Green Light

I’m forging ahead as if today is Tuesday. We’ve had two nights of back to back holiday concerts, lingering but thankfully temporary illnesses, work commitments and project deadlines. Coupled with last minute Christmas shopping and hours of cutting, taping and wrapping, I felt completely OK letting go of my Tuesday posting habit last night, but only for a day.

The 2018 Year Compass launched two weeks ago. I started working on the first portion of the workbook last week, reflecting on 2017 (you can, and should, download a copy here).

Last year, I remember being a bit fixated on the reflection piece of the workbook. I wanted to understand how, in an entire year, I hadn’t personally accomplished – outside of raising my daughters and all that goes along with being a mother and wife –  something substantial, something tangible, something of value. Something for myself. The honest answer was that I simply hadn’t been intentional on making it happen.

This year, I’m almost dismissive of 2017; I’ll complete that section, because I believe there are important pieces in the review, in the questions asked in it. I’m not, however, lingering on what I didn’t do or spending an unnecessary amount of time looking back; I’m anticipating looking forward at what more I can make happen. I know that I started in a much different place, and the fact that I simply decided to start really is enough. This might only be due to the simple fact that now I know I can.

I’m more interested in focusing on creating bigger intentions for 2018. The word “goals” keeps popping up, but that word feels too limiting, too finite. I’m not referring to New Year’s resolutions that I want to attain and be done with; I want to create sustainability in growth. As a mother, I am constantly recreating and redefining what that means. Each day, each stage, each child requires something different from me. I’m determined not to limit those spaces of growth only to the roles that I have, but to the woman that I am at the heart of everything that I am to everyone else.

Think about the next 365 days. Think about what it could mean for you to build off of the momentum that you can create. Just one idea, one spark. Envision where you could be a year from now, where you would want to be a year from now.

Think about the things that you would do today, tomorrow, next week if you had no fear, no resistance, no hesitation, no time to plan or procrastinate.

And go do them.

Envision all of the versions of you that you wish you could be.

And go be them.

 

 

 

It’s All in Your Head

IMG_6852.JPGA friend who is working late this evening shared over this message from her tea; I found it to be a perfectly timed reminder for me.

I have been focusing on a few phrases to get me through the times when I am not in the mindset that I want to be; where I might not feel as energetic, calm, composed, level-headed or open-minded as I am striving, in my more intentional moments, to be.

If you had suggested taking up a mantra practice to me a few years ago I would have likely laughed, and certainly would not have taken you seriously.  I used to associate mantras with meditation, and although I enjoy listening to the Headspace and Calm apps once in awhile, I haven’t yet been able to get on any sort of meditating level.

I was introduced to a different form of mantra and affirmation practice through Cara Alwill Leyba (author, life-coach, blogger, podcaster); in this powerful post, she explains how she uses mantras and affirmations.  I was inspired to create my own variation of her practice after reading.

Rather than dwelling on challenge, on stress, on lack, on guilt, on weakness, on the negative, certain phrases have helped me get to a better mental place, not just in the moment but overall, with almost any situation I find myself in.  They make me more aware, and remind me to be intentional.  As Cara mentions in her blog, it helps to remove the power and energy from whatever thing or person that is driving imbalance and gives it back to you.  The phrases that I try to use daily are:

“I am not available for struggle.”

“What is meant for me will not pass me by.”

“When I take care of myself, everyone around me benefits.”

“The way that I speak to my children will become their inner voice.”

Tonight, I’m adding that message I received by way of my friend’s teacup to my list, this one specifically for when I need a more positive direction in where my conversations are going.

Do you have an affirmation or mantra practice?  I’d love to add a few more to my arsenal.


P.S. An easy way to find Cara’s mantras and affirmations is on Instagram; she’s @thechampagnediet if you’re interested.

Lowering the Bar

The past few weeks have been nothing short of sheer chaos and disruption.  We sold our house, packed up our belongings, stored a large majority of them, and temporarily moved in with my parents (every 34-year-old, married-with-children mother’s dream).  I came down with the flu while packing over the last weekend before our closing, and I’m still not quite sure where half of my clothing or any of my jewelry is.

The next few weeks will likely be more of the same. Holiday parties, school concerts, family commitments; coupled with the demands of a career in the ski industry, I am feeling some strain.  OK – a huge amount.

I’ve decided I’m going to give myself permission to lower the bar.

This December, I am going to resign to the fact that if I can meet myself half-way, I will consider it a win.

I’m going to focus on activities, rituals and habits that fundamentally make me feel the best, those things that give me energy and put me in the best headspace. I’m going to allow myself to accept that these things might not necessarily line up with the expectations of others.

I’m going to place emphasis on experiences, and being a part of those experiences rather than just creating them. I’m going to commit to those activities and traditions that mean the most to myself and my family, and decline anything that doesn’t align with those priorities. I’m going to do so without guilt.

What level do you hold yourself accountable to, and for what? Why?

Better yet, for who?

 

Consistency

I have written fourteen blog posts since launching this site.  Fourteen.  Not such a large number, but significant in ways that count.

For fourteen consecutive weeks, I have put my thoughts out in this space for anyone to read, absorb, retain, reject, agree with, or challenge.

For fourteen consecutive weeks, I have shared pieces of my story and created connections.  I have had conversations that stemmed from what is posted in these pages that were meaningful and relevant.

For fourteen consecutive weeks, and perhaps one of the most significant pieces for me, right up there with connecting meaningfully with others, I have sat down, written, and hit Publish.  I have had weeks where I could have said “I don’t have enough time.”  I have had weeks where I was traveling, where I was tired, where I didn’t feel well.  Weeks where there was probably something a bit “more important” that needed doing.  And of course there was the self-doubt; that what I had to say was small, was unimportant, was unoriginal.  But there was something bigger than all of that.

I found a spark in writing the words that became posts, in the posts that became content, in sharing.  I am passionate about writing, about communicating with those who take the time to read what I post, about connecting with each of you in the comments and in passing.  I am passionate about creating something that adds value.

When you find your “thing”, chances are it won’t feel like the rest of the “things”; activities, expectations and commitments that you’re trying to force, another check mark on the To Do list for the day.  I could have easily shrugged off writing tonight; I have two more sleeps in this home that, come Monday, will no longer be ours, I am surrounded by belongings packed up in boxes, I have more belongings that have not yet found their way into boxes, piles of laundry to wash, more piles of paperwork to sort and file, two kids who are down and out with the stomach bug, work emails that are waiting to be answered…but yet it didn’t cross my mind to not write, to not hit Publish, to not remain consistent.

What can you create that makes you feel this way?

 

Whittling

I spent the morning sifting through my family’s belongings (and rifling through our pantry).  Walking from room to room, picking up this thing or that, filtering back through the memories of photos, recalling who may have gifted us what and when – beautiful wooden cutting boards, baskets, serving ware, platters, a punch bowl.  We own things I had forgotten we had; I became blind to items that existed in my environment day-to-day.  Tabasco, for instance.  No one in my family uses it, yet a bottle sat front and center in the spice cabinet for who knows how long.

I was happy to have a few hours to myself this morning to do this; it’ll likely be the last time in this house that I get to wander around and look at everything on my own time.

Our house, which has been for sale, is under contract; our closing date is looming and we’re in the process of moving most of our belongings into a storage unit.  We’re going to be bunking with my parents for a few months while the girls finish out the school year and we begin the process of hunting for the perfect new home (a few of you have already mentioned your anticipation of the posts that are likely to come from what promises to be a comedic adventure – at my expense).  We’re in prime whittling mode.

The amount of belongings – and expired spices – that we can accumulate in each phase of our lives is overwhelming and, ironically, little humans compound this tenfold.

As a general rule, I enjoy getting rid of “stuff”; this move has given me the ability to offload quite a number of under utilized, no longer necessary or just general in-need-of-disposing items (expired Parsley, for instance).  As addicted as I have become to purging, I am stuck on a few things.  I have very few pieces of artwork saved from the girls’ younger years (I can hear the audible gasps of some of you from here), but I do have every doctor’s visit weight and height slip, every report card, every skating badge, every winter’s season pass, every end of ski season instructor report.  They’re all tucked away in a filing cabinet – sure to never see the light of day again.  Pockets – black holes really – of accumulation.  If I were the scrapbooking type I’d have a place for every stray piece, however I gave that up within the first year of my 13-year-old’s existence.

I’m curious – what do you keep, and what do you discard?  How do you store those things you choose to hang on to?

Exposed

As a mom, there are any given number of things that I can fail at on a daily basis.  Dinner, for instance.  With a family of five, I will most likely choose at least one meal a week that someone would rather not eat.  Or picking out the right pair of pants for my 3-year-old; this usually occurs within the first hour of the day, primarily because she detests pants and wants to wear dresses all of the time.  Not long sleeve dresses, but strappy sundresses made for beaches, and certainly not for outdoor classroom days in Vermont in mid-November.  But one of the things I fail consistently at is…

I’m a yeller.

I yell.  Alot.

To admit this exposes a part of me that I would like to keep buried from scrutiny.  It’s not an easy thing to admit, that my reaction to stressful or trying situations is frustration, that I can’t talk myself out of the zero to sixty escalation from calm and rational to not.

I certainly don’t think that yelling is a strength of mine; no, quite the opposite – there is more strength in remaining calm and composed.  But there is strength in my sharing this with you.

I think there is a widely accepted myth about strength – that it comes from a place of security, of confidence, of always doing things the “right” or “accepted” way, of perfection.  However, I think strength comes from acknowledging our faults, our flaws, and our quirks, in accepting ourselves as is.

I didn’t connect with the thoughts I share in this space from a place of strength.  In taking a look at the areas where I wanted to grow personally, these musings certainly weren’t hiding in areas I excel in.  I had to examine my faults; to figure out where I was weakest.  Sometimes, I need someone else to be that mirror for me.  I think, while it can be easy to find faults in ourselves, it’s not always so easy to own up to the ones whose roots grow a bit deeper.

I’m not saying that I am blind to certain faults or weaknesses; rather, like yelling, they are layered behind excuses and justifications that I have built.

There is incredible strength in being vulnerable, in sharing that exposure and I think that’s because people resonate with what is real, and what is honest.  The strength comes in pushing past the doubt, in accepting that there might be rejection, in accepting that the parts about us that we hide, those pieces that are not shiny and pretty and polished, are worth putting out there as well, in being open.  There are bonds forged with those you can share your weaknesses with, and even more so when you can count on others to hold you accountable for using those weaknesses and turning them into challenges you have overcome.

Vulnerability can take on many faces; exposing your thoughts, showcasing your talent, displaying your skills.  Learning something new, being a beginner.  Traveling solo.  Making a career change.  Talking about the struggles, about mistakes and about failures.

Find a way to be vulnerable; find a space you can be vulnerable in, people you can be vulnerable with.  Vulnerability begets value, and we can all use a little more of that.

Shift

On September 14th, nearly two months ago, I started a gratitude project.  There were no rules other than I was expected to share five things daily that I was grateful for.

I have added five gratitude items daily for over 50 consecutive days.

At first, it was challenging to think about coming up with five things every day; I used to be – and still hang on to pieces of being – a “glass half empty” type.  However, with practice, you can become better at just about anything, including being positive and finding the silver lining in challenges.

The project is ongoing.  There is no stop date.  It is something that I carry with me every day.  It has changed my perspective in a number of situations.  It makes me feel the appreciation for everything I have much more thoroughly.  I find inspiration in seeking and creating more things I am grateful for, in crafting experiences that I will be grateful to have.

This gratitude practice has shifted my focus; it helps me see what is there, versus what isn’t and creates awareness around abundance, versus lack.

We’re in the season of giving thanks.  Find a reason to say thank you for something today.  Try it again tomorrow.  And the next day.  Build a practice in gratitude that extends past the end of the month, that is sustainable indefinitely.  If you’re feeling stuck, type gratitude into a Google or Pinterest search bar and you’ll be inundated with ideas on how to craft a practice that you can stick with.

You can thank me later.  Or, you could be grateful for stumbling upon this blog, and day one is already behind you.