Saturday, September 15, 2018

15 Ways That We Have Simplified Our Bodacious Dog Mom Life Over The Past Few Years

A few years ago, our life was beyond crazy busy. Aside from working a bazillion crazy hours, we were running Bodacious Biscuit Love, our family was getting bigger, and we were participating in events almost every weekend during the warm weather months. Lisa was also making out of town deliveries after work. In addition, we had some other stresses in our life. Most of that was brought on by various family and friends. Stupid. Drama.

Right around that time a dear old friend of mine extended a little sound advice that I still embrace to this day.

"Simplify your life."

I told my friend that her words of wisdom sounded great, but how could I possibly simplify our life? Between the crap going on with a handful of friends and family, our work life, baking homemade dog biscuits around the clock, deliveries, events, etc., there was no way I could simplify any of that.

"Yes, you can. I can't tell you how because I'm not in your shoes living your life. What I can tell you is this. Pretend that you're a juggler. You've been handed 15 balls to juggle in front of a group of people. That's no easy feat, but you manage to do it. The crowd is impressed, but you're stressed out. Your entire focus is on those 15 balls. You don't want to mess up and disappoint the crowd. 

A few minutes later, you realize that juggling 15 balls is too much. You eliminate five of the balls. You're down to 10. You can exhale a bit, but it's still stressful and your not able to focus on anything else except those 10 balls. You also notice that a few people move on. Sure, juggling 10 balls is rather impressive, but it is not as impressive as 15. 

Eventually, you get tired of standing there as stiff as a tree and dedicating your entire focus on those 10 balls. That isn't your style. You like to move around, talk to the crowd, have awareness of your surroundings, and crack a few jokes.  

You get rid of 5 more balls. Now, you're just juggling 5 balls. You can feel your muscles relax. You start moving around. Talking to the crowd. Telling stories. You're having fun. However, at that point, most of the crowd is gone. Some of the people who walked away throw out comments like "you suck" or "how hard is it to juggle 5 balls" or "you're boring."

Of course, the shrunken audience and comments made by some of those who left sting a bit. And you know damn well that you could go back to juggling 15 balls to please and impress the crowd, but you choose not to. You're relaxed and having fun with juggling only 5 balls. You're still doing what you love to do, but instead of trying to please the masses, you've simplified things to do what you do best and have fun while you're doing it."

I'm fairly certain I read her email at least a dozen times. It made sense. Little by little, over the past few years, we've made a considerable amount of changes.

We went from juggling 15 balls to juggling only 5...

1. Bodacious Biscuit Love - You live. You learn. You get through the growing pains. You can read about that here, here, and here. Eventually, we decided not to renew our license to sell homemade dog treats this year. You can read about that here.

2. I retired from a few services that I had been providing for over a decade. You can read about that here and here.

3. The road travels both ways. I wrote a blog column about that here.

4. Maintaining balance. We do our best. Etching a schedule in granite is not an option for us. We take it week by week and sometimes, day by day. I also wrote a series about how we're maintaining balance in our life. That can be found here.

5. Limiting gathering at our home. There was a time when we planned a lot of gatherings at our home. Girls night. Birthdays. Holiday parties. Dinners. Drinks and appetizers. This year, we limited it to three. A dear friend's college graduation party. Lisa's 50th birthday bash. And, our annual Halloween party. We planned a few other other smaller gatherings, but that's it. Next year, it's going to be even less.

I'm not going to lie. I'm fed up with initiating and hosting gatherings. No one else does it and invites everyone. It's a lot of work regardless of how many or little show up or what people bring. The host of any gathering always provides most of the food, sets up, and ends up spending a few hours the next day cleaning up, doing dishes, and putting everything away.

It's getting to be too much. If we want to have someone over for dinner, fine. But, that's going to be the extent of it. And, our annual Halloween Party because that's super fun and we love it.

6. Day by day. One of the biggest things I've learned as a Work at Home Dog Mom is that regardless of how much I plan and try to stay ahead of anything work or non-work related, very little will go as planned. This is the reason why I stopped creating a weekly schedule.

At one time, I put a great deal of effort into keeping a weekly schedule and I stressed when it didn't go as planned. That included my sleep schedule.

Now, nope.

I take things day by day. I have to in order to keep my sanity intact.

7. Meal planning and prep. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen making meals and snacks for our kids and Lisa and I. I'm in the process of spending even more time in the kitchen. You can read about that here.

My goal is to eliminate most of my reliance on premade food items like bread, pasta, sauces, marinades, salsa, etc. I can make that myself.

Obviously, there are premade items that I will continue to rely on like soy sauce, my Helmans mayonnaise, ketchup (Lisa loves it), mustard, local honey, etc.

But, for the most part, that's it. We don't eat a lot of bread and pasta, but when we do, I want to make our own. I want to make homemade potato chips and granola bars. The list goes on.

8. Goodbye drama. Enough said. I hate gossip. I hate drama. What I even hate more is the gossip and such when we do something for one and not for the other. For example, when I bake, I always bake extra. I'll share with this person or that person. The next time around, I'll share with those who didn't get some the last time.

But, amid all, there's always the people who watch and wonder and make mention of. Seriously? I don't have time for that.

If I want to share a plate of cookies or a loaf of pumpkin bread, I will. I'm not going to worry about who's watching and taking notice and the gossip to follow.

9.  Do not disturb. We have a lot of electronic devices in our Bodacious Home. That includes two laptops, a Chrome Book, a tablet, and 2 smartphones. Throughout the day, there are a lot of dings, alarms, notifications, ringtones, and beeps that sound off.

There was a time when we immediately jumped up, regardless of what we were in the middle of, to tend to those sounds. Now, not so much.

We keep our phones nearby because of Lisa's work and text messages that need immediate replies, but that's it.

We've also learned that it's okay to mute the world for a bit. Exhale. Have an uninterrupted conversation. Enjoy family time. Because it's necessary.

And also, because more often than not, when we send texts and emails and private messages, very few are answered immediately That's okay.

10.  Eliminate the clutter. Over the past few years, we've gotten rid of a lot of stuff. At first, it was hard, but we followed a couple of tried and true guidelines. The first, if you haven't used it or worn it for 2 or more years, adios. The second, if it's just taking up space and has no story behind it or sentimental value, adios.

The Bodacious Yard and Bake Sales that we held in the Summer and Fall back in 2014 and 2015 helped out a lot. Then, last Summer we cleared the basement so Lisa could create her woodshop. That helped out too.

Now, we're 90% clutter free. Each year, we go through our clothes and shoes. This year when I Fall clean, I'm going through the cupboards. We have too many glasses, mugs, platters, and cookie cutters. We'll be donating those.

Eliminating clutter is an ongoing process. Once you get the bulk of it done, it's just a matter of maintaining it annually.

11. Christmas Cards. I used to send out dozens of Christmas Cards. It usually took me an entire day to fill the cards out and address the envelopes. Over time, I realized that we were sending cards to people we hadn't heard from in years. Or, people we only heard from via annual Christmas Card. And, year after year, here we were sending out 50+ Christmas Cards, but only receiving less than a dozen.

I went through the list of recipients and removed quite a few. Now, we only send out Christmas Cards to what very little family we have left and our close friends.

12. Live within your means. There's a meme that I see every now and then on my various social media streams. It says, "Take the trip. Buy the shoes. Eat the cake." I understand the point this meme is trying to make. Yes, life is short. But, if you can't afford the trip, don't book it. If you can't afford to buy the shoes, don't buy them.

Too often, people gravitate beyond their means. They buy a big house with a mortgage to match the size. They buy a brand new car with all the bells and whistles and end up with an obnoxious monthly payment. They buy designer handbags and shoes until the credit and charge cards are maxed out. Or, they spend way too much money during the holiday season and spend most of the following year making payments on credit and charge cards.

Lisa and I have chosen to live within our means. We have a monthly budget. For the most part, we stick to it. We save money for big-ticket items. When we purchased a new vehicle almost 3 years ago, we stuck to a monthly payment we could afford. We purchase our clothing and household items when they're on sale and we have coupons.

13. Learn to say NO. We don't have to bake for every single bake sale. We don't have to contribute to every charity. We don't have to donate raffle baskets each time we're asked. We don't have to be the one to host every holiday party or Girls Night. We don't have to help out every single time.

I've lost count how much Lisa and I have done over the years whether it's been for animal rescue groups, local animal shelters, pet parents in need, friends, and family, etc. I'm not going to make a list of all we've done or provided. If you'd like to take a peek, you can view the photos and blog columns on the Bodacious Biscuit Love blog site or skim over the 3 years of blog columns on this blog site.

What I will do is say this. When we say NO, we don't owe anyone an explanation nor will we allow ourselves to be guilt tripped. Lisa and I are still contributing to the greater good, helping pet parents in need, creating our Bodacious Care Packages, and donating items to our local animal shelters.

14. Having no plans doesn't mean we're bored and need or want something to do. I remember back in 2012, a friend of ours asked if we had any plans for the upcoming weekend. We didn't. Their response was, "Good, then you can help paint my deck and backyard fence." Not sure if they were joking or not, but...

We intentionally made it so we had no plans for that weekend. We wanted to sleep in, do things at our own pace, do something fun and spontaneous, etc. So, we told our friend that we weren't available to help out. She said, "But you just told me you had no plans..."

When Lisa or I say that we have no plans, more often than not, we planned on having no plans. And, we want to keep it that way.

15. Have sandwiches for dinner. Once in a while, Lisa and I have sandwiches or grinders for dinner. We don't buy them from a sandwich shop. We make them at home. For us, sandwiches and grinders are simple, comforting, and remind us of simpler days when we were kids. Each time we have sandwiches or grinders for dinner, we share those stories...

As we've simplified our life over the years, not everyone has been happy with our decisions and stance. Our circle has gotten tremendously smaller. But, at the end of the day, it's about doing what's best for your family.

No comments:

Post a Comment