Thursday, May 26, 2011

Simplify! Focus on the essential...

In the past few months, I've been going through all the extra stuff we have in our house. I've been amazed at how much stuff we have accumulated in the past five years of marriage.  Clothes, paper, homegoods, STUFF!  So I've been trying to keep in mind a few things while going through this purging - WHY is it sentimental, is this something we USE, will we have a NEED for it in the future?  Basically I'm trying to figure out what is essential and what is just space filler.

I've donated quite a bit of my clothing and am currently gearing up for a yard sale.  Someone's trash is someone else's treasure, right?!  (As I'm writing this I'm thinking I really ought to get back to looking through my "trash.")  I've been going room to room, looking through everything and I have to say that it feels really good when you make progress on simplifying your life.  Getting rid of the extra in our lives for others to use who may actually USE it feels great.  Why do I have so many coats anyway?  And candles?  Ok, so the power goes out here in our neighborhood more often than anywhere I've ever lived, but really?  It is a bit ridiculous to have this many candles!  I've also come to the realization that having so much stuff means that there is more to take care of and organize - meaning it takes more work to have more stuff.  And what I want these days is more time to enjoy my little ladies. 

Someone recently told me, "You guys don't live high off the hog."  I thought to myself, "That's an understatement" but I just smiled and agreed.  We have what we refer to as po' people cable TV and internet and just recently added texting to our cell phone plans (yes we're woefully behind and do not use the internet on our phones).  We eat out and/or go out maybe once every three months, don't even mention a weekend away or a family vacation.  We set low budgets for special occasions; well ok, except for our girls.  We recently "splurged" on an event that has been canceled, which was very disappointing to say the least, but at least the money will be refunded back to our credit card.  Simple living.  I actually don't find it very hard to live this way.  The "sacrifice" to live this way so that I can work only part time to be with my girls means more to me than what I see as "extras."

I have a magnet on our fridge that I have had for a while - since high school I think - "A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone." Henry David Thoreau.  It's funny that this struck me my junior year in high school.  I wish I had taken that advice to heart way back then.  But, we now have been trying to live within our means, live simply and focus on what is important.  I know there is more I can do, more I can get rid of.   It makes me want to get back to the task at hand and just keep purging our stuff.

But this "stuff" we have accumulated is not all.  I do need to work on simplifying my life in other areas too so that I can be sure to do what I need to for my family, focus on developing and maintaining friendships (I find that I am sorely lacking in this area, and I could blame it on being a mom, but I realize that I have never been good at this, probably since high school - my apologies to my friends), and also to maintain a focus on God.  How can I clear out my life, get rid of the stuff, to be able to focus on the essential - God, Family and Friends?  Maybe I could stop getting on Facebook so often and maybe use the phone to actually talk to friends, get up earlier to spend time in prayer, use my spare time for laundry and dishes and play with the girls, giving them my undivided attention instead of doing ten tasks at once. 

Simplify!  Focus on the essential and let the rest go!  The best way to do this is to examine what is important to you and then figure out how to eliminate the rest!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It's Ok to Fall, and It's Ok to Receive Assistance.

So, I went to reconciliation again  last night.  Ahhh, that feels better...  AAHH wait!!?!  I forgot to confess some things!  Have you ever done that?  Gone in with an idea of what you're going to confess, then get really focused on one or two things and then draw a big blank and only get through some part of your "list?"  Maybe I should have turned right around and gone back, but I guess those failings will have to wait until next go 'round.  I'm sure there will be more sins I can list in another couple of weeks.  Maybe it is time for me to go more regularly than the two or three times a year I go.  I could certainly use his mercy and grace more often these days!

At any rate, the recommendation of the priest tonight made so much sense to me, that I'm not sure why I didn't think of this myself.  Going to confession tonight not only gave me God's great mercy, grace and love, but it also gave me a fresh perspective on how to work through my current difficulties.  He simply said, "Don't piggyback everything on top of each other.  Take it one day at a time.  Deal with what you HAVE to."

"Don't piggyback!"  Ok, he probably knows me better than I think he does.  I definitely do this.  Maybe a lot of us do and that's why he recommended this for me.  One bad thing happens, then I worry about other things it could potentially lead to, and what may happen from there and on and on and on.  The freeflow thinking can be limitless when your mind gets rolling.  Stress abounds.  If I were to stop piggybacking, maybe I wouldn't exponentially increase my stress levels and get so angry or upset.  What a good recommendation! 

"One day at a time!"  Isn't that all we really can do?  While we can try to plan ahead, things don't always work out how we hope they will.  We have to learn to deal with the here and now.  Just take it as it comes.  Meet each day with it's hope and potential and do the best you can with it.  Another home run!

"Deal with what you have to!"  Let everything else that is non-essential just roll right off your back.  Sometimes taking such a limited approach seems like you are doing only what you have to in order to get by without going above and beyond.  But sometimes, even just doing only what you have to is what helps you to get through it all.  Sometimes taking on more than what is essential can be just too much.  Less is more.  I definitely like that one!

We all have our moments when we we fall.  Even Jesus did!  Think about that - Jesus who was truly God, but also truly man, fell under the burden of his cross.  Jesus has walked our walk, felt our pain, endured suffering, been tempted by the devil.  Yes, He IS God, but He knows what it is to be human.  We need to remember that when Jesus was carrying his cross up to Calvary, he fell, not once, not twice, but three times.  He got back up, and, perhaps more importantly, he received assistance - Simon helped him carry his cross - after the first time he fell.  I think sometimes our pride is hurt when we have to rely on others for assistance.  We like to feel like we can do it all.  Our society tells us that we should do it all.  But sometimes, we have to be humble enough to admit that it's ok to fall, and it's ok to receive assistance. 

Not only is it a good lesson for us - this learning that it's ok to fall and it's ok to receive assistance - but if you have children, as we do, it is a good lesson for them as well.  Our children learn from us, like it or not.  When they see us fail, they will see how we cope with that failure.  They will see us humbly admitting our faults.  They will see us learn how to get up again, pick up the cross and continue on.  They will learn how to accept the love and compassion from others who help us in our time of need.  They will learn that failure does not equal defeat.

So, don't feel like you to have to go it alone.  If there is a Simon in your life ready to assist you, don't be afraid to humbly take him up on it.  He may be able to lighten your burden.  And if you see no personal individual assistance at the ready, go to God.  Take it to Him and he will assist you, maybe in ways you never thought possible.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I AM a Servant, and I'm ok with that.

I have to say, that it's been a rough couple of weeks since I blogged last.  I fulled intended to continue to write every week, even after Lent finished, but it just has not happened.  Here's the story why:

I ended up not making it to the Triduum at all.  I think it may have been because our oldest daughter had developed a weird rash and we didn't quite know what it was; we had gone to the doctor's and were treating it with Benadryl and Tylenol.  I thought it may be better to not bring her out and possibly expose others (if it were something still contagious), and the night before I had a hard time getting both of them to go to sleep (had to look at my FB status updates).  On Good Friday, by the time I got home from work, both girls were sleeping.  Seemed like a bad idea to wake them for mass at 3pm and I know the dramatic reading at 7pm would have been too scary if it was anything like it has been the past few years.

On that Saturday we went to a wake for my Great Aunt Angie - my mom's Aunt - that we had just seen on Palm Sunday at a memorial for my Great Aunt Gert.   Aunt Angie looked pretty good on Palm Sunday, although it would seem that she just hid it well and didn't like to complain!  She died the following day having spent time with her family and her sister's friends.  It's been a strange year - so far, three of my mom's aunts and my dad's mom all passed away in the span of four months.  Good grief!

Easter was actually very nice with our girls.  Unfortunately, I had a hard time paying attention at mass.  I really hate it when that happens, but on Easter Sunday!  *sigh*  I think I assumed I knew what the readings would be and didn't take the time to prepare, which means I have a hard time remembering what was read and what the homily was pointing out for us.  Very disappointed in myself.  But we had a very nice day and a great time visiting with my family and with my hubby's family too!  (We always split the holidays since we are fortunate to live so close to both sides of our families.) 

The Monday after Easter we had the funeral for Aunt Angie and the rest of the week quickly became a blur because both of my daughters' coughs that they developed became worse, they were getting sick and having a hard time sleeping.  So I started with the humidifier and I ended up waiting until Saturday to bring them to the doctor's office.  My older daughter looked fine and I was to continue with the Benadryl and Tylenol.  The eight month old was sent for a chest x-ray, was put on an antibiotic and I was told to resume the nebulizer treatments.  Of course, she waited to give us a really hard time with keeping nothing down until AFTER the appointment.  We went from Saturday until Monday morning with her not being able to really take anything except apple sauce.  Wonderful.

So on Monday we headed to the doctor's and then had to bring her to the ER for IV fluids.  Poor thing was not happy about the needle and then was even more mad she couldn't reach her thumb because her arm was straightened out.  But the IV fluids seemed to have done the trick.  She started keeping the formula down!  As a side note, as a result of not being able to breathe very well due to the cold/cough, her first nursing session of the day had been a lot shorter than usual for the previous week.  So after the ER experience, over the next few mornings, she would scream after her only nursing feeding of the day (I had weaned her to just one) so I would supplement with a bottle.  But we dropped that last feeding altogether.  I think it has made me miss that special bonding time more than I expected it to. 

We celebrated my birthday as a family on Wednesday of last week, while Hannah was still recovering, then spent time together unexpectedly again on Friday, my actual birthday!  It was nice my husband was able to leave work early, albeit because he had now developed the cold/cough from the girls.  We celebrate Mother's Day for me every year on Saturday so that we can spend time with each of our moms on Mother's Day.  We took a trip out to Hampton Beach.  You can read about part of our experience that night at my husband's blog if you want.  It was a nice night out to dinner as a family - something we don't do very often - with an interesting side show.

I know, excuses, excuses, huh!?  Yes, I haven't blogged in a while, but I am back.  I posted a quote on May 1st on FB for the beatification of Pope John Paul II:  "To maintain a joyful family requires much from both the parents and the children. Each member of the family has to become, in a special way, the servant of the others." - Pope John Paul II  So, from time to time, when there are things I must take care of for my family, I may take a short hiatus from my writing.  I AM a servant for my girls and, yes, even for my husband, and I'm ok with that.