Friday, November 17, 2017

Find Some Breathing Room in Your Life. How to Start in 3 Easy Steps

Look at this woman in the photo.  Doesn't she look relaxed, serene, content? Don't you just want to push her off that cliff?  (That's jealous me talking.)

But I digress....So last week I declared ENOUGH with the Fitbit and other things, and this was the first step in an easier, less stressful life.  But what’s next? 

I've been reading all I can on the subject, and based on that research, here is what I suggest in getting started.

#1 Know  What You Want to Gain  (If you find it difficult to answer these questions, jump to #4, then come back)

You don't have to know exactly, and it's okay to change your mind about things as you go through the journey, but you have a destination that inspires you to action. Take 15 minutes and answer:
  • What does a great day look like to you?
  • What are you doing?
  • Who are you hanging with?
  • How do you feel throughout and at the end of the day? Serene, productive, yet not stressed.  Exhilarated by new adventures you now have time for. Dare I say...happy? 
  • What do you value?
  • Imagine you only had 5 years left to live. What do you want to achieve, learn, accomplish or experience?
Not that I am trying to influence you or anything because this is your journey, but a little food for thought while you are thinking about the answers to the questions below.  Several studies and interviews with hospice patients have all pointed to these three things for bringing lasting joy to a person's life:
  1. Relationships
  2. Meaning
  3. Goals
(If you want to read more on the subject read, "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl.  Very short read, yet one of the most powerful books I have ever read.)

#2 Where are you now? What takes up your time today?

1) Where does your time go on a typical day.  How much time do you spend in the following areas:
  • Personal
  • Family
  • Realtionship
  • Friends
  • Work (This could be actual paid work or housekeeping/ unpaid work.  However you define work.)
  • Community/Volunteer 
2) Write down an approximation of your typical day - all of it.  How long does it take you to get ready, get the kids out the door, social media time, sleep time, etc., in a typical day.  No one is seeing this, so be honest.

3) Graph the pie.  Put the approximate time percentages for each of the categories.  

#3 Compare where you are to where you want to be

Do your daily tasks and pie line up with your stated values and goals from #1? No? So how do you get to where you want to be?

First, realize this is a journey.  This isn't just about getting rid of some clutter, although it could be if that's all you want it to be.

For me, this is about permanently making the time for what I say is important to me.  Things like: 
  • Having the time to really listen to what my children are saying and getting to know and appreciate the person that they are becoming.
  • Enjoying time with the signifiant other instead of waiting until retirement for more time.  There will never be enough time unless I make it happen.  
  • Getting rid of obligations that I don't really want to go to that steal my time from what I do want to do. 
  • Finding a way to volunteer that doesn't make me want to stick a fork in my eye.  A gig that uses my talents and skills.  Not sure what that is yet, but I look forward to finding out. 
  • Learning how to make a quilt. (I don't know why, I just want to.) 

#4 What if you don't know what you want to do?

Lucky you.  Lucky you because you get to discover and that's always fun. Start with what brings you joy, contentment, relaxation, or excitement? 

As you go through your day ask yourself, how do I feel about what I am doing right now? Meeting someone for lunch and sort of dreading it? That's a clue. Working on a project and you just do't want to do it, but you said yes, so now your committed? That's a clue.

Also, notice what you are doing that relaxes you or brings you joy. For me some things are:

  • Organizing my books (or anyone's) brings me joy.
  • Had a great conversation with my 10 year old regarding Hitler and WWII.  Heavy conversation, but how awesome to see how his brain works.
  • Playing Minecraft.  Creating a blank world and bringing order to it. Plus my kids love it so double bonus. 
  • Taking 5 minutes to put on makeup.  It relaxes me.  I often come up with solutions to problems I'm having out of the blue. Don't discount the little things. 
How about thinking about what you liked to do as a kid. Finger paint, draw, read, swim, run, sit outside and stare at the clouds?  Now go back to #1.

That's more than enough for this week.  Remember, no judgments about how you feel about some of the things, people, and obligations in your day.  As I tell my kids (and myself), you can feel however you feel. It's your actions that have consequences, and we are not talking about actions.....yet.

Next week, we begin to identify some items that need to change for us to have the life we say we want.  Don't worry, we are easing into this, and we will start with low hanging fruit/easy wins for now. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

I've Had Enough and the Fitbit is the First Thing to Go.

I've had enough.......

Enough talk about finding "purpose," "meaning," or even myself. Enough aimless searching for what I should be doing and more just being.

Enough wasting time in the pursuit of stuff.  Enough working for that stuff.  More having that stuff work for me.

Enough searching for articles, helpful hints, boxes and bins to organize my stuff.  Less stuff and more gratitude for the stuff I truly treasure.

Enough with my Fitbit telling me what I "should" be doing or how I'm doing.  More enjoying whatever form of exercise I choose to do.

Enough worrying about whether I am parenting the "right" way. More really listening to what my children think of the world and learning from them. 

Enough worrying about how my kids appear to others and let's be real - whether or not people think I am a "good" parent, and more accepting that my children will make make mistakes and bad choices, and helping them learn from those mistakes while the consequences are still relatively small.

Enough schlepping kids to too many activities. More unstructured time and more time being bored.

Enough of just me taking on the endless cycle of laundry, dishes and house care alone. More sharing that with the people who live here too.

Enough looking for more time and complaining there isn't enough time. Enough lists that are a mile long and never ending. More of just letting some stuff go. 

Enough saying "yes" to things without thinking or to be nice then regretting it afterwards. Enough worrying about what other people think of me instead of worrying what I think of me. More "Thanks, but no thanks"

Enough comparing myself to others in any way on any venue whether it be a glossy magazine, Instagram or Facebook.

Enough social media.

Enough watching, reading, listening to bad news that makes me feel helpless, angry, frustrated. Just enough of worrying about things I can't control.  More acting on the things I can control.

Enough waiting for someday to read, write, learn to draw, paint, travel. More just doing it now. 

Enough of letting the "should's" dictate how I spend my day and more listening to the "wants" and not feeling guilty about it.

I imagined I only had 5 years left to live.  That's how I cam up with this list, and it's only a start.  Imagine you only had 5 years left to live, what would you change? 

Do you think you would protect your precious time a little more fiercely?

Who would you want to spend as much time as possible with? Would you listen to your loved ones a little more closely trying to learn everything you could about them, genuinely curious about their day, their thoughts, their dreams?

Would you prepare your children now with skills that they will need to live in a world without you?

What would you want to see or learn or do?  What would you want to share with others? What legacy would you want to leave?

Maybe you can't quit your job or start a new dream job (yet) because you still have responsibilities, bills, etc., but what changes could you make if you only had 5 years left to live?

It's depressing and unpleasant to think of dying, and we push uncomfortable things away to deal with another time.  Yet, another time never arrives until it's too late.  If you're over 40, your life is half over.  Half over.  That's depressing.  That's uncomfortable, but its a reality.  Another reality is you may have less time.  Do you know what's even more depressing and uncomfortable?  Regret.

So, I am saying "enough" to a whole lot so I can say "Yes" to the 4 or 5 things that truly are the most important to me. 

I started with the Fitbit. As I was looking at another failed day of not reaching my goal, I just decided that I didn't need one more thing telling me what I should do or grading me on how I am doing.  It's a small step, but after a weekend without it, I already feel better. 

How many other things do I do without noticing?  This one small change lightened a load I didn't know I was carrying.  I can't wait to see what happens as I continue to pare down the crazy in my life.   

To My Fellow Moms: This is Why You Rock

How to Slay a Dragon; A Very, Very Short Real Life Love Story

The Road to Self Care Starts Here

5 Things You Can Do to Start Living Intentionally Today

Is Comparing Yourself to Others Always a Bad Thing

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Allowance, To Give or Not to Give (And When, How and Why According to the "Experts")

I give my kids allowance, but I don't think I do it well.  Off and on, we have tried several different ways, since they were 4.  I want them to learn the value of money, how to save for what you want, and how not to spend my money on some plastic toy you picked up in the checkout line in Target that you will lose or break or forget about in a week.  Okay, I admit it, this was my only motivation in the beginning.

This year, I have a ten year old so I figured I need to get serious about doing this allowance thing.  I figure I have about 7 years to get him in shape before he will be making his own major financial decisions about school loans, cars, jobs, etc., and I definitely don't want my kid living in my spare room because he or she didn't understand how to manage money. So, I've been studying up, and here is what I found.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

This One Thing Can Cause Sadness, Headaches, Forgetfulness and other Woes

As you may remember, I am on a quest to become more of a morning person, and less of a night owl.  I have been doing pretty good for the most part.  I am still experimenting with some things to see what works best for me (as in this is something that I can maintain over the long term).

My research led me to this study on interrupted sleep, and that led me to do even more research on the subject.

The study took two groups of people and over three nights.  The first group stayed up an hour later, and the second group's sleep was interrupted. They found that cutting their sleep by only one hour (from 7.5 hours to 6.5 hours) resulted in inflammation, immune excitability, diabetes, cancer risk, and stress for both groups. However, the Interrupted Sleepers had shorter periods of slow wave, or deep wave sleep than the delayed.

What's so important about the slow wave or deep sleep?  This is the stage that important body repairs and maintenance tasks get done.

Both groups reported declining positive feelings.  While the delayed sleepers bounced back with a full night's sleep, the interrupted sleepers continued to report declining positive feelings including a decline in friendliness and feelings of sympathy.  In other words, even after you get back to having a good restful night of sleep, if you had a couple of nights of interrupted sleep you may continue to have a crappy attitude or remain in a funk, and it may even worsen.  So, interrupted sleep is worse than staying up late to watch Jimmy Fallon. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Guest Poster: Do You Wonder How That Special Needs Kid Affects Yours in the Classroom? (2 Minute Read)

Hey Guys,

Natasha's back with an awesome story.  I read it this morning, and I am inspired to look at my week ahead with new eyes.  I'll be looking for new opportunities to embrace my own and others' "not normal".  (You'll get it after you read it. ) 

Do You Wonder How That Special Needs Kid Affects Yours in the Classroom?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

How to Slay a Dragon: A Very, Very Short Real Life Love Story

We all have that thing or things that you are always trying to conquer like being braver, speaking up, not being a pessimist, not blowing up and losing your shit so much, eating better, not being so judgmental, saying no, not feeling so guilty (about saying no), etc.

In the coaching world, the things that you want to improve about yourself are referred to as your "learning edge".

Your learning edge is the thing you need to conquer or master in order to help you achieve your goal.  Whether your goal is getting promoted at work, losing weight, improving your relationship with a family member, finding a new job, increasing your business, raising good kids, you are going to have to deal with your learning edge or not reach the full potential of your goal.

A very wise woman (my coach) shared this with me during one of our session in which I was

Thursday, October 5, 2017

To My Fellow Moms Who Sometimes Feel Like You Are Failing.....

I caught these two kids helping each other and doing good in the world, so I sent their mom a note letting her know her kids were awesome even when no one was watching.  She sent me an email back thanking me for the note.  She said it came at a great time because she said she was having a bad day that day, and felt like she was drowning and failing at everything, "but maybe in this one area, the best area, she was doing an ok job, but I really can't take credit because my kids are somehow miracles of bravery and tenacity."

I was like, hold up, WHAT? "I'm doing an 'ok' job." "I can't take the credit..."  

This email left me a little dumbfounded because she totally strikes me as brave and tenacious, and I don't even know her that well.  
How could she say "maybe" or doubt her impact on who her kids are?  Then I looked a little deeper and remembered just hours before telling my daughter's teacher that "I wish I could take credit for her behavior but she is just a really great kid."   

Why? Why do we do this?  And by "this" I mean, why do we feel responsible for every mistake that our children make, yet when they do good, when they show that they are good, we say, "Well, I wish I could take credit for that, but they are who they are."  

Who hasn't felt like they were at times drowning or failing? When we've burnt dinner, missed a deadline, forgot to get the poster board for that project that needs to be done tonight, forgot to get dog food (again).  Then your kid gives you a hug or something and you say, maybe I'm doing okay here.  I'm want you to listen to this.  You are doing better than okay.  You are rocking this mom thing.  Here is how I know.....

You say your children are BRAVE and TENACIOUS, and I will add INDEPENDENT, FORGIVING, and KIND. Well, here is how they got to be this way.

You children see that things don't always work out the way you planned or the way you wanted.  They see you stumble, and they also see you pick yourself up and get back to work rebuilding.  They see STRENGTH and TENACITY.  

They see you heartbroken.  They see you disappointed.  They see the world fall apart around you.  They see you grieve for things that did not turn out the way you would have liked, and then they see you put your heart back together and push down your fear.  They see you put on your big girl pants, a smile, and like a boss, get shit done.  They see that you can be scared and not sure of the future, but you move ahead anyway.....That is BRAVERY. 

Oh, they see you alright when you snap at them during a PMS moment, and more importantly they hear you apologize to them and own your own behavior.  They see HUMILITY.  They see you taking RESPONSIBILITY for your actionsThey see you ask for forgiveness, so they learn how to FORGIVE and how to ask for FORGIVENESS, and they see you FORGIVE YOURSELF and they learn how to forgive themselves.

They see a self-sufficient, kick ass, beautiful woman. They see that you have faith in them that they too can be self-sufficient, kick ass beautiful humans, and they emulate you.  They see INDEPENDENCE in action.

The good that I saw that day brings me to my last and the trait the world definitely needs more of today. I saw a child reach out a hand to help someone who needed it, and I saw a child reach up and take that hand.  I saw these little people act with KINDNESS, and just as importantly know when to ACCEPT KINDNESS.  

They see the GRACE and COURAGE with which you go through life.

So, YES! take credit for how your children behave. You earned it. 

And when your kids are buttholes, which every single one of them will be at some point, remember, it is NOT your failure.  It's your teaching moment to remind them that they can do better.  They can be better, and then you will continue to lead by example.  Better an asshole moment at age 8 or 10 then a lifetime of it as an adult. 

Our kids see us because they are looking to us to show them how to deal with life, so don't hide or be ashamed of your failures because your children are going to fail too, and they are learning from you how to respond.  They look at you and they see you can fail and not be a failure, unless you fail to get back up, and I know you won't.  They know you won't, so rest assured they too will get back up when they need to just like you've shown them.

We are preparing our children for the road, because as much as we might try to prepare the road for our children, at some point we will no longer be on that road with them.  That day will come much more quickly than we realize.    

We are teaching them how to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and keep going, and some days that is so hard.  So, for those days girls, I want you to know that as much as you may feel like you are drowning and failing, you are rocking it in all the ways that matter. 

One final thought, we are quick with our judgmental eyes when things go wrong (me too, I'm not throwing stones), so why not 
tag or send this note or a note of your own to a mom (or dad) who deserves to know they are doing a great job?  They just might need to hear that today.