28 October 2014

{Happiness Project } Letting go of the Christmas Stress

{Over a month ago I began my Happiness Project; a process in which I form habits that aid me in becoming a better ME; physically, mentally, and emotionally. And with these new habits I hope to better appreciate the happiness that surrounds me. I plan to spend the next 12-18 months tackling projects, eating better, excising, going to therapy, organizing and doing a list of other projects/activities that will help me reach my goal in becoming a newer, better, happier me. You can find the introduction of my Happiness Project HERE. During this process I plan to document my journey via blogs, vlogs, and journals. I hope to share my experiences, new skills and knowledge with others while at the same time keeping a record for myself. Thank you for joining me in my Happiness Project!}

I know it is only October 28th, but the fast approaching holidays has had me slightly stressed out. I love the holidays, it is truly my favorite time of the year. Cool air, delicious foods, pies, the smell of cinnamon and pumpkin, the glow of Christmas lights, hot toddies & egg nog, and the the warm fuzzy feeling that comes from this time of year; it all makes me happy.

But the dreaded gift giving always dampers my mood a bit. What do I get? I don't have a ton of money, is this going to be enough? Where do I draw the line at who I buy gift for? What if I don't want to give gifts, will I hurt peoples feelings?

A few years ago Kev and I decided that Christmas would not be about gift giving for our kids (you can find that blog HERE). I want to set expectations low for them from the very beginning. I don't want my kids to expect that they will be showered with their own private mountain of gifts on Christmas morning. If I set this precedent early they will never know any different. And so far we have done good keeping to our word. We follow a simple riddle..."Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read and something to create." The kids receive gifts, their stockings are filled with goodies (healthy yet equally 'junky'), and they are happy (usually off playing with the boxes their toys came in). Plus they will also be receiving gifts from their uncle, aunts, grandmas and grandpas. My kids aren't deprived. They are loved, and they know it.

As for Kev and I, we don't exchange gifts. Our holiday gift exchanging fell away the minute our first child was born. There are more important things we could do with our money than buy jewelry and other items that would immediately depreciate the minute we swipe our card and leave the store. We love each other, we both feel it and the exchanging of a gift won't change that. And to be honest, I would much rather a night out with my spouse than have a gift under our tree on Christmas morning. We will always have stuff, I'd rather make a memory.

As for others I have decided that I will be putting a limit to the people I buy for. My one certainty is the children. Together, Kev and I have two nieces, and I plan to always buy a small gift for each niece and/or nephew. Kevin's family has an annual 'Secret Santa' gift exchange; one person, one gift, easy enough. That is a total of three external people, and that is where I draw my limit.

I love the holidays and I a refuse to allow the pressure of buying stuff to be something that stresses me out. I plan to spend less money on stuff and more time on making memories. We will bake cookies for others, go on winter adventures, donate our time/give back, visit Santa at multiple different malls and pick which one we like the best, watch the nutcracker, ride the Santa Express, eat way too much pie, watch 'A Christmas Story' on repeat, drink lots of rum, laugh and spend time with the ones we love. Because when we look back in years to come we won't remember the stuff we did/didn't receive; only the memories we had and the fun we had making them.

So if you are feeling the pressure of the holidays, don't. Agree to a 'Dirty Secret Santa Exchange' (way less stressful than the normal Secret Santa) among the family or no gifts at all. Lower your Christmas list and budget for the kids, and with the money that you save go have a family adventure! We only live once; and  living more humbly makes you appreciate more wholly.

21 October 2014

That Dark Place

I am in a dark place, guys.

It seems that more and more these days the mounting pressures of life is leaving me with the inability to cope. I am being pulled 100 different directions and I have no more stretch, no more give. I have been giving what very little free time I have to others. I know the struggle of needing help but having no one able or willing to do so; but I have stretched myself to thin. I am video editing, house hunting, babysitting, working on boutique orders, mailing packages and that is just the stuff I am doing for others. That doesn't include my massive everyday list of taking Kaydence to school, laundry, dishes, snacks time, grocery shopping, packing, house hunting, school, vacuuming, playing, trying desperately to remember to feed myself, Kaydence dance, dentist, appointments, doctor appointment, speech-language pathology appointments, school counseling appointment, pumpkin patches, parent-nights, honey do I have any clean socks, mom I am hungry, waaaaa (Kaylani screaming in hungers), will you do this window craft with me mama, Radar nudging by hand because it is noon and I haven't fed him yet, Kameron just got poop all over the bathroom, "Hello, may I speak with Mrs. Tatum. We are calling about the past due medical bill.", "Will you please stop hitting your sister with that cup.", "I emailed you yesterday in regards to the order I placed two days ago, will it be ready by Halloween.", "Mom, we still haven't gone to the pumpkin patch. I guess we  will never get to carve pumpkins.". My head is spinning. There is more to do in one day than there are enough hours and damn it I am doing this alone. My amazing, wonderful husband is working is tail off to keep us stable and I am here working my tail off to stay sane.

I forget to send emails, I rarely respond to text messages, I am late to EVERYTHING and I am just trying to stay afloat, but I feel like I am drowning.

I am in that dark place, guys.

That place that has me feeling alone. That place where I cry at night. Every. Single. Night. That place where I feel like I am doing way more for other people than anyone ever does for me. Ever. That place where if I don't keep busy I may fall apart. That place that keeps telling me "You're doing this all wrong." "You're stupid." "You're failing." That place where the guy who did awful, AWFUL things to you, that guy that stole your innocence at 12 years old sends you a Facebook request. And suddenly that dirty, disgusting feeling that rots your soul is back. And you hate your body, and when someone touches you it puts you on edge.

I am in THAT dark place, guys.

That place where you mourn your life pre-babies. That place where you just want to sleep more than 4 hours in a row. That place where most new parents can run to their mom or dad for advice when life and parenting gets hard, but you realize you have no one because your parents are cause of your pain. That place where you realize you never really have had a parental figure. That place where you realize when things get hard people step out, not up. That place where it really hit you that your grandma is never coming back. That place where your hands are full and your heart is heavy. That place where it hurts, and you smile to the outside world, but deep down inside you are sad.

I am in that dark place, guys.

Today I dressed and packed up a happy preschooler for school. She sang songs as I brushed her hair and giddily climbed into the car as we got ready to leave. And as we drove I found myself drifting to that dark place. I smiled on the outside buy inside I was lost. And as I pulled into the driveway of her school and parked the car, I could feel a shift in the air. And as I held my little girls hand as we walked up the hill to her classroom I could feel the tension in her body. And I we approached the door to drop her off it hit me. My daughter is in that dark place too.  She looked up at me and instantly started crying. She clung to my leg and sobbed. She said no words. She just cried and I didn't have to ask her what was wrong, I knew. This whole time I had thought I was putting on a pretty good show. I thought I was shielding and hiding this dark place from my kids but I wasn't. They know. They feel it too. And suddenly the acting out, the screaming, the yelling, the anger it all made sense. These actions are her 4 year old way of saying that she isn't coping well either. My distances, my anger, my yelling, my frustration; I am just channeling this stuff to my kids.

So after I finally convinced her to go inside and participate in school. I drove home. I parked our car in the driveway and I ran. My first solo, child free/dog free run. I ran, and I cried, and I ran some more. And I decided I would not do to my kids what my parents did to me. I will not have a pity party for myself. I will not give into this fear, anxiety and sadness. I will not lean on my kids so heavily that they are bogged down with the weight of my pain. I will NOT do this to my children. My children will know what happiness is because they will see it and feel it and know it. So I ran, and when I finished running I did the one thing that I have always been afraid to do. I called a therapist for help. Because lets face it, you can't hold a life time of physical, emotional and mental abuse in. It will come out eventually and without the right outlet it could be life changing and disastrous.

I have battled these lonely demons for far too long. It's time to get help.

I am in this dark place, guys. And if you are in the dark place with me, just remember to keep swimming. And know that you are not alone. Just call for help, I am in this dark place with you.

I have received a lot of concerned emails, text messages, and phone calls. I am sad sometimes, but I am happy. I am happy with my children, my husband, my life. There is a lot of my past I need to work through that keeps my spirit heavy. I am working through this, so that one day I can leave the baggage of my past right where it belongs; in the past. Thank you for your concern.