Saturday, May 2, 2015

Keepin' It Real: Emotionally Raw {New Series}

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Today, I took off from work to take The Man Beast to a doctor's appointment out of town. He doesn't drive anymore. The 45-minute drive each way gives us an opportunity to talk. Real talk. Undisturbed. Up close and personal.

While the nature of the doctors visits aren't exactly positive or something that either of us look forward to, the drive is something we both cherish.

Today, we talked about many things. Our talks usually involve the heart-to-hearts. Sometimes, we just talk about stuff that annoys us, in general. They are good talks and I enjoy them.

But as we were driving back into town, we got on the subject of distractions. I don't think he'd mind me telling you that his distraction is video games. My distraction is reading.

My distraction used to be writing, but with the hustle and bustle of life in general, I've gotten away from it.

And I told The Man Beast as much.

"I look back at older blog posts and they're pretty good. Not great by any means, but good. I look at more recent ones and they are lacking something."

People continue to compliment me on my writing. I suppose I have nuggets of genius. Well, more like tiny flecks. But they are there.

In the moments of silence, I wondered what changed between my writings three years ago and my writings today. Logically, I should have more to write about today than I did three years ago. But the truth of the matter is that I'm so overwhelmed with the emotion of the past three years, that I think I'm paralyzed in my writing.

Much of it I cannot share in a public forum. At least not yet; if ever. Other parts are so incredibly raw that I'm afraid of sharing. What will people think? Especially people in my real-life circle of influence who know me - or at least know of me?

But writing has always, always been therapeutic for me. As a child, there were times when my mother and I couldn't talk to each other without eating one another alive. But we could write. And we did. I don't even remember who began the trend, but if it was her, it was a stroke of genius on her part.

Writing letters to one another allowed us to say our peace without fear of the other interrupting us. I don't ever remember writing hateful things (she might be able to tell you differently), but my writing was always honest.

And I think I've gotten away from that honesty.

For four years, while I finishing my degree (the second time around), I wrote a research paper every week except for holidays. I usually took one class, every eight weeks. On occasion, I took two.

Very few of these papers had emotion in them. The closest I ever came to  emotional writing was when I explained my teaching philosophy. And even then I had to back it up with facts.

How can you support emotional writing with facts?

You can't.

Emotional writing is just that. It's not necessarily based on facts, except the ones you perceive from your point-of-view. Not everyone's truth is your truth. Exposing your truth is what makes writing great.

Even fiction writing has an element of truth in it somewhere. It has to. Otherwise, it's flat.

Emotion makes writing, all writing, come alive.

So, I'm attempting to get back to me in my writings. To do this, I'm starting a new Rambling that I'm going to call Keepin' It Real. And I'm going to do exactly that. I'm going to expose my heart and my mind and put myself out there like I used to.

I am what is missing in my most recent writings.

I write for me. I don't write for you. I let you read it, but ultimately, I need to write for me. If what I write can inspire you - fabulous. But I need to write. I just need to.

I don't need to write a book. I've done that. Maybe one day, I'll flesh it out a bit more and consider publication. But right now, it's one of those things I did to prove to myself I could do it.

I don't belong publishing anything until I can get back to who I am as a writer. I've lost it, but I intend to gain it back.

So, periodically (read: when the mood strikes), I will write a raw piece. It will be truthful. I will hold nothing back.

One day, I hope to share everything. But until then, I'll share what I can doing the only thing I can.

By writing.

Until next time...

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Lazy Sunday Post



An amazing thing happened this week: I was actually productive, getting everything I needed to get done, done with "tie" to spare on my calendar. 

What this has enabled to me to do is those little projects that, when I pass them, I utter, "I really need to do that", but never have time.

Take yesterday, for example. I was able to not only clean out my hutch, emptying all its contents, washing them, drying them, dusting the shelves and replacing the items, but I was also able to clean off my desk (complete with paper decluttering), clean off the bookshelf in Mom's room (that I've been meaning to do since December!) and clean off all three shelves - which are also in her room (notice the trend?)

What that means for me today is I get to sit, quietly and do absolutely nothing if I choose to.

What a wonderful feeling.

Instead, I will cut and organize my coupons, finish my Bible study for the week, and continue reading the book I'm reading.

I am ready to tackle the week - and what a busy week it will be. But for the first time in awhile, I look on it, hopefully, instead of filled with dread.

May you all have a pleasant week ahead.

Until next time -
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PS - Only 6 more days until Spring!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Starting out the week with good habits

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While many of you are snowed in (or at least have a snow day), here in GA, it's raining and warm(er). It's also a furlough - meaning no work. (Or, not getting paid to work. I HAVE work. Today, is a work day.)

A couple of days ago, I shared how I came to have a panic attack. I outlined why it happened, how I got over it, and my game plan to prevent it from  happening again.

Well, logically (there's that word again), I know I can't prevent it from happening. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen.

But I can put routines, strategies, and habits in place to put the odds in my favor that I'll be able to handle overwhelming thoughts (as opposed to completely shutting down).

So, here is what I did right (so far) this week:

Monday - Laundry Schedule says, "Wash sheets and blankets" So, I did. Everyone's sheets and blankets got washed, dried and put on beds. Baby Girl's pillow saw better days, so I went out and bought her a new one. (And because I couldn't get one for her and not The Boy, I got *two*).

I worked from home in order to prepare for the upcoming week.

I went to work and got quite a bit accomplished, all things considered.

Last night, I decided to tackle my coupons. They should have been tackled Sunday night but I didn't. The point is, not only did I organize my coupons from last week and this week, I had a Wal-Mart bag beside me so I was able to gather trash as I cut. It took me awhile - about an hour - but at the end, everything was picked up, organized, and I was happy.

Today - Laundry Schedule says, "Wash your clothes." So, that's what I'm doing. I brought out two baskets full of clothes, convinced that it is going to take me all day. Well, the first load is in the dryer, the second load is in the wash, and I have one load of whites to go. Three loads. Not seven. (I'm a bit dramatic when it comes to my to-do list).

I feel pretty confident about the upcoming week. It's going to be busy, to be sure! In fact, pretty much swamped with work, cookie booths, and life until March-ish.

But that's okay. Despite it all, I enjoy my life. I enjoy all the craziness of my life. More importantly, I understand that this super busy time is only for a short time. This helps me put things into perspective.

Not to mention there is an awesome Girl Scout trip awaiting me at the end of this craziness.

Until next time...
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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Yesterday, I Had a Panic Attack

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Let me start out by saying that I don’t mental health lightly. This post is by no means makes fun of anyone who is afflicted with this horrible and debilitating illness.

That said, I’ve suffered two panic attacks in my life. My second one happened just the other day.

The first time I had a panic attack, I wasn’t exactly sure what was happening. I have had friends try to explain the feelings associated with a panic attack to me and without actually experiencing one personally, it was difficult to fully grasp what it actually felt like.

To an outsider, a panic attack is a lot like any other mental illness. We are quick to dismiss it as an “overreaction” or “illogical”. By talking to friends, I understand that for many, it happens when they are overwhelmed. Rather than take what is happening at face value, analyzing the situation, and coming up with a solution to it, they think about it in such a way and for so long that they are literally paralyzed by it.

As with a lot of mental illness, I don’t think it always makes sense to those who don’t suffer. That’s why it’s an illness. It’s not a normal state of consciousness.

This is not to say that someone who suffers from panic attacks isn’t validated in their feelings. They are. The feelings are real. The physical effects (heart palpitations, dizziness, fear, etc.) are very real. It is all real and none of it should be discounted.

And it wasn’t until I experienced my first panic attack that I really understood how debilitating it is.
My first panic attack came on suddenly. I was thinking about what I needed to do and then suddenly, a rush of emotions came to me. I became very frantic in what I needed to do and I felt like it had to get done immediately. The only problem was, I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t know what to do. Worse, I couldn’t catch my breath. My mind was racing. Deep, deep in the recesses of my mind, I knew that what I was thinking wasn’t rational. (Yes, my to-do list was very long. Yes, it was overwhelming. But what I was doing/feeling at the moment wasn’t doing a thing to help the situation.) My rational mind realized all of this. But it was my panicked mind that prevailed. I wouldn’t function. I couldn’t process.

It was terrifying.

What’s worse is that the only one around to see it was The Boy. My oldest child who, as a man-child, was desperate to fix things and couldn’t. I remember the look of terror on his face as he was trying to process both what was going on and what I might need (or what he could do) to fix everything.
I remember he kept asking, “Mom! Mom, what’s wrong? What can I do?”

And I remember telling him, “I’vegottoomuchtodo! I’vegottoomuchtodo! Ineedtogetitdone! I’llnevergetitdone.”

The aftermath of the episode (which lasted all of five minutes) was equally terrifying. I sat on the bed attempting to process the events of the past few minutes. I couldn’t. The Boy was still scared. I hated that I did that too him. I hated that he had to see it.

My second panic attack happened a few days ago.

I became overwhelmed with everything I had to do at school for work and at home. This time, I was in the car with Baby Girl, on the way to a doctor’s appointment out of town. This time, I kept it well hidden. I couldn’t possibly panic in front of my youngest. A child, who is currently being treated for anxiety.

No, this child I had to protect.  And is the case in most of my mothering career, I learned from my mistake with my oldest child what not to do with my youngest.

So, instead of showing my panic by voicing my thoughts, I kept them in my head.

For 45 minutes – the length of the trip, one way.

By the time I got to the doctor’s office, I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think.

I frantically sent The Man Beast rapid-fire texts that shut down his phone (no joke).
He’s seen me like this before, so he immediately called me. We talked for ten minutes and he was able to calm me down. I was then able to join Baby Girl back in the office and proceed with our visit.
On the ride home, I listened to an organizing podcast and had 45 minutes to organize a game plan (my technique for getting control of my thoughts).

When I got home, I told The Man Beast my plan. I didn’t mean to do it, but I started in on the bags, wax paper, and plastic wrap that were sitting in between the wall and microwave in the kitchen. I cleaned out a drawer and placed everything in it. The Man Beast took my lead and tackled the two drawers in our island (a task that he admits he’s been meaning to do for a couple of weeks). Next, I tackled the two drawers in my hutch. All of this took less than ten minutes, but the relief I felt from doing it and seeing the results, was immense.

I went into the living room and threw away the newspapers that had been on the couch for a week. Why didn’t I throw them out sooner? I haven’t a clue. I think there are some things I ignore until they get too over stimulating. By then, they’ve gotten too overwhelming, too,  and I shut down.

After I threw the papers away, I went into the bedroom and ironed the basket of clothes I started ironing last week. It took me an hour, but I was determined to do it. While I was waiting for the iron to heat up, I gathered up all the dirty clothes in my bedroom and put them in the basket.

I immediately felt better because I was making progress.

These are small tasks that, if tackled when they first became a nuisance, would have taken minutes to tackle.

My deep, dark secret: I get overwhelmed easily. This stems, largely, from being a perfectionist and a people-pleaser. You would think that if I were a perfectionist, my house would be spotless, my family would be perfect, and I’d have it all together.

This is so far from the truth.

The real truth is the feelings of shame I possess for creating habits that put me in an overwhelmed state of mind consume me. I have a very guilty conscious and chastise myself constantly for “knowing better”. Where this comes from, I have no earthly idea. Not one person in my immediate circle of influence puts the kind of pressure I put on myself.

This is all me.

And I don’t know what to do about it.

After talking with my mother, she reminded me that I’ve always been like this. (As a child, it was so bad, I would pull my hair. Thank goodness I don’t do that anymore!)

So, now my rational mind has taken over during the moments of calm. (My desk is now de-cluttered and dusted. My living room is visitor-friendly - but by no means perfect). Now I can think. Now I can problem solve.

The solution I come back to, time and time again, is routines. Maintenance. Sprints, not marathons.

The one routine that has consistently worked for me is my laundry schedule.


It seems like such a little thing.

But sometimes, the little things – done consistently – make the biggest difference. My laundry schedule was one of those little things.


And right now, that’s all I can do.

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Looking Back: Laundry (It Broke)

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I recently posted a flashback post I had originally published in January of '09. Just two short years, I post this. Clearly, I do not have it together!

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I have a confession to make: I am terrible at keeping up on laundry. Terrible. I have a schedule and it has worked for me for the past couple of years. Everybody knows the schedule. Even the kiddos have it memorized. But as of late, the only time I recognize that I need to do laundry is when The Man Beast starts looking for clothes. Even then, I'll usually get to so far as to wash and dry them. Rarely are they folded and they are hardly ever put away.

I could make a million and one excuses as to why I'm so terrible at
keeping tabs on my laundry. Work. School. Scouts. Laziness. (Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!)

With school officially being over, I can't use work as an excuse any longer. Scouts are winding down as well. School? Well, that really doesn't take all day long to complete, now does it? NO.

So, I need to knuckle down on my laundry this summer. Today, I made wonderful progress. I put away the folded clothes that had made residence on my love seat for the past week. I went one step further and ironed all of our clothes before they got put on hangers.

Come tomorrow morning, I guarantee TMB will bellow from the bedroom, "Where are my clothes?" To which I can proudly respond, "Put away."

Until next time...
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Looking Back: If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It

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This post was originally published January 4, 2009.

*****

About a year ago, I guess, I decided that I was going to put my family on a laundry schedule. 

I booted up the computer, opened up Word, and set to work.

My schedule was simple: Mondays were for sheets and blankets, Tuesdays were for the Man Beast's and my clothes, Wednesday were for Baby Gurl's and the Boy's clothes and Saturday was a catch-all - all clothes that needed to be done, were done on Saturday. Thursday, Friday and Sunday were No Laundry days.

After I spent 30 minutes making my schedule pretty, I printed out fourcopies; one for each bedroom and one for the laundry room.

I then directed my brood to the schedule and explained when laundry would get done. I also explained that as part of chores, I expected laundry to be put in the laundry room. I didn't expect much but I was pleasantly surprised.

To this day, everyone in the house has the schedule memorized by heart!

I figured I was onto something so since my ink came in the mail today (I ordered online since it's so much cheaper), I would get started and move this schedule bit to other chores in the house.

Today, I made a Kitchen Duty list, a Bathroom Detail list (because bathroom duty would sound a little too gross) and a Kitchen Rotation (I also have to make up a bathroom rotation, but I haven't gotten that far yet).

On the Kitchen Duty list are a list of tasks that need to be done. This is to remind whoever turn it is to clean the kitchen exactly what to do (so far only The Boy and I have kitchen duty. Baby Gurl helps unload the dishwasher, but as of yet, this is the extent of her 'kitchen duty'). The Bathroom Detail list similarly lists tasks that need to be done in the bathroom.

The are going to be posted tomorrow after church. I plan on putting the lists in their prospective rooms. Since the bathroom tends to get a little soggy, I'm going to place the Bathroom Detail list in a page protector.

I think all too often, us moms complain because we don't get help around the house. I feel that a majority of the time the reason we don't get help is because the other bodies in the house don't know what to do. But it should be obvious!, you might say. Well, of course it's obvious to us. We're the ones who do it all! But it might not be so obvious to the rest of your troupe.

My suggestion to you is to make sure that your family knows what is expected of them, give them the tools to remember (I use the lists, but you can use whatever you want), show them how you expect the task done (to this day, The Boy gets weekly lessons on how to fold my towels. There is a certain way I want them done and he still hasn't gotten the hang of it. So I calmly show him and his sister how I expect it done. One day, I hope it sinks in.)

There isn't one good reason why us moms should be doing all the work around the house. We're doing a giant disservice to our family! Our daughters aren't learning how to run a household, our sons aren't learning how to take care of themselves and our husbands are left in the dark concerning all household tasks-what if something happens to us? Where does this put them?

Grim, I know...but a sad reality.

I suggest we stop being martyrs and let our families help us around the house. Let them take pride in where they live by giving them the tools to take care of it.

You get help around the house. They learn valuable life skills. It's a win-win scenario!
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