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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.

 

Holding the Applause

It can be really easy to get addicted to achieving. There is always more to accomplish.

Checked off a box in one area? Great, there’s six more things over here that need doing too.

Typically, when something gets checked off one of my lists (because of course there are multiple) I go back and add more things. Or, when I accomplish a particularly large or scary goal, I get a bit of an adrenaline rush and before I can reflect on my success, I start thinking bigger.

Whether it’s finishing a creative project, washing everyone’s bedding in a weekend, taking another step toward or even launching your own business, our personal accomplishments are typically ours and ours alone. However, rather than acknowledge or celebrate them, we simply turn and say “OK, what’s next?”

We need to hold space for the pause. Time to reflect, acknowledge what we’ve taken on, completed or overcome. We need to be less stingy about giving ourselves a pat on the back.

Recognize your accomplishments. Celebrate them.

There will be days where you’re the only one standing in the audience. There will be other times when you are fortunate enough to have others supporting your efforts along the way.

There’s only one voice cheering that should matter, that should be the loudest, that should last the longest, and that will carry you through on the days where success falls just out of reach.

Your own.

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Failing

Last week kicked my ass in a very emotional and mental way. I stepped back multiple times and felt like I was absolutely and utterly failing at this mother thing. I asked myself over, and over, and over, “What am I doing wrong? What can I be doing better? What am I not doing that I should be?”

Motherhood challenged me last week in ways that I have never been challenged before. I had to learn to communicate and process things in new ways. I had to dig deep, and figure out a way to address the single worst moment in my parenting history. I have a lot to sit and get comfortable with, things that I am right now still wholly uncomfortable with.

I had to learn how to absorb an immense level of disappointment.

I’m sure that this will pale in comparison to things I will experience in the future, but I hope to hell not.

I struggle to put into words what happened. I hesitated to share even with my closest friends because I was afraid of the pain of judgement. Judgement of me, judgement of my daughter, judgement of my family and my inability to parent in such a way that could have prevented this. But, the reality is that I couldn’t; we did all the right things, had all the right conversations, but it still wasn’t enough. I’m compelled to share, to help other mothers navigate through or possibly avoid the same experience.

To summarize what happened, I discovered that my daughter and her friends had created secret social media accounts and were pushing out messages about themselves that were disgraceful, derogatory and shocking; the captions under normal, every photos of my daughter, and those that she wrote about her friends, gut me. (I’ll be sharing a bit more of how this all went down in an upcoming Burlington VT Mom’s Blog post, hoping to help other parents wrap their arms around the challenges we’re all facing with our kids’ use of social media.)

Know that I have no illusions of teenage girls, however, it is one thing to know what they are capable of and entirely another to see it very publicly displayed, and to know that hundreds of other people saw it as well.

I don’t think, even after numerous conversations, that my daughter understands the gravity the posts carried. To her, and those involved, it was all just a big joke. People thought it was funny. That’s all it was, to them. We have some lessons to teach.

I have struggled with my personal emotions for a week. I feel like I let her down somehow. That I didn’t have the right conversations with her, didn’t build up her confidence or self-worth enough. I feel like I failed.

I keep repeating over and over to myself that if you’re not failing, you’re not learning. That failing does not define you, but how you handle it does. My heart is hardly appeased by my mind. However, I know that if I were the recipient of this story, the listener versus the teller, I would say the following to you.

There are things in life that will be beyond our control. We will kick ourselves, make ourselves feel irrationally responsible. We will let the voices of doubt and self-criticism rise from the depths within us, and we will believe their validity.

We are not our children’s mistakes. We are not their poor choices. We have already made ours; our action now is in how we address, how we course-correct, and help them learn through the challenges. Our value is in how we help them grow from mistakes. We cannot fix things; we can only be here to support our children while they work through and experience these things for themselves.

If you’re ever in a situation that makes you question the foundation of which you have built your parenthood, I hope that you remember this.

You are not a failure, and you are enough.

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Spring Cleaning

I wanted to do a quarterly check-in on my progress with my YearCompass goals. That didn’t happen; life gets busy, other things take precedence, I “didn’t have time” – you know how the excuse song goes.

BUT, it’s the first day of my birthday month and so I decided that yesterday, on the last day of April, I would give myself a gut-check on where I am versus where I wanted to be when I sat down in December/January and got intentional about my year ahead (what would this be, a thirdly?) .

I want to make sure that while the hours and days tick by, and when life is filled with the urgency of the moment, I am still taking the time to make space for the future.

Growing my writing was one of the biggest goals that I set for myself, and is probably the greatest success I have had yet this year. I took a chance and applied to be a contributing writer for a blog site; it was scary, it was thrilling, and it has not been without its challenges, but I was accepted and am really enjoying pushing my writing outside of my own personal blog. Coupled with that, I have maintained my posting consistency (another goal) and am enjoying putting worthwhile content out each week.

Travel was something I wanted to be more committed to, thanks to the inspiring travels of one of my dear friends, and I’m actively working on this; I accomplished a trip with my husband, and we’re planning our next family vacation, as well as a few smaller summer travels and experiences.

Oh, and I’m traveling alone for the first time ever at the end of this month, so look forward to that chronicling.

I’ll be honest though; there are a few things that have fallen to the wayside.

Here’s the thing about goals; sometimes they change, and that is OK. When your goals change, it means that you’re actively working on what works best for you and, even more importantly, discarding what doesn’t. Something might feel right, worth pursuing and could be this really great thing, but it turns out to not be all that you wanted it to be. Or, you might get led down a completely different path that you never expected. All of this is OK – if we’re doing our best to cultivate growth in our lives, there are going to be dead ends. Discovering what is not meant for you is part of your development, and gives you space in your life to pursue other, more relevant things. Sometimes we need to step back and gut-check what we’re chasing; just because you’ve chosen to chase something that ends up not being your thing doesn’t mean that you have to chase it anymore.

We don’t need permission to stop or start anything that no longer serves us, ever.

So, there are a few things that I’m leaving be, and a few things that I am going to start refocusing on.

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I was inspired by a podcast that I’m a frequent listener of to create a list of the three things that I want to focus on this month; I have a really great planner which I have been neglecting that I will be using to help get intentionally consistent with the following three themes throughout the month. Considering that we’re eyeballs-deep in two concurrent softball seasons, I’m going to need all the reminders I can get that there are personal accomplishments that I want to attain outside of being pulled in different directions five nights a week.

So, my three things for May are:

  • Be Intentional
    • This goes back to my word for 2018; I need to be intentional in all things. From what I’m listening to, to what I’m doing in my precious moments of spare time; from my relationships, to what I’m reading.
  • Create Quiet Space
    • I enrolled in a mediation program in January that I benefited immensely from. I am going to make a conscious effort this month, even if it’s once a week, to carve out a time to get quiet. I’ve been filling empty space with a lot of noise lately.
  • Connect in Real-Time
    • I’m addicted to my phone. I’m not ashamed to admit this, but I am sad about what I’m giving up outside of its 3×4” screen. Disconnecting was one of my YearCompass points that I haven’t been nearly intentional enough about.

Where are you at with your personal progress, and what three things could you be focusing on this month?

Playing Tetris

This is not a how-to post, and it’s not about video games. This is purely self-serving and I need your advice. Short of hiring a family secretary, I need to know: how do you manage your family’s calendars?

The busiest season for our family has always been Spring. It seems as though every month feels stretched thinner than the last, but no months feel this way more than April, May and June in our family.

We have two daughters playing softball on two different teams, playing in two different towns every weekday night; on top of our own personal, work and social events, and my husband working over an hour and a half away, not to mention our three-year-old who brings her own personal agenda to the mix, it’s become a bit unwieldy. I’m not complaining, I obviously set myself up for this, I’m just trying to strategically manage the Tetris game that is our calendar and I know that someone out there must have a better way.

I’m a bit desperate to figure out how one of us doesn’t end up leaving a child stranded somewhere.

We each have our own personal Outlook calendars, and we each carry our own planners. We don’t, however, have a logical way to mesh these and our daughters’ games, practices, plays, concerts and the rest of the events in one place. We have tried a dry-erase board, we have tried Cozi, we have tried emailing each other the following week’s agenda so that we can both write them into our planners, but duplicating everything – whether it be digitally or manually or both – meant that we inevitably ended up forgetting to share something. Multiple somethings. Which inevitably led to some finger-pointing and frustration. For instance, I was supposed to have a work event this evening, but only found out yesterday that my husband had scheduled dinner with a client, which he is certain he told me about weeks ago. He likely did tell me, and it’s even more likely that I lost it in the shuffle. Kids’ schedules weren’t even involved at this point yet we still effed it up.

We’re currently trying Google Calendars, but we’re lost somewhere in the sharing process. We ideally need something that effortlessly exports to/from Outlook as that is the default method we are already utilizing that contains more than half of the data that we need.

So, I’m sending out this plea – especially if you’re savvy about this sort of thing, or if you have multiple children going in different directions and have a system that works for you – what do you and your partner/spouse use to keep everything in line?

Start Somewhere

I joined an Instagram headstand challenge yesterday.

When I started the Year Compass in 2016, one of my goals was to be able to do a headstand in 2017. I never followed through; I never even got around to attempting one.

I haven’t stepped a foot on my yoga mat since before the winter season started, and I haven’t been working towards accomplishing that headstand in 2018 either.

This challenge popped up and I hesitated; not because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to join (I have wanted to work up to a headstand for a few years, and these sorts of challenges have always motivated me more than I have been able motivate myself) but because it required that I post a video of myself attempting not just one headstand but a daily check-in of my headstand progression.

I hesitated not because I’ve never attempted a headstand in my life, but because I had a moment of pure self-consciousness. There are plenty of women out there killing their fitness goals; I am not one of them. Sharing my faltering starts was…intimidating.

I have to start somewhere, however, so I posted the video before any further self-doubt could creep in, and posting yesterday made it that much easier to post today.

I’m hoping that there might be a woman out there who has never attempted a headstand, or whatever it is she might be wanting to try, and felt encouraged by my sharing my first attempt.

And if there’s a woman out there who felt better about herself because she could attain a headstand better than I can, or for whatever reason might have felt superior to me while I threw my feet up over my head and my heels found the wall, more power to her.

We’re often so afraid of what others think that we cut ourselves off before we start. We don’t give ourselves a chance to even try, let alone practice, build a skill, gain the strength. We set standards against highlight reels, against those who have been working their asses off to get to where they are, and we somehow feel that we need to get there by some other smarter, quicker, more graceful way. Or, we just decide to not even try at all.

Whatever you’re thinking of doing, there’s going to be someone – likely a multitude of someones – who is doing it better, and they’re likely going to make it look easy. The key is to remember that they all started somewhere, too.

Chances are, there is someone out there who will be inspired by your effort enough to spark their own.

Becoming

Who are you?

Beneath the titles that are associated with you, which could range from mother to wife to daughter to sister, they could encompass your occupation, and perhaps your hobbies; who are you beneath all of those things that you are to others?

Or, perhaps a better question is, who do you want to become? Who do you want that woman to be, the one that looks back at you in the mirror as you brush your teeth and apply your mascara? Perhaps you don’t even see her.

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My middle daughter stated yesterday that she wants to be a preschool teacher and photographer. My eldest daughter has a running list of the occupations she’s entertaining. It’s emphasized to our children that they should have a goal to be “something”. However, as I sit here in all of my adulthood, I know that the label printed under my name on my business card is not who I am. It’s a piece of what I do, and perhaps that influences me, but it does not define me.

I was in a yoga class a few months ago (actually, this particular class was probably more than half a year ago now) where while we were all lying prostrate in savasana the instructor said (loosely) the following:

“You are not your job, you are not your bank account, you are not what your children call you, you are not the number on the scale, you are not the clothes hanging in your closet, you are not who you are in relation to anyone or anything else.”

I’m not sure if it was the low intonation in which the words were delivered, or the words themselves, but they struck me deeply. Goosebumps and fighting-back-tears deeply.

We are none of those things, and yet, we believe we are all of those things, feel we need to live up to being all of those things flawlessly all of the time, simultaneously, simply a being with whom a list of labels is associated, who accomplishes infinite lists of things to be meaningful.

Anything that you can stop having, doing or being is a role that you play. Who are you without that role?

Have you taken the time to come up for air, and ask yourself that question? Who do YOU want to be?

I never stopped to ask myself this question; I performed in my given roles and didn’t operate much outside of the day-to-day that was right in front of me. I didn’t look too closely in the mirror.

I have been giving more and more thought to the woman I want to become; not a destination, but an ever-evolving view of what comprises me at my core.

When I started looking at what I aspired to be, it was interesting to discover how I operated in ways that were a striking contrast.

So, what can you do to be more aligned with the woman that you want to become? Not to be confused with trying to be someone else, but connecting with yourself on an elevated level. Are there small shifts that you can make now?

“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different?” – C.S. Lewis

Power Source

 

 

 

Power

pow·er/pou(ə)r/

  1. The ability to do something or act in a particular way, especially as a faculty or quality.
  2. The capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events.

We all have it, the ability, the capability; power.

There are those who use and abuse it. Those who seek it, would do anything to have what they perceive it is. Some of us readily, many times unconsciously, hand it over to others. What most of us ignore is how we operate in it; we just aren’t aware of what it is, much less how to harness it.

My three year old fully believes in her power. At one time we all did, but we lost it along the way. Power – the right kind of power – is a practice; it’s not given or taken, but developed.

Power comes to us in how we frame our thoughts, how we respond (not react) to a given situation. We can operate in our power from a position of lack, or we can operate in our power from a position of abundance. We can wield our power from a mindset of limitations, or we can work with our power in possibility.

Where is your power coming from?