On My Mind – 21 – Endless Worrying

I want to be an optimist. 

I want to be the kind of person who can look at my life and know that I am doing my best. And approach things from the perspective of growth and gratitude and putting my best foot forward. And then letting everything else go. 

I want to have faith that things will work out.

I want to remember that nothing is really unrecoverable and things work out in the end.

I want to let things go.

I want to just relax.

Yes, that’s it.

I want to just relax.

But alas. I can’t. I won’t. I don’t.

I worry constantly. I am often sad. I am anxious. I think of the worst possible outcomes. When there isn’t much to worry about, I tend to make things up. 

And I definitely can’t just relax.

I don’t want to feel any of these things. I don’t thrive on being down so often. I don’t thrive on fearing the worst. I don’t thrive on being worried.

At least I don’t think I do.

But I can’t remember being any other way. This is who I am, this is how I show up in the world. This is what I know. 

On my mind this week is the fact that I am so tired of feeling this way all the time. That I want to just be done being this way and instead choose peace. Choose to have faith and choose to lean into that faith. Lean into peace. 

If only I knew how.


On My Mind is a year-long project for 2018. You can read more about my projects for 2018 here.

On My Mind – 20 – Work in Progress

I get hung up on the smallest things sometimes. Details that really don’t matter in the scheme of life. Details that nag at me and cause me to be my ungenerous self and yet I can’t let go. They poke at me. They scream inside my head. 

This happened to me earlier this week when something really small happened and I just couldn’t let it go and I got really upset and then really angry and then I felt really ashamed of my behavior and got really, really sad. This is what Tara Brach calls the second arrow of self-judgement. Where I am feeling the pain and then I hurt myself more by judging myself on top of it. And the whole time I was still having trouble letting go of the little thing and that only added to my shame. I want to be a better person that that. I want to be able to remind myself what matters most and I want that to override all the other worries. 

I don’t know how to do this. 

On good days, I can remember what matters. I can remember to be my best self. I can remember to be kind and generous and loving. But in these moments, I am so triggered that it almost doesn’t matter what else is going on. Everything is filtered through the narrow, negative lens of what’s going on in my head. My heart is tiny. My thoughts are spinning, leaving no room for anything. Especially no room for being present. Being able to see what’s actually happening in this moment. 

This is also what makes me yell when I don’t want to. This is what is happening each time I do something I later regret. I am not remembering what matters most. I am not remembering that I care more about loving kindness than I care about anything else. I know deep down in my heart that I want to love and be loved and honestly it’s all I want. It’s something that can’t be replaced by any belonging or work recognition. I don’t want to look good, i want to be good and do good, especially for those whom I love but honestly for everyone. I want to be able to be kind all the time. I want to be able to remind myself that I care more about this than anything else.

Always.

But I struggle. And I don’t know the trick. How do I make sure to channel that in those moments where I am triggered. How can I quiet the voices inside down quickly and swiftly so I can remember? 

That’s what’s on my mind this week. I haven’t figured it out. Still pondering. 


On My Mind is a year-long project for 2018. You can read more about my projects for 2018 here.

On My Mind – 19 – Looking for the Magic

I tend to lead a relatively over-scheduled and disciplined life. I have a lot of goals and I work hard to achieve most of them. In the last few years, I’ve slowly made a lot of changes that moves me more and more away from the time wasters in my life. I watch no TV anymore and I only have Instagram which I will check a few times a day.

While I really like using my time well and productively, one thing I noticed this week is that I really need to make more space for magic in my life. Those moments where I really feel connected and my soul sings and really important to me. So much so that magical is one of my Core Desired Feelings this year. During my trip to Sydney, I made sure to take a moment and go to the beach, even if just for an hour, even if it was going to cost me too much in cabfare. It was magical to sit by the water and have a few moments for myself. 

On the way home, I usually read books because I feel sad if I waste my time watching movies I don’t like. But this time, I watched The Greatest Showman  and it almost immediately made me happy. I watched the whole movie with so much joy that I ended up going back and rewatching some sections. I decided to double down on the joy by watching some of Call Me by Your Name for the rest of the duration. I love that movie so much.

These small moments were a reminder to me that I need to look for the magic more often. I need to go to the movies again, I need to listen to music loudly, I need to be willing to take a break from being productive 24/7 and the opposite of working hard is not vegging out, it’s looking for magic and letting it fill my soul.

So here’s to taking the time to look for the magic.


On My Mind is a year-long project for 2018. You can read more about my projects for 2018 here.

On My Mind – 18 – Comfort, Adventure and Panic Zones

This week at work, I took a class and part of what she taught us were these three concentric circles. In the innermost circle, you have your “comfort zone” which is where most of us are most of the time. And then there is the Adventure Zone which feels a bit scary but also thrilling and you can visit there and learn a lot and the more time you spend there, the wider your comfort zone grows. And then there’s the Panic Zone which doesn’t feel good and most importantly, you can’t learn anything while you’re there.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my life, my work, my choices in terms of these circles lately. I think my comfort zone is reasonably small and I often live in the Adventure zone and I really try not to go into panic zone because I hate being in a place where I can’t learn.

What’s interesting is how compelled I feel to go to the Adventure Zone. I was wondering why I might keep doing it to myself. I think one reason is because my comfort zone is smaller than average. I have very few things that really feel comfortable in my life. Maybe when I am curled up in bed reading but otherwise not often. I am anxious and scared often and I worry a lot so if I really needed to only be in my comfort zone, I’d have a pretty small life.

The other thing is that I have an almost obsessive need to learn constantly. About myself, about the world, about all things. I always want to grow, evolve, and know more. This incredible thirst for knowledge gives me the drive to go into my adventure zone and take risks because the reward of learning is so big for me. And because I live there so often the quiet times in my comfort zone are really important for my recovery. 

Which is also why I feel absolutely no desire to be in the panic zone. There’s nothing good for me there. And I avoid it at all costs. 

I really liked thinking about my life in these terms and I now will stop and ask myself what zone i am in at a moment in time so I can see if I need a push forward or the space to go backward into a smaller circle.


On My Mind is a year-long project for 2018. You can read more about my projects for 2018 here.

On My Mind – 17 – Making the Invisible Visible

On my way to work, I have to exit the freeway relatively quickly. The offramp overlaps with the onramp and they are both very short. Every single time I make that merge, I am worried and stressed. Ever since I got in that accident a month ago, I’ve been even more nervous than usual. I keep thinking I’m going to get into an accident at that merge. So a few weeks ago I started this new habit: each time I make the merge successfully, I say “thank you for one more safe day” out loud. 

Brene Brown has this story in several of her talks where you see a super happy family in a car and they are singing out loud and happy and she asks what happens next and of course almost everyone says horrible things like they get in a crash, etc. Our minds are wired that way and she talks about tools to help with the foreboding that joy begins. She talks a lot about gratitude and building your catalog of good moments. And that when the tougher things do happen, that collection of gratitude helps so much more than the armor you’ve put on by stressing or expecting the worst. 

So this is my way of making my own collection of gratitude moments for this particular case. IF and when I get in an accident there, I know that I will say all the bad things to myself. I will beat myself up. I will say I am always so bad at it. I will go on and on. So to ensure my brain can understand that for the one accident I might have, I’ve had 1000 good merges, I need to make those 1000 merges real. I need to make sure I don’t take them for granted. I need to make sure they are visible. Which is why I say it out loud. I need to hear it every single day.

We often do this in life where we have the choice we’re making but not the invisible other choices we made because of it. Like I choose to go to Sydney for work which means I am choosing not to be with my kids or husband that week. I am choosing to pick this job over the other I am doing at the moment. I am choosing to add a bit more chaos to my schedule. I am choosing to make it harder for me to exercise. It’s still totally valid to go to Sydney, and I will, but making these other choices visible allows me to acknowledge them and take mitigation steps if I want to (or cancel the trip if one of these options seems more important.) Inaction is also a choice. If I take no action on exercise, I am choosing to get more unfit. Even if it doesn’t feel like a choice, it is one.

I’ve been working a lot on making the invisible visible so that I can continue to live intentionally and collect those gratitude moments. I know I will need them when the time comes.


On My Mind is a year-long project for 2018. You can read more about my projects for 2018 here.

On My Mind – 16 – Being Intentional

Last week at work someone made an offhanded comment that got stuck in my head. And then I followed up on the comment with someone else, and their response, even though delivered kindly and with explanation, also got stuck in my head. And I’ve been spinning on those all week.

I’ve also been waking up in the middle of the night worrying about my upcoming flights to Sydney and Tokyo. I am staying in Sydney until Saturday because I get there on Tuesday this time and thought staying three days would be insane. But now I am worried that maybe I should have come back Friday so as to not spend all Saturday recovering from my flight and wasting my weekend with the kids. For Tokyo, I am leaving around 6am on Mother’s Day and flying through Seoul so I can go business class and it’s taking me around 6 hours longer. I am wondering if I should have left a day later and not missed another weekend day with my kids but then reminding myself that getting there a day early is probably the sane thing to do especially since I will only be there for three days. And yet, I wake up in the middle of the night worrying about all these things. The comments people make, the flights I’ve already booked, the one, two days I will miss.

And all this worrying is making me stay awake at night so that when I am with my kids, on vacation, I am exhausted, unable to be present, or my mind is spinning and not focusing on being here with them now. 

What a waste.

Here’s what I know: I like my job, I like being good at my job, I like working. I even like working hard.

But.

But I love my family. I love my kids. I love watching my boys grow up. I love sitting and doing work with them. I love hearing about how their days went. I love being deeply connected with their lives.  I know that I have another 4-5 years before David is off to college and another 8 with Nathaniel before he, too, starts his own journey. I want to be here for all of those days and I don’t want to go chase some stupid career goal I don’t have.

It’s so easy for me to spin other people’s throw away comments. I’m such a pleaser that I worry constantly that I am not pleasing someone. Some comment about going away when I should be here with my kids, or how I travel so much, some comment about how my title should be X or Y. Some comment about how I am not doing enough. It doesn’t even matter who is commenting, I just always want to apologize and please. 

Of course, doing that doesn’t work. Because if I am pleasing someone, I am displeasing someone else. Time and attention are limited resources and if they are going to one place, they are not going to another at the same time. When I feel unsure of my own choices and destination, it becomes that much easier for me to sway with others’ comments. For me to spin constantly.

But when I know what I want, I listen so much differently. I hear what they say and then filter that through what matters to me. What resonates with my own values and thoughts and goals. I take what helps and leave the rest. I am so much better at walking down my own path when I know what that path is. 

This is why it’s so important to me to live intentionally. I know that when I have spent time thinking about the life I want to live, I am so much better at constructing it, sticking to it, and living it. 


On My Mind is a year-long project for 2018. You can read more about my projects for 2018 here.

On My Mind – 15 – Living the Moments

As we approach the end of the school year, there are a lot of moving parts in my days. The kids’ schools have culminations or discussions around what next year looks like. They have school trips and projects that are finishing up or final projects starting up. My kids’ school doesn’t have exams or grades so that’s less of an issue for us, but compared to what they do instead, exams might be easier and certainly would take less effort from the parents’ perspective 🙂

Anyhow, so this season is about to end which means we’re going to transition into summer and then transition into a new year in the fall. I generally don’t do well with transitions because of the relatively regimented life I live. I don’t like all the readjustment I have to make. Especially since I’ve recently made a huge readjustment as I move into my new role. 

But one of the things I’m learning is that life is all about transition and as I walk into the next few years, I see many big transitions in our life. My son will transition to high school in one more year. My little one will be transitioning into middle school at the same time. And then just a few years after we’ll be neck deep in college tours etc and then he will hopefully transition to college (and high school for the other.) these are big transitions. We will then have to transition into being home alone. Just writing this down makes me want to weep. 

And yes, I know these are still 5-8 years away for us. But I also know how quickly time passes. I know that there will be tens of other transitions I can’t even imagine now (hopefully positive ones and not unexpected sad ones.) Life never goes according to plans. But here’s what I’m thinking as I sit here: life is passing by so quickly. I can’t remember most of the last 13 years and definitely not much before we had David. I remember many moments of course but I can’t remember the way I lived when I was 15 or 20 or 25. I can’t remember details of my daily life. 

And chances are when I am 55 I won’t remember the details of this life. The stuff I fret about now, the ways I use my time, the books I read, the lunches I pack, the things that frustrate me. It will all slip away. What I will remember is how a moment felt. The moment David saw Nathaniel for the first time. The moment they both started school. The big moments and also the little ones about how they like their ice cream. How it feels to snuggle with Jake on the couch etc. My life is all the moments I live with the people I love.

As all these transitions come and go, I want to focus on those moments. I want to really be present in the moments. So much so that I can lock in the way they feel, the smells, the sounds, the way my heart swells and fills me with light inside. The deep contentment I have in those moments. I want to remember those and take them with me forever. 

So as we walk into this new season of summer and adventures, this is what I want to remember. Live the moments. 

 


On My Mind is a year-long project for 2018. You can read more about my projects for 2018 here.

On My Mind – 14 – Getting it on Paper

 

This photo has nothing to do with what’s on my mind except that it’s making me happy. And I get to go back to Sydney in a few weeks and that makes me happy too. In fact, I will be traveling to Sydney, Tokyo, Boston, Italy, France and Spain in the span of two months which both delights and terrifies me. 

Anyhow, what’s on my mind this week is anchoring myself. I’ve been going a mile a minute for a bunch of weeks now, especially as I started taking on my new job. I have had all the feelings. I had the car accident earlier in the month. My son became a teenager. School is almost over. And as all these things are happening, I like to be able to take note and connect with the people in my life. Especially with my kids and husband. 

But a big part of that connecting is also me being connected to myself and my feelings and thoughts.

I do a good amount of self-reflecting here but when things get busy I feel I need deeper reflection and that’s exactly the time I don’t do it enough. So I am excited to do this 100 days of journaling plan. I can and do take my journal everywhere anyway. And knowing what’s on my mind allows me to be more thoughtful in my response, so I react less or at least I know why I am reacting. 

I don’t know if this is the case for everyone, but for me journaling is always the best way for me to see how I feel. I figure it out as I write. I connect with it as I see it on the page. 

So it’s time to get it on paper. 


On My Mind is a year-long project for 2018. You can read more about my projects for 2018 here.

On My Mind – 13 – Living Life like Work

 

 

I was talking to one of my clients this week and she was saying that she has been really busy at work and so has been dropping her requirements on some of the ways she spends her time outside work, like gym or meal prep etc. We talked a bit about not sacrificing the things you do to live a better life when you’re choosing what to drop but we then spent some time chatting about structuring life outside of work in such a disciplined matter that it feels like work.

This is what I do.

I have a lot of scheduled items in my free time. I have exercise every morning, blog posts on the weekends, family photos on Saturday mornings, teaching the kids at night, not to mention all the kid stuff like drop offs and pick ups and teaching there every Wednesday and going to a bunch of school commitments, etc. My life is generally very structured.

Which, for the most part, serves me. I know that when I am not very organized, I don’t get anything done. I can sit on the couch for days without choosing to exercise. This is true even for the things that give me joy. I can get lost in wasting time as much as the next person and structuring my life is a way I get around this pull of inertia.

There are times I completely get sick of it. Sick of myself. Sick of all the things on my list. Sick of wanting to try so hard. And I take the day off or sometimes the weekend off.

But then I get back on it because I feel strongly that this is what keeps me stronger. It’s what helps me be the best version of myself and it’s what helps me live my life intentionally. And if work deserves my loyalty, discipline and dedication, so does the rest of my life.


On My Mind is a year-long project for 2018. You can read more about my projects for 2018 here.

On My Mind – 12 – Working Around vs Working Through

 

And perhaps the one thing

that you have spent your 

life working around is the

one thing you are meant to

work through instead.

The above is a quote from Chloe Wade’s Heart Talk which has many, many gems but this one stopped me on my tracks as I was listening.  As I get older, one of the things I’ve been making peace with is that I am unlikely to change a drastic amount at this point. And maybe even more than that, that there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with me. Like most people, I have my flaws and I have my advantages. I still work on myself a lot and try to be the best version of me as often as I can. But I’ve shifted my perspective to focus more on who I already am and working with myself instead of always judging myself or trying to be something I am not.

But one of the side effects of this kind of thinking is that I work around things more often now. As I opened my book and read these lines, I thought to myself, should I be working through things more? Is my new way of thinking getting in the way of progress in some areas? And I guess here’s what I’ve concluded.

I still do have things I want to work through but some of them will come naturally and others will be forced upon me by circumstance. And there will still be things I work around, or maybe around is the wrong word here, these will be things I own and just work with them. Instead of judging myself, I will just acept them and own them, like how I like to get to the airport hours early. This is who I am and I am okay with that. 

But then this quote made me think that maybe there are also things that I just drop. Things that I don’t work through or around but I just release them. I don’t have to hold on to this stress anymore. I don’t have to worry about them and maybe I don’t have a lot of working “through” but it’s things I can just let go. I spend so much time worrying and judging and beating myself up. I overworry about details that don’t end up mattering at all in the end. And maybe part of growing up, growing older is also just letting some things completely go. So that’s what’s on my mind this week. 

My plan is to pay attention in the next few weeks to which things I am working around. Where I feel like i am spinning longer than necessary, etc. And then to give myself a moment to think whether they can be dropped. My hope is that at least some of them can. 


On My Mind is a year-long project for 2018. You can read more about my projects for 2018 here.

On My Mind – 10 – Giving Grace

I had a car accident last week. 

While I’m okay, my kids are ok, the other person’s ok and even the car is mostly okay, it still shook me of course and it comes with a lot of inconveniences around insurance, body shops, having to function without my car for a while, etc. etc. But none of these inconveniences matter as much as how hard i’ve been on myself about all of this.

I don’t do well with causing problems. I don’t do well with disappointing or letting others down. I never want to be a burden. I want to help and never hurt.

So when I am in situations like this, it’s really hard for me give myself the grace that would be really easy to give to my husband, friends, or my kids. I just have this endless loop in my head about all the things I should have done instead, all the ways this will bring harm to the people I love, all the ways in which I am such a burden.

And on and on it goes into a spiral of crazy proportions. 

So this time around, I am trying really hard to give myself grace.

I have the kindest husband in the world, who is saying all the right things and trying really hard to coach me through this. My family is kind and supportive and loving and want me to remember to focus on the fact that this could have gone much more poorly and that we are all feeling well. And I am trying to remind myself that problems are part of life. Things won’t always go right. I’ve been incredibly lucky in my life that so much has gone right and I don’t want to dishonor that by exaggerating the impact of things that go wrong. 

But it’s still tough. And I am having to work hard to coach myself and to give myself so much grace and not to let the negative tapes in my head own the conversation. I know that to some people this is a nothing. It’s annoying sure, but come on already, a lot of people have accidents and no one was hurt and move on already. But that’s not how I’m built. And what makes me this way is also the same thing that allows me to be empathetic and caring to others and careful when I make decisions and on and on.  I firmly believe that the characteristics that serve us so much also have a shadow side that make life difficult when in different circumstances.

So I don’t think this will change. I don’t even want to change it. But what I want to do is learn to cope with it better when it happens. Learn to slow down and give myself the big, big dose of grace I need. 

So I’ve been trying to do that. Here’s to hoping I can get better at it each time. 

 

 


On My Mind is a year-long project for 2018. You can read more about my projects for 2018 here.

On My Mind – 09 – On the Path to Stronger

 

My word for this year is Strong. 

Strong has a lot of meanings. And while my goal is to get mentally and emotionally stronger this year, I first picked this word because I wanted to get physically stronger. I want to end 2018 considerably stronger than I started it. While I would also like to be thinner, fitter, and healthier, my first priority is still to get stronger. 

Over the course of my life, I’ve been thin and I’ve been relatively healthy but I’ve never been strong. It’s just not an adjective I would associate with myself. I can’t bench heavy weights, I can’t do pull ups, in fact I probably couldn’t carry either of my children at this point. (They are not babies anymore!)

I have some problems on my back and neck and jaw and I’ve always had chronic pain. But I’ve lived with it forever and I will say that I’m likely in less pain now than I’ve been in most of my life. I am also stronger now, too. I’ve been going to the gym at work for at least 3 times a week since last August. That’s six months of solid exercise. 

But it’s nowhere near enough.

And I’ll be honest that I don’t have it in me to spend two hours at the gym each day. I don’t have the initial strength and the ongoing discipline to push boundaries here.

And yet. 

And yet, I have this huge ache to get stronger. I watch instagram videos of women who can lift heavy weights, do pull ups and otherwise have the skills I seem to be craving. If only watching others would make me stronger, I’d have totally won by now. 

Alas, it does not.

So I want to work on this a little at a time and make consistent progress. My path to stronger is going to have to look like slow and steady progress. I did the Whole 30, 10mins of cardio, 10mins if strength, 10 mins of stretching in January and 30 days of yoga in February and now I want to make a new goal for March. Something I can do every single day regardless of where I am and how busy I am that day. Something that’s a clear indication that I am getting stronger. Something that builds my muscles, my cardiovascular health, and my mind. 

I understand that the path to strong is long and arduous but some days I just wish it weren’t so hard.


On My Mind is a year-long project for 2018. You can read more about my projects for 2018 here.