Monday, February 13, 2012

Motivational Monday #66 - Mountains We Climb

I would like to tell you I took a mental day (err, week/month/season) since my last post, but what I really did was much simpler.  I focused on myself and my family.

The holidays are tough for me.  I think I have mentioned I have a special needs child.  While that can add a lot of spice to family life, it can also be a real challenge.  The holiday season should just be renamed "The Season that Messes with Schedules." Between parties, late nights, gifts, relatives, big meals at odd hours and endless festive music and jingle bells, things can get dicey.

I'm sure I'm not alone in that feeling.  Many parenting blogs talk about the same thing, except they do it with a lot more humor and grace.  I'll just tell you it is hard.  What I think is interesting however, is that the holidays are a prime time for all the little things that we deal with each day to grow into huge problems.  As parents we quickly learn that if we aren't "good" with our personal mountains and obstacles, we bleed over into our kid's peace and the whole household spirals into chaos.

Every one of us has a mountain in our lives.  We likely have a whole bunch of hills surrounding that mountain as well. Each and every day we get up, strap on our lederhosen and start up the slopes.  Some days we head out with great energy and purpose.  Other days we scoot on our backsides a few inches and call it good.  If you are like me, you have probably rolled down the hill a few times too.

Since December I have been identifying the mountains and hills I need to climb, and more importantly, the ones I don't.  I have cleaned out closets and drawers.  I have donated and disposed of numberless boxes and bags.  I have reduced, reused, and recycled in every room.  I have eliminated and purged.  I have chopped down hills and smoothed out slopes.  I have in essence leveled the playing field a bit.

Why, you might ask, did I decide to break into a crazy cleaning fest right at the holidays?  Well, I've always been a little crazy, but besides that, I needed less.  A lot less.  You've heard the phase, you can't see the forest for the trees?  Well, I could barely see the trees for the trees.  In order to asses what was important, I needed to have less of everything.

Less is more.  Who knew?  Once I started getting rid of things, I realized just how much I own that I don't want or need.  After it was gone I could look around my space and see just how much I appreciated what I have left. I could feel at peace.

Now I think we have established that I am an organizational nut, however I'm not sure if I have recently mentioned I don't believe organization is all in boxes and binders and systems.  I think organization is also in heart, mind and spirit.  You have to feel like you know what is going on in your life and be content.  If you are constantly harried, frazzled and in chaos, it doesn't matter that your spice drawer is organized alphabetically.

So after all this time of soul searching, here are a few of the revelations I have had:
  • Sometimes my best isn't as good as I had hoped, and that's okay. I am not actually required to do more than I'm able. I don't need to have the nicest/prettiest/coolest anything.  I can give my best effort at that given time, and I'm done.
  • A clean home means I have less to look at, and thus less to stress over.  Now don't go getting ideas that I look like Donna Reed or June Cleaver. I have never in the past, nor will I ever vacuum while wearing heals and pearls. I have just found that putting things away and having clean/clear surfaces makes me calm.  Thus it is an area to spend my effort.
  • Blogging, while a great way to share my thoughts with the unknown universe, isn't essential.  I remember when I first started the blog.  I blogged 5 days a week.  I scoured news feeds and looked for ways to tie in current events to emergency preparedness.  I'm sure the content was fabulous, but I was stressed.  I had images of a thriving blog that led to international acclaim and applause. (Oh wow, was I delusional...hehe.) I craved each new comment and every "like" on facebook. Now I am just glad when I see someone took a peek, and that's okay.
  • I do too much.  For those people reading this who fall into the "friends and family" category, I know you just laughed out loud.  I am always taking on new things, but lately I have not.  I guard my time and my ability to have quiet.  Where once I wanted to be buzzing with activity, now I just want to have peace.
  • My kids are important not solely because I love them, but because they make me a better person.  This may fall into the "what took you so long" category as far as revelations go, but true.  When I am calm and at peace with myself, I really enjoy being with my kids and experiencing life with them.  When I am crazy and stressed it is hard to find joy in their amazement, wonder and awe.

So there you go, that's what I've been up to for the last few months.  I have been organizing my life, simplifying my surroundings and infusing peace and calm into my existence.   What have you been up to?


  1. I watched an episode of Hoarders and recently purged a lot. But it wasn't enough...Our 784sqft house needs to be purged constantly! I figured out a way to send my books to people who wanted them, and I need to figure out a way to get rid of the endless paper nonsense!
    What am I supposed to do with graded Kinder homework?
    That and the constant barrage of birthday party invitations that I completely ignore telling myself it's because we need family time, but really because I don't want to go to a strangers house and talk to yahoos.
    Sorry to vent, just know that there's someone else out there overwhelmed and wanting to spend time with her family, too, who really just wants to nap most of the time.

    1. I feel your pain. Am I allowed to admit I stash unrinsed dishes, the newspaper, and the mail in my dishwasher when people come over unexpectedly? Don't even look in my dryer.

      Here are my suggestions:
      1) Buy a "Mary Poppins" Carpet Bag. Endless amounts of schoolwork will fit in it and you will never have to throw out a single adorable scribble. You may also use the bag for storing unwashed dishes, unwashed laundry and unfinished art projects.

      2)Move, but don't tell anyone. It really cuts down on invites...and bills. It cuts down on those too, as long as you don't want electricity in your new place.

      3)Start a new fad. Think "planking" but instead, take pictures of yourself silent in odd places. You can hand out a card and tell people you are part of the silence movement, and would they pause for a photo. This way you can get out of lots of cruddy conversations and catch up on your reading via books on ipod. Nothing says welcome wagon quite like sitting in the corner with headphones.

      Okay, honestly, I say take pictures of your kiddos with their favorite art, and then pitch it when they are at school. I keep a few handwriting samples and sentimental items each year, but not much. If it can't fit in a manilla envelope, I've kept too much.

      As for your anti-social streak, well I promise to stop inviting you to my house! Honestly, I understand how you feel. Sometimes having a conversation about nothing with people you don't really know is more exhausting than discussing politics with the pope. It takes a lot of energy to be polite and engaged when what you really want to do is take a nap.

      So my advice would be this. Give yourself a break. Do what works for both you and the family, and let the rest go. Stretch yourself every so often, but know when to say no.

      As for the nap, I would use all 784 square feet to sleep until you wake up to hear chirping birds, and don't want to throw something at them! Good Luck!