The Easiest Thing You can do to Change Your Life ASAP.

Here are two of the gratitude items from yesterday's gratitude journal entry.
Here are two of the gratitude items from yesterday’s gratitude journal entry.

I remember when I was a kid, maybe 10 or 11 I saw on Oprah that she writes down 5 things she’s grateful for every night before bed. I started doing this feeling like this would be more streamlined than my usual journal session about my day.

Unfortunately I stopped doing it, I’m not sure why but here I am 20 years later and I just started up my gratitude practice again. April 19th, 2017 to be precise and I can honestly say it has changed my life. Here’s the craziest part, nothing has really changed, at least not from the outside, I still have the same old car, my son is still awesome, my husband still works the same job, we still have our two old ladies (dogs) and I believe I weigh the same, if not more than I did when I started (thank you pregnancy).

Nothing new, but I no longer see all of it the same way. I used to hate and resent our cars, they’re old and there’s always something wrong with them, but now I’m just thankful to have them. Things, like a cranky baby or two dogs who believe they also have umbilical cords attached to me don’t bother me like they used to. I no longer see my husband’s job as taking him away from us, I see it as my opportunity to stay home with Julian and pay our bills.

And as for the extra padding, well, I’m working on it, and by working on it I mean working to love myself more, not working to get rid of it. As I told a friend recently, 2nd trimester isn’t really the best time to start P90X, but instead of feeling down about myself I realized, thanks to gratitude journaling, that I can work on the way I see myself.

It’s not about being perfect, it’s about accepting, loving and living your life right now, not when you’re rich, or have a 6 pack (beer or abs) because if you wait until you have all the things you want then you’ll never be happy because you’ve trained yourself not to be happy.

There were days when I sat down to write 5 things and thought “this day was absolutely horrible, I can’t even think of one thing to write”, but I didn’t write that because I thought to myself, in 20 years looking back through this do I want to read about how horrible my day was, or do I want to read about the good things? Trust me, you can find 5 things to be thankful for, even if you have to get creative. Sometimes just waking up in the morning (despite the horribleness of the day) is something to be thankful for, the flowers in your neighbor’s garden can be a thing. Your gratitude list doesn’t have to be life changing like buying a new car or remodeling your kitchen, they can be small, like wearing your favorite outfit.

And know that as you keep it up it will become easier for you to find things that were great about each day, now I usually have to decide which things I want to add and which things to leave out.

It’s not that tough, just spend the 50 cents on a notebook and start. It’s the cheapest and easiest thing you can do to change your life.

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Hour of Power

Not really but I’ve stayed at home with my son for over a year now and it took me about that long to find a balance between cleaning like a madwoman when the house was a total disaster and not cleaning at all.

The problem is when I’d spend the day cleaning because the house was a wreck I would then be too tired to enjoy it, and anyone with a toddler knows how quickly your house becomes messy again. The problem with not cleaning at all was that the house quickly became unlivable. I’d look at the mess and feel my energy levels plummet.

But there had to be a balance between cleaning all day and not cleaning at all, and I found it. I got a little portable bluetooth speaker, this is what I have, it’s great, and I listen to music or podcasts in the bedroom, kitchen or wherever I am. While I listen I clean. Sometimes I purposely pick podcasts that are around an hour, sometimes I just go until the kitchen and living room are clean.

I’ve found that at first I had to time myself because I was so behind and could have spent all day cleaning but now I’m caught up and I’ve figured out a system. I realized if I keep the living room, kitchen and dining room clean everyone feels good and keeping those areas clean usually takes me about a half hour to an hour. This usually includes dishes but doesn’t include laundry, although I’ve started implementing the same strategy with laundry. If I’ve got a good audiobook or podcast I will gladly fold clothes all day!

And at the end of the day I don’t feel angry or resentful because I only dedicated an hour (or less) to keeping the house clean. Not only that but I also fee more at peace with my environment, I feel content and happy, I feel inspired because I can concentrate on something other than the horrible messy space. My husband feels happy because he doesn’t have to do as much when he comes home, maybe a few dishes from dinner, or maybe toss the toys that escaped back into Julian’s play area but that’s pretty much it.

Now here’s the other caveat, and this is something I remember from when my brother was a toddler and something my husband has struggled with. I rarely clean up Julian’s space. Why? Because I don’t want to do it after he’s gone to bed and have him think that elves will clean up after him, I also think he’s too young to understand cleaning up, and I simply don’t want to do it, especially when I see him taking things out, throwing things and messing up his play area as soon as I can tidy it. What I try to do is join him in his play area, we read and play and then he sees me tidying up but I do not compulsively clean up his books and toys, just a little here and there. Sometimes he gets what I’m doing and helps and sometimes he just continues making messes faster than I can clean.

This is fine. And do you know why? Because I’ve accepted it. I’ve tried to limit his toys, I also try to rotate through his toys so they are new and fresh, and because the other option is madness.

If you don’t mind picking up after your toddler all day, be my guest, as for me, my kitchen is clean, the floors are usually vacuumed and I’m quite content with that.

Julian's Play Area
Julian’s Play Area – Amazingly those 5 blocks have stayed in their holder for over 24 hours now. This is truly a miracle. Please note however that the area around said blocks is a complete wreck.

Easter Bunny Madness

Last Easter my brother in law and his wife were visiting to see our son, who was nearly 2 months old at the time, and while they were here we decided to go to the mall on a rainy early spring day. When we got there we realized we could see the Easter bunny, which wasn’t something that was on my radar at the time but funny nonetheless so we did it.

Julian was gracious enough to wake up long enough to see a big furry creature holding him and look in the direction of the camera and that was that. This year we decided we should probably go see the Easter Bunny again because he’s older now and it might be more fun. Right?

We were wrong. Apparently now that he’s older and wiser he’s come to realize the Easter Bunny is terrifying and scary. So I set the increasingly upset toddler on the poor Easter Bunny’s lap and stepped away far enough to get a few photos and that was that… Within minutes after we left he calmed down and today he happily toddles around the house talking to the dogs, watching cars out the window and being generally happy.

I guess the fact that it’s a creature unlike ourselves is a little scary, or as my mom said maybe when he realizes the Easter Bunny brings candy and goodies he’ll change his tune, but either way I have to admit this year’s Easter photo is pretty funny and although I was hoping for a smile or at least not a terrified crying photo, you don’t get to choose.

Julian meeting the Easter Bunny 2017
Julian & the Easter Bunny 2017
Julian meeting the Easter Bunny 2016
Julian meeting the Easter Bunny 2016