Fall’s glorious colored leaves: The beautiful lesson of letting go

fall tree's orange leaves
fall tree’s glorious orange leaves

Good morning (or afternoon, or night, depending on where you are right now!). Today I’ve been awake since 3 a.m. Insomnia is no stranger to me; I’ve been battling it occasionally for several years now.

Melatonin helps. Melatonin is a natural hormone made by your body’s pineal gland, a pea-size gland located just above the middle of your brain. When the sun goes down and light turns to darkness, the pineal is “turned on” and your body produces melatonin, released into the blood. This usually happens around 9 p.m. and you start feeling less alert and sleepy. 

Sleepy man. Source: platinumtraininginstitute.com
Sleepy man.
Source: platinumtraininginstitute.com

Melatonin levels stay elevated about 12 hours through the night. After sunrise, they fall back to low daytime levels by about 9 a.m. Some people don’t produce enough Melatonin.

Taking Melatonin works sometimes to help me fall and/or stay asleep. You can get the capsules at Walmart or on Amazon. Taking Melatonin doesn’t work for everyone. It even gives my friend Stephanie nightmares! But you can try it to see if it helps you sleep. (DISCLAIMER: Check with your doctor first if you have any health issues or you’re on any medication!)

I didn’t take any last night. I fell asleep and when I awoke at 3 a.m., I tried what I usually do when I have insomnia: pray. I did this for about an hour. I prayed for my family and myself. 

Asian woman praying
Asian woman praying

Praying is at least doing something good and useful if you have insomnia. Sometimes I hate nighttime, because if you do wake up, there’s not a lot to do and I really dislike being unproductive (and laying there, staring at the ceiling!). Restaurants and stores are closed, too. It’s boring!

When I still couldn’t sleep after that and felt “bright eyed and bushy-tailed“, I decided to get up, dress (meaning throwing a comfy sweat shirt over my black yoga pants and putting on sneakers), and drove to get a cuppa’ caffeine. Usually that is my morning coffee, but today a cold Dr. Pepper (with chocolate doughnuts) just sounded good!

Dr. Pepper and doughnuts
Dr. Pepper and doughnuts

It’s rare that I drink a soda any more (I quit drinking Coke years ago), but not as rare for me to eat doughnuts. I’m working on conquering sugar, just not this morning! Not the breakfast of champions and so not how I want to set the tone for the new year. Please pray for my self-discipline, would you? I know I have to make the choice, daily!

Yesterday I worked on my 2020 Vision and my Personal and Business Goals for 2020. I got this workbook in Diane Cunningham’s free webinar, promoting her Life Change Club. Have you started writing down your vision and goals for the coming year?

Vision 2020
Vision 2020
90 Day Business Goals
90 Day Business Goals

I’m so happy that I completed Diane’s workbook and set my 2020 Vision and Goals. One of my personal goals is about praying for our grown children and our grandchildren, but learning to let go. To trust God. God loves our kids even more than I do!

Ray and I with our 3 beautiful daughters, Heather, Leah, & Eden
Ray and I with our 3 beautiful daughters, Heather, Leah, & Eden

I’m a recovering control freak, and I’ve been working on this one, letting go and letting God, for literally years. It’s so hard. But if I don’t let our kids go, they’ll never mature and grow. They’ll never learn to fly, and to soar.

eagle soaring
eagle soaring

A great verse to pray over your children and grandchildren is Isaiah 40:31.

Our beautiful, precious granddaughters Violet & Annabelle
Our beautiful, precious granddaughters Violet & Annabelle

Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

I love this quote about Autumn. It is so timely and appropriate right now with me facing empty nest, learning to let my grown kids go, and fall’s gloriously colored leaves here in Missouri. “Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.”

Autumn
Autumn
tree with yellow leaves
tree with yellow leaves
red, yellow, & orange leaf
red, yellow, & orange leaf

To cope with empty nest (I really love and miss my kids!), I’m focusing on cleaning, organizing, decluttering, and purging. Also for 2020, I’m concentrating on my health (despite this morning’s junk food breakfast!) and on my business and personal goals, such as writing my first children’s book. It is about my and our daughter Leah’s black cats Natalya and Jax becoming “friends.”

Jax and Natalya
Jax and Natalya

I just hired the illustrator for this book to draw the pictures inside the book this week and I’m so excited and happy! She does beautiful work!

To be first to hear about my children’s book’s release as an eBook on Amazon, be sure to sign up as a subscriber to my newsletter (ezine) at the top of the page on the right hand side.

freedom
freedom

What do you need to let go of this coming new year 2020?

  • Your grown children;
  • Your spouse;
  • Your excess weight;
  • Anger, depression;
  • Fear, worry and stress;
  • Control;
  • Broken dreams;
  • Forgiving someone;
  • A sin you committed in the past;
  • Excuses;
  • Laziness;
  • Sugar or carb addiction;
  • Alcohol and/or drugs;
  • A toxic relationship;
  • Self-doubt;
  • Poverty mindset or other mindsets hindering your success;
  • ____________________ (you name it).
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How I’ve been coping with empty nest: cleaning, organizing, & decluttering

coffee and doughnuts
Coffee and doughnuts

Besides my coffee and doughnuts this morning (doughnuts are more rare now, but coffee is my morning thing), I’ve been trying to cope with our youngest daughter Leah moving out last weekend by a 5-day frenzy of cleaning, organizing, and decluttering.

I guess I’m doing this to grieve empty nest. But there is something savagely satisfying to me about giving or throwing things away. My husband Ray, who is a hoarder (although not as severe as those on the TV show) just doesn’t get this.

He keeps everything; it has gotten worse every year, and it has caused strife for the 26 years of our marriage. It makes me feel claustrophobic and suffocated, and makes me want to run away to the beach.

me on beach in Florida
me on beach in Florida

Not that I need an excuse for going to the beach. It is my place of peace and refilling. 

stack of books
stack of books

Hoarding is not the same as collecting; true hoarding is defined as the persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value. [Source: Hoarding: The Basics, Understanding The Facts: OCD, Anxiety and Depression Association  of American)

Everyone saves things. But the quantity of their collected items sets hoarders apart from other people. Commonly hoarded items are newspapers, magazines, paper and plastic bags, cardboard boxes, photographs, household supplies, food, and clothing. 

Some people even hoard pets, collecting hundreds of them, inside or outside, putting the people and animals at risk due to improper care and unsanitary conditions. Ray has seen people who do this, in his work as a paramedic, with people’s stuff and animal urine and feces making their homes inhabitable. (Ya’d think this would encourage him to get rid of things at our house!)

hoarder
hoarder

Some reasons for hoarding are:

  • The hoarder believes an item will be useful or valuable in the future;
  • They feel the item has sentimental value, is unique and irreplaceable, or is too big a bargain to throw away;
  • They think the item will jog their memory, believing that without it they won’t remember an important person or event;
  • They can’t decide where something belongs, so it’s better just to keep it. [Source: Hoarding: The Basics]

Are you a hoarder? Here’s a checklist of some symptoms and behaviors:

  • Inability to throw away your stuff (YEP!);
  • Severe anxiety when attempting to get rid of them (Yes, again!);
  • You have a very hard time categorizing or organizing your belongings;
  • Indecision about what to keep or where to put them (There’s no decision; Ray usually just keeps them!);
  • You feel distressed–overwhelmed or embarrassed by all your things (I would add, or your spouse feels this way!);
  • Suspicion of other people touching your stuff (Ray has asked me this at times);
  • Obsessive thoughts and actions, such as fear of running out of an item or of needing it in the future; you check the trash for accidentally discarded objects (Ray’s fear of me not accidentally doing this, when he leaves town);
  • Functional impairments, such as loss of your living space, social isolation, family or marriage discord, financial difficulties, and/or health hazards. [Source: Hoarding: The Basics]

All this has happened in our marriage. It’s actually kind of scary, because hoarding can be a mental illness. (I’m not saying Ray is mentally ill, although I do believe he needs counseling for it.) By middle age, symptoms can be severe and be harder to treat. If hoarding is a problem for you or a loved one, you should seek help with a mental health expert.

Hoarding may be present on its own or a symptom of another disorder. Those most often associated with hoarding are obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), OCD, or ADHD, and depression. [Source: Hoarding: The Basics]

OCD
OCD


(This is very strange and although it occurs less often, hoarding may be associated with an eating disorder, pica (eating non-food materials), Prader-Willi syndrome (a genetic disorder), psychosis, or dementia. Ray doesn’t have any of this. At least, I don’t think he munches on his old work papers!)

man eating paper
man eating paper

But seriously. Hoarding can cause anger, resentment, and depression among family members, and it can affect the social development of children. Unlivable conditions may lead to separation or divorce, eviction, and even loss of child custody. Watch the TV show Hoarders or videos on YouTube. (Yes, I have threatened Ray with leaving him for this at times, because it stresses me out so much! And he has threatened me for other things I do. We even fought at a marriage retreat once!)

Couple arguing
Couple arguing

Hoarding may also lead to serious financial problems. One example is renting (for months or years) a storage unit filled with the hoarded items. Or refusing to have old furniture or equipment fixed or replaced because of suspicion of new, modern models or of distrust of repairmen.

Fear of new technology isn’t limited to hoarders; many people thought trains would melt people’s bodies and were suspicious of the TV, believing it would be harmful to people’s conversations, reading, and the patterns of family living. This is at least partly true about the TV!)

man watching TV
man watching TV

You can’t change others. Obviously even though I’d love to, I can’t go around throwing away Ray’s stuff. I only did this a couple of times in all the years we’ve been together. The first year of our marriage, I threw away a pair of his old, worn-out, holey cowboy boots that I saw at the back of our closet. They were his beloved Tony Lama’s, and he’s never let me forget it!

Since then, I’ve bought him several pairs of new boots, because you just can’t separate Ray, a native Texan, from his cowboy boots. However, I can do whatever I want with my stuff!

de-cluttering my office
de-cluttering my office

So for the last several days since Leah moved out, I’ve been majorly cleaning, organizing, and purging. It feels wonderful! This will set you FREE!

freedom

I threw out an entire, HUGE garbage bag of binders, of notes I’d taken on business webinars and teleseminars. I narrowed my binders down to only three. I love buying cute binders and use plastic sleeves to put the notes in, and then insert the sleeves into the binders. 

cute binders
cute binders

I use plastic tubs from Walmart or the Dollar General to store my journals. Since I’m a voracious journaler, I have 3 tubs filled with diaries! And these aren’t even all of them. Years ago, I had Ray burn many of my diaries. I felt I needed a brand new start and burning them was symbolic.

My journals are my one form of hoarding. I talked to Ray today about burning all my journals again. We could make a fun night of it, and have a huge bonfire with grilled hotdogs and s’mores!

I often pour out my heart into my journals, which means they are sometimes full of pain! Journaling is a great catharsis, though. 

In the picture below, on the left is a tub filled with our tax returns. The purple spotted bag on top of it has a supply of my books, to sell when I speak at women’s conferences and events.

The 3 tubs on the right are my journals! The smaller tub is for a friend, who went to Israel, and asked me to keep it here for safekeeping. It’s some of her most treasured items. 

plastic tubs
plastic tubs

Throughout the year, I often save gift bags and tissue from friends who give me gifts, for my family’s birthdays and gifts for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and other holidays. I throw the boxes away at Christmas, and then start all over in January saving bags.

Our daughter Heather bought Ray a gift once, a pickle Christmas tree ornament and using a bag with pickles on it. We both busted out laughing when he opened it. 

Ray's pickle Christmas ornament deco
Ray’s pickle Christmas ornament deco

Ray loves pickles–pickled anything. Pickle spears, pickled asparagus, pickled okra, etc. I have a few gift bags and tissue in this box in my closet. You can see the pickle gift bag that I’ve used over and over again for Ray’s gifts. 

gift bags
gift bags

I buy pretty folders for our current bills, that I have in a metal file holder on a black card table with other office supplies. (Leah’s birthday gifts are there right now, too. We’re taking her out to eat bang bang shrimp tacos on her birthday).

I keep our most important papers, such as our house mortgage papers, in a waterproof, fireproof safe. 

I’m praying for Ray and I to become debt-free, and have the past due bills in in a plastic file folder in my office closet, with other files. 

I have a shredder that I just used this week to shred a bunch of paper like old bills. People keep way too many papers. Shredders are great for this.

One thing I remember is that I wouldn’t want our kids having to deal with getting rid of a bunch of junk from our estate when Ray and I die. Why not make it easier for your children or relatives?

Red chair and loveseat
Our front entry room
pretty floral folders, my dry erase board calendar, and Leah's birthday gifts
pretty floral folders, my dry erase board calendar, & Leah’s gifts

I keep my to-do lists, speaking engagements, book deadlines, appointments, and other important info in my pretty desk calendar. I bought this one at Walmart. It’s called The Happy Planner. This keep me organized and on track–and yes, happy! I love sticky notes, to-do list pads, and planners!

The Happy Planner
 The Happy Planner

I like to surround myself with things I love in my office–pictures of my family, books, little knick-knacks, stuffed animals of mine (like funny Snoopy) and our kids, gifts Ray and others have given me, pretty art on the walls. It inspires my speaking and my writing. I just took two bags of books to the thrift store. 

desk knicknacks
desk knick-knacks
laptop and Snoopy
laptop and Snoopy
bookshelf
bookshelf

As I was blogging this post, I asked Ray to please go get me a cold drink at Casey’s convenience store. He also bought me this big chocolate bar that reads, “You are amazing!” What a guy! (Despite his hoarding!)

chocolate bar
chocolate bar

At any rate, I’ve been working so hard the last several days to clean, organize, declutter, and purge. I will continue to do this. I don’t think you’re ever really done with this. It’s a life-long process.

I think it’s also important to purge spiritually and emotionally–to let go and let God, to forgive, to repent to Jesus. Clutter makes your soul feel cluttered, too.

Don’t let it overwhelm you. You can start with just one area, like your purse, your car, a closet, or a corner of a room. 

This week practice letting go and letting God. Including your stuff.

It’s so liberating to go through your house, garage, and car and clean and get rid of things (or sell them or give them away to bless someone). I encourage you to do this before 2019 ends, to start off the new year 2020 with more space in your home and heart for the better things God has for you.

You have probably heard of beautiful Japanese author and organizing expert Marie Kondo, whose minimalism-inspired KonMari method is the latest rage to spark joy, bring more prosperity, and reduce stress in your life. She also has a Netflix show, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.

Marie Kondo
Marie Kondo

While I don’t agree with bowing before your home and things as she does (she has Shinto beliefs), I greatly admire her encouraging people to tidy up their homes and pursuing the life they want.

The KonMari philosophy is that the question of what you want to own is how you want to live. How do you? We can’t take any of this stuff with us when we die or when Jesus returns soon! Let it go. 

Let go of something old that no longer serves you in order to make room for something new.”–Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

“I realise there’s something incredibly honest about trees in winter, how they’re experts at letting things go.”–Jeffrey McDaniel

fall tree's orange leaves
fall tree’s orange leaves
fall tree's yellow leaves
fall tree’s yellow leaves
red, orange, & yellow leaf
red, orange, & yellow leaf
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