My February “To Do” List Challenge – Days 3 and 4

Super Bowl Sunday (or as it’s known in our house: Sunday)


Day 3 is done. (Day 4 is too, but for the sake of story-telling, we will stick with one day.)

There is something that feels self centered and slightly indulgent when I write out my “To Do” lists for all to read, as if anyone gives a crap. Yet, for the sake of accountability, here we go:

  • write out Thank You cards
  • visit with family after Jax’s hockey
  • fold 2 loads of laundry

I don’t see the need to make Sundays stressful. They’re a day of rest anyways. One of my priorities today was to watch Jaxson skate and then hang out with my family afterwards for a little bit. And the “thank you” cards and folding laundry are two items that can be done while watching the most overrated — I mean — the most televised program of the year.

The Super Bowl.

Speaking of Super Bowl, my oldest daughter, who is slightly a tomboy, asked who I was rooting for. You can imagine how deeply disappointed she was when I replied, “Uhh… I don’t even know who’s in it. I think maybe a patriot, right?”

Oozing with sarcasm, she said, “Well, there’s more than one Patriot, and yes, it’s the Patriots versus the LA Rams. Just remember: You’re cheering for the Rams. K?”

So I cheered for the Rams!

Kind of.

It was more like watch an incredibly boring game, while waiting for CBS to pan over to that babe of a coach, Sean McVay. The network really could’ve just played a little Genuine while McVay wiped sweat from his brow, and that would’ve been exponentially more exciting.

I digress.

The “To Do” List Challenge is already teaching me a lot about myself and how to be an adult. If you’re a type-A personality, super organized, and sharp with your time, this challenge is probably something you’re scratching your head at. For someone like myself though, I’ve struggled for years with maintaining focus and not getting overwhelmed.

I noticed another key with this challenge: Once your items are done on your list, do NOT add anything else. Give yourself the freedom to do whatever comes naturally from there. Maybe it’s straightening up the utility room, maybe it’s talking to a friend for an hour, maybe… you just want to stare at HGTV while drinking white wine… Whatever you do, once that list is complete, do not obligate yourself with more via list. Just do what you want.

It’s delightful.

Today’s list is complete as soon as I publish this bad boy.

  • call on health insurance inquiry
  • schedule carpet cleaners
  • car wash
  • blog post

Another day in the books.

Big love to you all,

Megan


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My February “To Do” List Challenge – Day 2

The Saturday of Struggle

Ok. Safe to say that I definitely have ADD or ADHD or whatever it’s called these days. I have it. It runs in the family. I’ve never been tested, but oh my goodness, it took everything in me to focus my energy on this today. I would have given up if it weren’t for the decision to hold myself accountable on here. ( More on distraction and it’s role later. )

Reminder of what my list was for today:

  • Go over the bills and finances
  • Try a new recipe for dinner
  • Clean the first floor of my house

This last item was a horrible one to put on my “To Do” list, and I’m going to tell you why…

  • I hate cleaning. –(Ok, that isn’t a fair reason, but I needed to say it. I’ll proceed.)
  • To clean the entire first floor of the home is an extremely time consuming task.
  • There were way too many distractions on which to hyperfocus (I didn’t spend 30 minutes detail scrubbing my shower door or anything.)

Yes, I’m not going to pretend that I’m a super tidy person. I’m hygienic and extremely organized within my business and when working, but at home, no. And while it once was a huge source of shame for me (To understand more on this, check out my piece on Love What Matters here), these days I know that it’s something minor to improve on. I like having a clean house. I don’t like to be the person to do it. *sigh* Whatya gonna do?

So when I decided that cleaning the entire first floor of my home was one of my priorities for Saturday, I woke up knowing it’d be a bear, but I had to keep going because I promised myself that I would, and I asked you all to hold me accountable. Good morning, terrifying world…Here goes…

I’ll spare you the details of everything that I cleaned, but I started in my master bathroom. Bad idea. (*Confession: I did, in fact, take 30 minutes to clean one side of the shower door.) Then, I made my way to my bedroom, where I adopted the bright idea to straighten up the closet “real quick” (after having spent an hour and a half on the master bathroom)… please view the results of that below.

Cleaning my closet is a 2-hour personal fashion show slash trip down memory lane. Am I the only one?

If you are playing along and doing the math with me, yes. Yes, at this point, I have spent three and a half hours on a bathroom and partially cleaned closet. I still have to clean my bedroom, the living room, kitchen, another bathroom, and entry ways. Plus, I’m going to make a homemade gourmet meal with the children without killing them and do my bills. Can we all laugh together now?

Ladies and Gentleman, this is perfectionism. This is true perfectionism. No one would ever look at my house and say I’m a neat freak. I’ve only been called OCD at work, where I’m in much more control, but at home, if it can’t be perfect, I give up. And when I go to do simple tasks, it takes me hours to complete them because again, I need for it to be perfect. It’s exhausting and years of this has left me with a slew of residual issues. As a widow, doing it by myself, I’m trying to retrain my brain. Because this way of thinking doesn’t serve me. It’s unhealthy.

*This photo was double filtered for my 33 year old self esteem

It was 7pm by the time that I finished my first task of cleaning the first floor, and I still hadn’t gone shopping for the ingredients to our dinner recipe nor had I touched the bills. I knew that if I was going to be able to face you guys and maintain my sanity, then I was also going to have to improvise my list. Everything can be left to interpretation, right? It was already a winning, productive day because my house is clean, but I committed to myself that I’d always complete my to do list this February and see how that would feel. Therefore, my newly interpreted list became:

  • clean first floor of the house (check)
  • make something in the kitchen with the kids (check)
  • Open a few bills (check check)

I could live with this and still write to you without feeling like a cop out.

Here’s what the evening looked like:

We ordered pizza. Made brownies together. And watched a movie, during which I opened a few bills before snuggling with them.

I set myself up for failure with how HUGE my tasks were.

I minimized the time and energy that they would require.

This is something that I have done for decades.

And at what cost? So I can feel horrible about myself? So I can resent those around me because they must know what a disappointment that I am?

I’m not doing that any more.

This is why I started doing this challenge for February. I wanted to poke at a HUGE sensitive spot of mine called: my insane obsession with “To Do” lists (So obsessive, in fact, that my late husband, Scott, sat me down at the beginning of our marriage and told me that the lists were a major problem. He was stone cold serious.)

See, this is not about someone who knows it all, telling others how to do it. This is about someone who is fed up, who is saying, “Something has to be better than this!”; This is about someone who knows nothing and is learning as she goes. And while I’m terrified, I’m also grateful to have your support.

Moving forward, here are some things to keep in mind…

Looking forward to learning with you.

Big Love,

Megan

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My February “To Do” List Challenge!

January was hard.

As many of you who follow me on social media know, I had some serious personal matters going on this last month (really for years leading up to this last month). On top of that, I live here in Michigan, and we are just getting through with a polar vortex (which sounds like something from a sci-fi film, but I assure you. It’s real.. very, very real). I was literally sequestered to my home with my three kids for five days straight. Three kids. One dog. No husband. A plethora of mental health struggles. It was not an enjoyable combination to say the least.

While I was trapped in my home and dreaming of the smell of salt water, I did absolutely nothing. My home became a frat house. My bills piled up. I would write out extensive ‘to do’ lists, but I couldn’t bring myself to do anything. This, along with the combination of just sheer boredom, led me to a thought: What would happen if I followed my ‘to do’ list every day for 28 days (i.e. the month of February)?

One of my three maniacs (Note: The Christmas tree that stayed up until the 2nd week of January.)

Considering this, I could tell you right off the bat that if I force myself to follow through with my ‘to do’ lists every day, then I probably would be a lot more considerate of what I put on there. Often (every time), I write a list of things to do for the day, and I write literally every single thing that I can think of that needs to be done. In the process, I overwhelm myself so much that I am discouraged by the time I’m done writing. What would happen if I gave serious thought to doing a few things every day and then held my accountable with the follow through?

I’m not sure, but I’m going to try. And I would LOVE for you to join me, while I figure it out as I go.

I came up with some rules to start with. Please notice Rule #6 : “Adjust as needed”. This also pertains to the rules themselves. This is an experiment, and I am no scientist, so as I find something isn’t working for me, I will adjust or perhaps, add more. The goal isn’t perfection though. The goal is productivity and to enjoy the process along the way.

*Subject to change

Just to be clear: This is NOT going to pertain to my real estate business. I have my own blocks of time for work, and my ‘to do’ lists within that. These are for personal tasks only. If you are someone who works 9-5p, I wouldn’t expect you to write “Go to work” on your to do list, so I will not count anything real estate related; If you’re a business owner, working from home, or running your own direct sales business, then work-related tasks don’t count for this. If you’d like to challenge me to do something similar pertaining to business and working from home, I can certainly do that another month. February’s challenge is for personal tasks only.

Planner is by Day Designer found on Amazon (*not an ad)

Ok, so that’s a start for us. Throughout the month, I will record or write about how I’m doing. I will also spend the next week breaking down how I came up with my rules. If you’d like to check in with me and see how I’m doing, go for it! If you’d like me to message you and hold you accountable, I’m more than happy to do that as well. It should be interesting to see how we feel at the end of the month. Hopefully, it will leave us feeling great going into March.

In the meantime, I wish you all a happy and productive February!

Big love,

Meg

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Saying Your Name.

Scotty,

It’s nice to just say your name.
.
After two years, the expectation is for me to slide your name into a photo album, tuck it on a shelf in between the baby books, and not take it out again until my guests have left. Until I’m an old woman, riddled with dementia, rocking in my chair. With grand kids asking, “Who is Grandma talking about?”, it will be ok to say your name then.
.
But to use it now, for some, is like using a curse word.
.
Two years ago, a faceless demon reached its arm through a sunlit sky, plucked me from my happy, delusional life, and by the wrist, threw me like a fidget spinner into treacherous waters. Bobbing in the ocean, I didn’t have time to cry. I didn’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I had to save those emotions for when I built a stable enough boat. Gathering our children (who were flung into these waters too), keeping my head above water, I had to build myself a fucking boat, while on the verge of drowning.
.
And it’s occurred to me that I must have something built now…
Because all I can do is finally cry.
.
You loved to talk about our second date when I told you, “It’s not where you’re at, but who you’re with.” Well, I’m sitting in this boat, Scott, and I’m looking for you.
.
I would have lost myself in the ocean to be with you. I would have struggled through every horrific thing this world has. With you.
.
Instead, I’m doing it FOR you.
In your honor.
Alone.
.
Navigating in solitude,
I’ve seen ugliness.
And I thank you for shielding me from the monsters.
I’ve made hard decisions.
And I thank you for always being my partner.
I’ve experienced others’ selfishness.
And I thank you for valuing me in a world of users.
.
To spend 12 years building something, in a world that only knows how to destroy things, I refuse to let this destroy what you and I started. I will row on with this disfigured heart of mine. I will find our family an island, and I will say your name to everyone there.
.
Scott Lawrence Bajorek – you made me so proud, and I don’t care who it intimidates. I will never be quiet about that. In fact, I think I’ll paint it on this boat.
.
.
I love you.
-Me

Funny Shit My Husband Says…

This was from a series of posts I used to write for an old blog of mine called, The Pigeon Hole. I would secretly write down the funny and endearing things Scott would say in natural conversation and then share it on my blog. He was an incredibly sweet man and loved to tease. And I thought I’d give you a peak into a different side of him.

1.”Hey, Boo.”

2.”If you get arrested tonight, I’m gonna be pissed.”

3. Him: “You got a mouse in your pocket?”

   Me: “What? No? Why?”

   Him: “Cause you’re acting pretty cheesy.”

4. Me: What movie ya’ watchin?

   Him:Goblins. I’ve never seen it before.

Oh what? You think I’ve seen it? No. No no. I’m not really into this. Oh, well, yeah, I do like this type of stuff but not really. Well, not goblins anyways… Dragons. I really like dragons. Dragons better than goblins. Goblins are pretty gross.”

5. “Play-Doh is a not a right. It’s a privilege.”

6. Me: “Hey, I’m on Facebook. Can I read you my uncle’s status right now. It’s kinda cute.”

   Him: “Sure.”

   Me:”If you purchased $1000 of shares in Delta one year ago, you would have $49 today. If you purchased 1000 shares of AIG, you’d have $33. If you purchased $1000 if share in Lehmann Brothers, you would have $0. But, if you purchased $1000 of beer, drank all the beer, and returned the cans, you would have $214. Therefore the best current investment is to drink heavily and recycle. It is called the 401-Keg Plan.”

   Him: “Ha! That’s funny.”

   Me: “I thought so.”

   Him: “Hey, you should comment him back and say: Did you know why they call a 401-K: 401-K? It’s because it is directly from Section 401-K of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.”

   Me: I don’t think so.

   Him: You don’t think he’d get a kick out of it?

7. Me: “Want some double-dipped peanuts?”

   Him: “Yeah!”

            *We share the chocolate covered candies*

   Him: “They almost have a peanut buttery taste to them.” 

            *insert silent pause*

   Him: “Could be the peanuts.”

8.          *looking at a water tower*

   Him: Do those really have water in them?

   Me: Yeah.

   Him: They’re for fires?

   Me: No, just part of the city’s water system. That’s all.

   Him: I think they’re for fires; they just knock it over.

   Me: Like for forest fires?

   Him: Well, yeah, any major town fire.

Doubt and Why It Should Piss You Off

Everything starts with one idea. Everything.

You wouldn’t take a shower in the morning, if you didn’t have the idea to shower first. You wouldn’t be in the field of work that you’re in, unless you had a single thought to pursue it. Every task begins with an idea. IMG_3045.PNG

Some of our ideas are big. Really big. They urge us to fulfill a purpose that just feels “right”. I won’t even give you an example of this because right now, as you read this, you have your own example in mind. And chances are that the example you hold in your mind is thee ‘big idea’ that feels right to you.

What to know: As soon as anybody is brave enough to acknowledge his or her big idea, doubt will immediately begin its work on you.

My friend, fellow real estate agent, and mentor, Olivia Chambers, and I did a FB Live last week to discuss the topic of Doubt and its sources (*to see a replay of this go to www.facebook.com/31MainStreet ) I will now expand on the things that we discussed…

The 3 Main Sources of Doubt:

  1.  Self
  2. Environment
  3. Natural Obstacles and Challenges

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  1. Self Doubt — This can be the most challenging of either of the other sources of doubt, as we can’t escape ourselves. We can leave or change our environment; We can manage or prevent obstacles. While we can’t leave ourself (or get a lobotomy as Olivia jested), we can change, manage, and prevent doubt from creeping in to chisel away at our dream. It should be noted that once we master self doubt, there is no other source that can hinder us, so this is truly the most important to manage of them all. Ways to manage self doubt include…
    1. Walk Like It, Talk Like It, Act Like It – Break it down for yourself. You are not going to conquer it all at once, but by trying simple tasks like adjusting your posture, you can transform your mind in incredible ways. The brain takes cues from the physiological actions of the body, and if you’re standing tall, then you’re doing the “walk like it” part. The “talk like it part” would be repeatedly affirming your own worth. Make so much time to speak and think positively about yourself that negativity doesn’t have space. Suffocate it.  So what’s “Act Like It” then? “Act Like It” = “Walk Like It” + “Talk Like It” . Master one. Add the other. Master that. Now, you’re acting like it. Once you’re acting like it, you will be treated like ‘it’. See the domino effect?
    2. Plow Through – You’ve heard the old saying “Feel the fear, then do it anyways.”? Well, yes. Feel it. Maybe give it the middle finger. Then, do what you want anyways because no one tells you what to do. Not even you.
  2. Doubt from Environment — Some of the most well-intentioned people in your environment can create the most doubt in association with your idea. “Innocently toxic”, as Olivia coined. So how do we handle our environment?
    1. Choose your own support system – when you decide to pursue your passion, consider the people in your life who naturally fall in line to support this. Those are your people. You don’t have to cut anyone out per se, but pick and choose where you spend your time.
    2. Understand what they don’t know – they base their opinions from information they’ve collected along their own life path. It’s not your job to explain anything away for them. That will only siphon your energy. Rather, just know that they don’t know. And move on.
  3. Obstacles and Challenges — The word is… SETBACK. There are always setbacks. We have setbacks in tasks that we didn’t even choose for ourselves. Why wouldn’t they IMG_2761exist in tasks that we did choose? You’ll notice Olivia and I laughing during this part of the FB Live (around 2m:50s). It’s because we had the setback of technical difficulties, which led to us losing our entire audience. She and I could’ve easily gotten discouraged and said ‘screw it’ for the day. Instead, we made some adjustments in our technology and tried again. Did it produce perfect results? No. We lost our audience and to be honest, the first recording was a bit funnier. BUT…  it did produce a video, which led to this blog post, which is reaching a few thousand people right now. Done is better than perfect. Setbacks are no reason to stop your pursuit to what you want to accomplish. If they make you feel doubtful, recognize it for what it is, and then do it anyways. Plow through.

I’ve been known to say that doubt is a hologram.

What I mean by this: It’s power is only in its illusion. Once you walk right through it, you see that there was never anything to truly fear on the other side. Doubt is the Wizard of Oz. You need only pull back the curtain.

Big Love,

Megan

 

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7 Ways of Coping with Traumatic Loss

While there are many forms of  loss such as divorce, unemployment, estranged relatives, the death of another human being cannot be compared to any other experience on this earth. It is a totally unique experience. When it’s unexpected, there’s a whole other set of challenges that present themselves.

Everything is cyclical. You will have dark periods that cycle out and return, and with time and healing, the dark periods grow shorter. Do not expect them to disappear completely though. We loved that person; And it’s because we loved that person that there will always be sadness associated with their absence.

I’m not an expert (I don’t know who would want to be an expert in this). These are all things I’ve learned and observed through the last two years. 35985576_10214767892245350_7557907341509656576_n

My long time friend and fellow writer, Trisha Lynn, and I did a FB Live this week to
discuss some ways we cope with the losses that we’ve experienced. (*to see a replay of this go to www.facebook.com/31MainStreet ) Here, I briefly recap those suggestions, as well as discuss some other tools that weren’t mentioned in our Facebook Live:

Music – PURPOSE: Creating new pathways and associations in your brain. Music can understand you in a way that people can’t some times. When talking to others who are grieving, I’ve noticed a commonality. A lot of us have songs or entire genres associated with our loved one. In the beginning, it can be painful to listen to a song that feels like it belongs to someone else who is no longer here. So until then, I highly recommend finding an artist or genre that you never considered before. It could be EDM, Classical, or Jazz. For me, there was a whole other world of music that I never knew about (*for more on this see my post: How Music Worked With Me this Year )

Journaling – PURPOSE: Our minds race. Thoughts can build up and intertwine with one another, binding us, making it impossible to function. Many times, our thoughts can get so tightly wound up. It can be hard to make a decision as simple as what to do first in our day, so we go back to bed. Journaling (first thing in the morning or last thing at night in particular) can be a wonderful tool to rid ourselves of the useless thoughts. There’s a book to reference for this. It’s called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. In the book, Cameron offers a means of decluttering one’s mind. She calls it “Brain Dump”, and I think that’s the perfect term. Get rid of all of the crap bouncing around in there, close your journal, and be one step closer to clarity.

Learning Something New – PURPOSE: Creating new neuro pathways within our brains. Learning something new will build your confidence in this foreign world. It will give you a sense of control that you feel you’ve lost. Some skills that I’ve learned over the past two years are real estate and shooting. Both of these areas have served different purposes for me personally, but the world is boundless with possible new careers, skills, or hobbies you could develop.

Reading – PURPOSE: This serves as a great escape from reality and can be incredibly comfortable and relaxing. It also serves another purpose. It goes along with the suggestion above: learning something new. I highly recommend reading books that feed you in a positive manner. Books like, The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, come to my mind. As Olson states in his book, reading just 10 pages a day will still move you in a positive direction forward. This fosters both patience in the process of learning, and also, it’s effective in the absorption of content.

Faith – PURPOSE: It’s my ‘why’. The promise that I will be reunited with loved ones some day is what keeps me going. While I don’t push my beliefs on another, I will say that believing in something bigger than myself has gotten me through some extremely dark times. (If you ever want to have a respectful conversation about it separately, I’ll gladly discuss my beliefs.)

Exercise – PURPOSE: Get rid of toxins. The enzymes in a sad tear have a different make up than the enzymes in a happy tear. These are toxins being released. Exercise elevates the heart rate, getting blood cycling throughout your body, but also, helping you to literally sweat out bad feelings. There’s so much already written about this, and I invite you to research it on your own, but endorphins have been way more powerful in my life than any other outside substance.

Physiological Exercises: PURPOSE: These are calming activities done for severe panic disorders as well as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The sudden death of a loved one brings trauma. Traumatic memories are stored differently than other memories. Our brain boxes them up tightly, so we can function in other aspects of our lives. The problem is that the mind takes this tightly packaged memory and puts it in the emotional section of our brain, so if we have a trigger, a stimulus that pops the top off of this memory, we experience the emotions as if the event is happening all over again. This is overwhelming. Here are some recommended activities that one can use to calm his or her self down from a panic situation. While Trisha and I explain it in the context of PTSD, it is applicable to many other situations. Parents use this for children with intense emotions or who may fall on the spectrum. With the demands of our world nowadays, these activities are beneficial to anyone who feels like they are overwhelmed with panic. The first step before any of these recommendations is to recognize the rising feeling of panic, then proceed with any of the following exercises…

  1. The A-B-C Trick – Trisha explains this as first, choosing a category. The example she gives is “Animals”, but you could decide on any category (i.e. food, cars, TV shows). Once your category is selected, go through each letter of the alphabet and name an item within that category. So for Trisha’s category, “Animals”, one could say, “A – Alligator; B – Baracuda; C – Chamillion…” And so on. Do not stop until you’ve reached ‘Z’. Repeat as desired.
  2. Shoulder Tapping – This was recommended to me by a fellow widower, who experienced intense trauma in his life. Here, the individual takes his or her arms and crosses them over their chest, each hand on his or her shoulders. Then, just lightly tap their shoulders with their hands, remaining silent while tapping. (I was also told that one could tap their own sinuses to alleviate stress. This is depicted in my blog: Panic Attacks: 5 Quick ‘In-the-Moment’ Exercises to Alleviate Them)

While I know most of these are fairly simple recommendations, I also know that adding them into your life, when you’re under mental stress and emotional pain, is easier said than done. Here, I reference the book “The Slight Edge” again. Jeff Olson, the writer, points out that this “…path can be uncomfortable…scary. Especially if you’re the only one around who’s on it.” He also continues on to say that, despite this, if we take small baby steps forward, we will see change. Positive change. Pick one small way to cope and take your first baby step, even if it’s itty bitty.

Big Love,

Megan

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Panic Attacks: 5 ‘In-the-Moment’ Exercises to Alleviate Them

 

These are calming activities done for severe panic disorders as well as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The sudden death of a loved one brings trauma. Traumatic memories are stored differently than other memories. Our brain boxes them up tightly, so  we can function in other aspects of our lives. Survival.

The problem is that the brain takes this tightly packaged memory and stores it in the emotional section. Therefore, if we are triggered, met with a stimulus that pops the top off of this boxed memory, we experience the emotions as if the event is happening all over again.

To say that ‘this is overwhelming’ is an understatement. Here are some recommended activities that one can use to calm his or her self down from a panic situation. It’s explained it in the context of PTSD as a result of loss, but it is applicable to many other situations. Parents use this for children when they’re overcome with intense emotions, children who may fall on the spectrum. It can also be useful for anyone overcome with generalized anxiety.

  1. The A-B-C Trick – My long time friend and fellow writer, Trisha Lynn, talked about this on a Facebook Live that we did together last week (*Link provided at the end of this post.) She explains this activity as first, choosing a category. The example she gives is “Animals”, but you could decide on any category (i.e. food, cars, TV shows). Once your category is selected, go through each letter of the alphabet and name an item within that category. So for Trisha’s category, “Animals”, one could say, “A – Alligator; B – Baracuda; C – Chamillion…” And so on. Do not stop until you’ve reached ‘Z’. Repeat if needed.
  2. Shoulder Tappin – This was recommended to me by a fellow widower, who experienced intense trauma in his life. Here, the individual takes his or her arms and crosses them over their chest, each hand on his or her shoulders. Then just lightly tap their shoulders with their hands, remaining silent while tapping. (*Also demonstrated on the link provided below)image
  3. Sinus Tapping – Notice the provided photograph. Here, you see where our sinuses are located. In moments of stress, it can be calming to (gently!) tap these areas of your face.
  4. Square Breathing – The fourth suggestion has four steps: 1. Inhale for 4 seconds. 2. Hold your breath for 4 seconds. 3. Exhale for 4 seconds. 4. Leave your breath held out for 4 seconds. Repeat.
  5. Totem – This is a term I’ve borrowed from the film “Inception”. In this case, a totem is an object that an individual can focus on in order to ride out the waves of their own emotions. An easy example of this is a fidget spinner or a stress balloon. You can take time to examine these objects in order to ‘reset’ your mind. There’s nothing wrong with distracting yourself with shiny things.

While these exercises won’t cure an individual of any mental health issues, they can be extremely beneficial “in-the-moment”. They don’t replace good sleep, healthy habits, and seeing a professional regularly, but I hope you find them useful for you or your family members during stressful times.

Big love, Megan

*See more on Grief and PTSD as well as some demonstration’s of some of the activities above in a Facebook Live: 31 Main Street FB Live with Megan and Trisha Lynn

 

 

Year Two.

Dear Scott,

They say that if a person passed herself on the street that she would view herself as a stranger. The theory is that our own image in real life is unrecognizable to us; we’ve only seen our face on flat photographs, through the lenses of a camera, and in mirrors. An ironic side note that I’d like to make: it’s also been said that our soulmates are the mirrors in our lives.

I’ve spent half second increments of time bargaining with God.

Maybe we could have you back and I’d promise not to ever speak to you. You could just be the kids’ dad.

Maybe you could come back just for one conversation on what I’m supposed to do in my life without you.

These ideas intrude my mind, and I brush them away like mosquitos. Blood sucking. Useless. Irritating. I know that these thoughts are impossible requests, and it angers me that they creep in from time to time. It feels cruel.

That being said though… Considering all of what I just spoke on, I wonder if you came back, would you even recognize me?

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You see, two years ago I was stripped bare. A tree. Shaved of all leaves. All branches. Shaved of all bark. Left to die.

As this dying tree sat there (to some, already dead), she had few choices…

The tree could say it was good while it lasted and give up.

Or.

Look to its own sap filled insides, now exposed to the elements, without bark and know there’s not much time. She could take a deep breath but had no leaves with which to inhale. Maybe ask the Sun for help, but she had no branches with which to reach.

So she remembered that she still had roots. She turned herself upside down, reached for a knife and carved herself into something useful.

I’ve spent the last two years uprooting myself and carving me into something of use to this world. That’s all I can think to do if I’m going to be here without you.

I reflect on my past life. I remember someone so scared of so many forces outside of herself, and I remember the person consistently loving me through those fears. I think of us, making our way out onto the patio to analyze under the stars and plan our life. I think of the beautiful soul that was beyond this world. A soul I knew so well then and understand so much more now. It took your death to show me the depths of how truly enlightened you were.

Regardless of what I knew then or what I know now, one thing is positive.

I carry you with me.

Sophie came to me last weekend. She cried, “I miss the memories.”

I thought she meant that she missed making memories with you. She went on further, “It’s not just that I miss Dad. I miss the memories of Dad. I’m losing them.” My heart ached, but then I realized it in that very moment. We carry you.

“I know, honey, it’s hard when we feel those memories slipping from us. Write them down while you still have them. Old-woman-Sophie will appreciate it.”

“Ok…” Her tiny voice quivered.

I grabbed both of her cheeks to look into her eyes, “We will never forget Daddy. Daddy’s presence is so strong both surrounding us and within us.”

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“That’s for sure.” She said, with a clear tone.

“We will miss him every day, for every event. We will miss his laugh and his smile. We miss the memories that fog within our minds, but Daddy is so much more than those things. We carry him everywhere.”

“Yes.”

She and I hugged and cried on and off for the afternoon, but we both knew a single truth: You have been absorbed into us.

It’s because of this, I’ve had the strength to change. Thank you for being my motivational speaker. Thank you for stepping out of work to call me because you got a text that said:

I need a Scotty pep talk. 

You don’t know the thousands of times I’ve wanted to text you during these last two years… To need the comfort of your husband over his own death is a duality that few will ever know. Just a bare tree…yearning for your comfort before realizing that you are absorbed into my roots.

It hasn’t been pretty. It’s been ugly.

But it’s been necessary; while I’m not sure you’d know who I am any more, I am certain that I will always recognize you. Like the Maya Angelou quote says:

People will forget what you said.

People will forget what you did,

but people will never forget

how you made them feel. 

Your spirit is unforgettable.

Until we meet again, I live every day for the reunion.

Love,

Meg

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8 Tips for Traveling WITHOUT your kids

Single Mom. Three kids. Time to go on a vacation, right? But without the kids? Who does that? Apparently, I do.

As I get deeper into my craft of writing and with the recent events of my life, a getaway with some good ol’ fashioned soul searching was what I needed. So, I went on a ten day trip last November… without my kids.

After posting pictures and getting home, enjoying the holidays, I started talking to my friends with kids. I talked to one couple in particular, Rodney and Victoria, who are preparing to go on a honeymoon. Naturally, they’ve been nervous about leaving their two little ones. I shared a little of how I handled leaving my kids with them and received positive feedback. And it got me thinking about all the blogs out there on how to travel WITH kids, but is there anything out there about leaving them at home? I don’t know. I didn’t research it, so maybe there is a bunch out there. Haha either way though, I decided to share it with any of you who are going on a trip and nervous about leaving those babies.

  1. Have a schedule. We hear this a million times. From the moment I gave birth, I read about getting my baby on a schedule. Later, my kids would be temperamental toddlers or know-it-all preschoolers. Again, I would read: Get them on a schedule to ease their anxieties. So let’s apply it again: the best defense is a good offense. If your kids have a schedule that they’re used to BEFORE you leave, and your caretaker just substitutes in to maintain this schedule, the better off everyone will be.
  2. Be organized. Prepare a folder. Eww – I’m notorious for being unorganized. I’m always running 5 minutes late. My purse is like a vortex of old mail, boogered Kleenex, rando cords, jewelry, and about 8 lbs of loose change. I repeat: I am NOT known for being organized. That being made clear, if I am leaving my children to go 1000+ miles away, you best believe I’m putting together a folder for their caretaker (thank you Mom and Dad aka Grandma Lori and Grandpa Brian — best people on Earth). I left a folder for them with a schedule for the week. It also included any money the kids needed that week in labelled envelopes. Other things to be sure are in the folder: Homework, birth certificates, insurance cards with letters of consent to give care. Don’t forget to put your flight information in this folder either. My Uber organized mama appreciated this too.
  3. Letters. I wrote each of my children a letter about why and how much I love them and placed it in a sealed envelope with strict instructions that they could only read it alone (or have it read to them alone). This was for that time when they were REALLY missing Mommy. Sophie read hers 4 days in. Lydia was a little later, and Jax never needed his opened. In fact, it’s still sealed and put away for him to find some day.
  4. Faith the Unicorn. This was another surprise for them. I bought two stuffed unicorns. I packed one of them in my suitcase and the other one I packed with them with (yes) another letter. The letter told them that I had their unicorn’s sister traveling with me. I told them that if they ever feel far from me, just give their unicorn a squeeze and know that I’m squeezing my unicorn too. We took pictures of what we were doing with our unicorns and the adventures we were having. They named their unicorn, Hope. It was a special connection, and I’m really glad I did this. *Note – if you want to go the extra mile, do like I did and spray some of your perfume on the unicorn.
  5. Bribe them. I may or may not have packed some candy and small toys with their letters. I’m not above distracting my kids with buying them shit. It’s just solid parenting.
  6. FaceTime. The beauty of this overly technologically dependent culture? Friggin FaceTime! My kids can see my big ol’ mug up on their screen at any time. FaceTime: Use it. Love it. Have scattered conversations at awkward angles with it.
  7. Send a Post Card! I had this idea a little too late. I know I already wrote the letters, but is there anything cooler than getting mail as a kid? If I would have thought of it earlier, I totally would have bought a post card for each of my children, hand written a message, and sent it out as soon as I landed. It’d be something that they could keep forever!  (I’ll forgo the letters next time and do this)
  8. Enjoy yourself.  There was multiple times were I thought, “What the hell have I done?” I’d get extreme anxiety, nearly bordering on panic. Faith the Unicorn surprised me in how she helped with this. Here, I thought she was just for the kids. Turns out: Nope, I needed that connection too. While hugging her, I’d have to talk myself down a little and remind myself that if I don’t let this trip enrich me and work through me, then it will all be for not. Don’t let your travels be for nothing! Enjoy yourself! You deserve it!

Again:

1. Have a set schedule before you leave them.

2. Compile a folder of crucial documents, money, homework, etc.

3. Write them a little letter, making them feel special – because they are!

4. Give them a prop to take photos with and give yourself a similar prop to do the same.

5. Buy them shit. Bribery is ok once in a while.

6. FaceTime those little nuggets.

7. If you can, get a post card out to them. So cool!

And…

8. Enjoy yourself and allow your getaway to feed your soul the way it’s supposed to (feel free to use your prop during your panicky moments)

I hope my little experience with traveling without my kids helps you on your next endeavor. Make this your own. I’m a writer by nature, so as you’ll notice, I wrote a lot to them– but you do whatever you gotta do! It’s just about making that connection and shrinking the feeling of distance.

If you found this helpful, I invite you to follow me on Instagram or Facebook, @31MainStreet — Please comment with any pointers you might have — how do you manage leaving your babies? Is there anything in particular that you’ve done in the past that really worked for your family?

Big love,

Megan