Simplify

A while back I wrote myself a note.

I do this often.  If you were to look inside my purse… car… pocket… desk drawer… you’d find several pieces of scrap paper or sticky notes.  Sometimes with reminders, sometimes to-do’s, sometimes blog ideas, sometimes I just frantically jot down something that a person has said or lines from an audio book or podcast that really resonated with me.

But this note was different.  It was a question to myself.  It asked “Is it possible to live a simple life while being a busy and working mom?”

I scribbled it down one day while at work and stuck it to the back of my phone so I knew I’d revisit it later.  I had asked myself this question because I truly didn’t know the answer. At that time, I felt like I was failing at being a good mother and wife.  Overall, I felt like I was failing at life.  I should mention, this question came about during one of my “stress spells”- a time where I had spread myself too thin and the stress began to get the best of me.  During these “stress spells” I usually begin sliding down a slippery slope.  Stress becomes anxiety.  The anxiety becomes fear.  And the fear becomes deep sadness.  Eventually I find my way out, only to write myself similar notes later on.

But that’s a whole different deal.

Back to the question… I didn’t have an answer for myself, so what did I do?  I consulted Google.  Of course there was no simple answer but the searching made me sit with the question and actually begin to work it over in my head.  I started to make a list of things that are important to me and ways to give them the attention they deserve, while really looking at things that are not worthy of so much of my energy, in order to start living a simpler and happier life.

Like I said I would- eventually I found my way out of the stress spell but my list stuck with me and I found myself actually taking {tiny} steps to live a simpler life.  Then came a little health scare (things are OK) and it was the swift kick in the ass I needed to really focus on simplifying and reevaluating what’s really important to me.  It all really came down to my hub, my core, my heart center- John and the kids. Hopefully, living a simple lifestyle will allow me to be a happier and more patient mother, a nicer wife, and a more present person with less stress and distractions.  I want to spend quality time with quality people and I want to be satisfied with what I have rather than focusing on what I don’t have.

In order to help guide myself and stay on track, I have created an ongoing and quite large Google Doc with actual steps to achieve the simple life I strive for. Now, I know that you’re probably thinking that making lists and Google Docs doesn’t sound like simplifying, in fact it sounds like more work.  But it actually is a form of simplifying for me.   And I really LOVE lists.

Below is my list to myself, in no particular order:

Be Careful With Commitments

It’s ok to say no sometimes.  Do not overbook, ie; appointments, play dates, subbing classes, outings with friends, etc.  Create boundaries around my time while maintaining kindness.  If I really don’t want to do something and I do it, I will end up resenting that person and that is not fair to either of us.  I want to be able to give all of me instead of part and in order to do that, I need to be able to set boundaries and respect them.  

Quality Family Time

Put the phone down and enjoy these moments.  Enjoy more adventures and create more memories, do not accumulate more things. Focus on doing instead of spending. Wake up an hour earlier each day and in that extra quiet time, take care of any chores that might lead me to tell my kids, “one minute, let me finish this real fast…” if they were awake.

Choose to be Happy

Maintain an attitude of gratitude.  Let go of what no longer serves me and understand that this may be ever changing. Let go of toxic relationships and energy vampires- you know who they are. 

Do Not Compare Myself to Others

Less social media- PERIOD.  They only show you what they want you to see.

Purge

Purge and donate more often- aim for once a month.  Remember that I cannot take things with me whenever the day comes to travel to the great beyond and I don’t want to burden my grandkids with crap that grandma kept in the garage that no one has a clue as to why she kept it.

Family Calendar 

Create and abide by the Family Calendar- add To-Dos here, grocery items that are needed, important reminders, dinner menu for the week.  (“sync” with my personal planner and online calendar) 

Bedtimes

Start a mellow bedtime routine for the kiddos 1 hr before they get tucked in.  After they are in bed, prep for the next day to make the mornings easier- lunches, backpacks, etc.  Keep my To-Do list in one place, write items down before bed so I can try to clear my mind.  No phone use before bed- Read a book instead.

**Set my alarm 1 hour earlier to avoid rushing in the morning and enjoy the ‘me time’.   

Work Space

Shred papers that create clutter, file ones that absolutely need to be kept.  Take pictures of documents if I just need the info for a later time and then toss the physical paper.  Clean my desk and use it for writing and not for my piled up books that I am going to read (ha!), the clothes that are too clean for the hamper but too dirty to be put away again (you know you have those too), and all of the bobby pins that I can never seem to find in the mornings. 

*** While I am at it, keep the kitchen counter free of crap and piled mail that I’ll just eventually toss.  This is be the saving grace for my marriage.

Unsubscribe!

Go through emails that I trash before ever opening and unsubscribe from them.  While I’m at it, unfollow peeps on social media that cause me to think negatively of myself or others, or make me feel inadequate, or like I need to create a life that does not actually serve me or my family. 

Reactions

Take AT LEAST one deep breath before responding to something that irked me.  (DO NOT roll my eyes during this breath) This will give me a chance to clear mind before I say something I might regret.  It’s better to respond kindly and clearly than to yell and freak out- this way I don’t have to fix things later. 

Self Care

Remember that self care is ok and so very necessary.  “You can’t pour from an empty cup” – This can be scheduling a massage, going to yoga, taking a bath when the kids are asleep to avoid toys being hurled at my head while trying to relax. I am worth the time.  Utilize the hour when I wake up early to meditate, move my body, write, savor my tea/coffee- anything that fills my cup and sets the tone for a good day. 

Laundry

Do a load if I have the time to avoid spending an entire day on laundry (and to avoid running out of underwear).  Put the folded clothes away immediately because looking at that shit is stressful enough. 

Food

Eat slowly. Drink slowly.  Savor the flavors. PUT THE PHONE DOWN. Meal plan for the week with quick, yet nutritious meals and enough leftovers for lunches.  Pack lunches the night before for work.  Eat out less.

Finances

Create a budget and actually stick with it. Avoid impulse Target and online purchases by holding the item in my hand (or ‘add it to my cart’ when online shopping) and seriously contemplate if this is something I need to survive or will it make me a better and happier person.  Ask myself- Will I just end up donating it in a few months? Will it be one more thing I have to pick up when I clean the house?  

Let go

Let go of trying to please everyone. Focus on my hub- John and the kids. Remember that I may not be everyone’s cup of tea, cup of coffee, glass of wine, shot of whiskey…. and that’s ok. Remember that that’s ok.

Fun Fact:

I tried digging through my purse to see if I could find the note that was the catalyst for this post.  It has since disappeared into the black hole, just as so much has before it.  Though I did find- two dinosaurs, only the spring and the ink portion of a broken pen, the plane ticket from when I flew up north for the birth of my niece Aubree, some microblading ointment (did mention that I got my eyebrows microbladed and it’s awesome?!?), expired DayQuil tablets, a $10 bill (score!), crumbled up Post Its (of course), rocks (lots of them), 95 cents (tiny score?), and flattened pennies from- the Santa Ana Zoo, Cafe Du Monde, Gettysburg, Dodger Stadium, Hunting Beach, the San Diego Zoo, Monterey, and Disneyland.

So, no note but my purse is now clean.

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October Is Coming

October tends to be a time of year where I feel a physical shift. I get giddy with the thoughts of holidays. I enjoy the crisp mornings. I even welcome the sound of football on the TV. October was also the month Wyatt was due to make his grand appearance and part of me still feels like it’s his month, even though he had to join us earlier than expected.

Though, October also brings with it, some feelings that I can’t exactly pinpoint.  They resemble anxiety but different…  I find myself in a funk more often than not.  Not quite upset or depressed but also not super happy.

So, to keep me busy during these weird times, I’ve decided to work on a little blog project filled with interviews with fellow breast C survivors. Through the month of October- aka Breast Caner Awareness Month- I’ll be posting interviews which will focus on the realness of the disease.  True emotions, experiences, and grittiness have been encouraged, as well as the positives that may come following a life altering diagnosis.

These interviews will be from my friends, my people. My support and my inspiration. Women who are special to me and who I truly believe have important stories to share. I believe we all have a story to tell and sharing has the great ability to strengthen communities, increase understanding, rid of us misconceptions, and can ease loneliness.

These posts are glimpses into our worlds, representing different points of view on the same subject, as well as similar views.  As I collected their answers and organized the posts, I smiled and felt myself fill with pride to know each gal. I feel honored that they are allowing me to share their personal experiences and my hope is that by reading their words, you’ll have a greater understanding about our community.

Along with Breast Cancer Awareness- comes lots of social media C ‘games’.  I am asking all- please do not send me (or any other survivor, most likely) a message asking me to put a heart on my time line for breast cancer awareness.  I am aware.  I’m pretty sure we are all aware.  I understand that these messages come from a place of love but they don’t do anything to prevent diagnosis or to help those who have been diagnosed.  And the thing that really gets me with one version of this “chain letter” is the whole “don’t say anything about it, just post it” or “only send it to the ladies in your friends list”.  Why the secrecy?  If we want people to be aware, don’t we want everyone to know why the heart?  And BC is not just for the ladies, men can get it too.  And because not everyone knows that, if you plan to play this game, I ask that you include everyone. Because, sadly, no one is free from the wrath of C…. Age, gender, race, level of positivity in life…

 

I remember my mom being bothered about the ‘pink washing’ that occurs during the month of October.  I didn’t understand her feelings on this and I’ll even admit that I felt bummed that she was upset.  I am extremely embarrassed to say this (and have held on to that feeling of embarrassment for years) but I felt like she didn’t appreciate what we- the non C peeps- were trying to do.  {Ugh, I cringed just writing that sentence}  How we all thought we were helping the cause by buying that box of cereal with the pink ribbon on it…  For me, the ‘pink’ felt like a way to show her that I cared, to offer support, to empathize, relate…  because I typically felt so helpless when it came to her diagnosis.  It is now that I truly understand her feelings.  Buying those pink socks or that pink yogurt wasn’t going to save her life.  It did not save her life.  And for companies to profit off of something so awful is, well, fucked up.

I guess what I am trying to say is think before you pink.  Make sure that the money you are spending and donating is actually going to a place that will directly impact those diagnosed.  In the interviews throughout October, my friends will share the foundations and organizations that they believe in.  And I encourage you all to do your own research.  Showing your love and support for the diagnosed is always appreciated but we also hate to see funds wasted when they could be directed to other places that can actually help.  Don’t get me wrong, it is not the color pink that is to blame.  It is the manner in which it used.  You feel me?

Enough of all that… for now.

Some fantastic news to share- my brother and his wife brought a new little lady into this world last week! With a last minute flight to Northern California, I made it to the hospital with 10 minutes to spare before getting the text, “Aubree is here!!!!!”  Of course, she is perfect and so very loved.  I am so proud of Aaron and Jessica and look forward to watching Aubree grow into the amazing person I know she will be.

When I was first diagnosed, right after Aaron had proposed, I wondered if I would be around to see them wed.  To be there for the birth of their first child is just so. damn. awesome.

Welcome to this crazy, yet beautiful world, Aubree Ann.

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