Refresh and Renew

I have a bad habit of holding onto things I no longer use or need. I make plans that I can’t possibly follow through with. My home and life are cluttered with all these things and causing me stress. While there are times I’m honest with myself and recognize that fact, the rest of the year, I make excuses.

Several months ago, I decluttered and removed from my home many things I no longer need. What’s left are craft supplies and books for the most part. If I live another 20 years, I may be able to make use of it all and read all those books. The prognosis is not that good, though. So why do I still hold onto all these things and keep adding to my library?

As I read three or four books at a time, I also work on as many crafts. It keeps me sane and gives my days focus. But what I’m beginning to realize is that it’s also causing me stress being surrounded by all these things “waiting” for me. These items are taking up a large amount of space in my small home and also in my mind.

Time for a major clear out. As I finish packing up the last of my Christmas things, I will being the process of removing books it’s doubtful I will ever read and craft items that don’t have a specific purpose. I won’t hold onto things for “someday” because there is no guarantee someday will come.

As I empty my storage, it will give me back space in my small home. As I regain space, I hope to fill it with people instead of things. I’ve become a hermit, seeing only my family and a friend or two occasionally. That suits me as my illness necessitates that often but deep down, I know that’s not good for me. Humans are meant to interact. I need to work harder on allowing people into my life and if there is room, into my home. So I will make room.

This is my challenge and it may be one you also need. I don’t expect to make these changes quickly and it will be a painful process letting go of more dreams. But I hope the reward exceeds any expectations and to that goal, I will keep moving forward. Life is too short to spend it in self imposed isolation.

 

Fear

Several years ago, our dog became terrified of the sound of gunshots. Her fear sends her racing to my house, paws and face pressed against my door’s window.

20181031_144617While it’s very endearing and adorable too see her suddenly appear, it hurts my heart that she’s so frightened. We live in the country and people often shoot guns at game in season or just target practice for fun.

This morning, when she appeared out of nowhere, it made me think about fear. Hers is an unsubstantiated fear. One that stems from an imagined danger. How often do I have that sort of fear? Honestly, quite often. Fear that something dreadful may happen to myself or a loved one. Fear that I may not have enough money to cover my expenses. Fear that my car may break down. Fear that my body will fail me in public. Those are just a few examples.

If I let my fear consume me, as it does out beloved dog, I would never have the nerve to leave my house, spend one penny over the necessities of life, never drive outside a certain radius of my home… Everything I enjoy would be out of bounds.

So I refuse to let fear drive me. When my daughter and I have gone on trips abroad, my other daughters and family were terrified with the “what if’s”. But nothing dire has happened and if it does, it will occur while I’m out living life to the fullest.

That’s my New Year’s resolution-to continue to do so. Not to let fear have any say in my decisions. I’m not foolish in the things I do and plan for catastrophic events but once I have a back up plan, I let go of the fear and enjoy myself. My challenge to you is to try and do the same this year. Keep a healthy amount of fear so you don’t do anything foolish without a safety net, but don’t let it control your actions.

I wish you a wonderful 2019! I’m off to sit with my dog on my porch for awhile. She’s calmed down since I did that earlier but she deserves more special attention. And she returns that attention to me as well. Unconditional love is never to be taken for granted.

Little Things

My family gathered yesterday for gift giving and dinner to celebrate Christmas. With all the large gifts under that tree, it amazed me that the smallest (and usually cheapest!) gifts were the ones that brought the most joy and excitement.

That’s a reminder to me that it’s really not the cost that counts as much as the thought that’s put into each gift. My four year old grandson was literally shaking with happiness when he opened a little truck from Dollar Tree! A tiny horse earned me a huge hug from my 7 year old granddaughter. Silly gifts to my son-in-laws earned lots of laughs throughout the day and board games provided many hours of fun and joy. That’s just a few examples of the little things that made yesterday so special. No one was adding up what was spent on each person or upset if one got one more present than another.

So my challenge today is to take that reminder with me through the year. To remember to be grateful and bring the excitement of children into everything I do. That innocent, childhood joy is a gift that can be passed on. Your joy, your responses to adversity and troubles can be an inspiration to others and they can learn from you as I have from my family. I choose happiness no matter my circumstances. I don’t need money to be happy. I don’t need health to be happy. All I need is life itself to be happy.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all. I wish you all joy and happiness today and everyday.

Petsitting

I’ve been responsible for the feeding and care of two dogs and two cats the past few days. Usually, my only responsibility for them is to love them. Well, I didn’t think I could love them anymore than I already do but I was wrong. Just like with people, love can grow daily for your pets, too.

The older dog has huge brown eyes that just look at you with love filled, rather sad, soulful gazes. The younger one has small eyes that are so full of expression it’s comical. She rolls her eyes often just like any teenager. Both are very protective and often will camp out on the porch guarding the door in all weather. If they hear me inside, they’re instantly alert with tails wagging and eyes trained on the window to catch a glimpse of me. Their welcome is something I take for granted and I’ve realized that the past few days.

The cats are a totally different thing. They’re tuned in to my every movement but unlike the dogs, they don’t come running at my convenience. Instead, they wait until I’m on the computer or doing something and then they’ll want to cuddle up in my lap or on my chest, at my side or draped across the back of the chair on my head! But they’re so sweet, I drop what I’m doing to soak up the softness of their fur, the purring and loving they offer.

But then, something catches their attention and they’re off like the hunters they are. The older one, a male, is very careful and precise in his stalking. The younger, a female, is more gangly and just leaps. It’s like watching a beautiful ballet watching them play together, even when they’re attacking each other and fur is flying!

And at the end of the day, when I settle myself in bed, I realize I have both of them staking their claims along my legs. It’s a very peaceful feeling knowing they trust me and want to cuddle up with me. And when I wake in the morning, the dogs will be waiting…

Time

My granddaughter was out my window last night. She’s 12 and the fact she still comes over to see me fills me with joy. I know there will come a day soon when she’ll be too busy to hang out with me. I hope that never does happen but it’s the natural order of things.

When I have my grandkids, I always try to give them opportunities to talk about things that may be bothering them, questions they may have that they aren’t quite comfortable asking parents. Sometimes just to let them vent their frustrations. Everyone needs an outlet and I try to be theirs.

When I went on vacation with my daughter, her husband and their two girls, I told the girls if they needed private Grandma time, they only had to ask. I was asked by each girl several times a day! It gave each of them a chance to have special attention and they got to play whatever game they wanted without having to consider anyone else’s preferences. We’d play games, we’d read or tell each other stories, talk about anything they wanted to, talk about what happened that day and what the next day’s adventures would be.

That’s what last night was about. The girls have been coming over one at a time forever just to have that time with me. Since I live behind their house, they have easy access to me. I try to spend as much time with my grandsons as I can to give them that, also.

But what I’ve realized as my children have grown is that they’ve never outgrown their need to have that from me, either. What I’ve realized lately is that I’ve been neglecting to put fun into our time together. Yes, we’re silly and laugh like crazy over ridiculous things. Yes, we go do fun things. But where are the games? We don’t play together anymore.

My challenge to you today (and for myself) is to find ways to incorporate play into your relationships. There’s something about sitting down to a board game, cards or even a puzzle with people you love. My mom loved Yahtzee and we have special, dear memories of her playing with us. Dad liked word games more and he’d always play some obscure word that we would look up thinking he was cheating. Sometimes, he was!

Get the kids, grown kids and yourself away from the tv and phone/computer/tablet, etc. Sit down and play a hands on game. As my grandkids have discovered, it’s a lot of fun to be doing something together where you’re looking into each eyes, watching expressions, acting silly or serious…interacting. It’s important and it’s getting to be a lost art.

I have you have fun today.

Sunshine

The sun is out in full force today. It’s highlighting the frost everywhere and forcing me to see the beauty in it. I don’t want to see the beauty. I’m tired of the winter weather already and would have preferred a gloomy day to justify hibernation. Now my procrastination has to be addressed and I’ll have to drag myself out into that sunshiny world.

Sometimes I feel like that about my health. When my symptoms keep me at home, it’s almost a relief. An excuse not to leave the comfort of my home. An excuse not to talk to anyone. An excuse not to put myself out in any way.

I know that’s not a mentally healthy way to feel. Luckily, I don’t feel that way as often as I have in the past, but I also don’t always recognize my procrastination for leaving the house for what it really is. Depression.

Sneaky thing, that is. When gloomy, grey weather becomes your best friend, you have a problem. I normally rejoice in the sunshine so when I didn’t this morning, I realized I must be feeling gloomy in my soul.

Why is this? There’s no reason for it. At the moment, my pain level is at a normal spot, I’m not nauseous today, my bills are paid, I have everything I need/want. But that’s the thing with sneaky depression-there doesn’t always have to be a reason.

Now that’s I’ve caught this sneaking up on me, though, I will meet it head on. It will not get the best of me. I’m going out in the cold sunshine and I will rejoice being alive to do so. I will talk to anyone I meet and smile at everyone. And enjoy doing so. When I can take myself out of myself, my spirits lift effortlessly.

If I had waited till later today to write this blog, I would be writing how wonderful the sunshine is, how beautiful the frost, how bracing the cold, how productive my day is. Because that’s exactly how I will feel in a little while. But if I don’t write about the darker side of my life, no one will ever know it. Everyone has a side they hide from the world. I’m lucky enough to have had a life that has had nonstop ups and downs. I say lucky because I’ve learned the skills needed to stay positive through it all. Or so I thought till I fell into such a dark hole I couldn’t climb out by myself. There’s no shame in that or in the way I’m feeling this morning. But you must take action to get out of that mindset or you’ll fall. I won’t go into that pit again without a fight and my fight this morning is walking out my door.

So, I’m doing it.

My challenge to you today is to do the same. Do the opposite of what feels right to you. If hibernating is all you want to do, then get out into the world for a few minutes even. Suddenly, your perspective will change. For the better. So, enjoy your day!

Happiness

As I’m looking at all the packages wrapped and under my tree, (Type A, seriously!) I enjoy thinking of all the happiness they’ll bring to the receiver. How I wish I could box up other kinds of happiness to give my loved ones. Freedom from financial worries, joy for every day, love and fulfillment. 

That’s just a dream, of course. But my challenge to you today is to find a way to help your loved ones through tough times. My way is to buy them things for Christmas that they can’t afford or won’t buy for themselves. To babysit without being asked. To do dishes or clean. To send notes of love and encouragement. Surprise someone with a nice meal. 

These aren’t big things in themselves but they add up to a lot to the person on the receiving end. Just to know that someone cares enough to see even small needs means the world to someone in turmoil or just overwhelmed. 

If that’s you today, then I hope my words give you the love and encouragement you need. Turn from your own needs and see what you can do for someone else. You’ll soon begin to feel better about your own situation.

Wishing you a wonderful day!