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The pursuit of happiness

April 27, 2017

Trying to sell our house may well be one of the most uncomfortable situations we’ve ever chosen to put ourselves through. We just never expected it to be this hard with the way this market has been and with the amount of work we’ve done to update this home. We are not naive to real estate – Ronnie used to be a real estate agent and we’ve seen every episode of every buying and selling and flipping show ever on HGTV. We listed with an experienced and successful agent late last Summer and through the Fall, with very little traffic and only a few that showed interest but ended up choosing something else. Our entire neighborhood was slow during that time (I follow everything on the market over here with email alerts), but when we saw houses selling in a matter of days in February, we decided to list ourselves and take advantage of the hot streak. But that was mid-March and here we are, almost May, with no offers. We get little bites now and then, but the people most interested usually aren’t ready to buy or would rather be on the other side of the State Line. It’s somewhat baffling when we see what sells quickly and often at higher price points than ours. We’re beginning to wonder if there’s a curse, or maybe we are just blind.

The toughest part is the feeling of temporary living. We packed up a ton of stuff to de-clutter (which, makes me breathe easier too so maybe that stuff will just stay in storage!), but due to needing to be ready for showings, we never feel like we can just relax. On evenings that we don’t pick up after ourselves, it feels really stressful, like what if someone calls and wants to come see the house tomorrow morning? It’s always a thought in the back of my mind when I’m in a hurry, multitasking and not doing household chores, but sometimes you don’t want to live like a model home. You want to actually LIVE and not just clean! There are things that we don’t do now purely because it’s not worth the mess, and I don’t like not having that freedom to just be us in our own home. Not for this long!

And it’s such a vulnerable, personal thing to have people constantly coming into your home and basically judging you. If they don’t like something, or don’t love the house enough to make an offer, I take every one of those rejections personally. I try not to, and I know I shouldn’t, but this is our home, a place we’ve worked hard to make nice, so any negative feedback just feels like an insult. Homes are so personal! But that thinking has also lead me down another path – I’ve learned that I don’t want to be defined by my material belongings. This whole home selling thing and trying to figure out what we want in our next home and the things we truly value in this life has got me really anti-materialism. I know that our family and our quality of life is so much more than the size of our home and the finishes in it. That’s up to us to define and no one else. You don’t like our lack of landscaping and far from pristine lawn? Well, let me tell you about the fun things we did and the memories we made playing in the yard with the girls or sitting on the patio enjoying cocktails together instead of doing yard work. You don’t find the musky scent of two giant dogs refreshing? Well let me tell you about all the puppy snuggles on the couch and lazy Sunday naps we’ve shared with our beloved furry family members. There’s so much more to life than this house, our cars, our clothes, our bank accounts.

When this house finally sells, we are dreaming of a simpler life. One that might be on the outskirts of town with some acreage to hike and hunt on. Or maybe it’s a small lake community. Whatever it is, we want our next home to be an escape to nature and away from the stress of modern life. While we aren’t going all hipster-tiny-house-family, we do want something small and functional, but at this point we aren’t picky. Something we can pay off soon that isn’t a financial burden. We are focusing on the life we want to create for us and our girls. Simpler, more natural, more intentional. Fresh air and time and space to breathe.

In the meantime, until this house sells, I just tell myself that our future home isn’t ready for us yet, and the perfect future homeowner of this place isn’t ready yet either. There’s a plan, that’s on different timing than I prefer, but in the end, it will be the perfect timing. So we live one day at a time, learning lessons to stay in the present and not get too carried away with the future. Isn’t that how we should be living every day, no matter our circumstances? Isn’t being truly present and having gratitude in the current moment where we find real joy? Dear God, I’m listening.

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This moment in time

March 14, 2017

My daughters – so alike and so different. And changing so fast. I see the Facebook Memories from 1 year ago to 5 years ago and I’m transported to another world. Even one year ago and I cannot believe how much has changed. So I need to document these things, before they are distant memories again, or worse, before I forget.

Skyler – “The Sweet One,” since the birth of your sister and contrast with her personality, this is your current nickname. You have such a kind and giving soul. Catholic school was seemingly made for you as you take to heart the lessons taught by Jesus. Lately some of the girls at school have been teasing you to the point of tears, and when our first reaction as pissed off parents is to tell you to stand up for yourself and dish it back, you immediately point out that “Jesus said to turn the other cheek.” But when we come back with “but the Bible also said an eye for an eye,” you respond “makes the whole world blind.” Ugh, I love your innocence and heart of gold! I wish I could protect it forever. You have your fair share of fire, too. You are still a sore loser and have learned not to play anything you can’t do well at. Watching you jump up and down to celebrate shooting a basket at a game gives me so much pride and joy. And your learning to love reading and have already started to notice how it makes you better at writing. You read a book and then decide to write a book. I love watching the wheels turn and seeing that spark ignite in you. Sometimes I think with your artistry and your writing and your faith, you are like a mini-me. But you got that spunk – sense of humor and quick-temper from your Daddy. I hope and pray all these qualities are never squelched – whether by peer pressure or lack of self confidence or idiot teacher. I want you to embrace these gifts that are uniquely you and use them to power your future without a doubt in your mind. You are such an amazing gift to this world.

Layla – “The Crazy One,” who keeps us on our toes and makes us question our parenting abilities that we thought were on point after your sweet sister was so easy and so good. You’ve challenged us since before you were born. Your name means “dark beauty” or “intoxication with wine,” which is SO fitting. You are like a crazy little drunk person and you drive me to drink! We like to joke that you are our little boy, the into-everything, always-moving, eat-anything-on-the-floor, accident-prone type. And you are all hot or cold – there’s rarely anything in between. If you are holding something you shouldn’t have and we take it and tell you no, you act like your heart has been broken into a thousand pieces, and you run to the other parent for consoling. You love to smile and say hi to strangers, but you’ve been fussing in nearly every car ride ever since we brought you home from the hospital. I finally figured out the other day that if I gave you a bag of veggie straws to snack on in the car, you didn’t complain. Go figure, tubby likes to eat! Which lately, I can’t feed you enough. Even though you don’t want much while it’s mealtime in your high chair, you are constantly pointing at our food, eyeballing whatever anyone else has, even if it’s the same thing you had that you threw on the floor or fed to the dogs. Or you’re in the pantry looking for a snack there or just pointing and whining at the kitchen for SOMETHING. It’s never enough! And bananas, speaking of never enough, there are never enough bananas in a day for you. You are a monkey. Right now, you’ve learned to shake your head “yes” with a big grin to almost any question we ask you, even if you have no idea what we are talking about. And you love to help out by carrying your dirty diaper to the trashcan and closing the lid once you’ve tossed it. You march around the house, pumping just one arm in determination, as you move from one task to another. But God forbid I leave the room, even if you were playing contently by yourself. You are Momma’s Girl for sure, even though when I’m gone you think your Daddy is the coolest. You used to adore your Big Sis, but now that you’ve got some independence, you are showing her some sass. You squeal in protest if she tries to pick you up, and you hit her in the face if she gets in your space. The best is how you kick her nonstop from your carseat all the way to drop her off from school. You can’t help but be obnoxious. You are very much the personality of your father, and it’s adorable. I am exhausted by you but yet pray that time will slow down so we can keep you adorable and hilarious for a little longer.

Both of you girls are so amazing and so different. I pray we continue to learn how to help you both continue to grow into your true selves and that we can protect you from those people and things that try to dim your light. You are both such wonderful gifts to this world.

Things that matter

February 17, 2017

I shouldn’t even be taking the time to write this. I should be working, or studying, or cleaning, or showering. But I haven’t written in several weeks and I’m so sick of doing all the “have to’s” and not having any time or energy left to do the “want to’s,” so damn it I’m writing.

My Badass book said something about how when things finally click for you and you decide that thing that you really want to go for (your calling I guess), and you’re all Gung ho and moving in that direction, Murphy’s Law or maybe it’s Satan tries to get in the way and create obstacles that feel like a sign that maybe you made the wrong decision and should go back to playing it safe. And it feels like that’s exactly what’s happening. My job has been unfulfilling for quite some time and I finally figured out I wanted to go back to school for psychology.  About a month ago I signed up for a class to get started meeting the prerequisites of a Master’s program, was getting up early to make quiet time and exercise for myself a priority, and was all Positive Polly since I had it figured out. Nothing was stopping me. And then yet another person from our department quit (I think that makes 5 in the last 6 months or so?) with no sign of backfilling any of those positions in sight. My own team is half the size it was a year ago but responsible for more work. So when I should be studying a subject I enjoy and spending time with my family, I’m working nights and weekends to do even more unfulfilling work. I’m staying up really late to do work and not getting much sleep and thus not waking up early for probably the most important time of the day, my “me time.” I stopped going for walks with my coworkers in the afternoons because we all just have too much to do. Now and then I have a discussion or meeting that involves building relationships or collaboration or conflict resolution and those things get me really excited and motivated (hence why I want to study psychology) and I have hope that I can impact things that matter at work. But then I get quickly buried in the mundane  work work work that clients are actually paying for and I never have time to do the good stuff. Complete opposite the direction I want to be going and it’s making me super cranky.

On top of the above, I made goals this year to connect with friends and family more and I feel like that’s just silly right now. One of my best friends is fighting cancer and I feel like I can barely keep up with her. What’s funny is SHE feels guilty that she’s been so busy fighting cancer that she hasn’t kept up with me – how ridiculous is that?!?! I don’t answer calls or texts from people because I’m in the middle of work. My kids are growing up at lightning speed and right now and I don’t feel like I can just relax and enjoy them. My husband and I haven’t been on a date since sometime in December and we’ve been unable to secure a babysitter successfully for awhile. In this kind of situation I used to take a day off work just so we could have a day date while the girls are at school/daycare, but if I did that right now it would just guarantee I’d be in the office the following Saturday.

There’s a glimmer of hope that something at work will change soon and I’ll get some balance back, but I don’t know how long that will take and I don’t know how long I can take this. The morale across the team is so low, every day I come in wondering who will be resigning next and how much more work we’re going to have to figure out how to shoulder. I cry almost every night when everyone goes to bed and I’m stuck with writing reports and insights for stuff that in reality JUST. DOESN’T. MATTER! I’ve looked around at other job openings in the city but there’s nothing that I care to make the effort for. It all just seems like more of the same. One thing I’ve learned and realized through this is how my coworkers and I have built up some great friendships and at least we have each other, right? Misery loves company. But for real we are encouraging each other and helping each other and trying to become better people through this, and I don’t want to leave that for some place new. I hold out hope that things will get better where I’m at.

I don’t really know how to end this post. Normally I try to wrap things up positively or whatever but I’m just here. It’s where I’m at. And I should get back to working or taking care of my sick kid, since I’m doing both on this beautiful Friday.

So emo

January 27, 2017

Now that Trump has taken office and got busy right away doing things, I find myself incredibly emotional. And probably not in the way that a lot of people are. I’m emotional about all the emotion that I’m hearing about at work and seeing on Facebook. There is SO much anger and angst. Empathy is a strength of mine but right now it feels like a weakness as I soak up all the feels of those around me. It’s overwhelming and I’m seriously considering taking a break from Facebook for awhile because I need to filter the outside emotions out so I can actually feel myself for a bit.

But then I feel guilty if I turn off Facebook, turn off the news, put on my headphones and ignore people talking about things. Does that make me an ostrich with my head in the sand? Does that make me part of the problem as a someone with white privilege that can just turn it off and ignore what’s going on in the world and be fine? When I shut all that out, I see and hear my daughters and husband right in front of me, and the only thing that really matters is them. I focus on us, and doing whatever it is that helps us become better people while enjoying life as much as possible. Half the problems in this country I think are the end result of the fall of family values, so my current job of trying to turn out offspring that are decent and smart people isn’t a walk in the park and has some nobility to it. On top of it I spend time bettering myself – right now it’s studying and learning about child development in the class I’m taking, so someday I can be more impactful in my career and make a positive difference in this world. Is that so wrong?

I’ve made a goal this year to be more present – does that mean present in the lives of my nearest and dearest and my own self, or present in the community and the world and the apparent strife that’s unraveling? Sometimes I wonder if any of that “out there” is even real – I don’t actually see it or experience it in everyday life. The “issues” aren’t big issues to me. Again, there goes my white privilege in assuming everything is fine because it’s fine with me and my circle. Maybe I’m living in the Truman Show or the Matrix or part of a simulation experiment ran by higher beings.

But then when I decide to get out of my bubble and try to pay attention to what’s going on out there I get overwhelmed with the search for truth. I don’t know what or who to believe anymore when I look through the news on various issues. That empathy thing comes into play again as I find myself identifying with both sides of most every issue that everyone is so upset about and I again feel guilty that I can’t truly side with anyone. Like no matter which way I think, it must be wrong if so many people can feel so strongly the other way. I struggle to piece together the facts when everyone reporting has an agenda. I find myself with paralysis by analysis and then panic that I can’t figure out the answer in order to even form an educated opinion on the situations at hand. It seems so clear to everyone out there but I just can’t accept everything as it is. It’s one part conspiracy theory that there is way more to this than anyone on either side realizes, and the other part that I default to believing that everyone really has goodness in their heart and means well. My faith leads me to think “WWJD” and I think the answers get simple but no one out there is trying to do anything simple!

It’s exhausting and confusing. Nothing is black or white. I can’t stand labels and restrictive thought. I just want peace and joy for myself, my loved ones, and everyone in the whole wide world. I wish everyone would take a chill pill, love themselves and each other and those they don’t agree with, and rather than resting on their laurels and assuming things are fine or running around hands in the air spreading fear, recognize that things aren’t perfect and never will be, and then decide what part they can play to make this world a better place. I mentioned previously that I want to be more active in a charitable way from now on, especially with my time and talents. And I’m going back to school to study psychology and counselling in hopes that I can apply that knowledge and skills to have a more positive influence on those around me and hopefully work that into a more fulfilling career. I know I have so much good to give this world so I’ve gotta get busy giving it in whatever way I can NOW.

So if I seem distracted, MIA from social media, playing the devil’s advocate, crying in a corner, obsessed with my family, or just plain enjoying life, it’s just me trying to figure out this maze. I’m just doing my best and can forget the rest! Thanks Tony Horton. Lame Beachbody joke. If you know, you know. Nevermind.

Signed,

Pollyanna

 

Girl Power

January 23, 2017

Yesterday was the Women’s March, where millions of women (and men and even children) across the country gathered to “send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.” I didn’t go, but was invited by a friend since we had made lunch plans yesterday and she was thinking about it. I’m not much of an activist or political person, so it’s not really my cup of tea to do something like that, but I did noodle on it for a bit, thinking maybe it would be cool to get out of my comfort zone and be a part of something big like that. I’m a woman, I think women are awesome. But I’ve never identified with the title “nasty woman” – and I worried there might be a lot of that kind of vindictiveness out there and that didn’t sound unifying or empowering to me. And I really just preferred to catch up with my friend since we hadn’t seen each other or talked for a couple years. Selfishness won and I had a wonderful lunch with my friend.

I am truly impressed by the numbers that showed up and the aerial photos of the events around the country. It is awe-inspiring to see those kinds of numbers gather for a cause. I’m happy for the people that went – I know several that did, and I hope they were encouraged and empowered by the event, and I hope that anyone who would attempt to suppress human rights received the message loud and clear. But I also heard some things that discouraged me. There’s a lot of talk about diversity, but the march organizers removed a pro-life feminist group from their sponsors.  The Women’s March website quotes Audre Lorde saying “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” So why exclude a group that has a different and broader definition of human rights than you? That seems counterproductive and narrow-minded. The Washington Post also reported that the event was mostly white women. Why were there not more women of color out there taking a stand? Is it because they don’t feel empowered, they don’t have the means, they don’t feel safe, they don’t care, or something else? For such a diverse country, I would’ve hoped to see more diversity at this event. One way or another, it shows there are problems that need dealt with.

My biggest question/hope is – what will those millions of marchers do next? If yesterday’s march inspired you (whether you were present or not), or if you were one of the people that felt it an unecessary display of activism, what if next month we organized a Women’s Community Day? What if everyone who marched and those who believe there are injustices in society then chose a cause within our community that we would physically serve for a few hours on a Saturday next month? Can you imagine the amazing impact millions of women could directly have on our communities by volunteering in one single day? There probably wouldn’t be dramatic aerial photos to commemorate the impact, but I bet the ripple effect would be more permanent and far-reaching. I’m encouraged by the Women’s March website that now lays out an action plan. It doesn’t detail the whole plan, but begins with writing letters to local legislators about causes important to you. I think that’s an okay start, but I hope there is a focus on the actual impact each woman can make, rather than relying on the decisions of politicians. I have very little faith in them. It’s so important that we get busy impacting the world around us, rather than talking about it and what other people are doing to mess it up. Women are capable of amazing things; Men are too so it doesn’t have to be about just women but I think that if millions of women want to get out and march, then at a minimum we’ve got that many people that should be willing to go do something now.

I’m at a point in my life where I really want to make a difference. I want my energy to be spent making a positive impact on those around me. I’m trying to figure out what that means for me career-wise, and I’m trying and learning to be a great wife and mother at home so my family is better for having me. It’s a bumpy and exhausting ride, but I know there is more outside my family and my work, and there is a world that is hurting. Other than praying, giving money regularly to a couple charities that are important to me, and trying to be a nice person, I want to branch out more and I’m trying to figure out how I want to do that. I found a great website called Volunteer Match that helps you search for opportunities in your community by various categories. So I have a goal this year to get out of my bubble and really do something. Hopefully I can include the family in that too but I’m not going to let that limit me. I challenge anyone reading this to do the same – whatever cause is dear to you or just find one. Use your time for something bigger than yourself. Less talk, more action. We are capable of SO much good.

“She’s Everything I Never New I Always Wanted”

January 12, 2017

These days I’m caught in the guilty, contradicting feeling of pining my workdays away, anticipating Layla’s smile when I pick her up from daycare, and then subsequently wishing for bedtime to hurry up and get here once we walk in the door. I dread the morning and evening rush, yet know it’s such a limited time with my girls and hope to somehow make quality time out of those hurried, stressful minutes. Because I no longer see the baby in my 9-year-old, and the baby-ness has begun to fade in my 14-month-old as she’s toddling around the house, babbling and gesturing in conversation, surprising us almost daily with new developments. Her chunky butt and thick thighs have shaped up, and I miss her dimpled booty.

I never thought twice about how fast time went with Skyler when she was little. It just happened. And I DO remember praying to survive various difficult phases and wishing for the next phase. But now, having a mature and independent older child has shown me such a contrast, making it crystal clear just how quickly they grow up, teaching  me to take a breath and try to be present in as many moments and phases as possible during Layla’s littleness. I can’t stop snuggling her, I don’t hesitate to bring her a bottle and rock her back to sleep at 2 am, and I honestly enjoy diaper changes. But despite my best attempts to be present in these moments and not wish away the phases, they just seem to keep escaping me.

I feel guilty about my obsession with Layla – I don’t remember if I was this obsessed with Skyler but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t. Maybe it’s the difference of breastfeeding one but not the other? Could our bond really be that different? Don’t get me wrong – I adore Skyler and enjoyed her as a baby – she was much easier and sweeter than Layla too. So maybe it’s that Skyler is so much older and more independent – she’s becoming her own person and needs me much less. I’ve forgotten the feelings of affection toward that squishy little innocent goofball who’s now become a smart, creative, sometimes snobby kid that knows right from wrong and tests me more than she should. Maybe that evolution is just running it’s course and that’s a good thing because someday she will leave the house and maybe then I won’t be so heartbroken? Maybe it’s just that my love for her is changing – it’s a love that has been wounded as her innocence slowly fades. It’s a love that is less about affection, and more about respect and concern for the person she is becoming.

But there is another difference about Layla. She is the one that almost never was. She is a symbol of healing to Ronnie’s and my relationship after some really hard times. And she herself had hard times and healing her first weeks of life. She almost died one night. Skyler’s heart struggles are already a distant memory – her own scar is so faded it’s almost unnoticeable. And so maybe my fear of letting Layla grow up comes from never wanting to forget how far we’ve come, and how far both girls have come. The more time that goes by, the darkness of the past seems to lighten, which should be celebrated. But I fear to ever forget the tests of faith, the lessons learned, or take anything for granted. I know there’s plenty more life to live, with wonderful things in each phase, but the baby phase – it’s a special one, for sure. I’m so thankful I got the chance to do it again.

How I’m Dealing With Depression

January 2, 2017

Whomp whomp. As I make efforts to be more authentic and open, this topic is one that is tough to share since I like to be in control and give off the impression that I’ve got my shizz together. But a few months ago, I came to the conclusion that I was dealing with mild to moderate depression. I was constantly tired, bummed out, couldn’t get excited about anything and had zero motivation to do anything. I looked forward to sleep way too much and dreaded getting out of bed. I honestly didn’t feel much emotion at all, kind of just blank and empty. If I did feel something, it was annoyance, frustration, longing or sadness. Sometimes, painful memories from the past seemed to bubble up out of nowhere and nag me. Despite my long list of blessings and short list of actual problems, I struggled to find and keep joy – it was so brief and far between. I prayed for God to pull me out of the muck.

I did not go to the doctor about it; I just self-diagnosed, which is, of course, not at all recommended. But I’m smart, self-aware, proud and stubborn, and think I know more about myself than someone I see for 15 minutes once a year. I didn’t feel so bad that I couldn’t function or that I was a danger to myself or loved ones, and I didn’t want something as concrete as a diagnosis on my medical records or a prescription to take. But I knew I was in a place that I couldn’t stay or things might get bad eventually. My distrust of the conventional medical establishment and knowledge that health is not just a random physiological brain imbalance, but rather the compound effect of environment, stress, nutrition, activity, spirituality, and emotions, lead me on my own little research project/experiment and these are the things I discovered and took action with. I want to share the progress/success I’m having in hopes that it helps or inspires someone who may be struggling with similar issues.

  • A few years ago after my nutrition studies, I geeked out with a fantastic book called The Hormone Cure by Dr. Sara Gottfried. It has a symptom-based questionnaire that helps women identify which hormones they might be having issues with, and then discusses the how/why and some specific nutrition and lifestyle adjustments to make, as well as how to talk to a doctor if more advanced testing and medication might be needed. Since the last two years were pretty hormone-driven for me to grow a baby and breastfeed a baby, I figured this might be a good place to start. The quiz results showed I had all the indicators of low estrogen and low cortisol. Guess what – these hormones are major regulators of mood and energy! Of the nutrition/supplements she recommended, I chose the following to start including in my daily diet and routine:
    • High dose Vitamin C – 1,000 – 2,000 mg/day
    • Vitamin B Complex
    • Vitamin E – 200 IU/day
    • Panax Ginseng – 200 mg/day
    • Herbal blend of St. John’s Wort, Black Cohosh, and Hops – I quit this after a couple weeks as I felt increased anxiety like I’d drank way too much coffee. Those feeling subsided immediately after I quit taking this. Herbs are no joke!
    • 1 serving of flax seed and maca powder in daily smoothies
    • Organic whole soy (I chose edamame since it’s an easy snack) once weekly
  • With a push from a friend, I scheduled a therapy session, which was huge in understanding and accepting where I was at and how I was feeling, and taking some solid steps from a mental/spiritual perspective to righting my ship.
  • Essential oils for aromatherapy – I’ve got a blend from Vibrant Blue Oils called Uplift that smells amazing. I try to wear it daily as perfume. I also read that clary sage is helpful for estrogen regulation and frankincense for mood, so I’m rubbing a blend of those with jojoba oil on the tops of my feet daily, if I remember. Supposedly that’s a thing (the tops of feet). I’m skeptical of rubbing oil on the top of my feet, but there are stranger things I could be doing, and it’s not hurting anything! Also, a little frankincense in my hair after washing – that’s a good way to smell real nice!
  • I watched a bunch of TEDTalks. I went to Youtube to listen to Brene Brown’s talk on vulnerability, which I had heard a couple years ago. I found myself meandering through the suggested videos in the sidebar and came across a talk from a KU professor on how depression is a disease of civilization. If you think you might be depressed, or know that you are depressed, I highly recommend giving a yourself a few minutes to watch this and possibly gain some new perspective. It made so much sense, totally jived with my holistic approach to things, and reminded me I really needed to get moving. I have not been committed to regular and consistent exercise in a long time, and it was even harder for me to make myself do when I was feeling all Woe-Is-Me. But when the professor said that just 30 minutes of brisk walking three times per week was more effective at improving brain chemistry than any prescription anti-depressant on the market, it was a wake-up call. I didn’t have to go kill myself at CrossFit every day to feel better – the kind of movement I needed was so attainable. Dare I say easy? So I committed to movement. Daily if possible – of whatever variety floats my boat and works with my schedule that day. Walk, hike, workout video, CrossFit, run, yoga, stretch…fun!
  • I got a planner. Like a bound paper calendar/to-do list thing, and motivated myself with some colorful gel pens to use in it. With all the apps and online organization products available today, I couldn’t get into any of them. It was overwhelming and I just couldn’t make myself stick with any of it. And as I try to be more conscious of setting my phone down and being more present in life, using an app seemed to go against that. What I love about this planner and several others I looked at is that it’s more than just a schedule/task organizer. It focuses on goal setting in four areas: personal, work, relationship, and family/friends. It has a journal component for gratitude and regular self reflection. It forces me to think bigger and deeper than just my to-do list and to be more intentional with my daily life. Because I also know that I need daily spiritual/devotional time, I’ve decided to start my daily planning time with prayer/scripture-reading first to set the tone.I’m just a few days in, but I’m already thinking where has this been all my life? I hope this is a new practice I can keep.
  • I’m reading You Are a Badass, which was a total accident – like I wasn’t planning to read anything but it was a gift with great timing. Or maybe, it wasn’t an accident. This very book quoted Einstein saying “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”  One action item I’ve taken from this book so far is to do more of the things that make me happy. I realized while reading that I love learning and thinking, and I need regular input like a good non-fiction book to keep the wheels turning and providing inspiration, so I’ve also got a half dozen more inspirational/self-help/health-related books on my reading list this year.  Another thing is my enjoyment of writing/blogging, so I’ve set some goals to get back on this thing regularly and share my journey through words again.

So how’s it going, you ask? Is it working? While I’m only a couple months into these steps and some are just barely in the works yet, I can say that the last month or so I’ve felt like a different person. A better person, a dare-I-say happy person? And I’ve got some new dreams stirring in my brain, keeping me up at night in a good way. I’m scared that writing/sharing this is going to jinx me because maybe it’s too soon and it’s all just placebo effect or honeymoon period or things I won’t be able to maintain for the long run. But for now, I’m celebrating. And I’m appreciating myself again and all that goes with this crazy life.