You can fake caring, but you can’t fake showing up

I had an interesting interaction over the weekend and I realize I need to reassure you all that I’m really okay. If you read my last post, you know that last week was tough. I saw a friend on Friday night that had obviously read my blog (which is fantastic, btw!). She hugged me, which I appreciate, but I could see a look of worry in her eyes. I had not anticipated any one worrying about me, because I suppose I’m not worried about me. I could be completely wrong, and if I am, please keep worrying about me, but I feel like I have my head on straighter than I ever have. I feel in control of my life and my destiny. I have taken a step back to truly assess my life in order to make decisions that can help to enhance my and my family’s happiness. I have been brutally honest with myself while assessing my situation. I have a very keen awareness of my environment and the people surrounding me. While I’d love to look at the world with rose colored glasses, I’m really very pragmatic. Everyone has gifts and I feel fortunate that mine is discernment. I believe I got it from my dad. He had the ability to size up people and situations very quickly and he was always right. I don’t propose that I’m always right, but I’m pretty good at it too. That being said, don’t worry about me, but thank you if you did!

 

Enough about that! Let’s move on and talk about my downsizing efforts! I’ve learned some great things already. One of the benefits of my busy schedule is that I cannot rush through this process. I simply don’t have the spare time at home to finish this quickly. This is good for me because I’ve never been a patient person. I like to make decisions and act on them immediately, then move on to my next project. In doing that, I fail to spend enough time in the present moment to appreciate all that I have and be grateful. I find that in my head, I’m usually living two steps ahead. That’s a great mindset at work, but at home it isn’t so great. I want to savor every moment with my family and friends. I am making a concerted effort to do that. This weekend is a great example. I finally had a weekend at home without work obligations and the Alabama football game was out of town. This would have been a great time to clean out closets and get rid of stuff. However, we were invited to two weddings, a birthday party, and a christening. I’m not going to lie to you all about the true me and I will tell you that in the past, this would have been a complete nuisance to me. I would’ve been annoyed that I couldn’t do exactly what I wanted and work towards my goal of downsizing. It’s rare for me to have a whole weekend free so to have to everyone fill it up with their events that I feel obligated to attend would’ve made me grumpy. It’s not that I don’t care about them because I’m happy for them. Truth is, I could be pretty selfish sometimes. As I work to live more in the present and appreciate my family and friends, I made a clear decision to attend as many of these events as I can and to not worry in the least that I’m accomplishing nothing towards my downsizing goal. I’m so glad I did this! Yesterday’s birthday party was so fun and I grew closer to family. Last night’s wedding was beautiful and a blast! We were able to spend time with some important friends in our life that we haven’t seen in several years. Today will be more time with family and I’m looking forward to it! I’m not stressed at all that I have done absolutely nothing at home and it looks like a storm blew through! This week I heard a great phrase that I promise to internalize and do my best to live by – “You can fake caring, but you can’t fake showing up.” Who knew that downsizing would teach me this?! Love it!

Riding a Roller Coaster

This blog is about downsizing, but it is also about learning about myself and the things that affect my happiness. As I look back over my life, I have experienced many good and bad times. It has been quite a roller coaster. This week has been a roller coaster too, and I’m really glad that it is Friday afternoon. I’m ready for this week to be over. Work hasn’t gone as well as I want this week, which is stressful. Today is the anniversary of our second daughter’s death. She has been gone six years today. It would be very easy to be all ‘woe is me’ right now, but that wouldn’t accomplish anything except for making me and those around me miserable. In the past, I have gone through some tough times and I allowed myself to be consumed by the situation. I’ve truly been in some dark places in my life and never want to do that again. I’m smart enough now to recognize when the dark times are approaching and do everything I can to reverse it. This is one of the main reasons I am downsizing. I can feel the overwhelming feelings becoming too much to handle. Just like this week, there are always going to be moments of adversity. Thank goodness they don’t happen all of the time! I have learned to acknowledge the bad times, learn from them, and move on. I want to spend my time thinking about the good things that have happened this week. One of the great things is that at work, we were able to celebrate one of our team members successfully beating cancer! Talk about a victory!!! He taught me a lot about how to face hard situations as he faced his fight with grace and courage. I never heard him complain. There are some fantastic people in my life! Speaking of fantastic, another great thing happened when one of my best friends surprised me with a gift honoring our daughter in heaven. I’m amazed and humbled that other people remember her Heaven Day.  This weekend we get to celebrate with family and friends at two weddings and a christening (sounds like a movie title! Ha!). All around me life is good, and I am going to make a conscious effort to focus on that. I get to decide if I enjoy riding roller coasters, and the truth is – I do!

My downsizing efforts are moving forward! I am a planner. I like to look at the big picture and then make a strategic plan for how to get there. In order to do this, I have to clearly know what I want the end result to be. If I know that, I can take the necessary steps to get there. I cannot fly by the seat of my pants and hope for the best. I’d go nuts!! Sooo…. I have to know where I will be moving to before I can decide to sell our house and begin to sell furniture. My husband and I have been doing quite a bit of looking and we think we have settled on something. It’s not final, so I’m scared to put it out there! I’ll tell you all next week hopefully! This will be a huge step. It frightens me and excites me all at the same time! There are moments when I am devastated and get teary to be leaving my back yard, but I know happiness can be achieved anywhere – it’s totally up to me to will it to happen.

I’m anxious to get my weekend started, so I’ll wrap it up for today. Have a great Friday night! I know I will! I love roller coasters!

 

Challenge Accepted

September 14, 2015

The only thing constant is change. I was born with an entrepreneurial mind that thrives off change. I evaluate situations and look for ways to make things more efficient, productive, and to solve problems. A couple of the things I am best at in the business world is cutting costs and doing more with less to increase the bottom line. I love doing this at work and in my professional life. I find it very ironic that making the decision to do this in my personal life has caused me unbelievable anxiety! Last night we took some time to look at houses. Of course the houses are much smaller than the one we are in now. Downsizing is what I want to do, but as I stood inside a home with much less space than mine I felt claustrophobic. This process is going to be more difficult than I imagined. We had discussions last night about how to start to trash, donate, and sell things in our existing home. A good friend said, “Get rid of it all!” I know he’s right so I’m not sure why I almost threw up. After we came home, had dinner, and put our daughter to bed I became overwhelmed with anxiety and emotions. I felt angry and sad.  I downed a glass of wine and headed to bed to escape my feelings. Who wants to feel all of that?! This morning I see things more clearly and I realize that I am going through the grieving process. I am grieving the loss of my expectations of what life would be like. The reason I almost threw up is that all of the possessions we have stand for a piece of my expectations. At work, I know that one of the keys to being successful is to manage others’ expectations. Somehow, I neglected to manage my own. Last night, I found myself sliding back into the blame game in my head and being angry over the things I felt others should be doing to help fulfill my expectations. Then, I got lost in the anger of feeling alone. These are all very toxic thoughts and feelings that I impose upon myself. No one else makes me feel this way. No one else can fix my feelings either. As I travel this path of downsizing, I see that I need to grow and heal in a variety of ways. It’s interesting to say that downsizing will make me grow, but I believe it will, at least internally. I believe it will heal my soul too. Last night revealed to me that this is not going to be as easy as cleaning out our house and moving to a smaller one. This is going to require cleaning out my mind and heart as well. Everyone that knows me knows I love a challenge. Challenge accepted…

I have been overwhelmed at the number of messages of support, empathy, and stories of battles from all of you. We all have so much to learn from each other but for some reason we keep things inside and fight battles alone. I’m not sure what the solution is to build a community that is supportive but I’m thinking about it. I promise to answer all of your messages as I have time. Please keep them coming!we-fear-change

 

Miserable is a Strong Word

September 12, 2016tiana_motivational_by_discordantprincess-d60b6lt

Miserable is a strong word. I don’t use it lightly. Yes, I am miserable and have been for several years. I’ve spent a lot of energy blaming others and trying to explain away my unhappiness at the expense of everyone else. If so and so would do this or not do that… blah, blah, blah… I always came up with an excuse for my misery that revolved around others’ actions. My poor husband has been the target more than once and I hate I’ve put him through the blame game. I misdiagnosed my misery for a long time thinking it was grief. We lost a daughter six years ago and it was the most horrific thing a family can experience. I still grieve her loss and will as long as I live but I now know that my grief is not the cause of my misery. It has taken me quite some time to diagnose the root of my misery, but I’ve figured it out. The cause of my misery is me. Rationally, I’ve known this but accepting it is easier said than done.

I’ve been in an internal struggle for several years now. I had expectations of what life should be like. I thought that if I worked hard, I’d be successful and I expect everyone around me to adhere to that philosophy. Tiana is my favorite Disney princess because she knew you had to work hard to fulfill your dreams (plus she makes great gumbo!). I have worked hard and for the most part, I’ve been pretty successful. Now, let’s define successful. Hmmm… is it having a great family? (check, got that!), is it having great friends? (check, got that too!), is it having a big house in the right part of town? (check again), is it having a career that others perceive as important? (checkmate). Lots of people define success in these ways and so did I. In fact, I expect these things because I’ve worked hard for them. I expected those things to make me and everyone around me very happy. I’ve spent the last 6 years turning myself inside out to achieve and retain “success”. Once you have acquired the house, the job, the cars, it takes more work to keep them up – a ton more work!! So much work that the other components of a successful life begin to suffer – the spouse, the family, and the friends. I don’t care what anyone says – it is impossible to have time for everything. There is no such thing as the perfect work life balance. I’ve tried for years! My expectation of what my life should be versus what is feasible is the cause of my misery. I’ve decided it is time to appreciate everything I have rather than lament over my expectations. I love my house, I love my possessions, and I love my neighborhood. It will be hard to let them go but I know it will be freeing. I want less yard! I want less dust! I want to use my time at home with my family to enjoy them! My definition of success is changing.

Please understand that I don’t judge anyone for their definition of success. It can and should be different for everyone. I know that to be happy I have to articulate my definition of success and focus on it.  If I were independently wealthy, this might not be so hard! HA! All joking aside, the first step of my journey is to identify the things that are truly important to me – the things I can’t live without. I’ve asked my husband and daughter to do the same so we are working on our lists this week.  After we determine what is truly important to us, we will make a plan to purge the rest. Downsizing here we come! I do have to tell you that this whole concept has scared our daughter! I think she thought we were going to become desolate. I explained to her that downsizing does not mean you can’t have nice things. It just means you have less of them. That has eased her mind!

I’m a big believer in giving those that choose to spend time with you a concrete take away that makes the time they spend with you valuable. As I share my journey and you spend your time with me reading my posts, I’d like to give you all some thought provoking questions. They are the ones I am trying to answer for myself. The questions for today:

  • Do your expectations of what your life should be get in the way of you enjoying what you truly have?
  • Is your definition of success feasible?
  • What is truly important to you?

I can’t wait to share our lists with you! I’d love to hear your answers to the above questions too! Let’s make this a conversation!

My Birthday Present to Myself

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I’m stressed out. I’m tired. I’m guilt ridden. Heck, I’m downright miserable. I keep telling myself to be positive, to be grateful. After all, in the grand scheme of things, I have a great life. I have a handsome, smart, caring husband and we are coming up on our 18th wedding anniversary. We have a clever, gorgeous daughter that attends one of the best private schools in the state. We live in a huge house with a pool in one of the most prestigious neighborhoods in our city. We have nice cars and we are members of the country club. We get to vacation at least twice per year, usually more. All of this and very small debt. I have a high profile job as the CEO of our local tourism agency and I get paid very well. From the outside looking in, it would appear that I have the perfect life. This is a great life but truth is, it is not the life I want. Yesterday was my 44th birthday. I made a promise to myself. I am going to make the changes needed to be happy by my 45th birthday.

I’ve decided to write this blog to chronicle my journey. Not everyone will understand me or what makes me happy and that is OK. It takes a lot of different types of people to make the world go around. I want to tell this story for a few reasons. First, is that I want to keep a record of what happens over the next 12 months. When our daughter is older, I want her to be able to read this and understand how to achieve happiness, however she defines happiness. I also want her to know that her destiny is up to her, just as mine is, and that if we want something to change, we must change it ourselves. Action is key.  Second, I want to hold myself accountable. I expect that as I make changes in my life, I will face some difficult times.  I do not like to give up or fail, but like everyone, there have been times when I did. I am less likely to give up if I know someone is out there watching my journey. Finally, I hope that by sharing my journey, I can inspire someone to take the same trip. No one’s will look exactly like mine but maybe there will be some nuggets of inspiration and hope that will encourage someone needing to make a change.

Let’s get this journey started.