This time of year is particularly hard for me. Not to go into any depressing details, because I know everyone shares having events, both good and bad, that change the course of a life.
I, for some reason, can not get past what is no longer. I am constantly reminded of the past. Perhaps better times draw me in at first, yet inevitably terrifying times and less-than-good choices creep in my mind. I used to be able to say I live with no regrets. I am not so certain I can say that any longer.
The new year is supposed to be the time for fresh beginnings and new starts, only I am not feeling it this year. Depressing right? I know I am not alone, and I know it is temporary, but nonetheless is real. I feel as if the good and the lightness of life is sitting dormant like the woods.
Right now my count is 13. Thirteen days I have wasted away without making one single ounce of progress. I quit on myself. I slowed myself down to a crawl into a perpetual holding patterned of procrastination.
Even this post took some real effort on my part to actually write. (and I don’t care if its good or bad. ) I had to write how I was feeling or I would just breakdown into nothing for another day. (trying to avoid day #14)
In my front yard, behind the tangled bare branches of two maple trees, I can see a yellow house across the street. I have nothing against this house. However, in the summer I can’t see it. It is completely blocked by lush green foliage It’s a depressing shade of yellow. Sun-bleached-sad from a constant west exposure, even that yellow house has had better days.
I have to stop! I have to stop these thoughts that are feeding an existing “sadness path” in my brain. This path was put there years ago and it’s a well traveled path. I know I need to stop myself before I send those negative signals. I have to replace them with new more positive signals. I need to create new paths in my brain and start walking them.
I know what I have to do. My problem: I find it difficult to do.
Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful and my life is good, well good enough. It’s just some time a person feels low and these past 13 day that has been me.
Tip: Play music. Listen to it whenever you feel yourself slipping into a bad place. Skip every single song until you find one that feeds your soul.
Inspiration: “The past does not equal the future.”-Tony Robbins
One-day one thing: Take a baby step. Recognize that with every single step no matter of size, you create a path.
The other day, early while I was still in bed. I got a text. Yes, I am one of those idiots that sleeps with her iPhone. A bad habit I will attempt to break at a later date. Anyway the text said come see Stevie Wonder at 9:30 am today then vote early.
This was only an hours notice, and well I had already voted early, but I convinced my Husband to get up on this cold Saturday and at least vote. We figured if the Stevie Wonder crowd wasn’t too big and if we could get parking we’d check it out.
Here’s the thing – we finally found a parking garage and the attendant basically told us “You can turn around here and go in the lot cross the street for half price.” Okay cool, we thought. I turned around and at that very moment a street spot opened up….free parking. ( I do have a parking angel – another post) I got out of the car, and glanced at the sidewalk and found a penny shining back at me. I pick it up. (I always pick up money I see on the ground)
The scene was eerie, it was empty. Long story short, we grabbed a couple coffees from a guy who just moved here from Bosnia. He kept saying “I have no power at home, I am from Bosnia, this has never happened to me”…” never in Bosnia.”
Then two perfectly detailed Black Escalades drove pass….we run across the street and are in the first row of the small crowd. Stevie Wonder!
He played for about 50 minutes, and opened with this song: Please follow the words in the video….and enjoy.
After he finished his set, he walk the rails, talking to people, shaking hands, and giving hugs…..He got to me and I asked him to warm my hand. He held it for awhile and gave me two love squeezes. WOW.
All I can think of is the power of his message, the power of his soul and the beauty that he creates. I am in awe. And I feel extremely privileged to have spent my freezing Saturday morning with him. And I thank him for being who he is.
The time to love is now. Right now. Stevie, you helped me when I needed it.
What a difference a year can make. Last year at this time I was highly stressed over everything. I was dreading the holidays, and looking for answers to my dysfunctional family of origin. I was burdened without knowing where my next home might be and uncertain as to our future regarding EVERYTHING.
I carried my disappointments front and center all the while trying to make sense out of things that had no answers. This practice lead me to intense sadness, and counter-productive thoughts. Even though I logically was writing about solutions which contained numerous rationalizations, I wasn’t really seeing positive results.
I used to describe my living condition as a sort of limbo hell both physically and emotionally. In essence that was what it was; limbo hell.
I wrote. I read. I planned. I learned. I tried everything, nothing worked.
You know why nothing worked?
Nothing worked because I thought writing the ideas, reading them, and believing I knew something would be enough to make things better. I am going to tell you right here and now….”knowing” anything is worthless without “doing.”
And that is where I am now. I am in the “doing phase.” I am, once and for all, dropping all the slights and the hurts that I perceived over the past several years of my life. Seriously, in order to get anywhere you have to stop “feeling” the past. I use the word ” feeling” the past instead of living, or thinking about the past because it’s how you feel that squashes out your light.
Very soon after I started this “journey to living better with less” I broke down and cried when told I had too many framed photos. That scene made me well aware that my journey was about much more than just “stuff.” I know why I cried. Inside all those frames I saw photos of better times. I cried because I was forced to acknowledge time had vanished into thin air faster than a blink. It all hit me at once like a ton of bricks. I was without. I was in limbo.
Fast forward to now:
This year I am hosting Thanksgiving for my entire family, including my family of origin and I am doing it with an open heart. That’s right, for those people who I have said terrible things about and who I saw as a problem. Those who I shut out and avoided. I am kind of shocked about this myself, but I have thought about this for a awhile and it feels right.
They say time heals, but I don’t think it is time. I think we heal by our own choice. I am not saying it’s easy, but at some point in time you have to move on and you have to let go. You need to live in the present, and see the here and now and you have to eliminate feeling the past. The past is gone.
So now, maybe now, I can say I have grown. Maybe I am capable of putting everything I have learned to work. I’ll tell you this much, it feels like a huge heavy boulder has been remove from my soul, and that is a good thing. I don’t plan on ever holding on to emotional garbage again. From my experience emotional clutter is far more destructive than any of the items collecting dust in my storage unit.
Time to carry on. Cheers!
It’s difficult to believe this but I have never sat in a coffee shop alone with my laptop. I have never gone to a library to read. I’ve only once gone to a sit-down restaurant by myself.
I’m no spring chicken. I have done many many other things that maybe someone else hasn’t done. But seriously the simple things are foreign to me. I never felt I had the luxury of time to do these things, or I would tell myself , “I can do that at home.” Doing simple things at home is never the same as doing them else where, and they rarely happen.
I remember on one vacation I was happy to cook everyone breakfast, no matter what time they woke up. Looking out the kitchen window there nothing but beach between me and Pacific Ocean. I determined I could cook there non-stop. At home I might say to the late risers, “I’ve been up for five hours I just had lunch.”
Here is the key, when you get home, there’s always something tugging at you. If not physically then mentally. At least in my case there is. Considering what lives at home off and on; two dogs, two cats, three children, a husband and my mother, tugging at me comes as no surprise. That’s another reason I am heading to minimalism less stuff to even consider or clutter your thoughts. You don’t have to bother yourself with items that have to be stored, or saved for another time, or cleaned and repaired. No. No Mas. The time is now.
Time to change it up a bit.
I figure I can spare one hour a day, with a minimum of travel time on either side. So lets make it two hours. Two hours instantly scares me into thinking I cant do this. But I know I can if I really want it. If I want it more than doing laundry today, or lingering on the internet, I can spare some time to hang with nature. That’s what I like to do. You might like something totally different. Maybe you won’t get to it exactly at the time you wanted, but if you want it, you can get there.
Time to let yourself know, you make the your decisions. Face it, when we make excuses many times we still don’t even do “the excuse” of why we couldn’t do what we wanted. Time sucks are everywhere. You need to identified and destroy those time-leaks.
For a while I was taking the dogs to the park , throwing down a blanket and sketching with my colors pencils and reading. With this small outing, took my hectic-life and I made it stop. I was there. Nothing else was allowed to tugged at me. It was pretty awesome.
Start simply: here’s an idea you can do at home tonight.
How about a luxury bath? Even if you don’t usually take baths, try this on for size; 2 cups of Epsom salts, 1 cup of baking soda, and 10 drops of lavender oil to bathwater as hot as you can tolerate.
I am doing this tonight. I think I will light a few candles as well. Love to hear how you like it , if you do it.
Tip: Start small, little changes every day is the best way to change your life, but don’t allow yourself to miss even one day no matter what.
Inspiration: “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”- Buddha
One day – one thing: Take ten minutes, close your eyes and visualize your life as you want to live it.
I am convinced that dogs have the world figure out. I know am not the first to say this, but I don’t care. When a dog barks he is not saying anything new.
Dogs can read another dog as easily as we can read directions on a cake box. Those direction are very clear and concise leaving no room for errors.
When dogs meets other dogs and there’s an instant positive vibe, then they are perfectly okay with that new friend(s). It’s simple. Dogs just trust their own instincts. If they don’t like what the meet , they bristle and let that dog know to stay the $%^# away.
Think of how many times you’ve gone against your own best judgement or a feeling you had but couldn’t exactly explained. We humans call that a “gut instinct” or ” intuition” but I really believe it lives as truth in the heart section of your brain. I don’t even know if there is a heart section of the brain, but I choose to believe there is.
I think we need to pay super close attention to whatever we tell ourselves inside our heads and hearts.
I have had some difficult times, we all have, and I have tried to fix problems I didn’t cause. ( May no good deed go unpunished)
I am here to say forget those problems. Whatever issue it is, if you in absolute truth can not control it, then it isn’t something to waste one once of energy trying to correct or fix. Don’t worry or fret, don’t ponder or gossip, don’t talk and re-talk, just choose live without it.
Shake it off. Wag your tail, take a walk and smell the air. Dig in the dirt. Be happy that you were fed today, smile and carry on.
Tip: Always put your keys in the same place.
Inspiration: ” We need to find the courage to say NO to the things and people that are not serving us if we want to rediscover ourselves and live our lives with authenticity.” -Barbara De Angelis
One-day one-thing: Plan a picnic for the next nice free day you have.
Geez. I don’t lie. I try not to lie. I can’t remember anything , so I am no good at lying and I don’t feel good if I lie. So I really don’t lie.
I can keep a secret. I am the best secret keeper I know. I never betray a trust. But I want you to know, I don’t hold on to secrets. Meaning, I hold them and throw them away, maybe file them away is a better term. Secrets belong to those who share their life with me. Those secrets belong to the person who told the secret. If someone trusts me, I feel it is my most important responsibility to protect that trust.
I have always believed this. It’s nothing that I can change or that I want to change. It part of me like my face. It is just there.
So when I get lied to or when someone betrays my trust, I am deeply offended. I lose total respect for the person that lied to me. That’s it. I cut them out, or at least I cut them off. I mentally attempt to erase them. Not so easy when the person is a relative.
The inspiration quote I posted yesterday is very interesting to me.
“Lying is done with words and also with silence.”- Adrienne Rich
Take some time to think about this. It may prove helpful. If you are having an important conversation, and someone isn’t actively participating, it may be a clue to their deceit. Keep alert, pay attention to body language and tone. Changing the subject is another red flag.
I have learned that if someone lies once they will lie again. I have learned that liars think it is okay to lie. They easily understand when someone lies, and they go about their day as if nothing happened. Liars hang with other liars. “Birds of a feather” still holds true.
Obviously, I have a low tolerance for liars but I know so many of them. This often puts me in a position of being the oddball. The one who “expects too much out of other people.” I get criticized for expecting people to not lie in general. Who knew standing up for the truth would be met with criticism.
I believe everyone has the right and the responsibility to protect themselves. So don’t put up with any liars they will only hurt you over and over again.
never rarely change. But the truth eventually comes to light. And for that we should be grateful.
Tip: If you call a liar out they will become angry, it’s better to recognize them for what they are and ignore them.
Inspiration: “No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.”- Abraham Lincoln
One-day one-thing: Acknowledge who has your back, nurture that relationship.
For life of me I do not understand mean people. I know what bitchy is, and I know what angry is and I am fine with both those in limited quantities. I mean that’s just part of human nature. Who among us hasn’t had a bad day? But mean is something I will never comprehend.
I am getting a first hand lesson in the power of mean. But I have also realized that I can take away that power of mean simply by stepping outside my feelings and observing as if I were a third party. Let me tell you what I have seen as that third party.
I have seen the depth of despair and confusion in the eyes of the mean person. I have witness someone out of control, unable to stop themselves long enough to find the right words. I have seen the face of hate. In their state of meanness, which to me is void of all love, they scan their brains quickly taunting me to engage. But I don’t. I have learned to step outside of myself, and observe. It’s a weird position, and quite new to me. In the past I would definitely shoot back and lose no matter what. No one ever wins in “mean.”
It’s shocking to me, because now I see it so clearly. Before now I would engage and not be able to think straight.
I don’t want someone in my life that treats me poorly. I don’t want someone in my life that holds anger and hostilities towards me. For whatever reasons, unknown to me, I am the one that receives what ever sh*t they want to throw. I have even received the silent treatment, which is hysterical to watch from afar, as if I care to talk to someone so mean.
Mean people don’t seem to know about love. They just don’t. They don’t know how to show it, give it, receive it or feel it. They may have read about it but it’s just not in their nature. Unless they chose to learn about it and change their core beliefs, they will continue to live on with the weight of bitterness, hate and anger baring down on their souls. I don’t even think they know they are missing out on anything.
You see it’s not about making points, or winning an argument, it’s all about what you want in your life. A cold loveless existence just isn’t for me. As I declutter I am purging my thoughts that someone else will ever change.
Instead I have changed. I have changed by not taking in the hostility anymore. I find this approach both powerful and liberating. Any sadness I held for what could have been is gone. I have throw away all my “could-have-been(s).”
Here is a more in depth look at “How to Combat Emotional Warfare and Root Out the Manipulative, Abusive People in Your Life” (this article showed up in my email just now-weird)
Tip: Learn to protect yourself; just walk away if someone is treating you unkindly.
Inspiration: “Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.”- Mohandas K. Gandhi
One-day one -thing: Stop thinking about what could-have-been.
I have an issue with getting too close. I could explain it away based on many things, now that I recognize much of the baggage I carry. But that doesn’t change it, and I question if it even need to be changed? Or am I like this because I want it this way?
Yesterday I had this imaginary turn of events play out in my head that lead a friendship from casual and strong to really really close friends. And that’s when I noticed this “pull-back” inside of me, I could physically feel it. It was like – Oh, I don’t want to do “that.”
Mind you, in the past few years I have lost five different friends each by one of the following ways; two by way of death, one good old fashion betrayal, one from a realization, and one because of relocation. Also during this same time my three children left the nest for college. (Irish triplets; I knew this day would come, didn’t make it any easier) Feelings of loss are never easy.
In the beginning, Unpack The Rat was focused solely on material stuff, clutter and junk, but when some of that stuff made me cry I knew there was much more stuff stuffed inside me. I
realize that now, right now, is the time to fix everything the best I can. It’s been brutal a continuing challenge.
Another thing I have learned during my journey is, it will go on as long as I am breathing. Meaning no matter what happens, I will have to work at conquering my demons every day, or they will take me over. My demon, disguised as clutter, boxes and disarray, is actually negativity and all that encompasses.
Much like an addiction, I have to fight negativity every day or it will overpower my mind, body and soul.
So right now, I am going to come up with five unproven tips to counter my negativity. Maybe they will help you, me or someone we know.
Five Instant Tips:
1. Stop swearing unless it’s used in positive comment. Example: ” That’s so f*cking incredible. I am so excited for you!” Swearing when you are upset or angry only serves to fuel and intensify any negative emotion.
2. Do not allow yourself to get hungry. We are grown people, we know we have to fuel our bodies and minds. Pack a lunch box to take wherever you go, make a first aid kit for the hungries. Suggestions for your kit: carrots, fruit, cheese, nuts, crackers and water. Dig in before you end up in a sour mood or even worse find yourself driving through Wendy’s or the likes.
3. Remember those who are thirsty. The time you waste being negative could be time spent promoting Charity Water . I am signing Unpack The Rat up today. ( if I can do it this way) Of course what this really means is help anyone (a person, animal or plant) who needs help rather than filling your own cup with negativity.
4. Daydream about a ridiculous or fabulous adventure. If you want, go ahead and close your eyes for a few seconds and slip away. Envision it all as if you were really there.
5. Be grateful for having the ability to love.
That’s what I came up with. Now I am going to Charity Water and see if I can sign up.
As for getting too close, I am not going to worry about it for now. Not everything needs an answer the moment you think of it. Sometimes you just need to “be.”
I be being.
Okay, it worked…..Here’s the link to donate to Unpack the Rat’s Charity Water campaign.
Are there reasons for everything?
I think there must be, because that is the only thing that makes sense out of a senseless situation. I am not going to whine about what happened today, but I will quote words that were spoken to me in the most hateful tone.
“I don’t need you.”
What do I learn from this, well the first thing I learned is that I better ask if that is really what she said to make sure I didn’t misinterpret anything. “Did you just say ‘you don’t need me’ ?” Well that is what she said. She hasn’t said a word to me since, and I have no plans in speaking to anyone who said such a hateful thing to their own child.
What I have learned from this is the following:
1. Not everyone has the same understanding of love and family.
2. Not everyone is cut out to be a mother.
3. Some people are actually sociopaths, they really do exist, and it’s possible to be related to one.
The mere thought of telling any of my children that, “I don’t need them” would never ever even enter my mind. It is a completely foreign thought to me.
I would literally stand in front of a bullet for my children. I would, and have, done everything in my limited power to protect them, support them, and to help them and love them. I would die for them. I would die without them. I need them like I need oxygen. They are most amazing blessings and loves in my life.
Needless to say I am blown away- blown away.
I realize now how uniquely special true love is. I am fortunate to have a loving husband and three wonderful children. I recognize just how solid, even with our many faults, my family is. Even through rough, super rough times, we are still a “loving” family and I believe we will be for many years to come.
It makes me sad to think that some people live in such a loveless manner. But it’s no longer something I will seek to change or even try to understand. I don’t have the time for such nonsense.
I have a life to live.
Tip: If you give up on yourself once in awhile, that’s okay, it’s only temporary. You decide when to stop giving up on yourself. Work through your issues and you’ll find out everything is going to be okay.
Inspiration: ” Truth resides in every human heart, and one has to search for it there, and to be guided by truth as one sees it. But no one has a right to coerce others to act according to his own view of truth.” – Mohandas K. Gandhi
One-day one-thing: Let it go – for real this time -breathe in freedom.