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After having such a rough first half of the year, including a mental meltdown in front of my boss, I had to take a major step back from my life. I had to learn to listen to my body and take care of myself. I had to learn to speak out for myself.

Steps for recovering from burnout:

– Went to my doctor and tried some different medications.

– Started seeing a counselor each week. I began to learn that how I interpreted the expectations placed on me created real physical stress for me.

– I cutoff all ties from my job, no phone, no email.

– I stayed at home most of the time. I learned that I could not go to the store on my own without a panic attack.

– I spent a lot of time reading, writing, praying, sleeping.

– My husband would take me out of the house several evenings a week to keep me from being too housebound.

– He actually sent me off to Savannah, GA for a week. He drove me down there and got me settled in. I had a little apartment, time to read, rest, and walk on the beach.

– Once I returned, I actually started cleaning my house again, and doing laundry. I even began cooking again.

You see, I had been working so much for the past 2 years, I didn’t even know what a schedule for real people looked like. I learned the flow of eating regular meals, taking a shower, housework, rest, spending time with family, all things I really did not do much of for the previous 2 years.

What matters most

I began to remember the important things in life. Time to think, time to spend with my husband, time to dream, time to relax, time to spend with friends and family. Time to volunteer for those less fortunate.

I realized that there was more to life than money, than recognition. That if I didn’t have my health, my faith, or my family, what good was anything else I had? I learned that I had to devote time to developing who *I* was as a person.

I learned to search my soul for what my passion was, what I was meant to do in my life. I have realized that the passion I had in my job to help others with their lives was very important to me and that I wanted to use that further. And I realized that I loved to write!

Learned my limits

I also have learned that I have limits. I actually think I thought that I was invincible. I like to tease that I finally learned that there is a God, and it isn’t me! I think He is much better at it than I am, lol!

I do best if I am not around large groups for long periods of time. I need a balance of time alone versus time with others. As much as I thought I was a people person, I have learned that I love to be around groups for a short time, but then I have to be alone to recharge.

Even though this year was one of the toughest in my life, I am grateful for the lessons I have learned about life and about myself. I hope that I will live a lot longer because of it and that I will be healthier and happier!

I encourage you to take a look at your life this past year.

What didn’t work?

What did work?

Have you learned some important lessons?

As we move into 2011, I am conducting an 8 week Journey to Balance here on my blog. It is free to participate, just be sure to subscribe! If you know someone else who would benefit, be sure to share by clicking below!

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You know I am passionate about writing about my mental meltdown. I want to make sure other people who are feeling the pressure, realize where they are headed, and do what they can to put the brakes on before they hit a wall. Or, if they hit the wall, then what? 

This is the second part of my story, I fell down, but I got back up. I didn’t do it by myself, it was by the grace of God and the love and support of my husband and family. You can read more about this at my other blog, Living the Balanced Life.

Everyone falls down. It’s okay to fall down. What matters is what happens next. Do you get back up? Do you reach out for a helping hand? Do you dust yourself off and climb back on the horse? Maybe you have to be picked up and carried off for recuperation, that’s okay too.

 Just get back up again.

General Motors has had a rough couple of years. They put out a commercial that portays how I feel very well.

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And where are you going?

road travelledAs we look back behind us, at our life, we can see the path that we have been down.

We see where we’ve been… what we’ve done.

We see the good times… and the not-so-good.

We are proud of the good choices we made… and would like to forget some of the poor ones.

We see where others we met and interacted with along the way have given us much joy… or brought us much grief.

Many times we would like to go back and change where our path took us

To avoid some of the negatives and the pain.

To end up in a different place than where we are.

These things are not possible.

All we can do with the past, positive or negative, is to embrace it, learn from it, and (this part many people don’t realize!)…

decide which way we want to go from here

Are we content with where our current path is leading? Or do we want to end up somewhere totally different?

The choice is yours. You get to decide what direction your life takes. You can make course adjustments. Did you know that pilots (and the autopilot) are constantly having to make minor course corrections? Being off by 1 degree can make a huge difference in where you end up. By the same token, making adjustments of 1 degree can totally alter your journey.
road less travelled

It doesn’t necessarily take a MAJOR life decision or change to get different results!

I met a wonderful lady this weekend, Laurie Smithwick, co-founder of Kirtsy.com who made a statement that inspired this post. She said…

“We are creating our future by deciding where to step.”

Awesome! You get to decide which direction you take your next step. A little to the right? A little to the left?

But, what about…

I know that we all have been dealt some tough stuff. There are some things out of your control. However, there are a lot of things YOU do have the ability to control, and you need to learn what those things are.

  1. Your thoughts
  2. Your Attitude
  3. How you take care of yourself (eat right, drink water, exercise)
  4. How you manage your time (saying No, turning off TV or PC, choosing family time over outside obligations)
  5. Learn to live in the moment

Even if you are at a place in your life where a lot of your time is committed to things that ARE important to you (children, family, career) determine even those small things that can make a shift toward the direction you want to head.

this way that way signFor example-

  1. Drink water instead of soda
  2. Go to bed instead of watching ‘just one more show’
  3. Take a 10 minute walk rather than vegging out. If you still want to veg when you return, go for it!
  4. Read a book on a subject you want to know more about, even if it is just 15 minutes on your lunch break
  5. Research that business idea floating in your head and start creating a plan, even if it is a 5 or 10 year plan
  6. Get a new haircut/style that better reflects you
  7. Go through your wardrobe and do your best to wear only the clothes that you feel good in, that make you feel confident
  8. Spend some time in reflection determining who “you” really are, and where you want your path to eventually lead.

What are some of the little (or BIG) changes you have made to point yourself in the direction you want to be going?

I will be expanding on some of these ideas over the next couple of weeks. Be sure to subscribe HERE so you don’t miss out on any of my posts!

If you know of someone who would benefit from the info in this post and in my blog and you would like to share with them, please click on the appropriate link below!
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Being Busy Steals Your Life Away

busy womanMost of America and many other developed nations feel that being busy is a badge of honor

We think gives us our worth.

 

I think the opposite.

I think that being busy can keep us from being who we TRULY are.

I think it gets in the way of doing the things that are the MOST important to us.

I think that WE use being busy as a way to protect ourselves from stepping out of our comfort zone into what we feel deep inside we ought to be doing — and I am not talking about all the nagging ‘shoulds’ that come from outside, but those things which we know we are ‘called’ to do.

Doing Good, or Doing the Best?

We’ve all heard the quote, “The good is the enemy of the best”. I am not saying that many of the things you are doing aren’t good things. They may even be GREAT things, but, they may not be the BEST THING for YOU at this point in your life. When busyness gets a hold of us, we become bound by our ‘shoulds’ and we cannot be at peace in our lives.
work life balance sign

So how can you be sure you are doing the right things?

Christ wants us to have life and have it abundantly. He wants us to have what is best for US. We must be in tune with Him and with our hearts to avoid this empty busyness.

Below is a list adapted from Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits. Included are links to many of his helpful tips to accomplish these things.

10 Ways to Stop being So Busy

  1. Make a list of your top 4-5 important things. What’s most important to you? What do you value most? What 4-5 things do you most want to do in your life? Simplifying starts with these priorities, as you are trying to make room in your life so you have more time for these things.  
  2. Evaluate your commitments. Look at everything you’ve got going on in your life. Everything, from work to home to civic to kids’ activities to hobbies to side businesses to other projects. Think about which of these really gives you value, which ones you love doing. Which of these are in line with the 4-5 most important things you listed above? Drop those that aren’t in line with those things. Article here.  
  3. family organizer cozi

  4. Evaluate your time. How do you spend your day? What things do you do, from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep? Make a list, and evaluate whether they’re in line with your priorities. If not, eliminate the things that aren’t, and focus on what’s important. Redesign your day.  
  5. Simplify work tasks. Our work day is made up of an endless list of work tasks. If you simply try to knock off all the tasks on your to-do list, you’ll never get everything done, and worse yet, you’ll never get the important stuff done. Focus on the essential tasks and eliminate the rest. Read more.  
  6. Simplify home tasks. In that vein, think about all the stuff you do at home. Sometimes our home task list is just as long as our work list. And we’ll never get that done either. So focus on the most important, and try to find ways to eliminate the other tasks (automate, eliminate, delegate, or hire help).not to do
  7. Learn to say no. This is actually one of the key habits for those trying to simplify their lives. If you can’t say no, you will take on too much. Article here on how to say NO.  
  8. Limit your communications. Our lives these days are filled with a vast flow of communications: email, IM, cell phones, paper mail, Skype, Twitter, forums, and more. It can take up your whole day if you let it. Instead, put a limit on your communications: only do email at certain times of the day, for a certain number of minutes (I recommend twice a day, but do what works for you). Only do IM once a day, for a limited amount of time. Limit phone calls to certain times too. Same with any other communications. Set a schedule and stick to it.  
  9. Limit your media consumption. This tip won’t be for everyone, so if media consumption is important to you, please skip it (as with any of the other tips). However, I believe that the media in our lives — TV, radio, Internet, magazines, etc. — can come to dominate our lives. Don’t let it. Simplify your life and your information consumption by limiting it. Try a media fast.  
  10. Purge your stuff. If you can devote a weekend to purging the stuff you don’t want, it feels seriously terrific. Get boxes and trash bags for the stuff you want to donate or toss. Here’s my guide on decluttering. Here’s a post on starting small.
  11. Do what you love. Once you’ve freed up some time, be sure to spend that extra time doing things you love. Go back to your list of 4-5 important things. Do those, and nothing else. Read more.

Woman WritingIt will take time to implement these steps. They cannot be accomplished in a week, or even a month. I encourage you, however, if you find that you are not at peace with your level of busyness, that you go through this list, examine your heart, spend some time in meditation, and create an action plan for creating change in your life.

What are some things that you would like to change or possibly do away with in your life? Are there some things you would actually like to add?

 My goal is to help as many people as possible with these issues we all deal with! Be sure to subscribe via email or RSS so you don’t miss any posts! If you know of someone who would benefit from the info in this post and in my blog and you would like to share with them, please click on the appropriate link below!
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What has our quest for more gotten us? Do we have ‘more’ than ever before, or have we ended up with less?

In America, the first 7 or so years of the decade brought a great deal of growth and wealth in our economy. Property values were appreciating, unemployment was at low rates, we were all enjoying the ‘good life’. Many went to college and got their 4 year degrees, taking out student loans looking to be repaid once they entered the workforce.

The Housing Industry Crisis

As a new mortgage officer entering the business in fall of 2006, I came in just in time to see the downfall of the housing industry. I saw people who were able to borrow and buy a house that would require a monthly payment of 60% of their PRE-TAX dollars. I saw people who were refinance ‘happy’ and eager to pull out all the cash value their house had gained, borrowing up to 100% of the value of their home. Many times, they were doing this to payoff credit card debt they had accumulated or to take a lavish vacation. After all, they could afford the monthly mortgage payment!
recession ahead

Eventually the whole chain of events began, Wall Street, layoffs, housing sales declined, and it became a vicious cycle. And people were paddling like crazy to stay above water.

In our quest for more, we put ourselves in a precarious position. Before the ‘recession’ began,  Americans were consistently spending 106% of what they earned. How is that possible, to spend more than you make? By using credit. By charging, by borrowing. It also means they were not SAVING any money. And when their jobs disappeared, they were in trouble.

recessionAlso, as housing values fell, many people were in houses with mortgages that ended up upside-down, owing more than the house was worth. Early on, banks were attempting to get homeowners to refinance at a higher riskier rate, or to come up with the ‘extra’ amount that they were over the value of the home. Even though our situation was better than most, we had a home equity line of credit that was not maxed out, thank goodness, but the bank reduced it by 20%, because they said our house value had depreciated.

recession 2

Spending, Good or Bad?

Since the recession has come and hung around longer than any of us had hoped, now Americans are spending about 96% of their income. What does this mean? We are actually spending less than we make. We are not borrowing, we are SAVING. What a unique concept.

Now, there is a delicate balance here, one I don’t completely get and I am not an economist, but evidentally Americans saving is BAD for the economy, whereas Americans spending is GOOD for the economy. The catch 22 is that saving is GOOD for the American family, and spending beyond our means contributed to this whole mess in the first place.

So, have we learned anything from the recession? I’d like to think so. I think that family’s are reassessing what is really important. A $20k minivan will work just as well as a $50k prestigious SUV.

We don’t have to have the latest and the greatest to be happy. We can take our kids to the park and run and play and bike with them. Forgoing the extravagant Disney vacation for a smaller quieter vacation close to home at a beach or lake.

family on beach

The Most Important Things in Life are FREE!

You see, the important things in life are not things after all, they are PEOPLE. They are those in our towns and communities that need someone in their life to reach out and befriend them. Relationships matter!

picnic with friendsWhen the resources are not there for buying and spending and financing expensive activities, families and couples, and groups of friends find that there are much less expensive ways of entertaining, and they usually involve human interaction. We are spending more time in our backyards, playing family games, hanging out with friends.

Shopping, which was the great American pastime for so, many has lost its glamour, as we see how unimportant ‘things’ are. Many are turning back to what our ‘original’ forms of entertainment were- spending time in nature, enjoying the beauty that God has given us, no matter what area we live, whether it is the deserts of Arizona, the beaches of Virginia, the Rockies in the west or the marshes in Florida.

Recovery?

family-going-for-walk-in-fallWe all hope and pray that the economy will turn around and pick up soon, and that people will be working again. It will take a long time for America to recover, especially the housing market. I also hope and pray that the lessons we learned during this time, that things don’t matter, but people do, will not be forgotten. That even when we have more disposable income, we don’t waste it, that we use it wisely, and that we continue to build and cherish the relationships that we have built.

Disclaimer– I know that I basically lumped all Americans together in this post. I do know that there are many who did try to do the right things. I am not throwing darts at anyone. My goal is that we ALL learn something from this mess!

If you would like to share how the recession has changed your outlook on life, and changes you have made, I would love to hear them!

My goal is to help as many women as possible with these issues we all deal with! Be sure to subscribe via email or RSS so you don’t miss any posts! If you know of someone who would benefit from the info in this post and in my blog and you would like to share with them, please click on the appropriate link below!

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Resources for Simple Living
Love Life not Stuff
Slow Down and Enjoy Relationships
How to Live a Better Life with Less

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We watched ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ last night

under the tuscan sunI am a bit envious of Frances’ freedom to just buy a villa in Italy. Now, granted, she got that freedom by her husband having an affair and and a nasty divorce, so I don’t envy that part! (if you have not seen it, you can watch the trailer here). She arrived there with the one suitcase she was traveling with. The ability to start afresh with no physical burdens to bear is an awesome thought.

Minimalism

There is a move in this country, and even the world, called minimalism. It has also been called voluntary simplicity. As we have achieved and acquired so much in our lives, it now feels if IT is weighing us down.

The more stuff you own, the more your stuff owns you.

As I have been journeying down the road from my mental meltdown, and working through the healing process, I have been trying to redefine who I am, what I want from this life and what I want to give back to those around me.

I know now that I do not care for this house full of stuff. (I am so glad we didn’t upsize 3 years ago!)   I grew up in a very cluttered home and have realized the clutter makes me anxious (don’t need any more anxiety!)  So I am working currently on beginning to clear some of the extra stuff from our home. I want to create some ‘white space’ around me, room to breathe and create a beautiful yet simple home for us to relax in.

The more things you commit to, the less of ‘you’ there is.

Speaking of relaxing, the minimalist movement is not just about reducing stuff, it is about creating space in your life, space for the things that are most important to you. Living life YOUR way, with balance and peace in the areas that matter the most to you.  People who live a minimal lifestyle are living intentionally. They may be involved in activities or committees, but they choose intentionally how they want to spend their time by what is important to them.

Minimalism does not look the same for everyone.

There are some who are part of the 100 item challenge, I don’t think I’ll ever be there! Maybe 1000 things?

Others reduce their belongings and purchases to leave a smaller footprint on the earth.

Myself, at this point, am at the point where I am minimalizing mentally and emotionally, to quiet the noise in my head from several years of overload. The piles of clutter around me are indicative of what is happening inside my head. 

As I begin to quiet the noise and be comfortable with who I am and see the beauty inside, I am ready to create some beauty around me. I finally feel I deserve it!

The Healing Process

As part of my healing process, I have greatly reduced the things and activities I am committed to, even my job (currently on medical leave). The majority of what I am currently involved in either has to do with taking care of my body, soul and mind (gym, doctors, and church!) or spending time with my family. These are the most important things in my life!

Eventually I will have to add back in other things, but at this time, I am enjoying gaining peace within my soul and mind. God has been gracious to come down and meet me where I am, broken and desperate, and move me towards healing.matthew 11:28 poster

What are your thoughts or experiences with simplifying your life?

My goal is to help as many women as possible with these issues we all deal with! Be sure to subscribe via email or RSS so you don’t miss any posts! If you know of someone who would benefit from the info in this post and in my blog and you would like to share with them, please click on the appropriate link below!
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Resources for minimalism and voluntary simplicity

http://zenhabits.net/

http://www.zenfamilyhabits.net/

http://www.becomingminimalist.com/

http://www.choosingvoluntarysimplicity.com/

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I am participating this week in a challenge for Get Back to Blogging and Jumpstart Your Blog. I will be redoing and reposting some of my earlier posts to improve them and also share with some of my newer readers who may not have seen them.

Below the first line is my very 1st post. Take a quick glance and then scroll down past the second line to see the updated version. In the beginning, I didn’t know anything about formatting or pictures! Very BORING, LOL!

_______________________________________________________________________________

How did I end up here? Are any of you asking yourself that question?  I know that I am.  On one hand, I can’t believe what I HAVE been able to accomplish, and on the other, I say, “Is this all there is?”

I am proud of what I have done. I have raised 4 amazing kids (with the help of my dedicated husband and by the grace of God!). I have 6 beautiful grandchildren, with another on the way (can’t wait to meet Kenley Grace in September!) My children put us through some rough times, and I will say that, as teenaged parents, we put THEM through some rough times. 

We were two messed up teenagers from two messed up homes, trying to create a family, a home.  I feel that we did a pretty good job with what we started out with.  Don’t get me wrong, as my kids have grown up I am sure they will be the first to point out mistakes we made!  The thing is this, we sincerely had their best interests at heart. We wanted more for them than we had, and I am not talking about “stuff”.  I am talking about love and security and connection, a sense of belonging.  The cool thing is, that as they get older, we able to talk about how they felt growing up.  About the mistakes we made and they made.  And, as they take issue with some of what we did, and they see us as the imperfect parents we are, they understand that we are not perfect, we are human, just as they are, and they begin to understand why we did what did and still do what we do. 

I just pray this, that they will carry our successes and learn from our failures to the next generation.  Will they be perfect parents?  No, there is no such thing.  But, maybe, just maybe, they have learned that the most important things are not things at all. It is about relationships, about connecting, about experiences, about loving one another and being loved in return. 

Is our family perfect now?  How boring that would be!  I have 4 adults/young adults who are trying to figure out who they are and what they want to be when they grow up, and how they want to live their lives.  It is an exciting journey to watch.  In my generation, you were supposed to know “what you wanted to be when you grew up”.  I want my children to know, and I want you to know and understand this, that that journey began when we were very young, and it will continue till the day we leave this earth.  The parents of our generation were taught to get an education, get a job, and settle in for their “life”.  This generation is SO different!  I think that so many of us in my generation feel discontent because we don’t feel right settled into our “life”. 

I will be writing more on this subject as it is close to my heart, but let me leave you with this question?  Have you settled?  Are you still settling?  This doesn’t mean you don’t love your husband, family, children.  Just think about it.  The first step to finding ourselves is to admit we are lost. As we begin this journey, I would love to hear from you and read your comments.

______________________________________________________________________________

Revised Post

How did I end up here?

Are any of you asking yourself that question?  I know that I am.  On one hand, I can’t believe what I HAVE been able to accomplish, and on the other, I say, “Is this all there is?”

I am proud of what I have done. I have raised 4 amazing kids (with the help of my dedicated husband and by the grace of God!). I have 6 beautiful grandchildren, with another on the way (Kenley Grace arrived on Labor Day!). My children put us through some rough times, and I will say that, as teenaged parents, we put THEM through some rough times. 

family picture

In the beginning…

We were two messed up teenagers from two messed up homes, trying to create a family, a home.  I feel that we did a pretty good job with what we started out with.  Don’t get me wrong, as my kids have grown up I am sure they will be the first to point out mistakes we made! 

The thing is this, we sincerely had their best interests at heart. We wanted more for them than we had, and I am not talking about “stuff”.  I am talking about love and security and connection, a sense of belonging. 

The cool thing is, that as they get older, we able to talk about how they felt growing up.  About the mistakes we made and they made.  And, as they take issue with some of what we did, and they see us as the imperfect parents we are, they understand that we are not perfect, we are human, just as they are, and they begin to understand why we did what did and still do what we do. 

I just pray this, that they will carry our successes and learn from our failures to the next generation.  Will they be perfect parents?  No, there is no such thing.  But, maybe, just maybe, they have learned that the most important things are not things at all. It is about relationships, about connecting, about experiences, about loving one another and being loved in return. 

Perfect family?

Is our family perfect now?  How boring that would be!  I have 4 adults/young adults who are trying to figure out who they are and what they want to be when they grow up, and how they want to live their lives.  It is an exciting journey to watch. 

silly family pic

Here they are being their 'true' selves!

In my generation, you were supposed to know “what you wanted to be when you grew up”.  I want my children to know, and I want you to know and understand this, that that journey began when we were very young, and it will continue till the day we leave this earth.  The parents of our generation were taught to get an education, get a job, and settle in for their “life”.  This generation is SO different!  I think that so many of us in my generation feel discontent because we don’t feel right settled into our “life”. 

I will be writing more on this subject as it is close to my heart, but let me leave you with these questions? 

Have you settled?  Are you still settling? 

This doesn’t mean you don’t love your husband, family, children.  Just think about it.  The first step to finding ourselves is to admit we are lost. As we begin this journey, I would love to hear from you and read your comments!

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