De-Clutter Your Life (Part 1)

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Sometimes we all need a break from all of the chaos we call life. How do we sort through everything in our minds so that we can once again think and see clearly? I tend to be overwhelmed when I am thinking about many things at once. I have to almost compartmentalize all of these things into categories or order of importance or sometimes distract myself all together on something meaningless so that my brain will stop hurting. Overthinking is for sure a “killjoy” activity as well as worrying. So how do we solve our chaos without being overwhelmed by it?

Just last week I painted the room I am renting, in a house I moved into recently. The walls were two different tan colors and there were holes and chipped paint from previous wall hangings and decor. I decided on a blue color for the simple fact that it was one of my favorite colors and it was also a calming yet happy color for a bedroom. I had to take everything out of the room and put it all back. I had only been there for a month, yet somehow clutter had already begun to take over my room. To my defense this room is very small and it does not take much to make it look crowded. Nevertheless, I covered the holes, painted the room blue, and organized a bit more as I put everything back. I could not believe the difference it made. My whole mood and attitude toward this once small and dingy room to now beautiful and perfect little room had changed dramatically. My room had a make-over, a fresh start.

So this got me thinking, what do I need to do to de-clutter, to start again? What is necessary and unnecessary in my life? How do I decide what fits and what needs to be thrown out? What does it mean for a person to get a fresh coat of paint? This week, I am tasking myself with this, so this blog entry is to be continued until I decided how I can do this. When I am feeling old, worn out, and small, how do I feel beautiful and perfect again?

 

To be continued….

I welcome all and any thoughts, comments, or suggestion to this topic, “De-Clutter Your Life.”

As always thanks for reading!! 🙂

Be Quiet and Listen

When I was a child, I was what my older relatives would call a “Chatty Kathy”. I loved to talk (they would say), just to hear my own voice. I guess that comes with the territory of being the youngest and only girl of three older brothers. I was often left out and rarely listened to, so I just said what I wanted anyway (and often in a loud voice) in attempts to be heard by anyone who would listen.

I think we are all like that in a way. We all want to be heard, but few of us have developed our listening skills. We get angry with the sales clerk at the store because we think she is not doing anything to help us find the item we need, but we don’t stop to listen to her tell us that it is her first day on the job but she can find someone else who can help us faster. We get angry at our kids for acting up in public, but we don’t stop to listen to them tell us that they just really have to go to the bathroom in that moment. We act jealous and upset at our partner because someone we don’t know is calling their phone number and we immediately suspect it is an ex or some current threat, but we don’t stop to listen to our partner tell us that it is a wrong number and the caller was trying to reach someone who previously owned the cell phone number. Why is it so hard to listen? More importantly, what does it mean to listen?

In all these example scenarios, which may or may not relate to you, are meant to create a real life situation that brings attention to demonstrate the lack of listening and/or how easy it is to make assumptions. You see, most of the time when other people are talking, we have already thought of a reason, answer, excuse, or comeback before the other person has even finished talking. We ask questions, but do not wait for the answers. We seek out a reason of explanation, but we do not care to hear the response. So is it that we are impatient? Would we rather be upset and wrong, than hear the truth? Is our ego so big that we don’t take the time to value our relationships with others enough to really just be quiet and listen?

What does it mean to listen? Well as I’ve shared already, one must be quiet and listen to the other person. Now, this means many things. First of all you must rid of other distractions. We live in the days of cell phones, TV, computers, etc. STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING! Now, you are more ready to listen. To listen is not just to hear, it means to silence your own thoughts and responses in order to fully comprehend and process what this other person is telling you. Listening is when you do not interrupt with your own thoughts or but you hear the person talk and try to understand what they are telling you. Another vocab for the day is active listening. This is practiced in interpersonal communication courses and probably marriage counseling as well (at least it should be – in my humble opinion). Active listening is when you do the first step I’ve mentioned, you are listening without interrupting the other person’s response, and then you repeat what they are asking in your own words, and ask if that is what they meant.

Let’s try a simple example of a couple.

Partner 1: “Honey, let’s go to the bar tonight.”

Partner 2: “Eh, I’d rather not.”

Partner 1: (NOT LISTENING) “Come on, it’ll be fun. We can drink and sing bad karaoke.”

Partner 2: “I’m exhausted. It’s been a long day, can we another next time.”

Partner 1: (LISTENING) “Okay, I hear you say that you are tired, had a long day and don’t want to go tonight, is that right?”

Partner 1: “Yes. Thank you for listening. Maybe tonight we can stay in, cuddle, and watch that movie you’ve wanted to watch.”

Now, as cheesy as this example was, listening makes the other person want to listen back. If we are paying more attention to what others are wanting, they notice and want to do the same in return. It doesn’t mean you have to do everything they are saying. That couple could have done separate activities that night. They could have gone out and just not stayed out late. There are many scenario endings to every circumstance, but when you are listening to each other there is a higher level of respect and intention. What you say will be received better if you are not screaming over one another to be heard.

As an adult I am still learning this skill. Yes, I said skill. Listening and active listening are skills and need to be practiced regularly, like anything else. Situations at work, home, with family, and my partner has continued to teach me that I still need to stop what I am doing, be quiet, and just listen. For some, they just want to be understood and know you care enough to take the time out of your busy day to listen to theirs. So, I hope that as you go about your weekend, you will think more about how you can practice the art of listening better to your loved ones and if they are not listening to you, perhaps you can have them read this blog entry too. We all have the room to grow and the time to learn, but it’s up to you to stop, be quiet, and listen.

 

Faith

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I didn’t know I was going to write about Faith, until yesterday. I spent the last two days thinking and writing about FEAR and how it can affect us. But then something happened and I was given a rather unique reminder by a TEDTV clip (that a friend liked on Facebook) about FAITH. Well, it was more about the art of asking; asking for money or asking for help, but to me that translated to faith. By asking for anything you are allowing yourself to become vulnerable and to rely on others. That also means you have to have faith in people, in their goodness, in their desire to help and reach out, etc. It made me think about my own faith; faith in myself and in others.

You see, I have spent my money and time on education for careers that were not really what I wanted and jobs that do not define me or excite me. I worked for a paycheck, not for passion. Through trial and error and my parents (among others) telling me that my dreams were unrealistic and that it would be impossible to get paid to write songs and perform them. So I gave up before I even began. I have kept my hobbies and still enjoy the activities, but I go to work each day unsatisfied and unfulfilled. My parents tell me that “In their day, people went to work to provide for their families, not to find fulfillment in life.” But why do we have to live a life of “have to” or “ought to” instead of “want to” and “love to”?

I have recently been playing out at open mic nights again, where it is an open stage to share your talents. I signed up for some music/hobby related groups and met a few people who now are asking me to play a show at a coffee shop, a restaurant, and even a brewery. I may not be making any money yet, but it gives me hope that I am back on the right path. I lost faith that it was my calling, my destiny. Now, without a ton of effort, these shows are coming to me! I had faith to get back out there and do what I love and hope that others would appreciate my music and my lyrics.

Now that I am getting occasional gigs, I need to send out invites and advertise myself and have faith that my friends and family will show up to see me. When I decide I want to make a CD or start charging a cover, I need to have faith that people will want to pay for the music and entertainment that I provide. On the TEDTV talk Amy Palmer spoke of this giving and receiving and that it is not about making people give you money, it is about asking and knowing that you are giving them something back in return…yourself. I pour my heart and soul into my lyrics. I sing about the lessons I’ve learned, the pain and joy I’ve gone through, and the love I’ve gained and lost. I have enough trust to share my inner most thoughts, so why dont’t I have faith to live it?

I feel like faith or trust is something we have almost immediately from the time we are born. As we get older, we may have experiences where we get hurt, abused, or abandoned, and that faith and that trust is broken. It is hard to do, but in order to live a more fulfilling life I must learn to believe in myself, in my abilities and trust that others will do the same. How can anyone else believe in me and my music if I myself do not? Faith is in our actions. Faith is taking the first step and trusting that the next step will be there when you reach it. Faith is falling into someone’s arms and trusting they will catch you. Faith and love go hand in hand. I believe these are the secrets to living a happy life.

Make It Count

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Some days I allow my ego to get the best of me. I take for granted the blessings I have in life and I can become resentful, dis-interested, negative, argumentative, etc. Stuck in the moment of my moods, controlled by my emotions of discontentment I lose sight of what’s important. I begin to complain and become complacent. What’s the point? No matter what I do, work is going to suck, people with be disrespectful, no one cares, etc. Why must ride this merry-go-round? Did we forget that we have the choice to jump off or stop it?

When I am with my family, I look around at my nieces and nephews and I breathe it all in. I know they will not be this young forever. My parents are getting older and my siblings are moving farther away with their families. I realize I need to appreciate each and every moment I have with them. We may not always see eye to eye (families, I mean), but in the end that doesn’t really matter. In the end of your life, the things that matter are not your opinions, your items you’ve collected over the years, or your achievements, etc. What matters most are the people, the relationships, and the love you’ve shared.

When my partner and I are arguing over something which we cannot seem to see eye to eye on, I often come to the conclusion that we need to take a step back because it is not going to get resolved in that moment. After I’ve had some time to think about it, I realize that I don’t even care. I don’t need to be right. I don’t need to protect my ego. The only thing that matters is our love for one another and as long as we have love and respect for each other, the rest is miniscule and can be resolved.

I observe and learn from my older brother how to be generous. He owns his own business and works hard labor for his money and then he takes days off to spend with his kids. He constantly is taking them to fun places and takes our parents and I out to dinner. Once his bills are payed each month, he does not stress about how he is spending his money. He lives a generous life and enjoys every day that he is living. I am always impressed by his dedication to his family. When we were young, we grew up with very little and I can see that he is trying to give his kids all the things he never had. He loves his kids more than life itself and is such a good daddy. Even if he didn’t buy them a thing, the point is that he takes every minute he can to spend with this children and he MAKES IT COUNT. I feel so proud that he is my brother and I will always look up to him with admiration for the life he chooses for himself and his children.

 

* P.S. I accidentally pushed publish yesterday when I was still working on it so if you were able to read this a bit early, and then couldn’t find it that is why. LOL. Like I said…make it count! 🙂