7 Life Lessons Learned from Shopping at Costco

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word¬†Costco?

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Let me give you some suggestions to get the ball rollin’.

~ $1.50 hot dogs (plus soda)

~ churros

~ ice-cream sundaes

Yum, yum, yum. ūüôā

You can probably tell I love visiting our neighborhood membership warehouse club (as defined by the Costco.com website). And when I say visit, I mean¬†visit. You don’t go to Costco just to shop, you go for the whole experience. The food (free samples, people!), the entertainment (ie. self-playing pianos) and the amazing selection of products. It’s a happy place for adults and kids alike.

A trip to Costco also provides an educational experience. There are actually many life lessons you can learn from shopping there, as I’ve come to realize over the many years that I’ve been a member. Let me share some of these lessons with you. ūüėČ

7 Life Lessons Learned from Shopping at Costco

#1 –¬†It’s a jungle out there.¬†You’ll meet all types of people in this world and most of them will be nice and considerate to you. However,¬†don’t be surprised when people show a different side of themselves when they think you are in the way of what they want. In these circumstances, be the bigger man (or woman) and step out of their way. You can always get the next free sample.

#2 –Patience is a virtue.¬†You will need to wait a lot during your lifetime – to finish school, to meet that special someone, to get your dream job (or any job), to have kids and to hope those kids you were blessed with will grow up and no longer need you to wipe their behinds one day. So take a deep breath and practice waiting in whatever stage you’re at right now, even if it’s just for a free sample cup of a Vitamix smoothie¬†(the only green thing your kids will willingly put in their mouths). Patience is one thing you can never have too much of.

#3 – People value patience. Even if people don’t want to be patient¬†themselves, they value the trait in others. So yes, the guy making the Vitamix smoothie sample will notice you (along with your eager kids) waiting on the sidelines for a sample and may even hand you a cup over the horde¬†of customers fighting for theirs.

#4 –¬†Bigger is not always better.¬†You may¬†be tempted to compare what you have – house, budget, car, family, social circle, job – with what your neighbor, friend, relative or¬†acquaintance-who-friended-you-on-facebook-friend has. But know that having a bigger anything often means having bigger responsibilities and worries¬†as well. Sometimes life is a lot simpler when you stick to the small, manageable things. That way you don’t end up with a half-eaten extra large bag of chia seeds in your pantry.

#5 – Don’t get distracted.¬†Know your plan and stick with it. If you need to meet a deadline, don’t go online. If all you need to buy is toilet paper, don’t go near the frozen food section. If you decide to try a free sample, do so and walk away – fast.¬†Don’t get talked into buying an extra large bag of chia seeds because they are the latest health food trend and everyone’s eating them.

#6 –¬†Choices are not refundable.¬†You may be able to return a used Christmas tree or queen-sized mattress at Costco one whole¬†year after you bought them (true stories!), but you cannot – I repeat, cannot – refund the choices you make in life. So choose wisely. And just as you would read reviews for any¬†big ticket purchases you make, be sure to listen to the “reviews” of your friends and family when making those life-changing choices in life (ie. your potential spouse).

#7 – Enjoy the little things.¬†It’s the little things in life that make up the bulk of your life. The hugs you give and receive from loved ones. Winding down a busy day with an episode of your favorite TV show. Curling up with a good book. The warmth of the sun on your face. A fresh, cinnamon-y churro at the end of your shopping trip. Take time to be present in all these¬†little moments and you’ll find so many big reasons to be thankful for in life.

On that note, I think I’m going to make a visit to Costco today!

Since it’s Friday, here’s The Cure’s song, “Friday I’m in Love” for your dancing pleasure. ūüôā

What’s your favorite thing about shopping at Costco?¬†

How to Get Over Blaming Your Parents

If the title of this post got you a little steamed up, then you’ve come to the right place. ūüėõ

Please note: Before all the parents out there (myself included) start feeling defensive, let’s just put it out there that this post was written in the spirit of healing and restoration, not blame.

So, who here has ever blamed their parents for something? Maybe you were that awkward preteen¬†who had to change schools during the middle of the year because your parents wanted to move? Or you were the kid who never attended birthday parties because your parents were overprotective? Or you’re the adult who has spent years in therapy trying to move past the¬†emotional and/or physical wounds you received from a broken family?

Let’s face it, there is a lot of hurt in the world, and too often those hurts originate in the place that hits closest to home – our families. I’ve seen¬†it from both sides of the counseling chair, so I know the reality of it. Even in the most loving and healthy¬†of homes, people get hurt. In families which have gone through abuse, divorce, neglect and addiction, the pain is magnified even more – much like¬†your reflection is multiplied in the presence of¬†numerous mirrors.

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And who do children end up blaming for their hurt?

Their parents.

It would be easy to sit and dwell on all the ways your mother and father failed, neglected, hurt, disappointed and wronged you. It would be even easier to sweep those painful memories under the rug and not think about them. But choosing either of those ways will only leave you broken and battered and bruised inside.

The only way you can heal is to move on from blaming your parents.

How in the world do you do that?

First, by grieving your losses. The attention you wish your parents had given you. The acceptance and support you needed when you made mistakes. A childhood without fear. Whatever areas there were that your parents fell short in, acknowledge them. Mourn the could-have-beens and what-ifs Рthe ways in which your life might have been different had your parents raised you differently. Place those lost parts of your life in a casket lined with your anger, resentment and tears and bury them.

The step after grieving¬†is acceptance. Accept¬†your parents for who they are: imperfect human beings. Despite their “job title”, they are not experts at life, much less parenting. They don’t have it all figured out. They are likely products of faulty parenting themselves and have parented you the way they were parented. They have struggled and may still be struggling with depression, low self-worth, anxiety, guilt, resentment or perfectionism. Despite their best intentions, parents are sometimes not sensitive enough, patient enough, understanding enough or¬†loving enough. They do not always meet our needs or even have the capacity to do so – that¬†is the unfortunate truth. But¬†when we can accept our parents as the imperfect people that they are, we will¬†stop¬†keeping an account of all the ways they have hurt¬†us and perhaps be able to forgive them – not for their sake, but for ours.

It is quite possible that your life could have turned out very differently had your parents made better choices. It is also possible that they did make the best choices they were able to make given the circumstances at the time. But the fact of the matter is that those choices have been made, but you have a choice now to make: Will you continue to blame your parents or will you choose to move on from the blame?

I spent many years as an adult trying to untangle the emotional cobwebs of my childhood. In my quest, I have placed blame, kept my list of wrongs, studied counseling and been to therapy … but I still remained stuck in the past. Ironically, it wasn’t until I became a parent myself that I¬†felt free.

Because I now understand how hard parenting is. And I know that despite my best efforts at being a good parent, I will never be a perfect one.

And in seeing my imperfections, I see my parents, and all parents, in a different light. A light in which I can bask in the freedom to extend grace and forgiveness. To adjust my expectations. To hope for change. And ultimately, to see that God can take even the stickiest, most entangled webs in our life and redeem them for good.

The song for this post is Carrie Underwood’s “Wasted”. The lyrics are a good reminder to not waste time on the past.

What hurts are you holding onto from your family of origin? What steps can you take to let them go?

Falling in Love vs. Staying in Love

Falling in love is easy, wouldn’t you agree?

Boy meets girl; boy asks girl out; girl is late for their date by an hour (and couldn’t call because these were pre-cell phone days, so boy waited patiently and may or may not have had to take care of some business in the bushes – thank God it was dark!); girl finally arrives (and is very sorry, but traffic coming home across the bridge was bad); boy and girl go to dinner, fall in love and get married.

See how simple that was?

Now, let’s fast forward some 4,985 days. Boy and girl are now older and wiser wireless and have most of their daily conversations via text; boy lovingly plucks girl’s gray hairs with an eyebrow tweezer – those short ones on top of her head keep growing back!; girl discovers¬†with some amusement that boy has a (very recent)¬†passion for gardening; boy and girl are constantly interrupted by two clones of themselves, but do their best to stay in love and be connected.

Eeks. Life and love are not so simple anymore, is it?

Sure, life is a lot more complicated now. But¬†it’s also a lot more real. Falling in love is easy because it’s all about the unknown, the unexpected, the discovering. Seeing someone at their best and showing the best of yourself. It’s about the feelings¬†someone else makes you feel.

I used to think falling in love was more fun than staying in love. Well, sometimes it is, but the truth is that real joy comes more from giving than receiving.

Staying in love is all about the giving – how you make someone else feel. It’s the supportive words you offer after her long day at home with the kids; the embrace you give when he is feeling defeated from work; the ability¬†to understand just exactly how the other person is feeling by looking at him because you know him better than anyone else.

And that part of love Рthe already-discovered, the expected, and the known Рis pretty awesome.

On that note, take a look at hubby’s awesome succulent creations. ūüôā

Hubby's own succulent plant creation.

Who knew he had a green thumb?!

I love Ed Sheeran’s new song, “Thinking Out Loud”. The lyrics are beautiful and his dancing is pretty amazing, too. ūüôā

How do you stay in love or see others in your life stay in love?

Decluttering From the Inside Out

A new year, a new home … kind of. At least that’s what I had in mind after we visited my sister-in-law’s home during Christmas. Let’s just say that her lack of clutter had inspired me to go home and declutter our house. I even spent a few late nights of our trip (blame it on jet lag!)¬†bookmarking organizational ideas and making a list of what to buy/do when we returned home. (Don’t worry, it was a fairly relaxing trip otherwise, haha).

I had tried to makeover our home two summers ago and succeeded in painting¬†two bathrooms (with the munchkins’ help, which had seemed like a brilliant idea at the time) and also cleaning out some drawers (see here).¬†But there was one closet that I hadn’t touched and hadn’t considered touching¬†since we moved in a dozen years ago. And that was our hallway linen closet.

Yikes! Don't "before" pictures make you cringe?

Yikes! Don’t “before” pictures make you cringe?

I decided that the jam-packed, “towels crammed¬†in with the sheets” look had to go. Even if¬†I was the only person to¬†ever see the inside of this closet, it was time to do myself a favor and make it more manageable and safe to open (believe me, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hit on the head with a duvet cover!). So, I took everything out, placed them in two piles (keep or donate), then arranged the keepers according to type (sheets vs. pillowcases vs. blankets). I also gave the towels a new home in a cabinet outside our master bathroom, so we no longer have¬†to run down the hall in our birthday suit should we need a clean towel (and found a nifty way to organize them: rolling¬†instead of folding). And then the hallway closet turned into this beauty!

Voila! "After" pics always make me smile. :D

Voila! “After” pics always make me smile. ūüėÄ

I learned an important lesson from this closet makeover. That any kind of makeover requires you to clean up the messiness from the inside out.

I could spend the rest of my life trying to declutter everything but the hidden things, but it wouldn’t negate the fact that until I clean out that last closet, cabinet or drawer in the house, clutter will¬†still exist. (I think there’s a good analogy here related to emotional baggage, but I’ll save that for another day).

So, it’s time to¬†take a deep breath and be honest with myself about the clutter I’ve been ignoring in the downstairs closet (which is conveniently hiding behind a¬†closed door). When (if) I ever get around to that, I’ll let you know. But for now, let me go bask again in the beauty of the hallway closet.

There’s no good song about decluttering your home that I could think of, so I’m sharing a completely off topic (but beautiful) one here by Jason Mraz called “Be Honest”. I guess you could say the title is somewhat related to me being honest with myself about the clutter in the house. ūüėČ

What tips do you have about decluttering from the inside out?

My One New Year’s Resolution

Happy new year, everyone!

Isn’t it crazy how quickly¬†365 days flew by? I seriously feel like I just closed my eyes for a moment¬†and time traveled to 2015.

Blink.

Just like that.

I think the older we get, the faster time passes. Don’t you agree? And the faster that time passes, the more I wonder what I did with it. With the hours¬†I was given last year. The minutes I spent last month. And the seconds I used up last week.

All this wondering led up to the question I asked hubby yesterday, “Is the whole point of life for us to¬†grow up?”

He turned to me from the driver’s seat with a smile/smirk of amusement and replied, “I thought we were done with these questions.”

Ah, but that was before the new year began and before I pondered about what it was that I did with my life in 2014.

Hubby tells me that he usually sees an increase in the number of people working out at the gym during the¬†first 2-3 months of the year. I can imagine these are people who started their new year with 2 “R” words – and they are definitely not rest and relaxation. I’m talking about regret and resolution. Regret over the things they didn’t do or wish they had done before and the resolution to do those things now.

I used to make new year’s resolutions … until I realized I was setting myself up to fail. Life is a continuous journey, not one that can be rebooted year after year with new plans and goals. Sometimes goals¬†can be obtained within a set period of time, but more often than not, our plans get sidelined by bumps and cracks in the road. There’s only so much we can plan for and control; the rest of the time is spent learning¬†to get up and try again.

Which is why I had that mid-life/existential crisis question on my mind as I started the new year.

As I look back on the¬†last year, I am extremely thankful for all the moments God gave me.¬†2014 was an adventurous year for me and the family. We went through yet another one of hubby’s job changes (he loves change!) and a career shift¬†for me as I added “author” and “small business owner” to my SAHM title. These changes were not without their trying moments however. There were plenty of times when I wanted to quit and throw in the towel/manuscript. There are still many moments when I stare at the 25 boxes of Moodkins¬†(24.5 of which are still full) sitting in our living room and wonder if I’ll ever see the fireplace again in my lifetime.¬†Though I am¬†grateful for these¬†opportunities that God brought me last year, I admit I am a bit tired and bruised from the potholes I fell into and had to get out of in the process.

But all that falling and getting up has given me the answer to my (somewhat rhetorical) question, “Is the whole point of life for us to¬†grow up?”

Yes. Totally, painfully, yes.

My heart knew this to me true when I witnessed our son perform for almost¬†an hour in the choir for his school’s Christmas musical. Not only did he sing, he did every single head tilt, hand motion and foot shuffle. And with a beaming smile, too. Hubby and I looked at each other with saucer-like eyes and whispered, “Who is this kid?!” It was nothing short of a miracle because only three years ago, this was the same kid who sat with his back turned towards the audience during his entire 45 minute preschool graduation. It took a lot of time, support and more time, but E is now¬†confident and comfortable enough to perform in front of hundreds of people. He even told me afterward that he had fun. Yes, I think I just saw a pig fly by my window!

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick/freedigitalphotos.net

And my heart knows that God loves us too much to let us stay where we are at. That although life could be a lot easier and more simple if we didn’t have obstacles to overcome, we would have less faith and character. And definitely, fewer victories to celebrate.

So, I’m starting 2015¬†with perhaps¬†the¬†one resolution that I can keep. Despite the many times I’m sure I’ll struggle with it¬†this year, I know that if I keep getting up when I fall down, I’ll reach the end of this year with no regrets.

What’s the resolution? To keep growing up.

Take a listen to Brian McKnight’s feel-good, inspirational song, “Win”. It’s a good song to listen to for all of you with new year’s resolutions. ūüėČ

What are your¬†new year’s resolutions?¬†