Let me list

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I am an all-or-nothing kind of gal.  If I decide to go on a health kick, I force myself into an integrated commitment to overall wellness in all aspects of my physical well-being.  When I commit to cleaning my bedroom, I (and my husband) know that I am planning on emptying drawers, sorting each piece of clothing, organizing the closet and allowing any OCD tendencies to take charge and work until the room resembles a magazine picture.

These high expectations cause me stress and I either sacrifice my comfort (or the comfort of my family) to achieve these goals or I avoid committing to them at all.  In my mind, if I haven’t committed to it…I can’t fail.

Life is not a line-for-line budget with items listed, broken-down and categorized, waiting for me to either address them or write them off as a bad investment.  Nothing worth anything has ever been that clear of a decision and I don’t know why my brilliant mind hasn’t accepted that fact before now.  But, life can be organized and I prefer to use lists.

I use lists to remind myself on a (more than) daily basis that I need to address what is waiting to be addressed.  For facing it gives it the attention it needs and relieves me of the pressure that having so many undone items gives me.  I deserve light shoulders, free from burdens at the end of the day.  I deserve to rest my head on my pillow, knowing I’ve met my daily worries and pressures and they are addressed and dealt with.  If I’m unable to do that, these items go on a list that I will address tomorrow.  For in that day, I will remind myself that I need to address what is waiting to be addressed.

Many of my daily issues are not an easy decision.  I have learned to prioritize importance and delegate…and accept the result of my decisions.  If I feel that I have made a mistake, I know that I made the best decision with the information I had at that moment.

No procrastinating, I’ve got no time to waste on that.  No excuses, my energy is too valuable to waste.  No more, my limit is reached and I’m ready to tap into my commitment-personality and commit to a better use of me.  I will continue to list and learn.  It’s a fun way to organize, prioritize, and delegate… and it’s a good use of sticky-notes.

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How I organize my lists

What is it you’ve been putting off, excusing, or avoiding?  Is it worth your energy and time to address it now and open up some time and energy in your future?

6 Super Easy, Eco-Friendly Solutions

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andreabcreative

We all want to do our part to save the planet, but let’s be honest – we want it to be as easy as possible.  In my Year of Simplicity, I’m trying to streamline everything and I’ve found that these solutions are easy and make me much more eco-friendly.

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Make Recycling the easiest option. Three years ago, I took the trash can out of my office.  I wanted a reason to get up and move around more and thought this would help me do just that – and it worked.  At the same time, I replaced my trash can spot with a recycle bin – and I’ve significantly upped my recycling as a result.  Whenever something is the easiest option, you’re much more likely to make it happen.

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My take on: Dear (Foster) Momma to a Stranger’s Child

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My take on “Dear (Foster) Momma to a Stranger’s Child” post.

I (Kristina) don’t talk about my foster care journey much, but if you wanted to know how I feel, read this blogpost by Barren to Blessed. This is spot-on and I couldn’t word it better.

As my family is approaching our 1 year anniversary of fostering, I wanted to share this.  If I were to narrow down to 3 things I wish for non foster/adoptive friends to read and know…well, read on…

1. Don’t say (or think), “I could never do that.”

A) It doesn’t help or encourage us. B) It’s not true. We don’t know what we are capable of until we are faced with it and try.

2. Don’t disappear.

We miss our friends! Don’t worry about what to say or not say, do or not do (we won’t even freak out if you say, “I could never do that.”) We need normalcy, support, and laughter…nobody does that better than friends.

3. Ask!

Fostering is such a private matter, ruled by policies, messy relationships, and even physical and psychological illness/needs. If you are curious about our lives…ask us! If you can’t keep up with the number, gender, age, etc of the kids in our care and would like to help us out…ask us! If you are just plain concerned with our mental well-being (this is a valid concern for all foster parents’ friends)…ask! We want to share (what we can, when we can) but we don’t want to impose on you and your busy life.

Thanks to all my friends and family who have supported us. Thanks to all the friends and family that have supported other foster families. You all are part of the success that is foster care.

Love and peace.
Kristina.

BARREN TO BLESSED

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

I talk to you often in the work I do.  I hear you say, “We want to hang in there”, or “We are doing the best we can”, and even, “I don’t know if I am up for this.”  I hear these words through your shaky, weakened voices.  But, what I really hear is you saying, “I don’t want to be another mother who disregards this child”, or “If I could, I would provide this child with every ounce of my being in order to heal him or her.”  I see you, Foster Mom.  I see you loving on that child who has stolen your heart while living in your home.

You are walking in very heavy shoes.  You are feeling as though your efforts are disregarded, don’t matter, don’t work, and will be forgotten about in the fleeting moments…

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Aside

 

Today’s topic:  Your life is a mess.

My life is a mess.  A beautiful mess full of kids, pets, internship, school, friends, Facebook, and my new job.  I imagine your life is similar.  Just mentally cut and paste (that’s “ctrl X” and “ctrl P” for shortcutters) your mess into that statement.

Your life is a mess.  A beautiful mess full of deadlines, 3am feedings, church, Facebook (I mean, if that’s not part of your beautiful mess, I don’t think we can be friends), hiking, homework, volunteering, … You get the idea.

What do we do with all this beautiful mess?  Embrace Lemonplum, my friends.
It doesn’t make sense to anyone else.  It’s full and boring.  It’s chaotic and lonely.  It’s life.  It doesn’t make sense to anyone else…it’s Lemonplum.

So what do we do?  

Embrace life.  Enjoy what we have and continue to strive for better/happier/fuller.

For me, the better/happier/fuller life means I need less in my life.  I need minimalism. 

I’ve been ridding our house of items we don’t need.  Boxes, bags and tubs full of items that I once thought necessary have been sold, donated and even trashed.  I love the feeling when I cross the threshold with that container of items.

Those items no longer belong to this house (maybe they never did).  No longer will I need to sort them, clean them, organize them, fuss over them, look at them, or wonder what to do with them.  They are not part of my mental energy.  Disposing of these items not only creates room in my physical house but it frees up my thoughts, creativity and my energy.  I now have more of me to give to what really matters.

It’s a big deal to get rid of anything with perceived value.  As a family, we’ve never been financially well-off and those years (12 and counting) have taught me to keep and reuse all that I can.  I fight that mindset each time I throw unused pot holders, blankets, and books in a donation box.  What if I have a host a huge potluck next year and I need pot holders for all those dishes?  What if the kids have a huge sleepover and half the guests don’t bring extra blankets?  And what’s wrong with a library full of books…we are a reading family!?!
The simple answer (and my new mantra) = we will make do.

We always have enough.  We are taken care of.  We work hard to be good stewards of what we are given and it will be ok.

What I have is family and friends.  What I have is spirituality and faith.  I have blessings beyond measure and that’s enough.  I have enough.  I’m taken care of.  I work hard to be a good steward of what I’m given and I will be ok.

The house is still a work-in-progress.  It took 12+ years to acquire all this stuff and it’s going to take a while to minimalize it…but we’re on our way.

Take Home Tidbit:

Start with a box, bag or tub.  Fill it with anything you don’t use on a daily/weekly basis.  Step over your threshold, holding those items.  They no longer belong to you.  You have just freed your mind, time, and energy for what really does belong to you.  

Share your experience!  Repost this blog and let your friends and family share with you…it’s all about the lemonplum community.

Your life is a mess!

Thank God for the hell I went through!

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I’m tired of being grumpy.

I could list the many things I’m grumpy about (and I will be listing them with my counter joy at a later time), but I prefer to focus on what I’m going to do about changing my attitude instead of reliving it.

I’ve lost my thankful heart. 

Years ago, my family of four lived on less than paycheck to paycheck.  We didn’t struggle to ‘pay the bills’, we struggled with the decision, which bill do we partially pay?  Or do we pay for a $5 diabetes medicine or do we buy meat for our dinner?  Many of our struggles were a direct result of our poor choices but we also dealt with great personal losses including miscarriages, stillbirths, close family deaths/divorces, house fires, house floods (yes, both of those last ones are plural), and the isolation that accompanies living far from 99% of our family.

We were in a state of survival.  And yet, we were able to be thankful, grateful, happy, and full of joy.  Through it all, we survived as an intact, healthy family.

I’m not living a life of self-preservation anymore and instead of continuing my effort to find joy in each day,  I display complacent and stagnant (and not entirely authentic) contentment.  Without a balanced focus, I’ve allowed myself to feel entitled to every good thing.  Now, instead of feeling relief and joy when things fall into place, I ignore my blessings because that’s the way “it’s supposed to be.” God forgive me.

So I’m tackling one discontentment issue at a time in a journey to simplistic joy.  I strongly feel that we were not created to feel burdened, but free!  I’ve brought my own discontentment upon myself (there’s a lot of self-ownership in that statement and it’s not easy to admit, but there you go).  I no longer want to enable my grumpy attitude to rob me of my daily joy.  So I’m fighting my grumpy face starting now!  Thank God for the hell I went through.  Without it, I might not have this joy-shaped-hole in my soul to fill.

Grumpy face battle #1:  Physical house clutter.  I hate cleaning it, losing stuff, and never feeling comfortable inviting visitors.  Watch for the next post, but in the mean time, read my gurus’ work for inspiration to start your joy journey.

Andrea B is my favorite blogger (and not just because she’s a friend).  She gives real, tangible ways to bring meaning and purpose to your life.  It’s that simple.

Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist addresses the many ways minimalism helps live life to the fullest.

Until then, Love and peace…and joy!

Kristina

Mommy Playdates

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Today was playdate day for my 2 girls (both 9 years old).  They invited a friend to come over and play with dolls today.  So the mommies (already good friends) had a playdate also and it was great!

I came up with my new list after reflecting on the festivities.
(Don’t tell me you don’t have a list for everything…because I know you do!)

Why I love having friends from all walks of this life:

1.    Friends empathize.  I don’t feel so lonely when I find out I’m not the only one that has a deep and abiding appreciation for photography, Audrey Hepburn quotes, and babydolls.  Nor am I alone in my neuroses including anxiety and OCD tendencies.

2.  Friends speak truth.  There’s no excusing the canvas art that sits on my mantle, collecting dust, since Christmas.  Yes friend, I’ll get the tools, you tell me if I’m hanging them straight.

3.  Friendships cultivate motivation and accountability.  Quotes from the mommies on playdate today (which had morphed into a full-scale living room rearranging and decorating project):  We can do it!  Let’s just get it done, then there are no more excuses.  Let’s rearrange the furniture so it’s more open and functional!  I’ll go to the store right now, we can buy the supplies and rearrange before the hubby gets home…it will be great!  Yes, you should put your yoga mat in that spot so it’s visible.  You can ModPoge blocks to cover that wall in art…just do it!

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BEFORE: crowded. messy. not terribly functional.

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AFTER: speaks for itself.

4.  Reliable friends are sweeter than honey and treasured more than diamonds.
“Let’s do this again…we can tackle the dining room next time.”
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May nobody ever come between me and my friend.  She is mine forever and ever.

Seeing people

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This is a repost from a note I wrote on FB just over a year ago.  I love it because it became a forgotten treasure and because it means so much to me.  I am still sad that I am not able to offer my children the same worldview I was given.  It’s such a rare thing to be so unbiased because of total immersion into a specific culture.  It’s something I’ll never be able to completely understand or effectively communicate to others…but those are just more reasons to treasure it.  Enjoy!

Many of you may not know this, but I “grew up” in adult foster care homes.

My parents and grandparents gave me a gift.  I was able to experience very formidable stages of early childhood development while being entirely immersed in a world unheard of by most and unseen by nearly all.

I was a newborn in a house that was home to my parents, me, and a group of deaf and developmentally disabled adults.  These figures of my earliest memories were former residents of institutions.  Some were still young and adjusted quickly to living in a house, back in their community.  Others had only known institutional life.  My first home, was their first home.

I learned to crawl with one goal in mind: to reach the kitchen linoleum where I could sit up and form a simple gesture with 2 chubby hands that would magically conjure up a cookie (as in, someone recognized my infant version of American Sign Language sign for “cookie” … to my mother’s dismay).

I potty trained independently (well, not quite…but I figured it out without Mom’s help).  Poor Mom thought I was dehydrated after changing so many dry diapers.  Those handicap rails in the restroom acted like a chin-up bar for my toddler arms.  I hoisted myself up…and how proud I must have been!

Later on, in a home full of sweet elderly residents, I learned to tell time by telling an blind resident where their carrots were located on their plate: “Carrots at 12 ‘o clock, chicken at 3 ‘o clock and bread at 6 ‘o clock.”

I learned how to jump rope because an energetic resident showed me how to tie the rope to a tree while they held the other end.  I jumped for hours, making up rhymes…they swung that rope for me, any time I wanted.

I saw life birth itself in bodies that had been abused, neglected, and abandoned.  I knew nothing else other than this.  This was life.  This was joy.  This was family.

I loved those souls, as much as a young one can.  I saw ability, strength, and hope.  I saw how humans live together and support each other.  I saw a give-and-take that my poor excuse for cooperation pales in comparison to.

I was given a gift.  The gift of truly innocent, unprejudiced eyes.

I grieve because that gift has faded.  I grieve because I know so many were never able to experience what I had.

I saw humans.  I saw people.  And I saw them, from the inside, out.