Would You Give Up Gift-Giving?

“To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you need to be in their lives today.”

– Unknown

Day 198.

When you reflect upon your childhood, what are some of your fondest memories? Was it the Nintendo Gameboy you received? Or maybe the Air Pressure Super Soaker, or Scorch, the cute and loveable Beanie Baby?

The fulfillment and joy that encompassed my childhood did not come from the gifts given to me, but from the moments shared among those I cherished. Moments filled with laughter and love, teachable moments where my parents chose to instill lifelong values.

If given the option, would you give up gift-giving?

“According to a new Harris Poll survey on behalf of SunTrust, 69% of Americans said they would.”

“43% of respondents said they feel pressured to buy gifts and spend more money than they can afford. With the extra time and money saved by eliminating gift-giving, 60% of Americans said they’d spend more time with loved ones, 47% would save money or invest it, 37% would pay down debt and 25% said they would use the money on activities with friends and family.”

(https://www.ajc.com/news/national/nearly-americans-say-they-give-gift-giving-this-holiday-season-would-you/l2PTRFjwFzMnnsQlX6KBFO/)

This year my husband and I came to the decision to, “switch gears”, and give our daughter a Wee-Ride for her birthday! It is like a regular bicycle that connects to the parent’s bike, allowing your child to ride with you.

Instead of giving her another toy, why don’t we give her a gift we can all share in? The gift of memories!

– My Husband

We have tried with much success this year, not to buy our children’s happiness, but to gift them with opportunities for happiness. Giving the gift of experiences, fulfillment, and memories!

Our children are growing at a substantial rate, and we had to replace their bicycles with new ones, and they could not be happier! Both my husband and I have had the pleasure to share in our children’s excitement!

I watched as each of my children sped past me on their new bicycles, the melodious sounds of their laughter like that of a wind chime. It brought both a sense of joy and peace into my heart, they were happy! It was at that moment that I realized how vitally important these family outings would be for our children. Why?

“Love is not about how often you say I love you, but how often you prove it to be true!”

Our children will not be children forever! They do not want our money, though they may ask for it on occasion. They want both our time and affection. They want moments shared with their Father, after he returns home from work, maybe reading a favorite book! They want moments shared with their Mother, playing hide-and-seek, whilst hiding in one of the kitchen cabinets! They want cuddles, and kisses – they want moments filled with giggles and grins, and fits of laughter! They want us to present them with the chance to create memorable moments – the only expectation being for them to be who they truly are… children!

My step-son came to stay with us this month, following suit with his siblings, he inquired multiple times if we were going on a bike ride after Dad came home. He stayed with us for a month, and we thoroughly enjoyed him being here!  We have played several games together, been outdoors, and laughed ourselves silly!

Looking back, I know that my children will appreciate these moments, and remember them far more than they would with any new toy we might have bought them. 

Every day is a new opportunity for us as parents to give our children the greatest gift of all, the gift of ourselves, our presence and our time!

10 Ways to Reduce Stress From Your Life

Matthew 6:34

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Day 122.

As I stood in the walkway between our kitchen and living room, I watched helplessly as my eight-year-old, high-functioning, autistic son had another melt-down. What had triggered this melt-down I can’t recall, but what I did know is that things were quickly beginning to escalate!

This beautiful, lovingly little boy was currently waging a war within himself, fighting to control the crashing tide of emotions that assaulted him. He threw himself to the ground; contorting his limbs and eliciting a sound that I simply cannot put into words. His brow furrowed in seeming anger, and a look of hopelessness quickly splayed across his face. His crystal-blue eyes began to fill with tears; I felt my own chest tighten and a knot formed in my throat… my strong reserve was beginning to crumble.

I fell to my knees, gathering my son into my arms, “Shhh…” I said, “take a deep breath… in your nose and out your mouth!” As I attempted to wrap my arms around him, he fought me, springing back with force. He threw his head back and howled, “it doesn’t work!” If I were to describe the current scene, I would say that I looked like Steve Irwin, attempting to wrestle a crocodile!

After what seemed like an eternity, he relented. “I’m just stupid… I’m a piece of crap!” He said. His words were scarcely audible as he softly sobbed into my chest, desperately attempting to catch his breath. Upon hearing my sons words, I swallowed thickly. “You are NOT stupid, and you are NOT a piece of crap! You are an incredible little boy… God loves you and so do we!” I said, placing a light kiss upon his temple.

Needless to say, this entire situation was incredibly stressful, and one we face as a family on a regular basis. Life is not easy, and no one ever promised it would be.

Peace is not the absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.

– Ronald Regan

Each day we are faced with different circumstances, some of them soothing and some of them stressful. What is so vitally important is how we choose to handle those circumstances.

Our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think.

Buddha

I am not only a mother but I am also a wife and if any of you are married or have children, then you know that it can be a very difficult job. It can also be one of the most rewarding! I have three children, my step-son Aaron who is 11 1/2, my middle son Logan who is 8, and my daughter Kinlee who is 5.

Five years ago Logan was diagnosed with ASD, Autism Spectrum Disorder or Aspergers Syndrom. When we first received word of his diagnosis, both my husband and I were devastated. We had no words… and no direction in which to go! For so long, we buried our heads in the sand, hoping his diagnosis would simply vanish. We were distraught, and truth be told, we were not handing our stress or the situation appropriately. We needed to allow the emotions that we had buried to surface. We went through a period of anger, grief, mourning, empathy, and sorrow. These emotions were all normal and needed to be felt, especially if we were going to help our son!

Things are much less stressful now in our household, not because we do not experience stressful situations, but because we have learned how to handle them.

Here are 10 ways we can reduce stress in our life…

#1. Choosing Your Emotional Response 

This can be difficult, especially in the heat of the moment! If you find yourself face to face with a stressful circumstance, take a step back, breathe and ask yourself, “How could I best respond to this situation?

#2. Exercise

Our bodies are created to move, and what better way to combat stress than by going for a bike ride, a nature hike, or a peaceful walk. You don’t have to push yourself to the breaking point, you would be amazed to see what 20 minutes a day can do for you!

#3. Deep Breathing 

Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath as in enters your body, hold it for five seconds and then slowly push that breath out by exhaling through your mouth. This exercise has put a halt to many panic attacks I have experienced in my life.

Through many hours of research and advice given to me by therapists, I have learned how detrimental Cortisol can be to your health. Deep Breathing Exercises can stop that flow of Cortisol!

Cortisol is released in response to fear or stress by the adrenal glands as part of the fight-or-flight mechanism. The fight-or-flight mechanism is part of the general adaptation syndrome defined in 1936 by Canadian biochemist Hans Selye of McGill University in Montreal. He published his revolutionary findings in a simple seventy-four-line article in Nature, in which he defined two types of “stress”: eustress (good stress) and distress (bad stress).

Both eustress and distress release cortisol as part of the general adaptation syndrome. Once the alarm to release cortisol has sounded, your body becomes mobilized and ready for action — but there has to be a physical release of fight or flight. Otherwise, cortisol levels build up in the blood, which wreaks havoc on your mind and body.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201301/cortisol-why-the-stress-hormone-is-public-enemy-no-1

If we do not stop the constant flow of Cortisol in our bodies, it can lead to serious health problems; anxiety, depression, learning and memory problems. It can lower immune functions, cause weight gain, and raise blood pressure. In many cases, continued stress can bring on auto-immune diseases.

#4. Laughter 

I am so thankful for my husband because he is one of the funniest people I know! When I am feeling down or stressed, he almost always knows how to make me laugh. I challenge you, the next time you are stressed, listen to someone/something funny and try not to laugh! 😉

#5. Meditation

I have spent countless hours in meditation, and each moment spent has greatly helped reduce my levels of anxiety and stress. I ensure that wherever I go, that place is peaceful and quiet. I personally choose to reflect on scripture, or on a recent book I have read.

#6. Music

Music is good for everybody. They say it soothes the savage beast. Well, I think theirs a beast in all of us. So let’s get some more music and soothe all the beasts out there.

– B.B. King 

#7. Positive Affirmations

Positive Affirmations can do wonders for the body, mind, and soul! Years ago I began what I called a P.R. Journal (Positive Reinforcement). I did not allow myself to write down anything negative, only positive things that helped uplift and restore me. I as well read aloud what I wrote, and even went as far as to write some specific things on my bathroom mirror.

#8. Relaxation 

One of my favorite things to do when I am feeling stressed is to take a long, hot bath! I dim the lights in the bathroom, turn on soothing music and toss in some of my favorite bath bombs. This truly helps to soak away my stress!

#9. Talking

Keeping things bottled up is not only detrimental to your emotional and physical health, but it can also damage your relationships with others. Find someone you trust, and talk to them about how you are feeling. If you do not feel comfortable with that, you can always reach out to a counselor, either online, through your local church or in your community.

#10. Scripture & Prayer

In times of confusion, stress, sorrow, or worry I have turned to scripture and prayer. In many ways the Bible has become a roadmap, paving out the path in which I should go. Contrary to what my children believe, I do not have all the answers, nor do I claim to! I do however know where to go when in need of comfort and peace…

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 11:28

 

 

Putting Minamalism Into Action

“Imagine a life with less. Less stuff, less clutter, less stress and debt and discontent.”

– The Minimalists

Day 90.

January has come and gone, much like an old, beloved song on the radio. The same goes for many of the items in our home!

I sat on the floor of my son’s room, trash sack in hand, neatly folding his clothes into the bag. Suddenly, I found myself feeling a sense of sentimentality and a sense of loss. “What am I doing?” I thought to myself. “Why am I doing this? I can’t do this!”  I paused, and without thought enshrouded the soft, green pajamas around my face; deeply inhaling my son’s scent. After several long minutes, I realized what had caused the abrupt sense of disquietude.

It felt as though I was throwing away a part of my son! As though I was about to lose something of great importance and value. Suddenly, the simple task of gathering together ill-fitting clothing seemed… difficult. But why?

Oftentimes we hold onto things to fill a certain void in our lives. We tell ourselves, “I simply cannot bring myself to part with this,” or “if I throw this out I’ll be losing a part of that person, or myself, or the memories tied to this item!”

There are copious amounts of reasons as to why people have a difficult time letting go of their belongings:

  • The item(s) hold certain sentimental value
  • We feel guilt over the amount spent on that item, whether we bought it ourselves, or it was gifted to us
  • We worry we may need the item in the near future
  • The item becomes a “someday” item, meaning we tell ourselves, “someday I’m going to become a seamstress and will need all of this fabric!
  • We struggle with an obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • We struggle with hoarding

Based on a scientific study done over a 23-year span by Jack Samuels at John Hopkins University, not all people who have OCD are hoarders. “Now, we know that only one-third of people with OCD exhibit hoarding behavior, that many people without OCD hoard, and we suspect that genes can play a key role in it.

http://archive.magazine.jhu.edu/2011/11/why-can%E2%80%99t-some-people-throw-anything-away/

My reasoning for not wanting to discard my son’s clothing was nary so momentous as someone struggling with hoarding or OCD. Alas, I couldn’t help but feel sharp pangs of guilt weighing heavily upon my heart.

So what do I do now?

“How do I move past these feeling?” 

“Is this ok that I’m feeling this way, should I be feeling this way?” 

I took a deep breath, inhaling through my nose and exhaling through my mouth. I let my eyes fall shut and at that moment, a small giggle heedlessly egressed from my lips. I opened my eyes and said to myself, “it’s just stuff… that’s all it is!” Once I heard these words I repeated them aloud, again… and again… and again.

Everything I was experiencing was perfectly normal, and I’d given myself the few moments required to feel what I was feeling. I knew if I wanted to truly continue on this journey I had begun, I had to be stronger than my emotions. I had to set my emotions to the side and allow logic to play its part. I couldn’t allow the things filling our home to control me.

With a renewed sense of purpose, I took the green pajamas that belonged to my son and plunged them into the large white sack. As an added encouragement I asked myself, “what is it that has brought me to this point?”

  • I had established my goal at the beginning of the year; to live a calm, minimalistic, peaceful life!
  • I am a person who enjoys doing research before diving into anything. I began by watching the documentary on Netflix, The Minimalists.
  • I had the respect and support of my loved ones.
  • I expanded upon my main goal and made it a point to get rid of one unnecessary thing each day.
  • Each time I felt any sort of hesitation to discard something in my home, I paused and closed my eyes. Telling myself and asking myself, “It’s just stuff! Is this something you truly need? Is this something deeply sentimental? Can I live without it?”
  • I made two very strict rules for myself: #1. If I’ve not seen it or used it for 6 months or more, then it needs to go. #2. Once the item is in the bag or box, it cannot come out!
  • And finally, refusing to give up!

Never Give Up Quotes By Famous People The 25+ Best Not Giving Up Quotes Ideas On Pinterest | Love Qotes

 

 

 

January Clarity

50.

This is the number of days that have passed since I woke up with a renewed sense of purpose. A realization that things needed to change. I felt an urgency to transform my quality of being. An almost animalistic desperation to find the happiness in my life that I have yearned for all these years.

Everywhere I looked, and everywhere I turned, I could see nothing but chaos and clutter. Mayhem and Mess. Things were strewn about our home. Our days were empty and exhaustive. Our lives were what I would define as, mere insanity.  We were doing the same things over and over again… and expecting a different result.

We asked ourselves the same question every day, “what are we going to do?” Neither my husband nor myself ever had an answer. We would stand silent, for what seemed like an eternity, staring at each other with vacant expressions on our faces. “I don’t know,” was always our answer.

We were what I would call a, “fly by the seat of our pants” family! There was never a plan, never a schedule, never a clue what we were going to do. It wasn’t working. Life wasn’t working. The maelstrom of war… a war going on at home. We were fighting amongst ourselves, and my husband and I weren’t the only casualties. We had unknowingly and unintentionally enlisted our two children into the same battle.

My 7-year-old son is Autistic, he has Asperger’s Syndrome and both he and chaos mix together like oil and water.  My 4-year-old daughter is not Autistic, but she no more needs chaos in her life than my son does. Children need a place they can call home. A place free of chaos, clutter, and calamity. They need clarity. We need clarity… and January gave us just that!

Fifty days ago we began a minimalistic journey, one that would lead us on a path to acquiring more by learning to live with less. Less chaos and disorganization, less time spent in front of electronics, and less junk-food and unplanned meals. Acquiring better health through less processed foods, and more healthy meals. Acquiring the answer to the age-old question, “Mom where are my shoes?” Acquiring more unforgettable moments spent together as a family…

and acquiring a life that is truly unimpeded!