No Resolutions and a Happy New Year!

Just a very quick post so I can get back to being the patient in my kids’ “hospital.” (cough, cough)

As usual, there is a lot of buzz about resolutions. I know this comes with the New Year, and I am all about setting goals.

But this year, as I was pondering what I might want to choose as a resolution, I was having a tough time. I am already implementing what would be my resolution… further developing and implementing the mindset to declutter my life. To choose only what is most important to me, and spend my time, money, and energy accordingly.

And then a thought popped into my head… I already have my “resolution” nailed down. So this year, I’m not going to have New Year’s Resolutions. I am going to write out a 2016 Bucket List!

And it’s going to be simple. And fun.

I told my husband my plan. His response?

“I like it.”

I won’t post it here, because I wrote it just for me. But I will say it includes things like “Quit hoarding sub days – use some to visit friends” and “Hire someone to help pull the damn weeds.”

I’m going to keep decluttering, and make sure I am keeping focus on the things and people I love. It’s going to be a great year 🙂

If you are with me, and making a Bucket List for the year, I would love to hear about it!

My Simple Holiday

Happy Holidays Everyone!

I’ve been taking a little break from the blog, from decluttering projects, from doing laundry… you know, all non-essentials. 😉

This is my first Christmas without my dad, and also the first Christmas where both of my kids are old enough to actually enjoy the magic of Santa. It’s been very bittersweet, and there have been many times that I have had a clear vision of myself on a roller coaster. White knuckles, loving it and hating it at the same time, just holding on for dear life. Before the holidays even got rolling, I knew I needed a survival plan. So, I decided to simplify.

I like to think of it like I am going into some sort of minimalist hibernation.

I don’t have a lot of emotional strength in reserves right now, and so I needed to remove all the extras. I needed to declutter my holiday to the absolute bare essentials so that I could live it as fully as possible.

Here is how I am surviving and thriving this holiday:

1. Selective Cancelling
I was once called a “raging introvert,” so Step One in getting through this holiday in one piece was to cancel the parties and gatherings.
I. Just. Can’t. The talking, the socializing… it can be so fun, but it can also be draining, and I don’t have it in me this year.

And that’s ok.

There was one exception. Some dear friends of ours invited us to the mountains. Skiing, hot tub, fireplace, snow… these are a few of my faaaaavorite things! And these friends of ours, along with their family, are so warm and kind and real and are the type of people that just invite you to BE YOU. Shoes off, feet on the couch, swearing-like-a-sailor, laughing and crying YOU. That kind of gathering didn’t drain me, in fact I think it saved me. Thank you so much, T family and TR and WR. I am full of gratitude for you all.

20151228_183206

2. I did my best with presents and let the rest go
I had a whole post planned on what strategies I was implementing for keeping the holiday toy-splosion to a minimum, but then, you know… Hibernation.
I will write about it next year, but for now I will just say that I made a list and I did a decent job of sticking to it. I just plopped down in front of my laptop one night and gave my Amazon Prime a good workout. I didn’t worry about budget or sales because none of the items on the kids’ wishlists were even close to big ticket. It took me one night and it was done. My husband bought himself his presents because he is Superhusband. And we drew names for all the adults in my family (THANK GOD) and just had one person to buy for. I am sure I missed some people,

and that’s ok,

because anyone I would be buying a gift for is someone that loves me and has nothing but grace for me. It wasn’t perfect, but it sure seemed that way.

3. I spent a lot of time alone
Turns out, Holiday Hibernation is a dish best served solo. I have a very wonderful friend who reached out to me when my dad died and gave me the only advice (pretty much the only conversation) I actually remember from that time.

He said, “Grieve unapologetically.”

Accordingly, there have been lots of long hot baths, lots of meditation (in bed, under the covers… SO WHAT!?), lots of tears and alone time, and it has saved me. My sweet daughter even said to me, as we drove to my mom’s for our Christmas celebration, “But Nana doesn’t have an upstairs or a living room. Where will you go if you need to cry and feel better?” She wasn’t sad or pitying me. She was being observant and savvy… at 6 years old she sees that sometimes you just need a little alone time and a little cry.

And that’s ok.

4. I simplified dinner. And everything else.
Beef Wellington became Shepard’s Pie. No homemade whipped cream with Daddy’s French Toast. There may have been some mac and cheese, take-out, and hot dogs in there somewhere. And we all survived!

You guessed it… OK.

5. I stopped drinking alcohol.
I know what you are thinking… NOT OK.
I get it…If there is any time to have a nice big glass of wine, it’s when you are sad and stressed, right? I had several reasons for doing this, but I think more important are the benefits… which probably deserve their own post. Hmmmm.

For now I will just say that I was there for it all. I was present. I felt my way through the holiday, joy and grief and pain and loss and all. I will never have to do the first holiday after losing my dad again. It would have been easy to numb myself a bit, but then I knew next year would be just as hard. I wanted to go through it, get through it, and look forward to next year.

Bonus: I facilitated the easiest declutter of my life
Picture it: Christmas morning. Kids are psyched about all their new stuff, they can’t wait to rip into all those new toys. Boxes EVERYWHERE. I grab three big Amazon boxes and told the kids that we needed to make room for all these new toys, and to please run around and gather some things to donate. They instantly made it like a game, and those 3 boxes were filled in minutes! My husband and I just looked at each other, quietly picked up the boxes, and slinked off to the laundry room. And then high-fived.

Overall, it’s been a beautiful and restorative holiday. I have had lots of time home with my incredible husband. We’ve had more talks, more movies and popcorn, and lots more snuggling with the kids. It’s been wonderful.

So my friends, I hope this holiday is treating you well. I am so grateful that we are all on this path together. I appreciate all the support so much. I am so thankful to have this space with all of you!

Megan

Going Grey

Don’t worry… I’m not going to try and convince you that you should go grey. I know I couldn’t have convinced myself before I was ready. One day, I suddenly was, and I haven’t looked back. Here is my story…

When I was 22 years old, I started going grey. Let’s just say I was NOT HAVING IT.

It wasn’t long before I started coloring it back to blond. Then I started getting highlights to make it look “more natural”. This went on for a long time. 13 years to be exact.

Meanwhile, in those 13 years, so much changed. I met my wonderful husband and got married, became a teacher, moved cities, became a mama, and tried to deal with the stress of my father’s cancer diagnosis. During all those years, I never considered NOT dyeing my hair. Not even when we were trying to really cut costs.
DSC_1073
Then two years ago, I was too busy taking the kids to the pool and loving summer to get to the salon. I ended up going an extra two months without dyeing my hair. When I finally got it done, I came home, looked in the mirror, and knew something had changed. Usually, I came home from those appointments feeling more like myself. This time, suddenly, I just knew it wasn’t me anymore.

It’s still hard to pinpoint exactly what had changed. I had thought about letting the grey go once I turning 50. MAYBE 45. But then one day, in my mid-thirties, I was just ready.

I know a big part of my decision is me wanting to EMBRACE… not just getting older, but embracing the whole process of this crazy life. You know, first you are young and hip and fun and happening, and you think growing older will be boring and quiet. But then you get older and yes, it is quiet but you like the quiet. And you were wrong about it being boring. It’s sometimes calmer (at least after the kids’ bedtime;) ) and it’s definitely more grounded and interesting and you wouldn’t trade it to go back to the bar scene for anything in the world.

To the great surprise of my 20-something self, I have loved getting older. It’s been painful at times, but with each passing year I learn so much. I experience so much. I love so deeply. I am figuring myself out. I’ve come to realize this thing called life is just so worth living. And I have also come to realize that part of living life is learning to embrace as much of it as you possibly can. The joy, the pain, the mess, the solitude, the wrinkles, the detours, the love, the loss, and yes… the grey.
xmas
Also, I want my daughter to see me embracing the hell out of this aging thing. I make it a point to admire my body in front of her… I will joyfully comment on how strong my muscles are or how my softer-than-it-used-to-be tummy makes a nice pillow for her. And she tells me how pretty my silver hair is and I smile big and thank her.
grey hair2
Still, there have been a few days where I have had my doubts. On those days I remember that my husband thinks I am beautiful, grey hair and all. And I remember that a few months after I stopped coloring my hair, I went out to dinner with my dad. Out of nowhere, he beamed at me and said, “Your hair looks so fantastic. I have always thought that women who have grey hair are so confident and beautiful.

And so, on the days where I look in the mirror and let the voices of society tell me that youth is the only beauty, I set them aside and instead, I listen to my husband, I listen to my dad, I listen to myself, and I see beauty.
grey hair4

It’s the Little Things….

Hey friends!
Just a quick post tonight with something that is bringing a quiet calm to a little corner of my life. And it couldn’t be easier!

When I was unpacking the Christmas stuff last week, I came across some of those cinnamon pine cones from last year. The scent was completely gone, but I kept the two nicest ones, and put them each on a small dish. I put one in the main level washroom and one in our bedroom.
pine cone
Every few days I sprinkle some essential oils on the pine cones and WOW… it’s really lovely. In the washroom I use cinnamon oil and a little orange oil, about 2 drops each. In the master I use clove oil and orange oil, about 4 drops each. Each time I walk into the master I find myself breathing in the heavenly clove/orange oil, and with it, a little piece of happiness and calm.
pine cone and lamp
Is is just me? Little things like this bring a smile to my face. I hope it does for you too 🙂

Have a great night!

Finding peace in simple routines

Hello, my friends.

Well, I did it.

December 1st is just a few short hours away, and it’s time to start thinking about Christmas. Time to put this Thanksgiving holiday in the books. But… it’s tough. It was my first Thanksgiving without my dad.

I have a name for this heavy, achy weight that lays right in the middle of my chest when I am really feeling the loss. The pain. The empty. I call it The Brick.

The Brick is back for a while. But it’s lighter than before.

Thanksgiving was wonderful. We hosted, which is always my favorite. Cooking that bird, setting a simple and lovely table… it is like meditation for me.

But I felt his absence all day. I talked to him in my head, like I do. I had a good cry before anyone arrived and that got me through.
And now, I need a little help getting over this hump.

I came across this article today called 5 Things you should do Every Single Day, Even When life is Stressful, and I think this is where I need to start. I think that when life feels complicated and muddy, I need to get back to a few simple routines to get me through.

My list is not going to be the same as hers. And my list won’t be the same as yours, either. But I think I need a new meditation to start my day off and end it with a simple peace and gratitude.

For now, I think my list will be…

Morning:
1. Wake up, lay in bed and think of one thing I am grateful for before I even get up.
2. Do 15 minutes of yoga and/or meditation, in any combination I feel I need that morning.
3. Make my delicious mocha protein smoothie for breakfast and pack my lunch with healthy foods.

Evening:
1. Get some snuggle/reading/play time with the kids after dinner… even if that means the kitchen stays a mess for a while.
2. Go back to our old tradition of my husband and me setting the timer each night for between 5-10 minutes of speed cleaning (depending on our exhaustion level) after the kids are asleep.
3. Shut down all technology no later than 10:15. Take this extra time before bed to write, read, etc.

So that’s where I am going to start. I’ll adjust as I go, but right now, I’m taking this first step. It’s 10:10…. Time to shut down this computer;)
Goodnight, friends.