Just Breathe

My Post (1)

Why is the beginning of the new school year stressful? Here’s Why–

Students are stressing about returning to school–fitting in, peer pressure, grade stress, relationship stress, activities stress, and keeping to a schedule stress.

Parents/Teachers are stressing about keeping to a schedule, teaching, finances, new activities, illness, scheduling conflicts between work and school, their kid’s stress, and meal planning.

There is no one way for people to deal with stress. Everyone is different when it comes to stress. One thing that can help everyone cope with stress is to talk about it. Parents with other parents, kids with other kids and with their parents, and teachers with teachers, and teachers with parents. Often times just sitting down and getting it all out there helps alleviate your anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed as well as explain things to those around you, giving them the opportunity to perhaps help you to alleviate your stress and anxiety.

Here are some fabulous resources to help you start the new school year!

 

Happy August!

 

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You or Your Representative?

This post was inspired by a real-life experience I had almost three weeks ago. I met someone that I have been “friends” with online for nearly ten years. A couple hours into our meeting I realized that her real-life self was almost unrecognizable to the person I’d “known” online. And not just kinda but really, really different from what had been presented online. In retrospect, even though the two versions are quite different from one another, I feel like I could be friends with both. My only issue with the two versions was my confusion, maybe disappointment? that I felt after meeting her. Maybe I felt hurt or betrayed at first that she hadn’t been her true self online. I’m not sure, really. Even now I’m still not sure how I feel about any of it, but I do know that most of us at one time or another have been guilty of doing the same or similar–whether online or in real life. The experience left me wondering if we ever really know the people we think we are “friends” with online or are we just a part of their well-executed narrative.

One thing that I think may contribute to this issue is that there are so many people nowadays making a living online. You may chat with them, watch their YouTube channel, read a blog post of theirs, or buy something from them and they may show you a side of themselves you don’t often see in person. This post isn’t about that. This post is about who you are sending out into the world on a regular basis as your representative for various reasons. Your representative may or may not be a true facet of your real self. So, my question is–are you, you or are you your representative?

Having watched a good many people make their living online– I can tell you one thing I notice right away about almost all of them. And that is they’re exhausted. Exhausted from the many different facets, some themselves and some others, that they have created to send out into the world on their behalf. People really believe that their real, genuine self just isn’t good enough anymore for the masses.

This post is not meant to shame anyone, nor is it intended to fix you or your representative(if you have one). This post will hopefully make you aware and remind you that the self you need to be putting “out there” more needs to be you. Because anything else is just plain exhausting. I say this from a place of experience. In my not so distant past, I’ve sent my representative out into the world for various reasons. Probably the most used reason was that I didn’t have enough confidence in the real me to pull off interviews, or presentations, or meet-ups, or social events. Instead of working on the real me, I had adopted another version of me– I called this one the people pleaser. This version smiled often even when sad. The word no wasn’t in her vocabulary (sure I’m free on Saturday), and lastly, she was everyone’s upbeat and go to gal. This representative of mine truly exhausted me and after a while it was hard to even know out where she left off and I took back over. If you’ve been through this it’s like after a while you’re just kind of out there living a life that’s not really you. If this goes on too long, say years, it’s hard to know just who is the real you and who is the representative.

Putting on a happy face is something different than sending in your representative– we tend to do this for our family and friends. It’s still you, just you trying hard to get through a moment, a day, a situation.

Often times the only way to recognize that someone you know has been sending a representative is to meet them in person. With friends and co-workers, it’s usually pretty easy to see when someone is acting unlike themselves, or different from the self you know out of work, or just plain fake.

When you are dealing with someone that is genuine, authentic, and comfortable in their own skin –you will know it, feel it, and truly believe it.  I don’t believe there is anything more beautiful than being in the presence of someone who is wholly sharing their real self with everyone around them.  Their demeanor is calm, they express themselves well, they exude warmth and care, and are truly someone you want to spend time with.

Whereas a representative of you isn’t 100% invested in anything. Remember she is just a facet of you and not you entirely. She doesn’t care if you’re overwhelmed or exhausted because she is the representative you sent out into the world to be successful–sell, sell and make money. She will make all kinds of commitments for you because she can’t say no. She doesn’t value your friends, she isn’t truly interested in your friends, and she doesn’t really engage/connect with your friend’s.  Her role is superficial at best.

I would guess that the person I met has had many different representatives. Over the course of almost ten years online she has used quite a few. The latest one is one I would affectionately call the fixer representative. There are a lot of fixers online nowadays. There are people who want to fix you, fix your finances, fix your problems, fix your weight, fix your mood, fix your wardrobe, even fix your health. Some of these people truly are experts and some of these people are trying to fix other people because it distracts them. It distracts them from fixing themselves. Sometimes fixing people can make you a lot of money, but money or not, it can’t fix you. The person I met in real life mentions often that she is tired, overwhelmed, crying all the time, and unhappy. That is indeed what can and often does come from fixing others before we fix ourselves. It’s exhausting.

Be you. Nobody in the world does it better than you. Don’t be afraid. Don’t hide. Be vulnerable–it’s hard, but it’s worth it. Show the world you are who you are and don’t make apologies for it. Practice being you. Get used to being you. Try you on and introduce you to all the people around you. Show your people and show your audience your true authentic self and I promise you –you’ll have no regrets. And another thing–you won’t be so darn exhausted anymore, instead, you will feel refreshed–more like you.

All my best,

Kim

How to prevent one’s self from falling down the rabbit hole

What does falling down the rabbit hole really mean? Well, in Alice in Wonderland it meant falling down into a bizarre world of wonderland. A strange and different reality for Alice. Today it can also mean being so distracted by something, to the point of obsessing about it, that our “real work” is left undone.

So then what is our real work? Part of our real work is what we do on a daily basis in order to pay our bills or help pay our bills. The other part of our real work lies in who we are and what we define as our purpose in life.

For instance, I work as an accountant. My real job deals with numbers, balance sheets, and clients. Being an accountant isn’t necessarily what I saw myself doing for a career, but becoming an accountant was a decision that I made and worked very hard to fully realize. It helps to pay the bills. The part I like most about my job is my clients. I like being able to help people that want and need my help. The other part of my real work lies in how I see myself and what purpose I serve in my life, and in other people’s lives.  Over time I think a person’s true purpose becomes clearer to them. I did not always know what I was meant to do with my life. Even if I didn’t exactly get the career part perfect, I feel I am pretty close to knowing exactly what my true purpose is.

Part of my purpose is to be a wife. Now I know that will not sit well for some and I want you to know that it’s ok. It’s my purpose, not a purpose.  I enjoy being a wife on so many levels. Being a wife didn’t come easily to me. I didn’t get married until I was almost 30. I loved the single life if you know what I mean. Marriage to me meant/ is monogamy and more than just the obvious it was hard for me to believe one person could make me happy forever. I also didn’t like having to consider another person for every decision and choice that I made. Because I had experienced making poor choices in previous relationships I was scared I wouldn’t get it right when choosing a marital partner. And then, of course, I was scared if I did make a poor choice what divorce would do to me. In a sense everytime I thought of marriage I fell down the proverbial rabbit hole. Eventually, I made the decision to get married to someone that I’d fallen in love with and soon we will have been together twenty-four years. Being someone’s wife has been one of the best things to happen to me. I’ve learned how to consider another, sacrifice for another, be satisfied and patient with another and I’ve learned to stay–not run away when things get hard. Things I never did as a girlfriend. I’ve worked out how to be a best friend, how to be faithful in all things, how to say I’m sorry, and how to be humbled by someone. Living as my husband’s true partner, friend, love, and lifetime mate is truly part of my purpose in life.

Another purpose of mine is writing. I’ve been writing since I was about twelve years old. I started by writing poems and by fifteen I’d had a couple of my poems published. Writing is almost a need for me. If it wasn’t for my fear of grammatical errors I would write all the time. Alas, I don’t always feel comfortable with what I’ve written due to punctuation and grammar–sentence structure and everything good writing requires. I write for a number of reasons with need being the biggest reason. A secondary reason for my writing has always been to help someone. I like being useful to people. I feel better if I’ve shared something with someone rather than keep something that may be helpful to myself. Along with how I see myself and the purposes in life I feel are mine –there is how the people in my circle see me and what purpose I serve them. As a friend, I am non-judgemental, supportive, and open-minded.  As an accountant, I am a hard worker who pays close attention to detail and her client’s wishes and requests. As a complete stranger in the street, you will find I’m courteous, friendly, and polite.  I say “thank you”, “please”, “excuse me” and I hold doors open for young, old, male and female.

But who am I when I am distracted? I am none of these things. I get distracted by the news, my daily newspaper, IG, FB, and Pinterest. I have been known to sit for several hours and veg out on my IG feed. Beautiful things soothe me, I cannot lie. And if I am soothed aren’t I a better person?  Maybe? I do know this–when I am distracted I’m not involved in any activity that represents any of my true purposes. Sometimes distraction can lead one down the rabbit hole. Suddenly nothing looks or feels the same way anymore. Living a bizarre, and totally distracted life become the new norm. I love IG but does anyone else feel like a total failure after about an hour of scrolling through their feed? What can be done about that? Well, a good dose of reality is a good start. I have to remind myself that what I am seeing is their purpose, and is their purpose also my purpose? See above–no. My purpose is being a wife, accountant, friend, and writer. So, I reel in the envy because I don’t have time to fall down any rabbit holes.

The worst part of distraction is getting lost. Losing yourself completely to something or someone that isn’t in your circle or in any part, part of your purposes. Once lost, and without the bearings of your true purpose, it is hard to make your way back.  Over the past several months the news has turned me into a cynical, angry, often times irrational person. That is not who I am. And personally, I don’t like that person at all. Should I not watch the news? Well, I’m too curious to not watch the news. What should I do? Most of the time what I do is simply pray. I also sit back and listen. I listen to my husband, friends, and co-workers as they try to work the news out. It’s all I can do right now. When something comes up that I can participate in, I take action. Complacency is not my friend.

You know Alice fell down the rabbit hole because in her mind her life was ho-hum, nothing too remarkable– her young life seemed to lack purpose. Though there isn’t a moral to her story, Alice upon falling down the rabbit hole did begin to look for a way back home. Perhaps feeling that her life wasn’t so bad after all. There is nothing wrong with looking at pretty pictures on IG or getting angry with the news. There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting off track for a period of time as long as you get back on track. Delays and interruptions are a part of our lives. Our purposes may be the same but they’re also very different. Don’t lose yourself in someone else’s life, don’t lose yourself by becoming so filled with envy, or anger that you don’t recognize yourself.

Realize your true purpose and live your true intent. If you can– add in a bit of humility, kindness, and grace. Hold on to who you are but also allow some of the world’s harsh realities to take hold and empower you to do what is right.

Purpose

Noun- the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.

Verb- have as one’s intention or objective.

Until next time–all my best!

Flowers and why they’re so important to me 🌷🌹🌸

Maybe it was the black spider-like stamens on the red tulip, or perhaps the honey filled tips of the columbine. At eight years old there was one thing that made me happy, almost as much as kittens did, and that was flowers. I discovered iris’s that reminded me of ruffled satin slippers and lily of the valley with its fairy-like bell-shaped flowers and fragrance that still today remains a favorite. My childhood home, thanks to my grandma, was a virtual paradise of beautiful gardens. A recurrent dream of mine even now is to have a large field of flowers, filled with the flowers my grandmother grew, and in every room of my home–a vase of fresh cut flowers.

Eventually, as I grew up, I found my way to the lovely peony bushes where I hastily shook all the ants away. Only to receive a harsh scolding from my grandma about the peony needing the ants to help open its petals.

Around twenty I realized that I  loved to be surrounded by beautiful things.  Everywhere I’ve lived in the last twenty-five years, I’ve tried to recreate some of my grandmother’s gardens. I’ve planted many iris’s, and lily of the valley, antique roses, cosmos, and columbine.  In our last home, my husband and I got cuttings from seven different lilac bushes in hopes of growing many shades of the beautiful lilac. When we left this home eleven years ago and moved temporarily into a small apartment, I found myself for the first time unable to grow a garden (space and location).  I missed having flowers for our home and I surely missed the challenge of growing beautiful things. So, once a week when we’d go grocery shopping I would pick up a cheap and cheerful bouquet of flowers. And so the “habit” of having fresh flowers in our home every week was born. After about six months I noticed that deciding which bouquets to buy, preparing them for the vase, and then finding a place in our apartment that displayed them at their best, became a new interest of mine. The entire process slowly had become a part of me. I realized that studying flowers, dreaming of owning a cut flower farm, buying bouquets, and decorating with them made me happy. Flowers and gardening have become an integral part of my PTSD therapy.  The challenges of gardening, believe it or not, have helped me immensely in dealing with anxiety.

My container garden this year–where my focus is to grow tomatoes to perfection! Along with the tomatoes, I am currently growing Spanish lavender, French lavender, a lime coleus, red geraniums, prairie grass, a fuschia, hens and chicks, and rosemary.

Another project I’ve taken on in the past ten years has been traveling to, photographing, and identifying meadow/prairie flowers.  Doing this has really been a past time of mine for more than thirty years, but just recently I have begun to photograph my finds. My husband and I routinely visit a nature refuge that has many wildflower meadows. I’m able to find and photograph many native flowers and plants like the wild blue lupine, wild yellow asters, coreopsis, and the wild rose.

As for ever having a cut flower farm–well, maybe someday. Until then I live vicariously through Erin Benzakein of Floret Farms (WA),  Farmgirl Flowers CA), Sunborn Gardens in Mt. Horeb WI (local to me) and Cathy in Iowa–also known as Miss Effie @Miss Effie’s Diary.

I’ll leave you with a favorite poem of mine–

Robert Frost- Flower Gathering

I left you in the morning,
And in the morning glow
You walked a way beside me
To make me sad to go.
Do you know me in the gloaming,
Gaunt and dusty gray with roaming?
Are you dumb because you know me not,
Or dumb because you know?
All for me? And not a question
For the faded flowers gay
That could take me from beside you
For the ages of a day?
They are yours, and be the measure
Of their worth for you to treasure,
The measure of the little while
That I’ve been long away.

Design Your Day

I read an article a few weeks ago about the first thing that most people living in the U.S. do upon waking is look at their phone. Forgive me if I say- “I cannot imagine that being the way I could or would start any day.”
Let me explain– I grew up in the 70s and most people I knew had a phone for work, gossip, keeping in touch (though long distance calls were expensive), and emergencies. People usually didn’t call before 8am and generally stopped calling by 10pm. Few received calls during dinner time unless someone in the family was dying. Just about the only decision one had to make about their phone was color and desk or wall mount. I think service ran about $20.00 or so a month, more if long distance calls or calls out of your exchange were made. The area I grew up in was late getting telephone wires in so initially, in the 70s, we still had a party line. Our phone would ring a certain ring and unless it was “our” ring we didn’t pick up. If you did pick up you could hear people conversing and would be kindly told the line was engaged, please hang up.

Getting back to my point– Personally, if the first thing I looked at was my phone I would be instantly stressed out. Phones nowadays, like social media, are hungry. Hungry for you to engage with them. Someone is always sharing something, talking about something, telling about something, needing or wanting you for something. No more hiding from the world with social media. No longer can a person take the proverbial phone off the hook. Oh, people silence them to vibrate, ignore calls, and turn their phone off. But, realistically for how long?

To live with intention, to design one’s day, cannot and should not start with scrolling Instagram, perusing FB, or texting messages back and forth about this, that, and the other thing. Designing your day from that standpoint relies almost completely on what others are engaged in, their day, and your perception/response to it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m often distracted by Instagram. There are so many pretty flower photos to look at and then camera tutorials, and look!–more flower photos. But, I get distracted by these kinds of things when I don’t feel like doing anything. My distraction can last anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour–where 10 minutes is my general rule to be distracted, there have been times it’s a full hour. My day’s plan begins to fade fast if I’m distracted for an hour or more over social media. Then there is the comparison game of who takes better pictures, who has more likes, how many followers, how can we go on that vacation, new furniture, kitchen remodel and on and on. It’s not hard to see how plans and intentions for the day can go off track when there are so many things being added daily to our lists of wants and needs.

Make your intent the things that are yours to do. Make them your purpose. Fill your list with wants and needs of your family, your goals, and wishes. Start your day focusing directly on your home, your to-do list, and things that you have set aside to work on today. This doesn’t mean you can’t use social media. Social media can and does serve a purpose– inspiration, connection, friendships, and more. That said I think it can be hard to accomplish the things you want to accomplish in your life if you’re often looking at your life vs. someone else’s life through social media. Sometimes you can get drawn into someone else’s narrative and forget about your own.

Design your day intentionally. Be present. Take some time to be still. Instead of looking at something on your phone to make you laugh, or entertain you, or distract you take a look around at your own life. Take stock of what’s going on in your life. Look at your life from your own perspective, not through someone else’s. Often times we see how someone on social media responds to happiness, tragedy, stress, death etc. and begin to think there is something wrong with us if we’re responding differently. It’s important to remember that what is shared on social media, most times, is the best of someone’s life, of themselves, and their family/job/home. Yes, sometimes there is a conciliatory picture of the laundry room–and it feels good when we see them, but sometimes it truly feels like the only pictures or truth we have to share is that messy, messy, laundry room.

I enjoyed this article on the Huffington Post a couple of years ago–The Best Reason to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others on Social Media.

I hope everyone is enjoying their spring, soon summer, and I’ll see you again. Thanks for stopping!

Hello June

Hello June and Welcome New Friends!

A lovely poem to start the month off–

Making the Bed by Burt Kimmelman

Summer country. In the morning the leaves
bend

to the window and fold
the house in. Mountains and sun. I fold

the blankets, hand smooth. When
you’re here

I know it. The sun crosses

the hand’s breadth—

and in your face

the unenterable
image. Under

your eyelids
night unfolds. Pull

the blanket over you
and with it

the darkened air.


I Heart the Month of May

May is my favorite month of the year and it’s been so since early childhood. May is the month that officially ends the school year and begins summer break. May is the month of both high school and college graduation. May is for me the month of spring smells and garden starts, and of course new life –baby chicks, lambs, birds, and more.

Here are some of my favorite ways to get summer started–

  • Best beach reads for 2018- here
  • Best summer movies coming soon to a theater near you- here
  • Here are 30 of the Best Travels tips for traveling summer 2018-here
  • Best Sunscreens for summer 2018- here
  • Best Products for kids to enjoy summer of 2018-here
  • Five Stress Relievers for Adults summer 2018-here
  • Summer Camp Organizing tips- here

I’m looking forward to reading: This is Me and The family next door.

I’m looking forward to seeing: Book Club with Diane Keaton and Life of the Party with Melissa McCarthy.

My favorite travel tips are: observe daily life and keep an open mind.

As far as sunscreens go I put on Banana Boat Dry Balance SPF 50.

My favorite stress relievers are always: get enough sleep & set realistic goals. I would also include communicating well your intentions and plans as they come up with your spouse, children, and extended family.

My favorite summer camp organizing tips are:  Encourage your child to send letters home and pack accordingly to the checklist and put a copy of the checklist in with your child’s stuff.

 

Have a fabulous May and enjoy your summer!!