No matter how true the statement above is, I realize that there is a bigger picture to be seen in this comment. As I was sitting blissfully this morning, drinking my coffee, and reading Stacy Julian's blog, I realized that there are more important things in life than wondering where I put things. It's so complicated being a woman and a mother. There are so many stereotypes of the perfect housekeeping/decorating/do everything woman/mother. I have to honestly admit that I have become a very negative person because of all the stereotypes that I have focused my attention on, and have worked so hard to try to accomplish, and fallen short. My mind is always cluttered with what must be done, what needs to be done, and what I want to do. The latter being pushed to the side, most often. It is most often a struggle, and most days I don't feel fulfilled. Hence my negativity. I have to look at this closely, because negativity spreads like the California wild fires, especially when you get together with a group of negative minded women, who share in your disappointments and unfulfilled life. You lose sight of the joy, and the blessings. Whether we believe this or not, we are truly blessed. Maybe it's contentment that I find a hard bit to chew.
So getting back to this morning, I was reading Stacy's blog, and came upon a book she is currently reading called, Creating a Charmed Life, by Victoria Moran. Yeh... I thought, she must have a charmed life. Yet, when I read Stacy's words I see that she is completely honest in her thoughts and feelings. I love that about people. Who don't beat around the bush, tell us what we think we want to hear (I have been guilty of this one), and open up with their feelings, imperfections and all. This, I feel is what makes us human. Not robots with no feelings, like a lot of people have become, but true and honest human beings. Communication is one thing that is deteriorating in this society, IMHO. People are becoming emotionally/spiritually numb. In fact, I have felt this way many times.
So I started reading an excerpt from this book, and found it to be very fulfilling, and life changing. Here are some of the chapter titles. How do you feel about these when you read them?
1. First and foremost... simply create a charmed life. How? You ask.
2. Follow your heart. How many times have we wanted to, but haven't. Something to think about.
3. Get ample shine time. This could go both ways. Make sure you make time to be out in the sun most days, or make sure you place yourself in a position in which you feel appreciated, and self worthy.
4. Take Ten. How many times have we asked ourselves...if I only had 10 minutes? Give it to yourself, you deserve it. I deserve it.
5. Play your free square. I take this to mean that you are giving yourself permission to take the day off, or opt out of a prior commitment/engagement without feeling guilty.
6. Practice the vacation principle. This is one I had to learn the hard way. For quite a few years after the young ones were born, I felt that vacations were not necessary, and a waste of money. Now I see things much clearer, and realize that not only is it necessary to take a vacation, but healthy. How many of us are able to see things a bit clearer when we are on vacation? I know that my creativity is in full swing while I am on vacation. My mind is refreshed, and renewed. Very important stuff, in my book.
7. Conserve your energy. It is so important for us to not focus on every worry or concern in our life. It will drive us nuts. Why worry? Let go, and let God. As we have so often repeated to ourselves. Added into this, would be the fact that we as people, have emotions that are so strong sometimes that we spend a lot of time and energy focusing on making a point, or getting our own way. Don't waste your energy on feeling this way.
8. Coexist gracefully with the unresolved. This goes along with the statement above. Gracefully put underlying issues out of your head. Give yourself permission not to think about them. It's okay. We are imperfect human beings with imperfect bodies, and imperfect thoughts. Learn to be happy with what we have to work with.
9. Invite adventure. If you are anything like me, you will understand that I am not an adventure seeking person. Adventure does not excite me, nor interest me in many areas. However, I realize that in order to live a healthy and abundant life, I must create some sort of adventure. This is hard for me. I have made the commitment to schedule some sort of adventure once a month, in order for this task to be fulfilled.
10. Give up your mountain. I understand this to mean, "Get off your high horse!" Why do I have to be so hell-bent about everything? Why am I so critical? Especially toward myself and others. I hate it when people judge/assume something about me incorrectly without knowing the whole story or feelings behind it. Others must hate that also, when I am critical of them. I must work on this one.
11. Acquire discretion. I take this to mean... "don't air out all your dirty laundry." People don't need to know (nor do they want to) everything about you. It's not necessary to tell each person you meet everything that goes on in your life. Men especially hate this. My husband just wants the facts, most of the time. He can't process everything I say, and all the feelings I convey, at one certain time. Most men can't. If I give him a list of honey-do's, I have to list only the things I want done, not the reasons why I want them done, and what time frame I have in mind for it all to take place. I have learned that this is not important to a man, and only aggravates them.
12. Enjoy your eccentricities. I love this one. Sometimes I focus too much on how I appear to others, or how weird my thoughts and intentions are. I need to be more like my Grandma. I can picture her, even now, in her 80's, rolling down a hill, just because she wants to. She has done this, by the way. I believe that part of her longevity is that she is eccentric. Not so much in a verbal way, like most people would think of an eccentric person, but in a quiet subtle way. She will wear what she wants, when she wants, and do what she wants, when she wants. I love this about her. Enjoy what makes you different. Who cares what people think. If you want to roll down a hill... do it with pride!
13. Enhance your environment. This one I need to work on too. Simplicity is all the rage right now. It's a great thing to simplify, but I feel people can go overboard in this area. A home should not be considered a sterile environment that has no beauty or warmth. I have a friend who believes so strongly in simplicity, that her home is very cold when you enter it. It feels like you are walking into a showroom. I am nervous to bring my kids over to her house, as I am fearful that they my leave a fingerprint. This friend has children, but you never see them playing inside the house. They are directed outside in the backyard until bedtime. I sometimes wonder what they do on rainy days. The point is, to surround yourself with only the things you love. My Grandma does this also. She has gone on quite a few trips to different countries, and has brought back numerous trinkets and souvenirs. She surrounds herself with these things. Every room in her house has something from one of her trips in it. These things remind her of the wonderful trips she has gone on, and the wonderful experiences she has had. I feel this is very important. Over the years, my Grandma, and my Mom and Dad, have brought me back numerous souvenirs and gifts from other countries. I love displaying these things, not so much as to remember a memory, but because they came from somewhere I haven't been, and also because they were given to me by someone I love. I also love displaying my children's, my husband's and my own creations. They are artwork in their own right. It's a concrete reminder of accomplishment when you see something of your own creation, on your wall. What could be better than that?
14. Retire your too-too. Sometimes I make lists that seem a mile long that I feel need to be accomplished. By the time I finish the list, it's time to start over again. What is the point? Not to focus on every little thing that needs to be done. Perfectionism is overrated. Now I'm not saying that it's okay to be a slob. I mean, if your kids think that the place to find a pair of socks is in the laundry basket, then you might need to be doing more; but what I am saying is that focusing on having the perfect house with perfect landscaping with drive you crazy. Like those people who mow their lawns with a chris-cross pattern. It seems excessive, to me. However, that may be one of their eccentricities. I do believe that the person with the chris-cross lawn wouldn't expect you to have one, unless it's something that is important to you too. Go through your list of things to do, and simplify that. What things are not that big of a deal? OCD is not something to be admired. They may have clean houses, but they are miserable, trust me.
15. Do the next indicated thing. Follow your list in the order in which you write it down. That means when you are making a list for yourself, and I am assuming that you are a list-maker, like me, plan the enjoyable things as well. Write down the 10 minute breaks, write down the 30 minute walk in the sunshine, write down the 1 hour meditation time/reading a book, etc. Then practice following your list the way it was written. So many times I have written a list of things that needed to be done, and at the very bottom were all the things that I wanted to do, including spending time with God. Many times it is bedtime, and I am not even close to the bottom of the list. I have spent the whole day doing for others, and no time was spent on myself.
16. Live your life in chapters. This is very important too, because in our mind we connect past experiences with the present. Instead of thinking that something is behind us, and leaving it there. I focus too much sometimes on mistakes I have made in the past, and let them creep into my daily thoughts. This is unhealthy. Leave those chapters where they are. It's okay to peek back at them from time to time, so we can reflect on where we have come from, but don't let them consume you. It's easy to do this. For years I punished myself for my first marriage, and the mistakes I made. I see now that this was very unhealthy. No one can possibly feel the same way you did at any given time, in any given circumstance. Leave those alone, start writing new chapters.
17. Enlarge your world. I believe that we must look farther than our own front door, in order to experience everything that God has created. Open up doors to places that your have never been before. Make a point to experience these things. This also includes stepping outside ourselves and doing things we may not feel comfortable with, such as, bringing food to a lonely neighbor, volunteering at a soup kitchen, or even speaking up on something you believe in. It can broaden your world, and change your perspective.
18. Change with the seasons. This can mean 2 different things. One way you can look at this, I already put into practice. The other is more complex. The first way is to find a place in your home to display seasonal decorations. Mine is the fireplace mantle in the living room. I have a friend who uses her dining room table, and only changes the centerpiece with the seasons. I decorate my fireplace mantle to match whatever season it is. For years I have wanted to sew a mantle scarf for each season, but haven't yet. I will have to put that on my list. Each year my seasonal decorations change a bit, and I always photograph my decorated mantle from each season as a reminder of what I or the kids did. It can be simple or complex. After I am done with this post, I will post a few photos of my mantle, for an example. The more complex way that you can look at this would be to focus on the "seasons of life" aspect. Be open to accept what season in life you are currently in. This is extremely hard for me. I don't like to accept that fact that I am 40. I don't like it one bit. I hate that I am 40, but there is nothing I can do about it, besides try to make the best of what age I am. I can try to become healthier, and more physically fit, and conscience change in other areas, but I must accept that fact that I can not change what age I am. It's only a number.
19. Factor in downtime. I already mentioned this somewhere above. Make sure you are giving yourself time to reflect, and relax. Last night I was laying in bed with a sore throat. How I wanted someone to give me a cup of hot tea, or hot soup. Ahhh... wouldn't that be nice? To lay in bed and have someone wait on me all day. I then put that thought out of my head as I listened to my husband snoring beside me. I need to make time for that. Even if I have to hire a sitter, and make my own soup and tea. Remember that you are important too.
20. Complicate selectively. I love this one! When an issue arises (and it will) think to yourself whether you really want to get involved in this one or not. Some things you have to get involved with if it involves yourself or your children. Getting involved in other peoples issues is another story. When my FIL died suddenly last year, I was thrown into a place where I never should have allowed myself to go. Yes, it was my job to be compassionate, and helpful, however I never should have allowed myself to get into discussions about financial responsibilities of my husband's surviving family, or the care giving of his brother and uncle. I made that decision to get involved, and I suffered extreme stress from it. I should have selectively opted out, and forced them to take care of their own problems. It would have been better for everyone. What ended up happening was I gave them permission to be dependent on us, which was not good for them, or us. In the future I will have to be more selective in what I let complicate our lives.
This is where I need to stop for the day. There are more that I will post tomorrow, but my time is up. I hope you have enjoyed reading today's blog, and hope that I have provided some insight into making your life feel a little more charmed :)
PS. Dinner the other night was delicious. Only I would cut back the citrus used in the couscous a little next time. Half of what I said would be good, I believe. Salmon was awesome. Salad was good, and the dessert was simply divine. There are no pictures as promised, because I can't find my camera!!! LOL...