BEST SELF, HOME, MY TRUTH

Still Cleaning House // The Struggle is Real

03/21/2019

Today I am struggling. I mean, really struggling.

I am feeling tired, burned out, easily distracted, excessively hungry, overwhelmed and lost – to name just a few of the current feelings swirling in my body.

I am in full cognitive realization that so many of these feelings stem from many consecutive nights of poor sleep which has only been compounded by attending a late night event this past weekend. Topped by the fact that I can tell with certainty that my monthly womanly onus is rapidly approaching.   

But in this moment, I am struggling.

I have decided to write about these feelings today because I believe in authenticity, transparency, and honesty – and this is my truth. I am going to actively work out my feelings as I write now, and once I have posted I am going to go meditate and possibly take a nap. Because, well, I can – and self care is important.

For the last few years I have been working to focus on decluttering our house, organizing what we have, and working towards a more minimalistic household. As I sit in front of my computer and write this, I look in front of me, to my right, to my left, and then behind me and I have to laugh. Minimalistic – ha. Our house is full! Full of stuff everywhere! Books, papers, workout gear, pictures, plants, dog beds, children’s toys, drawings, paintings, magazines, clothes….stuff!  Everywhere – stuff. I am overwhelmed.

I know. I know. First world problems.  And not just first world – at the very least middle class first world problems.

And as I think about this in greater detail a wave of guilt washes over me.  

We don’t need this stuff. Where did it all come from? Gifts, purchases, hand me downs. And the joke is that we probably have less than most average American families, but it is still way too much, and I feel like I am drowning in the pile of stuff. Yet, I have such a hard time letting go of certain things.  

Now, mind you, I have read Marie Kondo’s book “Spark Joy” numerous times (and tons of other books on minimalism) and have gone through the process, eliminating bags and boxes of stuff from our home. In fact, I go to Goodwill on average once a month to do a run of 1-3 boxes of things we want to donate.  We keep a box in the closet at all times and as soon as something no longer sparks joy it goes in the box and off to Goodwill at the end of the month.

So how is it that I am still surrounded in so much? I mean, part of it is that I am not the only one living here – and with kids, there always seems to be things entering our home.

I also have a bad habit of checking out too many library books at one time! I seriously have 14 books checked out at the moment! WHAT?!? Seriously. You are probably thinking “That is ridiculous Jess!” because that is indeed what I am thinking when I admit it in writing. As a result, even though I don’t own the books I am still having to make space for them.  And I certainly cannot read 14 hard copy books within a 30 day period – I mean audiobooks sure – but I am not even a speed reader! So, what am I doing to myself, other than drowning my space in books, and making myself feel bad about not finishing them?

And then I have my own bookshelf of unread books! So what am I doing borrowing books?  Over the past few years I have let go of boxes and boxes of books that I was holding onto and currently only have about 30 books I own. This is a huge accomplishment because I easily owned more than 5xs that amount when I started and have acquired more along the way. I LOVE books. I mean, I really love them. I love the feel and the touch. I love the raw knowledge held inside or the adventure it will take me on. But, let me admit something else. I hardly ever read! If I get 10 minutes of quiet time a day to put a tangible book in my hand, I’d say that is generous. I am trying to carve out more time to do so, but that is the truth. However, audio books? Well, that’s my jam. I can easily go through a book a day and sometimes more. The problem comes in when the book I want to read doesn’t have an audio book version – then I check it out from the library and it sits on my desk glaring at me, making me feel overwhelmed – or I hold onto copies of books I eventually want to read, that I do in fact own.

I know I just need to let go and say goodbye, and perhaps repurchase the book at a point in my life where I can invest the time into reading it, and that is probably what I will end up doing, but that won’t happen until at least a few nights of good sleep.

Okay – self rant over, now onto what really broke me this morning.

My kids.

I have a great kids. I mean, truly fantastic, A+, amazing, loving, thoughtful, creative, brilliant kids.

But, they are kids – and they are MY kids – which means that cleanliness is not something that came built into their DNA.  In fact, I personally have to work daily on it, so is it fair of me to become so frustrated that they don’t have it down pat?

A lot of my organizing and reorganizing is with them in mind. The question I try to answer is how can I make cleaning the easiest for them? I have created bins that they can just throw their toys into – without any rhyme or reason – just a big bin to get the toys off the floor.  I spent a good majority of the day cleaning yesterday and getting rid of more stuff and making it even easier for the kids to keep their room clean, by removing their dressers and adding bins for their clothes. BUT NO. It seems that wherever they go, mess follows.

Have you ever heard the saying “Cleaning up after kids is like trying to brush your teeth while eating Oreos” or “Cleaning up after kids is like shoveling snow during a snowstorm”? YES and YES!  

Well, this morning I lost it. I mean, I completely lost it. Because rather than getting dressed, toys were being played with and left out, and around the house, sleeping clothes were left abandoned around the family room, and neither kid was ready to walk out the door on time. And when I brought this up, the attitude ensued and mommy lost her cool. I yelled a bit and then dropped my tone into the serious I mean business tone that the kids love so much (not!). On the walk to school I discussed my overall expectations for them, disappointment in recent behavior and attitudes, and how I need it to change immediately. I forced hugs and I love you goodbyes at the school drop off despite us all being really frustrated with each other and came home to eat my feelings – hello almond butter.

And I feel awful, because even more than wanting to teach my kids how to clean up after themselves and stay organized, I want to teach them to treat people with love and kindness and not give into anger – and today I did not lead by example. Yes, I am human and we all break down and have our moments – but there were probably many things I could have done to prevent this.

On my walk home from school I called my husband in tears and we talked it out. He helped me identify several easy changes that I could make to help minimize the chance of finding myself in this position again.  

  1. He pointed out that although listening to my audiobooks while making dinner and cleaning the kitchen brings joy in those events – it also disconnects me from others around and keeps me from being present. WOW – so true! I’ll be hanging up the headphones other than if I am actively running or home alone doing chores.
  2. Second, I need more sleep. And he encouraged me to take a nap.  What a guy!
  3. Third, I need to lead by example.  Rather than spending the time to clean up after others, I need to simply focus on cleaning up after myself.  If I hang my jacket over a chair back rather than in my closet or on the coat hook, then I am in fact giving everyone permission to do so. I am far from perfect in my own behavior, I just don’t have a mom looking over me reminding me that I’m doing it wrong.
  4. Forgive myself and move on. That’s all we can do right? Move on and try not to repeat the mistake again.

I am glad the kids aren’t here for the moment and that I indeed have some time to meditate and take a nap today – because I need it. But, I am also longing for them to come home from school so that we can reconnect and explore as a family the best practices that we want to tackle for keeping our home clean and inviting for all of us. I could also use a hug.

Alright. Rant over. Thanks as always for going on this journey with me. I’d love to hear your own struggles with child rearing and housekeeping – plus any tips or tricks are always greatly appreciated! xo

BEST SELF, HELLO, MY TRUTH

In Front of the Camera

03/15/2019

Last week I had the opportunity to engage in a portrait session with a local photographer.  He had reached out to me via Instagram and asked if I was interested in a session to help him build his portfolio.

At first I was very skeptical thinking that this may be some sort of ploy, but after some due diligence to make sure that I was not corresponding with an individual with poor intent, I agreed.  I thought it would be a unique opportunity to get in front of the camera rather than behind it. Jon Meadows, the photographer and owner of High End Headshots here in DC, is wonderfully talented and he is currently working to expand his portfolio from headshots into high end portraits, geared towards women.

I found this to be somewhat ironic, because in what feels like a previous life in Florida I had specialized in both headshots and beauty portraits. I had always wanted the opportunity to get dolled up and have my portraits taken by someone else.  And now I had the chance!

We discussed outfits, time, location and once all was squared away all I had to do was show up! I made my way down to the studio via metro, completely anxious about being the subject of the photos. The majority of images I have of myself are self taken through a timer and tripod rather than another individual – or taken years ago by my dear friends who are also photographers.   

I got there and Jon was incredibly sweet. We talked about his career and family and he put me at ease regarding my total awkwardness behind the camera. It is ironic that once upon a time in my teens and early twenties I had hoped to have some sort of career in front of the camera – mainly through acting – and yet, here I was at 38 beyond awkward. I am awesome at posing others, but I could not for the life of me figure out what to do with my body, hands, or even my facial expression. The  look he was going for in the session was more serious or pensive rather than my normal toothy grin – so I found it a little more challenging. I tried to channel my inner most Tyra Banks and “smize”, but to be honest, when I peeked through the gallery I had myself in stitches over some of the images where I was trying to nail the look – total fail. Oh well – perhaps I need to get some practice under my belt.

Jon was patient with me however and guided me through the process, even allowing me to look at the images on his tethered laptop and adjust as needed. In the end he captured some really great images. The experience was one that I feel incredibly grateful for. It was a little humbling, but it left me with a handful of wonderful and priceless images that I would have otherwise never had.  It also has reminded me of how far I have come in regards to my own health and wellness journey – and still how far I have to go in regards to self confidence and continual self love.

It is odd, because often I feel a lot younger than I actually am and my confidence a lot lower than I let on to be – especially as I feel knee deep in the journey of self discovery – but yet, when I look at the images I see a woman, not a child –  and a confident woman at that. A mother, a wife, and overall a woman who is capable of what she puts her mind to. This session gave me so much more than pictures and I am forever thankful for that.

Without further ado, here are my portraits.

 

If you are interested in finding out more about Jon and his work, check out his website at https://highendheadshots.com.

ART, GETTING CREATIVE, POEMS

Poems of Motherhood

03/07/2019

I believe creativity needs to be stoked in all areas of life. So today, rather than an article or story, I share with you three poems that I wrote about motherhood. I hope you enjoy!

 

Time to Go

20 minute countdown

You announce to all.

Not a flinch from the children

As you make your call.

 

“Did you hear me?” you say

To your daughter and son.

They nod and continue

To play and have fun.

 

The seconds tick by

And turn into minutes.

You announce “15 to go

You’d better get with it”.

 

You leave the room

to get yourself dressed

And upon returning you see

That the kids are a mess.

 

No shoes are on,

No jackets in sight,

Every toy on the floor

You’re ready to fight.

 

But you keep your calm

And say “We’ve got to go!”

And they fire back

“Why didn’t you tell us so?”

 

Well there goes your temper,

You lose your cool.

You’d think today

Was the first day of school.

 

“We do this daily”

You say with a tone.

So they know you mean business,

You put down your phone.

 

“Every morning you get dressed

And ready by eight

So we can be out the door

Without running late…

 

You know the drill

You don’t need me to tell you

It has been the same routine

Since you were age two!”

 

The shouting continues

Everyone’s mad

And you think to yourself,

“Do they do this for dad?”

 

You continue to nag them

Until they’re ready to leave.

You make it to school

by the skin of your teeth.

 

You made it! Success!

You give kisses goodbye.

You take a deep breath

And let out a sigh.

 

You start heading home

Knowing this isn’t the end,

Tomorrow morning

It starts all over again.

 

Then your smile spreads wide

And the stress fades away.

Because you realize with joy

Tomorrow’s Saturday.

 

 

The Elusive Cup of Coffee

Oh coffee coffee

In the pot

How I wish I could drink you

When you were hot.

 

My cup of Joe

Sitting all day.

Let’s warm you up

In the microwave.

 

Yet you sit again

You are such a tease.

Can I just have you all

In one sitting please?

 

It’s the end of the day

I pour you out with sorrow.

Knowing full well I will

try again tomorrow.

 

Murphy’s Law

Have you met Murphy?

A good friend of mine.

A charlatan, trickster,

And stealer of time.

 

He’ll bait you and trap you

And get you to play.

His games always spin off

In the most inopportune way.

 

You see, he has created a law

Which is his all alone.

A law that affects you

Once you are grown.  

 

And if you’re a mom

You are surely in luck,

Because Murphy likes to play

With your offspring like such.

 

If you stay up too late

on a Friday night,

He’ll wake your child at dawn

With no nap in sight.

 

If you are running behind

For an appointment at noon,

He’ll instigate a tantrum

Before even leaving the room.

 

Meltdowns, spills, and blowouts

That rub you raw,

Are the tell tale signs

Of one “Murphy’s Law”.

 

So watch out for him

Because he is waiting for you,

When something is important

A game will ensue.  

 

 

Copyright © 2019 by Jessica Regan. All rights reserved. Poems and articles or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author.

 

All poems are

BEST SELF, INSPIRATION, TIME FOR CHANGE

The Struggle with Self Doubt

02/28/2019

There is an overpowering amount of self doubt that is seeded in our lives from a young age.  Teasing, taunting, and terrorizing both internally and externally. We see these behaviors through our peers, the public, and of course our own personal thoughts.  

How is it that we come into the world bright eyed and bushy tailed excited to be the next princess, doctor, astronaut, ballerina, firefighter, professional athlete, and president and end up losing sight of these dreams before we’ve even began to work towards them.  I know there is a reality that not everyone will become the next president and perhaps it is even less likely for one to become a princess, but the meaning behind the statement lies within our lack of belief in the possibility for the remarkable to happen. It is as if we lay down and give up on being much above the status quo.  Why is this?

I have many theories of why and how we lose our passion, but in all honestly there is no true difficulty in figuring out how we lost our excitement for life, so we will focus instead on how we get it back.

How do we change our viewpoint in life and start believing in something bigger than ourselves?  When my daughter was four year old daughter and I would ask her what she wants to be when she grows up she typically answered with only one response – a princess.  And when she did, I would look into her big brown eyes and say “Yes. And if that’s what you want, that’s what you shall be”. Who am I to say that she will not become a princess?  I do not know her future any more than I know the answers to world peace. Her future is yet to be determined and I want her to know that in fact, anything is possible.

I try to remind myself of this as well. When working as a counselor at a local university counseling center, I often made comments that I am still trying to figure out what it is that I want to be when I grow up.  They typically look at me and laugh because from an outward perspective it would look like I am fully immersed into my professional life, but I then and still now I can’t seem to squelch that inner thirst for more.  That internal feeling that there is something bigger out there and that I have yet to figure out my professional destination.  Despite having various certifications and degrees, I simply look at these as stepping stones in my journey and I am just as curious to what I will be when I grow up as I am to see what my daughter too shall do with her life.  

I would bet that most of us still experience that burning for more.  The longing to make a difference. To have an impact, whether it be in our families, in our towns, in our cities, in our states, or even worldwide.  Being great does not mean that we will each reach superstar status and walk the red carpet or have a street or building named after us. It simply means finding our peace in life, our happiness, and perhaps our own personal meaning.  This means something uniquely different to every individual. We each are born with so many unique gifts and talents that we yearn to share with others, but yet we often keep them within because at some point in our lives we believed that we were not worthy of success and we stopped putting out the effort to reach greatness.

I truly believe that the world is abundant.  There is enough space for each of us in this world to be great.  To shine. To find our place. It is not the opportunities that are limited, it is our belief.  Our belief that we too are capable and deserving. We live in a society that preaches scarcity and drives us to fear.  When we live our lives scared of what may happen we limit our ability to grow into the person we can be. The person, I believe we were meant to be.

Having worked with a college population in a counseling setting, there was often a lot of anxiety around career choice and areas of study.  The narrow thinking when it comes to career choice was very apparent during conversations about career. I would often hear statements of struggle when students realize despite deciding that they wanted to be a doctor at the age of 8 that they do not actually enjoy the course work and are having second thoughts about their career field.  To challenge their mindsets in regards to possible careers I like to ask the question “How many people in my graduating class do you think strived to work for Google upon graduation?”. They look at me a little perplexed as they have no idea how to answer this question, knowing nothing about my graduating class of course. I only give it a moment of awkwardness before I say “zero”.  I then ask if they know why, and of course I typically get another blank stare as a result. I then inform them that the reason that none of my classmates had any interest in working for Google, a highly sought after and prestigious job opportunity, is because it did not exist. The career we may be best suited for, the piece of the puzzle that may help give us a feeling of purpose, may not even exist.

So we must ask ourselves, what would we do if we were not afraid?  What if we were incapable of failure? What would our lives look like?  

I believe that the one thing that separates most of the population from those we view as great is the ability to preserve regardless of fear.  The ability to look at their fear and anxiety and let it drive them rather than to stop them.

Now, that said I think there are a minimal amount of people who can naturally, without much effort, live in this world without self doubt and fear penetrating the majority of their thoughts.  I can say that it is something I struggle with not just daily, but often moment by moment. It takes an active choice to look that fear in the face and choose to keep walking forward regardless of its monstrous grin.  And some days, I just don’t have the energy and I curl up in a ball and go to sleep – well, metaphorically at least. 

I have to constantly remind myself that the world is abundant.  That there are gifts to be had that we cannot even imagine. I struggle with the feeling of self doubt far too often myself, but I’m continuing to work on pushing through my fear and putting myself out there for new opportunities and experiences. I try to take at least one step each day, whether big or small in the direction of my passions. We’ll see where it all takes me, but for now I’m simply trying to enjoy the journey.

If you weren’t afraid – what is it you would do?

 

BEST SELF, HEALTH, TIME FOR CHANGE

Sleep – Tips & Tricks for a Better Night!

02/22/2019

Since beginning The Hourglass Project a few of years ago, I’ve really been trying to reflect on how to achieve balance in my life.  Despite the ups and downs and unexpected turns – I’ve really been able to learn a lot about myself and what I need to help me stay centered in my life.  My experiences have only made me more confident that the fundamentals of The Hourglass Project – sleep, activity, and nutrition while paired with a focus on mind, body, and soul are truly the keys to finding happiness.

Each time I find myself off kilter in regards to my personal mental or physical well-being, I can honestly say that it is typically connected with my neglecting one of these areas.  The most common culprit for throwing off my balance is lack of sleep.

Sleep seems to be the most pivotal component to finding balance.

I do realize that all together so many behaviors that are better for our health are easier said than done.  But instead of focusing on trying to change all unhealthy elements at once I’d encourage your entire focus to be on taking one small step at a time towards better sleep, because without good sleep, it is extremely difficult to achieve sustainable, healthy changes in our lives.

Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way in regards to help improve your sleep.

First, schedule is important!  Anyone with kids can tell you how true this is.  From the point we are born our body craves structure.  Having a relative schedule that we can stick to in regards to sleep is important.  Now sometimes this is impossible, so just do your best, but if you have the ability to construct a bedtime and rise time for yourself I highly encourage you to do so.  Having a set time you go to bed helps tremendously in allowing your body to get on a schedule. It’s kind of like muscle memory. Go to bed at 10 o’clock every night and when that time rolls around your body will naturally tell you it is tired and ready for bed.

Second, cut out caffeine – as much as possible.  I know that it may be asking a lot to ask you all to give up caffeine all together.  I mean, I drink coffee so who would I be to tell you to stop, but it is important to be aware of how it affects your body and your sleep cycle.  Often times we do not think it affects us because we have consumed it for so long, but we cannot see the actual effect until there is a substantial absence of the stimulant. When I am working to get my sleep back on track I will abstain from all caffeine until I am successful. So, try cutting back on caffeine or cutting it out all together.  At the very least find a time in the morning to be your cut off point. I make sure not to have caffeine after noon because I find that on days I do, I have difficulty shutting my brain down at night.

Caffeine is a chemical and has a half life, it takes time to get out of our system and even though it seems to wear off throughout the day it does have a lingering effect which can affect us even 12 hours later.  So my advice, follow my lead and cut out all caffeine intake after 12 pm. Or even better 10 am!

Third, get into a routine.  So beyond just setting a schedule, create a routine for yourself.  This again is similar to the muscle memory. If you follow the same routine every night of getting in your pajamas at a certain time, drinking a soothing glass of tea, and cuddling up with a good book (not electronics!) your body will start noticing these cues and work to shut down your body. You will notice over time that your body will be able to get into relaxation mode faster and just simply getting into your pajamas may trigger a sleepy response.

And lastly cut out other stimulants beyond coffee.  This means get away from your computer, your television, and your smartphone.  The bright lights, noises, and data that come from each of these products are stimulating to your brain and do not allow you to unwind.  Additionally, the stress from checking last minute emails can be detrimental to your sleep cycle. What I suggest is to sleep with a notepad next to your bed and write down any “urgent” thoughts that may come up as you try to get to sleep so that you can deal with them first thing in the morning.  Most of the time these urgencies are not truly urgent and can wait til morning, we just fear that we will forget. In the morning take your list and read through them and attend to any truly pressing matters.

If you can handle it, I suggest sleeping with your phone in another room completely, or at least on the other side of the room so you are not tempted. If you use your phone as an alarm clock – invest a whopping $10 in an old school digital plugin and throw that excuse in the trash. Your health and well being is well worth the small investment.

Follow these basic tips and you should see a significant difference in your sleep quality within a few weeks.  But remember, change doesn’t happen overnight, so you have to trust in the process and give it time. I’d love to hear if you have tips or tricks of your own to share – or if you’ve tried these techniques, how they’ve worked for you! Comment below!