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...

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!


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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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving

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Today, thousands of families around the country are sitting at their tables, with their families, giving thanks. There's also a good chance there is bickering about stuffing vs dressing, whole berry or jellied cranberry sauce, or who's going to win today's game. (Who is playing, by the way?)

This year, for the second year in a row, The Turtle Clan will be going Thanksgiving solo. In fact, as I write this, The Man Beast is teaching The Boy the secrets of his homemade Hawaiian rolls.

While I give thanks every day, today is set aside for a special time of thanksgiving. I've been trying to pray more this week. I tend to get sidetracked with my praying, so instead, I've been writing in a prayer journal. It keeps me focused and it's something I look forward to.

Is it right to write down prayers? I'm not sure. I do know that I feel closer to God when I write letters to him. Plus, family legacy is very important to me and I see this journal as being one of (hopefully!) many that I'm able to leave to the Kiddos.

As part of my prayer last night, I was prompted to list the five most important monetary things in my life. I could easily fill pages of my journal with monetary things that are important to me and I'm not ashamed of these things. Do I value these things above the non-material? No. But I do recognize their importance in my life.

My house, while not my own, is a safe place I'm able to go to each day. It's a place where I greet my family and dogs. Where I'm able to take off my shoes and lay on the couch and read a good book. It's the place where I go to be myself and unwind from the day.

My car is a treasured item because it allows me to do the day-to-day activities that are important to me: work, scouts, church (in no particular order). Could I get by with out a car? Yes; but I'm glad in this season of things, I don't have to.

My cell phone. It's a love/hate relationship. However, until recently, it allowed me to keep in touch with family and friends. Again, can I do without it? Now that I have a landline phone, yes, I absolutely could. (And really, 20 years ago, hardly anyone had a cell phone. How did we survive? I search weather, google how to spell a word, or search when movies were made. When I'm out and about, I'm texting home to tell the Man Beast where I'm heading. I feel safer while doing this and he feels better knowing where I am. Is something going to happen to me while I'm out? The chances are good that nothing will, but if something did, police could find me, thanks to my phone).

Food. Is this monetary or a necessity? We need food to survive, but I know from experience that the human body is a wonderful machine that takes anything you put into it and does its absolute best to make sure you keep on breathing. I've eaten some pretty crappy things in my life. And my body has continuously done its job of keeping me alive and relatively healthy. But now, I'm eating homemade goodies - breads, noodles, and soups.  I'm not bragging; I'm just very thankful for a husband who not only knows how to cook, but takes great pleasure in cooking for his family.

These are the big things I'm thankful for that money can buy. But I also know in my heart of hearts that while they are a blessing, they aren't 100% necessary. But I'm not going to dwell on what should happen if all of this went away. I could work myself up into a tizzy thinking about everything that can happen and what I would do should they happen.

This isn't ignorance or arrogance of, "Oh, that will never happen to me."

Instead, it's an acceptance of being thankful for what I have today, that could be gone tomorrow, and that I will be okay regardless of what happens.

It is a peace that comes with growing closer to God and seeing His blessings through a year of hardships.
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."  Hebrews 13:5
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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Fight #LikeAGirl

"Fight like a girl."
"Run like a girl."
"Hit like a girl."

Are these positive messages or negative messages?

It depends on the context.

Men use the phrase to insult one another when they aren't performing up to par.

Women use it as a call to action when they are conquering their struggles.

But when (and where) does doing something "like a girl" become an insult? Are we instinctively born with the preconceived notion that 1) girls perform subpar to boys and 2) when someone performs less than what is expected, they are compared to a girl - not a girl who does not {fill in the blank} just a girl?

Always™ answers this in their latest Like a Girl promotion.

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If you're unable to view the video (or choose not to), let me sum it up for you:

Adult women, adult men, and boys (boys!!) are asked to do various tasks #LikeAGirl: run, throw, fight.

Every single individual performs each task quite comically - if it weren't so sad.

Then, the video cuts to 10 year old girls who are asked to perform the same tasks.

What do they do?

What's even more telling is that when they are asked what it means to "{Fill in the blank} like a girl", they aren't sure if it's an insult or not, but they think it might be. Might be? Let's revisit these girls in 5 years and I'm sure their answers will change.

I've made no secret that I am a Girl Scout mom. I like what my local Girl Scout troop stands for (I cannot and will not speak for Girl Scouts as a whole). We believe in teaching girls that they have a voice. We believe in teaching them that "just because they're girls" does not mean that they are necessarily "bad" at a math or science. (In fact, Baby Girl will be the first to tell you that she's great at math and science. They are her favorite subjects!)

We've been in scouts for awhile and as a result, I've seen many of the girls mature into young women who are secure in who they are and are willing to stand up for something they do not feel is right. I believe that a large part of this self confidence is "growing up" in a "safe" environment where girls could be themselves. They were free to explore things. They were able to make mistakes and learn without being criticised.

Obviously, not all girls have the same experience.

Maybe they should.

Until next time,

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