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Spring Cleanup: The Purse, Your Mind

Ah, spring, you have finally decided to enjoy us! Welcome, welcome.

Now that the weather is starting to warm up, we may be putting away some of our heavier, winter clothes and pulling out the lighter garments for our wardrobe.  Today, I want to talk about something that could also get a little lighter: our purses (or satchels ;)) and our minds.

You know, I was in the subway the other day and felt tension and pain on my shoulders.  And with reason!  There were just so many things in my purse that were, literally, weighing me down.  Confession: I usually carry around three bags!

So when I got home that evening, I sat down and emptied out the contents that were in my bag.  And, voilà, it occurred to me just how much anxiety was hiding in there.  Think about it, “Ah! I can’t find my keys!” usually gets you aggravated.  You have to dunk your hand in your bag and dig them up from the land of ‘beyond.’  Or, you might be checking out at a bar or retail store when suddenly you go “OMG my wallet! I know I had it in here!  Where is it?!” and that instantly just fills you up with a great overwhelming feeling of nerves and anxiety because now your ‘entire life’ is potentially gone.  Living like this is crazy (!) (and I’m no stranger to this kind of life).  So I vowed to clean up my purse… and more.

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It does, however, beg to ask the question of “How did my bag get like this in the first place?”  Well, for me, I think it’s because I, and perhaps may others out there, are always in this ‘just-in-case’ mode, where we have to carry so many things around, just for that one time we may potentially need it.  In the past, I’ve tried to leave all of the truly unnecessary things behind, but failed.  I was so nervous that I wouldn’t have that one thing that would save me one day.  So I kept them.

And this actually goes further than your purse; it extends out to your life.  An example could include perhaps an acquaintance, or friend, that you honestly cannot stand, but may keep them in your ‘back pocket’ just in case you need them one day for a favor.  Or maybe it’s that sweater that doesn’t currently fit, but may one day fit, so it sits in your closet taking up space.  Or, maybe it’s that gym membership you pay for on a monthly basis and won’t cancel because, again, maybe one day you will go back to it.  All of these things aren’t farfetched to me, because they are some of the things that I couldn’t let go of.  And, surprisingly, they were all subconsciously something I was holding onto.  They were things that were bringing me back to where I didn’t want to be.  But you have to think: why spend your energy on someone who doesn’t appreciate you or help you ‘grow’?  Why tell yourself that you’re not ‘skinny’ enough to fit into something and then hate yourself for the rest of the day?  Or why spend money on something you don’t currently use instead of putting it towards something you do use?

All of this, believe it or not, is code for a fear of ‘letting go’.  Yes, it’s hard, but you need to push yourself to make a change, because it will lead to a feeling of relief, a feeling of freedom, and a feeling of open happiness.  You need to trust yourself that you can do without all of these things and build a life that is better for you.  Here’s another expression that makes more sense to me these days: “Carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.”  Right?  It’s real.  And it’s literally on our shoulders.  That bag just gets bigger and heavier, huh?  And it drives us crazier and crazier.  Yeah, wow.

I went out for a run the other day and all I needed was my house key.  But, instead, I started to pack my cell phone, three credit cards, some cash, all of my keys, my pharmacy customer loyalty card, and a bottle of water.  Was I going out for a run for my health and well-being or was I going out to run some errands?  Running for my health.  I was going out to run for my well-being.  So I took my one key off my keychain, dropped everything else on the floor, and left the house without anything else.  You don’t know how hard that was for me.  Because, honestly, I wasn’t just leaving behind my belongings.  I was leaving behind my comfort zone.  But I sucked it up, walked outside, told myself that I was doing great, and off I went for a run.  I let physical things go, but also the intangible feelings of worry and concern.  It was me time, something that we probably don’t get too often, but something that I am learning to really, truly appreciate.  I cannot explain how great it felt to not have things bring me down!  I not only felt a sense of freedom, but also felt a sense of growth in my confidence.  Because if I can do this little thing, I know I can do bigger things.

You know, my dad always teased and said that he didn’t understand why many people (women, especially) reminded him of the ‘mules’ (you know, the animal) back in his home country.  I always laughed it off and gave him a little innocent eye-roll (what a terrible thing to compare a woman to, huh?!)  But, he said it out of fun, and to put across the point that the mules ‘back home’ would be loaded up every morning with the fruit, bread, and merchandise that would then be brought to the local market to be sold.  He didn’t understand why everyone (including me) had to carry so much weight around.  He was sure that if the mule had it his/her own way, it wouldn’t be carrying anything at all!  And I am always reminded of that (oh, dad, haha).

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So I started with my purse, because it’s a symbol and a reflection of me and my life.  It does hold some aggravation, worry, stress, and neglect.  But, little by little, I will start to let go of other things that bring me down, too.  I don’t need the extra pair of flats every day in my bag – just wear the flats.  It won’t rain every day, so check the weather and leave that umbrella home.  I carry around a small bag in my big bag, just in case I need it.  Yeah, that had to go.  And all of that loose change?  That gets heavy.  And it’s also money that is laying around.  Into a piggy bank you go and off to the bank at the end of the month you shall stay! 😉

As for my earlier examples, I’ve been working on cleaning that up: I don’t have a gym membership anymore, but instead put that money towards my yoga instructions. I also (very hard, but had to) let go of acquaintances/friends that were just bringing me down and didn’t help me ‘grow’ and make me want to be a better person.  And those sweaters that didn’t fit?  I donated them to those who would get a better use of them than my closet and mind would.

Learning to live in the present, and growing a sense of confidence in yourself, is amazing.  Because you truly are your own Superman.  Think of all of the great things you’ve accomplished thus far and just think of all the other great things you will accomplish in the future by slowly working on yourself today, for a better tomorrow.  In order for something to come in you need to make room for it by taking it out.

So spring clean your purse, spring clean your mind.  You will feel more in control, trust me – it’s so relieving!  And trust yourself; you are greater than you think you are.  Spring clean your life and, oh, don’t be a ‘mule’ 😉

Loren.

u.

unsubscribe from anxiety and subscribe to peace of mind

Yowzers!  The weekend flew by so fast and on this Monday all I can remember is that work last week meant early mornings, late nights, lots of running around, and lots of catching up to do.  I could not wait for some rest and relaxation.  But, alas, here we go again.  No fear, though!  I am ready to brace this week even better than last week with one little thing that I did: spring-clean my emails.

Now, work is work.  But the types of emails I am referring to are personal, leisure emails.  I cannot even begin to tell you how anxious it made me feel to have constant vibrations and see my screen light up every five minutes.  Extra twenty-five percent off here, flash sales there, and free shipping and one-week free trial & memberships everywhere!  Yes, these were all things I signed up for (not spam).  But they were years worth of things I signed up for.  And a lot of them, I found, were some that I didn’t care for as much anymore.  If I had some extra time at the end of the day, I would take a deep breath in (as I pulled out my phone), flip through my emails, and one-by-one go on and delete them.  Yes, there are some ‘select’ and ‘delete selected’ features on the mobile phone, but that takes some work, too!  Truth be told, these leisure emails (think vacation deals) were just making me want to take a staycation – a vacation at home!

And that’s when I decided that I should invest some time into spring-cleaning my emails; I was going to either unsubscribe or change the frequency of what I was receiving.  Because at the end of the day, I was feeling overwhelmed.  I felt like I had to sift through a clearance rack of winter clothes to find a summer dress.  Not only that, but my husband would ask me about something he sent me a week prior that was time-sensitive and I all I could do was tell him that I didn’t see it yet.  Think about it, my husband.  A week prior.  And, quite frankly, I couldn’t tell you anything about anything.  My mind was so overwhelmed with the day-to-day that just thinking about going through all of my emails and clearing out my inbox gave me anxiety.  I was avoiding it.  And there it was, like a dark cloud over my head.  One hundred and three unread emails.

So I made a change.  I sat in the dining nook, went into each email, and changed my preferences.

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Yes, it was a lot of work.  But I feel that the benefits outweigh the struggle.

As I saw it, if going through all of my emails everyday boggled me down for ten minutes, then I might as well take an hour and save myself some time and sanity for down the road.  I am building myself up for mental health and success.  I will admit, though, as I was doing it, I felt bad about unsubscribing and had total FOMO (fear of missing out).  But it occurred to me as to why I hadn’t done this before.  I was worrying about missing out on something in the future that I kept myself living in a crazy I-have-to-get-through-all-of-my-emails-and-catch-up-on-life-and-make-dinner-and-remember-that-shoe-sale-for-next-winter-that-I-really-don’t-need-but-maybe-will-need-one-day present.  I had to stop that.  I had to stop being afraid and let go.  I had to be brave.

Now, I’m not saying to get rid of all of your leisure emails – not at all!  You can definitely keep the ones you love coming.  And the ones you like?  Maybe change it to once a week or once a month.  And the ones you loathe and really don’t even know why you still receive them?  Just unsubscribe.  Beauty is, that this can also be extended out to catalogues and paper mail you receive at home.  That will be my next task! 😉 (Just think, less physical clutter!)

Point is, your time is precious and it’s amazing how little changes can change your world, how you think, and how you feel (it changed my world – I feel less anxious and free!).  You can only reach a big goal by taking small steps to get there.  And for me, if that means getting rid of something as simple as emails that I don’t read anyway, then I’m there!

Spring is here and it’s a great time to look at how we do some things and change them for the better.  Unsubscribe from anxiety and subscribe to peace of mind.

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 Loren.

I.

I always make time for my whiteboard

Growing up and living in New York means that life can sometimes become a little hectic. (understatement?)

The truth is that life is moving at an incredibly fast pace where no one will wait for you.  There are so many things that we need to accomplish before its deadline and have so many things that need to be done now.  I feel that we are always simultaneously either living in the past, “shoot!  I forgot to wish my aunt a happy birthday yesterday,” or in the future, “gosh!  I need to find time to call my aunt to wish her a happy belated birthday.”  Rarely do we ever live in the present.  And this is something that I have caught myself doing numerous times.  Worrying about what we have to do, what we should have done, and what we will have to do all at once would drive anyone crazy and give them anxiety.  But what if we can sit and plan and do some of those things later?  What if we can learn how to control all the ‘crazy’ and make it ‘calm’, cutting ourselves some slack and giving ourselves some well-deserved peace of mind?  I think we can.  At least, I have.  I’ve already done the first step; I’ve accepted what I really am: human. The second?  Managing self expectations and taking the time to set them for the most important person out there: me.

For many years, I drove myself insane because I felt that I needed to be a robot.  I felt that I didn’t need to ‘write things down’ or ‘plan’ anything; I believed I could handle it all without boggling myself down with a ‘game plan’.  I believed that I had the memory of a thousand wise men who could offer you up a quote at the drop of a dime.  But then, I found myself reading articles about the best Ginkgo Biloba out there to help boost my memory and doing Sudoku puzzles any chance I had to keep my brain engaged and ready for the future.  And that was the problem.  I never stopped.  I kept going and going.  I was not living in the present.

The mentality I lived with caused me to build a lot of anxiety over the years and make me stress out about everything.  It eventually lead my body and mind rebel against me in the form of anxiety/panic attacks, because I felt like I could not handle the overwhelming amount of tasks I had to do. Who knew that having ‘pride’ would lead to the demise of my own happiness and health?

Enter the whiteboard.

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Yes, it’s a little messy but let me tell you how this thing has helped change my life.

Before this little invention entered my home, I was constantly writing things down on post-it notes (which would get lost), add any kind of a reminder on to my phone’s ‘to-do’ list (that Siri would never remind me of), and send calendar invites to my husband for any dinner plans, doctor appointments, family gatherings, etc (that he sometimes claimed he never got).  I was completely embracing technology but was becoming so dependent on it.  I felt like my life was automated.  But yet, I felt like I was so out of the loop.  Honestly, this would just leave me feeling so overwhelmed and helpless.  I started to become short tempered out of frustration and started blaming my husband for not being on top of things that I should have been on top of.  So many arguments ensued.  So.many.  And this was definitely not a healthy way of living, physically nor mentally.  So, one evening, my cousin and I went to The Container Store, started strolling down the aisles (yes, this is recreational) and saw the whiteboard staring at me.  I have been playing with the idea of getting organized with it for a while, but was never brave enough to accept that I needed it, not to mention brave enough to convince my husband that we needed it (and I mean like actually convince, not whine-convince ;)).

So, I bought it, finally took the plastic off of it about a month ago and spoke to my husband about how this was going to help me and how it was going to help us (side note: living with another human puts a lot more stress on what you already have on your plate).  So, I promised that once a week I would sit down and write out what is going on for the following week.  Underneath it, one side would have ‘chores’ that needed to be done around the house (or in general) and the other side would hold ‘communication’ topics that we needed to discuss.  Assignments were agreed upon together and if I wasn’t sure of something, he would help me figure it out (by the way, in a marriage, this is gold).

Yes, my whiteboard helps me make time to catch up, live in the present and plan my week.  It allows for me to look at the next couple of days one by one and is hung somewhere where both me and my husband can easily see it.  I don’t need to whip out my phone (hoping that it’s charged!) to get my week at a glance.  It’s there, hanging on a wall by our kitchen, for us to always pass by and see.  I am actually happy of the subliminal messaging it starts to become because it just yells out “you got this” and reassures me that I do, indeed, have this.  And the best part of it all?  My husband can go ahead and write any chores he wants and any topics he wants to talk about and I won’t.freak.out.  So long we take the time to discuss and plan.

I know what to expect of my week.  My expectations (and his expectations) are managed.  Nothing is coming to me out of left-field and I feel such a huge weight off of my shoulders.  Oh, and the next best part?  I can erase it all at the end of the week and start with a new, clean canvas.  It is very therapeutical.

What I want to say with all of this is that I am proud that I took a step back and realized what was causing me a lot of anguish throughout the week, heck, throughout the day:  panic and uncertainty.  I also realized that it’s OK for me to not think that I’m a robot.  And I actually like it!  I am enlightened by the fact that I am capable of taking my life by the reigns and being able to live in the present.  I now have a piece of mind.  Some things can be done later because they were planned as such.  Being true to yourself takes a lot of bravery.  But what you get out of it, MAN, it is truly enlightening.  I am so happy I am finding myself.  And living with much less anxiety.

I always make time for my whiteboard.

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Loren.