Life in the trenches of empty nesting.

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This is me right now. Not just my dining room, but my brain. Pile upon pile of junk I need to do, should be doing, finished doing, shouldn’t be doing, want to be doing. This is the visible. The invisible is even more horrifying. So I decided I needed to take a break this morning and write a little update on life in the trenches of empty nesting.

I remember life in the trenches of raising littles. And then moving into the oh-my=God-why-did-we-ever-have-children era of teenagers. I’m joking about that last one, honestly. The teenager Smith years were…challenging. And rewarding. And fun. And busy. And memory making. And to be honest, I was sad when they were over. Also, tired.

But this empty nesting thing? Wow. I think if I were usually an easy-going, happy all the time, look on the bright side Mary Poppins kind of girl things would be different. But I’m not, and they are not. I’m more of a dive in and take on all the projects and do all the things all at the same time, so nothing gets done kind of girl. That’s where I am today. Where we are. We are all about the we these days. Just me and him. We started out that way, we are finishing up that way. Or so I keep telling us. Don’t get me wrong, we are doing the fun things, too. Hopping in the Fusion Hybrid (we have already had our midlife crises hot-rod Camaro) and going to church with Brett and Rachel in Newport News. Staying long enough for brunch and then high-tailing it back to NoVa in time for the barn duties. Some nights, if Shawn is not around to cook for us, we have cheese and crackers and a glass of wine for dinner. And a handful of peanut M&M’s for dessert. We are living our best life.

And we are flirting with the idea of retiring. And by we, I mean Russell. I’m pushing for the end of this year, but he’s pushing for the end of 2021. I’m hoping we will compromise and meet in the middle of 2020 because hello even numbers. (Odd numbers don’t bother him, but they freak me out.) So we are working on the house, getting it ready to sell. Thus the pile of air intake vents, all-purpose adhesive, and paint tape on the dining room table.

Oh, and I’ve joined a writing group. Because nothing says retirement like beginning a new career you were supposed to have been doing for the last 35 years. So (hopefully) you will be seeing some changes around This Girl to include a new design, my hope*writers writing badge and maybe, just maybe, a little more writing activity.

Off to declutter my dining room and my brain and see Y’all soon.

Is Christmas over yet?

christmasMaybe this is your first Christmas without a loved one. Or the seventh. And you are thankful for all that you have. Family, children, friends. But you can’t stop thinking about the one(s) not here. Because they should be.

Maybe you are looking over the last year…or years…and you just don’t understand how you ended up here. Still…again. The way life didn’t turn out. The work you put in didn’t pay off. The job you dreamed about didn’t come through. The child who struggles still struggles.

Or the test results you are waiting on…or maybe you have already heard, and you are waiting until Christmas is over to break the news. The marriage that hasn’t come…or came and now is over.

And this time of year…with all its joy and presents and parties and light…illuminates the dark we may be feeling and we long for January 2 so that we can get back to normal.

Friend, there is Hope. Yeah…it’s trite, its cliche, but it’s also true. I’m not talking religion. I’m talking Emmanuel…God with us. Or my favorite name Jesus calls Himself in Revelation 22:16, Bright Morning Star. He is what Christmas is all about. He will renew our strength, and His plan is to give us hope and strength.

I wish I could assure you that having hope in Him always brings us physical healing and always means that things will turn out as we want. I can’t because it doesn’t always. But this I know to be true: He loves you and me…all in…unconditionally…yesterday, today, and tomorrow into eternity. And when we call out to Him in desperation, in grief, in fear, in hope…He answers.

Merry Christmas, beloved.

Anyone else reflecting on how 2018 went down? I’ve been thinking about it a lot as it comes to a close. My journaling time in the morning has been one of a lot of sitting in front of the blank page, pencil in hand, just listening for and to the quiet Voice in my heart that talks to me about the important things. The things that I need to let matter; and the things that really irritate the hell out of me that I need to let go. Twenty-eighteen has been a whole lot of irritants and in the past, I would have handled things a lot differently. But guess what? I am pushing 58 years on this Earth and I’ve learned a few things. Here are a few, in no particular, very chatty order.

I love coffee. And I’m not getting rid of it in my life. (No, God has not told me to let coffee go, by the way.) There are a lot of other things I do love, that I have and continue to clean out of my life. But coffee ain’t one that’s going anywhere. Learning to love it without sugar…that is doable. Giving up the real, dairy-laden, cream? Nope. Cutting back on it because it does tend to irritate my gut? Begrudgingly, yes.

You can’t out exercise a poor diet. As I’ve gotten back into working out (more) regularly, and I’m not seeing the results I’m working hard towards, I’ve finally had to admit this is true. And eating crappy food leads to crappy workouts and not having the mental and physical desire to work out. Having a food plan and an exercise plan is key for me. Now, if I could just stick with them. #discipline #howbaddoyouwantit

As much as I love the “ber” months, I’m looking forward to January. And I’ve come to realize I have always done so. After the hustle and bustle, over-consumption of all the food and things, I’m ready to settle in and enjoy the quiet and the coziness of winter. I’m thankful that we have a fireplace, a safe, warm place to live, family and friends to share with, and the months of January and February in a climate that encourages us to enjoy the indoors. As I was writing this post this morning, I ran across a short piece written by Venice Wyatt that I shared on my facebook page that exactly explained what I was feeling and thinking.

Having said all of that. I’m not wishing away December. I’m settling in and enjoying our oh-so-not-perfect-but-absolutely-perfect Christmas tree. I’m (trying) to let go of the OCD that keeps clawing it’s way to the surface of my brain, and letting things (and myself) just be. My house has been a constant state of cleaning out, packing up, moving stuff out, mess. Shawn and I have been going through things (he has replaced the decluttering queens in my life, Susan D. and Leeann A.) and he encourages me to just let it go. Brett and Rachel were home for Thanksgiving and we pretty much put our hands on every single thing down in the basement. There were very few things that any of the kiddos wanted, and after running everything through several tests (do I love it? is it connected with someone I love? does it hold an irreplaceable memory? can I replace it if I really wanted to? and oh yeah, do I really love it?), I let go of a lot of things. But yesterday I was wandering through (in my mind) what was in each box down there and I realized I have more to let go of.

Letting go. I feel like that has been my mantra this year. I’ve had to let go of toxic relationships, dreams that I’ve clung to that I’ve realized have been replaced by even better realities, habits that are nothing but destructive, attitudes that I thought were just who I was and couldn’t be released (but can!). Letting go always had such negative feels for me in the past but now…letting go has equaled freedom. Freedoms in ways I never, ever imagined possible. More on that as we move into the New Year, but let me just leave you with this: don’t be afraid to let go. Letting go of one thing opens up a million possibilities for good things, better things, permanent things.

See Y’all soon.

A few of my favorite things…1

I was slathering on all the product today and thought…I wonder if anyone else uses this mascara/hair product/soap/etc. because I love it. Maybe they would too. So here you go, a few of my favorite things. *some things are linked to my Amazon account where I am an Amazon Associate.*

My Girl is the one who turned me onto this mascara. Seriously, I have never, ever used a mascara that I have loved like this one. It does what it says it does: waterproof and volume and lengthening. And it still comes off easily when I wash my face and/or use make-up remover. Seriously, this is my #1 recommendation of all times. And it is super inexpensive!

Anyone else jumped on board with the amazingness that is the Instant Pot? So this one is on 40% off right now. I handed down my smaller one and just purchased this one for myself for Christmas. Even The Pioneer Woman is jumping on board with the Instant Pot and redoing some of her best recipes to use the Instant Pot. I made this recipe last week because her original recipe is my go-to for pot roast. This was just as tasty and wonderfully comforting just like the original.

I have always had super dry hair and coloring/highlighting/blow drying/etc. has not helped. And then I met this queen of all hair products. My hair dries faster (with or without blow drying) and has not dried out like it did before I started using this. And it smells so yummy.

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And last, but not least, this toothpaste and a drop of Orange together are whitening up my teeth in a way I didn’t think was possible. My teeth were damaged by antibiotics (a child of the ’60s) and most whitening products don’t do much. I’ve been doing a 30-day challenge (for myself) to see if this combo really does work for me and it does. Contact me or go here to order.

There ya go. Holler at me if you have any questions. And see Y’all soon!

Twenty days ’til Christmas.

Is it just me or is Christmas coming faster every year? My dad warned me this would happen. Not specifically Christmas coming quickly, but the year(s) moving more quickly as I age. Is aging and time like a snowball? Gathering speed as it moves closer to the bottom of the end? That’s my deep thought for the day. Probably the only one. You’re welcome.

Anyone else absolutely freaked out that we are only 27 days until the New Year? I mean I’ve held it together pretty well until this morning. My brain can not slow down, turn off, or focus, on any one thing or even all the things it should be focused on. Instead, I am wandering down memory lane, revisiting past events that have no business sticking their nose into my present and future, abandoned plans, broken relationships that aren’t supposed to be healed, habits and behaviors that are just not healthy, and the weight of things done that can not be undone…I’m cutting it all loose today. As in, I’m making the choice. Do I continue being distracted by all the shiny and/or tarnished things that pop up? Or do I make the conscious decision to let the past be the past and today is a new day, a new beginning?

Yeah, it’s easy to say that and another to actually make it so, but I have to begin somewhere. More importantly, I must change my own negative thought processes to positive ones. In everything. I’ve already begun that with focusing on food…is it medicine and fuel? It needs to be right now. And moving more? I am, but I need an actual plan and tracking system. Decluttering and cleaning out our home? It’s happening, usually with me kicking and screaming. So I’ve been taking pictures of things and books and tucking them away as reminders. Reminders for what, I’m not sure, but it’s making the process easier and I’m letting things go. Literally.

This morning as I was writing out a lot of these thoughts in the journal, I realized that just putting pen(cil) to paper and letting it all out of my stopped up brain really had a calming and I can do this effect. I’m seeing and thinking more clearly. Able to prioritize and, I’m positive, focus on what I need to be doing. Yeah, it’s a lot. But it all doesn’t have to be done today. Or even in the next 27 days. Because nothing says new beginnings like January 1. Christmas is coming and I really need to get my brain and heart back on track with what it really means. For this gift girl, that means all the presents. And Jesus. Definitely Jesus. Y’all know I’m joking…it’s Jesus first. Then all the presents.

How is everyone else coping with this time of year? Anyone just sitting back, wishing for snow and letting the rest of it not bother you? If so, share your secrets on how you do that!

See you soon.

November 29 and intentions and goals

Since we are coming up on the end of the year, I have really been thinking a lot about 2018 and how it went down (not too bad, actually) and how I want 2019 to look. I used to do New Year’s resolutions and would crush it for the first week or so and then…crash and burn. Mostly because of the following reasons:

  1. My resolutions were just so out of my norm;
  2. I didn’t have a real “plan.”
  3. I had no end game.

This year I’m not doing resolutions. Over the last couple of years, I have learned (the hard way) that for me I need to dive headlong in, but only in mind initially. From there, I start to brain dump into my journal. I’ve actually just begun this process for my December 2018 goals (aka short-term goals/intentions) and a couple for 2019, and this morning spent about an hour brain dumping into my journal. I thought it would be cool to share some of the processes with you, which will work for whatever your goals/intentions are, I’m pretty sure. Below I will share one of my top 3 and how I plan to get ‘er done. So here we go.

  1. Think about what you would like to accomplish next year. Write it all down. Every single little thing that pops into your head. Write it down in one big, fat brain dump.
  2. Read through all of it once or twice. A few are going to really stick out and you are going to keep coming back to those. Circle them. Now read through all of them again. Tighten up those few that jump into your heart and stick.
  3. On a clean sheet of paper, or turn the page, or on the back (what-ev-er) write down the top five things you want to accomplish next year. Focus on each one for a few minutes. Or longer. This is your gig. You are in charge.
  4. Circle or highlight or write over them with glitter, but pick the 1 or 2 or 3 that really has/have your gut screaming…”THIS!!!!!!!”
  5. I personally draw a line under my top few at this point, but you don’t have to. Unless you want to fail. (#justkidding) Make this your own…what feels right to you (again with the gut feeling.)
  6. If you have a #1, now is the time to let it shine. Write it out. Get specific. Write out all the particulars, the whys, the wheres, the whos, the whens, and the hows. Still kinda brain dumping here, but I actually space these out so that I can go back and fill out even more detail if needed.
  7. By now you are probably wondering, “geez, woman, how long is this gonna take?” Honestly, I only spent an hour on it this morning. And I only focused on my #1. Tomorrow I will do the same with my #2 and then #3 if I still feel it is attainable. Because let’s be super-duper real for a moment. I’m tired of not succeeding. Notice I didn’t say fail? Instead of “fail” I like to think, “learned.” I didn’t succeed but I sure as heck learned a lot about how NOT to go about it. I want to set myself up to succeed this time. And most of the time from now on. And don’t email me or text me or call me about the f(ail) word. I get it. We do fail. But the more I keep using that word, thinking that word, writing that word, the more likely I am to f. Let’s get positive (anyone else start singing “let’s get physical?” No? Me, neither.) Anyway, let’s get back on track with all the paragraphs.
  8. So you have your #1 goal/intention there. And you’ve brain dumped everything you can think about that one thing. Pick your top 10 things you can start doing today, or this week, or this month, to move closer to that #1 goal. And write those out again. Except for this time…write them out as if you are already doing them. Maybe you already are doing them for realz.
  9. Here is where I share one of my goals/intentions for 2019. Actually, beginning December 2018, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. I’ve been working on getting to the gym, eating healthier, etc. And of course, I want to lose weight. I have a goal written out. It’s not a number, it’s not a size. But my 10 top things I can start doing today, and have been doing some of them, that I am going to write about in the present, include (and no judgment, please): I am moving more. I am wearing cute clothes. I am going to the gym three days a week. I am hitting the weights 2x a week. So…you get the idea? The things I want to be doing in order to succeed at my goal, I will write about and talk about in the present tense.
  10. And don’t just write them down this one time, but all the time. When you talk about them…talk about them in the present tense also. And, #duh, do them. Because thinking them, writing them, and doing them, will make them actually happen.

Okay, so now for the difficult part. You need to do this every day. Not the whole thing…just #9. Seriously, Y’all know I journal. I’ve started journaling more about my goals and intentions every day. And now? It’s happening. My goals are actually becoming reality. More on that over the next few weeks and months. But one of my short-term goals was to move up a rank in Young Living from a Distributor to Star. #boom #done. Next essential oil biz goal is Senior Star…by the end of December 2018.

Hopefully, someone pulled something useful out of this mess of a blog post.

See Y’all…soon…ish. And thank you for all of the encouragement and feedback!

November 26 and allllll the drama

Just kidding on the drama.

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Everyone is showing off all their Christmas decoratin’ bling on social media and I am over here at Smith Abbey stepping over boxes and having to push chairs out-of-the-way and digging through an over-stuffed fridge looking for my heavy whipping cream for my coffee and maybe even looking at a few dirty dishes from Saturday night. Because we crushed it in the suck the life out of every second of time we have together arena. From 6:30 Tuesday night until 3:30 yesterday afternoon when everyone finally departed for home, we hugged, and laughed, and teased, and ate, and drove, and literally squeezed a lifetime of memories out of every drop. And my house, for one, is a testament to it. But instead of worrying about the mess (and my serious joint pain and gut issues due to the lack of common sense that was my eating over the last 6 days) I am sipping my coffee from my fave over-sized Christmas coffee mug, and going through each and every moment in my head and storing it all in my heart.

The girls

Because I lost count of the number of times that Russell and I stood back for a moment and just watched all the craziness going on, recognizing that this is what it is all about. Two little girls about to turn two who pretty much ran the show. Of course, they did. Adult siblings and cousins coming together and teasing and laughing and joking and bickering like they always did. Welcoming into the circle of our craziness a new wife and a new girlfriend, hesitating for a nanosecond over the thought of can they handle it? Yes, they can as they jumped right into the fray. All of us worshipping together, minus one sleepy head who will never hear the end of it. Y’all my heart is full to the brim. Kinda like my bedroom where we dumped all of the gotta make room for chairs and boxes. We also took a day to clean out the bedroom and put a ton of stuff on facebook marketplace so that’s all in my dining room right now. Cuz what better time to do that kind of stuff?

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I tried to pop onto social media now and then over the last few days and ended up catching up on everything last night, in bed, at 8:30. Loved seeing all of the Thanksgiving meals, families, decorating, and joy. There will be plenty of time this week to get the house back in order. To rearrange the tree which, as I’m looking at it this morning, is still leaning a tad to the right because we didn’t have time for my usual 20 minutes of tree straightening commands. I’m positive my OCD will kick in at some point, but for now, I’m loving the lean, cherishing the ornaments facing backward that were placed by pudgy little hands all along the bottom 1/4 of the tree, and missing all the joyful noise of family.

Hope Y’all had a great Thanksgiving. See you tomorrow.

November 23 and the real reason it is called Black Friday

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Shawn and Rachel’s charcuterie board.

I don’t know about y’all, but we had a houseful yesterday. And it was glorious. And loud. And there was some drama. And there were tons of sweet moments. And there was Way. Too. Much. Food. And I had to lie down for 40 minutes during the midst of it. Because let’s be real for a minute. Family, food, and fun can make for a bit of a stressful day and while I was so stinkin’ happy to have everyone here, imagine what all of the crappy (as in not-so-healthy) food has done to my gut and body and add on the busyness of pulling everything together? I needed to do one of two things: 1. take a break for 40 or 2. vomit. Almost did both, but my gut calmed down a bit after a while.

So Black Friday. In my mind, it has nothing to do with retail. And everything to do with coming down off the high of Thanksgiving Day. I wouldn’t say I’m actually in a dark mood today, but I’m definitely feeling reflective and thankful, exhausted and stuffed, and super happy that my people are all still in bed so I can have this time to just be. And did I mention it is quiet?

For the record, it’s okay to be overwhelmed by what isn’t the norm for you. The ton of food that you have to have a bite of because it’s something you may only have once a year. It’s okay to be sad on Thanksgiving and missing your loved ones. It’s okay to be glad the day is over with and now you can dive headlong into Christmas. As if some of us haven’t been doing that for the last 10 days already.

And it’s okay to be angry that maybe this year you can’t think of a whole lot to be thankful for. Maybe you are in the midst of a wicked divorce. Or this is your first (or seventh) Thanksgiving following the death of a loved one. Or you lost your job…or your house. It’s probably been pretty tough seeing all of the “Happy Thanksgiving!” “I’m so blessed and thankful” social media posts. You are not forgotten. Not by those who know you and not by El Roi  – the God who sees you. Call out to Him and He will bring you peace and comfort and turn your ashes into joy. Although it may not seem like it. Although it may take time. He will do it if you ask Him.

We are off to the tree farm today. Car full after car full after car full of family and friends. And it’s going to be wonderful. And loud. And there’s going to be some drama. And I am thankful.

See Y’all tomorrow..

 

November 21 and it’s officially Christmas

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Well, it is around here, anyway.

Today we are pulling out Christmas dishes and lights to start decorating. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and Friday is Christmas Tree Farm day. To be honest, it’s been a struggle not to decorate before now this year. Seeing all of the decorating happening out in Instagram land has not helped. In fact, it’s probably been driving my desire to decorate earlier than usual. I have successfully resisted and now…bring on the tinsel and lights and ornaments and all the Christmas things!

All my people are in the house, “the house” meaning Springfield, and last night we celebrated Russell’s birthday. Can you say, one happy momma. As the bickering and fighting over who sits where and barking orders at each other began, I was in heaven. I pray that my children never become strangers to each other. That the bickering doesn’t turn to anger or indifference. That the barking orders to each other never becomes hate and then silence. It happens. It is happening in the lives of people we know and love. I’m thankful that the eye rolls are followed by giggles and teasing. That the asides of “s/he drives me crazy” ends with, “thank God.” I worried, for a time, about the heart children that would become ours via marriage. That they wouldn’t get us or would struggle with how we roll. We actually talked about it last night as Russell was opening his cards and prezzies…and as I looked at each of these children I have been blessed with, I realized I had worried for no reason. We are still missing one heart child…she will come eventually. I’ve got a feeling she’s going to fit in just fine. As long as she recognizes and accepts two things: 1. Christmas comes early at the Smith house; and 2. the Queen rules.

Happy Thanksgiving and bring on the Christmas festivities.

See Y’all…soon.christmas

November 19 and let’s all just calm down

Not an order…a suggestion. Since I’ve been all up in my own head the first 2.5 weeks of November, I’m leading the charge in calming down.

Having said that, I was super duper grumpy this morning. I’m sure it had nothing to do with being at da gym by 5 this morning. Seriously, it really didn’t because I was awake anyway and I felt great after 30 minutes on the treadmill and 15 minutes of good stretching. And I can totally feel it.

Nope, not the gym. Couldn’t have anything to do with the 45 people coming to my house Thursday for dinner. Okay, I am exaggerating a tiny bit. It’s only 18 or so and honestly, it isn’t that at all because I am so psyched that The Littles arrive tomorrow for dinner and birthday celebrations (Russell turns fifty…ummmm…well he doesn’t want to talk about which number follows the fifty) and that means pineapple upside down cake with enough candles to light up the northern hemisphere. Birthday boy’s family (after 35+ years, why are they still “Russell’s family?” they are totally “our family”) start arriving Wednesday, but no one has figured out exactly when and for this OCD, detail girl, I’m sure that’s not bothering me at all. Is it, Courtenay?

Honestly, I’m not sure what got into me today. Thankfully, I’m over it this afternoon, but I was snarky for a bit and then had to pull it together. So there you go…I had to pull it together. And I did. I didn’t run with it. Although, to be honest at one point I did tell my spousal unit to stop talking to me because I was gonna blow. His response? “Bring. It.” And then he laughed like a kid, and I had to laugh also. All I could think of was this. He even called me a couple hours later to see how I was doing (my husband, not Keanu Reeves, although how cool would that be?) And I even went to Target. I mean if a trip to Tarjay doesn’t cheer a girl up…I think that’s when I knew this was going to be a get over yourself lady and pull your act together kind of thing. And it’s been all uphill since.

Take a minute to tell me your top five Thanksgiving meal must-haves over on my facebook page. That is one thing I know cheered me up…reading everyone’s food list.

Off to meet my men and head to Wegman’s…I am determined to be cheery, chatty, and chipper at Weggies…even though it is going to be a nightmare.

Happy Monday-before-Thanksgiving and see Y’all tomorrow.