It’s been 5 days and I don’t know how many hours since I found out I have Fibromyalgia.  What started out as a routine doctor’s visit for flu-like symptoms that went on for way too long, became a couple of weeks of multiple blood tests, referrals to the rheumatology department, follow ups, and now a diagnosis.

Yep, buckle in for one of those therapeutic posts that I so desperately need so I can get it all out.

Not knowing what Fibromyalgia is, the doctor might as well have said Cancer.  For every question she answered, I had ten more.  I’m grateful that I was assigned to an extremely patient Rheumatologist and that my husband had a day off to go with me.  I don’t think I would’ve had the strength to drive home that day.

The word fibromyalgia comes from the New Latin and Greek meanings:
fibro meaning “fibrous tissue”
myos meaning “muscle”
algos meaning “pain”

I, of course, did what I always do.  I researched it.  I read everything I could possibly get my grubby little hands on.  I wanted answers.  I wanted explanations why this happened to me.  I wanted a cure.  I want it to go away.

What I’ve learned about Fibromyalgia since that day:

-nobody really knows what causes it
-it’s incurable
-women are 10 times more likely to develop it than men
-there is medication to treat specific symptoms, but not the disease itself
-stress triggers flare ups
-my history of medical problems all lead back to Fibromyalgia
-it wasn’t all in my head

…and so much more, these are just the ones that stand out.

One symptom isn’t Fibromyalgia, it’s a combination

Since last Thursday, I’ve had several panic attacks, breakdowns, bouts of anger, moments of clarity and of course, moments of determination.

What now? 

As is my nature, I allow myself 2 minutes a day to be overwhelmed, cry and get it all out, before I suck it up and put on my big girl panties.  Those that know me, know that I’m not a crier.  I don’t like crying.  I don’t like chick flicks.  I don’t get emotional over babies.  The way I see it is that I’ve had a lifetime of crying in my last marriage, that I’ve made a conscience effort to not let things into my life that make me sad. 

Now that I know what I have, my health history is making a ton of sense.

Pelvic Problems

For as long as I can remember I’ve had girl problems.  Heavy periods, occasionally painful sex, several miscarriages, two extremely difficult pregnancies, bleeding fibroids and ultimately a hysterectomy.  I haven’t had any issues in this area since the hysterectomy, until about a few months ago, I found out I have ovarian cysts again.

Digestion Problems

Self-explanatory.  I’ve never been huge on food.  I eat to live, not live to eat.  Now I know it’s because everything I put into my mouth, makes me feel sick.

Weak joints

I can’t count the amount of times I sprained an ankle, kinked my neck, or had joint pain.  What I do know, is that massage therapists need a frequent flyer discount card.

Fibro Fog

I don’t think I’ve had full fibro fog, as described by the doctor, but I have always had memory problems.  Simple things.  I think it’s the reason I refused to study the night before a test because nothing stayed in my brain.  5 minutes before a test was the only thing I ever need to ace a test.

Sleep Disturbance

I’m one of those that if you wake me, that’s it, I’m up.  No going back to bed, no matter how tired I am.  I never thought anything of it.  However, between that, restless legs, morning aches and tingling limbs, I now know it isn’t a normal thing.

Anxiety/Depression

This is a fairly new thing for me.  I’ve always been a planner, but I attributed that to OCD.  Little did I know, it was a coping mechanism to prevent anxiety.  I never considered myself an anxious or depressed person, I still don’t.  However, the doctors did 7 years ago.  I have to say, I was extremely ashamed.  I was put on meds that were horrible and turned me into a zombie.  I hated them and refused to take them, they made me feel worse. 

Also, I was going through an extremely tough time in my life, my marriage of 15 years was over and as we all know, divorces aren’t an easy thing to go through.  I’ve since, made it out on of the other side of that and other than an occasional co-parenting issue, I’m good.  If I would’ve known then about my Fibromyalgia…well, let’s not finish such sentences.

Pain & Fatigue

I’m putting these two together, because for me, they go hand in hand.  I’ve never not had either one in my life.  I honestly can’t say when the last time it was that I was NOT in pain.  Pain has been a constant for me.

Most of the time time it takes a history of symptoms for a diagnosis, which is why it usually isn’t diagnosed until mid-life

Why have I put all these out?  Why this post?

Mostly for me.  It helps to see how it’s been there all along.  It’s been an invisible constant.  It wasn’t all in my head.  I feel slightly vindicated for all those times I just couldn’t move, for all those sick days I took, for all those missed dates, events and parties.  I’m grateful I listened to my body enough to know that it needed rest. 

But I also put this out because people just don’t know how invisible this is.  I don’t have any physical deformities and I never will.  I look healthy, but I never have been.  I have smiled through the pain because I don’t have the strength to do anything else about it. Lastly, I put this out there because I hope that when I look back at this day, I’ll be able to see how far I’ve gone.  What has worked for me, what hasn’t and I hope it helps others along the way.

What now? 

Considering there is NO treatment and it will never go away, I figure I have two choices, lay down and die or get up and work through it.  I’m here, so you all know what I chose.

Currently I’m a human pin cushion.  I’ve chosen acupuncture for pain management, which is huge for me, because needles make me faint.   I don’t want drugs, because it’s a lifetime commitment at this point and nothing will cure this for me.  So I’m addressing the symptoms and that’s about as much as I can do, other than to have a voice.  I’m looking into CBD oil as an option for pain management, but only as a last resort.

What do I know for sure?

My life is going to change drastically.  It has to if I want any kind of relief.  I have a wonderful life, a great husband and two incredibly amazing daughters to live for.  Nothing has changed with this diagnosis, but it’s going to. I’ll keep learning along the way.  Do what works for me.   I’m still me.  I live with pain.  It won’t defeat me, it hasn’t yet and I’m determined to keep it that way.  I have Fibromyalgia, it doesn’t have me.

-Sandra

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We spend so much time chasing happiness, we resolve that it’s something tangible.  The horrible truth is that you can’t hold it, can’t wish for it, can’t buy it, because it’s a state of mind.  It’s a choice.

Happy when” is a killer to “happy now

How many times have you said:
“I’ll be happy when…I meet the right person to marry...I finish school...I get that promotion. 

How silly does it sound reading that?  I’m sure you’re thinking that if it was that easy, everyone would make that choice. Well, not everyone knows that it’s choice to make. For some, even though they do know it, they’re skeptical. But it is that easy.

How has this been kept a secret? It hasn’t.  Happiness is a state of mind. It’s your perception of what makes you happy. Which is exactly why my idea of happy is different from yours.

Too often we focus on getting to the finish line of being happy that we don’t focus on making our “now” happy. Choose to be happy in the moment. Be happy with the progress you’ve made, be happy with the person you’re with, be happy where you are.

We grow what we water.

Don’t water the negatives in your life that are keeping you from being happy. Focus on all those little things that make you happy. For instance, it can be as simple as being happy that your spouse loves you, works hard for you, loves to have conversations with you and rushes home at the end of the day to be with you. How can that not make someone happy? But if your focus is on those long hours they put in at work away from you, that conversations are mostly about the topics they’re interested in, that they took the long way home to avoid traffic, aren’t you just looking at things that steal your happiness.

What you focus on is what you attract.

I know, it’s so cliché to ask you to look on the bright side. But the reality of it is, that if we train ourselves to do just that, have we not just added to our happiness? Didn’t you just say you’d do anything to make your “now” happy. It’s that easy, finding the happiness in everything. Once you change your view, you no longer chase happiness, you just are happy.

Happiness Disney QuoteEver wonder why Disneyland is the happiest place on earth?

It could be Walt Disney’s perception due to the amount of money Disneyland makes. Maybe it’s because kids are so entertained by the simplest of things. Possibly it’s because parents can take a break and not have to entertain their kids themselves. Maybe, just maybe, it’s because you’ve now shifted your view from being in the real world with real problems, into a world of fun and fantasy where your problems don’t exist.

I’m not saying live in a fantasy world, but by all means, shift your perception. Change how you view happiness.  It doesn’t have to be elusive or far away. It can be right now.

I’ll leave you with a prayer we say every night with our kids to teach them gratitude and how to be happy in the moment.

Dear God,
Thank you for another wonderful day.
Thank you for everything you’ve done and everything you continue to do.
Such as putting a roof over our heads.
Food in our bellies.
And love in our hearts.
-Amen

It may not have been a wonderful day, it may have been a long tough day, but being grateful that we had one more day alive, is enough to make us happy about it, whether good or bad. By the same token, we may not live in a mansion, but we have a home to come to, a bed to sleep in, food to eat, and a family that we love and love us back.

Sometimes it’s the little things in life that we forget about, that make us happy. Like a light switch, just switch your perspective and you’ll find, you’ve been happy all along.

-Sandra

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Divorce and the 5 Things I didn't ExpectPeople don’t understand the ups and downs of divorce unless they’ve gone through it. Everyone learns at their own pace and have their own “ah-ha” moments, these are just a few of mine.

1. The person you married isn’t the person you’re divorcing. 

I married the boy next door (actually, across the street). I had known him my whole life and would’ve bet everything that our divorce would be civil. Boy, was I wrong. He became a person I no longer recognized. If I would’ve met this version of him from the get-go, I would’ve ran, fast!

2. You lose so much more than expected. 

It’s not the division of assets that throws you off, that’s an expected part of divorce. It’s the division of friends and family. Those people that you welcomed into your home, that were there for huge milestones, that had your back. You don’t just lose them to your ex, you sometimes lose them because they just don’t agree with your decision to divorce.

3. You’ll be treated like a failure.

No matter what you believe. Especially if you believe you’ve done the right thing. There will always be those that treat you as if you’re a failure. You’ll get the “oh, you’re divorced?” with the head-tilt-of-pity. As divorcees, we beat ourselves up enough about this one, but to have to face everyone else’s judgement of your decision is just horrible.

4. It’s not over once you sign on the dotted line.

I wish I could have had a mulligan. Hindsight is 20/20 as everyone knows. If we knew then, what we know now, we could’ve saved ourselves a whole lot of heartache. However, that’s not how life works. Divorce is a process, especially if you have children and have to co-parent, it’ll take a very long time for some sense of normalcy to roll around.

5. Divorce leaves you jaded in a way you don’t anticipate it to.

It might not necessarily be a bad thing. I’ve learned what I’m just not willing to put up with within a relationship. You get real, real quick, with the people around you and all that additional BS that comes with the relationship dance, goes out the window. Those boundaries might have been there before, but you don’t have that misguided notion that things will eventually change into what you really want. My second time around, I approached dating like a business meeting. Weeded out what I couldn’t live with, accepted (wholeheartedly) what I could live with, and enjoyed the ride and truly fell in love.

Here’s the thing: to each their own. 

It took me a long time to even pull the trigger on my divorce, so much longer than I would’ve done, had I not been listening to everyone around me. No one lived my life. No one cried my tears. No one even held my hand through it. But I survived.

Why am I not miserable you ask? How did I survive?

I made things easy for myself. I gave myself a break. I allowed myself to feel every single emotion. It was a 15 year marriage. You don’t get over it overnight. Most of all, I reminded myself of what my grandmother taught me, “he who gets mad, has 2 jobs, to get mad and to get over it”. I decided to go straight to getting over it. I exhausted my energy on that, rather on being mad and jaded and miserable and resentful. I was worth more than that.

It’s unfortunate that ‘divorce’ still has the stigma that it has. However, pulling myself out of a situation that was unhealthy for myself and my children is the best decision I’ve ever made. Stigma or not, that’s everyone’s else’s issues and I don’t subscribe to those. I subscribe to being surrounded by the strength of those that have been there for me and those that have gone through a divorce and understand what coming out on the other side means. Divorce equals being strong enough to value yourself enough to leave an unhealthy situation, it’s not failure. Failure is staying and being miserable in a marriage long after it’s over.

-Sandra

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5 daily reminders for successful coparentingSaying goodbye to a loved one, whether alive or not, is not an easy task. Let’s just acknowledge that an ending, any ending, is usually very hard.  Having gone through a divorce, I have to say, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.  I know not everyone has the same experience and I envy those that have had an amicable divorce from the beginning.  But usually, the word divorce is synonymous with heartbreak, pain, stress, etc.  Obviously, if we were on the same page, we wouldn’t be divorced.  But we’re divorced, what now?

I’ve learned that as much as a marriage is between two people, everyone in your life usually takes a side. Our families divorced, our friends divorced, teachers took sides.  Who knew there were so many people in our marriage?  All that doesn’t matter now.  What happened in our marriage is over, but what happens from here on out is what matters.  The mental and emotional health of our kids is what matters.

In many cases, mine included, it’s an uphill battle.  It hurts, and when people are hurt, they tend to want to hurt those that hurt them.  Everyone heals differently.  The easy part is over, signing on the dotted line and ending the marriage, regardless of the division of assets and such.  The hard part is the co-parenting.  It’s taken 7 years for us to learn how to co-parent and it’s still a learning process, but we’re getting there.  Every situation is different and there are tons of advice I can give, but below are the top 5 daily reminders that kept me sane and fighting to successfully co-parent.

Learn Some Emotional Intelligence
  1. Learn to NOT be reactive.  Understand that you and only you are responsible for your reaction no matter what is done to push your buttons.  There truly is a thin line between love and hate and when you have loved someone so deeply and it’s gone, it’s a normal reaction to jump to the other side.  DON’T.  Love them for the person they are.  Love them for what they brought into your life.  Remember their good attributes.  Focus on the positive.  There are plenty of them.  Hurt is keeping you from seeing them.  After all, you did fall in love with them.  Remember why.  Not to fall back in love, but to not fall into hate.  At the end of the day, they are half of your child and if you hate them, aren’t you also hating that half of them in your children?  For the love of your children, keep it positive.  If they push your buttons, acknowledge it for what it is, hurt trying to hurt you back.  It’s okay for them to be hurt, they will lash out.  Acknowledge it, let it go, and address the situation.  Mom was right, be the bigger person.  Not because they don’t deserve a piece of your mind, but because your kids deserve not to be in a tornado of emotions and fights.  Divorce is hard enough on them, don’t make it harder.
Pick Your Battles
  1. I think this applies to all relationships in your life.  Does it really matter that your ex, was 5 minutes late to drop them off?  Or that they’re wearing two different socks?  Focus on what matters. Are they happy when they come back home?  Did they have a great time with your ex?  Don’t be hurt, they love you just as much.  Encourage them to have a great relationship with your ex.  You can’t be the buffer for them anymore.  They’re no longer your spouse to tell them what to do.  Unless you are at a place that you can co-parent and communicate about your children, then encourage your kids to speak up on how they feel.  My kids appreciate being able to speak their voice and not having mom doing it for them and my ex realizes that it isn’t coming from me.  The more they speak their mind, the less resistance my ex had towards me and the fewer battles we had between us.  During the divorce, everything seemed like a fight, and afterward  It wasn’t until there was a consensus that the kids come first, that we had a much easier time communicating.  For us, it didn’t happen at the same time, I begged for a very long time for us to ONLY focus on the kids and put them first, but everyone has to work through their own issues to get there.  I’m just grateful we’re finally at a place that we can do that and not EVERYTHING is a battle.
Acceptance
  1. Accept they will be in your life for the rest of your life.  Soak that in for a moment.  It seems simple enough, but it’s not.  We found that it wasn’t over at the divorce finalization.  I wanted to get away from him and vice versa, but we had kids.  There is nothing worse than being granted that divorce and realizing that you still have to deal with them for the rest of your life.  It sounds horrible.  Here’s the kicker, it’s not for you.  What wouldn’t you do for your kids?  Now add biting your tongue for the sake of them having a happy childhood, with both of you.  Could you take away their happiness in order for you to be happy?  Nope.  So accept that you may no longer like them, no longer be married to them, but you can never take away the fact that they are your kid’s parent as well.  No matter what the court decides in regards to visitation, holidays, etc, they have the right to a relationship with them as well.  The quicker you accept it as a fact of life, the quicker you can focus on more important things.  You have birthdays, graduations, weddings, grandkids and more ahead of both of you, why make it miserable events for your children?
This Too Shall Pass
  1. Pain doesn’t last forever unless you give it life.  Everything in the moment seems magnified. Love. Divorce. Death.  But as time passes, these too shall pass.  When it seems hard, breathe.  Remember that you are further today than you were yesterday.  Keep in mind that your kids deserve all the happiness in the world.  Resolve yourself to be that ray of sunshine for them.  They grow, they go off to school, they live their own lives, and they’re not home forever.  Why not make those years the happiest regardless of what’s going on around them?  If your ex can’t find it in them to make your kids happy, they’ll eventually have adult kids that will make them answer for it.  Don’t worry about it.  Do your part.  Controlling other people and what they do or don’t do for your kids isn’t an option, only what you do is.
Put The Kids First
  1. I know, you think this probably should be first on the list, but the reason it’s last on the list is because learning to co-parent is a process and there will be days you just don’t have the patience to do anything else on this list.  Do this one, if you can’t do anything else.  Our kids didn’t ask to be here; they didn’t ask for the divorce, they didn’t ask for the mess, so they shouldn’t have to face the consequences of our actions.  We decided to have them and they were made in a moment of love.  Don’t begrudge them that love because you no longer feel it for your ex.  Your kids are a daily reminder that you once loved someone so much; you created a life with them.  Although they no longer hold that love anymore, you owe it to your children to continue to love them as deeply as you once loved their other parent.  Consider all that pain you feel and everything you’re going through as a bullet.  What parent wouldn’t step in front of a bullet for their children?  Do the same with that emotional baggage you’re carrying.  Protect them.  Divorce is an adult situation that is yours, not theirs.  You divorced your spouse, not your kids.  Keep it that way.

At the end of the day, these are always easier said than done.  I can’t speak for everyone and every situation, only myself.  This is what kept me sane.  This is what helped on the path of successfully co-parenting.  This is just my situation.  By all means, the children’s safety is the number one priority and if the situation is such that co-parenting is not an option, do what you can to keep the kids safe.  These are not the only steps to a successful co-parenting relationship; there are many ways to learn to co-parent.  Understanding that the need is there and the kids come first is that best thing you can do on the path to success and having happy and healthy kids.

-Sandra

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Petrichor - the smell of earth after it rainsI love the rain.  Love the smell of it long after it’s gone.  Cuddling under the blankets and watching it out my French doors.  I love that it feels like it’s washing away bad days.  But I loved it so much more as a child.  It was rainy days that brought out rainbows.  It was running in the rain, jumping in puddles, making paper boats and following them down the street that I loved the most.  As an adult, it’s more of a nuisance.

I Need Sun

Being a born and raised in Southern Californian, I probably wouldn’t survive in another state.  I need sun.  I need warmth.  So, when the latest set of storms came rolling in causing havoc, I stayed in.  I refused to go out except when absolutely necessary.  Not because I don’t like the rain, but because I’m a spoiled.  My days consist of Ubering people around and as most Californians know, driving and rainy days don’t mix.  Running around in the rain, trying to keep the kids dry, running errands, keeping appointments, dropping off and picking up kids, just isn’t feasible.  It just becomes an obstacle in my already busy day.

I don’t know when I lost that innocent wonderment of the world.  When it didn’t matter if my hair got wet or frizzy.  When I actually looked forward to jumping in puddles, instead of avoiding them.  If that’s what being an adult means, I want to go back to my younger years.  Not for vanity reasons.  Not to relive my youth.  But to enjoy every bit of life.  To be happy again.  To have that innocence that comes with youth.  And to stand in the rain, loving every bit of it, taking in the smell of it, without a worry in the world, before life became so hectic.

But since I don’t have a time machine, I’ll do the next best thing and let my kids bask in that innocence for as long as possible and let them play in the rain.

-Sandra

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pen & notepad 5 ways to declutter

Before you take on the task of decluttering your life, pinpoint first what it is that you DO want in your life and realize that everything else can go.  Accept that it won’t happen immediately and that’s okay. We tend to put all kinds of pressure and deadlines on ourselves and then get stressed out about it when we fail.  Guess what?  There is no timeline to declutter your life.  You didn’t overwhelm your life with clutter overnight, so give yourself a break.  It’s completely unrealistic to expect to declutter it overnight.

Things to take into account:

-Do I really want this or am I keeping it for sentimental reasons? 

Take into account how many times that precious sentimental item that you love so much is brought out or used.  Is it really all that sentimental to you or is the memory of it you’re holding on to.

-Do I really love it?

Surround yourself with love, people you love, things you love, pets you love, etc.  If you’re putting it out for the sake of putting it out, or hiding it behind something else, you really don’t love it.  And if you don’t love it, you don’t need it to collect dust and waste space in your life or in your home.

-Can I do without?

If you have 6 of the same item, rethink it. Why do you need 6?  Are they all in working order? Do you use 6 at the same time?

-Does it fit into your life? 

If there is a place in your life for it, keep it.  If it’s something that ONCE had a place in your life, but no longer does, but you’re “saving” it, get rid of it.  It’s like holding on to an old boyfriend that once had a place and no longer does.  Why hold on? For the sake of memories?  How about making new ones instead.

-Is it broken or no longer fits?

Definitely get rid of it.  Don’t hold on to “what-if’s”.  No one ever got anywhere with what if’s.  Don’t allow for it to hold you back. Go out and buy “right now’s” and toss those “what-if’s” jeans or whatever out.

So, as you address the following 5 tips to declutter your body, mind, and life, repetitively ask yourself those questions above.

  1. Do it yearly. Who says decluttering needs to be immediate? Every time you pull out a seasonal box to put up decorations, Christmas, Easter or what have you, weed it out. For example, Christmas is my favorite holiday, and I’m not going to lie, my home tends to look like a Christmas boutique around the holidays.  It takes so long to take everything out, let alone put it all away again.  So what do I do, I declutter as I go, both as I pull things out and again, when I put things away.  I set myself a limit.  For every new Christmas chachski I buy myself, I consider it a replacement, not a new item for my collection. So, if I buy something new, I HAVE to weed out something old. By creating limits, you keep the build up from getting any bigger.  This is especially helpful after the first decluttering you do.  I’ve been able to widdle down my Christmas décor to a few boxes and I refuse to let that collection get any bigger.  By keeping it to a few boxes, I keep my Christmas clutter to a minimum and save some money, time, and livable space in my home.  If you can live without it for a whole year, chances are you can live without it much longer than that.
  2. Take baby steps. Start with one thing at a time.  For example, if you have a favorite drink that you know is no good for you and you want to lose weight and declutter your body of toxins, start with that drink.  For me, it’s Dr Pepper.  I’ve done Dr. Pepper mornings (instead of coffee) for as long as I can remember.  It’s not a matter of willpower; I had to stop drinking it throughout both of my pregnancies due to gestational diabetes, so I know I can do it.  If you can get rid of that one thing that you think you can’t do without, than everything else will be a piece of cake to get rid of.  Getting rid of the hardest thing to get rid of for the sake of your health, opens up the door to getting rid of those you could easily do without anyway.  Do it at your speed.  For me, I went without Dr. Pepper for a month, and then slowly started adding other things to get rid of. Am I where I want to be?  No, but am I further along than last month? Hell yes!  I didn’t gain weight overnight and I won’t lose it overnight either. But steps forward, no matter how slow, is still progress.  Don’t beat yourself up if you take a few back along the way, as long as you continue to move forward.
  3. Weed out your social media. If you are public in all of these, I can’t help you out here, other than to suggest making them all private and weeding people out.  However, if you are private and you have collected people throughout the years for the sake of not rejecting their requests, rethink that.  The whole purpose of social media is to connect with people, to be social.  But what I’ve found is that I have more “acquaintances” than friends.  Are you ever annoyed scrolling through your newsfeed?  Weed it out.  It’s your prerogative to surround yourself with those people you CHOOSE to have in your life.  Declutter your friends list.  It’s okay.  It’s your newsfeed; everyone else can do what they want with theirs.  Here’s the deal, negativity or just being annoyed with someone for the content of their posts, even if it’s on their wall, still affects you.  Do you want to see someone constantly fighting with others about politics?  Do you want to see a million pictures of someone else’s pet in sweaters?  Is someone always posting about some sad problem constantly affecting their life and when you reach out they refuse to respond?  Bottom line, if it bothers you to see those posts, get rid of them.  If you don’t have time in your life to connect with them, get rid of them.  If you don’t want to get rid of them for the sake of having tons of people connected to you, but you still don’t want to see all that, filter your newsfeed.  The point is, if you don’t have the time or energy for it, or you just don’t want to see it……get rid of it.  Believe it or not, it emotionally and/or mentally clutters your brain every time you see something you don’t want to see.
  4. Stop spending frivolously. Don’t you wish you could spend your money on frivolous things and not bills!?!  Here’s the thing, you can do both if you want.  The faster you wrap your head around the fact that you deserve to make yourself happy, the happier you will be.  Do you need 8,000 channels on cable or can you live with the low easy cost of Netflix, so you can spend some money elsewhere?  Is eating out, wasting money on food that is unhealthy for you anyway, better than investing in a few cooking classes that can help you eat healthier AND teach you to cook?  It’s all a matter of perspective.  Having a healthy view of money goes a long way.  I was raised that no matter what you do in life, there is a cost.  Eating unhealthy food = to being unhealthy.  Owning a home = paying a mortgage…. And on and on.  Prioritize what is important to you and go for it, but always keep in mind what your responsibilities are and find what your balance is.  Bottom line, you’re going to be in debt no matter what you do.  Whether you own a home, drive a car, even if those are paid for, you still have insurance to buy, gas to fill the tank, property taxes to pay, it’s all still a debt.  If you can balance those responsibilities and accept them as part of life, saving money just makes sense and you’ll find it’s so much easier to do.  Especially if you calculate if things are worth it.  What I mean is, is it worth it to work x amount of hours of overtime, so you can eat out every night and save yourself the trouble of having to cook?  Then do it.  But if giving up time away from your family, or let’s say something as simple as sleeping in, is it still worth it?  I don’t have those answers for you, that’s something you have to determine for yourself.  Everyone has their own priorities.  Finding out what yours are, then make a plan and declutter your finances.  You’ll be surprised how much you’ve been spending on things you don’t “need” versus buying those things that you “want”.
  5. Cleanse your Soul.  Decluttering your soul is a lifetime process. Does it mean you have to strive for perfection?  Nope.  It just means, if you think you need to work on yourself, do it.  Here’s how I handle mine, I have kids, I’m their example, and it’s that simple.  I used to live my life as if God was watching.  Being religious, that’s usually what you’re taught, so that’s what I did.  However, I still did things I wasn’t proud of and for that, I had the confessional booth.  However, now that I have kids, I know that I’m their first role model.  They’ll have many throughout their lives, teachers, mentors, friends, spouses, and more, but I’m their very first.  Do I have to be perfect? Nope, I just have to be the best version of me possible.  I don’t know about you, but with my religious upbringing (and the confessional) I still had a great amount of guilt for my mistakes.  I’d have that voice in the back of my mind constantly reminding me that I wasn’t perfect and that I had failed.  I shifted my perspective and those nagging thoughts are gone.  When you realize you just need to be the best you you can be, any sense of guilt for falling short is gone.  Why is that?  Because you’re not being measured up to someone else’s measure of who you should be, it’s your own.  You essentially declutter the constraints of someone else’s image of who you should be and set your own self acceptance, mistakes and all.

Do I have the answers for everything? Nope.  Is my life perfectly decluttered? Nope.  But I’m slowly getting to where I want to be and weeding out what I don’t want in my life.  I make no excuses for my life.  Its mine.  How and what I want in it, is my choice.  What better time to start living life in the manner that you choose to, then right now?  So go for it!

-Sandra

…the fear of abandonment and the fear of falling, everything else we learn.

I suppose I learned this in Mr. Cook’s Biology class in high school, but it’s one of those things that stick in your mind every time you hear the word.  For me, it was ‘fear’.  I couldn’t help thinking at the time that if this is true, then I’ve learned to fear reptiles, the dark, relationships, etc, from somewhere, someone.

Sitting in my panic/anxiety group sessions (yes, ‘fears’ has overcome me to the point of paralysis and panic attacks), my therapist said something that struck a cord in me, “it is human nature to run from what we fear”.  Apparently, I miss the whole fight or flight class somewhere or forgotten it at some point.  Now I’m in therapy to learn how to ‘tolerate’ and maybe even control my fears, but not how to face them.  I’ve allowed myself to be drugged to the point of numbness and be questioned over and over again to the point of pain.

My dad asked me the other day, after almost two years of not speaking to me, “What happened to you? What happened to the girl that was full of fight and didn’t allow anything to get her down?”

I don’t know.  Maybe after 15 years of marriage, of living in a promise to God, of being absolutely, positively, 100% sure, that this is the right person for you, then finding out that it’s not, does something to you.  Maybe it’s that the person I’m with has my heart convinced of the same.  How can fear not paralyze me?  How can I not be terrified of allowing myself to be happy with this person, or letting the thought of marriage and the rest of my life with him scare the life out of me?  How do I stand in front of God, family and friends with him and make a promise that I already broke once?  How can I promise something to someone and not doubt myself that I’ll take it back one day?

How do I teach my children to trust their instincts, choices and decisions when I doubt mine?  I don’t know.

I don’t know how to fix my broken heart, promises and dreams or to encourage my kids to follow and believe theirs.  I’m working on it though.  I know that they deserve to have a whole mother and my love deserves to be loved with no reservations.  I know that if I don’t learn from this, then I can’t possibly make myself or anyone else happy.

So off I go to therapy and to surround myself with family and friends that know and believe in who I use to be.  If I can get back an ounce of the girl that was so full of life and so sure of herself, if I can glimpse a former time and place where I was completely happy, I can build from it.  I’m working on unlearning my fears, I know it’s hard, but not impossible.  On the bright side, I’m no longer drowning, I’m treading water and when I’m strong enough, I’ll swim again.  Baby steps…

-Sandra

With all that has happened, another year has come and gone.  This past year has been full of challenges I never thought I’d face.

When you hear the word Divorce, you never stop to think of what it all entails.  How hard it can truly be for everyone, not just to two married people going through it.  I’ve learned the hard way, just how truly heartbreaking it can be.  Worse of all, I’ve had to watch my precious little girls have their heart broken daily by it.

However, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s ALMOST over.  

The finality will come with a judge putting a nail in the matrimonial coffin.

What no one ever tells you is the positive that comes from divorce.  The weight that has been lifted, the happiness that can come from being alone and the sense of control.  Sure, there are moments when I allow myself to miss what I had, the sense of security, a complete family, my ignorance to it all, but then I get over it and realize that I’m happier without the misery that all came with him.

I’m looking forward to teaching my girls how to be strong, how you don’t need to have a man to feel complete, or that you shouldn’t depend on others for you own happiness.  But that if you do have it all and you’re happy, then that’s a bonus!  We’ll see what another year brings us, working hard for the best and focusing on the positive.

-Sandra

I can’t stand second guessing my decisions.  I don’t know how many times this question has gone through my head in the past few weeks.

Did I make a mistake?  Did I give up everything I wanted to begin with for something I thought I did?  Can I go back?  Do I want to go back?  Is this just the fear of moving forward that’s paralyzing me?

I know what I don’t want in my life, everything I gave up to move forward, to be here.  I don’t know why I’m having such a hard time though.

-Sandra

YEAR, people, I’m talking about new year, old year…you know….

Of course, there are a lot of other things in my life that I’m weeding through, but I consider that spring cleaning and it’ll probably take me ’til then to get it all done.

I had a great New Years kick off; surrounded by lots of love, hugs and kisses.  I decided the only resolution I’m making is to not to make any resolutions.  Of course, I’m still promising myself to eat better, workout more, live with less guilt and all the other stuff that resolutions are made of, but I don’t consider them resolutions because I normally stick to promises.

There are a lot of new experiences ahead of me that I’m absolutely terrified about, but extremely excited about as well.  I know I’ve kind of hinted as to what I’m going through, but I’m still not exactly comfortable just saying it (baby steps remember), but it is life altering and I’ll be venting a lot more before I can admit to myself (out loud) and to all of you of it.  ‘Til then, take care everyone and make the best of the New Year ahead of us!

-Sandra