4 Types of Toxic People & the Clutter They Bring

Mandy Hale has a point!

Ahhh toxic people. They can be hard to identify and even harder to break free from. The problem with toxic people is they are really good at taking: time, energy, emotion… but offer nothing in return except unnecessary clutter.

Decluttering has become increasingly popular over the years and there are many tips on decluttering home spaces, office spaces, vehicles, all the way to decluttering your email. But what about decluttering people?

We’ve all been there at some point. We have a friend, or two, who always seems to be interested in our lives and wants to get together for lunch or coffee. Unfortunately, once we’re there, we find the entire conversation about them and their problems. Nothing supportive comes from the conversation and we end up leaving confused and emotionally drained.

When I went through my awakening (not really sure what else to call it!) two years ago, I decluttered people from my life. It was a bad time overall for me, but I found that there were many people who were not being emotionally supportive when I really needed them. I felt like I had to be OK all the time around them when in reality, I was anything but ok. I cleared everyone from my Facebook page and slowly I started adding people back. I got rid of friends & family. It was hard, but I was so emotionally stretched, I didn’t really see any other option.

As of now, I still don’t have all those people back on my page and you know what? It’s completely fine. Toxic people not only drain us but they really do clutter our lives. I know my example may seem extreme to some but stop and think about all those people on your friends page. Are you really talking to all of them? Or are they there because you feel obligated to have them there?

Getting back to the title of the post: Toxic People and Their Clutter.

  1. The Frenemy.
  2. The Liar.
  3. The Drama Queen/King.
  4. The Narcissist.

I’m sure there are others 🙂 Let’s start with the Frenemy. This is the person who constantly corrects you and tries to change things about you but deep inside, they harbor jealousy for one reason or another. They present themselves as friend but behind your back they are presenting a different face. They insult you, spill your secrets, and never really compliment you on successes but rather imply that you ‘got that award because of pure luck’. You feel like you have to apologize for your successes instead of being proud.

The Liar. Hmm… this is the person who never seems to give you the full story about anything. They say one thing but then you find out the truth was either a little off their original story or something COMPLETELY different. You end up doubting them and wondering if what they are telling you is true.

The Drama Queen/King. This person is my favorite, purely because they tend just to be completely ridiculous. This person cannot handle mellow or laid back. There has to be action or something happening and if there isn’t, they create it. They get a rush from being in the middle of chaos. They don’t know how to operate without a problem consuming them. You end up constantly saving them from their own messes and nothing you do is good enough because… when that problem is gone… another quickly emerges. You may also encounter the Complaining Drama Queen/King who only wants to complain. They never seem to want a solution to their problems, or to do any kind of work associated with fixing them. They just want to use you as a giant ear. And don’t even bother trying to discuss a problem of your own.

The Narcissist. This one is complicated because they seem to be 100% invested in you but slowly you start seeing little things emerge that make you question yourself. A narcissist will never be responsible for anything. In every situation, they are either victim or hero, but never the person who caused any problems. Narcissists are especially dangerous. They will make you question your own sanity. They never seem to ‘remember saying that’ or ‘promising to do this’.

The bottom line here is we all need people in our lives who are supportive in our endeavors. We need our own cheering section. Decluttering people is harder than decluttering your bedroom but the concepts are still the same. Are these people adding negativity? Or are they uplifting and encouraging? Do they truly care about you and your life? Do they offer constructive advice hoping you succeed or do they point out all your faults?

Asking tough questions is the only way to identify the people who are just hanging around but not really providing much value. It also helps identify those friends who we should spend our time and energy on and those we should let go. And yes, this applies to family as well. While it might be tougher to declutter family, sometimes its necessary. I’ve been through this myself and while its painful to know that there are family members who do not support me, it’s reassuring to know that the ones I’ve chosen to keep have my back and want to see me succeed.

So how do you get rid of these toxic people? There’s no real right or wrong way. The goal is to invest less and less time in them until they stop bothering you. If you’re dealing with a narcissist though, I would advise cutting ties with them quickly. They may call you names or bad-mouth you to your circle of friends but those who really know you will see through it. You can’t help what others say but you can help how you react to it. Rise above and move on knowing that you’ve made a decision that will save your mental and emotional energy for something that really matters.

3 Top Homemade Gifts

I made a lot of gifts this year for Christmas. I list them all below and list my 3 favorites at the end of the post (no jumping ahead peeking!)

  1. Milk Bath. I found a fabulous recipe for milk bath using powdered milk, corn starch, and baking soda. The recipe also called for Epsom salt and essential oils but I left those out to avoid skin sensitivity issues.
  2. Lotion Bars. My hands get so dry with eczema during the winter time. I found a recipe using coconut oil, olive oil and beeswax for lotion bars. Again, you can add essential oils but some of the ladies these went to have skin allergies. I like the smell of the plain bars. They healed my eczema cuts fast!
  3. Lip Gloss. Another recipe using coconut oil, beeswax, and shea butter. Essential oils can be added to this too but I left that out.

There are pictures below of each in various stages of completeness. I was very surprised at how easy it was to make the bars and lip gloss.

I also made dip mixes and flavored salts. All the recipes are below.

Matcha Salt

  • 1/2 Cup Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Matcha Powder

Coffee Paprika Salt

  • 1 Tbsp ground coffee
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 Tbsp sea salt

Fiesta Dip Mix Spices

  • 1 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried minced onion
  • 3/4 tsp dried chives
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Dill Dip Mix Spices

  • 1 tsp dill weed
  • ¼ tsp seasoned salt
  • 1 tsp onion flakes
  • 1 tsp parsley flakes

Ranch Dip Mix Spices

  • 2 tsp dried parsley flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp dried onion flakes
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

Italian Dip Mix

  • ¾ tsp garlic powder
  • ¾ tsp onion powder
  • 1/3 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp celery seed
  • 1/4 tsp seasoned salt

I have to say though the absolute favorite gifts I made were the books I made for my three nieces. They are 17, 14, and 11. For the oldest I made a book about adulting since she will be heading to college next fall. For the middle one, I made a book filled with beauty tips. Finally, for the youngest, I made a book about being an Empath and how to implement self care while dealing with the emotions of other people. Sadly, I have no pictures of these to share!

Each book had some doodles from me and funny memes. I loved putting these together. It was so much fun to exercise my creativity and put together really unique gifts. The two older girls messaged me thanking me for the books and I was told the youngest really loved hers as well.

I highly recommend doing something like this. It’s so much more personal and unique. Homemade gifts put the focus back where it belongs – on showing others how much you care about them and appreciate them.

4 Tips for New Years Resolutions That Stick!

Happy New Year!

It’s the last day of 2018 and while most people are thinking about the parties they’ll be attending tonight, tomorrow will bring a new year and new resolutions. Why is it that resolutions seem to last all of 45 minutes and then they’re forgotten? We’re back to our previous habits and disappointment in our lack of willpower quickly sets in. Resolution burnout combined with post-holiday blues makes January seem like a dismal month.

A quick web search for top resolutions of 2018 was very illuminating on how generic people get with their goals. Is it any wonder they don’t last? Why not change that this year? Below I list my favorite tips for setting resolutions in a way that they’ll last more than the first week of January.

Tips:
1. Set SMART Goals. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Sensitive and is a very popular tool used in business. The problem most people have with goal-setting is not making them specific enough. Example: “I want to exercise more”. Ok… more than what? If you set a goal that has specific criteria and constraints, then you will know when you’re achieving it. How do you know you’re exercising more? If you change that to “I want to exercise 3 times a week for 30 minutes each time” then you will know once you hit day 3 that you’re succeeding at your goal. The idea here is to remove any possible ambiguity that provides a “way out” of the goal.

2. Have an end goal in mind but set small goals that will eventually lead there. “I want to lose 50 pounds this year”. While a good goal, it’s also a large one and very daunting. Instead of focusing on this large of an objective, set smaller, achievable goals that create a road map to where you eventually want to be. “For the month of January,  I will work on removing sugary drinks from my diet. For the month of February, I will add vegetables to every meal.” Small goals that are less intimidating and easier to achieve but eventually add up to the overall goal.

3. Positive, not Negative. Most resolutions people set require giving up things. Weight loss requires giving up tasty foods; spending less money requires giving up frivolous spending like gourmet coffee; and so on. It’s very easy to get caught up on the things we have to give up to achieve our goals, which we then start to rationalize as too constricting and then the resolutions fizzle out. Instead of thinking about what we have to give up, focus more on the positive aspects. Spending less money also gives you a chance to get creative with budgeting. Losing weight gives you a chance to try new food and experiment with unfamiliar ingredients. The more positive you are, the more likely you are to stick to your goals.

4. Ask for help if you get stuck. We all need a helping hand now and then. Sticking with the weight loss resolution, if you find yourself eating the same things because they’re tried and true recipes, ask your friends for their favorite healthy options. Search online or Pinterest for new things to try. Keep it fresh and exciting and you won’t suffer burn out.

New Year’s Resolutions are a chance to start over and make improvements we’ve been thinking about but you don’t have to wait for a new year to implement any type of change. You can always choose to reinvent yourself in a new way. The first step is always the hardest, but it gets easier.

Happy New Year and Happy Resolution Setting!

Living with Autism

This post actually took me a really long time to write because this is so close to my heart.

My son was placed on the spectrum over the summer and while I was not at all surprised, I was very annoyed that it took this long for the diagnosis to happen. Several times, teachers recommended visiting the doctor about my son’s classroom behaviors and each time, I was told they do not test based on the recommendation of teachers.

Fast forward to 5th grade… I had to take my son for booster shots in April for middle school and the doctor we saw pulled me aside and asked if he’d ever been tested. I was so angry and she could see it. She responded by apologizing over and over. My only thought was “all this time he could’ve been receiving the help he needs instead of struggling”.

I’m writing this post now to encourage all parents out there – if you have any suspicion about your child, push the doctor until they agree to help. Even if the evaluations determine your child is not on the spectrum, it is better to know than to feel how I felt – that all this time your child could’ve been receiving help and accommodations at school but wasn’t.

Its easy to say “find a new doctor” but as any parent of an autistic child can tell you, it is anything but easy to change anything in their “normal”. Whether its food, or the person who cuts their hair, or the doctor they see – routines are very difficult to change.

This actually happened earlier today – something about my son’s normal changed and it took over an hour to get his mood to stabilize. He was angry, crying, confused and we spent almost 30 minutes sitting in the car at Target talking through all the things swimming around his mind. The only way I’ve found to work through these times is to list a solution or two for each item bothering him. Usually, it’s a landslide – one trigger opens up a storeroom of problems he’s been holding onto.

I’m very new at this and feel very alone – as I’m sure most parents do. However, I’ve realized that what needs to change is my approach to parenting. I have to keep reminding myself that he processes things differently than everyone else and how we work through the problems he’s having has to be different as well. I’m always on the lookout for tips on how to do this because some days, I will try anything.

For other parents out there going through this – I wish you the best. It is a daily struggle for me sometimes, but I know with God’s help, I can be an amazing mom.

All the Holidays!

In a previous post, I mentioned celebrating all the holidays with Kiddo for the month of December: Hanukkah, Yule, Christmas, Kwanzaa… Hanukkah is over and Yule is the next one on the list. Here’s what we did/plan to do:

Hanukkah

  • Lit the menorah every night
  • Listed, starting on day 1, something we’re grateful for and kept adding to the list, so on the 8th day, there were 8 things to be grateful for
  • Said a thankful prayer after listing our gratefuls

Yule

  • I found a Yule prayer that Kiddo recites
  • We light as many candles as we have around the house
  • We exchange a homemade gift
  • We make bird feeders out of oranges and hang them in trees
  • We decorate with greenery

Yule prayer:
I am grateful for that which I have.
I am not sorrowful for that which I do not.

I have more than others, less than some,
but regardless, I am blessed with what is mine.

First, I am thankful for my health.
Second, I am thankful for my family.
Third, I am thankful for my warm home.
Fourth, I am thankful for the abundance in my life.

Christmas is pretty standard around here with the usual gift fest. Last year, we didn’t do much for Kwanzaa – I think we were both exhausted by that point, but we did exchange homemade gifts, do crafts, and talked about the seven principles & the importance of Kwanzaa.

We also donate to as many charities as we can during the holiday season and talk about why its important to give back to the community and help those who are not in a position to help themselves.

For New Years, we tend to do a full cleaning of our home. It’s a fresh start, so we get everything scrubbed and decluttered in prep for the new year.

So that’s how we spend our December. Leave a comment how you spend your holidays.

Homemade Christmas

It’s that time of year again! The air is cold, there are no more leaves on the tress, and my couch always seems to be covered in blankets. I love winter. I grew up in south Louisiana with perpetual summer so living in Pennsylvania, where the seasons actually change, is amazing to me. There’s something to enjoy about all of them.

Last year, Kiddo and I decided to try and celebrate a little bit of every December holiday: Hanukkah, Yule, Christmas, Kwanzaa.. all ending with New Years. We also added in sending out Christmas cards, something we had never done before. This year, however, we decided to do a more traditional route for the holidays that focus more on making gifts instead of buying them. I have a hidden Pinterest board (peeking eyes are everywhere!) that I will unhide after Christmas full of ideas for homemade gifts.

Today, I made a cardboard fireplace. I’ve done this before for hanging stockings. This time I sort of took the lazy way out and used a brown sheet to cover everything. Yeah, it’s not as authentic as the one I did last time, but its holding the stockings. The picture was taken at an angle so its crooked but it’s the best I could do.

I’m loving how my cat has claimed this thing for himself. Up until I put everything together, he’d been sleeping in the fake fireplace.

I will try to get better pictures of some of the homemade gifts I’m making. Stay tuned!

Forgiving

I’m sure at some point I’ll need to sort my posts because I can already tell they will cover a variety of topics, mostly in response to something I’ve seen or read.

This one is about forgiveness. I saw on my Facebook feed something that said “you can’t forgive someone who isn’t sorry”. I think people have this forgiveness thing backwards. It isn’t a reward for remorse. The purpose of forgiveness is to close a door for yourself so you don’t keep letting in something hurtful.

As someone who has had to forgive a lot of people for a lot of things, I can honestly say the following:

  • There is no right path to forgiveness.
  • The deeper the hurt, the longer it takes to forgive.
  • The goal is to get to a point where the thought of the other person or their actions no longer affects your current mood or emotional state.
  • It could very likely require therapy.
  • It will require changing yourself.

Read more

We ate what?!

Lol… almost to the end of week 4. My remaining funds are very small so all meals are whatever I can scrape together.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had plenty of food left in the freezer. Unfortunately, I’m not really a fan of reheated meat. I typically have to cook it for a long time for it to taste ok. Tonight I had a bag of leftover pork roast. I wasn’t really looking forward to it, to be honest. At the same time that was cooking, I was baking biscuits for breakfast tomorrow.

I decided to take a chance on something new and I’m really glad I did! A popular dish in this area is pulled pork sandwiches. I decided to use some of the biscuits to make pulled pork biscuit sandwiches. Wow! It was really freaking good. I will definitely be adding this to my future recipes database.

Just goes to show that unexpected things can turn out better than we imagine. I never would’ve tried this if my budget hadn’t forced me to.

Budget update

The home stretch…

So we’re about to enter the 4th week of my first budget month. There were quite a few slip-ups in the beginning but things got much easier by week 2…

1. Overspent on the fun budget. This was 100% my fault, but as I said, by week 2 it was much easier to stick to the plan. Tracking every single purchase helped immensely. I kept every receipt from my purchases this month for all categories so I could easily see where my money went. 

2. No savings. This was unavoidable. Kiddo and I both needed haircuts which is one of the few things I actually believe in spending money on. Because of Kiddo’s Autism, he is not interested in change and he’s gotten very comfortable with the girl who does our hair. This is not something I want to switch up just to save a few pennies. I also had some unexpected expenses – things I didn’t plan for – so the Savings budget covered it. 

Those were the two major slip-ups, but the good news is going from Starbucks & breakfast out every morning to just Starbucks twice a week and breakfast at home every day was an easier transition than I thought it would be. It’s become second nature now. 

There was another slip-up that actually wasn’t much of an issue in the grand scheme. The first three weeks, I did my normal+ grocery shopping but always had extra food that I put in the freezer. Example: I bought a pork roast that cost $13. This is a luxury item I normally don’t buy. However, I’m at week 4 now and my grocery budget after buying KitKat’s necessities is $34. Normally, this would be a freakout moment if not for all that food sitting in my freezer. I realized when I sat down to make my grocery list that I don’t need to buy meat for the week because there’s a ton in my freezer that I can use in meals. I also have a bag of marinated, uncooked chicken breasts that I can defrost and batch cook for my lunches. I have enough hamburger buns left from week 3 that I can just turn them into sandwiches. As tempting as freshly cooked chicken would be for week 4’s dinners, not completely blowing my budget is more tempting. 

Lessons Learned…

1. Staying on budget is an amazing feeling. I never thought I would say this, but every time I had the opportunity to save money and made that choice, I felt so proud of myself. I woke up this morning dreading having to cook my biscuits and sausage but knowing how very little money is left until the next paycheck forced me to realize that I need to stay in my means. That phrase took on a whole new meaning for me and now I realize how wasteful I was. 

2. Tracking expenses = major wake up call. Want to know where all your money is going? Write it down! Write down every little expense. Nothing makes you take notice than a list of wasteful expenses staring you in the face. Example: Buying a $2 soda in my office building’s market that I never finished. I changed that up and invested in a 6 pack of 16 ounce bottles. Each bottle lasts me 2 to 3 days.

3. Deals can be found anywhere. I was at Target picking up a prescription and noticed some things marked down. I got 3 tubes of toothpaste for Kiddo and 1 for me all for $5. I also got two bottles of pure oils I can use in homemade beauty products for $3 each. When I got my prescription, I was handed a coupon for $5 off any purchase. Talk about racking up! We’re stocked on toothpaste for a while and my DIY list just got longer. I also scored major savings on Amazon for KitKat’s canned food and litter needs by signing up for auto-delivery. I saved 50% over buying these things at the store. This is something I’ll need to figure into my monthly budget going forward. 

4. Waste not, want not. I know some people will hate me for this, but at the end of the week, I used to just throw things out. Sticking to my budget planning forced me to change my attitude about this and put things in the freezer for later. Sure glad I did now that I have a whopping $34 to spend on food for a whole week. I used up all the meat I bought for this week except bacon and sausage. Our tummies are full and my fridge is empty with no waste. Yes, it means I’m eating the same thing for lunch and dinner today but guess what? I’m satisfied, not hungry, and not wasting money. I also have a fall-back plan for next week when my budget is super tight. 

I’m excited to see how I do for Month 2. There will likely be no savings again thanks to Kiddo’s birthday but I think by week 4, I’ll be in a better situation than I am now. 

Budget updates

First attempt at the new budget planning…  

After doing a lot of research, I decided that planning out my finances on a monthly basis was the best way to go. I went with mid-month to mid-month because I would prefer my major expense (rent) to be the last thing out before the new cycle starts.  

I went with the cash envelope system where each envelope has its own dedicated budget and planned out exactly how much goes in from each check. Some groups, like groceries, got their lump sum right up front.  

I also decided the best way to keep track of money is to see exactly where it’s going so I started writing down every expense and keeping all the receipts. A pain, yes, but it keeps me accountable for what I’m spending. In most cases, the expenses came from an envelope with its own budget, but there were some one-offs here and there. I noticed these one-offs were less likely to happen now that I had to write them down somewhere. Accountability was key for me.  

I started carrying my budget notebook around everywhere to keep track of receipts and spending. I also use it to hold coupons and make my grocery lists along with tracking my monthly budget.  

Once I started keeping track of everything, it actually became kinda fun to see how well I could do with sticking to my budget. I thought it would be harder, honestly, but it wasn’t. I thought I get tired of doing this, but I didn’t. The more I did it, the easier it became because it was a habit to write down everything.  

I’m excited to see where this leads me.