The journey thus far has been actually a little more eye opening than I had intended. I suppose any good journey will have surprises along the way. Its been three weeks since I had “the moment” that precipitated this blog and my attempt to find a better way. That moment occurred just minutes after being literally removed from the DMV for disorderly conduct and possibly ruining the clothing of strangers with purple applesauce that you squeeze from a pouch. Yes, I was that mother who brought her two toddlers to the DMV in a moment of desperation. Yes, I was that mother I judge and probably will continue to judge even after my own foolish attempt at making the impossible possible. I suppose everyone has their breaking point and mine came when I realized I’d actually been stupid enough to put two toddlers in that situation and expect anything other than forced removal. How had it come to this? How had my life gotten so out of control that I actually reviewed the idea in my head prior to the trip and didn’t see this outcome? Really?? I want to hurl food at strangers at the DMV after a two hour wait, what was going on in my mind/life that made me think my children wouldn’t have the same feelings? and act on them as toddlers are want to do? Confession- I secretly think life would be a lot easier if we all acted like toddlers, within reason. I mean seriously random acts of kindness, genuine outbursts of emotions, creative thinking run amok- seriously it could be good for our souls. But I digress.
So there I was having a mental breakdown of sorts in the DMV parking lot trying to keep my cool for the sake of my children and strangers alike, when it dawned on me that my tears had less to do with this moment and more to do with all the moments of the past year finally catching up to me. All the feelings of being out of control and being whipped by life just came to the surface and poured out of me in that one single moment. I’m not proud of that moment. It is not my best mother moment or my best person of planet Earth moment. But I suppose it was a necessary moment so that I could see it was time to take back control, it was time to change things up.
So what have the last three weeks brought me? What have I accomplished toward this better life? In addition to the weekly goals we have been working on here, I have been trying to take baby steps in other areas of my life. Baby steps that I hope will lead me down the road a little less weary than I currently am. In the past, I have started projects and often thought, I’m too late to do this or I’ll never be good at this because I haven’t been doing it my whole life, and this negative self talk prevents me from going forward. When I was 20 I considered taking up a martial art. With the dream of being a badass I visited my local dojo and was told they wouldn’t train me because I was girl… this was a long time ago at the time I figured ah just as well I’m 20, how much could I really learn? Now that I am almost 40, I look back on that day and think, Man! if only I’d done it then I would have been doing it for 20 years and I would really be able to kick some A@#! I don’t want to think that way anymore, it is never too late to start something new. Anything I start today will be something I excel at and will be proud of 20 year from now, but anything I talk myself out of today I will never be good at, I will never have 20 years of experiences to be proud of. Why not start everything right now? What about that martial art? If I start now, maybe I’d be the biggest badass granny at the nursing home in my 80s?
So the following aren’t big things, not just yet, but they are little things I’ve done in the last 3 weeks that have given me some control over where this ride is going, and they have helped me feel significantly better. Here are the 5 things I have done to make life easier:
- Cleaned out my drawers- This one is a great place to start. It is easy to do and will instantly make you feel more in control. Not only because you completed the project, but because your daily life will be easier now that you are organized. Start by making two piles, donate and trash. Then get rid of anything you haven’t worn in the last year. I don’t care if you are waiting to grow into it, or lose weight to fit in it, if you haven’t worn it, toss it. Trust me you aren’t going to wear it, even if you lose the weight you’ll want to celebrate with new clothes, not some old thing sitting in a drawer. This is also a great time to simplify if you are considering a more minimalist lifestyle. I have a tendency to wear the same 3 pairs of pants and shirts on a rotating schedule. Why do I have all of these other clothes? I also tend to buy the same thing in multiple matching colors so I don’t have to think too hard about what to put on. It may be boring, but trust me, my personality more than makes up for the excessive use of black in my wardrobe.
- Organized my garage- Before you get too excited or too daunted at the prospect of your own garage, I’ll admit I’m doing this one in stages. This time I just got rid of everything that was sitting on the floor that didn’t have a home on a shelf. Most of that stuff my husband and I had felt we needed and should be saved when we organized the garage two years ago. Guess what? In two years that stuff hasn’t been moved or used, or even thought about, so clearly we aren’t going to need it. It was mostly books and old DVDs, some clothes we no longer needed and odds and ends. I set aside three items I thought we could sell, made two bags of trash and we donated the rest. I have a tendency to hang onto stuff for sentimental reasons ( I was wearing that shirt on our first date, kind of thing), so to avoid that I drove the items straight to the Salvation Army the next day, before I had a chance to second guess myself.
- Looked at our finances- This one hurt, it hurt a lot. But it had to be done. The first step to controlling your financial future is to sit down and be brutally honest with yourself. My husband and I have had a bit of trouble the last two years with the bad economy and a very sick child, so our finances are not where we want them to be. We made a lot of hard choices looking at those numbers, but I am already feeling relief about our future. We don’t have all the details worked out just yet, and there are still things to consider, but I am feeling empowered and hopeful just by the process of being brutally honest about money. Visit Man vs Debt if you need inspiration.
- Simplified my kitchen- We live in a small house, with a kitchen to match. It is a common occurrence to open a cupboard and have random items fall on your head. We all just instinctively put our arm up to deflect the impending blows. This is annoying when you are in a good mood, but enraging if you are already feeling on the edge of sanity (go ahead, you work from home with two toddlers and five dogs and see how long you can stay cool as a cucumber). So this one was a no brainer. We were also forced to make a lot of changes to the kitchen because my son was diagnosed with Celiac disease recently. This meant we had to throw away and replace EVERYTHING in our kitchen to avoid cross contamination. I’m talking utensils, Tupperware, pans, cups. Everything that might be even a little bit porous had to go. It was a good time to just purge the goods and replace only the necessities of life. I’m not going to say that everything in there works smoothly or you don’t have to worry about falling items, but it is much better than before.
- Regular exercise- This one is a no brainer. You just have to do it. There really are no excuses. For the last three weeks I have gotten in a good workout at least 4 times a week. I’d love it to be more, but that is good step for now. Maybe I will figure out a way to add a 5th workout, but at the moment I am happy with 4 and my body is responding well by feeling and looking better. I can now fit in my pre baby pants and my body fat has dropped. I can lift my 40 pound son easily to toss him in his loft bed. I’m sure our new gluten free diet, necessitated by the Celiac, doesn’t hurt either, but I know it is lifting weights that has given me the ego and endorphin boost I so desperately needed.
I wish I could say that change and growth in life comes easy. That you just set a goal and work the steps to get there and voila! problem solved. But that isn’t how it works. Often you have to set a goal and repeatedly fail before you figure it out, or fall and stumble before you’re fully convinced you’re on the right path. But anything in life worth doing is worth doing well, and anything worth doing well is going to be invariably difficult at least some of the time. There are days I don’t want to workout, and mother moments I handle poorly. There are things I wish I could buy and other things I wish I never had to part with. But the most important things in my life are the people and animals I share it with, so at the end of the day if all is right with them and the goals I’m working improve their life as well, then it is all worth the struggle. And the struggle to reach your goals is always better than the struggle to fix what happens when you have no goals.