Grounded, We Are Stronger

I want you to think about how a lightning rod works.

Seriously. Entertain me for a moment.

Just look at this image for a moment…

Lightning-rod-diagram.svg

…courtesy of Wikipedia, of course.

(Don’t judge my taste in sourcing…)

 

Basically, a metal rod is attached to a roof to attract lightning. A wire connects this rod to another metal rod in the ground, displacing the lightning’s energy and essentially “grounding” a building. I’m sure you don’t notice them often, but I strongly suggest you take a walk around your town sometime and look up at the older buildings. You might just be surprised to see one or two.

Anyway, there’s a point to this.

 

Imagine being a lightning rod, so confident in yourself, in your grounding, that you repel negative energy like it’s nothing. Like you were born to be unhindered by such trivial things.

Now, imagine what happens when you are the lightning rod that isn’t grounded. You’re going to attract negativity, but you’re not going to have anywhere to send it. And it doesn’t just store, it destroys.

Think of all the times you’ve bottled those hurtful and hateful comments and actions from others. You know they don’t just go away, you know you toss and turn on them, you know they can bring you down and make you bitter and sad. They ruin your self esteem. They shatter your sense of self. Your confidence withers.

 

I want you to consider that you are a lightning rod. Seek ways to ground yourself, to send that negativity in one ear and out the other. Don’t ever let it get to you inside. No one else is living your life, or seeing the world through your eyes. They don’t know your struggles, your joys, your highs and lows. They have no idea how much greatness is inside of you, ready to bloom. Their power comes from how you react to them. You are so much more than what the rest of the world sees. And you are a constant work in progress, bettering yourself. You are bettering yourself, and they are choosing to ruin themselves. They want to bring you down with them.

WELL NOT TODAY.

I use religion as a way to ground myself, knowing God made me in His image, and I am constantly striving to live according to His positive instruction. But of course there are MANY more ways to balance and ground yourself. Positive thinking and personal reflection will always boost your self confidence.

I hope you reflect on this, and use it tomorrow. Use it to become stronger, internally. You’re all beautiful and handsome badasses, making positive changes to become even more beautiful / handsome, and even more badass. Don’t waste a single minute on anyone who steps in your way and tries to belittle you.

You are worth so much more than that.

 

But let’s face it: the stronger you become, the more negativity you will attract. Many will disguise it as “criticism”, but we all know what is meant to strengthen you and what is meant to tear you down. Don’t be fooled by that! Keep your head up and keep pushing through. You are becoming a lightning rod, and you are grounded. Nothing can touch you, with the right attitude.

 

On a personal note, I intend to take this advice immediately.

 

 

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8 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Homemaking

I hope all of my fellow Americans had a wonderful 4th of July yesterday! And I hope the hangovers are gentle on you.

For the rest of y’all, I hope you had a wonderful regular pyrotechnic free Wednesday!

 

I got up early this morning, which is very uncharacteristic of me, and decided to do some personal reflecting as I scrubbed the toilet and folded the laundry. I considered the journey B and I are on, and our own personal paths, and how far we have come. I considered what I have accomplished, and what I have yet to work on. I smiled as I thought about all of the things I have learned in the last 37 months of being a homemaker, and the last 21 months as a wife and homemaker. Some women spend decades as homemakers, with seemingly endless knowledge on topics I have yet to tackle. I could learn so much from them.

We could all learn so much from them.

But today is about what I have learned, thus far. This is about my life before children, a newlywed (When does that phase end, exactly?), a white woman in her mid-twenties discovering herself, and who she wants to be. This is about where I have come from, and what I have done, and what I will do. This is about the mistakes I have made, and the ones I will never make again. Self improvement, more or less.

I am an amateur of simplicity. I long, I yearn, for the basics. I strive to maintain what I truly believe in my heart and soul is pure, and good. I am a traditionalist, I am religious, I am a red blooded conservative American. I am not a feminist. I was raised to love thy neighbor and to refrain from passing judgement. I believe in the golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. I love openly, and I enjoy the company of others. I don’t want a political echo chamber around me, and I don’t want friends who are willing to ignore me simply because of my stance on social issues. We are all loving, caring people. We are all carrying around our own personal soapboxes in our pockets, using social platforms to project our opinions.

We deserve respect for that. It takes a lot of guts to really speak your mind nowadays. The fear of backlash is astonishing.

And we all deserve to be treated kindly, knowing topics are troubling and nothing is black and white, that opinions conflict and it does not mean we are hypocrites, it means we are all complicated, and so are the matters that we care about.

 

Anyway, enough of the soup and salad. On to the main course:

 

8 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Homemaking

 

1. Use rubber gloves. There will come a time when your fingertips get tingly and numb, and it simply just won’t go away. And one day, you will realize just how many cleaning products your hands come into contact with on a daily basis. Protect your skin, seriously. It’s a total game changer for washing dishes, too!

 

2. Treat it like a job. Yes, you are home, but don’t get comfortable! This is your profession. Dress for it, don’t spend all day in your pajamas. Hold yourself accountable, because you are your own boss. Give yourself lunch breaks, but stick to a routine. Stay on schedule. Occupy your space, and own it. End the day feeling genuinely satisfied that you gave it your all.

 

3. Get into a routine. Make a schedule, and remain dedicated to it. It’s far too easy to slip up and get off track, and before you know it the house is a mess and you’re feeling overwhelmed trying to clean everything at once. Remember that you can multitask, remember that the washer is hands free, allowing you freedom to cross another task off of your list. And don’t get overwhelmed by daily tasks! If you need to go one at a time, go one at a time. You are your own boss, you make your own schedule, you decide what is worthy of your time.

 

4. Daytime television sucks. There is some downtime, associated with homemaking. A bathroom only takes so long to clean, and the dryer takes FOREVER sometimes. That’s okay. But honestly, do yourself a favor and turn off the television. Eat your lunch outside in the sunshine, or read a book while you’re waiting on the floors you just mopped to dry. Expand yourself mentally. It’s very easy to get caught up in day to day life and neglect yourself. Use your time wisely, to better yourself inside and out.

 

5. It is okay to spend money. It is not the end of the world. You can buy yourself a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, you can get that name brand iced coffee you have always loved. You are not simply existing, you are living. Be on top of finances, communicate with your partner clearly (VERY CLEARLY) about budget cutoffs and spending. Money is merely a tool, it isn’t something we should live for but something we should use to live. Do not feel guilty for spending money you did not earn, but be sure to remain balanced. Do not overspend. But don’t be afraid to treat yourself now and then.

 

6. Exercise feels good. We gain weight, we lose weight, we seem to fuss about it our entire adult lives. Many of us will never feel truly comfortable with the number on the scale, so I’m going to give you some solid advice here: forget about the weight. Do yourself a favor and just focus on health. Physical and mental health both benefit from exercise, and the Mayo Clinic recommends: “As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.” That may sound daunting to some, and it sounds rough to me too. But you can aim for 30, and even if you fall short by 10-20 minutes, you were still up and moving for a period of time. And you are going to feel better for it, I guarantee it!

 

7. Your home is lived in, deal with it. No house is perfectly clean all the time. No house is perfect. Get off of Pinterest and Instagram, those are fantasy lands.  Your home is exactly what YOU make it: a reflection of your family. No one will ever hate you for having clutter on the kitchen counter, or junk mail on the coffee table. No one will truly care if there’s a cup or two, or three, or five, in the sink. You live there, NOT them. This is your space, this is the space your spouse and your children occupy. You have better things to spend time on, honestly. Spend more time with your spouse and your children than with a broom and dustpan. You will be glad that you did, someday.

 

8. But you weren’t raised in a barn, so do pick up. Keep on a cleaning schedule, and don’t neglect the daunting tasks like scrubbing baseboards or shower tile. The internet is full of schedule ideas, and you’ll benefit from creating your own. I cannot stress this enough: you will feel less stressed out if you dedicate yourself to a cleaning routine that is spread out. Do not cram your days, leave breathing room. Several 5 minute intervals a day of just picking up odds and ends around the house will make your home cleaner, safer, and happier. Because who hasn’t stepped on a Lego, or tripped over a shoe?

 

I hope these are useful to anyone else out there, I hope I can spare you the pain of having to learn these the hard way!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Put The Phone Down After This. Please.

So, I splurged a little.

Truth be told, I don’t spend much money. I don’t like to. I enjoy seeing our savings account go up, not down. Everything I buy has a purpose, it has to, in such a small apartment.

But we were going to Ikea in Austin, a yearly trip, and I just… I couldn’t pass these things up. I tried!

Okay I didn’t really try.

I already had the INGO table and IVAR chairs, and the chair cushions. I liked the unfinished vibe, thinking I could always paint them, deciding in the end that they’re rustic as is. Rustic enough, anyway. I can pull off nearly everything I want leaving them raw.

I’d like to replace the cushions. Not a wise choice on my part.

So, this time around I picked up the table runner and placemats. I also got some dark blue placemats of the same style, but I loved the grey for a calming feel. The blue will have it’s day soon.

That’s all I wanted to get, honestly. Our purpose there wasn’t even related to the table. But then B picked up the cactus set, and the tray, and I found the candle holder.

And that apple and pear scented candle? Divine.

I’m not a decorator. But I look at this table and smile. It makes me feel calm, and clean. I hesitate to put anything on it that isn’t a plate, avoiding the seemingly unending cycle of clutter piles / cleaning meltdown / dinner for a week / clutter piles.

I’ve made a little slice of our little slice just a little more like a home, and I’m proud of it.

And the cost? Minus the $69 dollar table and $58 dollar chairs ($29 each), and the $9 in cushions ($4.49 each), I’m out $36.94 before taxes.

Just $40!

That gorgeous tray was just $8.99! Definitely worth it, I’ll repurpose it I’m sure for the coffee table, or the dresser. It sure was a good find!

Every now and then, I guess it’s good to shake things up and make a room breathe again. This setup calms me, oddly makes me feel cool in this hot Texas summer.

And we have a comfortable place to destress. We put our phones down, we pick our forks up, and we talk about our day. We talk about plans, and politics, and our family and friends. We reflect on how fortunate we are, we count our blessings, we are humbled, we are grateful. We break bread we are lucky to have.

Getting that brief electronics break in our day is extremely important to me. I’m glad we enjoy our space, and our time together! Family time should always come before Facebook!

But, I know that’s easier said than done. A lot of us don’t stop working when we leave work, especially if we’re on a salary. There’s emails to read and texts to reply to and videos to watch, social media to browse, news to catch up on…

…but when do we catch up with our spouses and our kids? Through a screen? How often?

How often are you listening, truly listening, to your loved ones tell stories and share experiences without a phone or TV remote in your hand?

When I was a kid (wasn’t that long ago now), my parents both worked, but we always ate at the dinner table after a long fulfilling day. We’d eat spaghetti and talk about school, my Mom reminding my brothers to get dressed for scouts afterwards. That solid hour, we had the television off and the windows open, a breeze blowing in as we passed the fresh corn on the cob and baked chicken. It was such a warm, happy time. I felt like my parents cared about me. Family was a priority, the foundation of who we are.

Who I still am today.

(We are Carters, after all!)

I beg you, put the phone down for an hour. Pause the video game, mute the TV, whatever you can. Just sit for a bit, share some dinner, and ask the most basic and emotionally satisfying question of all:

How was your day?

The Happening

We bought our hiking shoes and some Darn Tough Socks on Amazon. They should be here Tuesday, hopefully.

This is it, this is happening. The trip is booked, November 6th through November 12th. We’ve got roughly 20 weeks to get ourselves into good enough shape to hike Palo Duro Canyon State Park. I am SO motivated to hike the Lighthouse Trail! I’m nervous about training, mostly about heat, but if we take our packs with water I’m sure we’ll be okay.

This is change, a lot of it, but this is good change. This is cleaner eating, and more water. This is decent sleep and exercise. This is routine. This is going to make us healthier and happier, inside and out. This is what we’ve so desperately wanted to be, hikers and campers and explorers. We want to see, and we want to experience. We WANT to be outdoors, we LOVE it all… we just want to be more physically capable of handling it.

We can do this. In 20 weeks, we’re going to be in MUCH better shape. Even if we can’t see it, we’ll certainly feel it.


Well!

We’ve been busy, and we plan on getting busier.

The next 5 months are going to be stressful and hectic for us. The heat is definitely here, the Texas summer is in full swing (and has been for a month), and B and I are planning on doing some hiking training outdoors. We decided to book a camping trip to Palo Duro Canyon State Park, up near Canyon, Texas, in November. We’ll be out there on B’s 28th birthday. A whole week in the tent, just the two of us, finally getting some one on one time on a vacation. It has been a good while since we had an adventure without someone else tagging along. We need this!

We’re experienced campers, we’ve both been doing it our entire lives. The camping is not the problem, and never will be. The hiking is the problem.

You see, we love the outdoors, and we love to explore it, it’s just…

We’re seriously out of shape. We aren’t physically prepared for this sort of adventure.

But no worries! We have 20 weeks to prepare ourselves. As soon as our new shoes get here, we’ll be packing light day packs and breaking them in locally, hopefully every weekend. Crescent Bend Nature Park offers some great light hiking nearby, it’s a great place to start.

I am SO EXCITED about Palo Duro. It looks absolutely breathtaking, and as an amateur photographer, I’m grateful to have a new location to comb over. I’m extremely interested in the Lighthouse Trail, which I had originally wanted to do at sunset, but we’ve decided to err on the side of caution and keep our hikes in the daylight. It is a new trail to us. Neither of us have ever been to this state park before.

Hopefully though, we love it enough to come back!

But before November even gets here, we’ve got some exciting goals to reach. By the beginning of October, we plan to be moved out of our apartment and moved into a single family home, to rent. We’re ready to start a family in the next few years, and a one bedroom, 900 square foot apartment with a LOT of stairs just isn’t what we picture for our future children. They deserve more than that, and we aim to give them the best we absolutely can, within reason.

The next 20 weeks are going to be a blur, I’m sure. We’ve got tons of memories to make, with family and friends. We’ve got moves to make, and training to do.

I never thought I’d be excited to be so busy!

This is all for the best, though. We’re excited to try and get a bit healthier, we want to feel as good on the outside as we do on the inside. We want more energy, and we understand we’ve got to suffer for a little while to get it. If we can hike the outskirts of San Antonio in the summer, we’ll definitely be able to handle the Lighthouse Trail in November!

Well, here’s to trying!