Happiness Project Part 4: May

I have come to love the end of each month; it’s the time when I look back on my Happiness Resolutions from the previous month, reflect on my progress, and chart the next months path!! The feeling that you are growing as a person, and measuring that growth in a concrete manner, is quite motivational and exciting! (At least it is for an Upholder like myself…I bet no one is surprised to learn that my minor in education was Math, ha!!!)

Before I start to drone on & on about my April, if you’re wondering what on earth I’m talking about with this “Happiness Project” stuff, and terms like “Happiness Resolutions” or “Upholder”, feel free to click here and see what the technicalities of it are all about. The inspiration to do this came from author Gretchen Rubin….and I’m about to say something I say every month: if you haven’t read her books, or listened to her podcast (called “Happier with Gretchen Rubin”), you need to get on that!! Yes, I’m talking to YOU. EVERYONE. Because, who doesn’t want to be the happiest version of themselves? To change your life without actually changing your life?

Yea, exactly 😉

April has been one of the deepest months of self-discovery that I have ever experienced. I’ve never been much for labels, however I may be changing my mind on that; some labels can be ok. I’ve found that although I never really felt like I “belonged” in any particular group throughout my 32 years on this planet, I now feel this deep sense of true belonging with MYSELF. Evy, and his journey so far, have been both the hardest thing I have ever faced, and also brought about the biggest and TRUEST POSITIVE change in myself that I have experienced in my adult life. Upon much reading, meditation, soaking up different view points via books, podcasts, documentaries, etc., I have come to know myself so much better. And better yet, ACCEPT myself. I am an upholder, introvert (believe it or not!), and minimalist. (For some fun, go to happiercast.com/quiz to find out what your own personality “tendency” is!! Why you do the things you do, or why you DON’T or CAN’T! So interesting!) And I LOVE IT.

But I digress…back to reflecting on the month of April. My 5 “Happiness Resolutions” for this particular month were: 1. buy nothing (except for essentials) 2. 1,1,1 (this referred to marriage: 1 meeting a week, 1 nice act per day, and 1 meeting a month to discuss larger goals together) 3. Enter the Room (this referred to changing my habit of raising my voice to talk Cody or Scott from another room…usually to nag, yuck!! Who wants that? Not them or me!) 4. Chart in Charge (we came up with a white board chart for electronic device usage time, and the things that must happen before anyone gets their time) 5. 10 Mins of Parenting (this referred to spending a minimum of 10 minutes per day reading various parenting books). For the in-depth details of what these resolutions entailed, please check out my previous post. So….how did it all pan out?

Well, putting the device usage chart in charge was a HIT!!!!! Cody and I have had almost NO arguments since we made those guidelines together, and the chart went up on the wall. He is right on track with his chores, his manners, and sometimes he doesn’t even care to use all of his alotted time for the day!! SCORE!!!! (thank you to my good friend, K, for inspiring me to come up with that chart!!) What else worked out super well? I managed to squash my habit of nagging and/or raising my voice from another room! If I catch myself taking a deeper breath to project the words “Cody, did you…..” from the kitchen to the living room, I stop myself nearly every time, and think “YOU wouldn’t want to be nagged like this, would you? NOPE!” and I put down whatever I’m doing, take the 10 seconds it takes to go and speak to him face-to-face, and things tend to go much smoother. Funny how kids (and husbands!) react so much more kindly when YOU yourself are softer, and more patient 😉

Reading 10 minutes of parenting books every day, and the “1,1,1” marriage resolution also went fairly well. I read 2 full parenting books: “How to talk so kids will listen, and listen so kids will talk” by Faber and Mazlish, and “The 5 Love Languages of Children” by Chapman were eye opening, & beyond helpful. I highly recommend each of them, by far the most practical, immediately applicable & accessible parenting books I have ever opened!! And I found myself more mindful than usual of ensuring that I do my best to lift my hubby up at least once a day. But the biggest thing to note was the “BUY NOTHING” resolution….why? That’s not easily answered….but what I can say, without suddenly finding myself thinking that I should have created a whole separate post to explain the complexities of what I discovered, is that for years, I struggled with what I can now see was an online shopping addiction.

It took a looooong time to really figure out, because I am not someone who actually likes the physical act of shopping at all. Zero fun from that. Honestly. I avoid it all costs. That’s why online shopping was my kryptonite. I didn’t have to see people (social anxiety can be such a b*%#!), the feeling of actually spending money didn’t haunt me because I didn’t actually physically have to swipe a debit card, or hand over any money either. Online it just feels so ….surreal. Until it doesn’t. And the kicker was that I was never spending much at one time (of course, dollar amount is all relative. What one person classifies as “not much” may not match up with the next person’s definition. However, I never spent more than a few hundred dollars at the EXTREME most. And more often than not, my purchases would be seemingly small, maybe $20-30 or less. Harmless right?…or so I THOUGHT. Although it wasn’t very harmful to our budget, it was harmful to ME, to my spirit & well-being). Also, “shopaholics” are usually defined as people who loooove the exhilarating feeling of spending the money, of acquiring whatever new object: that also is NOT ME. I don’t care about stuff. In fact, I prefer a clutter-free environment and owning only things that bring value to our family life!! What I was doing was subconsciously trying to BUILD MYSELF from the outside inward. I was desperately clawing at a way to ensure that nothing bad would ever happen again: I would see some advertisement, and easily say “no, I don’t need that right now”…. but then my anxious voice would scream at me “someday, you might actually need that!! And you won’t have it…what will you do?! And it’s all going to be YOUR FAULT!” Totally the backwards way of doing it!! Once I saw that, once I shone a light on the darkest part of myself, I walked away. The shackles were removed, I’m back in the light.

Hands down, the “buy nothing” resolution has been the most beneficial one that I have made thus far. So much so, that I am considering extending that to a “shopping ban” (beyond specified essentials) for the rest of 2018. Cait Flanders, author of “The Year of Less” did such a shopping ban, and reading her book has inspired me to do the same. Of course I recognize that is a large undertaking, and guidelines must be set, plans must be laid out…so this is a matter for a different post. But I fully intend to move ahead with it!!

It is said that “April Showers Bring May Flowers”…so what does May have in store for my Happiness Project? The following 5 new resolutions:

  1. Write a Haiku Every Day. As you may have already guessed, I absolutely love writing. I always have. Writing short forms of poetry known as Haikus is something I have never tried, but something that author Gretchen Rubin has discussed on her podcast many a time. With a trip to British Columbia (and Edmonton, and Saskatoon!) coming up, I figured that this is a wonderful way to memorialize the highlights of each day, and focus on the natural world around us.
  2. Laugh. One of the things that brings about the greatest joy in life is the sound of children’s laughter. Life tends to feel so serious, and heavy….so, I resolve to spend a few minutes every single day dedicating time to laughing my a** off with my angels about something!! It could be funny cat videos on YouTube (Cody and Evrett think those are the best!!), peek-a-boo with Lydia, or playing tag down the hallway. Anything that brings about squeals of joy from the kiddos and uninhibited laughter straight from my belly!!! <Life is too short, gotta laugh when you can, Lace!>
  3. Shopping Ban. I have already spoken a bit about the plan to plan for a shopping ban for the rest of 2018, and this continues for May!! I’m very excited to see what comes of this!! Stay tuned…..
  4. Walk Gus. Something that Scott & I have been saying for years now is that “we really need to walk Gus more…”. Between unexpected life circumstances, surgeries, deaths, etc., we have really fallen down on our dog parenting duty. We ADORE Gussy with all our hearts, and he is 8 now…we have to face that despite wanting to keep him here with us forever….nothing in this life is “forever”. We need to enjoy him NOW. EVERYDAY. Lately, I have made more of an effort to get out with him, and now I resolve to walk with him every. single. day. He deserves it, and we love our time with him.
  5. Wake Up, WORKOUT. I LOOOOOVE to workout; what I do not love is working out in the morning. (I am soooo NOT a morning person!!) Especially with Miss Lydia waking me up at 5:30-6:30 A.M. most days!! (Yikes!!!) But you know what I could do? A brief, 10 minute workout every morning, even with her watching in the room. (My real, heavier duty workout can come later on in the day.) It would get my day off to a much more energetic start, and set me up for more success all around. So that’s what I’m going to do!! Starting tomorrow, May 1st baby!! Let’s DO THIS

This journey with Evy has brought about such anxiety, heartache, strife, stress…but it has also pushed me in to this land of self-exploration and betterment, and for that part of things I will be forever grateful to him. He makes me want to be BETTER. A better mother. A better spouse to my darling hubby, Scott. A better PERSON.

~Thank you for reading, and for supporting our darling Bug on his journey.  It would mean the world if you would help show support for our darling Evy, and help raise awareness for rare diseases, by following & sharing. If you have a helpful, positive, or supportive comment in mind, please leave one for us! We deeply appreciate you taking the time to be here.

Warmest wishes on your own journey.

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