Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Pain


You can tell a lot about a person by the way she/he responds to pain.

When you hurt...

You can strike back. 
You can retreat.
You can deny the pain exists.
You can drown it in other distractions.
You can nurse the wound and wail silently in your sorrow,
or you can announce it to the world for them to cheer you on.
You can fall on your knees and call out to the Divine,
or curse what you've been dealt and feel driven by anger.

I keep it,
for as long as I could.
I try to breathe it in,
turn it inside out, dig deeper into it,
take the shards in my hand only to cut myself again...
and again.

I swim out of it, or at least try to,
if only to steal a breath or two,
and dive and drown in it all over again, as if in search of something.
I sing with it, dance to it, but most of all,
I write verses with it.



http://www.quotesdump.com/thats-the-thing-about-pain-meaningful-picture-quotes/





Thursday, May 14, 2015

Why Do You Scream?

 “You always scream at me!”

I turned my swivel chair to face my eight year old boy and saw his face turn red, eyes welled up with tears.  I felt sorry but was simultaneously so frustrated that the next best alternative for me was to try to calm down and explain myself to him.

“Do you know why I raise my voice and then finally scream?” 

He murmured, “Because you’re angry?”

“No. It’s because I feel like you don’t hear me.  The reason why people talk louder, raise their voices and then scream is because they want to be heard.”

I wasn't planning on that explanation at all, but since divine wisdom seemed to have decided to descend upon my short-fused and moody self, I couldn't refuse.

We scream to be heard. And we all have the desire to be heard, don’t we?

But each of us ‘screams’ in different ways and it’s not always easy to realize it.

Sometimes we act out in different ways in place of a scream.

We overeat.

We drink too much.

We get addicted to drugs or medications.

We rebel, throw tantrums or exhibit belligerent behavior.

Some of us end up overworking. Some choose to be perpetually tardy at their jobs.

Or we choose to retreat and become depressed.

‘Screams’ also sometimes manifest as silence. We withhold.

I think a lot of the times I’m the silent, withholding type. And I write. Sometimes I ‘scream’ here, on this site. But a lot of the times I just keep my written screams to myself to minimize collateral damage.

If there is anything I deem most important about screams, it is this lesson: 

 That one has to care to hear; one has to have heart to have ear. 



To hear and truly listen to someone’s difficulties, anger, pain, sense of isolation or any other wound one carries, you need to REALLY see the other person, be open and have compassion. Screaming back at another’s screams only creates more noise, produces more useless energy that blocks each person from truly receiving what lies behind the scream. 

I don't advocate screaming, nor am I encouraging parents to scream at your children. There are other alternatives, yes, and I'm not here to justify my behavior towards my son. Instead, I hope that next time I'd be more aware of why I'm really screaming, what it is that I want heard, acknowledged or received. 


What's behind your scream? In what other ways do you find yourself 'screaming'?





Thursday, May 7, 2015

What I Know For Sure About Motherhood



In observance of Mother's Day, I'd like to share (in Oprah-ish fashion) things I've become most certain about when it comes to motherhood. We already know it's a lot of hard work. And that it will surprise you with the amount of love you never knew existed in your heart. But beyond those obvious things, what else have become true for me which I am willing to bet are likely true for a lot of other mothers as well? 

Here are my thoughts after my eight-year stint in this job:

There's no one-size-fits-allunless it concerns child safety or health, and existing recommendations are backed by science (e.g. vaccinations, sleep safety, car seat safety, etc). My point is that there is no reason to torture yourself by worrying too much about guidelines on when or how to take away the binky, how long to breastfeed, how to carry or bond with your child, when to potty train, what sleeping arrangements work, or whether or not your child will be permanently damaged if you let him watch some television. We're really all just winging it and much of it depends on our specific situations. What has worked for one family may not be the best for yours. Use commonsense and ditch the beeyatch friend who keeps judging your choices and makes you feel inadequate by perpetually sounding like a talking American Academy of Pediatrics Handbook. 


Childbirth automatically raises your pain threshold. The pain you felt giving birth becomes the ultimate standard by which all other types of pain shall be measured against. When you step on broken glass and end up with a gaping wound, you say, "Bah! This is nothing compared to when I felt as if my body was being literally split in half!"


In the same token, your grossness tolerance is exponentially increased. As is true for most mothers, we're the ones relied upon when it comes to clean uppoop, pee, nosebleeds, earwax, snot, throw up, you name it! Of course we don't enjoy it but who else would do it? I once attended a party where one of my single friends threw up after drinking too much. She felt too ill that she ended up just laying on her bed. I went to assist her with the trash can as she continued to throw up and one of my other single friends asked, "How could you stand that smell? It makes me want to throw up too!" My answer was brief— "I'm a Mom".


Your life will be consumed by plans, routines, schedules. It's the only way to survive and keep your sanity. From coming up with a birthing plan, to feeding schedules, doctor's appointments, planning birthday parties, playdates, vacations, laundry, mealtimes, trips to the grocery store, as well as when YOU can pee, poop and take a showeryou will find that everything requires a lot of time organization and following routines in order to accomplish tasks...and to keep looking and smelling human!


You will gain weight and go through some degree of self-loathing. You'll regret all that wasted time in the past when you hated your body and thought you were big. But don't worry. If you're lucky (and almost all of us are!) you'll have a child that will always tell you the truth that you are perfect and beautiful just as you are, squishy and simply divine.


It's inevitable that thoughts of your own mother will come to haunt you. When you become a mother yourself, you ponder on your own childhood and the kind of mother you had/have. You will think of things that worked and want to emulate, and things you hated and swear you'd never turn into. You will remember the grief you gave your own mother and shiver at the thought of karma always finding its way. Most of all, at least for most of us, you won't be able to help but regress to your young self needing TLC every time you are sick and need that comforting touch only your mother could give. 


You will be plagued with self-doubt. Because you know this is the most important job you will ever do, you will keep asking yourself, every step of the way, if you're being good at it. However, you will soon realize that 'good enough' is a good place to be in. You need to be comfortable  with it, be friends with it, and know that the objective is not to raise someone perfect, just someone who knows how to love. 


I don't care how much you love and adore your children, but when you're a mother, the highlight of your day becomes that time of night when you can sit quietly on your couch or bed, let out a deep sigh of relief and have alone time. A remote control on one hand and a consumable treat on the other (think chocolate, or wine) are priceless and highly encouraged!


If you forget your own dreams, daily realityyours and others'will torment you. You will end up resenting everyone around you and everything will just feel unbearable. You have to find something outside of motherhood that will nurture your spirit and offer growth. This is not selfishness. It's commonsense. If your spirit feels replenished and cherished, this energy has no other choice than to overflow into all that you do and the roles you play. If you feel like an overused and neglected empty vessel deep down, you will be incapable of seeing joy around you, and time spent with your family will only feel like a duty, a burden, rather than a gift.


You may not need an entire village, but a small reliable tribe is always great to have when you're raising children. Never take for granted the amount of assistance you have available to your family. As a migrant whose family lives on the other side of the globe (and my husband's side lives in a different state), we don't have the privilege of having extra hands who are truly trusted, reliable, and not to mention, free-of-charge, when it comes to childcare or any type of family assistance. Having sitters who are strangers to us is an alien concept for me culturally, and so this is something that my son is strongly averse to. Going on a couple's date is a huge production number that takes a lot of planning and impeccable timing, often times involving my best friend's family. Every two or so years, my mom manages to visit from the Philippines and the three or four months she spends with us are priceless! I feel like those are the only times when I'm allowed to get sick, go out on dates and lay off the kitchen somehow to let her take over on certain days. That's my opportunity to taste Filipino dishes I can't cook myself and which I want my son to be familiar with. So if you have family close by, loved ones you can trust so that you can take brief, needed breaks from being 'mommy', consider yourself blessed and make sure you are grateful. Not everyone is as lucky as you.


Happy Mother's Day! 

I would love to hear what you know for sure! 
Please leave them in the comments below.  










Friday, May 1, 2015

Top 5 Excuses for Failing to Blog

I can't seem to write anything decent. I don't know exactly what's causing the dry spell but it's a bad case of writer's block. I sit and stare at the blank computer screen, hypnotized by that blinking black line that keeps on mocking me.

So instead of completely surrendering to this void on my screen and my brain (which is possibly more of a dense black hole, full and yet void at the same time, incapable of spewing anything intelligible at this time), I've decided to milk my misfortune and create a post around it.

Here are my top five excuses for failing to blog! Yay!


Image by: Drew Coffman via Flickr Creative Commons


1. There's just far too many interesting updates on Facebook, organization porn on Pinterest, and endless Amy Schumer videos on YouTube...all much too entertaining and zapping my brain cells in the process.

2. I went to leave a blog comment on another site and the 'I'm not a robot' captcha wore me out. It asked me to check all the pictures of bread I can see and gave me 12 pictures to choose from. I chose one that obviously looked like bread, one that looked like dough, and included two that looked like pizza. It says I'm wrong. Isn't pizza bread???? And thus started a never-ending existential crisis.....

3. I'm having way too much real life, face-to-face adult conversation than what I'm used to (and trust me, I have a really low threshold), making cathartic writing a bit redundant. 

4. I'm seeing too much ugliness in the world and am still waiting for world peace to inspire me. I'm taking to heart what my mother taught me—"If you don't have anything good to say, just stuff your face with brownies!"

Which brings me to #5...

5. Fudgy brownies vs. sit in my office to type a blog post? No brainer, right?!? One might argue I can eat said brownies in my office. But they're so chewy and moist that I need to enjoy every moment of this sacred experience. Respect the brownie, people! How dare you even suggest I multitask!


How about you guys throw me some of your best excuses for not doing what you're supposed to be doing? Misery loves fudgy brownie, right?  














Thursday, April 23, 2015

My Meant to Be

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW). Interestingly, this week is also when my son, my only son, celebrates his birthdaymy one and only triumph against my condition.




I suffer from this disease and I'm just grateful that it feels less taboo to speak about it now than decades ago. It is said that 1 in 8 couples of reproductive age face infertility in some form or another. This is why having conversations about this issue is important, not just on a personal level so that people like me don't feel alienated, but also on a social level as this reality creates ripples in so many different spheres of our social lives. (One cannot tackle infertility as an issue without realizing that it is multifaceted as it includes the medical/health aspect, an economic dimensionfinancial costs, health insurance policies, population issues, etcas well as the moral and religious concerns a lot of us with this condition often times contend with). 

This year's NIAW theme is 'You are not alone'. I know the power of those words which is why I promised myself never to feel ashamed of my condition or my story. There are a lot of articles or essays this week that raise awareness on infertility and here are two that resonated with me:


The 3 Biggest Myths About Infertility (and I highly recommend you read the comments here too!)

I asked myself what it is that's left for me to say when there are already countless brave and wise voices in this conversation. What is it that I want people to know about infertility?

This is my simple answer: That I am just like any other parent; that my infertility doesn't defineor shouldn't make you look at me any differently in terms of the kind of parent I am.

Yes, it was certainly not an accident that I became pregnant. And yes, I obviously wanted to become a mother which is why I actively sought out ways to make it possible. I disregarded all the pain and discomfort of getting numerous shots, vaginal ultrasounds, and countless intrusive diagnostic tests required of anyone using assisted reproductive technology, all because I longed for a child. But my agency in all this, and my deep desire to become a parent don't exempt me from any of the normal sentiments felt by any other kind of parent, and this includes my right to complain. 

Just like any other parent, I go through challenges, frustration, doubts, anger and immeasurable exhaustion from caring for my son. But what I don't want to hear when I vent or complain is that unsupportive tone that says, "Well, isn't this what you wanted so badly? Suck it up and stop complaining! You asked for this.".

I won't even focus on the fact that such an argument doesn't hold much logic, but I will point out its obvious unfairness and cruelty. It's bad enough that people suffering from infertility go through so much physical, pyschological and emotional pain while trying to conceive. We really don't need the added guilt when we are simply being like any other normal parent struggling with our role. Just like any other parent, we need to know it's okay to give ourselves permission to feel the whole gamut of emotions that parenthood brings, from the saccharine sweet to the dark and ugly.

My son turned 8 this week. He continues to fill my life with unparalleled joy and love every second. But I will admit that not a day goes by when I don't ask myself if I'm being the best mom that I can be to him. Fertile or not, I'm still me. I get angry, I scream, I'm a recovering perfectionist, I tend to be impatient and I hurt and will continue to hurt my son's feelings at times. All these make me question if I'm giving my all to be the best version of Mom I could be to my 'baby'. 

But there is one thing I will never ever question, and that is if I was meant to be a mother, and particularly a mother to him, my Noah. It doesn't matter how he was conceived, how we became part of each other's lives. He is my Noah. Just as the Biblical character, he is the chosen one for me, my survivor, the only one from among our three embryos during our very first IVF cycle in 2006 who made it to the end. My son and I, just like every other child and parent out there, fertile or not, are a perfect match in spite of, and most especially because of our imperfections. I know in my heart without a doubt that it was all meant to be. 






Friday, April 17, 2015

What Your Photos Really Capture

Late last week, my social media channels were flooded with photos of my friends with their siblings. According to everyone on Facebook, it was National Siblings Day. I didn't even know this day existed until last week but then again why should I be surprised when there's a day for everything, from grandparents to jelly beans!

I enjoyed all the nostalgic photos posted and the sentimental write ups to honor all the wonderful brothers and sisters my Facebook and Twitter friends have. But I also have to admit that I felt a bit alienated and yes, even jealous after seeing all those sibling pictures.


I was scrambling to find a good photo of myself with my older sister and 'baby' brother until I realized that I don't have any with me, except for the one above. That was taken in the late 1970s, if I'm not mistaken. My sister was probably in first grade and I was in nursery school (the equivalent of pre-K). Here I am in my 40s, living in a foreign country and I really don't have any recent photos of the three of us.

It's not because we're not in good terms. On the contrary, we have nothing but respect and love for each other and I would never trade them for any other sibling in the world. The real reason why I don't have a photo of us is because the three of us have not been physically together since the late 1990s.

My sister left the Philippines to live and pursue graduate studies in Chicago with her family in the late 1990s. My brother and I were together in Manila at the time.

In 2004, I left Manila to go to Chicago for a vacation and never came back. Two sisters in the U.S., a brother left in the Philippines.

In 2008-2009, my sister left the U.S. for good to go back home to the Philippines. I was left here in the U.S., with my brother and sister back home together. 

This means our last photo together might be from the mid-90s and of course I don't have any proof of that because all our family photo albums are in Manila, at my parents' house. Any migrant, especially those who have moved internationally, understands this sad reality and each of us have our own ways of compensating for this sense of 'lost' history. 

After feeling sorry for myself for the lack of 'proof' to display on National Siblings Day, I was left to ponder on my need for photographs. 

We take pictures to attest to certain realities. In as much as pictures are taken as proof of a certain event, they are in themselves proof of a human being's desire to immortalize a memory. We take pictures to aid our memory, to help us preserve an event. In the end though, the basic truth is that photos represent our desire to have some proof of a relationship, whether it's to a person, thing, place or event.

As a migrant, I don't have this privilege of having complete tangible documentation of all of my most valuable relationships. I cannot rely on photos to serve as anchors of my identity. As a matter of fact, migrants like myself would probably tell you that a valuable lesson we've learned is to be able to more easily let go of material anchors for our memories and emotions. Instead, an important skill for us is to internalize that memories and relationships can occupy more valuable real estate in our minds and hearts, rather than on shelves in our homes. We had to develop the ability to carry what's important wherever we go, without necessarily adding more tangible or physical weight. 

The greatest lesson for me has been to focus on how an event, or a memory, has shaped me, more than simply holding on to tangible proofs such as photos. 

I AM THE PROOF

Every event, every memory is within me and has shaped me into who I am today. All the love, the happiness, pain, regret, desire or sense of loss that a picture may evoke are already either inside of me, or released after transforming me. 

Often times people take pictures without truly being in the moment, focusing instead on the mere desire to keep a souvenir, or perhaps even obsessing on how it would look once posted on social media. I'm guilty of the same, sometimes. But now I do try to remind myself, especially when it has to do with my son or some other memorable event. Go ahead and take pictures. There's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to capture a moment. Just make sure you are not missing out on the present by focusing too much on what you want to offer the future. As you capture images, focus too on how that image, that experience, is capturing you. In the end, it's really those feelings that will last and not what's on paper or your hard drive. 













Monday, April 13, 2015

My Journey to BlogHer Syndication


If you're a writer/blogger/online content provider like myself, you probably have a bucket list that changes each year depending on what you want to focus on. If you're like me, I have on my list a number of websites or projects that I want to be published on or be a part of. 

Last year, at the top of my list was to be able to get on the Huffington Post. With a lot of guts and possibly good timing, I was able to accomplish this through this essay.

This year, I announced to the Universe (as well as to a few blogger friends) that I want to be syndicated at BlogHer. I have been part of the BlogHer Publishing Network, as well as their Influencer Network since 2012 and I've enjoyed the community, especially the exposure my writing gets through their site. I have had several of my blog posts featured on the BlogHer site through the years, and though each time was thrilling and was such an honor, I have always wondered how I could get 'syndicated'. To have a post syndicated means that you actually get paid! Now who wouldn't want that?

It was a mystery to me, and wondered why I was still not getting any of the editors' attention when I've had 2 featured posts each in 2012 and 2013; 10 in 2014 (which meant I was practically getting featured every month last year); and then 2 so far this year. 

Then I met Susan Maccarelli of Beyond Your Blog and Pecked to Death By Chickens, online and in person at a blog conference. She had previously published her recipe for BlogHer syndication and I would advise anyone aspiring for syndication to read that post!

I learned a lot from Susan's experience but I told her that I was still wondering why I wasn't getting that precious email from an editor in spite of my numerous featured posts. Susan pointed out something I never thought about before—my featured posts were 'all over the place'. I had some under Blogging & Social Media, some under Work/Life, Love/Sex, Family and even Race/Class. It was great that I was everywhere, but not so great in terms of really getting noticed by a particular section editor.

This year though, after having two essays featured under Blogging/Social Media (5 Important Life Lessons from 'My Big Fat Fabulous Life' and Going to a Blog Conference When Your Blog is In-Between), I was emailed by the editor, not only to inform me about my featured post, but also to give me the opportunity to pitch three topics that I can write an original post on. She ended up liking 2 out of 3 but asked me to go ahead and send in a completed essay for her top choice to be Syndicated for April!

So, it is with great joy and much humility that I share my very first BlogHer Syndicated Post with all of you! It was published last Friday, April 10, 2015, and it centers on a topic that is very important to me, as well as a lot of online writers and actually even anyone active on social media. 





My article focuses on setting your boundaries when publishing online. I discussed questions you can ask yourself that will help you decide what you can and should not write about on your blog or surrender to social media. I hope you can join the discussion and find the guidelines useful! Thanks in advance and I wish you the best on checking off items from your bucket list! Is there one on your list that you're currently REALLY focused on?


*For more information on BlogHer Syndication, click here.*






































Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Weeds of Wisdom


I can pinpoint exactly when this silly war started. It didn't erupt until I became a homeowner, and more specifically, until we lived in our current home. 

I'm talking about my war against the Dandelion. 


 Original Image by: OsTin (Creative Commons)

I don't recall seeing much of this, if at all, when I was still living in the Philippines. My awareness of it mostly came from books, pictures and movies or television shows and I've always just considered them pretty, like most other flowers. I've always thought dandelion-covered fields were cheery and evoked lightness or playfulness. If you had told me then that in the future these yellow flowers would cause me stress, I wouldn't have believed you at all. 

But sadly, insanely, it has come to that. And I am ashamed and disappointed in myself. 

Each spring and summer, when these 'plants' start to sprout on our lawn, I get annoyed. I ask my husband why our lawn seems to be so susceptible to them while some of our neighbors have perfectly green lawns. My husband is getting tired of explaining to me that our grass is most probably not as healthy as the others', or that our lawn gets a lot of sun. This would then be followed by a longer conversation on what we can do ourselves to make our lawn healthier,more attractive, greener. Whatever options we discusswhether it be fertilizing, seeding, applying weed-killers, or watering more regularly— the bottom line is that we would have to spend a lot of money, even a ridiculous amount, if we opt to hire some big shot lawn care company to 'cure' our lawn and get it to the level we desire.

I think that's unnecessary. It's bad enough that I feel guilty about watering my lawn in the summer when I've read that California has one year of water left (and I hope non-Californians don't think they can just dismiss this and choose to forget the web of social reality that we are all a part of). It's when I realize all the insanity that the dandelion is causing me that I begin to ask the REAL questions:

What is so evil about the dandelion that I've chosen to wage a war against them?

Are they really weeds? Aren't they considered flowers too, and even herbs because they can be eaten as a salad and have medicinal purposes

What's really at the root of my annoyance?

In the end, the age-old advice that 'it all boils down to perspective' holds true.

There's nothing evil about dandelions. They just inconvenience me because their presence on my lawn challenges my idea of the perfect suburban American lawn, an idea that I didn't use to subscribe to prior to being Americanized and indoctrinated into the pristine white picket fence life. Seeing them causes me anxiety because my lawn is so exposed to public view that I'm worried about how it looks to others in the neighborhood. If I factored that out—that fear of standing out, the fear of others' judgment—the fact is that I wouldn't be bothered so much and worry this way. I can choose to see them as pesky weeds, or I can see them as any normal vegetation, and even flowering plants that color my yard and make it a bit more cheery. I can definitely change my mind about them. 

I'm not saying I will encourage their growth and let them take over my lawn. A few here and there is really nothing to stress about. We can focus on strengthening our grass, instead of stressing over the few pops of yellow that can be seen. 

The point is, the dandelion is not doing anything to me. I am the one causing suffering unto myself because of how I choose to see things. 

We all see a lot of 'dandelions' in our respective lives. It could be a slow driver in front of you, an intrusive relative, a rambunctious child. It could be anything that we have chosen to burden ourselves with because of how we continue to perceive it.

What 'dandelion' do you have today? What can you choose to see today as a flower instead of a weed?




 


















Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Big Pantry Organization for Less Than $100


I finally fully tackled a project that I've put off for quite some time. I was fired up, completely determined to get it to a level where I can say, "Now THAT's pretty!"

I organized my pantry...on the cheap!

For months, I have been watching a lot of YouTube and shopping at the Dollar Tree to get ideas and explore my options and now, all that effort has paid off. I was certain I wanted to save as much money as possible doing this project and of course that meant finding affordable containers that looked good, are durable and most of all, would make sense for our space. Let me put it this way—Pinterest was the standard I was aspiring for, but I also knew I didn't only want it to look great on photos. Most importantly, I needed it to be functional for our family.

I had to consider how we function and what available spaces we have. For instance, keeping our medicine in our pantry always made sense to us. We have multivitamins and other medications taken daily that need to be accessed easily by adults, and yet stored high enough to make it more difficult for children. I had to make sure I could accommodate that need while reorganizing. 

We also snack a lot and I had to assign an area for snacks that my son would be able to access by himself, at least for the healthier snacks. Not so much for the junk food which is why I placed those somewhere higher. 

Anyway, after spending approximately 6 hours, I think I could stop now and smile at what I've accomplished.

Here are my BEFORE photos, which admittedly don't look too messy to begin with. I have always had things sorted, contained and labeled, but somehow something was still not working for me.







I've stared at this space for a long time and just couldn't be happy with it. There was something that annoyed me but for the longest time, couldn't figure it out...until this past weekend.



My Previous Organizing Mistakes: 

1. A lot of the containers were overflowing. It didn't matter that everything had their own spaces and labels. It still looked messy to me because there was too much in most of my bins. 

2. I Initially thought that having see-through containers was the way to go but to me, it made it look messier than it really is. 






























The Not-So-New, But Definitely Improved...




I sorted through all of the boxes, especially those that overflowed, like our 'Snacks' and 'Asian' (which also contained some Asian food snacks) bins. After going through expiration dates and figuring out what snacks had no hope of getting consumed because none of us liked the flavor (which makes you wonder why it got bought in the first place), I actually ended up with sub-categories of 'snacks': Crackers, Cookies, Nuts & Candy, and Applesauce and Fruit Juice Packs (school snacks). I couldn't believe that what was initially housed in one container now got split up into four. But it made more sense and gave the bins more breathing space.


Light blue totes (lower level) for my four snack sub-categories...The containers are also somewhat pliable so you can squeeze them against each other to save space. What a bonus!


Luckily, the multiple trips I've made to the Dollar Tree these past few months saved my day. I had already bought a lot of containers for different areas of the house and I still had a few extras on hand. I had to switch up some of the containers so that I can come up with several of the same type with the same color. 

The large, dark-blue bins toward the bottom of the shelves were bought from Aldi (3 for $12.99). They come with 4 casters too!


My Organizing Tips:

1. Take out contents from bulky boxes if you can. You can always cut out their product labels and nutrition information and transfer them to Ziploc or snack bags which occupy so much less space inside bins.

2. Make sure all your bins are properly labeled. You can only successfully do this if you take the time to sort and categorize correctly.

3. Purge ruthlessly. Be honest. If something no longer has a purpose, will never get consumed, get rid of it. Yes, you may feel a bit wasteful but take that lesson to heart for next time. Maybe it will make you shop wiser instead of just randomly spending on 'stuff'.

4. In organizing any space, uniformity is key. And as is true for designing any space, things don't necessarily have to be all the same. But if you have varying elements, there has to be some sort of repetition so that it looks intentional instead of just an eye-sore.

5. Use what you already have. Don't be afraid to repurpose containers just as I did for the Ikea Skubb boxes (which are wardrobe organizers, but now used as containers for our medication), and the free shipping boxes/crates that came from Costco. What matters is that they fit your space and the items fit perfectly in them. You can always make them pretty by covering them with paper, fabric, paint, or cute duct tape, which is what I did for my boxes. 


See that cylindrical container above with the red cap, wrapped in the zebra duct tape? That originally contained cotton candy which my husband bought for my son several months ago. Now it's the perfect container for our straws (100ct.)!





For about 50 containers to organize our entire pantry, I spent less than $100. Here's a BEFORE and AFTER side-by-side photo...




Now every time I open our pantry door, I take a deep breath and smile! 


Does organizing make you happy too? What organizing ideas have worked for you?


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Welcoming Spring

Last week was a busy, yet happy, time. My son was on his spring break and so we took advantage and visited family in the Midwest. Later during the week, we found ourselves back home but not for long. The very next day upon returning home, we decided to do a quick trip to Atlanta, GA to maximize our vacation time. 

We visited Stone Mountain, "the world's largest granite monolith", and the park is said to be Georgia's most popular attraction. We've visited the park last year but at that time, the park was so busy that we never got the chance to see the top of the mountain via the cable car. This time around though, we had a mission in mind and went as early as we could. I'm happy to report we made it to the top, although there wasn't much scenery to enjoy given the thick fog that day.


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It was like walking on the moon up there, hiking as much as our feet and my elderly joints allowed, enjoying our limited view 1,600 feet above mean sea level. 



It's amazing how these trees can still survive atop this rock.



The first signs of spring were clearly upon us, and no fog can cover this beauty up...


So what existential thoughts did I have while exploring the top of this giant rock? 

First, that life is persistent, resilient and that it always finds a way. 

And second, hiking and bad knees don't go well together. Make sure you have someone who cares enough about you to hold your hand and serve as your human cane. Just sayin'.....

HAPPY SPRING!