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A Widow Releases Personal Belongings, Sells Her House, Releases the Roles That Died With Her Husband
When my husband died, I had to make a decision about continuing to live in our home or selling it. For 3 1/2 years, I thought, talked with my children, meditated, prayed and waited for the clear answer. Flying from Maryland to California for a conference brought my answer.
I sat on the plane with my eyes closed and relaxing. Suddenly an image appeared in my mind. A mid-sized U-hall was sitting in my driveway. The words appeared in my mind: “Isolate your house as if you were moving across the country”. My eyes widened as I thought, “Am I moving across the country?” No clear answer. The words “Unlock your house like you’re moving across the country” kept playing in my head.
I understood the message. Clean up your stuff. Get rid of everything you’re holding on to that no longer fits in your life. I had cleaned my husband’s things, now it was time for me.
I started with one room. My goal was to remove things from that room for 3 days. Wake up in the morning, make the coffee, pull a few boxes off the shelves and spend an hour evaluating before starting the day. Lunch arrived and I spent another hour; after dinner, another hour. I kept hearing the words, let go, let go. It became my mantra.
Here’s an example of my process: I had four huge storage boxes filled with cake decorating supplies. First I thought about the memories and the times I used the supplies. Then, I asked myself, “When was the last time you baked a cake? Answer: Four years ago. Question: Do you still need 20 character cakes?”
I sorted through them, called a friend to see if she wanted any of the supplies, created a space for an indoor yard sale, posted the information on Facebook and Craigslist. After a week or two, anything that was left was loaded into the car and dropped off at the Salvation Army. I went through this process with everything in my home. Craft supplies, books, clothing, papers, furniture, tools, kitchen equipment and everything else.
After three days in the first room the following inspiration came to me. Sell the house. I talked to Hannah, my youngest daughter, who was still living in the house with me. We agreed. We were both ready to let it go. I called a real estate manager and we made a plan to walk through the house and put it on the market in 4 weeks. I was in action mode. I woke up every morning with the question. What action should I take today to clear the house? Clear next steps emerged each day. Each week layer after layer after layer was removed from the house.
As part of letting go of the “stuff” I also let go of parts of me. I had to leave the woman who was bringing craft supplies to the beach for her nieces and nephews. I had to leave the Girl Scout leader, the homeschool mom and the woman who created community events with crafts for the kids. With each step, there was an internal push-pull inside me. I have loved the life I have lived for the last 10 years. I loved working with our home school community. I loved my house. I loved everything!
I felt like I could stay in my community and do this job forever. I would continue to work with children in the community and then one day my grandchildren. But, something inside me changed after my husband’s death and I had to let go to discover the next path for myself. If I had any doubts, the outside world reflected that it was also time to let go. Many people in my community have moved on to other parts of their lives. It wasn’t just me who closed the door. I felt like God was playing a cosmic joke on me.
God: So, you think you’re going to hang out in Baltimore in the same house doing the same thing.
Me: Yes, why not. I love this life and I have made a difference here. I want to stay here. What else would I do?
God: (Big hearty laugh) Oh, my dear, you must leave all this before I reveal your new life. You are so precious… Just wait and see…
I developed a weekly routine. On Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, I was saddened by the loss of everything I had just released. I played John Denver songs like Perhaps Love and sat in my bed crying. Who would I be when all things are gone? Who am I without the titles of the roles I played? Would I still be loved? Would I have value?
The biggest thing to release was my home. My heart and soul was in this house. When we bought it in 1998, it had three dropped ceilings, and 27 broken windows boarded up with plywood. There was graffiti all over the house. We worked on the house for 5 months before we moved in to continue renovations. We paid someone to install the windows and upgrade the fuse box to a new breaker system. The rest we did ourselves. Every weekend for 5 months we sanded and refinished floors, repaired and painted walls and ceilings. So many memories were in the walls of the house. I thought this was the house I would grow old in and my children would come live here when I was too old to climb the three flights of stairs.
I cried and released until somewhere in the middle of cleaning and preparing to sell the house, meeting with the home school groups to finalize the paperwork for Hannah’s 10th grade and thinking about new steps for the Conscious Choices Book, a series of new ideas arrived. . .
Move to California. With the release of all my personal possessions, there were dreams dying that gave way to new dreams. Hannah stated that we would be moving to Los Angeles when we visited the city in 2005 and 2006. For the first time, I felt that too.
A willingness to let go will open the door to endless possibilities.
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