Forgiveness and Letting Go…

Forgiveness. The final fork-in-the-road decision where one must choose between love and hate. It’s when we can’t go forward, backwards, or up, until we choose left or right. Do we choose to forgive and let go of the hurt and sadness that’s consumed us? Or, do we choose to hold onto it, and never forgive? It is ultimately one of the biggest decisions we have in life, and if we choose wrong, it could haunt in the shadows and burden daily.

I was always one that held onto things for a while, until eventually the emotion came out with tears and I forgave. My mom thought it weird that I’d be crying over something from months before, rather than crying that very day the hurt first hit my chest. Call it strength, or call it weakness. Either way, I was able to let go of it, to truly deal with a life situation.

I truly feel my life is blessed, and that God has only given me challenges He knows I can take. That being said, it wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies growing up. With my parents at a constant disagreement, or rather a lack of understanding for each other, inevitably it led to their divorce. If I could say one thing about divorce if in any way to help educate others, it is this- divorce scars more than just the two that sign the parting papers. It hurts the children involved as well- they are losing half of their lives too.

It’s a very weird reality to live in. All of a sudden, Christmas is no longer the same white Christmas tree dressed in garland of red. Instead, it’s driving here and driving there. It’s a constant back and forth and I’ve felt like a yo-yo being played at the hand of divorce. I have moved on from my parents’ divorce. Both my parents have as well and are in new marriages. But, divorce really doesn’t go away, ever. I feel it’s a long battle on that road to forgiveness. No, I don’t want to start a “parent trap,” but I do miss that white Christmas tree.

Forgiveness is letting go so that we can move on with our own lives and not be pushed around by that word lurking in the shadows. For me, my word is divorce. To forgive my parents so that I can move on with my own life, trusting that someday I will have a successful marriage.

I can only hope that everyone else is able to move on faster towards forgiveness, sooner than later and choose love over hate every time. If forgiveness is something you just can’t do, then at least think about it. Come up with all sides of the situation and truly understand it. Work daily on trying to let go. You may not forget whatever the hurt is, but you will find a way to forgive so that you can live on. Find something important to you like for me it is writing, and find a healthy way to exercise forgiveness. Because one day, it will all blow away with the wind, leaving the shadows, and taking the heavy weight with. Forgiveness is freedom. And we have to work on it every day.

 

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Healthy, Stress-free Spring Cleaning

 

Let’s get serious. Not everyone enjoys cleaning. I’ll be the first to admit I love spring cleaning, but it doesn’t magically happen all in one day. To be honest, I’ve been working on my spring cleaning for a couple weeks now. One thing I’m consistently told by family and friends is how much of a clean freak I am. Every time guests are over, they always comment on how clean my home is and how organized it is, and commenting on the decor. Surely I do appreciate their kind words, yes I do work hard at keeping a tidy home. But to some, it just doesn’t come naturally, (and I try hard not to laugh) but for example my mother. She gets overwhelmed at the thought of cleaning an entire house, stresses at how much her to-do list continues to grow. And the thing is, I completely understand how overwhelming it could be if one doesn’t enjoy cleaning. This is why I’ve compiled my secrets and methods for keeping a tidy home.

Cleaning Supplies-Baking soda, Dawn Dish Soap, Lemons, Clorox Wipes, Distilled Vinegar, Vinegar Windex, Broom, Mop or Swiffer (not Swiffer wet jet, unless you pick up pets’ food and water dishes), cleaning brush for kitchen, toilet, and a small cleaning brush for everything else. Vacuum & Carpet Shampooer, cleaning rags, lemon Pledge, and any special cleaner you may need for your furniture. For laundry I love to use Tide Pods, Downy, and Oxi Clean-no bleach please! You can always find gentler cleaners that meet your standards.

The major misconception in spring cleaning, or rather any cleaning your home may need, is the idea that it all has to be done in one day. Even for the best of us, we cannot do it ALL in one day. Here are some tips I use on a daily basis to keep things in order. The main thing is to do one thing at a time, and to do SOMETHING every day.

  1. Always, always start in the kitchen (Brew the coffee!) 20 min
  2. Start the laundry 15 min
  3. Dust, clean glass, & pick up living-room 15 min
  4. Vacuum & mop 20 min
  5. Fold laundry & start dinner 30 min
  6. Write down any organizing project you have 
  7. Plan a day to shampoo carpets
  8. Freshen up your home (the fun part!)
  9. Clean the bathroom another day 45 min
  10. Breathe, relax, repeat

First things first, you must set out a small notebook on your counter so you can write down any groceries or supplies you need the next time you go shopping. This way, if you’re in the bathroom and notice you need supplies, write it down. Next, start up your favorite playlist! The secret is to dance and have fun while you clean, it makes the time fly and before you know it you have so much energy to clean everything!

The kitchen is rather simple, and my favorite (because food is in the kitchen). Clean out your fridge of leftovers and check the dates on all condiments. Throw those dishes in the dishwasher and wipe down the counters. Check your pantry for any supplies you may need. To help me remember, I usually write down what I used in preparing meals that way I know I’ll never run out. Don’t go overboard in the kitchen…yet, spend maybe twenty minutes max then move on.

The key to spring cleaning is to have a clean home to begin with, then you can move on to that deep cleaning. Note: having dirty dishes in the sink does not mean you have a dirty home, it means you know how to cook! 

Use the time between washing and drying clothes to make your bed, put things away in the living room, clean litter box, clean your coffee maker using vinegar, water plants, bake banana bread or cookies (don’t worry about making more dishes, it only takes 5 minutes to clean them up later). As soon as the laundry is dried, fold it immediately and put away. Tip: buy towels, linens, even under garments all WHITE. This makes laundry day very easy. White is easier to see if it’s dirty. White is also traditional and aesthetically pleasing to a clean freak, but certainly not what everyone must have in a tidy home. You’ll want to do as much as you can while waiting on laundry so you don’t get tired out. One method I use is a timer on my fridge. I time my laundry and that way it breaks down chunks of time you have in the day. There’s more time than you may think. If you are exhausted from work every day, take half a day (or less) on the weekend to do your cleaning and the other do your grocery shopping. If you have children, ask them to help out. Get them involved by playing music and having fun. Don’t bark orders, simply let everyone clean what they want. Start simple…do a quick fifteen minute clean up before starting an organizing project.

Projects. Mini or big. My father always has a project that he is doing. He’s a carpenter and loves to keep busy. I’ve learned to do the same. Whether my project is writing an article, organizing the pantry, learning a new recipe, or researching healthy cookware, one must always have a project they are working on. It keeps our mind busy and gives us something to do. Your project should not be something you write down on a to-do list. This is something you WANT to do, off the page. It could take all weekend, one day, or all week. My recent projects were shampooing the carpets, researching my family history on ancestry.com, organizing the bathroom cabinets, and working on my second novel. Your projects do not always have to be cleaning related, but rather anything that makes you happy and organizes your life is some way.

The bathroom takes a bit longer to clean. This is why I always do the bathroom when I’m good and ready, once a week. Tip: I leave Clorox wipes under the sink that way I can wipe down the sink or toilet every other day as needed. It’s simple and keeps your bathroom clean!

The easiest way to clean a bathroom is start in the tub. Sprinkle baking soda and Dawn Dish Soap all over and scrub clean with a small cleaning brush. Your tub will sparkle in less than fifteen minutes! Don’t fall for the commercial harsh cleaning supplies. Simple is better. I don’t know about you, but when I clean, I don’t want to be breathing in bleach or gross cleaning supplies that eat away the skin on my hands. With baking soda and Dawn Dish Soap, I don’t even wear gloves. Next, put some toilet bowl cleaner in the toilet, let it sit. Tip: If your tub drain needs to be unclogged, pour whatever you typically use first, let it sit with the door closed and fan on before you start any cleaning. I like to open windows when using any chemical, and walk away so I don’t breathe it in.

Use Clorox wipes on the rest of the toilet (kills 99% of germs with no bleach). You can use the baking soda and Dawn Dish Soap on the sink as well. I use the vinegar Windex, not blue on the glass mirrors (probably the only chemical cleaner I have, do spray it with the fan on and walk away for a minute). Sweep and mop or Swiffer.

One thing to keep in mind is to form habits. Good cleaning habits. For example. Every time you mop your floor, make it a habit to clean your pets’ food and water dishes. Sweep 2-3 times a week. Don’t clean everything all at once, but rather like I mentioned earlier, do something every day. It only takes a fifteen minute clean-up and one small project a day to keep your home tidy. The main thing is to love your home. When you love something, you take care of it like your own baby.

The bedrooms should be designated for their own days. Make the beds everyday if desired (I don’t make my bed everyday, only when guests are coming over) but always put fresh clothes away. If you start with an organized bedroom, you shouldn’t have much to worry about here on a daily basis. If your bedroom is crowded, or always looks messy, than maybe it’s time to get rid of all that crap. Simple is better. Now the closets are another story. We all want to go out and buy new spring and summer clothes, am I right? Well we need to make sure we have an organized closet first before we spend money on a ton of clothes we may not even need. I will typically go through and see if there are any pants that I’d love to turn into shorts. My grandma does an awesome job of “cut-offs.” It saves you money and you use what you have. Keep in mind, you don’t want to “get-rid” of all those sweaters and winter clothes, but rather, organize them so they are out of the way for summer.

Food. Make what you want, not what you think you should make. The worst thing to do, in my opinion, is to completely go on a certain diet and change your kitchen to reflect it. The key is to start small! So, you want to go all organic do ya? Well, start small. Next time you go shopping and you need supplies, make those supplies organic. Don’t go out and buy a ton of organic supplies just to say “I’m going organic!” because you really won’t have any clue how to use those supplies and you’ll end up wasting money, confused, and overwhelmed. Learn which healthy foods you love and how to incorporate them into meals. Don’t be afraid to fail! If you are one that likes to eat out a lot, try making a homemade dish once a week. You’ll end up loving it so much that the following week you make it again, plus an additional homemade meal. Next thing you know, you’re making all your meals homemade at home. Start small! Start small! Start small! And don’t feel bad for starting small! It took me a couple years to figure out how to cook meals my boyfriend and I both enjoy and that are healthy. It doesn’t happen overnight, the important thing is that you try. Tip: if you read a health article from lets say the amazing Kris Carr, don’t be overwhelmed to do everything the way she does it. If you see something you’d like, try it. Just get your foot in the door, and begin learning about your food and health.

Check out my article A Lesson on Cookware to see why I love Le Creuset cookware in my organized kitchen.

AND FINALLY…

The Spring Cleaning Checklist after a clean home…(remember one day at a time)

  • Shampoo carpets & all rugs
  • Wash comforters, throws, curtains, and purchase fresh colors if desired
  • Organize cleaning closets, cabinets, pantry
  • Check all food items best buy dates in entire kitchen
  • Go through closets, donate any unwanted spring & summer clothes (keep winter clothes) why? You may be sick of the winter clothes and get rid of pieces you may want next winter. It’s best to get rid of pieces you know you won’t wear in the current season.
  • Find bird feeders, plan garden, and order flowers if normally do
  • Clean wood decks, patios, etc.
  • Replace any flour, sugar, etc. in canisters if needed, best to refresh
  • Clean drains, garbage disposal, and dish washer
  • Try to think of spring as cleaning rather than buying new
  • Check smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarm
  • Replace any light bulbs & filters for water purifiers, air purifiers, etc.
  • Clean/dust fans and ceiling fans/light fixtures
  • Make any doctor appointments, dentist, eye, etc.
  • Are your taxes done?
  • Clean out your vehicles, do any maintenance, oil changes, etc.
  • Replace any old make-up, purchase a new nail polish color for the season
  • Organize filing cabinet that contains bills, statements, etc. if not already done
  • Get a haircut
  • Take time for yourself, you’ve earned it!

 

Happiness Is Free

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I think at some point, in all of our lives, we start asking the question why. Why am I working at this job? Why am I here? And why can’t I? Just over a month ago I quit my first job after college. There are some things that simple won’t keep me at a workplace, and this was one of those things.

I’d wanted to quite the entire year I was there. Not because of the job itself, but rather because of two individuals. (Props to you two that got promoted on lies and scandal). I however, have moved on and along with moving on, I’ve learned a little bit more about myself, and I am proud.

It takes a strong individual to constantly try to be perfect in the eyes of others. What I’ve learned is this. It takes an even stronger individual to accept imperfection if it means doing the right thing. This was the case with my job. But lets forget about that now.

A month of summer has had a rejuvenating spell on me. Everyone has to work to make money. Money buys things, and therefore makes us happy. Can we be happy without money, or less than what we’re used to? Or for that matter, can we be happy with less-than-perfect lives?

Can money really buy happiness or is it free?

Some of the happiest people I know don’t have a lot of money. Others that do, seem so uptight and worried all the time about having enough. Where does the line have to be drawn?

When a hummingbird migrates North after spring when all the flowers are in bloom, do you think they worry about having enough money to travel with? Or do they fly carelessly, needing only the earth to survive? What makes us anymore special than that of animals or birds? A brain?

Why are so many things just so not important? If life is short, than why not live it happily? Why not do what you love and in the process make money? If living happily can mean imperfection, too, then sign me up because I’ve heard from a little birdie that happiness is free.

 

Living in a Summer Haze…

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Living life is more than simple breathing. It’s the awareness of living by means of sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing.

How does the air feel on your skin? Does the air smell like the sandy ocean? Or does is smell like fresh-cut grass? How does it feel when you see your feet barefoot in the grass, running like a child through a sprinkler and tasting drops of water as they fall to your lips? Can you hear the giggles?

Living is more than simply not being dead. It’s being alive, awake and alert that your body, mind, and senses are real. Living is enjoying these wonders while they last.

Have you ever stopped and just watched a hummingbird drink nectar as it’s perched? It’s like the whole world is in slow motion in that one moment so something so small can taste a sugary necessity.

Living is seeing these beauties and recognizing they are here, before they fly off quickly like the hummingbird’s wing.

Life throws obstacles at us, two at a time. It frustrates us and leaves us drained. It’s a sadness, really, when one cannot see the beauty and real purpose of life. With the way the world is going now, the earth needs us to see the real problems more than ever. Temperatures rising higher and higher. What will the breaking point be?

I had a dream the other night of a tree catching fire while a hummingbird with it’s nest stay protecting it’s two babies the size of dimes. Does she fly away from the fire, leaving her two babies behind or does she stay like Jin in the TV Show Lost, never leaving his loved one Sun, even if that means dying with them. I woke up before the decision even had to be made.

It really got me thinking about what really matters in life. Living, loving, and dreaming to understand a little better, sort things out. When we sleep we ponder on things for hours. When we wake up, the answer is so much clearer. The mind is fascinating, and we need to keep it close to nature and love for others and this earth. Compassion is in all of us.

Whatever it is you are doing, make sure you do it with a purpose. A purpose that betters something or someone in need. Whether it be a person with sickness or an animal in need. We are here to make this world better, not destroy it. So take time to see the beauty and discover the things that truly matter in life. Bring happiness where sadness is, and find love where hate has been forgiven. See the bigger picture. We are all here together, living on this earth.