I have not found that the being a mom part of being a mom - ie. the basics of looking after my child - is the hard part of this whole time. It's actually battling all the stuff outside of that. It's primal things, like being anxious about my kids eating, sleeping, and safety, and then feeling misunderstood about how I deal with that anxiety. It's societal things, like what I do with my kid all day, how they are developing, what day care I am going to take them to, what kinds of foods am I feeding them. In short, how well I am doing all the things to keep them happy and healthy, and then some.
When I have moments of clarity and positivity and am able to think clearly, I know in my rational mind that it's simpler than I am making it. But it sometimes feels like I just can't seem to let it be easy. On the car ride home from the mountains yesterday, I was daydreaming out the window and felt like I was asking all the wrong questions. I knew I needed to shift something, so I started typing some notes in my phone. Here's what I wrote:
What is the perspective I need to adopt to bring ease into this experience?
-it doesn't need to be hard, in fact, it's quite simple
-giving myself time is a good thing
-Cooper being happy and healthy is important, how we get there is not as important
-ask for what you need and let yourself be supported (whoa, huge)
-our wellness is the nucleus for the rest - eat well, take rest, move intentionally, be still intentionally, laugh, connect with people
-pour yourself into the experience, don't get caught up in the outcome
How about those for mantras for the rest of 2018!? When the noise falls away, damn my heart knows. But I have to get quiet enough to really hear it. Sometimes that means fighting against some of my natural tendencies. Like when I feel yucky, instead of my usual habit of retreating, I will reach out to someone. Instead of tightening up and trying to control a situation, I will breath and let things go. When I am reacting to something, instead of taking a knee-jerk action, I will get still. This life is not about getting it right, and there is opportunities for learning and growth all the time. And it's also not linear, I have had to learn some hard lessons over and over. I am human after all. To all my friends out there feeling all the feelings, you're doing a great job, and you are not alone.
Onward into the next half of the year, armed with these perspective-shifting reminders. We got this.
In April's check-in, I shared that I was planning on reeling it in on all the "activities" I was getting into and I gotta admit, I may have swung the pendulum too far and found myself a bit bored and had moments of feeling really lonely and isolated. In my attempt to calm down my schedule and do more things for myself, I turtled socially and it's been a struggle some days.
On the bright side, as I now look forward to the summer months, I feel like there is so much I want to do with my baby and hubby (before I return to my day job) and not enough time to do it all. So I'm taking a bold step and am not going to be running any registered training sessions in July and August. This choice did not come easily, as I have a fear of letting people down, and I really enjoy every training session I lead and it's been so good to continue to have something outside of parenting. Not that I need an excuse to take a break, but the time I have on maternity leave is limited and moving so fast! I'm looking forward to stepping away for a couple months, doing some "behind the scenes" creative work, figuring out how to adjust to our new life when I go back to work etc.
Rest assured, you will still have opportunities to train with me during this time. I will be hosting some drop-in classes - both outdoor bootcamps and some at OPEX (dates TBD) - and I also plan on doing some events throughout the summer and wheels are in motion for the MAVEN mountain retreat in September (stay tuned!). You can also drop-in on Tuesday's at 7pm from now until June 26th. As for now, let's look at how I did for commitments in May.
No new clothing purchased in 2018 - This month was a challenge with the weather changing and all kinds of beautiful summer apparel staring at me from the windows of stores. But I am proud to say, I made it through and stuck to it!
Live debt-free - Still getting over the tax season, but making progress.
Plan ahead for family time - Between our Croatia trip and a bunch of other social commitments we had in May, I'd say we did very well with planning for time together and hanging out as a family. June already has a road trip on the calendar, and we are planning on some camping as well!
Meditate for five minutes daily - Once again, I did no stay true to this commitment in May #regression. I didn't share with my husband that this was a thing I wanted to do, and I feel like he would help me stay accountable to is. So in June, I am going to get him to remind me to take 5 minutes before bed to meditate.
Let's hit the mid-year point with some momentum! Hey there June, I'm ready for ya!
In conversations with my hubby, I have asked questions like: "If the slate were wiped totally clean, if we owned nothing, and had no ties (job, location, etc.), what would we choose?" It's a question that is difficult to answer, especially when you are 30-something and own a home in the city you grew up in, have a job you enjoy, run your own business whose clients are from a specific location...and the list goes on. Trying to think about choice from the lens of not having any roots is challenging.
Over the last 2-3 years, I have been downsizing in some really tangible ways like giving away things we don't need or use. It's become pretty easy for me to let go of material possessions, curb the urge to buy more, and live with less. For example, I just got back from a 10-day trip to Croatia with our baby and we didn't check any bags!
But what about the intangible excess and waste? The conversation about social media and it's place in my life has gone in all different directions, and my addiction to my phone is for real. And what about my TV consumption? I am a part of the "Netflix and chill" generation and admit I watch TV every night before bed.
This Minimalists Podcast introduced me to the concept of "pacifiers", the things we use to distract, avoid, numb and kill time. Becoming more aware of my own pacifiers hasn't necessarily impacted my behaviour in major ways. I'm even afraid to get that one app that tells you how much time you spend on your phone because I would probably be sick about the facts it would present. Whatever your relationship is to screens, I know what's true for me is that my screen time is more than I would like, and it's cutting in to time for fully living my life in the ways I want to.
So my spring cleaning project is focused on cleaning up how I spend my time. Less time on social media and watching TV are at the top of my list. I'm still working through what this will look like, but I'll be sure to report back as I move through this process. The overall aim is this: more creation, less consumption.
I spent a lot of time investigating my "idle hands syndrome" this past month. Asking myself why I couldn't just sit still (ahem, for 5 simple minutes), or not check my phone, and even started to question why I was going to some of the workout classes that I had been attending. As a new mom, you get a lot of tips on places to go and activities to do with your little one, so I would sign us up, never really thinking about whether or not I was really that interested in the thing. So for May, I have decided to reel it in on the number of things in my calendar each week and give some thought to how I truly want to spend my time. I'll let you know how it goes. For now, let's take a look at how well I kept my word in April.
No new clothing purchased in 2018 - This one is getting so easy to stay committed to! I have really accepted that the clothes I have right now are all I need and have a new appreciation for them. My husband, however, asked me if I have simply moved my spending habit from myself to our kid and the answer is yes, absolutely. There have been some occasions where I have definitely made an impulse purchase for our son and regretted it later. But I will say that I am very aware of what I do purchase and more often than not, I don't buy what we don't need. I am learning and working on it, and I feel good about sticking to my commitment for no new clothing for myself.
Live debt-free - Tax season is a real kick in the pants. Every year, I think I have put enough aside for the tax man and somehow I end up having to pay more than I thought. This year caused me to go into a bit of debt in order to pay taxes, so I am going to have to flex, and this commitment is going to be changed to: "I put money towards my tax debt every month."
Plan ahead for family time - Killing it in this department! In April, we spent a long weekend in Montreal visiting family and spent another weekend away with friends, and we have our son in swimming lessons every Saturday which keeps family time on the schedule for the next couple months.
Meditate for five minutes daily - So I big time failed at my new commitment of meditating for five minutes daily. I have no excuse, I just absolutely let it fall off. I am human after all! I did meditate for five minutes about 7 times this month, so that's at least better than any other month in my life #progress. I also discovered a new mediation app that I will be trying out for May. Let's try this again!
I welcome May with open arms!
No new clothing purchased in 2018 - Again, so proud to say I made it another month without spending any of my dough on clothes and I also made some money from consigning some of the things I was no longer using. As my exception to this rule goes, I spend no money on clothes unless I sell something, then I can use that money toward new clothing. Hello, new tennis shoes! I will admit here, on several occasions, when it was a cold weather boredom day, I did cruise some online shopping, put a bunch of stuff in carts and then willed myself to close the tab and get offline before I made a bad choice. Phew!
Live debt-free - Sooooo I slipped up this month and bought my brother's birthday present using my cc when I could have used cash. It's a manageable amount so I'll be back on track by by next month and will just have to trim back on the latte's in April ;)
Plan ahead for family time - This was a challenge this month. We had no major trips or getaways planned for March, and my mental game felt off about being excited to do things outside, which translated into feeling like there was nothing to do. I don't want to use the excuse of the weather, and I do know that it was a struggle to plan weekend family time when we knew it might be unpleasant to head outdoors. I have said "I'm so over this weather" so many times this month, I'm sick of hearing myself say it. Luckily we did plan ahead for weekends in April so, onward!
Now that we are through the first quarter of the year, and I'm feeling good about my ability to keep my first three commitments. I wanted to add one more into the mix for the next quarter (April-June) and see how that goes. In the 7 Weeks to Bliss program I am currently a part of, we have dug into self-love and self-care in ways I hadn't considered before. So my fourth commitment is all for the love of Syd: I meditate for 5 minutes every day.
I hope your start to the year has been awesome and encourage you to take a look back on the past three months and celebrate yourself in some way (big or small). If it's time to make some new commitments or reset, you know what you need to do.
No new clothing purchased in 2018 - Proud to say I made it another month without spending any of my dough on clothes. I am, however, a lululemon ambassador and I have a gift card to use up, so I did pick up some whites for the tennis clinic I am attending in March. I have been wearing a lot of lululemon tights these days and I don't even give a what. #thatmomlifetho
Live debt-free - You guys, I managed to only use my personal credit card 3 times this month (so, I broke my cash in hand rule), BUT it was for some online purchases and I paid it off right away. Progress.
Plan ahead for family time - My calendar system is working like a dandy! In February we spent Family day in Canmore with friends, had a few date nights (with little man tagging along), family brunches, and ended the month celebrating 10 years since our first date with a dinner out! If you didn't get the vibe, we really enjoy eating food together :)
Aside from these three specific commitments, sufficiency showed up in a couple of other ways. I have started to clear out clutter from our house. This began with donating clothing last year, and has now moved on to things like small decor items, for example, that have no real purpose except that we were used to them being there. I also went through my bathroom cupboards and got rid of the 8,000 tiny samples of things I had and was clearly never going to use. It feels good to have some empty shelves and space!
All in all, I would say February was a success in my commitments. I invite you to take a look at your commitments and reflect on how you're doing in 2018. Take pride in the wins, and learn from the slip ups.
That goal is powerful because it is clear, growth-oriented, you will know when you have achieved it each week, and others can hold you accountable to it. Now give it a try with your own goals!
“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible”
How did you do in January? If you found you stayed true to your commitments, bravo! Take a sec to pat yourself on the back. If you encountered some challenges and went off track, know that every day brings a new opportunity and you always have the power to choose the next best step.
Here's what I committed to and my own reflections on the past month:
No new clothing purchased in 2018 - Boomstick. I made it through January without buying any new clothes! This may seem trivial, but I have found this so freeing to know that what I currently have offers more than enough options for me to choose from and has actually reduced the amount that I judge myself (and others) on appearances. Whoa.
Live debt-free - This one is a work in progress, however I am waaaaay more mindful with using credit cards to make purchases, and have moved to using cash for almost all my day-to-day miscellaneous purchases. New rule: if I don't have the cash in hand, I don't buy it.
Plan ahead for family time - Proud to say that we honoured this one very well this month. I geeked out with the calendar and now have a schedule that lives on our fridge (holy shit, I'm such a mom already). We made Friday date night happen every week, Saturdays were spent outside as a family, and we even enjoyed a sunny week of vacation together! On the calendar for February: plans for date nights 1 + 2 already reserved and spending Family Day weekend in the mountains.
I have never done this type of monthly reflection before and damn it feels good. Planning on it every month in 2018, and I highly recommend you do too!
When I look at my answers, I admit that I do a lot of the things that make me feel bad about myself (ie. drag me down in some way) without even thinking about it, and many of the things that make me feel good about myself (ie. build energy and create happiness), seem to take more "effort". I'm not sure why that is and I'm investigating it for myself.
I am committed to putting more of the "feel goods" into my calendar right now, and working to sub out the everyday "feel bads" for a "feel good" action - for example: sub Netflix for reading a book, sub that second coffee with a cup of caffeine-free tea, sub the Instagram scrolling with a walk outside. The truth is, it's the little things light up my heart and make me feel good. They are the collection of things that make way for the big wins.
"What you do every day, matters more than what you do some of the time"
I encourage you to do this same simple exercise and answer for yourself what makes you feel good/bad. You could also frame it up to help you stay the course for a goal you are working on - after all, we set goals to feel good, right?! For this context, answer these questions: "What am I doing that gets me closer to my goal?" and "What am I doing that takes me farther away from my goal?" Awareness is key.
Lighting up your heart can be as simple as taking a small everyday action. You don't need something a-maz-ing to happen to feel joy. And when you do something that makes you feel good, thank yourself for it.
All the light from my heart to yours,
I was first introduced to the power of 'and' through my work with lululemon and my teacher Susanne Conrad, founder of Lightyear Leadership. In Susanne's words "'but' is a wall, 'and' is a bridge". Think about that for a moment. This concept is a well tuned habit at lululemon, if you were to walk the halls of the head office where I once worked, you will hear it in their conversations. It's a powerful use of language.
In my experience, this slight shift from using 'but' in our language to using 'and' can be a real game changer. 'And' leaves options open where 'but' implies limitations. 'And' is inclusive of ideas where 'but' provides questioning and criticism. 'And' keeps the momentum going where 'but' creates dead ends. 'And' carries us forward where 'but' holds us in doubt and stagnates. 'And' stokes a flame energy where 'but' snuffs it out.
Give it a try for yourself. In your next meeting or next conversation with a friend, sub in 'and' for 'but' and notice how it feels, see what it generates in your conversations.