May 3, 2011

Where You'll Find Me These Days...

Dear Friends,

I'm so glad to see this space gaining bits of attention.  Unfortunately, I'm unable to keep up with it as I used to.  I am, however, still keeping up with things over at Hiccups In Time.  It has expanded in its content and will include the tales of our family's return to simplicity.  In time, I will also move much of what has already appeared here over there.  I hope you will join me and continue to share in my journeys there.

Sep 20, 2010

IMG (GUY) Revealed: Week #4 of the IMG Cleanse

I'm a little delayed this "week" in getting my update for the IMG Cleanse up, but... you know what?  It's okay.  It's enough, which goes right along with this week's focus.  Whoo hoo!  Before I get started with that, though, I'm going to go back and reflect upon the progress I made last week.

So, we gave ourselves permission to live obligation free...  One thing I noticed was the fact that I don't tend to "should" all over myself.  Nor did could I get my mind around "getting to" do something.  I did catch a few "have to's" in there, though.  But what I did notice is that I tended to change those to "need to's".  As if that is any better!

"I need to do this" and "I need to do that"...  It was never as dire as that, but it still denotes obligation AND "need"...  Well, to me that instills visions of one's life depending on it.

HOWEVER, I'm not going to beat myself up about it.  That is, after all, what my IMG wants, right?  No, we'll just mark this one up to progress made in awareness and go from here all the wiser and more vigilant.

One thing I did mention previously is that my IMG isn't as much of an Inner Mean Girl, as it is an Inner Mean GUY.  It was something that I woke up thinking about one morning recently, and it was then that I realized...  He's my dad!

I recall an argument that he and I got into when I was in my mid-teens.  The last line I recall getting out was "well, I must be a really bad person because nothing I do is good enough for you!"  Wow!  And it is not as though I had ever forgotten about that, BUT it has been just since I have been doing this cleanse that I've realized how much I truly took that to heart.  "Nothing I do is good enough..."  What a WEIGHT that puts on a person's shoulders because one's always striving TO do "good enough" and always falls short, mentally.

Now, I am most certainly NOT blaming my dad for my tendency as an adult to mentally beat up on myself.  I'm a believer that there is a lesson to learn from everything, and I'm way beyond trying to place blame on my past.  After all, I'M the one that is responsible for where I go from "here".  It does explain, though, why I see my Inner Mean Person as a guy.

So, on to this week's focus... Unrealistic Expectations...  OH!  This is a good one, especially in light of this past week's realization.  Don't you agree?

The two antidotes that we're focusing on are:

1) Under promise.  Over deliver.  This is going to be a rather difficult one.  There are times - though, not as often as previously - where I will promise the moon and deliver one of those little model solar systems.  Well, not really, but you know what I mean, right?  It goes back to being a recovering people pleaser, I think...

2)  Go for the C.  Give 80% instead of 100%.  I have never been much of an achievement junkie.  My grades from high school will attest to that fact.   I will definitely keep it in mind, but focus more on under promising and over delivering... *wink*

Until next time... Have a fabulous week everyone!

I am participating in the Inner Mean Girl 40-day Cleanse as a Self-Love Ambassador.
To thank me for my participation, I will receive a self-love gift from the founders of
 the Inner Mean Girl Reform School

Sep 11, 2010

Fabric Softener - More Experiments

Wow!  So, I was looking for a formula for homemade fabric softener...  I've been using some sheets leftover from a friend that recently moved, and I'm finding that I like the extra scent.  It just says "clean" to me.  Also helps with static cling.

As I was searching, I came across some GREAT ideas that I hadn't consider to do it on the cheap.

1) Take a misting bottle and pour fabric softener into it.  Then, when you're ready to put your wet clothes in, spray the mister 3-6 times into the dryer.  Apparently, even for a large family, this will make the fabric softener last for 3 or 4 MONTHS.

2) Cut dryer sheets into sections (2-4 depending on results).  And if you can get some at your local dollar store that works well for you, think of the savings!

3) For static clean, apparently, throwing a wet sock in helps?  Might have to experiment with that for curiosity's sake.

4) Homemade dryer "sheets" can be made by pouring a 1/4 cup of fabric softener into a jar, then fill the rest of the jar with water.  Place rags into the jar, using one for each load.  Repeat when rags have been used.

5) One suggestion for liquid fabric softener was taken from
  • 3 Cups White Vinegar
  • 2 Cups Hair Conditioner
  • 6 Cups Water
And a ball of aluminum foil for static cling

6) Another suggested diluting your softener.  She would take two liters of softener and split it by pouring it into two 2 Liter bottles, then filling up the rest of the bottle with water.

How well any of these suggestions will work is beyond me, but I'm going to experiment with a few of them, if only for curiosity's sake, and if they happen to work and save me money, all the better!

If you'd like to check out the spot I found these great suggestions, I found them at:

Sep 10, 2010

The IMG Cleanse - Weekly Roundup #3

Things have been rather chaotic this week.  Such is generally the case, though, with the first week of school.  Especially given that my littlest (Little D) started Pre-K this year.  We're having to get in a bit of a flow where our schedules are concerned.  Toss a doctor's appointment or two into the mix, it makes for interesting times, indeed.

I'm still here, though, and I'm still workin' the Inner Mean Girl (IMG) Cleanse...

Last week was interesting for me.  I realized that I did tend to compare myself to others, but I didn't realize to what extent or even what form that comparison took.  For me... COMPETITION.

By nature, I'm a competitive person.  This is something that I've long been aware of, but until this week, I didn't realize that it can be a form of comparison.  Nor did I realize how vocal my IMG can be or what approaches she utilizes to spur me along.  "Oooh!  Watch out!  She's doing better than you.  You better step it up, or you're going to be left behind."

Awareness.  That's the first big step, right?  Only by being aware can I work with it...

This week, we're giving ourselves "Permission To Live Obligation Free".  This is a BIG one for me, and something that I've already begun to monitor.

I am one that will run through my mental to-do list, and quite often, I will say to myself that I "have to do this" and I "have to do that".  The more I think about it, it DOES weigh me down.  And as I'm learning from all the other Work, it's how we approach/view something that determines whether it's something positive or negative in our lives.

In addition to this, I'm a recovering people pleaser.  So, "naturally", there has always been quite a bit that I have added to my to-do list that is for no other reason than I'm trying to make someone happy so that I, in turn, can be happy myself.  Wow!  Does that add the feeling of obligation to something really quickly!

So, I'm turning my way of thinking around.  I don't "have to" do anything!  I do it because in many ways, it's my way of expressing love beyond merely mouthing words.  I make my kids' lunches every school night, not because it saves us money and is healthier for them, BUT because I LOVE THEM and want them to eat more healthy foods AND it leaves more money in the bank account for us to do more fun things as a family.  It's just a matter of changing my way of thinking as I'm doing these things...

In addition to this... I'm taking the attitude, if I don't LOVE it, in some way, shape or form, then it has no business being in my life.  Plain and simple.

Everything that exists within our realm of influence engages in an exchange of energy with us.  It is our decision how much energy we give and whether what we receive in return is worth it or not.

For instance... even a chair can engage in an exchange of energy with us.  We have to clean it.  That is a form of giving it our energy, but if we don't LIKE that chair, and we curse it for one reason or another... it is taking more of our energy.  If it is not bringing us pleasure in exchange...  Well, to my way of thinking, it's time to send it on its way and to someone else that may get the pleasure that we fail to get out of it.

This is a little diversion from the focus of the IMG Cleanse, but does support the idea behind simplifying (ie de-cluttering).  If you don't love it, send it on its way!

So, until next week's update/round-up, hang in there.  Reprogramming is never easy.  Believe me!  The IMG's had many years to become devious and deceptive.  Changes do not happen overnight.  Be gentle with yourself, and they will come.

If you haven't joined us for the IMG Cleanse, yet.  There's still time!  (You're never behind.)  Everything is right on the website.  The information, the videos, the interviews.  It's all there for a "go at your own pace" approach.  I'm certain you'll be glad you did.  I know I am!

I am participating in the Inner Mean Girl 40-day Cleanse as a Self-Love Ambassador.
To thank me for my participation, I will receive a self-love gift from the founders of
 the Inner Mean Girl Reform School

Sep 5, 2010

Returning To Simplicity AND Frugality

After a handful of hot days, yesterday the temperature dropped more than 20 degrees, and we had rain on and off all day.  It was another wonderfully inspiring autumn day, which I put to very good use.  I used the time to prepare myself and the house for the upcoming first week of school.  It was also a time in which I got back into my frugal frame of mind...

I was a Domestic Goddess in the kitchen yesterday.  Among my culinary manifestations was a large pot of Split Pea and Ham Soup, a pan of cornbread, a whole chicken, some cupcakes, and a cake.

The chicken was put to very good use.  I shredded the meat.  Some was used for chicken and rice soup, while the remaining was set aside and frozen for Chicken Enchiladas later in the week.  The carcass and fat was used for making 16 cups of chicken stock, which will put to very good use in the future.

While the cupcakes and part of the cake...  Those are earmarked for small treats in the kids lunches for the week.

It was a busy day of cooking, yes.  But my freezer is filled with the fruits of my labor.  I have 4 meals stashed away, in addition to the two meals of ham and beans that I had made a couple of days previously.  So, while I have a meal plan that will get me through the next ten days, I have some back-up meals tucked away in the event that I'm just not in the mood to cook.

Looking to stretch your food budget?  This is something that I've been learning to do, myself...

The Menu Plan - The first thing I do is plan out a meal for every night until payday, and while I will assign a particular meal to a specific day, I don't always stick with it.  What we have any given night will really depend on what sounds good and what I'm prepared to make that night.  The only night that anyone will really count on is Friday night.  That's Pizza Night in our house...

The trick to this, though, is to plan for meals that share the main ingredient.  For instance, a whole chicken... rather than have it AS chicken, which would only really yield one meal in my house, I make several meals out of it (as illustrated above).  In addition to this, the carcass and bits that would otherwise get tossed, get made into chicken stock, which will be used for other meals.

I will also get a turkey ham.  I will generally used this for several meals as well:  Blue Plate Special (a mac and cheese casserole that includes ham), ham and beans, split pea and ham soup, as well as ham on our pizza.

These are just a few of the ways that my family has come to stretch the food bill, itself.

The Grocery List -  I do this for a number of reasons.  1) I don't forget anything necessary to make any given meal.  2) I buy only what is on the list - more times than not - which prevents me from impulse buying, something that I HAVE been known to do.

Crockpot Cooking - Like most households, things have been known to get really busy around here after school has begun for the year.  I LOVE using my crockpot on days when I know things are going to be especially busy.  When I use it, I know two things to be true.  1) My family is STILL going to get a healthy meal and 2) we won't be finding ourselves going through drive-thru because dinner will be ready by the time we're ready for it.

Freezer - Admittedly, our family is horrible about using up left-overs.  Given that DH is currently deployed, we generally have quite a bit more than we would few of them.  I suppose I could half my recipes, but why not make the full amount, freeze the left-overs and have a quick and easy meal later down the road and on a night I just don't feel like cooking?

We are by no means perfect where our grocery bill is concerned.  During the summer, we ate out a lot more than I would like to admit.  Between DH being gone and it being too hot TO cook, it just seemed easier more days than not.  Our bank account, however, is reflective of that fact.  We've not saved a dime since the beginning of this deployment.  That's a fact that I hope remedy this fall and winter, and this is reflective of my first steps in the right direction.  I know how to accomplish it... I just have to DO it.

Sep 2, 2010

The IMG Cleanse - Weekly Roundup #2

Welcome back to the continuing of saga of Girl vs the IMG.  When last we left Dawna, she was becoming aware of all the instances that she tends to collude with others in gossip and spew forth toxic words...

So, how'd I do?  Well, I think I would have liked to have done better.  I became aware of all the times that toxicity, like sludge, bubbled from my mouth.  The good news is that I put a stop to it.  The "bad" news - though I hesitate to label it thusly - is that, more times than not, I froze or, in some instances, ran away... literally.  I didn't know what else to say instead.

At least I became aware...  It was a victory, in and of itself.

On to this week...  Becoming aware of and battling the Comparison Queen.  OH!  She is one of my arch-nemesis.  Both with her Mask of Inferiority, as well as Superiority.  Though, more often than not, she likes to take the approach of making me feel inferior because, in all honesty, it is where she finds the path of least resistance, I think.

Which areas does she prefer to strike?

My weight/body.  "Everyone is getting skinny, but you.  Aren't they looking good?  And you?  You're still fat.  No matter what you do, you'll remain that way."  Which, if our thoughts do indeed create our reality, I suspect is why I can exercise and eat right and lose nothing to show for it.

My writing.  "Did you read his/her words?  Weren't they great?  Too bad you can't write something of the sort.  And (where blogs are concerned) look at how many followers she/he has, and all those commenters.  What do you have to show for your efforts?  Oh... Look at that.  Nothing."

My house, my clothes, my abilities (you name it), etc.   Everything and anything that can be used to compare me to anyone else.

It was a discussion that I was having with my kids the other day.  My IMG?  I might have mentioned that I've run into "it" before.  Only, at the time, I pictured it to be a HIM.  An old, pompous man of high social standing, who looks down his nose at EVERYONE, especially me.

I may just have to hunt through my documents and find the conversation he and I had (as one-sided as it may have been) not to long ago.  He was really rather cruel in his tirade concerning my writing and creativity, but it is something that I've been working to get past, and whether my Inner Critic be male or female or a whole slew of personas matters not.  Through this 40-day Inner Cleanse, we'll be working together by the end of it.

Here Amy and Christine speak about comparison and ways that we can transform it into something positive.

Interested in joining us? It's still time! Hope you'll join us in this wonderful exercise in awareness as we move toward greater self love...

I am participating in the Inner Mean Girl 40-day Cleanse as a Self-Love Ambassador.
To thank me for my participation, I will receive a self-love gift from the founders of
 the Inner Mean Girl Reform School

Sep 1, 2010

De-cluttering and Gaining Peace Of Mind

As I mentioned upon my "return" to the blogosphere, I received a book entitled Life's Too Short To Fold Fitted Sheets: Your Ultimate Guide To Domestic Liberation by Lisa Quinn prior to my sudden hiatus.  Most recently, I have had a better opportunity to start going through it.  I say "start" because as I get into it, I realize that I'm going on what I would describe as "domestic tangents", which will last for days, if not weeks.  So, while it's not really that thick of a book, it's taking some time for me to get through it.

I am beginning to make big changes around here.  Some things have been mulling about in my head for awhile now, but the words and information to be found in the book, have been assisting me in implementing much of them.

Now, if you could see my copy of the book...  Well, it's littered with post it notes, which act as marks for quick/future reference.  There are also quite a few spots in it that I've highlighted.  There's really quite a few ideas and bits of information that I want to keep track of.  One thing about this book, though, is that it's not all about one's home and taking care of it.  No, it does guide the reader to look within and address those things that pushes one toward going over the top where one's domesticity is concerned.

As I've mentioned before - quite possibly back over at Hiccups In Time - I am something of a recovering perfectionist.  Well... who am I kidding?  I AM a recovering perfectionist.  In the past, everything has had to match what I have pictured in my head, and if it's not...  I have tended to cycle between overwhelm, shut-down, and then depression.  It is something that I have worked on and CONTINUE to work on because with three kids - one being a preschooler - things just don't seem to stay clean around here for long.

So, while I've been meaning to put some of Lisa's tips to use in my own home...  I've been having to get things in order around here FIRST.  That way, I can have a sound starting point.  That, in and of itself, has been something of a chore.  Especially given that, admittedly, I've been coming out of the shut-down portion that followed the overwhelm after DH left for Afghanistan the second time (after R&R).

Let me tell you... that has been a chore, but I've not allowed my inner perfectionist to get the better of me.  I've been doing a little at a time.  Things didn't get in disarray overnight, and I keep reminding myself that things aren't going to be "perfect" overnight either.

"Less Is More"

This is the spot that I've been focusing on most of late.  ESPECIALLY before the weather turns to a "winter wonderland".  After all, it makes it exceedingly difficult to haul the clutter out and disperse of it when everything is covered in a perpetual blanket of snow.

I think what spurred me to action most was Lisa's list...

You're Out of Control If:
- You have more than three "junk drawers".  When I was honest with myself, I realized I had a lot more than that, even if I didn't call it "junk".
- You have to navigate piles to get through your home.
- Your closet contains clothes from three years ago - that don't fit.  I'd already gone through that quite some time ago.  So, I WAS ahead of the game, if only by a little bit.
- All the horizontal surfaces in your home (desktops, countertops, ledges, tables, and mantels) are completely covered.   They're not all covered, but there are a few spots that I have difficulties remembering what they looked like when we moved in.
- Things fall out of your car when you open the door.  Yes, I'm guilty of this.  My little Prius does tend to get filled to overflowing with stuff, especially given that we are a family of 5, usually.
- You can't park in your garage.  Is that what a garage is for???  I had no idea... *said tongue in cheek*
- You find yourself shuffling piles around all day because they have no real home.  I'm not that bad.  I just shove them in the desk drawer, which I don't think is really a solution, is it?
- You have papers from high school.
- You spend an unreasonable amount of time trying to find things in your home.  In my defense, things don't generally tend to remain where I put them, anyway.  The kids tend to use them and move them on me, as kids tend to do.  I recall my own mom saying "why can't I ever find anything?" a time or two and I having been the reason behind it.
- You have trouble relaxing or being productive in your home because of the clutter.  Oh, Heavens, yes!
- You have unopened mail from months ago.  Guilty as charged.
- You have lids but no containers (or vice versa). Ditto.
- Your filing system is basically one file, full as a tick, with everything crammed into it.  Um... no.  Refer back to the desk drawers...
- You don't invite people over because you are embarrassed.
- You always hate the way your home looks.  It's beginning to turn around, at least.

So... I'm taking one room/area at a time.  The garage was worked on a week or so ago.  We did have a yard sale, but everything that didn't sell didn't stay after that.  There's still more to do, but I'm well on my way, at least.

And while it's taking me a bit of time to go through the book, I'm certainly glad that it has come my way.  It really goes along with much of what I'm doing around here with regard to simplifying.  It's not as much of a destination, though, as it is a journey, and I'll definitely share more in the future as I continue to make changes with it as one of my inspirations.

Disclosure:  I was gifted with a copy of Ms Quinn's book to review.  However, my enthusiasm for it is spurred by nothing more than the results I'm seeing in my perspectives, as well as my home.
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