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Starting

I’m still not ready, but I’m starting.

I have thought about starting this blog for awhile, but I haven’t made it past the start up page.  I’ve been writing, but haven’t felt ready.  I have wanted to share my experiences, my thoughts, my insights on being a woman and a mother.  I became a mother first, and am just discovering myself as a woman outside of that.

I’m still not ready, but I am starting.  Because if I don’t, I will continue to delay until it is never launched.  The blog post that I will share next is timely, and wouldn’t have held as much resonance as it might today.  So, it forced my hand.  And maybe this isn’t the right way to begin, without having read all of the vast internet advice and how-to on starting a blog, without truly understanding how to manage a blog, without really having thought this all through.  But today felt right.  So, here we go.

 

Follow the Leader

Lately, I’ve been a bit fatigued with the conflict between who I am and adopting the characteristics of a person that I want to be; there is an array of emotions that I’m surprised about having on this journey.

How do we acknowledge and appreciate the characteristics of others, yet not lose ourselves in wanting to become something we are not? There are times where the acknowledgement comes as a detriment to ourselves, working against our natural inclinations, our authentic selves, to achieve something that isn’t meant for us. Comparison, and striving to compete, overshadows simply growing into better versions of ourselves.

I need to replace the feeling of lack, the fear, the worry, and the guilt with something. I’ve had so many conversations with women who feel the same.

A friend shared over a Ted Talk recently about filling our lives with joy, and the line at the end, “putting yourself in the path of joy more often,” resonated deeply with me. With this one line, I worked out a bit of the tension I have been feeling.

When you’re on the same level with joy, there is little space for guilt, worry, fear or lack.

If we each were more intentional in chasing what brings us joy, who would we be? If we were joyful, and sought joy on purpose, not by happenstance or by hoping and wishing for it, what would our lives look like? So much of how we view ourselves, others and our lives is rooted in our mindset; comparisons would dissipate and we could acknowledge and easily celebrate that which brings joy to others simultaneously with that which brings joy to ourselves.

As my youngest’s fourth birthday looms tomorrow, I am reflecting a bit on her impact in my life. Our kids teach us more than we could ever hope to learn about life, and she may be my greatest teacher when it comes to joy. She sings with abandon, dances every second that she can, races from discovering one magical thing to the next, and sees wonder in absolutely everything. She is very black and white about what brings her joy; if it doesn’t spark joy, she creates resistance around whatever “it” may be.

As adults, I think we’ve become adept at allowing and justifying the opposite, and we are drowning because of it.

So today, and tomorrow, and the days following, I will try harder to take her cue; I will intentionally seek to put myself in the path of joy. I will celebrate other women for the characteristics I admire in them while reminding myself that there is a wealth of joy to be found within, too.

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All For Naught

“What do you daydream about?”

This was a question posted in a Facebook group that I am a member of over the weekend; the question was posed by a woman whose podcast I am an avid listener of.

She went on to provide the first answer to the question, that her daydream was owning a lake home.

I read that response and I stopped short.

For years, owning a lake home was my daydream.

My husband and I spent hours of time and energy scrolling real estate sites while our own home was on the market.

I sat in front of the very home that we purchased, long before we had even put in an offer, and thought about what life would be like living there. I would drink coffee on the back deck every morning, overlooking the lake. I envisioned rolling out my yoga mat and creating a meditation space in the room with the large picture window. I thought about the evening kayaking I could do with my girls.

It wasn’t until this weekend, when I forced myself to sit down on our dock while our girls swam around with their friends that it struck me; I haven’t truly embraced or acknowledged this accomplishment.

My husband and I achieved our dream of owning a home on the lake. We purchased our home in January; we’ve been living in it part time since then, full time for a few weeks now. I have done exactly none of those things I dreamed about doing here.

I have occupied my time within my real life daydream with checking mundane, trivial things off of the same daily To Do checklists. Not celebrating it, not embracing it, not living the life that I dreamed about having.

This mindset is so easy to crawl into; once something that we want is achieved, we waste little time on truly celebrating it before we’re on to the next thing.

The biggest goal on my Year Compass plan for 2018 was purchasing a lake home; when I sat down to start my Year Compass, our home at the time was under contract. I honestly don’t know that I truly believed that purchasing a house on the lake was something we could accomplish. Yet I sit here today, in a space that I yearned for, knowing that it was what I wanted with every inch of my being, and every day I have occupied it since I have taken it for granted. I haven’t truly embraced or celebrated it. I have drowned the achievement in the details of life.

What accomplishments have you achieved, and then glossed over, only to move on to another?

Take some time and look at where you are. Think about the moments that have gotten you here. Think about what you have now, that you wished for one, two, five years ago. The achievements that should have brought you joy, that you worked so hard towards and were so patient for, that you embraced and then easily tossed aside for the next dream.

Have your daydreams and work to make them a reality, but make sure you stop to enjoy the reality you have created before, during and after you’ve achieved the next, and the next. Each and every accomplishment is a step in knowing that you can do and make anything you desire a reality, but it’s all for naught if you don’t recognize and appreciate where you are and what it took to get there before you make the next leap.

Don’t let your daydreams become a reality, only to never acknowledge how significant that really is.

woman, dock, water, sitting

 

Penchant

Much of what our preferences are is wrapped into those of the ones we love.

Our activities, our pastimes, what we consume, and what we enjoy bleeds into those who share our daily lives. What we truly love, apart from anyone else, can get a bit lost.

Do you know what you love? And are you able to communicate what you want?

Typically, in our household, the menu-planning conversation goes a little something like this:

“What would you like for dinner this week?”
“I don’t know. What do you want?”

Queue the Notebook meme of Ryan Gosling demanding to know what Rachel McAdams wants, which relates to couples and parents around the world.

If I asked you what you wanted for dinner, would you be able to easily name exactly what you desired, or would you think about how your husband may not be a fan of spicy foods, your daughter won’t touch fish and toaster waffles loaded with butter and maple syrup wouldn’t necessarily be the most well-rounded meal you could prepare for your family?

In a relationship, and in parenthood particularly, I have experienced that our default becomes an automatic deferral of our own personal preferences, and we don’t allow ourselves space to appreciate the things that truly bring us joy.

There are seasons in our lives where our preferences aren’t necessarily options. For instance, the season of mothering a newborn is not a favorable environment to cultivate and cater to our personal desires; we’re too consumed with simply covering the basics of hygiene, sleep and survival.

However, oftentimes, even once we’ve outgrown these periods, we continue to exist within the same limitations. We adopt the behavior we’ve acclimated to, and we project our loved ones preferences as our own, often without ever really noticing it.

Left too long, this suppression can manifest into unhappiness, lack of fulfillment, dissatisfaction, and a host of other negative mindsets. We lose touch with what we enjoy and what nourishes us; this is how we end up not knowing what brings us passion, energy and contentment.

How often do we ask ourselves, “What do I want?” Or, “What do I need?”

Somewhere along the way, we stopped listening to ourselves. The less we listen, the harder it is to hear. And then, we just stop asking.

This is not to say that we should completely neglect what our children and our spouses want; I’m not suggesting narcissistic anarchy, but we do need to mindfully regain balance. We need to pinpoint what our preferences are, start prioritizing and asserting them as important. First to ourselves, and then to others.

Identifying and prioritizing our preferences does not happen overnight. These are not big, loud changes, but small, quiet changes over time based in habit and practice.

This week, I’m going to make a small step by bringing home a bunch of fresh-cut flowers and circulating citrus scents into my environments. Both of these simple elements bring me joy, and are easily sourced.

Start small. What is one thing you can change this week that helps you cultivate knowing, owning and communicating your preferences?

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Pardon Me

Dear reader,

Thank you for being here, in this space with me.

Today, and over the past several days and weeks, I’ve been working on practicing what I preach. Life has reminded me that I too need to take the time to grieve through transitions and loss, through the endings and the new beginnings of the chapters of my life.

Sometimes, we are depleted and cannot give; sometimes, we are left clutching with white knuckles onto what little we have. This manifests in a number of ways, whether we notice them or not.

I have become fierce in protecting my energy this week, as much of it has been consumed by loss and endings. I have been focusing on important. I have been focusing on abundance in the space of loss, of new opportunities in the space that old routines once filled. I also need to start to conserve for the impending new beginnings that endings create the way for.

So tonight, I simply leave you with gratitude that you’re here and a reminder that you can only give from a full cup. I’ll see you next week.

With love,
Emilie

Busy vs. Important

Too many times we sacrifice the latter for the former.

It’s easy to mistake, busy. Busy masquerades as important; it carries urgency, an air of significance.

busy, rushing, walking, fast, commuting

Busy often parades itself around as productive. Busy gives us a false sense of status.

Busy is glorified, sensationalized and held on a pedestal. My rote response to “How have you been?” is typically “Good. Busy.”

Busy is expected. The ability to be in the constant state of busy will never subside.

The problem with busyness, however, is that it distracts and robs us of what’s important. There are countless ways to be busy; there are numbered ways to do what’s important.

Busy makes life blurry.

Busy carries no purpose. Busy is easy, busy is comfortable, busy is familiar. Busy is understood.

“How have you been?” “Good. Busy.” And we all nod in understanding.

We have made busy a way of life.

Important, however; important is a challenge. Important is doing the hard work, and it can be uncomfortable. Important is an investment.

Busy is easier, but busy is shallow. Busy adds stress, but never value.

If you find that you’re in the rut of busy, take a few minutes and think about those things that would encourage you, and your family, to thrive.

Write it down. Contemplate it. Work focusing on those key ingredients into actions on your daily To Do list. Be intentional about chasing important.

For me, important includes things like connection, gratitude, passion, growth, movement, self-care, and being outdoors.

Find some clarity in this blurry, fast-paced, ever-evolving life. Downgrade busy. Remove its mask and look at it in the eye for what it is.

Let’s bring emphasis back to important.

This is Your Ride

I’ve seen this message pop up on the stationary bike at the gym dozens of times. It was there again today, reminding me…

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This ride is yours, and yours alone. Sure, there are plenty of people riding along with you, but what happens in your head is yours. What you chase, the effort you put in, the thrill of the accomplishment or the weight of defeat when you come up short is yours.

Some rides may look a lot alike, others may vary in intensity, view and vehicle. The prize is not necessarily the same for all, although we all have our eye on one. It doesn’t matter if your neighbor, your mother, your brother, your sister, your best friend, your competitor or your boss are on the same track; you have to get through your course, on your time, on your own ambition and your own determination. You have to conquer your skill before you can move on to the next level, and that only comes with the work that you’re willing to put in to get there. You have to stay true to the rider that you are, and push towards the one that you want to become.

You’ve got to want to take off the training wheels.

What does the ride look like to you? Are you pushing yourself, getting the most you can out of it, or are you coasting along, not really working at digging any deeper, developing or growing any further? Are you taking the time to listen to your thoughts along the way, or are you consistently drowning them out with the noise? Do you ride the same ride every time you get on the seat, or are you challenging yourself with new and more difficult levels every once in awhile? Are you confident in your awareness of when to push yourself, and when to take the scenic route when you need to? Are you taking the actions necessary to get to the place those riders who are better than you are at? Are you surrounding yourself with riders who will support you, ride along with you and push you to get to that place? And when they’re not looking, are you working just as hard?

Are you taking rides that scare you?

When you fall, do you stay down, or do you hop right back up again? Do you use the scars you earn along the way as fuel, or as a weight that you carry, reminding you of your failures?

Life is just like learning how to ride a bike. And this is your ride.

In Case of Emergency

I’ve misplaced my laptop’s power cord, it’s sitting at 29% battery and I’m just getting home from back to back softball games, so I’ll just leave you with this.

I see you Mama.

I see you, feeling drained, sitting among the permission slips, the sports gear, the calendars, the summer planning, the camp registrations, the daycare arrangements, the field trip reminders, the sign-ups for field day snacks.

I see you, and I want you to remember that another transition period is upon us.

I urge you to read, or reread, this post and remember that within the seasons of change, we must care for ourselves first and foremost.

However self-care looks for you, in whatever form brings you back to center.

Put your oxygen mask on first, before assisting others.

The next few weeks will be a whirlwind.

Nurture yourself through.

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