I've had a rough couple of days. Without going into too much detail, I'll just share that I haven't slept more than a couple hours straight in about 3 weeks (thank you, baby molars); yesterday I locked S and myself out of the house with a car full of groceries, including frozen food that half-thawed out; S took a huge potty (not pee) in the shower with me last night, and I didn't have enough bathroom cleaner on-hand to clean it all; and tonight as I picked up toys, I hit my head so hard on the kitchen table that it knocked a drink over, and I put my knee through my computer tablet, breaking it in half.
Good times, I tell ya.

Now I'm scared to go to sleep because my head hurts tremendously and my ears are ringing. So instead, I finished picking up toys, vacuumed my entire upstairs, and straightened up the house. And now I sit at my laptop, clicking on the keys to share these trying times with you people.

As I mindlessly pushed the vacuum around my floor, I got to thinking about how I wish I could just hit a "reset" button sometimes. You know, I'm having a bad day--RESET! I'm tired and need some energy--RESET! My toddler has torn my living room apart, I've let the dishes stack up for two days because my body is too physically exhausted to lift the pots and pans, and I have piles of sorted dirty laundry in my bedroom--RESET! If only...

But since that's not an option, I must soon put into action a plan I've been mauling over for several weeks--heck, months or even years, if I'm really honest. I've been desperate to simplify my life, and I don't mean I need to say "no" to some things and lighten up my schedule. I mean we've been blessed beyond belief, and I'm grateful to have all that we have--but we have so many things now that they're subtracting from our quality of life instead of adding to it.

We don't live like the people on the hoarder TV shows, who cry when their families throw away a broken item or moldy food. We don't live unsanitarily, and we don't keep things that don't work or are multiples. Still, we have things we haven't used in nearly a decade and don't even know where they are currently located to ever use again. We have boxes of things we've taken with us house to house, wherever we moved, without ever actually unpacking. We have a garage full of it and a storage room that could be a bedroom if we could just get rid of things. We've pared down a lot from what we had, but we don't have enough house to keep everything we still possess. And for a family our size, it 's silly to need a bigger house. 

Besides the practicality of needing space, living with this kind of clutter creates clutter of the mind. For the past two years (since I got pregnant), I haven't been able to relax at home because I always feel like there's something else I need to work on. That's what living with too much stuff does to a person. It forms a to-do list in my head that I can't get out, even if I tell myself I don't have to mess with it now. During the summer months, I can escape by getting outside and adventuring with my girl, allowing myself to temporarily "forget" the clutter exists. But with fall and then winter approaching, I'll be stuck in the confines of my house while avoiding the snow, and forced to face the reality of the mess. I must simplify, cleanse, detox, and refine my home. For the sake of my sanity, I have to give myself a fresh slate.

I've often thought I spend too much time on my phone. S confirmed my suspicion.

My husband may not recognize his wife over the coming weeks. I'm tossing things in a big way, and I'm not just talking material possessions.

Is it useful? Is it beautiful? Do I love it?* Every facet of my life needs to be reconsidered and reshaped: my experiences, my obligations, my schedule. Am I nurturing the people in my life in a way that represents what they mean to me? What activities am I giving my time and attention to, and are those activities useful, beautiful or beloved? Am I holding onto material possessions for the right reasons?

It's a tantalizing task, but I've hit a wall I must climb to feel right again. All summer I've found ways to re-energize myself in the outdoors; now it's time to refresh my family's life and my own personal life inside the walls of my home. 


* "Is it useful? Is it beautiful? Do I love it?" is an idea that I read in a book a couple years ago, but can't remember the source. If you know, please share so I can credit the author.


There's Something About the Woods

I've never been a Greenpeace, tree-hugging type of person, but there's something about getting into nature that allows me to finally sigh relief, exhaling the stress and worry and doubt that builds up in regular life. You know, life can be so... daily.

Daily things wear us down, sometimes quietly under our own noses, without us noticing. Many days I feel like I fall short: as a wife, as a mother, as a homemaker, as a person. Weeks go by when it seems I can't do anything right. 

Then there, breathing in the scent of the forest, I can step back, let the pace change, and remember what it is to just be. No shortcomings. No failures. No judgment. Just live.

Be present. Be calm. Be okay. Be myself. Be alive.

And it had been a while since Nick and I were just us. Now we're Mommy and Daddy. I'm not complaining--S has brought a happiness into our life that we never could have imagined. But sometimes I think we forget who we are together. We are a man and a woman. We are a husband and wife. We are two people who fell in love with each other fifteen years ago. I didn't fall in love with "Daddy," (although, for the record, I've fallen more in love with him now, seeing him with our daughter). I fell in love with someone who smiles with half his mouth, is mischievous, tender-hearted, adventurous and fun, and who makes me laugh those full, hearty belly laughs that are one of life's greatest joys. 

We took what I felt was a HUGE step in our parenting journey last weekend, as we left S overnight with my mom for the first time so we could have a Mommy-Daddy camping trip. It was just one night, but for me, it was a slice of bliss. I'd forgotten what it was like to have time together to focus on each other and just relax. It was simple. And it allowed me to return to our home with a new energy (despite my recent severe lack of sleep and out-of-character cranky teething toddler). I haven't escaped my imperfections or insecurities; but escaping for just one night helped me to regain vibrancy. I don't know the expiration date on my fresh perspective, but when it's up I'll head into the woods again--maybe next time with toddler in tow.