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.

Planning the new year

Towards the end of the year I always find myself in a reflective and planning mood. I think these sorts of queries are my thing all year round, but especially so during December. So when I ran into this list of questions, I knew I wanted to give them a shot, maybe if this sort of thing appeals to you, you can play along, too. if you do make sure to link me up in the comments so I can read your answers too:

1. One habit I’m going to build.
There are a lot of items on this list, as there always are, but the first item that came to my mind was water. I want to drink more water. I did really well with this during the Whole Life Challenge but since I’ve been off it, it’s been more tea and less water. Nothing wrong with tea, but I still want to make sure I drink more water. So it’s a habit I want to build. Also on the list: meditation, journaling, sketching, and more :)

2. One habit I’m going to break.
This is sort of related, to the first one. I’d like to break the habit of mindless eating. I’d like to be more mindful, slower, and more aware of what I eat. I also would like to yell less.

3. One person I’m going to forgive.
Number one on this list is always me. The person I need to forgive more often than anyone else is always me. I tend to be quite generous and willing to forgive others. Myself: not as much. So as the year comes to a close, I think it’s a good time to put everything from this year to rest and allow myself to start over.

4. One person I’m going to befriend or reconnect with.
Oh man, a lot of names on this list. I’m not good about keeping in touch with people who mean a lot to me. Good friends from college. From previous jobs. From my previous lives in my twenties, teens, or even thirties. I do not make enough room to stay better in touch with people. And yet, I love these people. They truly mean the world to me. So, as with all things that work for me, I need to make a plan on how to be better at this.

5. One person I’m going to spend more time with.
Jake and the boys. I just feel like I never spend as much time with them as I would like. I want more. I want to be more purposeful about what we do with the time, too. More time doing family activities. More time studying with David. More time exploring creativity with both. More time being mindful of our lives so we can appreciate them so much more.

6. One way I’m going to strengthen my personal relationship.
By doing better at keeping in touch. By reaching out to more people and working to connect on a more personal level. By putting myself out there more. By going outside my comfort zone. By thanking people for the gifts they bring into my life. But mostly, by being brave and showing up.

7. One thing I’m going to create.
A regular routine of sketching. A way to document my life. I really want this. I am hoping 2015 is my year to make it a reality.

8. One negative belief I’m going to drop.
That I don’t belong. I know for a fact that we have to own our own belonging. It’s not something bestowed upon us by others. So I need to own mine. I need to step into belonging. And abundance. I want to drop the belief of scarcity.

9. One positive belief I’m going to reinforce.
Abundance. There’s plenty to go around. Things are going to work out. I have enough. I am enough. My kids will be ok. Life is going to turn out okay. I want to believe in the power of all that. More on some of this in the next few weeks but I want to feel a surge of abundance everywhere in my life.

10. One unhealthy food I’m going to stop eating.
I want to stop eating everything that I eat that I don’t like the taste of. More than half the time, the food I eat doesn’t taste good to me. It just tastes average or doesn’t even have a taste that’s meaningful to me but I still make the choice to eat it. I want to stop this.

11. One healthy food I’m going to start eating.
Well, besides the water I mentioned above, I think the biggest change I’d like to implement here is to add a vegetable to each meal. Including breakfast. I want to think about how to make that possible. Every single day, for all meals.

12. One book I’m going to read.
Well this is a crazy question for me. I am going to read a plethora of books. The list is long and varied and makes me happy. I will continue to read voraciously in 2015 because it is the single biggest thing that never, ever fails to make me happy. I will also continue to listen to books in audio because it also makes me happy.

13. One new place I’m going to visit.
Hmm, I just went to Zurich does that count? I almost feel like it should :) Well other than that, it’s possible I will get to visit Seattle. I’ve been there once but quite briefly. I don’t think many other new places are on my list, maybe I should think about this one some more.

14. One adventure I’m going to go on.
Well, I just started my adventure with work. This is a big adventure for me, learning a brand new job even if it’s inside the same company. I am also planning a pretty big party as a volunteer job in my kids’ school that feels like an adventure to me. Maybe these are not adventurous to others but they count for me. I am sure more will come up as the year unfolds. I suppose I should think more about what adventure means to me. 2015 is also the year when my son will be applying to middle school and I am told it’s going to be an adventure getting through the application process.

15. One hobby I’m going to try.
I am going to try carving stamps this year. More on this later in the month as it’s one of my weekly projects for 2015. Something new to me.

16. One personal development goal I’m going to achieve.
Hmmm….I had to actually google this to see what the question meant. I already do a lot in this area but the one thing I thought about this week is to get better about blocking out my week. Not just planning my todos but actually assigning them to blocks of time on my week so that I know when they will get done. I saw this in Cal Newport’s blog and I love this idea and I want to explore it. On a personal level, I want to get much much better at taking care of my body. My teeth, my skin, etc. I want to look nicer because I know it helps me feel better.

17. One fitness goal I’m going to achieve.
About two weeks ago, I found a 20-minute exercise set on pinterest. It’s running with elevation. It’s nothing for people who run/exercise regularly but it’s tough for me. I want to do this every other day and then also add the 7-minute exercise on the alternating days. I still want to make sure I take 10,000 steps daily as well. I want to feel strong and fit.

18. One new food I’m going to try.
Kale. Or even just all of the greens. I want to experiment more here and see what I like. See if there are any vegetables, raw food, that I can prepare quickly and still enjoy eating.

19. One fear I’m going to overcome.
That it’s all going to disappear. That I am not worthy. That I will lose my job. That people will leave. That something will happen to my family. Or to me. A lot of these might be irrational or they might happen but fearing them is not preparing me better for it. It’s just making me sad and worried and anxious.

20. One risk I’m going to take.
I plan to take many risks in 2015. Big and small. One I am considering right now is heading up the parent association which seems like nothing but it would be a big deal for me. I took a big risk at work already. Maybe I can take more risks, too. I have think on this one.

21. One thing I’m going to throw out.
I hope to go through my closet and throw out a lot of what I never wear. I also wish I could do something similar for my scrapbooking supplies. I have way too much of it and would feel considerably better if I could pare down my space. I’ve found I like the peace emptiness brings.

22. One thing I’m going to save for and purchase.
Nothing on this list. I am blessed and grateful to have all I need. I am sure I’ll want things throughout 2015 but I will try to remember that I don’t actually “need” any more “stuff.”

23. One way I’m going to make more money.
This, too, thankfully is not a main issue for me. What I would like to do around this, however, is think about my coaching practice, my scrapping, and any other jobs I have outside of my one job to see how I would like to structure them. How much time do I want to spend on each. What joy they bring to my life, what do they take away, etc. I want to be more mindful about what I choose to spend my time on and what I don’t get to do because of that choice.

24. One expense I’m cutting out.
Starbucks! I want to be 100% done with Starbucks. Forever, if at all possible.

25. One way I’m going to stop wasting time.
Hmmm. I’d say less TV or less idle surfing but I do both of those things when I am tired or avoiding some real work. So what I’d like to do less is avoid things. I want to get better at just getting it done. I would not mind spending a little less time on Pinterest….

26. One skill I’m going to learn.
Sketching. It’s going to happen.

27. One class I’m going to take or workshop I’m going to attend.
I am taking several sketching classes now and scheduled for early January. I am sure I will take more.

28. One way I’m going to make myself indispensable at work.
Is by being so good. So on top of things. So organized. Willing to do whatever it takes and not whining about the work but just getting it done. Being good at being self-reliant. Creating a great connection with each of the people on my team. Those are my goals.

29. One thing I will no longer tolerate.
Making myself feel small. Apologizing for who I am. Feeling less than. I do all of these now. I will not allow myself to treat me this way any more. Nor anyone else. No sarcasm. No “jokes” that are cruel.

30. One way I’m going to keep my energy high.
Is by eating whole foods. Exercising. Getting a lot of sleep. Being endlessly curious about what I do. Listening passionately.

31. One way I’m going to relax and de-stress.
Reading. Doing art. I will try to meditate possibly. Curling up on the couch with my boys.

32. One way I’m going to get better sleep.
Going to bed early. 30 minutes before I plan to fall asleep. Having no caffeine and a light dinner. Eating more whole in general. Keeping a consistent schedule as much as I can.

33. One way I’m going to have more fun.
Making a list of things I love to do. Things that are fun and outside my comfort zone. I want to laugh more. For no reason even.

34. One small way in which I’m going to make the world a better place.
Smiling a lot. I want to be the kindest person I can be to anyone I come across. I want to always smile. I want to say only the nicest words I can think of. I don’t want to contribute to gossip or sarcasm or perpetuate anything that’s not lifting others up.

35. One bucket list item I’m crossing off.
So I don’t have a bucket list, but I do have a life list and I wouldn’t mind tackling one or two of these.

36. One way I’m going to follow my bliss.
Is to check in with my core desired feelings regularly. I have made a new list for 2015 and I love it. I plan to make it a daily practice to check in with myself on how I’ve felt that day. I want to remind myself in the morning that these are my desired feelings, and then check in halfway through the day to ensure I am feeling them and if not change course so that by the end of the day, I feel good about how I lived my day.

And there we go. Some thoughts for 2015. I enjoyed this list and if you do it, I’d love to see yours.

Beginnings

I’ve been thinking about beginnings a lot lately. This time of year is usually a reflective time for me, and it’s a time I usually visit the idea of beginning the new year. What my wishes, dreams, hopes, ambitions are for the coming year, etc.

But, this year, I’ve had even more reason to think about beginnings since I just started a new role at work. What’s unusual about this beginning is that everyone else is in the “middle” and I am not.

When it comes to a new year, we’re all starting that at the same time. Or back when we were at school, our beginnings were lined up. But this particular beginning is individual to me. I get to be the new person on my team for a while. And as with most beginnings, there are some advantages and disadvantages to that.

On the plus side, I am enthusiastic and since I haven’t been burned on anything yet, I feel like there are endless possibilities. I feel audacious and willing to tackle big, scary (but useful) projects. I am optimistic. I feel energetic and like I have a lot of ideas. I am excited to learn something so new to me.I feel confident, excited, and competent. I feel like a sponge, absorbing more and more till I am soaked.

The downside is that sometimes I feel soaked. I feel like my brain is completely tapped out. I feel overwhelmed and not sure where to begin. I feel organized and completely disorganized at the same time. I feel alone, like I am trying to climb a new mountain all by myself with everyone watching to see if I can do it but not offering to help. Sometimes I feel tired just thinking about all I have to do. Sometimes I miss being the one who knows it all. Sometimes I feel like I will never actually learn anything. It will never stick. I feel lost.

Sometimes, I feel all of these things at the same time.

This is how my personal projects are to me, too. I tend to pick things I want to learn, not things I already know. So they are hard and fun and easy and frustrating all at the same time. Sometimes I just want to walk away. Some days I feel like I am never going to get it. Another day I am overflowing with ideas. And then I am just tired.

But here’s what I learned: I need to soldier on.

There’s a reason I picked these projects. There’s a reason I joined this team. There’s a reason I do what I do. I love learning, growing, stretching. And none of that is possible without discomfort. None of that is possible without beginnings.

So, we shall begin.

Learning as a Grownup

David’s teachers sent us an email last week with recommended links related to math work. One of the links they sent us was to an online math class Stanford is offering. I decided we could take that one together so I registered us and we started this past weekend.

So far, a lot of the class is around Myths about Math, recent brain research on learning, and research on making mistakes and the importance (or not) of being fast. Even though I was aware of a lot of this research, hearing it again has been incredibly fascinating and informative.

I can write several blog posts on the things we’ve learned so far but one of the first thoughts that came to me as I was listening was about the difference between how we perceive learning as a kid vs as a grown up. When we’re young, we’re expected not to know much and to always be learning. We send our kids to school and we also try to introduce them to other activities like sports, arts, music, leadership, public speaking, community service, etc. We spend a lot of energy learning, growing, expanding as young people.

We don’t expect them to be brilliant, but we do expect them to keep trying, to keep learning, and to be open. And if they are lucky, our kids don’t get stereotyped as the kid who can do X but can’t do Y. Especially at the younger ages, we encourage them to cast their net wide, to explore, to try and give different things a chance.

But then we are done with official school and expectations around learning seems to change drastically.

By this point, we’re expected to “know” so much. We’re supposed to know what we want to do with our life, what we’re good at, what we’re not good at, what’s worth our time, and on and on. It’s as if up until that moment, our brain was growing, stretching, expanding, but then when we turn 21 and graduate, it’s all over. There’s no more room for growth. Stretching our brain is no longer a priority. And, to make matters worse, we often have very strong opinions on what’s no longer an option for us. “Oh I’m not a math person. It’s too late for me to learn a new language. I can’t draw to save my life. I’m just not talented.”

The Stanford class says there’s data that proves the human brain is very plastic even when we’re adults. We can create new connections and when we practice something new, we do strengthen those areas of the brain, even if we’re old.

So why do we stop learning? Why do we no longer try to grow?

Why isn’t learning encouraged just as much as an adult? Why is it no longer a part of the society’s norm? We encourage our teenagers to gain work experience but we don’t encourage adults to go to school and learn new things.

Maybe I am thinking about this all wrong or maybe I am missing something obvious. Either way, hearing about this research made me decide to embrace the growth mindset and the drive to learn even more strongly. I don’t ever want to be a person who says “it’s too late for me, i can’t learn this anymore.” I want to always keep learning and keep growing and keep stretching my brain.

And I am grateful to know that my brain will continue to respond to that.

Saying Goodbye Saying Hello

I don’t usually talk about work on my blog, but I wanted to share that after more than six years, I’ve decided to move away from the Chrome team. A large amount of my time at Google has been with the Chrome team and it’s one of the products I love and feel proud to have worked on. I’ve loved the team even more than the product. They are wonderful, kind, generous and brilliant people. I am so lucky to have worked with them. Choosing to leave was a very tough decision but I knew that it was time to learn something new.

My new adventures take me to the Google Maps team. Another product I love and use regularly. I will be working with the Transit folks and I am looking forward to learning about public transportation all over the world and traveling to the Zurich office and working with and for some of the first teammates I had at Google. Some awesome people.

For the last few months, I’ve been working on moving boldly into unknown futures. This is not second-nature to me and it comes with a lot of fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear that I might be messing up something that works and finding myself neck deep in regret. Fear that I might fail. Fear that I might “ruin it all.” Fear that I am not going to be able to measure up to the expectations of others. And, most of all, fear that I will disappoint people I care about.

But I am doing it anyway.

I’ve updated my banner so you can get a sneak peek at my word for 2015. I think this move, and several others I’ve done in the last few months line up with my word. My goals for myself. My efforts to challenge myself and not let inertia take over. To grow. To expand. To learn.

So here’s a big, bold step in that direction.

Here’s to new beginnings.

Pondering

Apparently all I am capable of lately is just updates that are dumps of my current thoughts. So I figure it might still be better than nothing at all. I hope I am right.

Here’s some of what’s on my mind at the moment. In no particular order:

  1. I’ve been thinking nonstop about my December Daily because I want to do something different this year. Something wildly different. I wanted to do something that involved mixed media or something. But I wrecked my brain day after day and I surfed for ideas all over, but I couldn’t come up with anything. Nothing seemed to really click for me. Finally, today, in the car, on the way to pickup the kids, I came up with an idea I am excited about. I am not sure at all if it will work but at least it feels interesting to me. It will mean a lot of work up front for my prep pages but I’ve decided to give it a try for the next 2-3 weeks and see if I can make it happen. I will judge the idea around November 13. Which is long enough for me to see if it comes to fruition and short enough to have a fallback plan.
  2. What made the December Daily situation even more complicated is that I will be in Zurich the first week of December. I think this might be the only time so far, I’ve been away during December without my family. And the only time I’ve been away right at the beginning of the project. For such a long time. This was freaking me out a bunch. Having to come back and then play catch up right away. But I am not freaked out anymore. It’s all going to work out. I know that if I say it will, it will.
  3. I’ve been reading about Ali’s upcoming Week in the Life plans and I’ve been telling myself I wasn’t going to do it. I’ve done this project a few times but it never really sticks with me. So I wasn’t crazy about doing it. But then I realized that I’ve been taking very very few photos in the last few months and that maybe this project could be a nice kick in the pants for me. I can even couple it with my Savor Project and get it printed in the same book. So now I am considering it. I have to see if I can design some digital format for it over the weekend. I’m still on the fence about it but learning towards doing it ….I think.
  4. I’m in a transition period for the next two weeks and like always, I hate transitions. I just find myself uninspired during this time. Unwilling to jump in the new pool yet but already feeling out of place in the old one. Alas, it’s only two more weeks and then new things begin for me. Here’s to hoping I made the right decisions.
  5. I’m still doing the Whole Life Challenge. As of tonight, I’m 41 days in. I’ve been pretty consistent at keeping to my schedule and commitments. Part of that is due to the relatively consistent schedule I have but a lot of it is just due to my commitment to make it work. I have 14 more days and it ends. I’ve been thinking about what life after the WLC looks like for me. What practices I will continue. What foods I will bring back. How I hope to maintain the wholeness of my diet and the consistency of exercise. Thinking, thinking…
  6. I’ve also been thinking a lot about 2015. What my projects will be. What I want to learn. How I want to feel. I know my word, but I think I want to do the Core Desires exercise again and see what comes up for me this time. I have some ideas of the projects I will do for sure but then others, I am not sure about. Each time I sit to plan it, I feel a bit uninspired which is not the place from where I want to make these decisions. Like December Daily, I am hoping it will just come to me as I let my subconscious ponder it for a while.
  7. It’s been a long week with four extra trips to school and one to work. Everything is good, and I am thankful for that, but I am ready for things to be a bit quieter. I am one of those people who really thrives on routine.
  8. The Mixed Media Studio class I am part of has started. You can still register for six more days. My week starts next Thursday. Not like it’s intimidating coming right after Donna Downey or anything.
  9. I’ve been going to sleep 8-8:30 every night as I find myself completely exhausted each night and I’m making an effort to listen to my body. One wonderful benefit to WLC has been being able to fall asleep almost instantly and wake up completely rested. Quite nice.
  10. I can’t believe there are only 10 weeks left in 2014. How did that happen?

So here’s where I am. I usually go into deep pondering/planning space during October/November and this year is no exception. I hope to feel all organized in the next two weeks so I can start testing out some of my projects for 2015. First, I have to decide what they are.