"Simplify Your Life" Chat Transcript: October 16, 2001

Regina Leeds: When we planned this program, it was several months ago. No one could have foreseen the events of 9/11 and this program oddly ties into the aftermath and everything my clients and I...my friends...everyone I know is feeling, and that is that we are more deeply aware of what is important and it isn't a huge amount of stuff.

I also read a great deal about people feeling the need to clean now. I think that is because we need to feel in control. All of you really should pat yourselves on the back and go to the head of the world class because it isn't just about cleaning or control.

I see more than ever that we must love ourselves and that love is expressed in many ways. One of those is an environment that nurtures not only you and your family, but also your friends and all who enter wherever you live and work.

For the time that we live, let us strive to be nurtured in our environments, and to nurture others because it is in peace and calm that we can best know why we came here. My work is more important to me personally now, and I am going to do a series of fund raising seminars for the search and rescue dog teams. I may not be able to work at ground zero but I can contribute, as can all of you. Perhaps one of you will have a son or daughter who grows up to be a great peacekeeper.

Cleaning Out Your Closets:

iVillager heidismile: I know that I need to go through my closet and get rid of a lot of stuff in it that doesn't fit or is torn, but I can't get myself to do it.

Regina Leeds: Well, there may be many things at play here. And I am glad you asked this question because I bet a lot of others feel this way. My first hunch is that most of us are depressed right now.

iVillager heidismile: Part of it is that a friend agreed to take stuff to a woman's shelter and she hasn't and I don't want another box for charity lying around.

Regina Leeds: Let me tell you that I can easily work for others because the needs of a client take my focus, but working on my own things is like coming out of quick sand.

iVillager heidismile: Also, once I get rid of old stuff, I have to see what size I am and buy new stuff. How can I motivate myself to get it done?

Regina Leeds: Well, Heidi, you just answered your own question! LOL! If your friend has flaked on the shelter, clean out your closet and get another charity to pick the stuff up.

Regina Leeds: I would figure out (journals anyone?) what the pay off for doing it will be and factor in a reward and I think once you understand, you'll be able to do it. Also, you have had some upset in your relationship and that will whittle away at your energy.

iVillager cappmom: Heidi, maybe it's tough because you didn't get new stuff yet, and you don't want to be left without anything. How about every time you buy one thing, get rid of two old things?

Regina Leeds: Journal and be gentle with yourself. This will get done when the time is right!

iVillager 2crft4fr: While we are all cleaning and making our environments "peaceful" and loving, remaining calm will also show our children how to behave in the midst of chaos. We all can help one another, through encouragement and role modeling.

iVillager libra8524: Great idea Cappmom.

iVillager asweetp: I am not a goal setter. How do I go about setting goals?

Regina Leeds: I bet you set goals but don't realize it. If you look at the January Challenge -- read the week on time, it will help you establish goals. Goals are really a set of directions. Don't feel that you are trapped once you set one. You are the BOSS and you can change as you travel the road to achieving your goals.

iVillager asweetp: How do you know if you set too many?

iVillager Catrb: I can set a goal but the steps to getting there are my biggest obstacle. Where do I start and how do I progress?

Regina Leeds: If you find yourself frazzled and tired all the time, you have too many things going on and some of your goals may have to wait.

Okay, you need to work backwards. So, let's take a simple example. I just started riding lessons again after YEARS away from horses and the first thing my teacher asked me was: "What do you want to achieve?"

I set a goal and then we talked about the steps to achieving that goal and a reasonable time-table. So, your goals are broken down into steps, and if you have never done anything like this before, then you work with someone.

If you decide to take piano lessons, your goal might be to play for your family next summer at the family reunion. That's a great place to start, and you decide what piece you'll do and how many hours a week you'll practice etc. If your goal is to play Carnegie Hall and you're over 45...well, it's probably not an achievable goal.

iVillager asweetp: Okay, doesn't sound too bad. Thanks!

Helping a Single Mom Organize Her Life:

iVillager debralew99: Little synopsis...I'm a single mom (divorced) of two boys (five and seven). I'm overwhelmed with everything and can't keep up. What's the best way to simplify things so I can keep up better and be less overwhelmed (housework major), kids sports daily, work, etc....things get so out of hand, I get overwhelmed and can't get it done (no motivation/no energy). And how the heck do you start journaling when you’re not used to doing it?

Regina Leeds: Wow! You have one of the most difficult situations. So, give yourself a pat on the back for starters.

iVillager debralew99: Wanna trade places?

Regina Leeds: Look at one aspect of your life at a time. Your question sent a feeling of overwhelm over me just reading it. But we could deal calmly one day at a time with each aspect. So, without seeing a schedule or your home, let me ask you a few questions. But you can journal about these as well:

  • Do your children have too many toys?
  • Is there adequate storage for what they have?
  • Are they responsible for picking up after themselves?
  • Are you engaged in too many extra activities?
  • Are your standards for your home too high?
  • Can you get someone in once a month to do the heavy work?

iVillager debralew99: No for the last one....it's trashed!

Regina Leeds: Trashed?

iVillager debralew99: Toys, clothes, laundry, stuff to be put away....

Regina Leeds: You need some help. Do you have a friend or a relative who can come over? Are you a member of a church?

iVillager debralew99: No, all alone. Kids don’t see their father either.

Regina Leeds: No family? No one nearby?

iVillager debralew99: No one that could help.

Regina Leeds: Is there a church that you could join? Or a support group of women in the same situation? Or could you form one? You need moral support...someone to come over and talk you through some of these tasks.

iVillager 2crft4fr: Elks, Boy scouts?

iVillager debralew99: I don’t know in what time though....I have zero time for myself.

Regina Leeds: NO ONE can do this alone.

iVillager debralew99: Just want to get organized so maybe I'll feel less overwhelmed.

iVillager heidismile: Get a class list for the kids. Invite a friend of the kids over. When the kid reciprocates and your kid goes to their house, you get time to yourself.

iVillager mmsteacher: If you don't make the time to take care of yourself, you will always feel overwhelmed no matter how organized you are.

Regina Leeds: The Get Organized Community Challenge has step-by-step organizing instructions that will serve you. And see if you can't hook up with some other women. I bet there are some women who would be so grateful to have support. Let me know what happens.

iVillager debralew99:: OK I will...thank you Regina

Regina Leeds: I'll be here for you. OK?

iVillager cappmom: On the goal subject, what about the more abstract goals, like life goals? How do we go about setting those when no one knows what life holds five or 10 years from now?

Regina Leeds: Yes...and no...LOL! Okay, every day you create your future. Five or 10 years from now will evolve out of today. Of course, something like the attack in New York happens and the whole ball of wax is tossed into the air but I don't think you can say that you can't plan for the future. Try planning out one or two years at a time five and 10 will take care of themselves. Does that make sense?

iVillager cappmom: Yes, thank you! Food for thought!

iVillager crittermama2000: How do I work with or around a husband and three sons who simply refuse to clean up even after themselves and work and take care of an infant? My husband is also a pack rat and won't throw ANYTHING away.

Regina Leeds: Yipes! Okay, first of all I have to point out that your husband is not likely to change, and I presume you had an inkling of his propensity before you married him. However, your children are another story.

iVillager crittermama2000: About the cleaning up, yes. Packrat, no.

Regina Leeds: Why don't they help you? It shouldn't be a matter of choice. You are their mother not their slave or servant. You need to have consequences.

iVillager crittermama2000: I think it's because they see Daddy not doing it so they think they don't have to and I fight with them about it.

Regina Leeds: Would your husband consider counseling? Does the children’s behavior bother him?

iVillager crittermama2000: I tried to talk him into marriage counseling but he wouldn't go.

iVillager Catrb: Critter, can you and your husband come to some sort of an agreement about the boys helping and having chores?

iVillager libra8524: How about hiring help? What would Daddy think about that?

Regina Leeds: I would threaten to leave...but that's me. You are not being treated fairly.

iVillager crittermama2000: He isn't home when I am and when he is home, they are at school. I don't know. I have started a to do list everyday but I end up with most of it.

Regina Leeds: Crittermama, was there a turning point in your relationship? or has it always been like this with you doing all the work?

iVillager cote: Critter, Mom and wife is not the same as doormat.

iVillager crittermama2000: Yeah, the day we moved out of my parents house. That was 9 years ago.

Regina Leeds: So you see you have let the situation fester. I would try counseling again. Perhaps just for you.

iVillager cote: How old are the boys?

iVillager crittermama2000: Seven, eight, and nine years and the baby is almost five months.

Regina Leeds: There is no easy answer to your situation. Those boys should be helping you!!!!!

iVillager cote: It’s not easy, but not as hard as you think!!

iVillager libra8524: I would tell dad that you need help and hire someone.

iVillager cote:Have you heard the saying JUST SAY NO???

iVillager crittermama2000: Yes, they should. It takes them so long to wash dishes and put laundry away that I just want to do it myself so it gets done.

iVillager cote:IGNORE THEM!! Let them do the dishes till midnite!!

iVillager cappmom: Critter...Regina reminded us that it didn't happen overnight. Work on gradual changes with them - like one responsibility for each at a time.

Regina Leeds: You may be sending a mixed message to your sons. "I want your help...but it isn't good enough." So I will do everything.

iVillager Scatf: Those boys will grow up unable to take care of themselves If they aren't taught. They must absolutely learn, they will one day have wives!

iVillager cote: Have mercy on your future daughter-in-laws!!

iVillager crittermama2000: I feel sorry for their wives already.

Regina Leeds: OK...you have a lot to digest...let us know what develops. Remember, this situation wasn't created in two days and it will take time to turn things around. OK?

iVillager crittermama2000: I'll do my best.

iVillager mmsteacher: While living in a 750 square foot home with hubby and two little ones, I happened upon your book and it changed my life. I finally stopped blaming my little tiny house and started taking control of my things instead of letting them control me. It felt wonderful.

Now, I have moved into a much larger home, and I am discovering that I have a fear of getting myself into the same situation. I have found that no matter how much room you have, you tend to fill it up! So, instead of trying to decorate and enjoy my new surroundings, I've simply frozen. I can't even bring myself to hang the few pictures I have left. Suggestions for overcoming?

Regina Leeds: Take a deep breath, mmsteacher. First of all I would put away all of the things you brought from the smaller house Be sure you are organized and everything has a place and then really enjoy the fact that you have a bigger nest! Read book and magazines decide what would make you happy and then work on one room at a time. Your home needs to tell a story about you...and your interests etc.

iVillager cote: What a treat to have already learned the lessons and now to have the larger house! How great is that?

iVillager mmsteacher: I feel guilty to have such a pleasant problem.

Regina Leeds: It doesn't have to be decorated and done in one week. HAVE FUN!!

iVillager cote: Go with the guilt, it's part of the fun!

iVillager heidismile: Mms, don't feel guilty.

Regina Leeds: Let go of the guilt Enjoy your good fortune!

iVillager mmsteacher: Working on letting go of that guilt...but I was just raised that way!

Regina Leeds: Journal about those guilty feelings. Where do they come from?

iVillager cote: Guilt is a manipulation, let it go or laugh at it!!

iVillager mmsteacher: Three words: M O M

iVillager cote: The MOM word!!

Regina Leeds: Ah, now I understand!!! LOL! Well, I spent 12 years in therapy so...if I can get over my mother...so can you!

iVillager mmsteacher: She's coming to our house for Thanksgiving.

iVillager debralew99: Holidays are so stressful.

iVillager cote: We all have to get over the M O M - in some way or another.

iVillager heidismile: Mms, so what if the house isn't perfect for her? Mms, the people doing the challenge can tell you that I was worked up last spring because m-in-law was coming to visit and she is a neat freak. I have given up trying to please her. she is coming this spring and I refuse to do anything just to please her.

iVillager cote: Beat her at her own game. Remember, the best revenge is to live well. You can't argue with HAPPY!!!

iVillager debralew99: How do you begin journaling? I mean, what exactly do you journal?

Regina Leeds: If the idea of keeping a journal is hard for you, It may be because some part of you is saying 'I am not a writer.' So, think of this activity as a written conversation with yourself! It is amazing what comes out when we start to journal.

iVillager debralew99: I have never journaled before, though I KNOW it would be good. I started my journal with just single words and let it grow from there.

iVillager cote: One word at a time.

iVillager debralew99: Where to start though? Your feelings?

iVillager cote: Not a writer, but a thinker and a "feeler"

iVillager debralew99: Start with goals?

Regina Leeds: This morning I was talking to a lovely lady from a bookstore. And we were talking about my depression over the World Trade Center and everything else that has happened.

She asked if I was journaling and I burst out laughing. I said: "No. I teach others but I'm not doing it right now!" We spontaneously came up with an idea for a book and my journaling is part of it which is a long way of saying let your inner self out!

iVillager debralew99: Thank you.

iVillager libra8524:: Journaling is the best. Start with something and it all tends to fall out.

Regina Leeds: And remember: your journal is PRIVATE. No one else will read it, so no one is going to judge you, OK?

iVillager debralew99: Gonna try, thank you soooooo much (gonna buy your book too).

iVillager heidismile: I'd like to think my mom brings out the best in me...I try to rise to the challenge. :) But I think there's some underlying stuff there I'm not admitting to myself. Thanks for the encouragement.

iVillager asweetp: I was very surprised how much I spilt my heart out on a piece of paper.

iVillager cmcaryn: I have several different journals going at once.

iVillager crittermama2000: I have 5 journals.

iVillager Mamadebberdo: Spelling doesn't count either, lol!

iVillager 2crft4fr: I started journaling and turned into a poet.

iVillager cappmom: LOL - Regina-can I add for Debra she could start the first page yelling at her husband and her situation, and go to the positive from there?!

Regina Leeds: Oh! yes!

iVillager debralew99: Soon to be ex-husband...VERY soon.

Regina Leeds: You can yell at everyone...and be safe!

iVillager 2crft4fr: The pen is mightier, and a whole lot safer, LOL.

iVillager heidismile: Sometimes you come up with ideas and solutions by writing your thoughts and problems.

iVillager cl-fire_bug: You can also write about your deepest darkest fears.

Regina Leeds: I think women very often have a lot of anger and a great way other than writing is to beat a pillow or tear up some old phone books.

iVillager asweetp: I'm always worried about someone finding my journal and reading it!

Regina Leeds: LOCK IT UP!

iVillager asweetp: Locking up is kind of hard when your husband's a cop! I just try to keep it with me wherever I go.

iVillager cote:: You would be surprised at your own wisdom when you write!!

crittermama2000: It's how I got through many years of my life.

iVillager mmsteacher: Now that I'm a stay at home mom, I'm finding that everyone's schedules seem to get pushed on me, instead of me being the one in control, the way it used to be when I was working.

iVillager cote: This is your life, as Cher said, not a dress rehearsal!

iVillager mmsteacher: It's like my time isn't as important as my husband's or my girls.

iVillager libra8524: Mms, you have to put yourself first.

iVillager mmsteacher: How do I go about scheduling OUR time so that we all respect one another's commitments?

iVillager cote: Stop being in control, learn to sit back and watch.

Regina Leeds: Okay, I have a comment for you mmsteacher and it really is for EVERYONE here. There is a wonderful word in the English language that women do not like to use.

iVillager 2crft4fr: NO

iVillager debralew99: NO

iVillager mmsteacher: NO

Regina Leeds: We think we are less than if we do, we think that we are not nice. My generation was raised to be 'good girls,' and there was hell to pay if you rocked the boat.

iVillager 2crft4fr: No is the first word we learn and the first we forget, trying to be superwoman.

iVillager cote: No, we are afraid others will think we are less and we BUY it!

iVillager libra8524: We feel people will not love us or like us if we use the word NO.

iVillager cote: Go Regina, Amen to the NO word!!!

Regina Leeds: You cannot, and should not do it all. Don't let other peoples needs take over your life and your time.

iVillager cote: Critter, when my husband told me I was a lazy B**ch, because I refused to do some of the stuff he should do. I said I am not lazy, I just refuse to be used and abused.

iVillager crittermama2000: I've been called that naughty word but not lazy too much.

iVillager heidismile: DH wanted me to get off the computer at 9:20 because it was messing up the computer reception and I said no.

Regina Leeds: But say no to your husband and children...appropriately and nicely.

iVillager mmsteacher: I don't have a hard time saying no, nicely, I just have a hard time getting anyone to remember that I said it!

Regina Leeds: Boundaries are wonderful to have and our children learn how to set them from our example.

iVillager cote: No one will stand up for you if you don't.

iVillager 2crft4fr: If you don't your children won't.

iVillager asweetp: Thank you Regina, your advice is a real help to me. I'm ready to apply it in my life.

Regina Leeds: I think all of these comments are variations on the theme...and there is one more thing. Be sure to get exercise and take care of your health. Exercise can be a walk around the block it doesn't have to be two hours at a gym! LOL!

Making schedules for yourself and your family:

iVillager db_me: I started making a schedule of my day as if I were working. When they ask for something I tell them I'll do it if it fits in the schedule. And they have to see if there is room.

Regina Leeds: Does that help? Also write out the schedule everyone thinks you should keep and SHOW IT to them. See how they feel about it in black and white

iVillager cote: Most important. Do not help them!

iVillager mmsteacher: I like the schedule. I'll schedule myself some time and treat it as if it were one of hubby's deadlines.

iVillager crittermama2000: I started making time for myself last night.

iVillager mmsteacher: Sorry, can't do dinner tonight. Have a deadline with my journal.

Regina Leeds: REGINA SMOOCHES THE ROOM AND thanks all of you for coming!

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