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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.

 

Choosing

We often feel at odds with where we are in life because it’s not where we want to be. It’s not what we envisioned, it’s not what we planned, we’re stuck doing something that we don’t want to do when we want to be doing something else.

We might feel that way, and yet, we don’t do anything about it.

Somewhere along the line, we made a choice; several, in fact. We chose the easier path, where we were met with less challenge, less resistance, less fear. It might not have been a stepping stone to what we wanted, but it was less work to get there. We can think of a number of points to justify it, but we’re here just the same.

woman, cornfield, choice, paths, choosing, direction

 

You might instantly react to that. You didn’t make this choice. You’ll accept any challenge, and you’re certainly not afraid. You’re here because of some outside influence, some reason existed or force was applied. Someone else made the choice for you, circumstances arose, you didn’t have the right status, you experienced love, you experienced loss. Other things were to blame.

Or, perhaps you didn’t know where you wanted to be, and were simply on cruise control. Maybe, thinking five, ten, or twenty years down the road, you see only vague shadows.

That’s a choice too. It’s a strategy you’ll succeed at for sure; you’ll successfully end up exactly where you are at, with a few year less to lose.

Clearly defining who and where you want to be often feels wistful; fear and the inner critic step in at this point and have a good laugh. Self-doubt knows you can’t be serious. Confidence has run off at the first sign of doubt, and is curled up with its blanket, hiding somewhere.

Soon enough, you’re so busy wrapped up with these characters that you’ve lost sight of what you envisioned.

You’ve chosen to let them cast a vote in your story.

You have to choose to stop chasing what you saw before fear, the inner critic, self-doubt and lack of confidence showed up. You have to decide to chase it knowing that they’re there; they’re the companions of anyone with any sort of meaningful goals.

You have to be judicious with the energy and attention you give them. Acknowledge them, tip your hat and continue to move along towards what you want.

Continue to define that version of yourself and choose to move towards it. Over time, you might define multiple versions before you decide which you want to pursue.

That’s a choice you have, too. But, first you have to make the choice to try.

Narrowing the Focus

hallway, blurry, tunnel, vision

When I first heard the term “vision board”, I definitely did not have an instant connection with the term; bear with me if you – like I once was – are a bit of a cynic when it comes to these sorts of things.

The term vision board feels uncomfortable to use, but I’m ignoring that part of me that still identifies with cynicism and pushing forward with this post because as uncomfortable as I am, I know there is value in this tool.

What we focus on expands.

There’s plenty of research to prove it, just ask Google.

I’ve just recently completed my second vision board, which is focused on what I will be working toward for the last ninety days of 2018. It holds visual cues that speak to me. This board is my action plan. It emphasizes those areas of my goals that I want to keep in highest priority right now, and every time I look at it, I’m reminded of these goals. Each time I am distracted by outliers and peripheral topics that could pull my attention away, I can reflect on this board. Each morning, I will see this board and have these things in my consciousness.

I feel it’s important to note that neither of the times that I have built out a vision board were solo endeavors. The first was an informal gathering with close friends. This most recent was, while still relaxed, led by a life coach among a mixed group of women that I knew well, as well as women I knew peripherally. The event left me drained in all the best ways possible; doing this sort of work with a group of like-minded women leads to inspiration and self-discovery that can’t be replicated in an individual setting. While I did a bit of work on the front-end of attending, there was also work that happened in the space with those women that grew from sharing and connection.

My first board was a bit haphazard in its organization; because I am narrowing my focus specifically for this board, I laid out the images here a bit more intentionally:

  • Space for things that make me feel calm, slow me down, and make me appreciate my environments more like textures, art, cut flowers and citrus scents. Activities that enhance my daily life such as yoga, expressing myself creatively, reading, and getting a massage.
  • Gratitude and presence, and defining my goals with early morning journaling.
  • Travel.
  • Growing in my expression and passion for yoga, where I find both self-care and stillness of mind. And finally achieving the headstand I have been chasing.
  • My marriage and my relationship with my children. An exceptional marriage is an attainable goal, it is the foundation of the family pulse, and I want to create habits around quality time and communication.
  • My writing. I want to continue to inspire women, so I have added quotes and images that instill inspiration in me to do just that.

vision board, goals, progress, focus

To cover off a bit on the logistics, for those of you who might be interested in pursuing the creation of a board of your own, I picked out a linen push pin board for my project (shout out to HomeGoods), but you could use anything from poster board and glue to a cork board and pins to a wall and some tape. Photos and quotes can be found nearly anywhere, however my favorite way to develop my thoughts are to use photos. Photo stock holds its structure, and it is more aesthetically pleasing to me. I use Pinterest, Google Images and Unsplash to search out quotes or images; I simply screenshot them, upload the images to Walmart’s Photo Center and have prints within an hour. You can add any sort of embellishment or paper to dress up your board. It’s yours – make it speak to you.

Our goals and our dreams are not concrete, finite things. They can simply be ideas that we are drawn to, that speak to us louder than most. They are seeds. We choose which to water, not knowing necessarily what they might grow into, only knowing that there is something there.

You can have one or multiple boards. You could build a work board, a home project board, a goals board, a family board, a happiness board. This specific board, for me, signifies checking off the last couple of boxes for 2018, while simultaneously building for 2019. To use an analogy I heard recently, I want to start on the 20th Floor on January 1st, not in the basement. I want to come into next year knowing where my focus is, creating energy around the things I am working towards, and having habits established that support bigger and braver action.

PS If you’re local and interested in either attending or pulling together your own vision board workshop with some friends or colleagues but need someone to guide you through, True Edge Coaching can help.

 

 

 

 

 

Through

Less than two years ago, I had no goals. There was not one thing I was working towards for myself.

Reading this, there are definitely those of you who are thinking, “How could she not have a single goal?”

However, I know that there are those of you who are also thinking, “Goals? How about just getting through today? That’s my goal.”

That was once my goal too. So maybe I had a few, but they weren’t the type I’m talking about now.

It’s only in hindsight that I realize how important it is to have defined personal objectives. It was a revelation for me, as someone who had unconsciously resigned herself to being the champion of her family’s goals, that as a mother I could chase things other than my career, my marriage and motherhood.

Not that these are unworthy goals. In fact, two of my biggest goals now center around being the best partner I can be in my marriage and being the best mother I can be to my children.

That’s how growth works. It works in all of the places. It affects who you are and the vision of who you want to become. Goals help us define our self-worth and value. They force us to grow. They give us something to work towards. In the absence of growth, life rolls over us like a wave, and we become more like a boulder in the tide, being worn down by the currents.

Goals can be challenging to define. You have to go where your joy takes you; it can take you a number of places before you figure out where you gain the highest sense of fulfillment. There’s a period of discovery involved. Sometimes, you have to throw a number of things at the wall before one or two stick, and curate your way through this process. You’ll likely have to ask for help, and build a community of support.

Growth is challenging. Growth is hard. Growth makes us question our beliefs and our values.

But, we can do hard things.

So many of us choose the comfort of discomfort because we know it, rather than working towards something better, because it is unknown.

And then, when we figure out what might be missing in our lives, this desire to reach for something more despite the fear of the unknown, we’re met with the likes of the inner critic and self-sabotage; fears, worries and doubts crowd in on us, making us question our drive, our determination to step out of our safety zone. We can get stuck.

Having goals is almost more terrifying than not. Because we could fail. We will have setbacks. We might embarrass ourselves. We could be the only beginners in a field of experts.

I have days where I falter; days where I don’t believe in myself, where I question why I’m still pursuing this blog, when there are thousands of better writers out there than me. There are days where I fall back into old patterns, and let the negative inner voices echo around my mind.

But, I also have days where I am successful, where I can see just how far I have come since I began, since I made a choice to start, as imperfect as it was. Days where my words impact someone enough that they feel compelled to reach out and share that with me, which fuels me more than I can say.

And, on the days where I have those setbacks, it’s that much easier to get back to even. My mindset shifts are becoming habit, and the muscle memory is becoming stronger.

This is a journey. There is no quick fix or cure-all. There is no over or under, no around. No short cut. There is only one way, if you want to get somewhere different than here, and it’s through.

Direction, Road Sign, Traveling, Driving, Road, Mountain

 

 

Harnessing

There is a special energy that arrives in September.

The kids are back in school, routine is re-established, and there is a seasonal shift in the air that marks a season of change.

I started to think about tackling several goals I haven’t gotten around to in my Year Compass, but that was making me feel a bit overwhelmed. So, I took a step back and asked myself, “If there was one thing that I could accomplish that would make me feel great about closing out this year, what would that be?”

Of course, more than one thing that came to mind, however, I forced myself to commit to focusing on one in particular. Doing three things half-assed, or even three-quarter-assed, doesn’t allow me to do any of those things at 100%. So, I’m committing to one thing, to ensure that I am not wasting reserves of willpower or spreading that willpower too thin.

I’m harnessing my energy.

I’m harnessing that renewal of energy I have felt since the start of September and focusing it in one area because although the pull to spread out my energy to accomplish multiple goals is strong, I know that it is not sustainable.

There is just over a quarter of 2018 left. What one thing could you look back on in December, and be fulfilled by committing to now?

camera, lens, focus

False Starts

What was the last thing that you did in pursuit of your goals? Did it get you any closer to where or who you want to be?

You can follow blogs, read books, pin motivating quotes, listen to podcasts, register for courses, and react with heart emojis to every post an influencer in any particular field puts out on social media.

By doing these things, we can trick ourselves into thinking we are taking action. At times they can create forward momentum, however if there is no proceeding action, we are left only with false starts.

While finding sources of motivation and inspiration is important, ultimately, it is what you do with the information, knowledge and insight that you gain that is the pivotal piece.

track, racing, starting, running, sprint, forward, momentum, action

Things only change with action. Not simply by consumption.

You can consume and wish, or you can go, and do and be.

In Defense of Sharing Our Happy

woman, floating, umbrella, yellow, happy, smile

Why are we so hesitant to talk about happiness? I’m not referring to how to attain it, as there are plenty of discussions around this; I mean genuinely and openly discussing our own happy.

I post photos on social media pretty regularly. Most of them are smiling, happy, beautiful moments. I’m not trying to paint the “perfect” picture. I assume that you know that my life isn’t all laughter and sunsets, but, on the days where those moments happen, it’s what I choose to focus on and share.

I share some of the things on the perimeter of those photos here. It’s called balance.

I know that when I see your happy, filtered, cropped photos on social that you were capturing a moment. That just on the outside of that frame, just before or just after you captured that image, maybe by minutes, or hours, life isn’t so glossy. In fact, I know it’s straight up messy some days.

But that’s what we tend to focus on outside of the pretty pictures. The mess. The struggle. The who did what to who. Our conversations become a comparison of the challenges.

I’ve been listening to Rachel Hollis’ podcast that she shares with her husband, Dave, Rise Together. It’s such a great breath of fresh air. They’re honest about their life – that it’s messy and challenging – but they also are honest about how they value and prioritize their relationship, as husband and wife.

They share the challenges, however they talk about their relationship in a bright, honest, positive way.

What I’ve noticed since starting to follow them is that they’re a rarity. They share their truth, but they also share their happy.

They look for reasons to be positive, to find the happy, to be grateful for each other. They admit that there are faults between and within each of them. But they choose not to highlight or focus on that.

They celebrate their happy.

Socially, it can be more comfortable to commiserate about failings, about difficulties and challenges, than it is to talk about the shinier side which we should all focus a bit harder on. Not just in our marriages or in our romantic relationships, but in our friendships too.

Finding common ground is too often sought out through expressing grievances.

I love a good vent session; I need support, advice and shared stories of similar circumstances. We just need to be sure it’s not where our primary focus hits on a regular basis.

I think we can even be guilty of burying our happy. We don’t want to feel boastful, or make others feel less than by talking about it. We’re also a bit timid around happiness; by virtue of talking about it, we don’t want it to slip through our fingers, or have to recant our happy when things take an unexpected turn.

Happy moments should be shared. Not as a bar to reach, but a feeling captured in time to remind us to be grateful, a moment to remind us what to focus on. We all need highlight reels, and it’s important that we’re just as good at highlighting our own, and not holding our stories up in comparison to someone else’s.

And, if in the middle of sharing your story, someone in your circle holds issue with any part of it, shouldn’t you question why they have a seat at your table in the first place? I want the people around me to be happy; I want to share in their happiness, always, if not especially when I am going through challenging times.

By sharing your happy, you could be inspiring someone who isn’t even acknowledging that they’re listening.

What we focus on multiplies. By sharing your happy, it will spread.

And we could all use a little more of it.

 

Creating Space

As I have shared before, I am an obsessive list maker. I keep rotating “To Do” lists in the Notes app on my iPhone. I write them in my planner. Sometimes, my weekly goals consist of the things that I just need to get out of the way.

Each week, there are items that carry over, copied and pasted or rewritten again and again, week after week. I can highlight them, write them in different colored ink, draw fancy stars next to them, and yet there they sit, next to an empty check box at the close of the day on Sunday.

Since our move, which was about two months ago now, I’ve had the goal of bringing donation items to Goodwill. Week after week I expend energy around this task; something so small that is taking up space, carrying a weight of disappointment when I get to the end of the week and still haven’t made this happen.

This week, I have left my To Do list completely blank with the exception of this one line. I will only allow myself to write in additions once I have completed this task. I will take care of that Goodwill pile that’s taking up real estate in my home and in my head. Then, I will replace that item with something more valuable.

Creating white space allows room for the bigger, more important things.

Our goals don’t have to be mountains. Sometimes, they are small and seem silly, yet completing them can make us feel productive, allow us to gain positive momentum, and can fuel other, more significant progress. Taking action doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture. It doesn’t always have to be big and scary.

Sometimes the next step, no matter how small or insignificant, is just the next right step. Each step leads to change that we may not notice as we take them one by one, but when we look back, everything has shifted.

We have to make room for the steps; even the smallest steps need space.

How can you create some space in your world? What could you fill that space with, once you created it?

white, space