Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ramblings of an Ex-Hoarder

I use the phrase 'ex-hoarder' not knowing fully if most people would look at the massive amounts of stuff I own and consider it a habit of the past. I like to think that if they could see how far we've come that they would congratulate me... maybe even throw me a party. I like to think I deserve a party. And as of this past weekend, we could hold it in my garage.

It's not easy for me to purge, although it is getting easier. I still pull things out of my 'donate', 'sell' and 'trash' pile and put them back into the 'keep' pile hoping no one will notice. Brian usually doesn't, so in a way I have only myself to control my impulses. I am responsible for talking myself out of keeping something. As good as I am getting at purging I bet that if I had a day with one of those organizers/therapists from the show Hoarders I would even do better. Remind me why I don't need the empty champagne bottle from the night Brian proposed?

I think that the decision to down-size & move back into the city was a good for us for several reasons, one being that I am being forced to purge my hoard. You couldn't walk into our garage on Friday. Today, you could...well, hold a party in it. It's a good feeling but it came with an onslaught of terrible feelings. As I got rid of a trailer full of garbage & a yard full of 'stuff' (below) the reel that was replaying in my mind was exhausting

"What if I need this later..."
"This is perfectly good, someone might want this"
"Awwww, Miles used this when he was little so I have to keep it for his kids"
"We bought this in __(insert foreign country here)____ so I should keep it"

I forged on & managed to keep just a few things I know I will never use again or have an emotional attachment to (A tiny little Paul Frank bike helmet).

I've done the kitchen, the closet, the toys & now the garage. This coming weekend we tackle the basement knowing that it will be easier if we do it before the snow comes. The basement is the hard part. The basement is where the yearbooks, old ballet slippers, cabbage patch dolls & photo albums live. Somewhere in that basement is a collection of hula dolls (I know...), a collection elephant figurines (I know....) and every issue of my high school magazine 'The Voice'. How do I get rid of the newspapers from Sept 12th, 2001? (I am well aware it can all be found online). How can I throw away my sticker book from elementary school? But I struggle, to throw away the notes my high school friend Molly put so much effort into writing, illustrating & folding into cute origami creatures.

I did good in the garage. I am nervous that when I finish with the basement (I've 'cleaned' it every year for the past 5 years) that it won't be in ready-to-move condition. What then?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Soup's on!

A while ago I started a Facebook group called the Okotoks Foodies (open to anyone from anywhere). I was looking for like-minded women I could share with. And it was a success! It's become a great forum for all things 'food' in Okotoks. And last week I hosted out first event, a soup exchange. It was a great success! It's put together in the same manner as a cookie exchange. Each person makes two portions (1.5 cups) of soup to exchange for 2 portions of another soup with each guest. I made 14 portions of Red Pepper & Tomato Quinoa soup & in return, I got 14 various other soups.
On top of that, we all brought ingredients and made the biggest pot of vegetable soup (enough to feed 50, so we had a bowl while we chatted & the divided up the rest to take home to our families). It was great to find other people who didn't think of peeling carrots, stirring broth & shaking spices as a chore, and rather a therapy of sorts. I met some great people & was reminded how important is it to put yourself 'out there'.

The haul (above) plus a big pot of veggie soup for my family. Brian was grateful to have the soup for lunch each day and I am excited to try some more soups this week. Thank for coming out ladies, I had a fantastic time & I am looking forward to the next Okotoks Foodies event.

If you are interested in getting some great soup recipes, join our Facebook group, each recipe has been posted online.

Layout 306, 307, 308 & 309

Well look at me! All this blogging after such a dry spell! I have a bit of a cold right now so I thought I'd make myself a cup of Gails Organic Cold Remedy form Davids Tea (it works!) & do some blogging while Miles is at school & Molly is happily playing with his toys. I had all these layouts to post and a bit to blog about (I've been busy!).

I had a friend of last weekend for some last-minute scrapbooking. I got these four layouts done (in one night!!!). It pretty much brings me up to date with camping layouts. Feels good.

Layout 303, 304 & 305

I've been scrapbooking a little lately. I am committed to finishing Miles' baby album before the new year comes. I am pretty close to done. I finished his sisters a while ago (out of order, I know) so I thought it fair that he have one finished as well. It helps that I have gotten my scrapbook space in order... AND (drum roll) I might even be reclaiming my old scrapbook room (as opposed to the corner I have now). Brian and I have plans to move into the city where the kids will be sharing a room, so we're going to try it out a little early... we just need some bunk beds. That will free up a room in our house for an office/scrapbook room. Ahhhhhh, just thinking of it makes me smile.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The longest post ever about being HAPPY.

'He started to sing as he tackled the thing that couldn't be done, and he did it.' - Edgar A. Guest

Three years ago if you asked me if I would someday be happy, I would have said YES. Because let's be honest, even in the deepest pits of depression I was willing to lie about having hope. But the truth was, it was just that: a lie. Without going into too much detail about my mental state (because believe it or not, I do keep some things private) I was in big trouble. I felt like my life was happening around me, and not to me. I felt numb to sadness & especially to happiness. I thought it would always be this way. 

Fast forward through many trips to a therapist, a little chemical aide & some very deliberate actions on my part (although I could have never done this without help).

I don't remember rock bottom (I am sure Brian does) but I do remember emerging from the numbness and feeling happy, little by little. And thinking 'This is so great. I am going to chase this.'

I didn't realize I had 'caught it' until a couple weeks ago. I was chatting in an mommy group. A fellow mom had posted a plea for help. She felt hopeless, listless and depressed. She was unhappy with her life. I read the post & could relate, I had been there. But it was happened next that clued me into my current state of Happiness. Close to 20 other moms posted how dissapointed , unsatisfied and unhappy they were with their lives. Not one person posted a hopeful message. I thought about posting one but then remembered that I am never the girl that posts a hopeful and maybe even helpful comment. I am always the girl who can relate to the negative feelings.... until I realized, I'm not. Not anymore. And I posted a hopeful message. Nothing inspirational, but a comment with the underlying message: I've been there and I am not there anymore. I am happy. So I wrote this:

Haley Hopaluk-Ross A while ago, I got happy. It sounds weird, but it happened. I was the kind of person who would always end up a crying mess. Always. And then I just started to do things that would make me happy. Little things & big things (but when possible, not material things). And I guess they made a big difference because now I am happy. Not all the time. And not about everything. But I am happy. I know exactly how you feel, I felt that way, and I am glad it is over for me. All I can tell you is to think about what would make you really happy, in this life, right now. Just because it isn't what you pictured doesn't mean it can't be something super fucking awesome. Make a list. Things that would make you happy. Include "trips to paris" but also include "getting to read a magazine uninterupted". And then make sure everything you do, everyday will get you closer to making that list HAPPEN. It happened slowly for me, but it happened.

The response to it was expected. About 50 'likes' and about 1,000 people who ignored it & continued to lament. And one person who was mortified that I dropped an f-bomb (that's fair). But the thing that matters most is that I posted it. Because it was a declaration to myself: I got happy.

And it is infectious. Because once I put it out there, it was even easier to believe. And act on.
And I began to work even harder at being happy (everything else in life, you have to work at, I believe the same thing about happiness).

'Any happiness you get, you've got to make yourself' - Alice Walker

(these people make me happy)

I have to say that being a social media junkie (I blog, Facebook, Tweet & check Instagram religiously) has actually helped. Its kind of like scrapbooking, but more all encompassing (I usually just scrapbook my kids). If I think I have nothing to be happy about I just need to check my Instagram feed to see that if I feel as though I have nothing else to hang hope on, at least I have cute toe nails that match my flip flops. It's a starting point...

I am hyper aware of the things that make me happy. I come out of a things thinking 'I am so happy that.....'. It wasn't easy to train my brain to think this way, but I did it (90% of the time). 

A couple of years ago I bought this book: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. But the thing was, I was so unhappy that even thinking about reading a book with notions of happiness wasn't appealing. In August I plucked the book off my shelf. And read it in a couple of days. I am glad I waited. If I had read it when I bought it I would have been disappointed. It didn't provide the 'ah-ha!' moment I would have been hoping for. But reading it now, knowing the happiness requires works and awareness... I liked it. And I am, like what I would guess to be 99.99% of people who read the book, going to start my own Happiness Project.

I worked hard on preparing my project (which I will officially start tomorrow). I think it's perfect for me. And when I read it to my husband I think he was impressed enough to entertain the idea of doing his own. For a moment or two.

I told him I would start mine once 'wedding season' was over.

So, without further adieu, the end to this post & the beginning of my Happiness Project (I'll explain the specific goals tomorrow). 

Be More Active (September 14th - October 14th, 2012)

Get up & be dressed by 9:30am 6 out of 7 days each week
Do 60 minutes of an ‘activity’ that requires movement or play each day 
Go for an after dinner walk three times a week/walk somewhere