Tip: Find a way to balance your mind and wear a Kevlar vest.

Inspiration:” Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth.” ~Benjamin Disraeli

One-day one-thing: Smile and know this isn’t forever.

Holding On but Wanting Change.

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I lost an entire post I wrote on my phone late last night.   I was in bed, writing on my iPhone.  I hate writing on that tiny thing.  (Thus the reason for my enormous laptop.)

When I was awake and writing, nothing I wrote made sense.  It all lacked purpose and focus.  I was getting very frustrated.  That’s when I asked my husband what should I write about?  He answered, “Write about losing the house.”

I said,” No. I’ve already whined about that enough.”

He said, “Well you haven’t stopped around me.”

Sigh.  He was right.  I have been moaning and putting myself down because I knew in my gut that we should have bid higher, but instead I listened to someone else.

He surprised me when he said,” You need to figure out why you can’t let it go. Is there something subconsciously stopping you for moving forward?  We can’t change the past.  We’ll never get another house because in your eyes nothing will ever be as good as the “one that got away.”  So maybe there something inside [you] that is causing you to close your mind.  I’m not saying there is, but it’s worth a look.”

Well, how nice, I thought to myself.  I took what he said to heart and really tried to figure it out.  I couldn’t think of anything except that maybe I no longer trusted my instincts.  But that wasn’t it.  So I went to bed with my phone.

(don’t sleep with your phone if you want restful sleep )

I was half  asleep when a light bulb in my head switch on.   That’s it, I figured it out!

The house that got away, was perfect.  It had a place for every one and a place for every thing.  It felt like it was ours.  I confessed I had already seen myself moving heavy sand stone and prepping the garden.  I visualize all of us there this holiday season, with candles glowing while we lazed around in pjs.  Cozy and comfortable.  Even my old furniture would fit.  It was going to be just like home.  There in lies the issue, I loved this place so much because basically the only real change would have been our zip code.  The familiarity and the easy comfort fiercely drew me in and wouldn’t let me go.  It was as though this new house would cause losing our old home, and everything we went through, to seamlessly disappear.

Snap back to reality.

I remember when we lost our home, we decided that we would take this as an opportunity to re-scuplt and redesign our lives.  I decided to have less stuff and focus more on living.  My journey to living better with less began.  I still want that and I am making progress but the final destination is under construction.  What form it will eventually take on is completely unknown at this point.  I recognized that this perfect house wasn’t anything new, it didn’t really fit anywhere within the changing our lives category.

Have you ever thought you wanted to change something but it never happens?  Could it be because you are holding on to old beliefs and ideas?  Are you limiting yourself by staying in a comfort zone?  Do you have trouble letting go?  Are you afraid of taking risks?

I can tell you this has really hit home for me on many levels.  All the be the change you want to see and /or want to be can’t happen if we [I] continue to hold onto old ideas and beliefs.  If  “comfort” and “familiarity” take over there won’t be any room left for change, adventure, and risk.  No matter what the issue;  job, relationships, losing weight, quitting smoking or starting your own business.  You can’t begin to change yourself until you let go of your old self.

this is a clue

You’ll know I’m crazy when I tell you I think we found “it.”  Without even seeing this new place in person, I am thinking it is the one for us.  Insane, I know.  It’s risky and different.  It’s exciting and unexpected. I guess I’m a *hopeless-optimists. (*that is when I’m not sad)

Maybe it’s the alignment of the stars, or the yoga, but I feel more grounded, more in touch with what change really means.

I ‘ll keep you posted.  Cheers!

Tip: Have faith in yourself,  if you fail, try a different way.

Inspiration: ” The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change.”~ Bill Clinton

One-day one-thing:  Eat a healthy salad for dinner. :)

I Shredded like a Mouse.

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Well the bird food was all eaten, and there were mice droppings everywhere. I am referring to the garage. So gross.

I am a painter who doesn’t paint at the moment. But I have an abundance of art and painting supplies stored all over the place. I have been waking earlier, that has been good, and getting enough sleep, but I still find my self running like a mad woman. So today I took on the garage in a couple areas, canvases and large framed photos, and one heavy box of documents.

I decided after seeing the sunflower seed shells and mice droppings that I best get anything that wasn’t completely sealed out of that nasty garage.

Notice the top right corner of the file box has been chewed. I didn’t do that. Look at all these ridiculous papers, I don’t even know the years, maybe 2006, 2007,08 ? This box was packed full with hanging file holders containing labeled manila folders which were holding these worthless statements and paid bills, for years. It weighed a ton.

I decided to move all these various boxes, holding the papers, canvases, and framed photos to my office, where I could sort in peace. Plus I am attempting to get all my art supplies in one area, the corner of my work office.

I had to use a hand cart, dolly whatever they are called. Four trips from the car to the elevator to the office. I worked on the box filled with papers first. Out of the entire box I kept only one paid medical bill.  One piece of paper.  That’s it.

My shredder started acting up, but I got it going again. It made a huge mess in the meantime. I feel bad for making such a mess and leaving it, but we don’t have a vacuum at the office.  It will have to wait for the cleaning crew. It’s  good thing they are really laid back, every day is good to them.  “Better than Russia,” they say.

All is good, I am working away so next I tackle the canvases, and large framed photos. They were in boxes that I needed for something else, so I was emptying them. I got to the third one and I SCREAMED. I’m embarrassed to say this but when I see mice I scream. It’s an immediate and involuntary reaction. Especially when they are jumping around frantically. I was lucky I could shut the box in time. I held it closed with one hand and searched  for tape the other.

Good thing there was only one mouse.

I had to get this mouse out of my office, out of the building and out of this box.

I felt much better once I taped the box shut.  I relaxed a bit and I began to feel sorry for the little creature.  I decided to chauffeur the mouse back his home in the garage, at least if he had family or friends he could stay with them. The city high-rise seemed like certain death for the little guy. ( look at his scared worried little eyes…awe )

I gave him his bedding too. That's all from what he chew off my other things in the garage.

So that was my day, more or less.

My take away – if you have anything stored outside or in areas where there could be mice, there will be mice, and all your “stuff” is on it way to quickly becoming garbage. I found a pair of shoes that the mice ate.  Shoes! Who eats shoes? Those mice were likely making their condo out of shoes parts.

Another thing I will suggest since the New Year is coming; buy a cheap accordion file labeled by month or alpha however you like to file bills and such.  Mark it 2012, boldly. Only put items in this accordion that are records you can throw away next New Year’s Eve.  Do not mix important papers, cards, photo or notes with worthless statements and bills.  Repeat that to yourself [really for me] – Don’t mix important things with worthless statements and bills.  Prepare to destroy this self-contained file in a celebratory fire or toss it at the dump. You can seal it closed with duct tape if you worry about identity theft.  Personally, I pity any soul who ever steals my identity, that would be a real bummer for them.

I’m feeling more optomistic and much more focused on moving in the direction of my dreams.  I guess that’s what people mean when they say the most important habit to have is to be pro-active.

If I can get back on track so can you. No excuses. Remember you only have to do one-thing each day! Cheers!

Tip: If you have to store items, invest in heavy duty Rubbermaid containers. If your stuff isn’t Rubbermaid “worthy,” do not save. :)

Inspiration: ” First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” ~ Epictetus

One-thing one-day: Plan your dream; doodle it, make notes about it, cut out articles that support it and keep it all together in a place you can look at it every so often, make a ” My Dream Project “

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.