Just Do SOMEthing

I really envy task oriented people. 

My husband, for example. He is a "get 'er done" person. He sticks to a schedule. He writes a list of roles and goals everyday. He talks about "big rocks" and "important and not urgent or important and urgent" or whatever... He's a Seven Habits guy.

In fact, he has to WORK AT BEING LESS TASK ORIENTED AND RELAXING MORE. Whuuuuuut?!

I have no idea what that is like.

It's not that I want to sit around and do nothing with myself. I have all kinds of things that I need and want to get done. My head is usually racing (especially at night when I'm trying to fall asleep; so frustrating!) with tasks, goals, and new ideas. It is quite overwhelming.

So, like any other person, I make a list; organize my thoughts. Hoping that this will make it all less overwhelming. And everyone says it's so satisfying to check things off the list... blah, blah, blah...

"To Do" lists overwhelm me. 

The thought of ALL THE THINGS I need to do actually often paralyzes me and I end up doing nothing. 
                                                
I wish I was the person who has no idea what that is like.

One day as I was sitting on the couch looking around at the mess that naturally happens when a family of four lives in a house, feeling overwhelmed at the amount of things that needed to get done. I basically said to myself, "Eff it, I'm going to do something I WANT to do."

Somewhere in my "To Do" list history, I was convinced that I had to do things in a certain order. I had to get the daily, monotonous, not fun things done before I could do anything that would fulfill me professionally, creatively, or even personally. 

Like... I wouldn't even read, because I hadn't yet done the dishes or laundry or vacuumed. Yet, because I desperately don't want to do dishes or laundry or vacuum, I just sit there. 

What the heck? 

If I am just sitting there, I could be reading and checking books off of my huge list of "books I want to read!" Know what I mean? 

So that day, I got up off the couch and painted a shelf. I love a good DIY project.

I did something and it felt good to get it done.

Turns out, when I just do SOMEthing from the overwhelming list, I tend to feel motivated to do other things too... even the things I really don't like doing.

And BTW, now I keep a book downstairs (I used to really only read at bed time). Because, if I'm on the couch feeling overwhelmed at the roles and goals of my life, at LEAST I can read.

Also:
There have been times in my life when even the things I enjoy were not motivating. If you are, or have ever been, struggling with depression. You are not alone. It is a real illness, and I understand (and wish everyone understood) that you can't just do SOMEthing to snap out of it. 

So, do you relate? Do you ever feel paralyzed by all the things you want to accomplish? How have you overcome that? Share your tips and thoughts in the comments!

Surrender to the Mess -- Especially if it's Cultivating Creativity

I told you about my "word for the year" in my previous post -- Surrender.  When I was mulling over this word, it was mostly in regards to world events. 

However, I am finding that I am actually MOSTLY needing to surrender the little things that happen in my daily life. 


See that mess of pistachio shells. I desperately, DESPERATELY want to clean it up. 

Cleanliness is something I can control.

Control eases my anxiety.

It took all of my strength to sit and eat breakfast with that pile of shells sitting there. But breakfast (mostly likely the meal we eat at the table all together for the day), is sacred. I don't need to be cleaning up. I want to enjoy conversation with my family.

After eating, my daughter picks up a shell and asks "what can we make out of these?" She is SO creative. She LOVES to take junk and make it into something. This is one of her most common questions.

You would think that as an artist myself, I would be all about the messes and the freedom to express creativity. 

You would be wrong.

I am probably the cleanest, tidiest artist you've ever met.

So, when Gwenyth gets into creative mode, I cringe. 

Must. SURRENDER.

Because:
Now, she is seeing beyond the shell and making little bugs... each with a personality and story all it's own.
She is building fine motor skills coloring on those tiny shells.

THEN:
My husband joins in and they start making a colony of bugs. A colony of bugs needs a queen. A colony of bugs needs workers. The queen bug lays eggs which hatch into larva. What can we use for larva? Macaroni, of course.

Are you kidding me? My husband just turned this into a school lesson! Whoa. He's amazing.


Now, they are making plans and rules to make a game out of the bug colony. A game which, I'm sure, will involve strategy and numbers and all kinds of good things for learning. A game which needs lots of pieces which will be more easily made in an assembly line. Whuuut?!

I wish I could tell you that I am completely at peace and my skin isn't crawling at how the little shells have now completely taken over the table AND they are "flaking" into minute little crumbs. I wish I could tell you that I am not chomping at the bit to consolidate all the markers back into their container.

I am simply making the choice to encourage the creativity rather than take control for my own sake.

SURRENDER.

Amen. 





In Times Like This

I have mentioned before my tendencies to avoid the news media but, unless you live in a hole in the ground the events of the latest election are pretty unavoidable. 

I pretty much avoid all political commentary just as much as I avoid licking door knobs so, this is as close as I get.

A new year is upon us. 

Though I don't make resolutions, I do reflect. I usually have something (or fifty things) that I struggled with throughout the year. Usually those are the things that I want to change.

Last year, I jumped on the band wagon of choosing a word for the new year. Last year it was Peace.

This year, my word is

Surrender

I have been working really hard to decipher the things that are in my circle of control. I have this tendency to want control over ALL THE THINGS. And if I don't feel in control of things then, my anxiety takes control of me. 

The problem is, in reality, there isn't a whole lot that I ACTUALLY can control <--- duh, I know.

Everyday, I have to evaluate what is in my circle. Everyday, I have to surrender what falls outside of the circle to God. The One who is ultimately in control of everything. 

I mean, do I really think I can do it better than Him?  <--- UGH! Sometimes I do! Help me, Jesus.

All this to say that recent events in our world have caused a great amount of anxiety in me and I am determined to do the things that are in my control and let God take care of the rest. 

I choose the word surrender rather than say "choice" or "control," because the ratio of what is actually in my control to what I WANT to control is like 1 :  1 billion so, the act of surrender is going to be a multiple times a day kind of action. It will need to be at the forefront of my thoughts.

So in times like this:

Happy New Year, friends!

Do you have a word for the year?
or
Do you do resolutions?
Let's share and encourage each other in the comments!




My Minimal, Mostly Natural Hygiene Routine

* This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and purchase something, I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting Little Things, Love... and Reality. *

Also, please do your research on essential oils if you are truly interested. Read this post for more.

When I started looking into essential oils for my anxiety, I learned A LOT about the amount of STUFF that is in beauty and hygiene products; so much of that stuff is really awful for us. 

Chemicals, dyes, perfumes... 

When I really took stock of what I was putting on my skin and in my mouth, I was shocked!

So, in the last couple of years, I have been making changes to have a more natural, chemical free life.


But I'm gonna keep it real.

Here is the other side of my bathroom counter:

I fully intend to dye my hair next week after I get a hair cut. Baby steps, right?

Oh... and jelly beans, 'cuz potty training.

Let's talk tooth paste.
I was worried that natural wouldn't cut it. After all, there's no fluoride in it. Well, let me tell you a story. The first time I went to the dentist after I started using natural tooth paste, the hygienist asked me, 

"Are you doing something different since your last visit?"

My first thought was OH CRAP! I totally lied and said no.

Her reply was that I need to keep doing whatever I was doing, because the number of "deep pockets" (whatever the heck those are) had gone from 17 at my last visit to 8.

She didn't even lecture me on flossing, 'cause well... I don't... very often... like once a week... or maybe once every two. Did I just admit that?!

When she told me this, I *suddenly* remembered to tell her that I was using a home made toothpaste. 

Here is what I use for my toothpaste:
1 part coconut oil
1 part baking soda
1/3 part hydrogen peroxide (optional for whitening)
Appropriate ratio of peppermint essential oil

Now, I'm not gonna lie, the first time I used this, I was NOT A FAN. It tasted so salty and bland compared to the minty, Aspartame (yes... ASPARTAME) sweetened toothpaste I was used to, but I was determined to stick with it. After just a few days, I was used to the taste and thoroughly impressed by how clean my mouth felt after every brush. I'll never go back.

Facial Care:
I don't have time or patience for any more facial steps than cleanser and moisturizer. 

I use a simple Neutrogena bar cleanser (not totally natural ingredients though) if I wore make up that day. If I didn't wear any make up, I just use my body cloth from Norwex. 

I moisturize with a mixture of 50% Jojoba oil and 50% Rose Hip oil. I add to that an appropriate 2% ratio combo of Tea Tree essential oil  and either Lavender or Frankincense essential oil. 

Six to 8 drops on my face is all I need for all day moisture. Oh, and don't freak out if your Rose Hip oil is yellow... it absorbs colorlessly ; ) Seriously, the container I have right now will last me a year for sure!

Body Care:
Again, soap and moisturizer only for me and actually, I rarely ever use lotion on my body other than my hands. I need LOTS for my hands especially during winter.

In the shower, I wash up with Dove bar soap for sensitive skin, and exfoliate with my Norwex cloth mentioned above.

My lotion is 50% coconut oil and 50% shea butter and then 2% ratio of your favorite essential oils. I am currently using Spearmint and Eucalyptus. 

This lotion is so thick and creamy. It takes just a tiny amount to do the job, and I really only need to re-apply after I wash my hands.

Hair Care:
I used to use shampoo and conditioner, but not any more. I found this bar soap and I LOVE it. 

I did a whole ton of research on the "no poo" method and all kinds of DIY shampoos. It just seemed that home made shampoos that were actually PH balanced (do your research on that) had to be mixed right before you used it or refrigerated or lasted only a few days. 

This shampoo suds up nicely which isn't always the case with natural shampoos. It also rinses totally clean. 

I use this on my kids too, even my daughter's long hair. There is no need for conditioner, and her hair is no more tangly than it was using the popular store bought kids' shampoos.

A few times, I have used regular shampoos while we've traveled and stayed other places. I notice every time how slimy they leave her hair, like the shampoo never rinses out. It just feels like build up in her hair.

Finally, for control of my pixie cut, which can be affected by major cowlick action, I use this recipe by Robin Konie of ThankYourBody.com. 

Less chemicals. Less time. Cost effective. All of these things are a win for me!

Have you thought about the ingredients in your products before? It's worth a look. Share your experiences in the comments!

On Grief -- Death Anniversaries Aren't Ordinary Days


Last week, I mentioned that it was the two year mark of my mother's passing. 

Losing a loved one is hard. Like... really hard.

I miss my mom.


On the actual anniversary date of her death, I was kind of a wreck. I made it through the day with the kids, but after 5:00, I was done. Thank God I have an amazing, supportive husband who asked me what I needed. He was able to give me the rest of the evening and night to just be.

I dropped the kids off to him at the park and ran into a dear friend who is grieving the very recent loss of her husband. What a God send at that moment in my life... for she knew. I felt totally comfortable telling her I was not okay and that I just needed to go home and mourn. 

I was feeling a bit guilty leaving my kids and leaving an activity that usually brings me great joy every week, but my friend said these words to me: 

"What strength." 

I'm paraphrasing now, but she was telling me that knowing my limits and taking time for self care shows great strength of character.

When I got home, I cried.

I thought.

I realized something rather profound. 

Death anniversaries aren't ordinary days. 

I was desperately trying to go on as normal. After all, the day before I was fine. Why should this day be any different? I was having a hard time justifying my sadness, because why should the number on the calendar dictate my mood?

But then, I thought about my wedding anniversary date. I thought about birth dates. I thought about adoption dates. I thought about sobriety anniversary dates. I thought about all kinds of happy anniversary dates that we celebrate with joy. 

Those aren't ordinary days either. We remember and we celebrate. We go back to the emotion of the date.

For some reason, because this date is related to a sad event, I didn't think it was okay to remember, recognize, and feel. 

AND THAT IS BOGUS.

I will never forget the day my mother died (nor any of the days leading up to it). It will remain with me for the rest of my life. It was impactful. It was hard.

I'm not going to ignore those hard things.

I'm not going to ignore the loss of a strong, graceful, classy, loving, person. I'm going to remember her and make sure that she is known. 

And that does take strength.


Other Me's -- My dad's caregiver experience with Lewy Body Dementia


Today marks two years since my mother's passing, and I've shared a little about her battle with Lewy Body Dementia. Well, my dad just published a book about his care giving experience. 


It was the most difficult read of my life.

It was also the most beautiful love story I've ever read.

If you are fascinated by the brain and/or psychology, you should read this. If you work with or are interested in working with dementia patients, you should read this book. If you are a care giver for anyone with dementia, you need to read this book.

It's an eye opening experience to read about. I'm sure many will read it and relate, feeling not so alone anymore. 

Here is the synopsis:

Other Me's is a detailed, personal account of how one man and his family dealt with the effects of Lewy Body Dementia with Parkinson's Disease during the last two years of his wife Diane's life. Using reflective daily journals and memory care facility notes, Jim Adams chronicles the progression of Diane's physical and mental symptoms, including Capgras Syndrome, which caused Diane to believe there were multiple versions of her husband of 52 years including several malevolent imposters.


Commence Home School -- Why We Choose Home Education

When my daughter was born, I vaguely thought about her education; it was so far away... right?

When she was three, I was like, "Kindergarten is still two years away... I got time."

Suddenly she's four and some months, and I'm all, "how did this happen?! I have to decide on her schooling. I thought I had so much time!"

Little brother just couldn't be left out!
I think deep down, I always knew I was going to home school, but I really didn't tell many people I was even thinking about it until the last couple of months. Why? Because I have this tendency to fear what others think of me.

There. I said it.

While most people are completely supportive, some people just can not comprehend why anyone would choose such a path. There are many people that assume all home school families are the same... secluded, socially awkward, and sheltered. Or there is assumption that all home school families are anti-public school. (I will address these myths in another post).

Not only do I fear what people think of me, I also fear that people with think I am judging THEM on their schooling choices, as if I think that home school is the best way for every child to be educated. Or that only the best parents home school.

All of this. So. Not. True.

So, why are we home schooling? Because, it's what Mike and I feel is best for our family.

Our circumstances are such that home schooling works for us.

More specifically:

Financially, we are able to sustain ourselves with my husband's job and both of our free lance incomes. That means, I am able to be home with my kids full time. Not everyone has that or even wants that.

It's actually our free lance lifestyle that tipped the scales for us. Since becoming so, Mike and I have relished in the flexibility of our schedules. We have become quite used to being very choosy about how we spend our time, and the thought of having someone else (a public school system) telling us how we should spend or time is totally unappealing.

That's not to say, we don't respect being timely and responsible about meetings and appointments. Our schedule is loose, but we still have things to do and places to be.

Also, I am a learner and a teacher at heart. These are gifts that God has given me and that have been nurtured in me all my life. I'm not diluting myself, I know there will be times of utter frustration while teaching my children, but I feel I have the ability to teach and the patience to endure home schooling.

If our circumstances were any different... if I had to or wanted to work more, or my gifting was, say engineering or cooking or calculating rather than learning and teaching, my kids would be going to public school.

We started school officially on July 11. I know. I know it seems cruel to make kids do school during "summer vacation," but my kids don't know what it means to have summer vacation! Summer lends itself to SO MANY learning opportunities that I don't want to miss out on. So, I am going to take full advantage of them not knowing what they are "missing out" on.

Starting in Summer to do a year round schooling schedule will allow us a four day school week with plenty of vacation opportunity as well. Many smaller breaks with a more relaxed weekly schedule suits me better than a few longer breaks. I'm hoping it will cut review time too, because, really, kids forget a lot of what they learned during the summer break.

This is definitely NOT going to become a home school blog, but I do look forward to sharing some fun projects with you as well as some joys and struggles of this lifestyle.

Did you (or do you) struggle with decisions about your kids' education? Share and support each other in the comments : )