My Mom Was Dying and I Went to a Concert

Typically I write about Simplifying life in the sense of the home environment and schedules. Sometimes, I like to write about Self-care as well. I can’t articulate it but I truly feel that Simplifying and Self-care go hand in hand.

After dropping the boys off to school, I was listening to Coldplay. Their song “Everglow” was playing. That song reminds me of my Mom. You see, my Mom passed on the evening of  August 22nd. My husband, two boys, and I went to the Coldplay concert on the evening of August 20th. I struggled so much with whether to go to the concert or stay by my Mom’s side. I am an only child. I have fought my entire life against the stereo-type of being spoiled and selfish yet my whole family had been looking forward to this concert for MONTHS. This was to be my youngest son’s first concert.  This was to be a family experience. My Mom was transitioning. I was emotionally exhausted but I didn’t want to leaver her. I wanted to be by her side when she left this world. I was being pulled between my hearts that were living and my heart that was dying.

Music nurtures my soul. Music helps release stuck emotions. Lyrics put words to feelings. I feel the bass in my heart and soul. I can escape but at the same time be present.

My soul sister and I were talking on the phone and she said to me, “Seeking pleasure during an emotionally difficult time is not a bad thing. This is Self-care.” After I had confirmation from the hospice nurse that yes, Mom was on her way but it would most likely not be that night. I decided I was going. I had brought my things with me to my Mom’s and drove separately from my family so I could leave at the latest moment possible. I whispered to my Mom that we were going to see Coldplay,  how excited D was and that I wouldn’t be too far away. I would be back the next morning. I know in every fiber of my body that she wanted us to go.  Her husband and my Aunt knew to call if there was any drastic change and I would get there ASAP. I likened it to going home for the night. It’s just that “home” for that night was 1 1/2 hours away instead of 20 minutes.

The whole drive to Pasadena, I listened to their music. Old songs, new songs. Songs that made me smile, songs that made me cry. It was so therapeutic. I was able to break free from the intensity for just a few hours.

When I arrived, the boys were waiting for me to go get dinner. We ate, we talked, we hugged, we laughed, we walked, we held hands, we waited in line, we rode on a bus, we snuggled, we waited in line again, we finally got to our seats. We were together. Unplugged. Focused on the same thing. Experiencing an experience together. Connecting. My heart was breaking at the same time it was filling up. My God, how we needed this at this time more than ever. All of our cups had been drained over the summer. This helped nourish all of our souls at a time that our souls were feeling quite tender.

That concert was somewhat of a spiritual experience as well. I literally felt the music through my heart, body and soul. Their current album feels like a celebration of life to me. The symbol of their album is The Flower of Life. I wanted to celebrate my Mom and being there seemed very apropos.

So, yeah, my Mom was dying and I went to a concert. I think it was Mom approved:)

Oh, and, Mom, I want you to know that your light will “Everglow.”14192146_10210830924797436_4968507595582328293_n.







“I’ll put THAT on eBay”- Your Parents Stuff…Still

Back at Mom’s yesterday. Cleverly hidden under a card table were 4 boxes of STUFF that she told me months ago she had tried to sell on eBay but nobody was biting. I suggested she donate it. Apparently, she did not.

I have lots of friends who eBay items or craigslist or sell them on local exchanges on Facebook. Most of them have quite an inventory stocked up. It’s not THEIR stuff, per se. The intention is to sell it. Sounds great! Until you have  acquired a warehouse in your garage of STUFF earmarked for eBay. 

I held my very first workshop at my home about a year ago and one of the women attending is a serious eBay seller. She also has a minimalist frame of mind. Her one rule is: if it doesn’t sell within 30 days, GET RID OF IT!  ‘Cause chances are, it isn’t going to sell at all or at least not for what you would want from it. Was it painful to send a set of China to Salvation Army that sat in my garage for at least 15 years because I thought for sure I could make money off of it? Nope. The painful part was realizing others didn’t have the same value attached to it as I thought they should. I just imagined the face of the person at the thrift store that felt like they scored on a gorgeous China set.

So, if you are purging your STUFF and think you can sell it, do yourself a favor and give yourself a deadline. Sell in 30 days or get it outta there! Your time is more valuable.

Keep it Simple✌🏻️

Your Parents Stuff: The Real Deal 2

It doesn’t matter if it is your own STUFF, your kids’ STUFF, your partner’s STUFF, or your parents’ STUFF there is an emotional tie to STUFF in one way or another.

Some STUFF brings back memories or it symbolizes the one you love or even a special event (hello wedding cake toppers!) Often we are afraid that letting go of the STUFF is letting go of someone or a time in our life. For some reason, maybe, if we hold on to these items then the memories will never fade. And sometimes we desperately want to hang on to those memories. Maybe even a little too desperately.

And then some of that STUFF is the super sentimental STUFF. We all have some sentimental items. The distinction is that not every single item is or even can be sentimental. Sometimes things are sentimental for a only a period of time. For example, I loved unicorns as a kid. Unicorns were everywhere! Even on my shoes. My Mom kept at least one unicorn item. That may have been special when I was 10 but not at nearly 45. 

And then the “what if” STUFF. What if I will be sad later if I give it away now? What if my kids would like to have these items some day? What if I regret… The book I’m reading on grieving does suggest taking time going through the belongings of your deceased loved one. I felt my heart skip a beat because I had already donated so much of her clothing. What if…what if I shrink 4 sizes in clothing and 2 sizes in shoes and my tastes become those of a 67 year old woman? Nah…that what if won’t happen.

What is happening, though, is overwhelm. Needing to pause and have some time and space to breathe and reconnect. To take some time to linger over items just as Marie Kondo suggests. To thank those things for providing for my Mom in the moments she needed them. And, yes, I’m even talking about the insane number of baking dishes I discovered. She loved to cook. Nothing particularly fancy. Just yummy food. She loved to share the food she made, too. Thus the dishes. The pie plates I have are accumulated from pies of Christmas past. She would just say “keep it, I have plenty!” She was NOT kidding!

We have all accumulated STUFF for one reason or another. Sometimes we hold on to it for the same reasons even if they don’t matter anymore. Or sometimes we hold on to it for different reasons. No matter what the situation, going through STUFF isn’t always a walk in the park. Sometimes it’s like going through therapy and facing up to things you don’t want to face up to. It can be hard and uncomfortable but once you get through it, you feel amazing! 

I’m in the hard and uncomfortable right now. I’m actually going to just focus on some of my own STUFF at home right now to help hone in my skills. It’s always a process but definitely a process worth doing. Sometimes you actually do need assistance, a sounding board, a devil’s advocate. Sometimes you need to do it yourself. But, really, just do it. Not only does it benefit you, but your loved ones as well.

Keep it Simple

Your Parents STUFF…The Real Deal

I sit here writing this 8 days after my Mom breathed her last breath after battling Stage 4 Colon Cancer for 5 years. She was placed on hospice care on the 5th anniversary of her surgery at the end of May.

I’m an only child. The man who raised me passed 8 years ago to Stage 4 Glioblastoma Multiform (aka brain cancer). My parents moved from my Grandparent’s house that my Mom inherited in 2000 after my Grandpa passed away. The house and nearly 50 years of accumulated STUFF of the Depression generation. After my Mom had gone through their STUFF for literally years after they passed, they packed up the rest and moved into a small mobile home to live closer to me when my Dad was placed on hospice care.

Since my Mom was diagnosed, I knew it would be sooner rather than later that I would be in the position of sorting through the family STUFF. My Mom had been working on thinning out her things herself. Her dragon collection which she offered me. China that she offered me. Knick Knacks which were, also, offered to me. I would always politely say no thanks. I knew she adored dragons. I think the China thing was a continuation of my Grandma’s thing, the knick knacks were mine that I didn’t care about any longer. I would tell her that I would find what spoke to me, I would let her know. I would remind her that all I wanted of Grandma’s was the swan music box I brought to her while she was in the hospital, her wedding rings, and this particular shirt that she wore often. A blue hankie and a harmonica was all I needed of my Grandpa’s belongings. I told her that I would only want a few simple things that would remind me of her. Some of her artwork, the little pink elephant she would put her rings on while doing dishes, and a particular turquoise ring that she had as long as I could remember. Of course, she had already given me a huge gift of the geneology book she put together. She would point out furniture. “This is yours, that is yours, I want you to have that…” Yikes! Where am I to put this stuff?

As I would sit with my Mom during the summer or working in the kitchen fixing her cinnamon raisin toast or oj, I would be going through the cupboards and find things we had when I was a kid. The McDonald’s Muppets glasses, for example. Dishes from my grandparents house. An endless amount of baking dishes. Silverware from both my childhood home and my grandparents home. Again, I noticed all the unicorn and dolphin knick knacks I collected as a kid when I went through those phases. I found a unicorn jewelry holder. “Mom, Really? You kept this?” “Of course!” was her reply. She had literally 15 ceramic roosters lining a ginormous hutch that is supposed to be mine. Thankfully, I’m only expected to take one rooster. The hutch is a no go. I would sometimes find myself mumbling “Wow” to myself when I was there. And let’s not forget the art room. She was an organized woman for sure, but “Wow”. Just “Wow”…

Previously I had written on this topic in regards to how I felt that going through our loved one’s belongings after they pass somewhat interfered with the grieving process. I’ve had many people share with me that it has helped the healing process or they have fond memories of going through a loved one’s belongings. I’ve also heard of the overwhelm and resentment and anger. I’m experiencing all of that. I have spent two afternoons going through what I call “the easy stuff” just so I can unearth the things that may bring the healing and the memories. Overwhelming for sure. The clothes and the art supplies and the art books. It is painful, too. I know that my grieving is a process that takes time. I also want to be able to go to my next phase of grieving when I’m ready and not be held back by her things. I will have to time box, form a plan of attack, set boundaries around the process of sorting. It will be an interesting adventure for sure. I plan on blogging on this as I move along the journey. My hope for sharing my experience either helps you with a similar journey or inspires you to look at your own STUFF through the eyes of your loved one’s after you are gone. Or maybe to open a conversation with a loved one that just may have an overwhelming amount of STUFF that you see yourself being responsible for in the future.

For now, Keep it Simple:)14068037_10210769180533868_74172717118907698_n



Extreme Simplifying 

Have you ever stood there surveying your STUFF and thought something along the lines of “if only I could take a match to it and start over?”

If you have, you are not the only one. I have heard that many times. Of course, we really don’t want our houses to burn to the ground! But, if you have thought that, you are probably in crisis mode and I have a few “extreme” ideas for you.

1) Identify the things you would HAVE to save in a fire. Place it all on the floor of your living room if you need a visual. This is powerful in itself as you start to really notice what is TRULY worth saving. 

2) Take The Minimalists advice and have a packing party. The idea is that you invite your friends over and pack up your entire house as if you were moving. Label your boxes well. Then for 6 months, you unpack as you need things. What’s left in boxes after 6 months, you donate.

3) Clear out a room and only put back what you LOVE or “brings joy” (Marie Kondo). I just had my carpets cleaned and as I was putting furniture back and rearranged it. By doing so, I am now ready to finally let go of an end table, sofa table, a couch, and a huge decorative plate. Three things I no longer have to dust or at least have staring at me saying “you need to dust me”.

If you try any of these out or have already, please leave a comment to let others know how it worked out for you.

Keep it Simple🌸

Keeping it Simple when Life isn’t

Self care.

Self care.

Self care.

That’s what a friend told me after I told her that Life threw a curve ball. And some days, I have to gear way down and chant that mantra in my head over and over again. It’s so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of emotions and feelings of yourself and everyone around you. Guilt and anger are typically my go-to feelings which really are the masks for fear and sadness. It’s also easy for me to get caught up in DOING to avoid BEING. Cause in times like these BEING can be so very scary. I literally have this feeling inside of revving up an engine and putting the pedal to the metal to race through a gazillion things and any obstacle that pops up I just run over with frustration. This is how I have dealt with difficult things in the past and let me tell you, it can be costly.

No more. You see, I’ve been doing a lot of internal work since my Dad passed in 2008. It has been quite the journey. I really started simplifying back then. It started with friendships, MNOs, a book club. I tuned in to what was going on inside and what didn’t feel right, I eliminated. I drive people nuts because I always RSVP as a maybe cause I may be feeling it at the time of the invite and then when the time comes, not so much. I may be under resourced and over scheduled. It has nothing to do with “a better offer” it has to do with tuning in and listening to what I need. Self care.

Then I started simplifying with the STUFF. ‘Cause visual chaos caused internal chaos and when life gets chaotic (which it inevitably does), the go-to feelings come and revved up engine roars.  In the past I organized the STUFF. I finally realized that organizing was typically temporary. Inevitably the STUFF would be everywhere again. AND I couldn’t find what I needed which would cause either A) me to go into a tail spin or B) send me to the store to spend unnecessary money. Both costing me time. Which is valuable. Really, who wants to spend their time with all that icky stuff anyway. Let’s not forget time spent organizing, managing, cleaning, or giving up and spending time with resentment and more anger. Not to leave out how exhausting all of that business is which again is sucking up precious time. Again, tuning in to what I need. Self care.

So here I am now, at home plate receiving that curve ball and I’m noticing that I’m ready for it. I’m scared, I’m sad. I still get mad and feel guilt but instead of getting stuck in it by revving up those engines and DOING, I BE with those and ride the waves which then allows the true feelings to come and then I ride those waves. Guess what? I’m still alive after riding those waves. Nothing earth crushing has happened. Better yet, I feel better, stronger, braver, grounded, capable and nurtured. I tune in. I’m more patient with myself and others than I used to be in these situations. I’m asking for help, I’m taking time for myself. I’m going to yoga, I joined weight watchers to force myself to take care of my body (because eating can be another way to DO rather than BE). To keep me tuned in.  No guilt. I talk, I don’t talk. Depends on what I need. I go out and visit or I stay home. It depends on what I need. I listen and when I start to hear the engine rev, I pause and evaluate what I need. Sometimes I let the engine rev to plow through certain things but I know when to stop. Self care.

I owe being where I am to Simplifying. Turning down all the noise from STUFF whether it be physical STUFF, schedule STUFF, or internal STUFF has helped me tune in. It has been preparing me for Life’s big curve balls. I can slow down, I can listen, I can be where I need to be when I need to be there. I can fill up even when Life is draining my tank. I allow myself self care so I can care for my people.

Simplifying is so much more than decluttering and de-owning STUFF. It’s part of taking care of yourself and your loved ones. It’s about thriving in Life rather than just surviving. It’s about being able to respond to Life’s curve balls rather than react to them.

Keeping it Simple.

Simplify to Let Your Authentic Self Shine

See that picture? Often, I would randomly choose this card from the stack offered to me by a parenting coach Hubby and I worked with when The Boys were young. She would say that the card was either saying something truly about you or something that you are desiring. Whenever I would pick this card (which were always face down), she would smile at me and giggle and say. “That’s for sure!”

Flash forward to the other day, the questions “Who are you and why are you here?” were asked of me. As I pondered the first part of the question, trying to come up with something very eloquent, I just shrugged my shoulders and wrote down, ” I am Me.”  Then I thought for a moment and suddenly a gush of things rushed through my brain to answer the second part of the question and here is what I wrote:

I am here to help people. To be my authentic self and help people feel comfortable in being their authentic selves.  I am here to authentically connect with other humans, with animals and nature. I am here to affect change. Maybe not HUGE change, but change nonetheless.

I share my struggles and triumphs not for pity or praise but because I want to help people know that they aren’t alone. Their struggles are real. People that seem perfect, really aren’t so no need to compare. To share that I have these struggles as well and this is what worked for me. This is the progress I made. You can make it to. Not my way, your way. Cause we all have to forge our own paths. To encourage people to be their Authentic selves and to give society’s ideals the middle finger since those ideals are not even close to reality.

In my heart, I believe that simplifying, de-owning, minimizing, decluttering, whatever you want to call it is the process in which to reveal the Authentic self. When the clutter of STUFF from anger, obligation, guilt, sadness, denial, avoidance, fear, busy-ness  is eliminated then your Authentic self can shine through. Is it easy? No. It’s difficult as hell. Because it is a process of peeling back layers and facing up to some internal STUFF we have been ignoring and that need attention. That external STUFF is the symptom of the internal STUFF.

The path is there, it will be found. I’m here to guide.

Keep it Simple

If you are interested in Who I Am cards:

Also, if you are interested in the insightful questioner: