Mission check-In: Lighten Up!

When I originally started this blog last summer, I had just come off treatment for – and received a definitive diagnosis of – primary progressive multiple sclerosis. It opened my eyes and made me take a closer look at the way I was living. I knew that I was being held back by habits and behaviors that were not working for me, and I began to take steps to release them from my life.

As the weeks went by, I realized that my desire was not just to release things from my life, but also to bring certain new habits and behaviors into it. I decided I wanted to “lighten up” in five areas of my life: my attitude, my relationships, my surroundings, my health, and my time.

I’m going to revisit each of these areas this week. First up: my attitude, otherwise known as the category “Lighten Up!”

Changing my behavior in this aspect of my life is of prime importance to me. I have been a life-long worrier. I come from a long line of worriers, though whether that is nature or nurture, I can’t really say. Genetic predisposition to anxiety? Modeling of worrying behaviors? Either way, I have sadly passed that trait along to my son. Luckily for both of us, we worry about different things, and so we are able to talk each other through our worries rationally.

I’ve felt guilty for years that Quinland takes on this role with me. On the one hand, I tell myself that I have taught him a skill that helps him handle his worries, and taught it to him so effectively that he is comfortable turning it right back on me. That’s healthy. On the other hand, I worry (ha!) that it is putting him in an adult role at too young an age. He should not be comforting me and helping me cope; I should be doing that for him. So learning to “bust” my own worries when they strike is a high priority for me.

I also realize how worry sucks away my time.  It steals away hours that I could be accomplishing things. I know that worry is nothing more than fear, fear that something will go wrong, or – at the very least – that nothing will go right. This fear causes me to avoid things I need to tackle, which causes me, of course, to worry even more. I want this vicious cycle to come to an end.

When I started the blog, I wanted to use it to a) help me keep my goals at the forefront of my mind, b) give me a place to record my successes, and c) hold myself accountable. Over time, however, I realized a couple of things. At the beginning of the blog, I concentrated pretty heavily on lightening my load by getting rid of the excess things in my life. It was an admirable goal, and one that was much-needed, as I had to empty a large part of my house for our friend Greg to move in. Later, the blog tended to be more a chronicle of my life; while interesting, it was not really helping me reach my goals.

I want to make a conscious effort to concentrate on each area of my mission weekly. I’m not going to assign a specific category to a specific day, but I will try to post once a week on how I have worked on that particular area. (That way, I’ll be posting five times a week, giving myself a little leeway to do some writing.) My hope is that this will give me focus and direction, two things I definitely need to develop!

Next week, I’m going to look at how (or if) I have been working toward the goals I’ve stated above – to relax, reduce stress, stop worrying, and think positive thoughts – and whether my efforts so far have been successful.

I’m still going to check in on each post with things I am grateful for. No matter what the blog topic of the day, being aware of my blessings will bless my life in many ways.

Daily Check-In:

  • I’m grateful! for having  a strong marriage. David and I have our ups and downs as all couples do; we are very different, and while our individual strengths complement the other’s weaknesses, our differences can also lead to frustration and misunderstanding. Still, we have always made a conscious effort to work things out. (We have a “rule” that neither of us can ever stomp out on a fight-in-progress. We can ask to wait to talk about it later, when we are more calm, but no door slamming!)

What kind of life do you want to live?

In It’s All Too Much, Peter Walsh makes a very interesting point: Clearing the clutter isn’t about “the stuff.”

Walsh maintains that the only way to get organized and stay that way is to begin by imagining the life you want to live. Once that is clear to you, you need to look at each item in your home and decide whether it supports you in living that life, or if it takes you away from it. This is very different from “Do I have space for this?” or “Do I use this or love this?” If I use something regularly but it is keeping me stuck in a life that I no longer want to lead, then perhaps it should go.

Even before reading this book, I had decided what I wanted my life to look like. I envisioned myself:

Sound familiar? Yes, it is my Lighten Up! Mission.  Still, although I knew I wanted that life, I hadn’t exactly thought about my things in that particular way. From now on, each time I consider a particular object in my home, I need to see if it, specifically, is bringing me closer to that ideal life.

Getting rid of any unneeded stuff helps meet my goal of living in a beautiful, orderly, clutter-free home. I suppose I could make the argument that anything that makes me smile or brings good memories meets my goals for positive thoughts and for joy; but really, if a photo of the object would do the same thing, then do I really need to keep the object itself?

Daily Check-In:

  • I’m grateful! for the chance to visit with my friend Raina at soccer today!
  • I’m lighter! I spent a very productive afternoon going through financial paperwork and getting stuff input into Quicken. Very proud of myself.