Reflections on Life Thus Far

My life. My story: Exploring mental health, spirituality, meditation & random thoughts I have


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Happy New Year (2017)!

It’s a new year so I just thought I’d say “Happy New Year!”. My New Year’s eve and day 8f7583da32895b7d2f518cc75398b72cwere totally uneventful. I stayed in and simply cleared out clutter and cleaned. No parties for me. Not my style. At least I finally got around to some of the clutter I had around that needed tossing (I donate it because although it is clutter to me it is still good stuff and usable). Some might try to make a dollar or two clearing their clutter and I see value in that but I appreciate the immediate gratification of moving the items directly after finishing. It satisfies me more to know I have both accomplished something and done a small bit of good in donating my things I no longer enjoy but someone else may.

This year I have decided to try my best to be totally honest with the people I meet. Thatmask-1503440 doesn’t mean I vomit my secrets on everyone I see but I want to avoid trying to be anyone besides who I really am. Online here is the only exception. But the exception is only with respect to my name, everything else is true. In my ‘real life’ I wish to be open with people in an authentic manner and be just myself. For too long I have tried to be what others (family, people I know, the larger culture around me, etc.) have wanted but it didn’t make me happy. So I decided to make an effort to change that. If people don’t like me then it’s not the end of the world. But it is better than pretending to be someone I am not and feeling like my true self is unworthy. The important thing is I like who I am. That hasn’t always been easy so it’s a big step for me to attempt showing my true self. It means I have to really accept myself completely or else I will always be tempted to present the side of me I think others want/expect.

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As far as I’m concerned one need not be unkind when honest so I will do my best to honour that knowledge. Although it may be hard to hear the truth, as long as it is delivered with the intent to be kind or authentic then I believe it’s okay. Simply giving one’s opinion is not truth though so it’s important to remind one’s self of that if it seems like the same thing (one’s opinion ≠ truth). Some family members of mine, I believe, would probably state their opinions like the truth and think of them as fact; still, that doesn’t make them that.

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Well, that’s more than I’ve written in awhile so I feel pleased with myself.

©Natalya Lyubov, 2017.

 


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Maybe I have Mice…

So I thought about it and decided I may have been hasty in my assessment of having rats. I looked up the size differences between mice and rats and viewed pics of house mice and it seems more like I have house mice. This is still bad but I feel slightly better because I figure (at least psychologically anyway) mice are somewhat less disastrous to have. They are still going to have to go though.

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Image from: DoMyOwnPestControl.com

 

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A House Mouse.

House Mouse CC-BY-SA Wikipedia user 4028mdk09 Image copied from paws.org (https://www.paws.org/wildlife/having-a-wildlife-problem/mammals/mice-and-rats/)

©Natalya, Reflections On Life Thus Far, 2016.

 


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Rats!

Life is testing me right now because after months of letting the housecleaning get put on the back burner it’s caught up to me. We have rats (roof rats) and I am really p*ssed off because I am the one doing all the cleaning now. My dad is not tidy and rarely cleans up after himself. Maybe I should cut him some slack but it feels like he doesn’t care about the clutter and dirt and he leaves it for me. In fact if it were not for the rats I likely would not have been motivated to clean up and declutter. So in that respect I am grateful for the rodents.

I’ve been trying to trap them humanely (catch and release) but they have evaded capture

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Roof rat on top of a bird feeder. Pic is public domain.

thus far. All I hope for now is to eliminate the food sources and clutter so they will find somewhere else to live. Cleaning up rat poop is not fun and makes me feel worse about how slack I’ve been in keeping house these past months (prior to when I spotted one late in May). It’s like this is my punishment for being depressed and not having the motivation for keeping a clean, tidy home. Now I have no choice but to clean and declutter if I want the rats to go. Technically I have only ever seen two but I am sure there are likely more. Why do they have to be so cute? It would be easier to hate them but even now I am only angry over their unsanitary practices (i.e. pooping in places that are not the toilet, or leaving food they found before I smartened up and put the food in sealed glass containers). Honestly, I am really grossed out by their poop and have trouble falling asleep because any noise I hear makes me think of the rats. It’s wearing me down.

 

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Roof rat. Public domain pic.

There’s just something about having a rat problem that makes me feel horribly dirty. I wish they would just leave and not return. They are making a lot of cleaning work for me and I do not like it! The grass, trees and rose bushes have to be trimmed too since they likely hide in such spots. Gosh, I feel like there is an awful lot to do so they will hopefully leave. Even if I was alright with killing them (I’m not) it would still be necessary to do the cleaning and decluttering so they don’t come back. As it is though I don’t want to kill them because they are dirty and messy but not any worse than humans. Plus they are cute and it’s awfully hard to murder a small furry creature that simply wants to live somewhere and have something to eat. I just hope they don’t damage anything important like pipes or electrical wiring.

 

©Natalya, Reflections on Life Thus Far, 2016.


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This & That

Well it’s been too long since I’ve updated my blog I fear but hopefully you’ll forgive me. I have not been especially busy apart from wondering what I’m doing at times. Mainly I read silly novels and distract myself from the onslaught of emotions I stirred up after my minimalism cleaning spree in June. It seems I must have dislodged some emotions or some such thing because I feel ever since my clean up I have retreated into the decidedly preferable world of characters in novels. Not only the cleaning though has caused this retreat from the everyday; no, my dad’s sister has Alzheimer’s and he went to visit her. Apparently she’s worse than predicted and my uncle wanted me to attend to my aunt’s care whilst she waits to go into a nursing home. Well I am not a caregiver sort so the idea didn’t appeal to me in the least especially as my aunt is aggressive like my mom was before she died from Alzheimer’s related complications.

Anyhow, I had to deal with my own very strict Superego and felt no end to my guilt for nearly a month. My therapist did manage to elevate me from my guilt ridden state but only after I’d already fled reality for the imaginary world of novel characters. Only now am I losing my taste for reading frivolous novels and returning to some state of reality again. I do not know how long it will last for. I suspect until my dad visits my aunt again and tells me how much my uncle would appreciate me giving my help (I expect there would be no money paid to me but I wouldn’t want to do it even if monetary reward was involved). Honestly, I’ve been burned out from my mother’s experience with Alzheimer’s and couldn’t abide by putting myself in the position of the martyr caring for someone I didn’t have a close relationship with again. Although I doubtless sound cold and unfeeling for not flocking to my aunt’s proverbial bedside I don’t feel particularly cold or unfeeling, at least not since my therapist convinced me otherwise. 

It was only within the last week or so I made the connection between the guilt and stress I felt from being asked to be a caregiver to my aunt that I realised why I’d stopped doing much else besides reading novels. Suffice it to say I found the novels holding less appeal once my reasons were made conscious to me. Perhaps I can finally persuade myself to go out again and be amongst people. Not that I favour crowds but I do miss taking in the sights during tourist season and wish for a change of scenery beyond the grocery store aisles and the office of my shrink. Besides I told my therapist I’d make an effort to take part in something that gets me outside my home. Guess I’ll ‘sign off’ for now.

 

©Natalya, Reflections On Life Thus Far, 2014.

 


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Changes

Discouraged. That pretty much sums up how I have been feeling lately. I think I am overwhelmed because I have been going through my possessions trying to become more minimalist; but in the process I have felt a mixture of emotions. Most recently, I parted with a garbage bag full of treasured books destined for charity and in doing so I wanted to pull some out and ‘save’ them…but I resisted. It feels like a loss to me because I love books and they’ve been my ‘significant other’ since I have never let real people close to me. So in parting with so many books I felt attachment to I went through a series of grief related feelings. Maybe not all of the grief related feelings/stages but definitely some anyway.

When you use books to satisfy your need for relationships giving away a large quantity of them feels horrendous. It’s not like I hoard books but I definitely value my books more than a person ought to. They aren’t historic relics suited to an archives department either so I don’t have any objective reason to view them so fondly. Perhaps it’s the fact I parted with books that had served as valuable references and comfort when I needed them; now I’m forced to either let go of anything I can’t remember or trust I will be able to call upon my brain to give me the knowledge when I need it. That’s scary given I dissociated for so much of my life to avoid pain. What if I can’t remember everything I read in the books I gave away?! Now I must trust myself to survive and have greater acceptance of my innate fallibility which also makes me face the fact I am imperfect. You see all these things connect to my sense of lovability and self-worth and that is terrifying territory. There’s little comfort in what I’m experiencing.

I want to crawl under my bed covers and not have to face the world. Maybe I am depressed but more than likely I am afraid of the fact I have nothing solid to stand on. All of my worldly identifiers are gone and I’m struggling to not concoct a new identity for myself knowing such a thing would be a production of my ego anyway. Part of the reason I fear social interaction is I’m afraid someone will ask me about myself and I don’t have any tidy, pat answers on tap to reduce my discomfort and the other person’s. The other reason for my social anxiety is I simply have trouble easily relating to everyone. Maybe most people don’t easily relate to others either and just hide it better than I do. Or maybe it’s a problem of ‘how’ I relate. I can relate at a human level but not at the social/surface level. After all, I don’t have a paid job, sports don’t interest me and I don’t have a husband or kids. So right there I am starting off from a disadvantaged position. Then again maybe I just overthink these things and should try to ‘relax’ more! Ha, if it were that easy I’d have done it by now. In some ways I have learned to relax about it a little bit but other times I get triggered by things like giving away some of my precious books. Who knew parting with a garbage bag full of my books would trigger me? Certainly, if I’d known it, I might have chosen to part with fewer books to ease the discomfort. The way I have done it feels like I just had a Band-Aid ripped from a tender sore spot. I suppose I shall have to go easy on myself. Trying to bulldoze my way through the pain won’t help me any if past experiences are anything to go on.

On a more positive note I did manage to dust my computer desk and tidy up my messy cords from my electronic devices. Well that’s it for now. Tomorrow I see my counsellor.

©Natalya, 2014. Reflections On Life Thus Far®


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Why I Can’t Watch Compulsive Hoarders On TV

An example of a compulsive hoarder’s home. Reminds me of how mine used to look before mom died and I was allowed to clear the junk.

For about a week I was watching various compulsive hoarder t.v. shows on YouTube that captivated me because I grew up with a mother who hoarded. Little did I know how triggered it would make me though. At first it was entertaining and slightly voyeuristic for me but I noticed after a few days my mood was dipping. So I initially chalked it up to PMS but it just didn’t feel like that explained it well enough for me. Then lying awake in bed feeling sad I realised it was my shame that had been triggered watching the compulsive hoarders on YouTube. I’d been transported back in time to the days when my mother hoarded and I felt powerless and ashamed of my home; embarrassed to have friends over I identified with the other adult children on these hoarder shows as they shared how they felt due to their parents’ hoarding problem. Of course having friends over is the last thing you want when you’re living in squalor essentially because one of your parents can’t throw anything out and collects stuff to the point there’s no room for anyone to actually live in the home anymore (cleaning anything is practically impossible too).

So once I had the ‘epiphany’ about where my uncomfortable feelings were stemming from I was able to wake up the next day feeling well again. No more compulsive hoarding shows for me! It felt too dreadful being moody without knowing why, reminded me of years ago when I didn’t have awareness of my emotional states. I felt scared thinking I might be slipping back into a time where any emotional state I was in came as a total surprise to me. Fortunately since stopping watching the compulsive hoarder shows I feel better. Likely the fact I honoured my feelings helped too because I could have simply brushed off my concerns like I used to and kept on watching the shows. But I don’t punish myself anymore and forcing myself to continue watching something that triggered shame and deep sadness in me wasn’t an option.

Now I watch shows where they clean messes and the people aren’t ill like on the hoarding shows that reminded me of my mom. My favourite is “How Clean Is Your House” with Kim and Aggie. It’s not produced anymore but I enjoy the old episodes. The UK episodes are better than the American b/c the Brits are funnier (IMO).

©Natalya, 2014. Reflections On Life Thus Far®

 


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Paring Down To Go Minimalist

Not quite this minimalist yet but maybe one day…

Lately I have been trying to go minimalist to simplify my life. It’s been something of a challenge as I have loads of things I don’t need yet feel some level of attachment to still. So I am culling the easiest items first beginning with anything I’ve not used or thought about in years or never liked anyway. In fact I got rid of two and a half garbage bags so far of things for charity. Much of what I have culled is perfectly usable or in decent/superb shape and what isn’t I threw out for the garbage or recycling. I feel really proud of myself for tackling my excess clutter. It makes me feel lighter emotionally once I’ve managed to clear out a few things that I never actually used. Fortunately, I haven’t got a compulsive hoarding problem or my job would be far more monumental!

A good reason for going toward minimalist living is it’s easier to clean if you don’t have loads of things in your way to move in order to clean. Presently, I have to move lots of items if I want to dust a surface or wipe it clean. It makes the task a lot harder than it needs to be. In the last month or two I have felt myself desiring less material items and more space so that means a bit of effort now for less later. It feels nice not having so many knick knacks and objects that were for all intensive purposes clutter. I highly recommend minimalism to you if you’re seeking a simpler existence and find yourself regarding material items less favourably than you once did. The only caveat is you will need to have your mind in line with the lifestyle or it won’t feel appropriate for you. Also, if you are a compulsive hoarder or pack rat minimalism likely isn’t for you!

I have a ways to go before I can call myself a minimalist but I’m going in the right direction anyway.

©Natalya, 2014. Reflections On Life Thus Far®


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Healing & Freeing Yourself From Clutter

My kind of bathroom! Love this. Image found here: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/397724210815086850/

The more I heal emotionally and psychologically the less I need materially to be content. I have noticed that when I want distraction from something bothering me I seek out material things as though I actually ‘need’ them-in most instances I don’t need them at all. But thankfully this occurs much less now than it used to. In fact I did a big clutter clear-out last year and continue to weed out things I don’t need or want anymore. The less I have the better I feel! Of course I need some things but nothing like what I once believed necessary.

Personally, for me, clutter and excess things just drain my energy to the extent I feel restricted in my breathing and capacity to relax. I suspect this is from growing up with a compulsive hoarder for a mother and not having the power to do anything to affect change in my environment at home. Being powerless as a child to change your circumstances can often lead to rebelling against such constrictions and moving in the opposite direction. So I very much wish to keep my environment clutter free these days. Unfortunately, I did not have the energy or motivation to clear out the clutter for a long time because I was still ‘attached’ to it. The clutter was my mother’s and kept me connected superficially to her even though I didn’t want to be. It was as though I had too much emotional baggage I had to clear out first before I could tackle her clutter. For those of you who aren’t regular readers or have forgotten, my mother died in 2008. Thus, her hoarded possessions were left for my dad and I to sort through.

Dad doesn’t mind clutter so it was up to me to get rid of my mom’s accumulated clutter (aka junk!). As I mentioned, last year I got a lot of it cleared out and the difference was huge. It took me a number of months to do it because I was the only one doing it and dad sometimes felt overwhelmed by the shear volume of clutter I was removing. I knew I had to do it slowly so my dad wouldn’t be upset and ask me to leave everything where it was. Fortunately, as I got rid of more stuff along the way the positive changes impacted my dad and he saw I was making things better so objected less and less. That’s how it works though when you’re removing a lot of stuff and someone has been used to living with it so it doesn’t register for them as being a problem anymore. I think one has to be impartial or quite balanced to go through a load of clutter and not let it overwhelm you. You also need empathy for the hoarder or person holding onto the stuff or else it’s just too easy to tell them they need ‘professional’ help! LOL

Beautiful and true 🙂 Image found here: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/320951910916350560/

These days I tend to look at anything I want to buy long and hard before hand because I need to think about where it will go and if I actually ‘need’ it or not. Generally it turns out I don’t need it and I opt to leave it in the store instead of buying it. It helps not having a lot of money but even with a small amount of money you can buy things you don’t really need as such. So I’m learning to always ask myself when I’m in a store if the item will be of use to me or if it will become clutter. This method works for me because it makes me slow down and be mindful of what I am contemplating buying. Another thing I have started to do is try to follow a rule of ‘one item in one item out’-in other words if I buy one item I have to get rid of an item I already have (I put it aside ’til I have enough to donate to Goodwill or another charitable organisation accepting household items/clothes). This prevents me from accumulating more things than I have space for or actually require for my well being.

As I’m thinking about clutter in the material realm I am reminded to mention our minds can get cluttered too. Our headspace tends to be reflected in our living spaces and the more clutter in your mind the more you’ll have around you. I also believe people can end up talking too much about things that don’t really matter just so the ‘space’ can be filled with something. Silence is difficult for a lot of people to cope with so talking about anything at all is better than nothing it would seem. I prefer the silence though to incessant ‘noise’ caused by someone uncomfortable with it. My head starts to hurt if I’m subjected to listening to someone chatter non stop. It really does get to me at times. Of course I try to be polite and civil so will tolerate it for awhile until I usually have to interject abruptly in order to escape or regain my serenity. I’m working on trying to maintain my equanimity whilst being subjected to mindless chatter and am slowly getting better at it.

Still, I don’t see why I should have to be providing all the accommodation when I am just as worthy as anyone else. Guess it comes back to recognising if I dislike my situation it’s up to me to change it. Although I try to accommodate others it’s not a given it will be reciprocated, nor is it actually mandatory. So if I have an issue with people talking too much about ‘nothing’ it’s ultimately my problem and I have to find a way to deal with it. This applies to anything we have problems with because we can’t change others behaviour, only our own.

How does clutter affect you? Do you struggle to maintain a ‘clutter-free zone’ or are you not bothered by it until it reaches a point where you *have to* do something?

 

©Natalya Lyubov, 2014. Reflections On Life Thus Far®

 


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Shredding My Past

A selection of paper shredders.

This afternoon I finally got around to shredding that bag I had full of old diaries and journals; it felt pretty good! I am not quite finished yet but have the majority done. It just feels so liberating to shred negative things I’d written and know I am making room for positive energy. The notes and entries were not worth reading again, never mind keeping! They came from years of mental health troubles and there just wasn’t anything in them I wanted to keep around. Everything I wrote reminded me of how much pain I was in, why hang onto that? So I feel like I’m setting myself free in a sense.

Why I never shredded at least some of the stuff before today I chalk up to not being ready. There was a part of me stored in those journal entries I wasn’t ready to let go of until now. Maybe it just felt too foreboding having to look at those old writings of mine and watch them be eaten up by the shredder. But now that I’ve done most of them I am just giving my shredder a chance to ‘rest’ before I do the rest; okay, if I’m honest I am resting too because that was a lot of paper to shred!

Hope your weekend is going well.

©Natalya, 2014.

 


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Good News :)

Good news! My dad doesn’t have to use his walker anymore to get around and is allowed to do stuff like before. He saw

Spring crocuses

his orthopaedic surgeon this morning and got the green light to do stuff without restrictions. His hip is doing very well apparently and has not moved since being replaced (he had a total hip replacement). I am so happy because we finally can get rid of the raised toilet seat and huge bath seat for the tub. The good news made me so happy I cleaned the bathroom! haha. Now it feels like Spring cleaning can commence because there are fewer bulky assistive tools about making it difficult to move around. Our home is small so having those extra items that took a lot of space up were very inconveniencing for me. Since my dad doesn’t require them now I happily moved them out and put away in storage (the big bath chair is a borrowed item so is going back to the Red Cross).

Now if only I could get so excited about filing my taxes! LOL Deadline is April 30th so I am okay but need to get them done. I use TurboTax software because I am not great with numbers and am too cheap to get an accountant to do them for me. It is a great thing for anyone doing their own taxes who don’t know a lot about accounting or who get confused-like me-with too many numbers to keep track of.

Well that’s it for now.

©Natalya, 2014. Reflections On Life Thus Far®