Friday, December 20, 2013

A Muse on Pajamas and Finishing Up Housecleaning for Christmas

Image Courtesy of [photostock]/

Whether your favorite mode of dressing around the house is pajamas or nightgowns, I think it would be safe to say most of us are fans of lounge-wear.  However, I have been musing on whether that is the most appropriate wear when we really want to get things done around the house.  Be assured, I am not going to fuss about people wearing pajamas to do housework.  If I did that, I would be giving myself a D in the appropriate costume for cleaning my house.

Are you wondering what brought this on?  It was the news on television. I was listening to two women commentators talk about wearing pajamas -- big news--right?   The anchor said she would be wearing them there if she could, and all of a sudden, I realized that I would not want to wear pajamas all the time.

Today, I had on my pj's until 2:00 PM.  I did not feel like cleaning, and I needed a boost.  What was my boost?  Getting dressed was just the thing to get me going.  I feel more in control of my household and my energy level.
I know it sounds merely psychological.  But, there is nothing wrong with a psychological boost when you need it.  

All I need now are some bright lights and some Christmas music;  and, I am ready to go.  Deck the halls with boughs of holly.  FA, la, la, la, la, la, la...

P.S.  Merry Christmas.  I thought your kids and grandkids might enjoy these songs too.  I did.  

I almost forgot to tell you, I look forward to putting on my pajamas tonight after a warm shower.  That is one of the ultimate comforts -- warm, soft pajamas on a cold night.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

When Christmas Is Only Six Days Away

Image Courtesy of [David Castillo]
Last October and November, you may have felt like getting ready for Christmas was under control. Maybe, you still do;  however, many of you may feel like life and illness are spinning out of control.  

What do you do if you know you are already getting overtired, as well as suffering from sensory overload from too many Christmas parties or too much shopping.  Here are some suggestions for getting through the holidays and still enjoying them.  Just pick and choose what will work for you in your situation. 

 A Reminder:  You all are in different stages of illness and recovery.  Many of you have overlapping illnesses, and this has a huge impact on what you are able to do.  There are some people reading this who cannot figure out why they feel good one day and horrible the next.  Furthermore, FM and CFS/ME are not the only illnesses that drain energy

Here are ten ideas to keep you more relaxed through the holidays;  even though, Christmas is only six days away. 

  1. Remember to use your timer.  Do chores in increments of 5 to 15 minutes.
  2. Rest frequently.
  3. Remember "The Principle of Three."  Your daily to-do list of things you want to get done should consist of three things.
  4. Haven't decorated yet?  Keep decorations light.
  5. You haven't had the energy to send out Christmas cards.  That's OK. Send the have to's:  close relatives, best friends and your boss.  You still want to connect to more friends?  Don't forget Facebook.  You can wish them a "Merry Christmas."  online.  Send out a New Year's card or letter. It's okay to deviate from some of those man-made  traditions.  Or horrors of horrors  (Gasps are heard)  don't send out Christmas or New Year's greetings. 
  6. Shift your gift-giving mindset to remembering it really is the thought that counts.  
  7. If you wrap one or two gifts at a time, it is less tiring.  
  8. Gift bags are the easy way to package gifts for giving.
  9. Use short-cuts for food preparation.  Easy meals are a blessing this time of year.  Moreover, it is refreshing to eat simple food rather than eating too much rich food. 
  10. The single most important thing is to take some time to just breathe. Meditate on the meaning of Christmas.  Enjoy doing something that rests you.  Let God refresh your soul:  He will if you ask. 
Merry Christmas!

Finally, God bless you:  You are never far from my mind. 


*Snowman image courtesy of [Feelart]/

P.S.  I apologize for not having more posts.  I am having a hard time getting used to this keyboard and having such a sensitive mouse pad.  I delete things by accident.  My letters jump into the middle of other sensitives, and all I know is it must be user error.  Eventually, I may have to get an external keyboard and mouse so I can type at my usual rate of speed.

However, I am learning to use this computer in little tiny baby steps.  Tonight, I deleted my Libraries, because they did not work.  I kept getting this message it was safe to delete them.  I did.  Then, I restored them to default libraries.  It was so easy.  However, for days I have not known what to do, and I could not load my pictures for the blog.  So, like one of my grandsons says, I did it!  Yea! 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A System for Filing Unpaid Bills

Bills!  Almost every adult gets them, and they have to be paid -- preferably, on time.  I hate to mention them this time of year, when some of you are already stressed out.  However, if you have a system, it will be easier to keep track of the bills that come in.

Bear in mind, I am not qualified to give any advice on how to manage your money;  however, I can give you suggestions  on organizing so you know when to pay the bills that come in.

Losing bills is something that often happens when you live in clutter.  Bills get lost in the pile of mail on a counter or a table.  Then, you move the pile and you forget you even had the bill.  Maybe your focus is not the best, because you are fighting brain fog.  Or, bills may set off anxiety attacks, because you are living on the edge of depression.

One thing you can do is put your mail in a basket, as soon as it comes in the house.  If you are in the middle of something, come back later to sort it.  And if for some reason you forget to sort it, the mail is not going to be shuffled around.  You will know where to find it -- right there in the basket.  However, don't use the basket as an excuse to let the mail pile up;  because, you will basically be in the same boat.  Just throwing the mail in a basket is not enough:  this is only the first step for busy people.  The best thing would be to go through the mail right away, filing the bills and trashing the junk mail;  however, the basket is an excellent container for when that isn't possible.

The next step is to have a file system.  It doesn't have to be a big file;  but you need to be able to mark it according to when the bills are due, so you can get them mailed on time.  If you are using a paperless system on your computer, you may need to mark the days you pay bills on your calendar.  Moreover, it is best not to wait until the last minute, because it will be more stressful waiting until the last possible day to pay them.  Not waiting until the last minute is also a matter of being good to yourself.  That way you have some space, just in case you are in the middle of a flare with brain fog galore on bill paying day.
For more information, you can
check out the bottom of my page.
For bills, I like a desktop file organizer that contains hanging files.  You can arrange the folders  according to the bill due date;  or, they can also be arranged according to the date bills should be mailed to reach the vendor:  ie.  Due 1-8, Due 11-18, Due 19-23, Due 24-31.  If you need some buoying up on bill paying day, you might want to attach some inspirational stickers that inspire you -- something that makes you smile.

I hope this helps.  It's something practical you can put in your to-do file for January if you don't have time now.  Meanwhile, keep an empty drawer, box, bowl, or basket handy to save that mail.  Also, you can post sticky notes in handy places to remind you of what you need to do.

P.S.  You can also put a folder for each of the bills that come in, so you can file the bill after you pay it.  Or, I suppose you could have one of those nifty machines that scan and file bills for you.  However, I suppose I am still a little old fashioned.  It's nice to have the paper backup, in case you ever need it.  I would have to check out the legality of the scanned paper, and I need a break -- not doing it today.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Baby Steps, Celebrations, and Victories

Image courtesy
of [Stuart Miles]/


Early this morning, as I finally get up after a night of sleeping and dozing, I am thankful there are some things in life that can be changed or improved.  Like this piece I published yesterday, I am unfinished.  I thought I had myself together, but I discovered I am actually a rough draft, a work in progress.  Just as I am being changed, I have edited this post. 

 The title never quite set true with me.  It felt awkward and uncomfortable.  The original title was Warnings, Celebrations, and Victories.  Perhaps, I was warning myself:  slow down, be careful, you are overdoing.  I knew that I had to rest yesterday.  My activities were quiet, things I could do with my hands with my feet up.  I think the most I did on my feet was fix two simple meals and clean up the kitchen.

Here is the cleaned up version of Warnings, Celebrations, and Victories.  In this cyber world of instant publishing, it is easy to publish something too soon before it is ready.  One can change titles and do updates.  However, the change of title doesn't show, unless you copy the old piece, paste, and republish.  Here is my cleaned up version, with a couple of changed paragraphs, deletes, and an added cookie recipe.  Also, I have a new title, which fits:  Baby Steps, Celebrations, and Victories.

This is the time of year that can drain our physical resources because of traditions we are not willing to let go.  When one has a chronic illness, there are Christmases one has to lighten up on the traditions.  And this varies from year to year.  We may have willing minds, but our bodies don't always cooperate with what we want to do, so we push ourselves to a point we have reached all physical limitations by January and often fall into an exhausted state of relapse.

Image Courtesy of [Artur84]
The important thing to remember is your reason for celebrating.  If you cannot cook all the traditional dishes or elaborately decorate your house, you can still remember the Christ Child's birth.  Or, if you are Jewish, you can remember why you celebrate Hanukkah.  Whatever tradition you celebrate, you can choose to keep the important elements of your tradition, but lighten up on some of the frills.  

One of the things I want to do this year is spend time in meditation and prayer -- quiet time, which can be refreshing to the body and soul.  Spending time with our creator and Lord is important.  It makes the celebration dearer.  

Hopefully you will be able to spend time with family and friends, but rest is an imperative.  You no longer have to be the host or the hostess  with the mostest.   Feel free to let others help you or be the preparers of the feasts.  By the way, deli trays are good too when preparation is too much.  After all, what is more important -- spending time with family or eating the traditional feast?

Please don't feel like I am admonishing you.  I have pushed myself until I was in a relapse by January more times than I want to admit, so I know how hard it is to not be influenced by what we think we have to do.  I am merely encouraging you to think about how you can have a fulfilling holiday without pushing yourself into a corner.

Here's a quick list of ideas:
  1. Put up a smaller tree.
  2. Don't use every decoration you own, just the ones you like the best.
  3. Use bags for presents, or wrap one or two presents a day.
  4. Figure out which edible treat you cannot live without and make it. Or, maybe you can buy it ready made.
  5. If you have a party at your home, it could be "bring your favorite party food or snack."  I can practically guarantee  everyone will enjoy themselves.
  6. Maybe you think paper plates are gauche or a waste of perfectly good  trees, but they don't have to be washed.  Your energy is precious too.
The important thing is to baby step your way through the holidays!  

Victory Report

I would love for you to share your holiday victories with us.  Large or small, they all add up.

I already have a few, which I believe are a result of what I have been working on in small steps for the last two years. Here they are.

We have had a light out in one of our rooms for two weeks.  My husband put in a new switch.  We had a knowledgeable friend that came over and tested circuits.  Today, we had a trained electrician over and he fixed it.  The thing that impressed me was for the first time in a long time, I felt ready when I had to have a repairman come into the house.  The only thing that looked messy were the counters in the kitchen;  and, I had those wiped off before he got to our door.  It felt good to not have to repress embarrassment:  instead, I felt calm and did not frazzle myself with quick pick ups.

A few days ago, I almost had a crisis about our Christmas tree, which my husband was eager to have up this year.  I started melting down, because I felt like I was right back in the middle of clutter again.  I didn't want to ask my husband to move the furniture, so I had the tree in possibly the most unbalanced position I have ever seen for one.  In fact, it looked plain old ugly where it was placed.  

However, when I explained to my husband how the tree and the boxes of decorations were overwhelming me, he wanted to help.  He even offered to put the tree back up in the attic.  But, I finally remembered how we had the furniture last year:  note to self -- draw a picture and put with my Christmas information for future use.  He moved the furniture and it made all the difference in how I felt about that tree.  As for the decoration boxes, he started putting the emptied boxes up in the attic in the evening to get them out of the spare bedroom.  The spare bedroom was my other source of frustration, because I felt like the progress I had been making by getting out the things I was saving for the cancelled garage sale had been destroyed.    

The good news is there is progress at my house.  It was not instant, but I am reaping the fruits of my labors.  This is how I know baby steps work.  I am experiencing it.

From feeling comfortable about short notice someone is coming to my house, to having one mantel decorated, to having the tree up, to having the Manger Scene arranged, and having three wreaths up, all before the second week of December, I am experiencing success.  After my husband and I readjusted how the job was going to be done, I could breathe easier.  Moreover, it was a boon not having to clean the living room before we decorated the tree.  

I know it is going to take perseverance and many more baby steps to continue what I have started.  I hope you know that too.  May we continue to encourage one another, changing methods when what we are using doesn't work anymore.  Thinking out of our normal boxes can revitalize and make our lives better.  

Finally, if you haven't joined my Facebook Page, Chronic Fatigue and Creative Decluttering, the exchange of ideas and methods for managing our clutter and cleaning has been helpful.  Also, look for the cookie recipe  below the picture.  I think I have had this "secret" recipe for forty years.  It is one of the frills I don't want to give up this year, so I plan to make it.  And, I can sit down to decorate the cookies.

Image courtesy of [africa]/

Nana's Sugar Cookies (possibly the best sugar cookie recipe I have ever tasted)
Image courtesy of [apolonia]/

Cream together  1/2 cup of butter
                          1 cup of sugar

Blend in              1 large egg

Sift together and add to mixture (I use sifted unbleached flour, so I just mix the following ingredients with a wire whisk.) 
                          2 to 2-1/4 cups all-purpose or unbleached flour
                          2 tsp. baking powder
                         1/2 tsp. salt
                         1/2 tsp. vanilla

Divide dough in two parts.  Chill 1 to 2 hours so it will be easy to handle.  Roll dough, one part at a time on a floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness and cut with cookie cutters that have been dipped in flour first.  Keep other part of dough chilled until ready to roll.  Transfer to ungreased cookie sheet and bake in preheated oven (375 degrees) for 8 to 10 minutes.  (Use a spatula to transfer the uncooked dough to your cookie sheet.)  

If desired, Frost with Confectioner's Sugar-Water Glaze while the cookies are still warm.  I like to make small bowls of different colors, and "paint" the cookies.  I use an inexpensive water color brush for each color (wash the brushes first).

Confectioners Sugar-Water Glaze

Blend together 1 cup sifted Confectioners sugar and 5 to 6 tsp. water.  Add food coloring, if desired.  Brush glaze over cookies while still warm.