Are you listening?

Imagine a world that when we have a conversation we listen and speak with unconditional love. We listen with no judgment, and we don’t take things personal. We really hear what the other person is saying without worrying about how we will respond and we are granted the same kindness when speaking ourselves.

Imagine hearing what someone is telling you without making a snap judgement, this may help you understand what they are saying as well as how they are feeling and not assuming that it is directed toward you. Maybe taking a moment to think about this person and the possibility of what they have been through in their life, you may not know the experiences they have had, the knowledge they have acquired, the things they are learning from pain or traumas they may have been through. Imagine this being your parent, sibling, child, friend, family member or even a co-worker. We think we know what people close to us have been through, but do we honestly? I think we may have a general idea, but I think sometimes we forget that we haven’t always been in that persons life, spent 100% our time with them, so we don’t know every detail of feelings or experiences. If we could remember this when communicating with each other in every day situations it could make a difference in how our relationships grow.

“Your love will be safe with me”

In a recent post I mentioned that Wade and I have been cleaning house, finishing old projects and getting things in order. The same has been with our relationship, it has been interesting. It hasn’t even been on purpose, it has just happened naturally. And I just realized I am going to give credit to a morning ritual we have adjusted. When we drink our coffee we don’t sit in our living room anymore, now we sit at the table across from each other. No longer scrolling through our phones, actually talking. During the warm months we were sitting on our back patio and now at our kitchen table. We have communicated well for the majority of our relationship but we have recently opened up even more. Sharing mistakes from our past, hurt that we have experienced from others and each other. It hasn’t been argumentative, it has been completely about listening to each other with no judgement, no taking things personal, just sharing. We are both growing and I truly believe that we can all experience this if we will let our guard down and realize that we all have a story and some of the story may not have anything to do with ourselves. We all want the same thing and that is to be happy and healthy both physically and emotionally.  Next time you have a conversation that feels like it is escalating, maybe take just a moment to adjust your own attitude about listening and see if it makes a difference. This isn’t easy to do sometimes and it can take some time to make it a habit, and I’ll be honest this is something I am not perfect at, but it is something I try to be aware of. I think being aware of it is the first step.

Re-Focused

I feel like I was jarred off course, and I was having trouble re-focusing. My intention was to write three posts about mental illness, “let’s get this conversation started” to help explain why I feel called to do this blog, the second “Causes of Mental Illness” and third, “How and Where to get help.” But, I let a response get in my head and I have been overthinking ever since. I know in my heart that this is something I am supposed to write about to help others, but I have been questioning myself… Is what I have to say important? Do I make sense? Do I even know what I am talking about? I don’t want to give incorrect information and the list goes on. Do you ever wonder if we are thrown off course when we are trying to do something good so that we won’t move forward? I think that so many of us have a purpose in this world and when we find it there are obstacles. My faith leads me to believe that there are many reasons for obstacles. I believe one of them is that we do need to question ourselves. I believe that when we question ourselves we become better if we work at it, but if we let the overthinking take hold it halts us. I am not sure what direction I am supposed to take but I know that not writing is definitely not it.

“Clutter is nothing more than your postponed decisions”  Barbara Hemphill

For the past few months I have been praying, asking for guidance and the answer I kept receiving was clean out your house, finish old projects and then focus on writing. So that is what I have done. Wade and I have been working on getting our house in order so that our home feels cozy and inspiring to us. I believe that when your home is clear of clutter your heart can work through any clutter you are feeling inside of yourself. I just finished the last of the procrastination projects and it feels so good! Now here I am, no excuses, ready to focus again. 

Ironically a few days after I finished the last of the procrastination projects I was invited to go to a friends house for a social event with some amazing ladies that I had not met before. All of them are inspiring but one of them happens to be in school studying psychology. She sent me a ton of information such as books, social media accounts to follow as well as websites and other recourses that are available, I am so grateful. So I have a lot of information to study on top of what I have already found so I think I have a good start.

Thank you all so much for being patient and sticking with me on this journey! Sending out love to each of you.

Mental Illness, let’s get this conversation started

Dad at wedding

I have been working on this post and I keep starting and stopping. I’ll be honest I have written several drafts, I’ve lost count of how many. After some reflection I have figured out the reasons I am having such a hard time with this one. First is that I am concerned with my family and respecting their feelings with what I share about my thoughts and feelings about my dad and his illness. Secondly, every time I write something I feel like it is all surface level and I don’t want this post to be surface level. I want to be completely authentic, I feel like he deserves me to be raw and I feel like I need to do this to heal myself. I also want anyone who has a family member that suffers with a debilitating mental illness to know they are not alone. I want people who suffer with mental illness to know that they are loved but it may be difficult for us at times too. Most of you do have people that care, but sometimes we have to separate ourselves for our own self preservation. 

“You will never truly be free until you’re living in authenticity” Christy Ann Martine

Here is some history so you have a little understanding of my relationship with him. My dad passed away in 2017 and he suffered from schizophrenia for my entire life so I never new him any other way. My mom and dad were divorced when I was about 5 years old, so my time with him was spent on weekend visits for most of my life. But because of his illness he was not always emotionally and sometimes even physically available because he would withdraw from society at times. So most of my weekend visits would be spent with my Grandparents or aunts and uncles. I love my family and am so thankful that they kept me as part of the family and didn’t just let me drift away. I feel a closeness with both of my parents family’s and feel blessed that I have such a wonderful support system when I need it and I hope that I have done the same for them. But, I am realizing in my own self reflection that in order for my own mental health I withdraw at times as well. 

Appreciate those who don’t give up on you” Unknown

I have some guilt for not always being there for him. Don’t get me wrong there were times in my adult life that I stepped up to help when he needed it, but I did not have the bond that I would have loved to have had with him. I am so thankful that he has such a large family and that my grandparents, his brothers, sisters and even a cousin stepped in when he needed somewhere to live and needed extra care. 

Another reason this is a hard post is because I have so much to say and I try to keep my posts to about three paragraphs and there is just no way to do it with this subject. So, I have decided that I need to do this as a series. I am planning to share facts about mental illness, I will be doing some research about help that is available as well as my thoughts and feelings about my dad. I am hoping that I can get some of my family members involved so they may heal as well. Thank you for taking the time to read this and I would love any ideas you have for future posts. Let the healing begin… 

Savor the small moments

My husband and I stopped at Village Inn for a late dinner after a long day. I felt so excited to just sit with him for a few minutes and have my favorite cheese fries. While pulling into the driveway of the restaurant I had a moment of clarity…we are so busy and get so caught up in that, that we forget that it’s moments like this that are the important ones. Not only do we need to create those opportunities, we need to realize that they are happening and appreciate and savor them.

“Savor life and all its magic” Unknown

I think it’s easy to fall into the thought process that the trips, the big dinner parties and the planned events are the special times. These are important but the small moments like stopping by for a few minutes to visit, a quick text or phone call to check in, or a last minute invite to lunch or dinner, those are the moments that matter the most. We are taking time to acknowledge that we love someone and want to spend time with them. When we receive those small gestures we need to recognize that the other person is taking a moment to say I love you. We all need to learn to savor and appreciate those moments and not take them for granted.

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together” Vincent Van Gogh

When we have thoughts to check in with someone, take a few minutes to call or text them. I feel strongly that when we have a thought and especially if it persists, we need to follow through. Our instincts are usually right and it is very possible that the person you are thinking of needs to hear that they are loved. I like that we can text, it’s a quick way to check in or ask a question. I think that we need to appreciate those text messages when we receive them. I know I love it when my kids and my mom send me a text just to say I love you, it makes my heart happy and makes my day. But I also think sometimes we need to take time to call, write a letter or see someone in person when possible. I’ll be honest, I am not a phone call person, I get phone anxiety which may sound weird, but it is what it is and it is something I am working on. So if you receive a phone call from me, you’re kind of a big deal.

So remember to create those small moments and remember to savor them when someone else creates one. Try not to take the ones that take the time for you whether it be big or small for granted. Just a side note, the photo I used for this post was taken by my beautiful and talented daughter in law Lindsay. I chose it for this post because I feel like it captured me savoring a small moment with her. She was sweet enough to take some photos for the blog. She did a wonderful job and I feel like she captured me just being me. Thank you Lindsay!

Sending love to each of you. Thank you all for taking the time to read this today.

Kind is the new cool

Be kind, it could be the sunshine that dries up someone’s rain.

My husband and I have a booth at a monthly flea market, it is hard work but so much fun. At this past Sunday’s market there were a lot of people, but one person stands out for me. A beautiful lady in her 60’s with soft long gray-blond hair that she wore in two braids and she was wearing a soft pink jacket. Beautiful smile and sweet spirit, I felt compelled to tell her how beautiful she is and how I love her hair. She hesitated for a moment, thanked me and told me that she really needed to hear that. She went on to tell me that she had been questioning herself lately, not knowing who she is and who she is supposed to be. I am so thankful that I spoke what I was feeling out loud to her. She said if nothing else she came to the market just for that, we gave each other a big hug, not one of those pat your back hugs, it was one of those hugs that you feel. I had a positive affect on her, but she also reminded me of my purpose. I have been so tired and so busy and putting off posting here on my blog. I have been questioning myself as well. I know what my purpose is, but I’ve been questioning how I am supposed to share it with you. Let’s just call it what it is, I have been overthinking. I want to share that the little things we do on a daily basis is what is important in our lives. These are the things that keep us mentally and spiritually healthy. The kindness we show to each other big or small is what we are here for. One comment can change someone’s day or possibly a life. Don’t hold back that kindness, give it away. And always remember the kindness you give should always start at home and spread from there. Kindness should not just be in your thoughts with strangers, it should be first and foremost with the ones you love on a daily basis.

Do I react, or do I respond?

It’s interesting how one word or a tone of voice can change a conversation between people. But something that also interests me is why do we take things personal? Is it the delivery of what is being said or do we need to take a moment before we respond? Is it the person speaking that needs to take a moment or is it a little of both? Taking things personal is something that I am constantly working on myself. I think in general people’s words and actions are not to intentionally hurt someone. I understand that not everyone has good intentions but for this post let’s focus on finding the good in people and assume that there is no malicious intent.

“Do I react, or do I respond?”

There is a term that my husband and I use for certain words or actions, we call them a “trigger”. I think if we can identify our own “triggers” and why they bring out a certain emotion in us it can help us to both speak and respond differently without taking things personally. There is absolutely no way for us to always be happy and not get a little annoyed like when we are hungry, or maybe need a nap, but I honestly think naming these “triggers” can help avoid unnecessary conflict.

“Do small things with great love” Mother Teresa

My husband recently had an opportunity to find out his style of communication is to lecture. This was a little hard for him to hear at first, but he is always trying to improve himself, so I think after he was able to discuss it and process it, he appreciated that it was brought to his attention. I’ve noticed that he has been working on it. For example, being on time is very important to both of us, but if we are getting close to the time, we should be leaving it causes him to feel anxious, so I do my best not to keep him waiting. I know that he is feeling anxious when he starts asking if I’m ready. When he is anxious he will of course have a certain tone (as we all do) or he makes the noises I lovingly refer to as his mild form of Tourette’s (I hope not to offend but if you know him, he really does make noises and blurt out words and I honestly think he can’t help it). I have noticed that lately, he simply asks… “let me know when you’re 5 minutes out”. I think he knows that it is just as important to me to be on time, and that I have not let him down in the past. But, I also know that it is part of his personality to check in with where things are so I try not to get annoyed and let me say it’s a lot easier to stay patient when he asks with patience in his voice. So this little change can help this exchange of words between us not turn into me taking it personal and feeling like he is saying you are going to make us late! It’s just hey, I’m checking in, are you almost ready to go?

I hope this little post will get you thinking, what small changes can I make in how I communicate, or how I listen, am I taking things personally when I don’t need to? Why does that word or statement hit a spot for me? Maybe try to respond by repeating what you heard so you can make sure you are understanding what the other is saying. Sometimes we translate things differently than they are meant to come across. And if we bring it to the persons attention it may help them in how they communicate.

Simple decorating ideas for the holidays

With the holidays fast approaching we are all thinking of making our homes feel cozy for ourselves and our guests. You don’t have to tear down walls, or re-do flooring to make your home feel cozy. It can be moving art, a rug, or even a piece of furniture from one room to another. A simple holiday décor change can make a big difference as well. I have a floating shelf in our front room that I decorate for different holidays. It is fun to decorate for the holidays, but I don’t go all out. I like to keep it simple. The simplicity is pleasing to my eyes but it’s also a time saver. Candles, books and plants can add a lot of warmth to your home. Even just a strand of lights can add a little coziness in the evening.

Here are a few photo’s of my floating shelf. You will notice that I use a lot of everyday décor items along with my holiday décor. Vases, books, vintage bottles, candlesticks can all add height and character when displaying the things you love. Some of these are vintage finds and others are family heirlooms that I love. I am still enjoying fall décor and will change to Christmas after Thanksgiving. I don’t judge you Christmas lovers who change to Christmas right after Halloween, I love it too. But Thanksgiving really is my favorite so I try to savor the fall colors before I put Christmas out.

Don’t stress yourself out about holiday décor if you are hosting, honestly it really is about the time together and as long as your bathroom is clean, that is all that matters.  

Simple fall decor
Halloween decor