Keeping It Clean With Kiddos

If you’re a parent I’m sure you’ve gotten up in the night or early morning hours, the house still dark, and as you make your way through the house you step on that doll or Lego that was left on the floor – yep – then you have that try not to yell and wake the kids moment while silent crying. That’s been me a time or two!! Lately the craze at my house is to go into a room, dump out all the toy bins/baskets/buckets/etc. and then move to the next room only to do the same thing. So how do we try and stay organized and clutter free?

If it’s left on the floor it goes in the trash! No, just kidding! My girls are only five and two; they would be quite devastated with that rule. If you don’t already, invest in bins with lids or shelving with basket inserts. This has been a lifesaver for us and teaches the girls that everything has a place when they are done playing. Also, I really hate when toys are just thrown into a bin or shoved into a drawer. This particular part of me teaches the kids to value their possessions and treat them with care. In addition to proper storage, we make sure the girls clean up every night before going to bed. It’s kind of their last thing to do; it helps them get out any remaining energy before bedtime, and helps me so I’m not the one picking up after they’ve gone to bed. Because after a long work day, dinner, chores, etc. what parent wants to clean up their house?!

This week has been spring break at my house, so lots of cleaning out the clutter! Our girls don’t like to give any of their toys away but we convinced them they had too much. They donated 3 boxes, which is also something I recommend doing with your toys/personal belongings/trinkets/etc. at least once every few months. In their minds they just made more room for new toys which they will inevitably get for their upcoming birthdays! And the cycle continues…try not to stress too much about the mess they create while they are playing. Let them make the memories.

Finally, probably my best tip – create a schedule. If it’s written down weekly, such as vacuum on Wednesday, or organize toy room Saturday, you are much more likely to get it done! Don’t put off for tomorrow, what can get done today!

The Power of Positivity

I’ve lost 90 pounds in two years. It sounds fairly impressive, and I so proud of myself, but it wasn’t easy. I had been trying to lose weight and failing for over 10 years prior. In fact, for those 10 years prior, I steadily gained weight despite myself. So what changed? Honestly, in hindsight it was the most obvious solution in the world. Positive reinforcement.

What does that mean? It’s a couple of buzzwords that get thrown around in self-help books here and there. It’s so easy to say, less easy to understand. For me, it meant looking in the mirror and treating myself like a whole new person. For ten plus years, I looked in the mirror and hated myself. Sure I was smart, kind, and likable, but I was also weak. Something was wrong with me, and I hated myself for not being able to fix it. I would glare at the mirror and call myself pathetic, and weak, and ugly. After all, I believed the best way to change was bullying myself into changing.

It didn’t work for me. In fact, bullying myself just kept building upon the issues that caused me to gain weight in the first place, and I found myself digging deeper and deeper into a hole that would take a long time to escape.

Then, one day, something in me clicked. I looked in the mirror and decided that the key was not hating myself. It was, in fact, loving myself. I said to mirror me “You are not weak. You have had struggles, but you are strong. Your struggles have made you even stronger, and you can grow from them.” As I write this it sounds so incredibly cheesy, but just like that I was on my way. It wasn’t easy, and honestly it still isn’t. The key was acknowledging my weaknesses and working on them, but also acknowledging my strengths and using them to combat the hard times.

So here are a few samples of the positive thinking strategies that got me through it all:

Protecting Vision Part 2

Even though it was decades ago, I still feel the sting of it; a sharp and precise surgical stroke that sliced deep. Days were running into each other and the tension of multiple plates (projects) being spun while balanced was mounting to an all time high. That which seemed to make so much sense all along the way, began to fray in the face of growing demands that I did not envision when it all started. Blinded by my mounting emotional fervency, my expectations of others via my demands became unbearable for those around me. From my view, they had some real problems! From theirs (which was not being considered nor read on my instrument panel), I was flying upside down and no longer on the originally mapped course.

At a crucial juncture, in the heat of the moment, in the middle of an intense conversation, one entangled individual pointedly and purposefully said to me, “You think you’re God!” That is when I began to lose altitude… big time!

Principle Two: You may appear larger than you actually are! It doesn’t arrive instantaneously in most cases; it is a gradual eroding or chipping away of a right perception, which finds itself in redefining yourself and everyone around you.

Others began to appear inept compared to my competence.
Others seemed indolent compared to my commitment.
Others were irrelevant compared to my significance.
[ still stings as it is shared once again ]

All the signs were there, but I was not paying attention to the things that mattered most. What mattered most to me was me… and how I felt in each moment. People became a MEANS to an END, and the end was ME.

And… that pretty much was the end of me... at least in that way of seeing things! Things, indeed, changed. We need to define each other rightly at all times; a right and proper respect for who they are. And, we need to stay clear of taking on things that are not ours to take on; a right and proper respect for what they do.

Forgiveness was the key to getting back on course way back then, and it still remains the answer for when we “get too big for our britches” in today's culture. ​ Fly in the right direction… right side up!

Finish Line Tears

In 2011, I ran my first half marathon. Tears were streaming down my face as I crossed the finish line. Not because I was overwhelmed with a sense of accomplishment, not even because I was so happy it was over. But because I was in an incredible amount of pain.

Let’s back up. I started running regularly in spring 2010. I did a 5k with a group of friends and was immediately hooked. I stuck to short distances—three to five miles—and started my collection of bibs and event t-shirts. When my brother-in-law asked if I wanted to train for the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon, I dove in without thought. Ultimately, the “without thought” part is what hurt me—literally.

I followed my training schedule religiously: three shorter runs and one long run each week, going up in mileage as the weeks went on. Mid-training, I started getting some aches in my left knee. So I iced. Stocked up on ibuprofen. Carried on with my life. In the final weeks leading up to the race, the pain was becoming intense. So I rested and hoped that if I took it easy, I’d be able to finish on race day.

Call Home!

Email, Facebook, Twitter, and Texting, are all great ways to communicate in this fast paced world. But… what they are all missing is the sound of your voice!

For years now I call my mom every week, when I am driving home from roping practice. My first question is “How are you doing?” and she always answers “I am OK.” I know by the sound of her voice if that is true or not. I can tell when she in not feeling well or something is bothering her by not what she says but how she says it. It is important to me to hear her voice.

For her getting a call means someone is thinking about her. She lives alone does not drive and I think she just gets lonely and bored. I hear her voice change the longer we talk; there is more energy and more laughter. She tells me about the others who have contacted her; these calls truly increase the quality of her life. She always tells me when my son, Brock calls her, she tell me what a great kid he is (the rest of the family call him “brown noser”). She has family in the area, that stops over and checks on her, and I know she appreciates that, but it is hearing from those that she cannot see is very special to her.

I want you to start a new holiday tradition and call someone who needs to hear from you. Better yet, make this you News Years resolution and make it a point to call that person regularly