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.

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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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Hello, 35

“Every year you close a new chapter in your story. Please, please, please don’t write the same one seventy-five times and call it a life.” – Rachel Hollis, Girl, Wash Your Face

Today, I turn 35.

It’s a bit stark and unyielding to see that laid out there. 35 feels like a mile marker of sorts. I’m not someone who holds negative energy for aging, minus my ongoing battle with unruly gray hairs, but it feels as though there is something more commemorative about this year than say 32 or 33.

A tip of the hat, though, to my 34th year.

34 was the year I decided I didn’t want to drown any longer; it was the year I decided I needed to get intentional and to put myself first. I set out to find things that set my soul on fire. 34 was the year I really started digging in; I chased development and growth. I challenged myself. I went after things I didn’t know I wanted – this blog for instance. And I walked away from things – commitments, attitudes, and behaviors, that didn’t benefit me in getting to where I was hoping to get to.

I have the opportunity this week to create some space in a beautiful piece of this country to spend some time with myself. I’m traveling solo for the first time ever, and am spending this birthday, also for the first time ever, away from my family. This trip has forced me to step out of my comfort zone in a number of ways, but there is always something to be gained from discomfort. I spent Sunday wandering through airports and driving west on I70 in Colorado with just the thoughts in my head. I have a cozy hotel room with access to walking trails that follow a beautiful mountain creek that are postcard perfect for wandering and reflecting. I’m attending a conference and have had to overcome my fear of introducing myself to and holding conversation with strangers. I’ve had to reinforce positive thoughts and show the confidence that I’m trying to build, none of which comes easily to me just yet.

The timing of this solo travel, the space to connect introspectively, the arrival of this significant year and even the simple fact that this birthday falls on a Tuesday where I get to reach out and connect with you all are not lost on me.

I’m working on working out what I want in my 35th year, which means that I have to decide what small things I am going to commit to in order to build the bigger things upon. I am continuing to work through conscious decisions around who I am and the woman I want to be; how I spend my time and energy in the ways that are the most beneficial regardless of comparison, self-doubt, fear, self-consciousness or perfectionism. I have a long way to go to achieve “regardless”; it’s a daily, if not hourly, practice.

There are goals that I want to achieve this year. Hell, there are things that I want to set up that I want to achieve by my 40th year that need to be started now in order to ensure success. And, I’m getting comfortable with knowing that it’s entirely possible that these things might change, evolve or become irrelevant at 36, 37, or even in the next 6 months. It’s all a part of the process and none of that can be achieved without applying selectivity and curating on a consistent basis.

I embrace 34 as it quietly exits stage left and welcome in 35; I’m anxious and ready to write the most unique chapter yet.

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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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