Spring is Whispering

Can you hear it?  As the leaves begin to pop out on the trees and the breeze blows through them, the birds chatting merrily around the neighborhood, I hear Spring coming.  I woke this morning with a desire to get to work.  And so many ideas floating around my mind.  I just wanted to drop in here and let you know that I will be taking in a short break to help bring in Spring.

I will be back in a week or two.  When I do I will be writing on a different schedule to allow for more time in the garden, kitchen, and craft room.  Tuesday’s will be for seasonal happenings and encouragement.  Friday’s are all about practical hands on projects and my personal recipes that I am so excited to share.

Do tell how you are celebrating the changing of the seasons.  Every comment is a gift all it’s own.

Bring It On Home

Today has been an epic day of catch up.  You see.  I have somehow managed to be a day behind for…oh, about 5 days!  I had no idea, I was merrily going along, just doing the next thing.

I tend to work from lists.  For years and years, I would work from a strict schedule.

-7 AM wake-up, dress and let the dogs out

-7:30 AM wake the kids and cook breakfast

-8 AM…..

Well, I think you get the point.  One more way I was aiming for perfection.  Impossible perfection.  It was one of the most anxiety producing elements of my life.  Today I am a different person.  I made one small change and it opened my whole world to the possibility of ease and peace.

I sat down and really meditated on my purpose.  What really made my heart soar and put a smile on my face.  It really is in the simple things.  Time to relax with a cup of tea.  A quite hour or two to read a book.  Something just for fun, not because I had to.  Hearing my children laugh so hard they cry and laughing right along with them.  Being able to find an important paper without tearing apart the house.  Yep, I’ve done that.  It was horrible.

The stress was eating me alive.  It had to go.  So what was the problem?  I didn’t have the skills I needed to do what was most important to me.  I had not learned these skills at home and I didn’t learn them at school.  These skills just aren’t passed down like they used to be.  It took me years!  I researched how homes were managed in several different eras, experimented, tied in the best information on cutting back on earth harming habits, and came up with the system that I use today.

No one should have to do the long hard work that I did.  Talking to friends I know I’m not the only one.  It breaks my heart to hear the stories about the struggles of women who only want a happy, fulfilling life.  I’m here to show you the way, to guide you to peace.  No more excessive work, no more spinning your wheels.  What took me more than 15 years you will have down to a science in the blink of an eye.

I knew that if I could just learn what I needed to learn that I would feel invincible.  The goddess of homemaking.  And I do.  My system opened space in my life to enjoy actually living.  Now you don’t have to dream of being a home maker.  Everyone needs a home.  A place to feel safe and loved.  Home should never create stress for you.  You can have a job, stay at home, have children or not, be male or female, it doesn’t matter.  Having a home run like a well oiled machine is your foundation.  From there you can make your dreams come true.

The hard work that I put in means that getting a bit behind this week was no big deal. I was able to laugh, make a minor adjustment and what do you know, I will be all caught in the morning without any stress what so ever.  It wasn’t the end of the world.  It was a beautiful reminder that my work has paid off.

Every week I will be here showing you what I have learned.  If there is any particular area that is giving you trouble, don’t be shy, post a comment.  I’m here to show you the way.

Getting to the Heart of the Matter

It has literally taken me years to get to where I am right now.  In this moment.  The person I am today is because of my struggles and the battles that I have taken on.  Scary choice really.  I could have just continued on and taken the easy road, but I didn’t.  I wanted more.  Oh so much more!  I wanted a life that was honest and creative and loving.

Simple and hard.  I chose to be contrary.  To go against the flow of the culture around me.  Not just the community that I grew up in, but also my own family.  Some would call that crazy.  Some would call it brave.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not contrary just for the sake of being different.  You see I wasn’t willing to settle for the status quo.  I wasn’t happy with things as they were.  I wasn’t happy being who I was told to be.  Constantly being bogged down with negative messages that chipped away at my heart and soul hurt in so many ways.

To do this, I had to find myself.  I had to find clarity about my own heart.  The noise had to disappear.  I had to ask myself “who am I?” and “what is everything and everyone else?”  That clarification was key.  I had to know what thoughts revolving around in my head were me and what was just noise.  A difficult task to be sure.  This involved putting a spot light on the little and big things.  I began to question everything in my life.  From ‘what really is my favorite color?’ to ‘what are my spiritual beliefs?’  Not someone else’s, but mine and mine alone.

Like I said, little and big.  This felt like the only way to find my self, my true self.  There were some meltdowns.  At times I felt like I was going crazy, at others I felt like flying.  This has been a difficult journey with plenty of ups and downs.  I won’t deny it.  It has been so worth it!  I wouldn’t change a thing.  To be myself, to truly live a soulful life completely inline with what gives me joy has been my goal for a long time now.

As I learn I evolve.  We all do, if we put forth some effort.  If we don’t evolve and grow we become stagnant.  This is just the way it works.  I chose to embrace the process.  How exciting to not know exactly what is around the bend.  Always something new to learn about ourselves and the world around us.  With an open mind and an open heart I see miracles every day.  This perspective has made all the difference in the world.

For twenty years I have done this work of getting to my heart.  There have been the distractions of everyday life, but I have pushed on.  I made a commitment to myself to live with integrity.  This journey has brought me home.  I am at home in my own skin.  It wasn’t always this way.

Looking back I realize that it didn’t have to take me twenty long years, my entire adult life.  I’m still young in the ways that count, even if I do have an old soul.  So why did it take so long for me?  I was journeying blind.  I had no idea where I was going.  I didn’t know left from right and so in turn didn’t know what to trust as real.

I had inspiration from books here and there, mostly fiction, that planted tiny seeds in me while I was young.  All that clarifying brought so many of them back to mind, dug out of my memory banks.  The ones that really stood out in my mind and created a deep yearning in me were all about these amazing relationships.  Families, imperfect, but beautiful.  Strangers that crossed paths, then became the closest of friends.  Friends that were closer than family.

Dreams came of family and friends.  Laughter across shared meals.  Children cherished.  Hardships that made the connections stronger.  People who loved the work they did, but balanced that work with home life.  I also dreamed of more ways of showing love that I didn’t have any experience with.  From scratch cooked meals, sometimes from the garden.  Salves for scratches and burns.  Sharing a workload when it got to be too much.  Listening and being heard.  Mothers and grandmothers passing down stories and teaching skills.

I didn’t see these type of examples growing up, but I read about them and I knew that they didn’t come out of a vacuum.  I knew without a doubt that it was possible.  To have the home and relationships and work that I loved.  After twenty years, my life reflects my dreams and there is more around the bend in the road.  Who knows what will come my way!  I can’t wait to see.

If you are lost and don’t know where home is, don’t do the work alone.  There is a way to shorten the learning curve.  Hook your arm in mine, I’ll show you the way, friend.

I will be back to point the way and I have a gift in the works.  Subscribe so that you don’t miss out.

Time To Get To Work

Work is a funny thing.  You hear the word and it can mean so many things in practical usage.  Language can change over time, but are we using the word work in a helpful way?  Just to make sure we are all in the same place, let’s check with the old-school experts.

Merriam-Webster defines work in several ways:

  • to perform work or fulfill duties regularly for wages or salary 
  • to perform or carry through a task requiring sustained effort or continuous repeated operations 
  • to exert oneself physically or mentally especially in sustained effort for a purpose or under compulsion or necessity
  • to function or operate according to plan or design
  • to produce a desired effect or result
  • to exert an influence or tendency

Now this isn’t all of the definitions, but this will take care of our purpose here.  Actually, that very first definition really should be struck off the list.  We moms know that there is way more to life and work than measuring your work by the dollar amount that someone else tells you your time and skill is worth.  The work of caring for a home and a family are enormously valuable.  This work is undervalued by our society.

The longer that work is seen as only a way to make money, the longer that we will continue to see problems cropping up with depression, anxiety, and other stress related health concerns.  Check out the evening news and you will see that these even lead to violence.  At every level of society.  People of all ages and walks of life.

Homemakers and mothers alike know full well the cyclical nature of work in the home.  We do the same things day in and day out.  Yes, there can be seasonal changes and changes in life circumstances, but there are still the basics that get repeated on a regular basis.  Laundry, dishes, meals cooked, grocery shopping, and bill paying are just the things I’m thinking of here.

I really like to think of these chores as meditative.  I know every day the basics that need to be accomplished.  That puts me at ease.  There aren’t a million choices to make.  In our fast paced world, that is a good thing.  Nothing to stress about.  Just as long as I know the steps.

When I started out my married life, I was still trying to follow the steps given to me.  Those cultural expectations.  That meant getting a college education.  What I found though was the things that I really needed and wanted to learn weren’t available at the university.  Skills and knowledge that wasn’t considered important.  So, I have spent nearly twenty years learning the skills that I now use on a regular basis.

Yes, it is work, but oh what wonderful work it is.  The definitions of work that I love the most are “to function or operate according to plan or design” and “to exert an influence or tendency.”  Homemaking runs smoothly when there is a plan or design.  This is a choice that can be made very early and stuck with or changed as life takes us down new paths.  

A home is a fresh canvas for you to create a magnificent life.  You get to design it to fit comfortably your family’s situation and values.  Those basic skills though, those have to be learned and worked to build the foundation.  From the home, we women have the chance to influence so much.  It isn’t just about the color of your curtains and what you are serving for dinner.  You influence the world through each loving choice that you make.  With your children and every other person that you interact with through out your day.

We mothers really do have super powers.  Others may only see your kindness and patience.  That is the secret really.  It is the most simply acts repeated over and over that have the most lasting impact.  Stick with it long enough and you will become a wise elder in your community.  Someone trusted, someone respected.

Do some brainstorming.  What path would you like to take?  What design will you create for your home and life?  There really is a great variety in the world and that is a beautiful thing.  Please, share your ideas in the comments.

Aiming For Good Enough

I am a recovering perfectionist. I am on the verge of striking this word from my vocabulary.  It is a sickness really.  You see, I got the strange notion, when I was young, that I would not be loved if I did not excel.  If every single thing that I did and the way I presented myself to the world wasn’t absolutely perfect I wasn’t worth…. anything.

Perfectionism has become the rallying cry for procrastination and over analyzing minutia of my life.  To judge even the smallest things would tell me if it was worth bothering with.  Failure never being an option.  Oh sure I can look at others and tell them what a wonderful job they are doing, to keep up the good work when they are discouraged.  Not to myself.  Self-compassion was pushed out of my life by perfectionist tendencies.

Those things that you practice, I hear, make you an expert at them.  It’s true, oh so true!  But this isn’t who I am.  Between practice and the push of societal and family expectations I became an expert of self-hate.  I became a shadow of expectations that were reinforced on a daily basis.  “Oh, no you can’t do that.  You aren’t good enough.  If you try that, if you expose your true self no one will love you.”  So I became something else.

I am told by friends, by my loving and encouraging husband that they still see me.  The real me, and that is the me that they love and appreciate.  I never had to earn love.  That is the biggest lesson I have ever had to learn.  Love should be given and received freely.  And having it be one sided, refusing love from yourself and others digs a dark hole in your middle.  Diminished from your possibility.  After years and years of beating myself up my wall is crumbling.  That wall is a false self.  It isn’t real, because I no longer allow it to be.

Life doesn’t have to be a constant battle.  It isn’t a competition.  Yet, that is what we are taught.  Our schools encourage it with standardized testing and competitive sports.  We go out into the “real world” as young adults and we are competing for the “best” jobs, the higher pay.  We compare ourselves relentlessly to others.  To our friends and family, to our neighbors and colleagues.  It has become a never ending sport to reach the so-called American Dream.

It’s not my dream.  I was pushed so hard to do things that I didn’t really want.  To be something that I wasn’t.  My opinion wasn’t asked for.  I was supposed to do what looked good and what in turn made others look good.  The voices in my head reinforced what was being said by others

I wanted to be a wife and a mother.  I wanted to and love to take care of my home and family.  Do I want more?  Yes, I absolutely do, but they are things that are still connected to being motherly.  Caring for others, teaching, but not in the traditional sense.  I don’t want my self-worth to be tied to how much or how little money I make.  I want to recognize that I have limits and work creatively within those limits.  We all have them.  Why are we constantly pushed as a culture to push past and ignore our limits?  Why are we expected to be perfect?

Perfection isn’t a beautiful thing and I want beauty and love in my life.  That leaves no room for pretending anymore.  No more masks.  No more walls.  It requires that I care for myself.  That I be who I truly am.  To shine.  Perfection snuffs out the flame.

If you are like me, please hear me.  You are worthy.  Of love, respect, and honor.  Honor yourself.  Be compassionate to yourself.  Be a loving example to anyone who sees your light.  Keep it burning, but snuff out those mean voices.  They may have protected you at one point in your life, but that time is over.  Practice self-compassion.

 

 

Defining My Garden With Found Things

I mentioned putting up my garden fence a few posts back.  Finally!  It it is up.  Okay, most of it.  It needs just a bit more work.  I have been patiently waiting for the weather to make a turn for the better.  Today was the day.  It was warmer and dry, if a bit windy.  A small window of time to be sure, but I’ll take what I can get.  Our weather forecast suggests that I won’t have another dry day for ten days or more.

We moved into this new home in December.  The previous owner was really great.  He has only used organic amendments and drought tolerant plants for nearly twenty-five years.  He seemed pretty happy to have a gardener moving in.  Now I still have a great deal to learn, but the best way to learn is to do the work.  To gain practical experience.  I will be growing a variety of greens, herbs, onions, garlic, potatoes, carrots, beans and much more.

But I have a dilemma that the previous owner did not.  I have two dogs that have a tendency to run over anything during their daily rough housing.  Funny to watch until they smash my herbs.  A couple of the neighbors also have dogs, which has created some nasty new habits in our fur babies that I am struggling to halt.  Several issues will be rectified by putting up a garden fence.  No squashed veggies, no digging at the fence, and no getting over excited about the dog next door that attacks the fence.  The bonus is having a sheltered and shaded area to try my hand at growing my own mushrooms.

Now, I was looking for creative solutions.  Any time I have a project come up around our home I have a few acquisition rules that I like to follow if at all possible.

  • I attempt to use left over materials from past projects first.  I had nearly a whole box of deck screws, but little else for this particular project.
  • Next, I will look for waste materials that can be used.  Craigslist is usually my go to for this.  Finding enough materials in a large populated area was a breeze.  Hubby, picked two truck loads of pallets for me.  Free.  They would have otherwise gone to the garbage dump.
  • This takes care of almost everything.  All that was left was buying four packages of garden stakes, a two 4x4s, four gate hinges, and two gate latches. So, that means I managed to build sixty five feet of fencing including two gates for about $45.
  • At times, I will also barter with others, but some items it is best to buy new.  The gate hardware fit the bill.  The 4x4s were more of wanting to get things done before the weather turned and I had hoped to already have plants and seeds in the ground three weeks ago.  Patience could have saved a bit more.

The next few steps may very well happen whether it is raining or not.  The previous owner had cinder blocks stacked with large storage totes on top.  These were filled with soil for his small garden.  This prevented him from having to bend and stoop.  He only grew ingredients for his mother’s pickle recipe.  Isn’t that sweet?!  For me, well, I cannot bring myself to growing food in plastic, especially in the hot Texas summer sun.  I do have my limits of waste though, I will be using the soil, hoping that anything left from the plastic dissipates quickly.  I will be setting up a raised bed using that soil and some lovely compost that has been cooking here on the property.

I will be moving the compost box to a better location and moving a large bird bath that our naughty puppy damaged into the garden.  I’m just glad she wasn’t hurt in the process.  I looked out the back door a few days ago to check on the dogs and what do you know?!  The little stinker was standing in the birdbath.  Just as proud as can be.  Needless to say, she won’t be able to get to it anymore.  This bird bath is really unique.  It has three seahorses holding up a large shell.  I haven’t done that sort of concrete work before, but I’m willing to learn to put it to rights.

This project has been a lot of hard work, but I know that it will all pay off.  What projects are you working on around your home this week?

 

 

 

Your Story is Important

We all have a story.  A lived past.  A dialog that plays over and over in our heads.  At the moment I am reviewing my story.  This is something that I have been doing when the moment feels right.  For the past few years.  I’m not just letting this story play over again in my head.  I’m questioning this story.  Is it true?  Is my perspective of events accurate?  Is there another way that I can look at events that I do remember truthfully?  This practice has helped me immensely, because it means I am taking control of my own history, instead of letting it happen to me.  I am not a victim.  And neither are you.  This all boils down to a choice.

Doing a little watching or even getting involved in heated discussions on social media (I don’t recommend it) I have noticed so many jump into name calling and verbal bullying to justify their own position as a victim.  I’ve been there, if not saying it, I felt it deeply.  Please don’t do this.  Your value is so much more than you give yourself credit for.  Being a victim is a choice, or rather having a victim mentality is a choice.  Dig deep, acknowledge the hurt.  Embrace it even.  Find out why you feel like the world owes you because something bad happened to you.  Our power and strength is in our ability to choose.  You are not stuck forever, replaying the same story in your head.  You can change the way you look at your story.  As time goes on, your day to day choices also change your story, one choice at a time.  Where do you want to go in life?  Who do you want to be?  The answers to these questions can lead you to making the best choices for you.

Personally,  my story feels very… oh how to I put this… generic.  Blank and empty even.  I had what feels like a generic American childhood.  I had to gently remind myself that my inner world, not my outer world, has been my making.  At least the vast majority of it anyhow.  Still, it’s like there is something very important missing.  I believe that many people these days will share my feelings.  This is a feeling that I have had most of my life, but one that has grown as I have grown and learned more and more about myself.  I’m missing a family history.  No, I wasn’t adopted and as far as I know I no one else in my family was either.  The older family members just don’t talk about the past.  My family doesn’t pass down stories.  Even when asked, the subject is usually changed.  There seem to be secrets lurking behind unanswered questions.  My husband’s family is the same.  The stories that are there stop at the border.  A vast gaping hole on the other side.

Did crossing the border into what is now the United States force families to leave behind their past, their stories and their beliefs?  Is there some unspoken rule to become not only generic, but aggressive and materialistic also?  Still you can make a choice to change the future.

One of the simplest and most profound choices I have made is to tell my own children stories.  I may be young by some standards, but I am the matriarch of my own line.  I am starting a new story, by telling my own.  I’m breaking the chain of foggy family history.  My children, even though they are teenagers and young adults hear my stories and they hear the stories and fables that resonate with me.  Even the stories that I don’t “own” have a purpose.  They teach values.  Trust, respect, love, integrity, honor, and the value of hard work and even failure.

You can do this, too.  Be the mother that you never had.  Mother yourself, mother your children.  Show the world that there is wisdom and strength in gentleness.  Write your own story, one choice at a time.

The Fallacy of Self-Care

Note:  Weather issues and achy joints and muscles demanded that I postpone my garden fencing project.  So that post will, hopefully, fingers crossed, happen next week.

You do so much as scan the internet a tiny bit these days and you will come across someone recommending that you should “take care of yourself” or don’t forget about “self-care.”

Okay, I’m going to be up front.  Last night I had a total meltdown.  Tears to fill a lake, screaming, stuttering, and pretty much not making any sense, because I kept having to start over at the beginning of an explanation.  Desperately trying to explain myself, but just making it worse.  It wasn’t anything terribly important, I was only trying to tell my husband that I had come up with a way to fix a hard water issue we have been having with the dishwasher.  Nothing traumatic.  Really.

I had had a very busy day.  Not everything went quite as planned, but again, nothing life altering.  Except maybe running out of printer ink.  Don’t ya know?  Homeschoolers cannot run out of printer ink!  Just kidding.  It wasn’t anything specific.  It was everything.  Overwhelm was crushing me.  Things have just been piling up.  So much to do!  As a mother, (and from what I hear I’m not alone in this) I do too much.  Followed by not ever asking for help.  I cannot seem to help myself.

My sweetheart of a husband tried gently reminding me that I can ask for help.  Also, that I don’t have to get everything done on a ridiculous timeline.  Those timelines are all my own.  No one put them on me, but me.  This wasn’t the first time that this has happened.  It probably won’t be the last.  Still, I want to do something, so that I am not so darn sensitive.

Learning to ask for help is hard.  When I was younger, and my children were small I did ask for help.  Just a couple of times.  Now, I didn’t ask for help unless I could not see any other way.  On one occasion I needed to have a surgery.  I wanted to wait, but my doctor insisted that it was an emergency.  Those gallstones were not going to give me any peace until they were removed.  I needed someone to watch my children for three whole hours.  Not a whole day, not over night.  I asked several people.  Every single one said no.  Two of them called me a hypochondriac.  I was “young and healthy,” so why on earth did I need surgery?!  I had to wait more than three months before I could have the surgery.  My husband was in military training at the time in another city.  My children and I drove to his graduation and drove back, 12 or 13 hours total of driving.  The next morning I had my surgery while my husband cared for our children.

We packed up our house and moved to my husband’s first duty station three days later.  Yep, right after I had my shredded gallbladder removed.  My husband was asking me last night what I can do to better take care of myself, other than asking for help when I need it, of course.  I really got me thinking I should jump on the self-care bandwagon.  I wish it was that simple.

We live in this society that insists that women should be super heroes.  Every.  Single.  Day.  But really should we?  Why is so much expected of us?  Work hard at a career, care for our children, have a home that looks like it came out of a magazine, be the perfect wife, and have a stellar social life to top it all off.  That list makes me tired just thinking about it.  And asking for help?  Those that do are seen as weak.  Even as users or lazy.  I can count on one hand how many times I have asked for help and I have gotten those responses.  That is insane!  Why do we as a society treat people like this?  Why do we treat ourselves like this?  Something has got to change.

Life can be tough sometimes.  Sometimes we need help.  It could be just as simple as needing a cup of sugar without running out to the store.  Who knows their neighbors well enough or feel comfortable enough to ask?  Not many of us.  Asking for help could be something much more complicated.  Would you feel safe enough to ask a friend to watch your sick child, because you cannot miss work?  Do you feel like that is too much to ask?  How about the other side of that equation?  Would you watch a sick child of a friend on a moments notice, because the babysitter refused?  Would you feel like your friend was asking too much of you?

As mothers and homemakers especially, we have opportunities to help friends, neighbors, and family when they are in need.  We need to reexamine our thoughts when these things come up.  Are we assuming that the person asking for help is taking advantage or doesn’t really need your help?  If so, change that thought to one of gratitude that you are trusted and appreciated enough for the person to ask you.  What an honor!   If you have friends and family that would not hesitate to aid you when you are in need, how blessed you are!  Honor them and take great care of those relationships.  Do what you can for them and ask when you need to.

Many mothers work day in and day out without enough interaction with others.  Sure they may have friends and family, but the day to day work is done alone.  Maybe it is inter-spaced with play dates and children’s activities, but it’s not enough.  Our culture encourages loneliness and over work.  We need to find a way for more community cultivation.  Mothers and really everyone need community, we need connection and trust.  How long has it been since mothers would gather during the day while children played and they worked together instead of just talking?  I have never seen it in my life, only heard stories of past generations.

Care and connection can be built one human interaction at a time.  Be kind.  Show concern, help when you can, and question your cultural baggage.  I am.  I am finding that jumping to assumptions about people isn’t helpful.  If you can’t help, that’s okay.  You can still smile and be kind.  Even the most simple interactions influence both people.  It will spread.  All we have to do is try.  This is simply creating a new habit (or enforcing an old one).  It’s your choice.

I haven’t been in my current city very long.  We just moved into our new house in December, but I hope to get out into my community and meet people.  Get involved and offer my help where I can.  I am hoping that I can find a group of like minded women that would love to get together for quilting bees and canning and other homemaking fun.  Why not build relationships while working together and sharing talents!

Baby Steps: From Walking to Running

Just a few days ago, I was here telling you about dropping my Amazon habit.  Yes, it really is a habit.  A very UNthoughtful habit at that.  Already, I can see that it will change the way I do things and the way I think.  Really that’s the whole idea.  Simply to be more methodical in my purchases and choices in my daily life.  Habits can sometimes be really tough to crack.  A little brain rewiring does the trick.  I know, I know it sounds easy and yet oh so difficult at the same time.  I get it.  This is something that I have struggled with practically my whole life.  

 

The trick here is to take baby steps.  A couple of weeks ago, I read an article claiming just this, but it mentioned flossing one single tooth.  Then the next week add another single tooth and before you know it you will have picked up the positive habit of flossing your teeth.  If that is a habit you want to add to your life.  I laughed so hard!  There is a point when the steps chosen can be too small.  Flossing one single tooth a day would have me feeling silly and very unaccomplished.  I just can’t do that.  You may be the same.  

 

Breaking things down to a manageable level and slowly adding to the habit on a weekly basis can be a wonderful thing.  I still want to feel like I have accomplished something, or I don’t see the point and I quit before I even began.  Quitting is no good!  The way I like to look at it is to picture that baby everyone is talking about.  You know the “baby steps.”  We aren’t talking about ant steps here.  We are talking baby steps.  

 

I fondly remember my own children learning to walk.  Now, this is a little unusual.  My oldest never crawled and was running at six months old.  She never actually walked.  Okay, sure she isn’t the best example.  I blinked and she was climbing the cabinets and running anywhere she could.  No naps either.  I was one worn out Mama.  My other two children were walking by eight months old.  Yes, actually walking, not running.  This was a little slower, so I was able to see some steps, though I practically had to pin my eye lids open to catch it.  

 

Their little legs only went as far as they were capable of going in a single step without losing balance.  The few falls they had taught them this lesson quickly.  This is the biggest key!  Don’t bite off more than you can chew.  I’m talking to myself here.  I’m notorious for trying to do too much at one time.  As they grew, the steps they took grew with them.  Before long they both were running, but not climbing right along with their sister.  When creating new habits I have three steps I like to follow.

 

  • Create space for the new habit
  • Take the longer term goal and break it down to manageable baby steps
  • Grow the steps as your habit becomes steady

 

That Amazon habit I dropped?  That was me making space.  Space in my mind and space in my day.  I won’t be reading as many books as before, but I will be aiming for quality books.  My reading list is designed to be inspiring and educational, and occasionally entertaining.  I also won’t be checking prices on Amazon either.  The app has been deleted.  (Yea, more space in my phone for those darn updates.)  First, I will determine if I even need something.  Then, I will be looking for needs only in thrift and antique shops and with local, small businesses.  

 

The open space is for the things that I really love.  Like writing and gardening and quilting and other sewing projects.  I have learned to do a little delegating, too.  I only have 24 hours in a day, just like everyone else, cut back by sleep.  I love a good night’s sleep.  If I don’t get 8 to 9, every single night, I’m pretty useless.  Those hours keep me at my very best.  So that leaves 15 to 16 beautiful hours to create the life I want to live.  I want to make each one count.  Filled with things I love.  Things that are also good and healthy for Mother Earth.  Oddly enough that includes washing the dishes, by hand, yep, I know weird.  

 

I have been working up to writing every single day for a few weeks now.  I love it so much that it deserves to be a bigger part of my life.  I’m also a totally out of practice.  A daily writing practice will improve my skills.  Improved writing also helps me share better the things I value.  Specifically the things that I am learning about living in alignment with my values and lessening my negative impact on the ecosystem.  All the while being realistic about the world being in transition from an industrial society.  I can’t do it all at once.  Who can?!  Baby steps help prevent me from getting overwhelmed about the state of the world.  

 

Originally, it was my plan to write once per week here on the Contrarian Cottage.  I just have so much that I want to add.  So many projects to share.  This week I will begin to ease into writing  two to three times per week.  See baby steps!  This really is a trial run.  We will see how it works out.  So I will be posting Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

 

All of those things that I love are things that I want to share here with you.  I’m in this weird place where I am a total hermit a good deal of the time and yet I still want to share ideas.  Ideas that have been simmering for some time.  Things I have already tried and made into habits and a lot of things that I haven’t quite gotten around to.  Do you have any tried and true tricks for making habits a part of your life?  I’d love to hear them and I’m sure others may want to hear your ideas, too.  

 

*I will be acquiring materials for a garden fence.  For defining the space better and to keep the darn doggies out of my garden beds.  They will eat anything, whether it is good for them or not.  Silly things.  More about this project in a couple of days.*

Removing Distractions One At A Time

When I was very young, life was so simple.  Beautifully so.  It wasn’t anything I did, or anything that someone else in my life did.  It just was.  Complications seem to attract to you as you age.  In my own life, I have watched the complications and distractions multiply.  One by one they slipped in, attaching themselves to my psyche.  Distracting me, taking up not only my time and energy, but also hiding my being and who I really am deep inside.  Like a parasite intent on making me forget who I am.  Hiding me under the piles of “shoulds” and “have-to’s” expected from a materialistic society.  Sometimes these distractions were a choice.  My choice.  Sometimes they became part of my life, because I didn’t make any choice at all.  

 

Looking back at a few examples recently had me wondering if I even had all the accurate information before making the decisions that I did.  So much of the information that comes to us are through advertisements.  On television, ads before movies, on radio, on many websites and blogs, our email accounts, even billboards along our roads.  There are so many that I am probably missing a few big examples.  Quality choices don’t come from advertisements.  

 

Going a little deeper doesn’t always give a complete picture either.  Less than two months ago, my family and I moved into a new home and attempted to have internet installed.  It took 6 weeks to finally get it up and running.  The complications didn’t have anything to do with the information on the company’s website, but while I was checking on information there I noticed that there was a great deal of information missing.  These companies basically tell you what services that you “could” be receiving. Several options and the ideal level of streaming.  We have learned to check our actually internet speed.  You may very well not be getting anything close to what you are paying for.  We like to use speedtest.net.  

 

Getting back to who I am is a big goal of mine.  To know oneself is powerful.  Not just to know, but to respect and honor yourself.  You may be asking, what on earth does choosing internet providers have to do with knowing oneself?  For me personally, distractions are the issue.   They prevent me from making my best choices.  Having billions of easy choices has not been good for me or my family.

 

Easy is a distraction.  When things are too easy we have a habit of not paying attention.  Okay, and overwhelm with information.  To be able to have to clear mind space, to make the best choices in alignment with who I am, I need to sift through these distractions that have piled up over the years.  I am unburying myself one distraction at a time.  

 

The question is where do I start?  As a mother and a homemaker, one of my jobs is to budget and utilize our monthly income in the best way possible.  Now this can take some creative thought and careful consideration.  We have lived on one income for nearly twenty years.  Even during economic downturns and missing paychecks and unexpected expenses we have always pulled though.  It seems as though there is always something to learn, something new to try.  Reevaluating needs and desires can feel like soul searching.  That’s okay.  

 

Recently, I have come across articles claiming that you need Amazon Prime, that it is an addiction that you cannot get rid of.  Challenge accepted.  What can I say, it caught my attention.  I pulled up our account on my computer to see if it was benefiting our family or not.  Looking at our list of past orders was…. well a little ridiculous.  Eye opening.  You see, I have a book problem.  I love to read and learn new things.  The vast majority of orders were books.  Books that I could have gotten from a local used book store or the library.  The library being free would have been ideal.  We would have saved a great deal.  Now, there were several other items.  Lotion for my daughter.  I could have taken the time to help her find something in town that would worked just as well for her.  The new tea kettle?  We have a Le Creuset store locally.  The kettle is a must.  I use a tea kettle every day and the inexpensive kettles don’t last long enough to be worth the expense.  The place I buy from is optional.   

 

There were several other random items that we most likely would not have bought at all, if we had taken the time to think it though.  Amazon shipping isn’t what it used to be either.  They will say that you get two day shipping, but that can turn into a week or more.  There is even a local distribution center.  

 

Besides, the money wasted, I have one other major objection.  The authors of those books do not receive as much money from the sale through Amazon as they do through the publisher or other bookstores.  I do have a number of books that I feel I want in my personal library, because I reference them frequently.  The authors should benefit from the sales as much as possible.  This really is about balance.  Sticking to a budget and reining in our spending, while still honoring the work of those authors that I value.

 

Last week, I took the plunge.  Our Amazon Prime account has been closed.  We even received a refund, because we had not used it in the last month.  I don’t even know how we ended up on a monthly payment.  My plan, from here on out, is to be much more considerate about my purchases, use the library, and order books that will be useful to keep in the most beneficial way to authors.  Other items I will make a strong effort to buy local or from small businesses.  There is alway the option to do without.  Maybe it isn’t such a bad thing to NOT have access to billions of products at the touch of a button.   

 

This tool distracted me from other choices that would have fit my personal ideals.  One distraction down, I can’t wait to figure out my next step to being my best self.  I am unburying myself one distraction at a time.