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This November I’m learning that

The road to happyness is paved with a lot of pain. [tweet this]

I'm discovering this through a new project I'm working on.

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I’m participating in NaNoWrimo.  Those of you familiar with this can probably already stop reading (just kidding, please read on).  In case you don’t know, November is National Novel Writing Month and NaNoWriMo was set up for those who wish to participate in the challenge of writing a novel in thirty days.

That’s 50,000 words in thirty days to be exact. ...continue reading The Road to Happyness is Paved With….

title button 8-31-13

 

...the DIY life planner that is...

A few weeks ago I started this post but didn't finish it.  In the spirit of commitment, I've finally finished it, with an update at the end.

Aug 7, 2013
This week has been one heck of a roller coaster.  We are on the cusp of H's trip overseas and the recent events in the news had left me feeling more anxious than I've been in, well, ever.  I've never had that big of a problem when H had to go and do his thing in a third world state where likely danger was at every turn and I'd go days without hearing from him.  Heck, it meant not feeling obligated to do much of anything in the way of domestic duties.  The girls and I would watch Gilmore Girls every night and eat mini dinners that don't require any cooking.  We'd lounge around and let the house slide a little.  Hey when the cat's away the mice will play right?

This time, however, I've been really struggling.  I've been experiencing a level of fear I haven't felt before and catastrophizing (thanks C for that handy dandy piece of vocabulary).  I've been overwhelmed with thoughts surrounding the worst outcome.  And it's a dreadful feeling.

The worst part is I know internally that I'm being ridiculous.  The monologue inside my head goes something like this:  What if {enter horrifying catastrophic earth shattering scenario here} happens?  What would I do?  How would I cope?  Is there enough life insurance?  Should I keep the condo or sell it?  And then I plan (because I'm nothing else if not a planner):  I'll keep the condo as a rental and live off the income.  I'll move back to North Carolina or Colorado to be close to friends so the boys and I have a support system.  Or maybe I should go to Indiana or Chicago?  And then I start kicking myself:  What is wrong with you?!  Everything is going to be FINE!  Stop being so ridiculous!  Get over yourself already!  Followed by rationalization:  Well, I may be ridiculous, but at least I'm not oblivious.  It's always good to be prepared.

Then, finally, I remind myself of our family mantra:  Everything Happens for a Reason!  

Now, I'm sure a lot of you out there are saying, "Hey, there's a diagnosis for that!  It's called Anxiety!"  I agree, I probably would be able to check all the little boxes on the anxiety questionnaire at the doc's office- but remember I'm a DIY-er!  I'm a BIG proponent of sorting through your fears and learning about yourself in the process.  I firmly believe it's the process that matters most- and without that process you cannot evolve as a person.  Nevertheless, I did ask my doc at my checkup a week ago and she said the defining factor is if your fear is seriously interfering with your day to day activities.  While I can admit to having some lack of focus (who wouldn't in our situation?), I cannot say I'm incapable of performing every day tasks.  A close friend of mine, whose battled with this from time to time, said that I would know if I hit that wall- because I literally won't be able to get out of bed to start the day.  I'm definitely not there and have no intentions of getting there!  I figure that I'm self analytical enough to prevent that from happening.  I'm also extremely self aware- and that is a huge difference between me and someone more oblivious.  She also said- knowing me quite well- to make sure I wasn't trying to control the anxiety.  The more I tried to control and rationalize it, the worse it would get- which totally explained the repeating spiraling snowballing effect that had taken place all week.

So here's what I'm doing:

1-  I'm going to stop trying to control the fear.  Instead I'm going to take ownership of it and acknowledge that it's a natural thing to be feeling in our situation.

2- I'm going to practice yoga breathing and meditation more.  My days fly by so fast sometimes I can't even tell you what happened on what day of the week.  Which leads me to the next point:

3- I'm going to {try} to live more in the moment.  I'm sure there's some good scripture somewhere for this.  Maybe Abby can help me out with this one!  If I truly practice our mantra then at some point I need to stop worrying so much about 2 months, 2 years, 2 decades down the road, and I need to focus more on the here and now- so that I can perform at my best in the here and now.  I think this is a huge character trait/flaw that us planner types battle with.  If I don't live more in the moment, then the here and now is going to fly by and I'm going to miss it!

4- I'm going to be more accepting of the here and now.  We've had our eyes on getting out of Nova at the earliest opportunity and we finally have it.  If all goes well, we will be leaving next June.  (There are some exciting things to come- just can't chat about it yet- but hopefully Practical Happyness will be going on all sorts of new adventures!)  Obviously, I'm over the moon excited to move next year- and I want it to happen yesterday, and if I'm not careful, it's very easy to get so cranky and bitter at the fact that I'm not getting my way right now, that the next year could be quite miserable for everyone around me.  It's one thing to live in the moment, it's an entirely other accomplishment to see the good in the moment even when you are not in the place you want to be.   Also, nothing is ever set in stone, and I need to keep that in mind, because if things fall through and we are sent on a different path, then it will be for a reason!

5- I'm going to take at least ten minutes every evening for myself- to enjoy a glass of wine or tea, sit in the quiet and reflect on the day.  I'm not going to blog surf or window shop on line until I'm too tired to think straight and then go to bed dreaming of DIY projects and that Eddie Bauer sweater I saw!  I think this will simply be good for the soul.

Still- I'm feeling unnerved about H's trip- but at least I have some tools to cope, and this post to read and re-read to remind myself of my goals.

What do you do to ease your fears?

Love and Happyness to All!

~M

Update: 

So after all this, H's trip got postponed at the last minute- and he is still home for now!  So- Everything does happen for a reason!  And maybe my fear and anxiety wasn't all for naught- maybe my gut was telling me something.

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I was perusing the news this evening and stumbled across an op piece about how the US is raising a nation of savages... (click here for the full piece).  In the bit, Todd Starnes discusses how devoid of morality this great nation of ours has become.  Just this last week we've had news of 3 teens killing a jogger for sport, a teen hunting kittens because he was bored, teenagers shooting an infant in the face because they want money.  Arriving in my Facebook news feed was a link about a group of young men in Tennessee who, in 2007, brutally tortured and murdered a couple because they felt like it.  (Glenn Beck discusses that here).  As I let these things sink in I reflected on how I agreed or disagreed with Starnes and how, as a young parent, I would try to raise my sons differently.  I, too, fear the things that Starnes and Beck fear.  Love them or hate them, here are my thoughts:

1- I agree that parents have failed to raise their children with the morals and values necessary in order for them to be productive in our society.  I do not, however, agree that this void is due to a lack of church.  We are a Christian household, and while our principles and morals are largely cemented in the Good Book, I do not for one second think that this is necessary in order to instill basic humanity and morality in our children.

2- Parents have lost touch with their child rearing instincts.  I have watched parents around me succumb to whatever someone else tells them with regards to raising their children.  I've watched them give in to mainstream experts.  I've watched them stare over the neighbors fence to see what everyone else is doing so they can keep up appearances with everyone else.  I've watched mothers "stay at home" to do their nails, instruct their maids and complain about how hard it is raising their children- while their children are raised by the television or the advertising in shopping malls.  I've watched those same fathers appear in and out of their lives as apparitions because they work too much, only to overspend on Christmas, Birthdays, and vacations in an attempt to assuage their own guilt for never being around.  I've watched the children and teenagers of these parents learn hard and fast how to play both sides to get what they think they want out of life.  Everyone from our preacher to our doctor to our teachers to our television are telling us how to raise our children, while continuously making us feel inadequate and incompetent as parents.  I had a daycare director tell me that R's reflux was akin to my son having "special medical needs," that something was seriously wrong and if we didn't fix it then he would be developmentally challenged as he got older--- all from his reflux.  The funny thing is that she has never had a child herself, nor actually been a day care provider- she was a manager of people, a business person, pushing her own agenda.

I've also watched single moms work two jobs and make it to the school musical production to support their child, dads take time off just to have lunch at school with their kid, whole families venturing out together just for the sake of doing something together.

3-  I agree that the large scale production of violence via television and video games is influencing our children in ways we never thought imaginable.  However, I think the influence of these things is also a failure of parenting.  H and I have already had the luxury of raising teenagers in our house and here is what I can tell you about video games:  We didn't allow them!  Not a single one in our home.  There is no Playstation or Xbox- not even an old fashioned Atari.  And we won't budge on this with our own boys either.  The way we see it is they will get enough of this stuff at their friends houses- why do we need to have these distractions in our house?  We want them to get outside and explore the world- it's better to just keep the temptation away.  And when they complain?  TOO BAD!  We are the parents!  We make the rules!

3- Which leads me to my next point:  Parents need to grow up.  Women need to realize that once you have a child, your priorities should change drastically.  And if they don't, then you are simply doing it wrong.  That doesn't mean you are supposed to exchange your soul for raising children.  It just means that maybe you should play with your kids instead of dragging them to the salon with you.  I think if a man still feels the need to have his video games as a married adult, then maybe he needs to re-think whether he should be procreating.  I understand that will likely offend a lot of people- but that's just how I see it- especially when I've heard so many complaints from women about their boyfriends and their video games.

4- Parents should take care of themselves, and their marriage, first.  When you have kids your priorities completely re-allign.  But you cannot sacrifice your marriage or yourselves for your children.  You have to remember who you are.   Keep up the yoga, the running, the girls night out, the poker night (when you can- because we all know in the first couple years it just ain't happening!).  If you lose who you are, then you have nothing to serve as an example for your children.  Is that what we want?  For our kids to look up to thug musicians and reality TV stars because we've so lost ourselves in being taxis for our kids that we can't even have a dinner with our spouse?  I want my boys to see that our marriage is the foundation of our family- that H and I take care of each other and adore each other- and that sometimes that means they are going to shock! come second.  Family should be the priority- and a healthy loving relationship with your partner is the foundation of a healthy family!

I really feel like what's happened in our country is that everyone has become completely polarized.  Parenting comes in two styles:  overbearing, overindulging, overopulent  or the complete opposite- so absent that the parent child relationship no longer exists.  And I'm finding more and more that some families start off as overbearing and overindulging, only to cross over to the absenteeism when their children become adolescents.  It is as if parents think that once they hit high school, they must compete for popularity with their kids friends, or with other parents.  And this shift takes place at precisely the time when children need more structure, discipline, and guidance.  It really is very sad.

However, I do feel like there is a subtle resurgence of couples who want to raise their children to appreciate the amenities of the modern world, but to live by the old school values that are long missing today.  Almost all of our friends with young children see such horrific things on the news perpetrated by idle teenagers and we are all appalled, as anyone with a soul would be.  What's interesting to me though is that we are all discussing these issues and how to raise our children to prevent these things.

I've also recently been reading Kevin Hartnett's blog, Growing Sideways.  I can't remember exactly when or where I stumbled upon his work, but it has truly been a source of wisdom for myself as a parent.  He writes about friction and cohesiveness in parenting, and how he and his wife strive to embrace the friction and maintain cohesiveness in their family.  H and I feel largely the same way.  Our priority is family, but not some notion of family sprung upon us by generations before or by mainstream media.  Our definition of family is largely one of balance and fit for each family out there.  Our generation of parents are highly analytical and we strive for methods that will instill confidence, pride, and accountability in ourselves and our children.  We are a DIY generation that believes we can approach parenting from multiple angles, using the many tools available to us as we see fit.  We use positivity to guide, watch PBS Kids, play barbies on the floor, jump in the rain, lose our tempers, love our partners, enjoy good wine, and have junk food nights.  We have messy houses and messy histories.  We continuously learn.  We admit mistakes.  We are intuitive.  Regardless of race, creed or sexual orientation, we believe the foundation of good parenting is a desire to raise children to be responsible, polite, driven adults.  We believe it can be done, this blending of methodologies and philosophies to shape the next generation in a way that will maintain morality and create better cohesiveness in our families.  This is why I still have faith in our Nation.

Love and Happyness to you all!

~M

Road to Happyness Title

...no matter how hard you try.  Sometimes the thing that is supposed to support your road to Happyness is the very thing that can hinder it here and there.  Practical Happyness is supposed to be my outlet and my stress reliever.  It is, or is supposed to be- a gathering of my thoughts on marriage, parenting, motherhood and womanhood, with a hefty dash of humor and sarcasm, a sprinkle of DIY projects and crafting.

And then there's that damn stats bar graph to my upper left hand corner.  I had a momentous and proud moment this past week- my blog hit over 1,000 site views.  It means that someone out there has felt compelled to click on my link shares on parties and blog hops that I've participated in.  It means that at least a handful of people have been interested in what I have to say on my little blog!  I was riding on cloud nine until my little Happyness bubble burst when I saw that some of the blogs I avidly follow have upwards of 30,000 posts a month, one of the 90,000!  Instantly my mind went in to research mode-  What can I do to get more hits?  I need to post more often.  I need to revamp my design.  I need to buy my domain name and become a {dot}com.  I need to be a part of more networks.  I need to take better pictures.  I need to post more projects.  Suddenly my blog to do list became as long as my house to do list that is plastered on a wall in the kitchen.  Such is the life of an introverted type-A perfectionist like myself.  CG would agree wholeheartedly I think.

My crazy home to do list...
My crazy home to do list...

And of course when this happens, I get a good case of don't-know-what-to-write-about followed by an epidemic of crazy-long-exhausting-kids-work-family-week.  I have 15 draft posts that I've titled because I come up with ideas and create the draft with the title so I can come back to them later.  So far I only have done ONE of those because most of them are related to ongoing projects in the house.  The other night I was sitting at the kitchen table trying to cram in a post after agonizingly trying to master the new theme {I hope you all like it!} I selected and figure out social media buttons- all with a cranky teething reflux-y baby fussing in his swing and a toddler running around ordering me to "go sit in the chair NOW!"

HALT RIGHT THERE!  It was in this moment that I realized I had gone down the road I said I wouldn't....I had been sucked up in to the frenzied world of mom blogging.   I have fallen head first in to the mom blog rabbit hole.  My online journal of love had turned in to another job.  And I already have three jobs- wife, mother and my real world full time gig that helps put food on the table.  My priorities had gone out of alignment again.  They needed a chiropractic adjustment.  Little P was yelling at me to sit in the chair in the corner of his room.  He does this when he just wants company.  He doesn't want us to play with him, he just wants us to sit and watch.  I sometimes grab a glass of wine and use it as my time to decompress.  I'll sit Little R in his bouncer next to the chair, enjoy my wine and drink in the wonderment of my eldest son's imagination.  I was trying to remember the last time I did that...and couldn't.

Thank you, Lord.  I needed that pan-over-the-head reminder of what's important in life.  

I see this as a teaching moment in Happyness.  I AM good enough.  I can't be perfect and I can't work four jobs.  A once-a-week post will have to do for now.  And I'll share it when I can.  Link parties are not as important as a dance party in my son's room.   Impeccably documented DIY projects are not as important as doing an art project with my boys.   Mastering widgets is not as important as consoling Little R when he's having a rough evening.  {Before anyone jumps to conclusions- he wasn't screaming or anything, he was just not a very happy camper at the moment}  Reorganizing my linen closet or kitchen for the blog is not as important-or as FUN- as getting outside with my family!

I'm vowing to remind myself that this blogging thing should be FUN and INSPIRATIONAL.  I don't have to live up to anyone else's stats.  Through Practical Happyness I want to be an example of how a mom can balance work, marriage, motherhood and hobbies and maintain her Happyness.  Which means making sure I take care of the family, my work, and myself.

So there you have it- my little lesson in Happyness for the week!

How do you like the new design?  And how do you stellar mom bloggers balance your blogging time with all your other duties?

Thanks so much for visiting!  Love and Happyness to All!

~M

Just to prove I do indeed have happy little ones!
Just to prove I do indeed have happy little ones!

I happily share at these parties!