Not Thunder

Today’s girl was still a challenge to make. A bit better but really very, very far from where I wish I were. Alas we keep going.

As for today’s quote, it says:

Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder. -rumi

Oh man.

This is something I really struggle with. And something I desperately want to be better at. I come from a family of screamers. Even though I make a resolution to not scream multiple times a day, I break it almost as often. I just can’t seem to control myself when the moment comes. Especially when David knows exactly what to say to step on every single one of my triggers. Especially when his words sting and bring me back to my childhood years.

Especially when I am back to being the vulnerable, lonely, hurt person who lives inside me.

I noticed that most of the time when I am yelling, it’s about me. It’s about how I feel. Not about the other person in any way. I feel disrespected, entitled, sad, and hurt in that order. And those feelings are uncomfortable so instead of sitting with them or swallowing them, I just scream. It allows me to discharge the discomfort.

And even though I intellectually know all this, it doesn’t bring me any closer to emotionally being able to control myself in the moment it’s happening. In that moment, I am back to my ten year old self and I just want to have a tantrum.

After it’s over, my 41-year-old self wallows in the shame of it all and apologizes and swears not to do it again.

Until the next time.

I just hope that each of these times is a practice for me to get a tiny bit better. So that eventually there will be this one magical day where I sit with the discomfort and let is wash over me instead of taking it out on those I love.

I will keep trying and wishing and hoping and trying until that moment comes.

Holding on and Letting Go

Full disclosure: not only am i not crazy about today’s girl, I actually had to correct her right eye because it was way too high and just crooked. It bothered me so much, I couldn’t help it. Even with that, I am not crazy about her. But I am keeping it. As I mentioned yesterday, it all counts. Little by little, I’ll get there. Wherever “there” is.

As for today’s quote, it says:

Life is a balance of holding on and letting go. -rumi

Nothing teaches me the truth of this better than having kids. Especially as they get older. My son has some big milestones coming up and I am constantly battling between how much I hold on and how much I let go. And I can never seem to decide what the perfect balance is. I am constantly second guessing myself. Constantly putting pressure on myself to get it “right.”

And, of course, I have no idea what “right” looks like.

I just often feel that I’ll know it when I see it. Or when I feel it. But I never feel it. I always feel like I am tipped over to one side or another. Often times, I’m holding on too tight, trying to control the situation. I was like this for myself, in my own life, too. But it’s so much harder for my kids. I want to be able to control the outcome so much more for them because I feel such a strong desire to protect them from grief and hardship. Even as I know that those are the experiences that make us grow. They are the roads we must walk on to get to appreciate our journeys. They help us become who we are. I know these tougher moments are a necessary part of life.

But it’s still hard.

I spent much of this morning trying to navigate this dichotomy. And I have no idea how to do it. Most days, I just end up being exhausted and hope that I do better the next day.

A Second Chance

In May of 2014, I did a project where I painted faces each day and then coupled those paintings with some quotes I liked. I then took the opportunity to write about the quote. This gave me an excuse to do art every day and to write here everyday; i miss both of these things dearly.

So I’ve decided that for the month of September, I will try to draw a quick girl and watercolor her everyday and couple her with quotes again. The drawings will be quick and imperfect and likely I will not like many of them. But the goal is to start flexing my drawing muscles again. I miss drawing. I miss watercolors. I miss doing creative things. September promises to be stressful so I am not sure if it will work out. But I will try.

We have to start somewhere, right?

So, for today, I drew this girl. I drew her in about 10 minutes and then spent the next 15 tinkering with her because I didn’t like her. I considered ripping the page about 11 times but wouldn’t let myself do it. The fact is, I make more bad art than I make good ones. I never really studied art. I forget how to do it right. I don’t have the instincts. I don’t like most of what I make. But I still keep trying. I like doing it. I like trying. And when, in one in a million chance, it looks like what I intended, it feels like my birthday and Christmas rolled into one. So I keep trying and I will keep trying. Nothing is wasted.

Today’s quote says:

You decide every moment of every day, who you are and what you believe in. You get a second chance, every second.

I believe this with my whole heart. It is never too late to be who you want to be. I believe all humans mess up. None of us are perfect. But I also believe that every moment is a new opportunity to do better. When I yell, I apologize and start over. When I make unhealthy choices, I try again for the next meal. I think there’s so much grace in giving yourself a second chance. So much kindness in allowing yourself to start over.

But it’s more than that. If I don’t believe that I get a second chance every second, then I give up. Which then gives me an excuse to continue the behavior that’s out of alignment with my values. I am constantly going against them and there’s nothing quite as draining as stepping on one’s values. Then I feel bad, then I do more of it, then I feel really bad, I feel ashamed, and that causes me to behave even more badly, and this story never ends well. Yet, if I believe in second chances, every second, any moment is an opportunity for me to course correct. Any moment is an opportunity to step into who I am. I don’t have to wait till tomorrow or monday or the beginning of the month. I can do it right now. I can be who I want to be. That’s so liberating. So empowering.

And as I grow older, I realize that I am allowed to change my mind, too. I am allowed to change my mind about what matters. About who I wish to be. Life is short, and I am only bound by the rules I create for myself. I get to choose what matters most to me and then I get to choose to be that person. When I mess up (which I always do), I get to get up, dust myself off, apologize, give myself grace, and then try all over again.

And, if I am lucky, most days, I do more good than bad. But, either way, I get a second chance, every second.

And thank goodness for that.

And So It Starts

karenika.com

School started yesterday for us, so I figure it’s about time I go back to writing here. I have so much to say but I never seem to be able to have enough time to sit and put thoughts down on paper. So I figure we’ll start with snippets and maybe it will help me get in the habit of writing again.

I’ll share some of what’s going on with me and I’d love to hear some of what’s going on with you.

  • This summer has been long and hectic and I have been completely thrown off my schedule. I haven’t touched art supplies in months and I am craving it so much but I also feel so insecure. It’s been so long that I am not sure I remember how to do anything. I am dreaming up ideas in my mind but then never delivering on them. The only art I’ve done all summer was my class for Brave Girl University. I keep thinking about creating  a schedule for myself for the fall. Something to get me back on track. Something that excites me but I am too wiped to even make plans most days. I am even behind in my Life Book classes, which never happens!
  • My oldest one started Fifth Grade and around here that means Middle School applications, shadow visits, interviews and exams. I am not looking forward to any part of it. I am going to try to go through it as gracefully as possible and I am hoping we come out of it with as few scars as possible. Most importantly, I hope he ends up where he will be happiest for the next seven years. I wish him belonging, contentment, and enthusiastic curiosity.
  • Brave has been a really good word for me this year and I am hoping it will continue to serve me well. I’ve been braver this year I can remember in a long, long time. I’ve already chosen my 2016 word and I think it will serve me well, too.
  • I’ve been pretty bad with taking photos, too. I am going to make more of an effort this fall. Even if the days are busy, I know I always love looking back at them and I want to make sure I have some from this moment in our lives.
  • I finally said good-bye to the last scrapbooking commitment I had. I am not sure what this mean for my scrapping. But, for now, it was the right thing to do.
  • I am always trying to work on my schedule and always trying to be healthier. I find that exercise, eating well, journaling more, and getting the “best” schedule are always on my list for things I want to be better at. I don’t know what this means but I am making peace with the fact that I might never get any of them perfect and they might need to have permanent residence on my todo list.
  • I am deeply grateful for my husband and my family. They are the rocks in my life that always always make me feel like everything will be okay.
  • I was doing my August OLW page a few weeks ago and one of the things I realized is how amazing my life turned out. How it is above any expectations I could ever have had. I was born in Istanbul, Turkey and have dreamt of moving to the United States for as long as I can remember. And here I am. I live in beautiful California. Have an amazing husband, incredible kids, wonderful job, and so much more. How did I get this lucky?
  • I’ve been listening to a lot of books on audio lately and I’ve been loving it. It allows me to walk while I listen or listen while I drive. It’s reduced TV time because I so often prefer to listen to books instead. I really have been enjoying it. At the moment I am rereading 1984 so I can discuss it with my nephews and I am listening to The Corrections because I never read it way back when it came out. I cannot wait to start reading Brene’s new book.
  • I cannot, cannot, cannot wait until Brave Girl University launches. I hope you’ll join me. Kathy and Melody never create anything that’s not magical, in my book.
  • I really love my job. It’s not perfect and some days I wish many things were different but most days I am really grateful for it. I’m so glad I took the leap.
  • Some days I feel so on top of my life, my choices, my values and I feel like I behave the way I’d like to. Other days, I’m a total mess and do the exact opposite of everything I claim to want to be. I really disappoint myself. And then many days I am too tired to even figure out what to do, how to feel. I find myself living day to day more than I ever have and while this is good for some things, it’s not good for many others. I like having a plan and working day in, day out for my plan. I would like to be able to be flexible but still have a plan so my goal is to have it be so by mid-September. I hope I can do this.
  • I am thinking of starting to do some Yoga. It will come with this magical new schedule I will create.

So that’s a bit of what’s going on with me. How are you? Here’s to a magical Fall!

Choosing Well

While I’ve still been posting a lot of art projects, I know it’s been a long time since I’ve done a personal post on the blog. It’s been a whirlwind of a year, so far. In a matter of weeks, both the boys will be out of school and the summer days will be here. Summer is usually when I find myself going into my relaxing space where I don’t tend to follow my strict schedule as often. But this year has been such a mess that I have no idea what the summer will bring.

I am more than six months into my new job and I still don’t have my new rhythm down at all. I am not eating well and I am not moving at all. I am often tired and my days are very disjointed.

But.

But I love my job. And I’ve been so much more involved with the kids’ school this year and directly involved in their lives that it’s wonderful. I’ve made a lot of new friends at the school. I’ve made huge strides in some of the areas of my life where there has been no change in years. Things that had been on my wish-i-could-do-this list year after year, like driving on the freeway. Like having a community. These items were on my list and didn’t move for many, many years. And then, this year, they exploded. All at once, with no warning. Which also meant that a lot of other things fell off the list, to make rooms for these big changes.

That’s how life works. You do one thing which means you don’t do another thing.

So a bunch of things fell off my list for months. But each time I thought of them, I reminded myself that I was focusing on these other things instead and that it was ok to do that for a while. And so here we are. It’s been an unusual year. I’m not complaining; just trying to find my bearing and see if I can develop some kind of structure within my new life. I am also trying to be patient and kind with myself. And give myself grace for the things that are falling on the floor. Not everything can bloom at once.

So here we are. I have so many things I want to write about. So much on my mind. So much in my life. So many things I want to share, but most evenings I find myself too tired and choose to go to bed instead. Life is an ebb and flow and I know this, too, will change at some point.

In the meantime, I thought maybe it could be time for a quickie status update again: I’d love for you to join me in the comments :)
Making : Fun little pages in my planner (which is on my list of things to share)
Cooking : Nothing. Still not cooking.
Drinking : More diet coke than i’d like to admit. ready to quit it again.
Reading: Several books at once as I haven’t found one i am in love with at the moment.
Wanting: A lot of downtime. Sleep. A Routine.
Looking: Forward to mid-June when I get to go see my family.
Playing: Way too much Candy Crush when I am tired and don’t want to do anything.
Deciding: How to support David through his middle school applications this Fall.
Wishing: Some parts of my life could be easier.
Enjoying: My kids and husband so much. I am so grateful for them.
Waiting: For summer.
Liking: my new job.
Wondering: when, if ever, i will have a routine again.
Loving: spending time with the boys and jake.
Pondering: What our life will be like after next year when David will be in a different school.
Considering: all of our options.
Watching: A bunch of Netflix and Life Book videos.
Hoping: the summer goes smoothly and the rest of this year is a joy.
Marvelling: at how much my kids have grown. how quickly time passes.
Needing: sleep. to take care of my health again. to figure things out.
Smelling: the vanilla candle burning beside me.
Wearing: a comfy jacket i got from work. love it.
Following: my gut a lot more this year. the whispers, too.
Noticing: how much can change in a year.
Knowing: that everything will be okay in the end. it always is.
Thinking: that i am lucky to have my family. and in so many other ways.
Feeling: tired. grateful. worn out. content. worried. all at once.
Admiring: my son’s ability to play an instrument. his courage.
Sorting: through lots of scrappy supplies. and other drawers.
Buying: things to bring home.
Getting: clearer on what matters.
Bookmarking: middle schools. parent association work. things to remember.
Disliking: when i feel less than. when i feel scarcity. when i try to measure up.
Opening: in ways i haven’t before.
Giggling: with nathaniel.
Feeling: grateful. always grateful. so deeply grateful.

Life is always full of something and lacking something else. I am learning and trying to remember that my choices matter a lot and I have to be wiser with how I use them.

Here’s to choosing well.

February Checkin

I was out of ideas to write to day but I really wanted to write so I figured I’ll do one of these currently kinds of posts since it’s been a while. (here’s the list i used):

Making: a fun planner for myself and loving it
Cooking: more vegetables and healthier food in general.
Drinking: more water this week. making an effort.
Reading: the book of strange things (for weeks now) and a spool of blue thread, just finished all the bright places and loved it.
Wanting: to find a schedule that works for me
Looking: for a good idea for my daily March project. Any ideas?
Playing: candy crush still. way too often.
Deciding: if i can take tomorrow off work. feeling really sick.
Wishing: i could function on less than eight hours of sleep so i had more time each day
Enjoying: watching my kids read. just enjoying my kids in general. and, yes, my new planner too
Waiting: for nothing. trying to be in the moment. trying to remind myself not to run ahead of it.
Liking: some of the recent life book lessons. i love sitting and painting.
Wondering: how it’s already almost March
Loving: my kids and my husband. so much. so so much.
Pondering: the car that was hit by a train by my house yesterday. poor soul.
Considering: schedule blocking my time. been thinking about this for months but haven’t managed to do it.
Watching: life book class videos
Hoping: i can feel healthy again
Marveling: at the beautiful weather here
Needing: sleep
Smelling: the vanilla scented candle on my desk, it smells yum!
Wearing: jeans but I think they are making my back hurt
Following: my plans this week. making plans and sticking to them.
Noticing: that i can never make it to bed at the time i plan to.
Knowing: that these days are precious. every day is precious and trying to enjoy mine.
Thinking: that the daily journaling really helps ground me.
Feeling: good about spending time with my kids. encouraging them to work hard.
Admiring: people who are always easygoing. people who can always see the upside. people who are comfortable in their skin.
Sorting: my plans for March. I have a vacation with Jake and a trip to Zurich on the books.
Buying: sandwich boxes for the kids
Getting: excited and worried about the number of approaching big deadlines in April
Bookmarking: middle school pages
Disliking: drama. not a fan.
Opening: my mind. my heart.
Giggling: with nathaniel. always giggling with nathaniel.
Feeling: grateful. tired, wiped, worried, overwhelmed but always so very grateful.

how about you?

Choosing Curiosity

Twenty Fifteen has been a tough year for me, so far. Or maybe that’s not a fair statement. Many things have been going well but I feel like some of the fundamental things that make me feel grounded or feel in charge of my own life haven’t been moving forward the way I’d like them to and that has made me feel like everything is going badly.

I’ve been fretting over this for a few weeks now and all that has done is make things worse. I find that when I am hard on myself, it doesn’t help me get back on the wagon, it just makes me wallow in pity longer and continue to make not the best choices. None of this is news to me. I am well aware of the negative cycle and how self-reprimand doesn’t stop it.

What I don’t know is how to find something that does.

So, last week, I decided to take the advice I often give my coaching clients: be curious.

I decided that instead of berating myself for not being able to get my work done, I would choose to be curious about what’s standing in the way. Curious why the systems that worked for me before were failing me now. Curious about what changed.

The thing that makes curiosity such a better choice is that curiosity doesn’t come with judgement. Curiosity doesn’t mean I am doing it wrong. Curiosity is about exploration. It’s about digging deeper and looking and trying to understand. It doesn’t assume one option is more correct than the other. It’s open to the possibility that maybe what worked before is no longer the best option. It’s open to the possibility of finding a new normal. A new definition of “good” and “bad.” Curiosity is so much more rewarding.

So I got curious. I quieted the voices that were judging me and took a look at my life and what’s getting in the way. What choices I’m making. What’s changed. Etc. etc. I’ve had a lot of changes in my schedule in the last three months and I still haven’t found my new normal. I’ve also committed to a lot more things outside of the house than I usually would. So both of these changes have meant that what was working for me before is not anymore. It’s not that I was doing a bad job. It’s really that it was impossible to continue doing some of the “good” things I was doing in this new life.

This meant that I had to go all the way back to the beginning and make a plan from scratch. A new plan that would work for this life. I bought a planner, I made some pages that contained the things I want to track, and I decided to treat today as day one.

Combined with the curiosity, I also gave myself grace. It was hard to figure out a plan that worked for my old life. It took multiple tries and many changes to get it right. I realized that it would be the same with this plan. I would be starting from day one and it would take several iterations to get it right. I would have to be open to failing. I would have to stay curious and keep paying attention to what works and what doesn’t. And, more importantly, why it doesn’t so I can figure out how to modify it.

So that’s what I did. I made a new plan. I woke up this morning, as it turned out, very sick and very tired. And, before, this would have stopped me from trying anything, but this morning I just did as much of my plan as I could. I was kind to myself. I acknowledged that this was only one of the many days it will take to find my new norm so it didn’t matter if it wasn’t perfect. I am tracking what I do and what I don’t do so I can get a sense of how off base my new plan is. And then I will change where and how I need to make it work.

Here’s to new beginnings. And to staying curious.

2015 – More Thoughts and Goals

Like each year, after I thought about my word and my plans for 2014, I began to think more and more about what the word and the priorities meant. Since I tend to be self-reflective during this time of year, this is very long and mostly for my benefit (I like having a record of my plans and my thoughts) so feel free to skip. I won’t be offended.

By the way, this is influenced by Chris’s annual review article. I’ve read this before and have always liked the idea. I’m a technical person at heart and all these specific goals, measurable steps, etc. are right up my alley. Since I have my list of six priorities this year, I thought it would be a good exercise to see if I could come up with a few goals for each.

I will post about each of the projects I mention here, over the next week. I’ll then come back and link them here but I promise it’s all coming in the first week of the year.

The theme for this year will be brave. I want to do what feels brave. What makes me come alive. What makes me feel serene and generous. I want to take care of myself, inside and out. I want to open, to expand. To try new things. To find out what makes me come alive. To set new boundaries. To thrive in my life.

Family

  1. Remind both kids that their lives have much to celebrate (David and Nathaniel’s Books of Happy Memories)
  2. Read daily to Nathaniel
  3. Work with David to help prepare him for the ISEE and help improve all of his academics
  4. Take photo of full-family and write updates weekly (Project Weekly Diary)
  5. Create a weekly celebration ritual as a family.
  6. Volunteer in both David and Nathaniel’s schools
  7. Reserve one night every other week to do something special with Jake.
  8. Capture and Tell our family stories (Stories of Twenty Fifteen)
  9. Visit my family and Jake’s family. Take a skiing  and camping trip together.

Healthy

  1. Create an exercise routine for the week that involves running, weights, strength exercises and do something each day
  2. Take a minimum of 10K steps daily
  3. Do the 5-2 plan all year long. Even on my 5 days, eat whole and healthy
  4. Get my vitamin C levels tested again and take the vitamin daily to bring my levels back up
  5. Get minimum 7 hours of sleep every night and 8 on the weekends
  6. Take regular walks with the kids, go out in nature regularly
  7. Take care of my skin regularly.
  8. Floss daily.
  9. Drink 45oz of water daily.
  10. Eat a vegetable with each meal.

Brave

  1. Drive on the freeway more regularly
  2. Keep track of my daily brave acts  (Project Everyday Brave)
  3. Take my kids on a vacation just the three of us
  4. Go on a vacation alone
  5. Go on monthly adventures with Jake
  6. Block out the hours for each of my weeks. Designate what i will do in each block.

Serene

  1. Read a book a week (Project A Book a Week)
  2. Journal each morning.
  3. Carve Stamps. (Project Fifty-Two Stamps)
  4. Go camping
  5. Take daily walks
  6. Get 7-8 hours of sleep each day
  7. Do a body-scan each night.

Alive

  1. Learn to carve stamps (Project Fifty-Two Stamps)
  2. Practice Collage. (Project You Choose)
  3. Practice Sketching (Project Everyday Brave)
  4. Do something brave every day
  5. Learn new art techniques (Project Remember This)
  6. Continue to coach clients
  7. Spend some time outside every day
  8. Hug and kiss the kids a lot every day!
  9. Learn something new each month

Abundance

  1. Volunteer in the kids’ schools.
  2. Spend time with Jake and the kids each day.
  3. Regularly attend both book clubs
  4. Extend an invitation to someone new once a month
  5. Create a monthly night to reach out to people I love
  6. Go out to breakfast/lunch once a week with a good friend (or a potential good friend). If not possible, call/email a friend to reconnect
  7. Donate something each month.
  8. Find a volunteer opportunity to do as a family or with David.
  9. Volunteer at work.

Open

  1. Make and keep regular pedicure and hair appointments
  2. Come up with a self-care routine (lotion, floss, etc.)
  3. Say yes to invitations
  4. Show up at events/parties
  5. Say yes to my boys. Say yes.

There we go. As more creep up over the year, I will likely come here and add/alter as needed.

Schedule for Blog
I’ve also come up with a tentative schedule for my blog for 2014:

  • Mondays : Everyday Brave
  • Tuesdays : Note to Self
  • Wednesdays : A Book a Week + Fifty-Two Stamps
  • Thursdays : You Choose
  • Fridays : Stories of Twenty Fifteen
  • Saturdays : David and Nathaniel’s Books of Happy Memories
  • Sundays : Weekly Diary

I wanted to have themes for my thoughts posts but it never happened. I am going to attempt to try this for next year but I have learned that I should make no promises since I seem to always fall short with this. Here are some topics I’d like to possibly write about:

  • Coaching
  • What I Learned
  • Productivity
  • Brave
  • Lessons from Ordinary Life

These coupled with my core desired feelings are what I hope guides me this year. I know this year will come with its own challenges and surprises. I want to be open to all it plans to offer to me and I want to stay serene in the face of my challenges. I want to live each and every moment of my life fully alive and brave.

Here’s to a wonderful 2015!

2015 - Core Desired Feelings

I started the practice of picking my Core Desired Feelings thanks to Zewa, last year. I really liked the concept and if you’re curious I recommend you go to Danielle’s site and/or buy the book so you can do the exercises.

Towards October, I started thinking about what I might want my code desires to be for the next year. I felt like the ones I had for this year (serene, engaged, whole, grace) were still speaking to me so I wasn’t sure if the exercise would be pointless and I would learn nothing new. I wasn’t even sure if I was ready to let go of those words. I wasn’t sure of anything but the desire to see what would jump out at me kept increasing so I finally set down one night, grabbed the book, and decided to see what would happen.

I did all the writing exercises furiously. I didn’t stop and think. I just wrote and wrote. And then I stepped back to see what patterns emerged so I could circle them.

To my delight and surprise, I ended up with somewhat different words this year, even though I think the sentiments are quite similar. I spent some time thinking about my words and how they sounded and how they felt to say them. The kind of feelings they brought up in me when I said them out loud.

After a few iterations, I finally settled on a list that felt right. Here are my words for 2015:

  • serene
  • abundance
  • open
  • alive

Even now, as I look at these words,they light me up.

After I was done, I thought more of each of the words, what they mean to me, how that word feels and came up with a more extended description for each:

serene: this is the same as last year. i love this word. it came up again this year in several places. serene is almost the perfect word for the feeling i want to have. it’s like content but not just content. it’s serene, calm, peaceful. Without worry: that’s what the word serene makes me think of. Centered. It’s how I want to feel. When I feel serene, I make wiser choices. I can show people how much they mean to me. I can communicate clearly and kindly. When I feel serene I am the best version of myself.

abundance: this maybe is sort of similar to whole from last year but for this year, abundance was the exact right word for me. I want to live with an attitude of abundance. the opposite of scarcity. I want to come from a place where i believe there’s plenty more. Where there’s enough to go around for all of us. Enough time, enough money, enough opportunities. Enough friendship and love. I don’t want to feel stingy and small. I want to feel abundance. When I feel abundance, I am kind and generous and giving. I am optimistic. I am excited. I feel full of possibility. When I feel abundance I am the best version of myself.

open: this one goes hand in hand with abundance. at first, i only had abundance which ,for me, is about giving and offering more of myself, my things, my time, my service to others. Open is the opposite, it’s being open when people offer me their kindness, service, help, advice, etc. Being open to receive. Being willing, being grateful. Receiving it with grace. When I feel open, I do not try to hide parts of myself. When I feel open, I am not paranoid. I don’t worry about the why, I just accept with grace. When I feel open I am the best version of myself.

alive: this might be 2015′s version of engaged but it feels so much better for me for this year. I want to feel fully alive. I want to feel all of my feelings. I want to do things that feel brave but make me come alive. I want to do things that make me come alive. I want to bring more flowers into my house. Plants. I want to surround myself with life. I want to take walks in nature. I want to feel the air. I want to smell the sea. I want to make the most of all my minutes. When I feel alive I am brave. When I feel alive I am happy. When I feel alive I am optimistic and joyful. When I feel alive, I am the best version of myself.

So here we are. Four feelings that make me the best version of myself. Accompaniments to my word of the day this year. Feelings I want to remember to come back to again and again.

Here’s to a serene year full of abundance. To being open to all possibilities and being fully alive. And doing it all bravely!

ps: as i seem to each year, i decided to tinker with my site again. i changed a lot of the content on the right side and got rid of the left side. i also put photos for all my projects for 2015 which will show up empty until the end of next week when i’ll have posted about each of them. i think i sorted out all issues but if you see any problems or if a link you wanted is missing, feel free to let me know and i’ll fix it asap. thank you!

2015 - A Year of Being Brave

Some years, it’s a hard to pick a word. Some years, I have too many words and I am not sure which one to pick out of the lot. Some years nothing stands out. Some years, they all stand out.

And then there are years like this.

This year’s word came to me all the way back in April. I was sitting at the Spring Luncheon for my kids’ school and I heard the new PTA president give a speech. I was feeling grateful and serene and suddenly had the thought that I should do more for the school. I should participate in the school’s PTA. I emailed the president that same day and asked her what she needs help with. A few weeks later, another opportunity came up where there was a need and I volunteered again. I was scared, unsure, but I just kept going. I said yes.

I listened to the small whispers again and again. And they paid back. They made me feel a stronger sense of belonging. I felt more alive. More involved. Happier.

And it didn’t stop there.

I got an email with a job opportunity. I considered it. I pursued it. I talked about. And I got more of them. Thing kept rolling. They were in motion now. I was listening to the universe and it was rewarding me again and again. Encouraging me to practice courage. I loved this brave, new Karen.

It became clear to me that I wanted to continue this trend.

2015 was going to be my year of being BRAVE.

I want to practice courage in all areas of my life. Remind myself that I already am brave in so many ways so I can use that energy to fuel more courage.

I want to embrace this new, bolder side of me. I want take more chances, big and small. I want to show up, step up, and take a chance.

Here are some things Brave is about, for me:

  • Being myself is brave. Owning who I am. Not trying to hide it or change myself to fit others or the situation.
  • Choosing a different path is brave. Not always taking the easy or common route.
  • Taking Action is brave. Not just talking about things but doing. Not just planning, scheming, hoping, dreaming.
  • Doing it Anyway is brave. Brave is not about not being afraid. It’s being scared and moving forward anyway. It’s having faith.
  • Listening to the whispers of the universe is brave. Paying attention to what my soul wants. Listening to and honoring its wishes.
  • Doing the hard thing is brave. For me this has a lot to do with self care. Working out, eating well, taking care of my body. Choosing the harder path.
  • Doing the right thing is brave. Speaking your truth. Standing up for what you believe in. Standing your ground.
  • Letting go is brave. Apologizing. Not holding on to anger or disappointment. Giving more chances. Forgiving.
  • Responding is brave. And not reacting. Not screaming, not being cruel, not panicking. Not making it about me.  Remaining calm. Taking the time to pause, and respond.
  • Equanimity is brave. Embracing serenity. Slowing down. Way down.
  • Choosing to thrive is brave. Not settling. Not trying to make myself small. Standing up tall and owning my life.
  • Feeling my feelings is brave. Being able to be sad, disappointed, scared and even happy.
  • Celebrating is brave. Acknowledging achievement. Patting myself in the back.

These all feel brave to me. All of these are hard in some way or another and require courage on my part. (There are many others, too.) I hope to be braver in all of these areas by practicing as much as I can.

Here’s to a brave 2015.

2014 – Looking Back

Twenty-Thirteen was my year to Listen. My goal was to listen to my kids more. To my husband more. Not to multi-task, but to really listen. On this front, I feel I still need a lot more work. I can do better here. I want to do better here, still.

But then there were more layers to my word:
Listen to myself: My body, my soul, my heart, my brain/thoughts, and my gut I did a lot of this. I listened to my gut. I took bold, scary moves listening to my heart.
Listen to others: be open, stop and hear as opposed to preparing a reply, choosing to receive In this area, I feel I could have done better. I still talk more than I listen. I still want to change this.
Listen to the universe: Pay attention and see the signs, listen to messages, listen to what the universe is whispering, the sounds of nature
I did a lot of this. The universe sent me messages and i responded.

Overall, this was a big year with lot of changes. I can’t seem to remember the early months but I made a lot of changes starting in April and more so in the fall, and the biggest one in November (my job.) So far, they’ve all been changes for the positive and I am so very grateful I listened to the universe. This was a great year to pick listen as my word. I am deeply grateful for it.

As I do each year, I’d set some specific goals for 2014, here’s what they were and how I did on each:
Family
1. Have Nathaniel read one book to me each week (Project Nathaniel Reads to Mommy). This worked out wonderfully.
2. Take photo of full-family and write updates weekly (Project Weekly Diary). We took the photos very regularly. However, I stopped doing weekly updates after the summer. Not sure why. I’d like to do better next year.
3. Write weekly gratitudes and celebrations for me and the boys (The Savor Project) This, too, needed more attention in the second half of the year but at least I did use all the photos.
4. Take online classes with David and focus on learning (Project Learning with David) Not such a big success.
5. Spend an hour with each kid a week on mommy-me time. Just me and the one boy. Didn’t really do this one. One to carry over to 2015.
6. Volunteer in both David and Nathaniel’s schools oh yes, a lot of this.
7. Schedule minimum bimonthly date nights with Jake I’d say we didn’t do this. We did have some but not 24.
8. Capture and Tell our family stories (The Savor Project) meh. semi good at this.
9. Visit my family and Jake’s family we did this.

Health
1. Continue walking/running daily, work your way back up to 5K a day uhm not so much. I did try to keep active all year. But this needs A LOT more work.
2. Find three strength exercises that I can do regularly not so much here either. though I did the 7-minute exercise for all of the 8 weeks of WLC
3. Work your way up to eating whole foods 80% of the time briefly did this one but really one to carry to 2015
4. Get minimum 7 hours of sleep every night and 8 on the weekends did pretty well on this one. i cherish my sleep.
5. Take weekly hikes with family we so didn’t do this. maybe 1-2 hikes this whole year.

Serene
1. Read a book a week (Project A Book a Week) – oh yes, many more.
2. Journal daily. (Project Today I Know, Project Remember This) I did those two projects but didn’t journal daily. I’d like to have. I still want to do more. Each time I did journal regularly, it was profoundly impactful.
3. Spend time stitching (Project Stitching Circles) semi successful
4. Set weekly intentions around listening (Project Listen with Intent) set intentions but didn’t really follow them
5. Experiment with meditation, yoga, breathing yeah. uhm. did none of these.
6. Go camping we did. once.
7. Take a walk with Nathaniel for 15 minutes a day (this could also be health or family) nope. didn’t really do this one.

Grace
1. Make and keep regular pedicure and hair appointments (every 6 weeks or so) yey did this. at least for my hair.
2. Find a volunteer opportunity for David and me. failed miserably here. want to make sure i do it for 2015.
3. Send one kind email to someone each week definitely didn’t do this one.
4. Have and end-of-day ritual each night and a welcoming-the-day ritual each morning didn’t do this. i briefly lit candles but for the most part, i had no established routine. i still want to do this.
5. Clean up closet and only keep what fits yea. didn’t do this one.
6. Come up with a self-care routine (lotion, floss, etc.) hoping to do this for 2015.

Engaged
1. Learn to do lettering (Project Listen with Intent) done. yey.
2. Take at least 6 online classes that are not art did not do this. i took a bunch of art ones but not much else. only one non-art one, i think.
3. Teach Nathaniel to Read done and done!
4. Tell the longer stories when scrapping i did this too. love my pages from this year.
5. Take classes with David all year long we took only one. we tried three others.
6. Practice doodling, drawing (Project Today I Know) i have finally come to terms with the fact that doodling is not my thing. I did do a lot of drawing.
7. Learn new art techniques (Project Remember This) a lot of fun new things thanks to life book.
8. Experiment with new art mediums i did do this. a bit. not a lot. but still…
9. Continue to coach clients and offer more options i am continuing this. loving every moment of it.

Whole
1. Create a new Savor Project for 2014 (The Savor Project) done
2. Go out to breakfast/lunch once a week with a good friend (or a potential good friend). If not possible, call/email a friend to reconnect. i did some of this. not as much as i intended to.
3. Extend an invitation to someone new once a month wasn’t so organized with this.
4. Speak up more and participate more yes. did this.
5. Attend all book clubs attended all but the december one due to my trip to zurich.
6. Journal daily (Project Today I Know, Project Remember This) nope
7. Regularly attend all three book clubs hmm same as #5, one went defunct. attended the other two regularly
8. Drive on the freeway more regularly yes!
9. Learn to ride a bike (it will happen one of these days!) no!

Here’s how my Core Desired Words worked out:

Serene I regularly got up early, took time for myself and to exercise. I did art almost every morning. I got a lot of sleep. But I didn’t set a night routine. I think I did better with the panic but I still feel like this is an area I want to improve. I want to slow down more. I want to listen to more Tara Brach and use the Four Questions. Get much less reactive.

Grace I’ve been making progress on wearing what I like. I am thankful and show my gratitude. I volunteer more. And yet. I am not as patient as I would like. I want to be kinder. I want to talk less, listen more.

Engaged I’ve been a lot more engaged. I show up. I step up. I have been participating. I’ve been choosing curiosity more often than not. Practicing art, too. But I still want to learn more about what makes me feel engaged in life.

Whole I want to bring back the practice of celebrating. I’ve been doing better at cultivating belonging and showing up and reaching out. But I am not as kind to myself as I could be. I want to do more here.

So here we are. This has been a very impactful, surprising and joyful year. I learned a lot. I am deeply deeply grateful. With all this, I am ready to put 2014 to bed.

Thank you, 2014.

Unraveling 2015

I want to start by saying that this is going to be a VERY long post. I realized last week that doing these reflective exercises on my blog is wonderful for two reasons. One, it means I do them and two: I love being able to look back on them in future years. I know that this might not be interesting to many (if not any) of you, so please feel free to skip it. If some of you find it interesting, all the better.

This particular exercise is following Susannah Conway’s Unraveling 2015 sheet. You can download it right here. There are some reflective questions looking back on 2014 and then some questions to help clarify goals/dreams for 2015. All questions are Susannah’s and are copyrighted to her.

First of all, did you have a word for 2014? If you did, how did your word help to guide you through the last 12 months? Can you think of any specific examples: My word for 2014 was listen. I had originally intended for it to be literal. Listening more to my kids, my husband, my friends, etc. But it ended up manifesting in unexpected ways. It ended up being all about listening to the very quiet voice inside me. Listening to the universe. I also ended up listening to a lot audio books. Not sure if it’s related to my word but I listened to considerably more audio books than ever before. This word guided me more and more once I decided it was about listening to the universe and to small whispers.

What did you embrace in 2014? I embraced trying new things. Going out of my comfort zone. Saying yes. Showing up. Taking a leap.

What did you let go of in 2014? I let go of the belief that things cannot be different. Especially in the second half of the year, I changed so much of what I spend my time on. If you’d told me this is how and where I would close the year, I would have said you were crazy.

What changed for you in 2014? My idea of belonging is evolving. I feel a lot more of a part of my community than I have before. This is a huge change for me.

What did you discover about yourself in 2014? I discovered that things aren’t always what they seem. And that what’s holding me back is me. I knew this but I experienced this so much more personally this year. I saw it. I felt it. I am beginning to get it.

What were you most grateful for in 2014? The first thought I had was Jake. I am grateful for Jake. His presence makes me feel safer to take chances. I feel like even if I fail spectacularly, I have this one person who will always be there to hold me. I think that really helps. My parents, too. They always have my back. I am so lucky and so very deeply grateful.

When did fear hold you back in 2014? Fear holds me back the most in social situations, I think. Or in idea more than reality. I know that when I show up, I am almost always there, in the middle of things, and not fearful. The showing up part is considerably harder for me. It’s where I often lean back instead of in. So the trick, for me, is to just commit to showing up without thinking about it too much. Or set myself up in situations where I know I will have to show up no matter what.

Where did you practice bravery in 2014? I did this one a lot. I changed jobs for the first time in seven years. I volunteered for several jobs in my kids’ school, one of which is co-chairing a major benefit event (which I’ve never even attended in the past.) I’ve also driven on the freeway a lot more often this year. I know these might not be brave for others but they are brave acts for me.

What surprised you in 2014? All of the above brave acts surprised me. Jake’s lovely party for my birthday surprised me. My ability to step into things and not crumble has surprised me.

Let’s think about your ACHIEVEMENTS in 2014. List three things that went really well this year — what are you most proud of?
1. Doing well in my job.
2. Organizing a lovely 40th birthday party for Jake.
3. Balancing work, home, school, friends better than I ever have.

For each achievement, consider the following: What did you do to make it happen? What supported you? What/who helped you make it happen? How has your life changed? What have you learned about yourself? I’ve already talked about Jake’s support. For all of these, I feel like opportunities were presented and I just stepped into them. I did it without overthinking it. I find that if I just do (instead of think, analyze, worry, etc.) it tends to work out okay. I show up, I do what needs to be done, it gets done. And each time this happens, I get more energy to be braver the next time around. So I need to keep making it happen.

Now let’s look at your CHALLENGES. List the three things that have tested your limits and patience this year. The big or the small — whatever challenged you the most in 2014 (there may be more than three so go with whatever comes to mind first)
1. I’ve had some really tough moments at work.
2. I’ve yelled at my kids more than I’d like to admit. I am not proud of it. In fact, I am ashamed at my behavior.
3. I’ve been bad at staying in touch with people I care about. This is something I really want to rectify. Being a better friend.

For each challenge, consider the following: How did you deal with the challenge? Did you discover any new tools or allies that could help you again in the future? How has your life changed? What have you learned about yourself? (If you’re still working through a particular challenge, what outcome would feel good to you?)
Here are a few things I am trying to remember. For work: for me, life is always about more than work. It’s important to keep things in perspective and choose to always do my best but then let go of the rest. With the boys, the yelling, I am trying to learn self-compassion. Apologizing to them and then forgiving myself so I can try again the next moment. Giving myself the opportunity to do better. To do differently. For all the areas where I do poorly, I’d like to learn to forgive myself. I believe that it’s only then I can create the space to not react but to act.

Describe your favourite day, moment or occasion of 2014 in words and pictures. What did it taste like? Smell like? Sound like? Who was (or wasn’t) there? Where were you? What were you doing? What was awesome about it? And most importantly, how did you FEEL? Well, since both Jake and I turned forty this year, I think I’m going to say those were my favorite days. What was magical about both of them was that so many of our friends showed up in ways big and small to be there for us. We both felt so lucky, blessed and appreciated. So special. And I think that was a really magical moment for each of us. We also connected a lot since we took a lot of time to spend together during the week between his and my birthday.

Gentleness alert! Did anything happen in 2014 that needs to be forgiven? Maybe it was something someone did or said to you. Maybe it was something you did or said to someone else — or to yourself? Maybe you feel you let yourself down in some way. Here’s the thing — we are all beautifully fallible human beings doing the best that we can with the tools that we have, so where can you give the gift of forgiveness to yourself or to another?
If it did, I’ve managed to forget about it. I always need to be more gentle with myself. I continually fall short of where/who I want to be and then feel awful about it. I am not kind to myself in my judgement of how I measure up. Instead of doing it once a year, though, I’d like to be able to forgive myself each day (and maybe even each moment.)

So we’ve dug into our achievements and challenges, remembered our favourite moments and considered who we need to forgive. Now I invite you to close your eyes for a moment and think about 2014 as a whole. As you cast your mind back over the last 365 days, consider the gifts that 2014 offered you on your life’s journey… What stands out the most? What stands out the most in 2014 for me is change. Even though a lot of it happened in the second half of the year, I made a lot of big changes this year. I changed how I spend my time and who I spend it with. I changed my level of involvement in the kids’ school in a big way. And most drastically, of course, I changed my day-to-day job after having had the same one for over six years. Big big changes for me. The biggest gift of 2014, for me, was reminding me to be bolder and braver, which I think was its way of preparing me for 2015.

Before we finish with 2014, take a few minutes to write out anything else you need to say to the old year in the box below. You might want to say some goodbyes. I am ready to bid farewell to 2014. I am excited for 2015 even though I know it’s going to be a tough year for us in many ways. David will be applying to middle school in 2015. This means studying for exams, filling out applications, visiting schools, etc. I know it won’t be easy. It’s also going to be about learning to thrive in a new job. Which is exciting but also tough. It’s going to be about creating new routines. I feel like 2014 has been good to me and has reminded me that I can be braver. I can do differently. I can try new things. I am so very grateful to 2014. Thank you.

What’s your Word for 2015? My word is brave. Much more about this below and in a later post.

If you lived and breathed your Word every day in 2015, what would be different for you? Oh man. Everything. I would just do things. I would still maybe be afraid but I would do them anyway. I wouldn’t make up excuses around any of my “issues” I would just do whatever I feel a deep desire to do.

List some ways you are already being/experiencing this Word Volunteering in the kids’ school to run a benefit I’ve never even attended. Changing jobs. Traveling to Zurich for a week without the kids. Driving on the freeway much more often. All of these are brave acts for me.

What can you do this year to bring more of your Word into your world? I plan to keep track of one brave act I do each day. However small or big. I want to be more aware of opportunities to be brave. I want to notice when I am being brave. I want to remind myself to be brave. So I want to keep track. So I can remember. So I can recognize. So I can celebrate.

Choose four more words to support your Word this year. They could be anything from inspiring words to names of people to things you want to invest in… I’ve redone by Core Desired Feelings exercise for this year. More on this in a different post, as well. But the four words I ended up with are: serene, open, abundance, and alive. Those words will accompany brave in guiding me in 2015.

Fast-forward to December 2015. You are sitting in a cafe?, musing over the last 12 months. Where do you want to be…in your head? (work, dreams, goals) I want to feel very comfortable and confident in my new job. I want to be able to speak to things with ease, authority and efficiency. I want to be respected by my team and do a good job overall. I want to be able to speak to the areas I care about effectively. I want to be clearer about what I want from my life. Have some personal dreams and goals that really inspire me. Most of all, I want to feel a strong sense of belonging with my team.

… in your heart? (relationships, family, friends) I have spent far too many of my years worrying about belonging. Or lack thereof. I am done with that. I have come to believe we make our own belonging and I will cultivate my own. I am in a place in my life where I have a small but wonderful set of women I’ve come to really cherish. I want to make more of an effort to really cultivate our friendships. To really cultivate and own my belonging. I get to choose where I belong and I want to make the effort in these relationships in my life because they are worth so much to me. Similarly, with my husband, I want to make more of an effort. A more concerted effort. I want to kinder, gentler, more supportive. Enjoying our moments fully.

… in your physical world? (home, health, hobbies) I have plans for all these areas for 2015. For home, I want to declutter more and add some more touches of white. I’ve decided that white makes me feel like a clean slate, a breath of fresh air, and serene. For me, decluttering will be a big job so maybe what I can do is make a list and tackle one area each month or something like that. I have to think it through some more. The biggest part, to be honest, is all the scrapbooking supplies, the garage (where all the leftovers go to never be touched again) and the closet. So maybe the way I should tackle it is, small areas first and then breakdown these three big projects into small, chewable parts. As for health, I have plans for that, too. I want to make sure to really focus on my health for both nutrition and exercise this year. Eating more nutritious and whole foods. Much more vegetables. And I plan to do the 5-2 plan where I eat only 500 calories for two days of the year to see the health impacts of fasting. For exercise, I want to do something every day. Running, weights, the seven minute exercise, and walking. I want spend some time meditating and journaling; both are great for my mental well being. And then finally, for hobbies, this year I want to really work on my sketching in a big way. Like each year, I have 5 projects for the year which I will be talking about in the next few weeks in a lot of detail.

… in your soul? (beliefs, practices, self-love) I wrote a lot about some of these during my birthday post and all that still applies. I want to practice courage. I want to practice kindness. I want to practice patience. As much with myself as others. I want to feel the abundance around me. I want to be open to others’ kindness. I want to have faith in the universe. I want to feel all of my days. I want to live them to their fullest. I want to be alive each and every moment of my days.

The next two questions are about month to month breakdowns of the year. I didn’t do those because they don’t really speak to me at the moment, so I skipped them.

List 3 things about yourself that you positively love
1. My curiosity.
2. My continual striving to be a better version of myself.
3. My ability to love boundlessly.

List 3 things about yourself you feel ready to let go of
1. The continuous feeling of being less than
2. Holding myself back so I can measure up to someone else’s expectations
3. Apologizing for who I am

List 3 dreams you would like to manifest this year
Hmm, this one didn’t come to me right away. Partly because I feel like I am blessed to have so much of what I want from life. But maybe because I am not dreaming big enough. I’ll have to think about this one more.

List 3 people you feel will support you in 2015 (friends, colleagues, mentors, experts)
1. My wonderful husband
2. My mom
3. Myself (I know this seems odd and my first instinct was to write about my friend Leslie, who always supports me, and then I was going to write a bunch of friends, all of whom I know will support me so much, but then I decided what I really want is to be the kind of person who supports herself unconditionally so I decided to put myself here instead. All those friends will, too so we’ll consider them #4.)

List 3 passions/hobbies that you would like to explore more in 2015
1. Sketching for sure. I want to really dedicate some consisten time to sketching
2. Learning. I’d meant for 2014 to be a year of learning but it didn’t go as I’d hoped. Here’s to hoping 2015 does.
3. Writing. I think this year I want to spend more time writing here. More time reflecting, learning, noting, preserving. Let’s see.
I have other smaller ones too like collage, stamp carving, painting, drawing bodies, and faces, too. But I consider the above three to be more forefront on my mind.

List 3 duties or commitments you feel ready to release in 2015
There’s nothing that’s sticking out for me in this area. I’ll have to think more on this.

List 3 ways you would like to feather your nest (home) this year
Not sure what this one means. Does it mean things I want to buy for my home?

List 3 things you will aim to do each morning to start your day
1. Journal. I want to start my day with writing. Sort of like morning pages but just one page.
2. Exercise. I like to do my exercise first thing if I can. Makes me feel a strong sense of accomplishment.
3. Sketching. Like exercise, doing a sketch each morning helps me take time for myself and start my day fulfilled.

List 3 ways you will be kind to your body this year
1. Floss. I put this on my list each year. It’s so good for me. It’s so simple. And yet…
2. Hydration. I want to hydrate my skin so much better this year. I want to drink more water and put more cream. Be kinder to my largest organ.
3. Sleep. I want to continue to prioritize sleep. It’s good for my body, my mind, my mental health.

List 3 places you would like to visit in 2015 (at home or abroad)
Hmm this is another tricky one for me. I have no major desires to visit anywhere in 2015. I’m planning on going back home in June and hopefully visiting my in-laws again. I am happy to take David somewhere for his birthday if he wishes and we will likely want to go skiing. Other than those trips, there’s nothing I am dying to do.

List 3 ways you’ll connect with loved ones this year (dinners, days out, letters, calls)
1. Breakfasts/Lunch. This is something I do now but I want to do better, more regularly, and connect with some friends I’ve been meaning to for too long
2. Daytime adventures with Jake – Now that both boys are in school all day, Jake and I can meet for lunch occasionally and I want to do more of this in 2015.
3. Connecting nights – once a month, i want to dedicate a night of the week to connecting with friends who are farther. Maybe some skype sessions and some emailing. Not sure how it will play out, but I want to make the effort more organized for myself so it’s easier to stick to it.

List 3 treats you will gift your beautiful self in 2015 (big or small!)
1. Some skin care products. Basic, simple, healthy stuff.
2. Maybe, finally a new desk chair. This is a tough one as I am super picky.
3. Flowers. I want more of them this year.

Okay, let’s really rev up the positive energy — use this page to describe what 2015 looks like in your ideal world. Where are you desiring some forward-movement? What would saying YES to your life look and feel like? How do you want 2015 to FEEL? Write out everything your heart desires for this new year. Be bold.
Hmmm. the biggest forward movement I want is living each of my moments fully. Sometimes I find myself spending time doing things that I later regret wasting my time on. I want to make sure that I use my time exactly how I want to and always purposefully. With intent. This doesn’t mean it’s always productive, but it’s always purposeful. Feeling alive would mean not carrying the garbage of the past anymore. Not having assumptions about how others feel. Being more patient and serene. I want to move through the world with positive energy and faith. Assume positive outcomes. Take things as they come. This year comes with some hard work so it will be extra important and helpful for me to adopt this way of life. I want to be bold, alive, joyful, grateful. And alive. So very alive.

On your less-than-great days, how will you look after yourself this year? Make a list of everything that makes you feel better, and be sure to add to this page as you find new things you love. Not sure what to write? Start with the books, people, websites, practices, meditations, prayers, places to visit, songs, films and recipes that inspire and nurture you.

  • I will sleep. This is, by far, the most helpful thing to do when I am feeling low.
  • I will take a walk outside. Fresh air always does wonders for my perspective.
  • I will reach out. Sometimes a nice chat with a friend can bring back joy.
  • I will listen to music loudly. Really loudly.
  • I will watch a lovely movie, read a book I love
  • I will sit at my desk and play with paint.
  • I will get some work done. Sometimes that’s best thing to help me get out of my sad place.

Shuffle your favourite oracle or tarot deck then randomly draw a card for each month of 2015, noting down the results.
This is not something I would ever do normally and I was going to skip it but then I thought it might be fun. I used this site to get the cards for free on the web. I copied some of the sentences that I felt were most important to remember.
January – Peaceful Resolution – The challenges you’re inquiring about are going to come to an end. Conflict will cease and soon be replaced with harmony. Disagreements will be resolved in your favor. Allow peace to come, with grace and dignity for everyone.
February – Forgiveness – Forgiveness can work miracles. When you release the past, a weight is lifted from your shoulders, and a sense of freedom washes over you. This card can also refer to a need for self-forgiveness. It’s time to let go of any guilt you are holding on to regarding past mistakes you may have made.
March – Meditation Brings Answers – Trying to come up with an intellectual solution to your concerns hasn’t been successful. That’s because the solutions you seek can only be found by going within, through meditation or inner spiritual work.
April – No Need to Worry – Your worries and concerns regarding your question are unnecessary. The energy of fear and worry only slows the eventual manifesting of your desires. Visualize loving and happy outcomes, and keep your thoughts positive. Very soon you will wonder why you were worrying about this at all!
May – Within the Next Few Months – In the next few months, what you are asking about will occur…so keep the faith while all of the pieces of this puzzle come together and the situation resolves beautifully.
June – Recovery – This is a period of recovery and healing for you. The challenging emotions that you’ve been dealing with will fade away with time. Although it may be difficult to see now, there is a joyful future awaiting you. But for now, take all the time you need to regain your strength.
July – Helpful People – This card indicates that it’s time to expand your circle of friends. Or you may find yourself needing to do some professional networking. Make time to branch out in order to create the personal or career connections necessary to be happy and successful. This card lets you know that someone will be entering your life soon who can help make your dreams to come true.
August – Get More Information – The situation you’re asking about requires more information in order for you to make a wise decision. Ask those knowledgeable about the topic for their advice. You may need to do analytical research in order to get the data you need.
September – Opportunity – Positive growth and expansion is on the horizon for you. This opportunity may bring with it inspiration and insight, or it could be the chance you’ve been waiting for to take action on ideas you already have. Whatever your desires, your angels are about to open a door of possibilities for you. Step right through!
October – Communicate Clearly – This situation requires very precise and careful communication. Don’t assume that others involved understand what you want or need from them. In-person discussions are preferable, but if that’s not possible, make sure that your communication method is very thorough.
November – Listen to Your Intuition – Your intuition is completely reliable and accurate at this time. Listen to your own inner guidance and you can’t go wrong. Have faith in your feelings about the circumstances you’re experiencing. Your insights into other people and their true feelings or motives are perfectly accurate.
December – Success! – Congratulations! You are on the road to success. You needn’t have any reservations about your situation, as it’s going to work out beautifully! Part of living a successful life is taking care of yourself. It’s wonderful to have many things to be grateful for, but make sure you don’t wear yourself down by working too hard. Take time to enjoy peace in your life.

I really liked that the last one ended up so neatly… Throughout the year, I’ll come check and see if any of these ended up being prescient.

2015 will be the year I finally stop apologizing for who I am.

I will nourish myself with whole, healthy food. Good conversations with friends. Lots of quiet me-time.

I will make more time for connecting with people I care about deeply.

I will practice courage by doing something brave (big or small) daily.

This year I will open my heart to myself. I will be kinder, gentler, more patient. With myself and every person I come in contact with.

I will pay more attention to signs from the universe. My choice of words. Words matter.

I will learn more about schools. The process. So I can help find a good fit for David.

I will release my attachment to getting it right. I don’t even know what “right” is and I will let go of the belief that I do.

I dearly wish for 2015 to feel easy and inspiring. I want to move through this year with grace. Calmly and bravely.

This year I will say NO to self deprecation and being mean to others. Being impatient. Doing things out of guilt or obligation. Or so I can look good.

This year I will say YES to doing things that make me feel alive. Deeper friendships. Social occasions. Trying new things. Being scared and doing it anyway. Embracing all of me.

WHAT IS YOUR SECRET WISH FOR 2015? DECLARE IT HERE! My biggest wish for this year is being able to juggle all that’s on my plate gracefully and to thrive in all areas of my life. But most significantly, I wish for David to get into the school of his desires and for him to be as happy in his next school as he’s been in his current one.

I WHOLEHEARTEDLY BELIEVE THAT EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE IN 2015!

Indeed.

As I warned, this was very, very long. If you made it this far down, I hope you’ll take the time to do your own worksheet too and if you discover anything interesting, I hope you come and share it with me. More retrospective posts and 2015 plans coming soon.