Thursday, February 22, 2018

It feels good to declutter :-)

I am in the middle of selling the current house and moving to an apartment ordeal. The task of simplifying and downsizing is physically and emotionally hard.
What to keep and what to toss away? Two tall bookshelves, two benches with storage spaces, two huge drawers of the dresser plus some shelves in the loft were packed with books, folders, notebooks, and papers. I couldn't decide what to keep and what to let go. What if I need those notebooks? I can certainly use those new binder folders with colorful separators and divider tabs in the future. I love books and I have handpicked all of my books. Eventually, I will make the time to reach each one of them. These were all the STUFF that I had accumulated, stored, organized and looked at for over 5 years. I read about 35% of my books, barely needed those folders and papers and notebooks. But still, I didn't want to give them up. 
I was facing my STUFF as I was meditating when it dawned on me. How much energy have I spent over the years acquiring, storing, organizing and cleaning my stuff? How much joy have they brought me in return? Do I want to continue down this path for years to come? Does my STUFF define me? Does my STUFF reflect my life experiences? Does my STUFF improve my mindset, my relationships, and my health? Does my STUFF make me a better person? etc. 
After my meditation, I started cleaning my room, my bookshelves, and my drawers. I kept two boxes of books to be stored away for now. Everything else was put in a bin for a garage sale or give away. I removed my bookshelves and benches from my room and cleaned all my drawers and shelves in the loft. I kept one book, my gratitude dairy and my journal on my nightstand. Now I have ample space for my yoga mat in my room. 
Then I tackled my closet. I have a huge walk-in closet with shelves and racks. I decluttered as much as I could in the first step. A second step in happening in a month. At that time, I will see if I need my stored away STUFF. If not, they are going to new homes. 
I was out shopping for my daughter last night and couldn't convince myself to buy a single piece of clothing for myself. Nothing was enticing enough. Given that I was at Kohls. But still. 
I have noticed a huge difference in my mood. Now when I enter my room, there aren't shelves and books and STUFF lying around, taking space. I have open space, clean room, a book to read, a journal to write, space to stretch and breath.
My stuff has been cluttering my mind. By decluttering my room, I eliminated visual disturbances. Now my mind can focus.

#lifelessons #minimalism 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Who lives upstairs?

December and January were difficult months for me. My depression took over and made me miserable. Its physical manifestations were server neck and shoulder pain. Thanks to my amazing Chiropractor, DO and therapist, I am back on track. For the most part.
Here are some points I've learned that I would like to share:

  • A chiropractor visit is more beneficial than massage sessions when you are suffering from chronic pain. 
  • If you MD is reluctant, go to a DO. Have your copper and histamine levels tested! Imbalance of those chemicals can cause chaos in your mind and body. 
  • Seeing a therapist is invaluable in assessment and development of proper coping skills. 
  • Allow yourself to feel. 
  • Keep a healthy diet. Fried food, junk food, and cookies don't fix anything. 
  • You can say No to taxing demands and expectations. 
  • It is ok to be depressed, cry and stay in bed for a little while. But don't make that your new routine. 
  • Meditation can do wonders. 
As my chiropractor said, you have to check who is living upstairs. Sometimes, we allow a guest to unpack and take permanent residence upstairs. A temporary emotion can perpetuate our thoughts for a long time and gradually take over our mind. People who lived through trauma may carry those feelings subconsciously for the rest of their lives. Fear and anxiety will grow to control our thoughts and perceptions over time. Here are some tips and trick on reclaiming your mind:
  • Mindfulness practices, especially early morning, will set the tone for your day. 
  • Meditation has proven to change the chemistry of the brain. Believe it. 
  • Take care of your physical pain (Maslow's hierarchy of need).
  • Replace negative thoughts, don't distract yourself.
  • Don't take on more in an attempt to resolve your worry and anxiety. Instead, declutter your expectations and your thoughts. 
Good luck. 

#lifehacks #anxiety #depression #mindfulness 

Monday, December 4, 2017

It's that time of the month

The beginning of every month is an exciting time. We are one month older, a few ounces heavier (or lighter), (hopefully) a little wiser, and (you can fill in the blank------------). 
Start of every month can be an edit, refresh and restart time. We can:
  • archive and possibly delete unpleasant memories, 
  • print happy memories, 
  • restock our fridge and pantry, 
  • clean our living spaces (I mean detail cleaning), 
  • declutter our closet and cabinets (donate, recycle and repurpose all those unused items taking space),
  • send out some cards and notes (in the age of social media, print communication is even more rewarding),
  • review our budget (maybe ask ourselves do I really need to dine out that often or help out amazon's sales every month),
  • weigh ourselves (you can decide what to do after seeing that number on the scale),
  • start a new healthy habit (can be anything from portion control, meditation, taking supplements, washing your face every night, burning a scented candle while reading etc.),
  • schedule family and friend time (some of us might forget to do that if we don't plan it ahead of time),
  • read (our society is in great need of people who read, not just fiction but a variety of books to self-educate).
You can make your own list and personalize it of course. But the monthly assessment of our life is less daunting than every January or after a disaster. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ladies check your PURSE!

How many women have neck and shoulder pain, headaches and preventable injuries related to their bags (handbag, shoulder bag, purses of different styles and sizes.)
How did we get here? Do we have to stay here? Do we really need the bag?
History of women's handbag is fascinating. It started as a pouch attached at the waistline, then a wristlet and now to almost a piece of luggage on our shoulders. It truly was inspired by the carry on handbags carried by travelers. We adopted a piece of luggage as part of our daily fashion. But does it have to be so inconvenient, inflict physical pain and cost so much?
So ladies check your bag or purse. Assess if you really have to carry all the items you carry in your purse or handbag around all the time. Start with your wallet. Do you need to have your collection of department store credit cards with you every day? Do you need two different kinds of hand sanitizers, lipsticks, nail clipper, electronic devices, notepad, diary, checkbook (if you still have those), extra pads, snacks, planner and other stuff at your immediate disposal daily? You might need some items like your planner and your small wallet (which includes your DL and one credit card), one emergency pad ( if you are overly cautious like me, you will always have an emergency stash), lip gloss, pen and hand sanitizer. You can make your own list of what must remain in your purse, and everything else can find a new home. Your desk or locker at work and your car can be back up storage locations. You really need to get the load off your shoulders and neck. Larger bags and heavier purses cause muscle strain on your neck and shoulder, which can lead to headaches and fatigue. The cycle will continue with sleep disturbance, posture problems, mood imbalances, wrinkles and premature aging.
To draw a conclusion, heavy purses make you wrinkly and old.
I know, I know. This is not a scientific conclusion. It may not even make any connection to you. But seriously, do you need the heavy purse you carry on your shoulder every day?

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Is Balancing Act for women only?

Gender equality.
Philosophy, religion, science, and history have been trying to define and implore gender equality with minimum success. Why is it called a Man's world when in reality they wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for women? Why is the balancing act targeted at women? Why do women have to balance career, family and much more? Who gave men the pass to not deal with the same conflicts as women?
Why don't TV shows and magazine articles dispense advice for men on how to win over women and please their partners in bed better? I am not even going to bring the superficial issue of youth and how and why women need to keep young appearance. That's a separate discussion.
Why do women sit around telling other women how to please their husbands while taking care of their children and owning a professional career? Why don't they advise men on how to participate in house chores with their wives and how to behave with their female coworkers?
We have been telling girls to behave a certain way for centuries while not addressing the issue of masculinity. Why is "boys will be boys" an acceptable term?
We are making some overdue progress in elevating women in the society, but we are not addressing the widespread passive oppression of women. TV shows, magazines, social media (clips, articles and etc.) all have separate messages for men and women. The husband is grilling while the wife is decorating and getting vegetables ready. The man is raggedy while the woman is polished and decorated. All the man gets to do is work and drink while the woman has to work, raise kids, clean the house, look enticing, maintain independence and some more. When the marriage falls apart, or kids are screw-ups or business project is flawed, women are questioned.
Most of the time, it looks like a jungle out there, Men vs. Women. How I see it is that women are set up to fail by the mere design of the society and its expectations of women. The idea of harmony between and coexistence of men and women seem like an alien idea only endorsed by some celebrities as a luxury.
The balancing act wouldn't be so complicated if a partnership existed between men and women in the society. If mutual respect and understanding existed between men and women at home and at the workplace, women wouldn't have to do it all by themselves. Instead of teaching women "the balancing act," inform them of available options. Please advise men on pursuing a balancing act at home and work. Please educate men on establishing partnerships with their female counterparts. Mutual respect for each others' intelligence, gender, effort, and achievements is the basis of a harmonious existence. This is an established fact. We know the destination, we just haven't figured out how to get there yet. One way is to educate men and teach boys to respect women and girls. That's the balancing act.
#thebalancingact #genderequality #heforher

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Morning vs Evening

"Don't talk to me before my coffee!" "I am not a morning person." "I am a night owl." I am most productive at 3pm." What is your preference? Are you a morning person or evening person, and what do you mean by that?
Being sluggish in the morning can have different reasons, like poor sleep hygiene, low blood sugar, unhealthy diet etc. Running out of energy by the evening shares some of the same reasons like poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, stress and idleness. There is plenty of online advise for you to choose from to improve your energy level and mood.
What I would like to reflect on here is morning vs. evening. I am a morning person in the sense that I wake up early. But instead of spending beautiful morning hours stuck in traffic or listening to the news or anything else, I would like to sit and watch the color of the sky change, listen to the sound of life getting louder gradually, and join the stillness there is in the morning hours. I would like to go around my own house and observe and appreciate it in the early morning. The crisp weather, vivid colors, slowly changing backdrop, the anticipation of a new or another day are thrilling for those who notice them. It's my spiritual time of the day when I connect with my God and thank him for everything he has created and everything he has made possible for me. I can spend anywhere from 5 minutes to two hours doing all this. Then I would like to continue my day.
I avoid sleepy or sluggish portions of the day by taking small breaks throughout the day remaining focused and excited about what I am doing. My drive time is for books and music ( I listen to books, I don't read and drive). My evening is my home and family time. I don't multi-task, neither at work nor at home. If we are getting ready for dinner, that is all we are doing. No phone calls, no homework, no other menial chores. We chat, laugh, eat and clean up. Any serious subject has to wait for after dinner (never have serious talks on an empty stomach). I don't mind evening parties and hangouts once in a while if they last couple hours. Any longer than that, I (mentally) check out.
I am focused on removing the sense of hurry and rushed behavior from my life. When I take 30 minutes in the morning to meditate or stretch, I am not thinking of anything else but the activity I am doing. I use all the 30 minute and intend to enjoy every minute of it. When I am spending my evening hour with family, I fully relax and focus on enjoying my family time. I listen, I laugh, I share. There is no counting of minutes to the end of the hour so I can check the mail or get my laundry done. The days that I arrive home exhausted, I lay down first, or drink a nice hot cup of unsweetened tea. I am not thinking about "only couple more hours to push through, and it will be bedtime, and I can relax then." I don't want to be tired and miserable for two hours waiting for my bed. I spend 30 minutes recharging so I can enjoy my hour and a half before bedtime.
Yes, I do have those mornings (during the week) that I don't want to wake up. Since feeling forced really takes the joy out of life, I don't force myself to wake up. Instead, I compromise ( which is better than feeling helpless and being forced). I quickly decide what do I want to give up to lay down another 10-20 minutes, hot breakfast, putting on makeup, or 30 minutes of my lunch for arriving 30 minutes late to work. Then I lay back down and close my eyes and thoroughly enjoy my extra minutes of morning sleep.
So I am a morning person and an evening person depending on the kind of morning and evening I have created. And I can be annoyingly active and chatty midday because I stay motivated.

#lifehacks #morning #evening

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Your knight in shinning armor

I had lived my early years of life under an oppressive regime, in a state of constant unknown, and hopeless future. As a girl, I couldn't dream to be independent and have an individual identity. I had to be someone's daughter, sister, wife or mother. My parents were torn between keeping us safe and giving us hope.
I sometimes took refuge in my imaginations, where I was placed in a very different society where I could be my own person. One of these imaginary paths were running away to a foreign land with a male companion who would protect me and also allow me to become my own person, my knight in shinning armor.
When I finally did come to the land of opportunity and freedom, I was overwhelmed. I wanted to do so many things with very limited capabilities. My imaginations had fooled my mind and my expectations by tricking my mind to believe that I was capable of more that I actually could do. I had a major gap between my new reality and my unrealistic expectations. Thus began my struggles.
Fast forward to now, I know better than to let my imaginations fool me again.
Envisioning your future can be helpful but don't let imaginations take you to a far land of fantasy from where return will be a rude awakening. Keep track of your goals and keep count of your skills and potentials. Make sure what you want to do matches your capabilities. If not, draw the map and find out where you can make improvements. Do you need an academic degree, a life coach, a health consultant, an accountability buddy, a new financial plan, or something else?
Also, don't ever underestimate the power of smart work. There is no substitute for it. You can inherit a kingdom, but if you don't work smart, it won't last you long enough. Don't let roadblocks, laziness and shinny things distract you. Don't let Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest be your guide. Have fun and relieve stress as needed. But go back to basics, education, smart work, networking, ethics, honesty and common sense should be woven deeply in your plans of action.

#envision #lifelesson

It feels good to declutter :-)

I am in the middle of selling the current house and moving to an apartment ordeal. The task of simplifying and downsizing is physically and ...