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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.

An Update on Listening

As we approach the end of the year at neck breaking speed, and I’m being embraced by my new word for 2015, I’ve been thinking about my word and all that it’s brought me this year.

In January, Ali had us all write down our intentions for the year and with our word. Here are some of the highlights from mine:

  • Health: I want to go back to being stronger and making healthier choices.  I also want to experiment with different exercise and eating options.
  • Health: I really want to prioritize sleep.
  • Health: I want to prioritize self-care and set rituals for morning and night.
  • Serene: I want to explore what it means for me to be serene (also in public.)
  • Serene: I want to spend a lot of time in nature.
  • Grace: I will be in photos more.
  • Grace: I want to volunteer more.
  • Grace: I want to declutter.
  • Grace: I want to send emails to people who mean so much to me.
  • Engaged: I want to explore what it would mean for me to be fully engaged in my life.
  • Engaged: I want to show up.
  • Engaged: I don’t want to count the days, I want to live them.
  • Whole: Reach out to others.
  • Whole: I want to participate and speak up more.
  • I want to listen to the things that matter and listen with presence.
  • I want to choose to spend my attention, time, and energy on the things that feed my soul, mind and heart.

In February we set some actions for the year. here were mine:

  • Create a morning and evening ritual.
  • Spend time in nature every week.
  • Get in the photos regularly.
  • Show up (I want to be more engaged, choose to participate.)
  • Choose Nourished over Full
  • Heal (Choose to let go. Release and embrace the light.)
  • Declutter (Clean up one corner each week.)
  • Reach out (and connect with the people I care about.)
In June, I wrote down that I’d like to do some specific practices related to my word like journaling on voices/sounds i heard that day, 5-minute meditation to hear all the sounds around me, and doing one brave thing daily (listening to the sounds of my yearnings.)
So now, here we are halfway through October.
When I look at these lists. Some things strike me as interesting:
  1. Health: I’ve had on and off times but at this moment, I’m actively working on my health. I am doing the whole life challenge. I am eating very healthy daily. I am exercising, stretching, drinking water, sleeping about 8 hours a night, and doing at least some self care. I have yet to establish a morning or evening routine. When I wake up, I go right to exercise. I guess that’s my routine. In the evenings, I tend to lie in bed for a little bit and read or listen to a book. Neither of these are what I had in mind, but they are working for now. This is one I would still like to think about some more.
  2. Serene:  Now that the weather is getting colder and the kids are back in school, I am not sitting outside daily anymore. I am definitely not taking trips to the trees or water. I would like to do more of this. Some kind of recurring routine here would really help me. Serene is one that’s really speaking to me at the moment, maybe because I am feeling impatient inside at the moment. I’d like to embrace being more serene. I want to think about what this means to me.
  3. Grace: I’ve been in photos more this year. Though not taking many lately, I still am doing a better job jumping in. I will do it even more. I am volunteering a lot at the kids’ school but I would like to find another volunteer opportunity for David and me. I miss that. Decluttering daily this week. Feels wonderful. And, I definitely should send emails more. I think I will put scheduled time and reminders on my calendar to do that.
  4. Engaged: Getting better at showing up. But I want to explore what it would mean for me to be fully engaged in my life. This is a big one and I really would like to not ignore it. I’m working on making the changes needed to live my days more.
  5. Whole: I could reach out even more. I feel like the days are passing by too quickly. But I am participating. I am speaking up and being myself. I am getting there.

I haven’t done any of the three things I listed in June. They sound lovely but they are not interesting enough to me in October. So, those, I am going to let go.

Here are some other interesting ways listening has manifested in my life:

  • Audiobooks: I’ve listened to more audiobooks this year than ever before. Probably over 25 of them, which I find to be absolutely amazing. Never really did it with this much regularity before. 
  • Listen and Act: For the last few months especially, I’ve been acting very quickly on thoughts/yearnings/excitement I hear inside myself. I find myself excited by an idea and then I just do it. I start the process of putting it into action. It’s scary but also exhilarating.
  • Listen and Believe: This one is tough for me but I’ve been working hard at believing when people compliment me. When people offer me wonderful things. I’ve been working at saying thank you and letting gratitude wash over me. I don’t get it right each time but I am working on it.

Listen is a tough word for me; I talk a lot. It’s also tough because it’s not something I can do and check off my list. It’s something I have to do every moment of every day. Just like eating healthy, feeling serene, graceful, engaged, and whole. I have to work on these every day. But I’ve decided that these are the ways I want to feel and so this work is worth it.

More than anything, I still wholeheartedly believe in these two statements:

  • I want to listen to the things that matter and listen with presence.
  • I want to choose to spend my attention, time, and energy on the things that feed my soul, mind and heart.

Onward.

Giveaway for Online Class

I know I am due an update from last week’s posts. I will tell you just a few quick updates and then get down to the giveaway and I promise a longer update later this week:

  • I am still staying on top of the Whole Life Challenge. Thirty days down, 25 more to go.
  • I had my meeting, it went well and I stressed for nothing.
  • Life’s a collection of waiting moments right now. I do not do well with waiting.
  • I am really excited about my class starting soon.

On that great segue, I have one spot to give away in the class.

This class is taught by some of my favorite artists: Carolyn Peeler, CD Muckosky, Céline Navarro, Christy Tomlinson, Donna Downey, Frank Garcia, Rebecca Sower, Susan Weckesser, and me. 

Here’s a bit more about the class:
Got paint? Get inspired! Nine mixed-media experts will help you experiment with a diverse array of artistic techniques in this 9-week online workshop.

Mixed Media Studio is like nine different classes in one! Each week, a different artsy all-star will share an exclusive project, a video that walks you through a featured technique, and step-by-step instructions to help you complete the project. Plus, you’ll get to interact directly with the artists via our private classroom message board and gallery.

Would you like to find your groove in the mixed-media world? Try your hand at nine different art styles, all collected into one affordable workshop.

If you know for sure that you’re interested, you can register by clicking here. I confirmed that if you win and you’ve already registered, they will reimburse you.

If you’d like to win a spot in this class, please leave a comment and tell me what kind of classes you’d like me to teach.

I will post a winner on Monday, October 20, right here.

I really hope to see you in class.

ps: All the links are affiliate links as it’s a big part of how I get paid for the class so I would be really grateful if you signed up by clicking through on one of my links :)

Hypocrisy

Yesterday, I got an email from someone asking me to setup a meeting with someone else. The minute I read the email, I felt dejected. This other person (let’s call him Ben) with whom I was asked to setup some time is not someone I am particularly fond of and I disliked the idea of his having anything to do with my day. It impacted me so strongly that it basically ruined my day. As you may remember, I was already grumpy so that didn’t help things much either. I kept looking at the email and pouting.

Not just pouting, but I kept making scenarios in my head about the content of the meeting, the attitude of Ben and I got grouchier and grouchier. By the end of the day, I was already confident I knew how this meeting would go. And I decided it was a lost cause. And then I wasn’t just grumpy. I was mad. And I was really sad.

The meeting is not until tomorrow.

This morning, I woke up and decided I needed to change my attitude around this whole thing. I knew that if I walked into this meeting with the mentality I had about Ben, I wouldn’t hear anything he said. As I learned in a class I took long ago, I would be Already Always Listening which means I would be listening to his words through the filter of my feelings for him. I would interpret his words inside my mind, giving them a negative spin. I would not really be listening to him but my own version of what he’s saying.

Which seemed the opposite of this week’s intent of listening carefully.

The truth is, I’ve only interacted with Ben once. For a very short period. I wanted something from him and he didn’t do what I wanted. He didn’t handle it the way I wanted. One time, two years ago. One time.

One time.

If someone else were judging me on the one interaction we’ve ever had, I’d be really disappointed. I’d want to be given the benefit of the doubt. I’d want them to give me a chance and come to the meeting with an open mind. In fact, if he already has similar feelings about me, I know I want him to be at this meeting with an open mind (even though I clearly don’t have one.)

Hypocrite, much?

Yes, indeed.

This afternoon, as I was journaling about all this, my hypocrisy hit me in the face. And I almost laughed out loud. At how obvious it is once I write it out. Think it through. At how ridiculous it is. At how horrible I was being.

What’s the point of having the meeting at all if I’ve already decided the outcome?

How is it I am holding him to a different standard than I am holding myself?

wow.

So I made a plan. My goal is to go to this meeting with a beginner’s mind. I will assume I’ve never met Ben before. I will assume he has good intentions (as much as I would assume from any stranger to whom I give the benefit of the doubt.) I will listen to the word that he says. The actual words. I will listen carefully. I will give him my attention.

I will also listen to the universe. And I will listen to my gut.

But I will do this after our conversation. I will sit and process it a bit. And then form my opinions. From information gathered during our talk.

And then if the outcome is not ideal, so be it.

At least it won’t be because I didn’t listen.

Grumpiness

I’ve been feeling the blahs for the last four days now. As I sat by my desk tonight, I found myself wondering if it’s a good idea to write when I am grumpy or if I should just avoid the blog at all costs.

The thing is, there are many little and big things where I feel like I am running behind lately. Or just dropping on the floor altogether.

  • I have been terrible about posting family photos here on the blog since around June. I have a lot of photos. They’ve been piling up but I just cannot get myself to do the work to post them. 
  • I’ve dropped the stitching project altogether. I think I’d just had enough of it. I have some ideas for Thursdays now but I haven’t gotten around to writing them.
  • I haven’t been really taking any pictures for months now. I have been using my SLR so little, it actually had a dead battery (from disuse) this has never happened since I bought the camera years ago.
  • I feel uninspired to blog lately.  Or journal. I think about both nonstop and want to do more, but I can’t get myself to do it.
  • I have a month’s worth of shoes I drew back in June and never posted.
  • And 75-days of sketching with only pen.

So hence the question of should I even bother. But sometimes it’s more about the practice of writing then the content. So I am going to keep at it. Here are some thoughts, things on my mind, things in my life, things to share, in no order:

  1. I just finished “I’ll Give You the Sun“ by Jandy Nelson. One of the best books I’ve read in a long, long time. Really magical.
  2. My third sketching class is starting (actually i just checked and it looks like it just started!) and I’ve been sketching daily to get in the habit again
  3. I’m completely caught up in Life Book (just have this week’s lesson to do)
  4. My nephew and son have both been excitedly waiting for the latest and last Percy Jackson book. It’s been really fun watching their anticipation. I love that feeling of waiting for a book to come out so you can finally read it.
  5. I’ve already picked my word for 2015. Let’s see if it changes between now and November.
  6. I’ve been thinking about December Daily. I want to do a mixed media one this year, I think. Just not sure how it will be formatted. I need some time to think, plan, imagine.
  7. I’ve also been thinking about my projects for next year. My plan is to have one watercolor notebook and one acrylic one and just do all my projects in one or the other. I think….
  8. My son’s really into music and I love watching him sing and how he’s learning to play guitar. There’s nothing like music that speaks to your soul.
  9. So many people have emailed me to say they love my little one’s smiling face. It’s so sweet to hear.
  10. I miss my parents. My sister. My nephews. I miss my friends at home.
  11. I want to be better at keeping in touch with my friends all over. Another thing I never make proper time for.
  12. I’ve been reading Howard Jacob’s J for a while now and can’t seem to get through it but I also refuse to put it down.
  13. I have some important meetings this week that might determine how the next few years unfold. Please pray for me if that’s your thing. Or just send good wishes my way.
  14. I made a list of 12 nonfiction books and 12 art books and I am thinking of attacking one each month and actually making progress using the books I’ve bought.
  15. I’m 24 days into the Whole Life Challenge. And it’s challenging. I am hungry and tired a bunch. And I have not lost as much weight as I would have liked by now.
  16. I am trying to treat myself with some grace over the latest grumpiness.
  17. But I had told myself I had until the end of September to get organized again. It’s officially October.
  18. I hope you sign up for my class.

That’s it from me for now. I am sorry for the uninspiring posts lately. If you’re still around I’d love to hear from you on how you’re doing.

Whole Life Challenge Update

I’ve now been doing the Whole Life Challenge for seventeen days. This means that for the last seventeen days, I’ve been exercising daily, drinking a ton of water, stretching every day and most significantly not eating chocolate, not drinking diet coke or lattes. Also not eating bread, cheese, corn, milk, and any processed food.

Add to that the fact that I don’t cook and one would think I’ve had nothing to eat. Considering all that, I will say that it hasn’t been nearly as challenging as it sounds. (Though there’ve been plenty of challenging moments.) I’ve basically been sticking to a pretty consistent breakfast-lunch-dinner routine daily.

Breakfast: Black Coffee + Water + Whole Grain Oatmeal (i’ve been eating these) with raspberries and blueberries

Lunch: Big salad with lettuce, carrots, beets, broccoli, asparagus, tomatoes, celery and then I add chicken or lentils or beans and blueberries or honeydew + water + tea

Snack: My big salad takes a while to eat, but if i am hungry, I’ll make some more coffee and have a few nuts of a bit of a lara bar or some fruit (sometimes i have all of these things.)

Dinner: Dinner is trickiest for me. Sometimes I am really not hungry so I will have some yogurt, some tea/cofffee/linden tea. If I am hungry, I will eat an Amy’s Bowl (this and this are compliant for my level). If I am still hungry I might eat some more of my Lara bar or almonds.

I usually eat my dinner early (5/6pm) and will then possibly snack at 7 with a fruit. I usually go to bed no later than 9pm since I wake up at 5am.

Here are a few other things I do:

  • Once a week, I will cook 6-7 chicken patties to have a week’s worth of chicken.
  • I go to Whole Foods to get carrot and beet salad because I like them and am too lazy to grate them myself
  • I will make one big omelette with 3 eggs on Sundays and put a lot of veggies in it just to experiment and have fun. It’s easy to eat a lot of eggs on this diet and so I am trying not to get too dependent on eggs as I want to keep my diet vegetable heavy.
  • I will also make Almond and Peanut butter when I am at Whole Foods and if I am hungry or craving chocolate, I will grab a spoonful of either
  • I haven’t been to many social events yet but now that I have 17 days under my belt, I am considerably less worried, though we’ll see
  • It’s getting better but I still really dislike the taste of black coffee. It still sort of tastes like what I imagine eating cigarettes to be.
  • Apparently my vitamin B is really low so I’ve changed my supplement to be B3 per my doctor’s advice

I know this doesn’t seem like a lot of food but I am never hungry. Most of the time, I am eating because I am bored and having these limited options allows me to make wiser choices during those moments. And eventually I hope I will stop eating because I am bored and only eat when I am actually hungry.

The exercise has also been going well. I stopped being incredibly sore after day three. I still hurt while I exercise so I know I am pushing myself but it’s not the acute, cannot-walk pain from the first days. Progress.

I haven’t measured myself again but I did get on the scale last week and I’ve lost some weight already but most importantly, I just feel good about finally changing the way I eat and getting a lot more vegetables in my system every single day.

Let’s see what the next seventeen days brings.

ps: in case I haven’t mentioned, I am now Instagramming occasionally.

Getting (re)Started

Just a few days ago, I wrote about taking time to pause and then I wrote about the Whole Life Challenge and how one of the components is a LifeStyle challenge that changes each week.

As if they read my blog, the challenge team picked the best LifeStyle challenge for me this week. It’s called 123 ToDo:

Every day of week 2, you will start the day by making a list of ONE thing that you must get done, TWO things that you’d like to get done, and THREE things that would be nice to get done. By the end of the day, you must have completed the ONE thing that you said you must get done.

You get your point if you make the list and cross of the one item that must get done.

This has been the push I needed to get back to my productive space. Since Saturday, when this challenge began, I’ve been able to knock off at least 3 of the 6 items in my list each day. Some days I do them all but as long as #1 gets done, I feel awesome. This meant that I finally got my blood tests done (after putting it off for 4 years, and it turns out it was a good thing since my vitamin d levels are too low!) and I sent emails I’d been putting off for weeks, and got back on track for my daily sketching, and scheduled David’s orthodontist appointment and I could go on and on, in only four days!

Sometimes, all we need is an excuse to get back on track and once we are, the momentum keeps us going. (Just like inertia has its own momentum and keeps you in the space of inertia.)

As I often say when people ask me for advice on how to create more art or get better: you need to just start. Get up and sit at your desk and push paint around if you need to. Once you start, the universe works with you to make it all happen.

You just need to do your part and show up.

Leaping

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the last week worrying about a decision I might have to make.

You read that right: I don’t even know if I will have to make the decision or not yet. And yet I am still worrying.

So much so that I’ve dreamt about it and had a hard time falling asleep.

The reason the decision is tough is because it will change my day to day life and if things don’t work out (which is always a possibility) I might be very sad I made the change. I feel like the unknown seems so overwhelming that I’d rather not change anything just not to risk the unknown.

Which can’t possibly be a good idea, can it?

I’ve been thinking about taking leaps in general. Walking into the unknown more often. Being braver.

And then the little voice inside my head says “but what if it all goes wrong and you regret it forever?”

Indeed. what if?

The threat of regret is so daunting.

But here’s what I do know. Life changes constantly. There’s no guarantee things will stay as they are now. There’s no way to know how the paths I didn’t take would have turned out. And most importantly: everything is always ok in the end. Sometimes it’s not about doing all your homework or thinking really hard. It’s definitely not about worrying for hours on end.

Sometimes it’s just about making the leap.

And having faith that it will all work out.

Or simply just having faith.

And taking the leap.

On a side note, as I was writing this, one of my colleagues found out his dad had a heart-attack and had to be airlifted to the hospital. A reminder that life is so fragile and I need to just stop wasting mine by worrying. period. Instead, I need to remember to be grateful for each and every day.

Permission to Pause

Last Friday, I turned 40.

It was a whirlwind weekend full of wonderful surprises and the very next day my Whole Life Challenge started. The week before mine was my husband’s 40th birthday so we had a whirlwind for him, too. All this has meant a bunch of days off work and out of routine. And since Saturday, a bunch of really tired days as I move more and eat differently. Most nights this week, I’ve pretty much wanted to do nothing after work. My kids go to bed and pretty soon after, I do, too.

That doesn’t leave a lot of room for my ever-growing-never-getting-done todo list.

Or my ever-growing email.

And I know it’s okay to take breaks. But I also know that all this postponing will eventually catch up with me. I also know I wanted to set some projects for myself for the fall and possibly reorganize things.

And yet, all I want to do now is lie down.

So I’ve been trying to figure out what to do. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

This week has been all about the Whole Life Challenge. Eating healthier. Moving differently and being sore and getting better. All this will make me more energetic in the long term but it leaves me pretty tired for now. So, since my health is indeed one of my top issues for 2014, I give myself permission to take the rest of this week off.

But.

This weekend, I will get organized. Take stock. See where I am and what’s really falling behind. And next week I will slowly start catching up.

By the week after, I expect to be back to my regularly scheduled life and tempo.

Let’s see if any of that is realistic. But sometimes you just need to start doing things to get back into the groove so I am trying to balance giving myself permission to pause with making sure I do have a plan for being productive again because I know that productive is where I feel happiest.

I think for people like me, who thrive on routine, it’s really tough to have things that knock you off your schedule. Even when it’s good things, like birthdays. And the trick is giving myself grace but still gently coaxing myself back on schedule.

That balance is always the tough part.

I know this post seems pointless and maybe it’s just me trying to work out how I can get back on track. And also wondering how do others do it….

Constraining Joy

I’ve been thinking a lot about rules lately. About two months ago, I took a wonderful Sketching class at Sketchbook Skool (in fact, I am taking all their classes now) and I really loved it. I immediately started sketching more regularly.

But just as immediately, I noticed myself making up random rules. Or maybe not random but just rules.

First it was that I couldn’t sketch from a photo, it had to be from real-life or nothing.

Then I decided I couldn’t use pencil and had to do it straight from pen.

Then I made up new rules about type of sketch, time of sketch, duration of sketch….on and on.

By this time, I had constructed so many rules in my head that some of them were even conflicting with each other. One part of my head said sketch quickly and the other one screamed for me to seriously slow down and pay attention to detail. There was so much going on in my head that I wasn’t sure I enjoyed the sketching anymore.

This has happened to me a lot in different hobbies I’ve taken up. I’ve heard people say things like

“If you don’t use Manual mode on your camera it’s cheating”

“If you scrap the same photo multiple times, it’s cheating”

“If you don’t journal, it’s cheating.”

“If you use pencil first, it’s cheating.”

on and on.

Doesn’t matter what the hobby is, apparently there are rules and judgements even on something we do to spend our free time.

As soon as I realized the pressure I was adding to my life, I decided to step back and take it all off the table. I decided to wipe the slate clean and say “there are no rules.” Let’s start fresh.

I decided the only rules I wanted to create were around a specific area of growth I was planning to tackle. If I specifically decided it was important to learn to sketch without pencil, then, fine, no pencil could be the rule but I wasn’t going to then add 4 more rules to that. If my goal is to work on perspective, who cares if my camera is on manual?

Instead of adding arbitrary rules that others have created, I decided I wanted to get very clear on my own goals and then make my own rules to meet my own goals. If my only goal is to practice sketching as much as possible, then all the other stuff goes out the window so I can just sketch, sketch, sketch.

Are you also creating rules to restrict your joy without realizing it or am I the only one driving myself crazy?

Challenging Myself

About a month ago, I was reading Stephanie Howell’s blog and I saw her mention The Whole Life Challenge. I hadn’t heard of this site or concept at all and I was looking for an excuse to get myself back into track from all the Nutella and Starbucks I’d gotten in the habit of overdoing.

I emailed Steph to ask more questions and she very kindly and enthusiastically encouraged me to do it.

Sometimes, the universe comes together at the right time and this was one of those cases. I saw it, I decided I wanted to do it, and I signed up. All within a matter of hours.

I knew it was starting the day after I turned 40 so I thought that, too, was maybe a sign. But it also meant that I wasn’t prepared at all. At all. And if you’ve been here for any length of time, you know that I definitely lean on the organized side, so this was quite unusual. I think maybe I just didn’t want to think about it until I had to. Instead I had more lattes and more Nutella.

So Saturday came and I immediately went into panic mode. The only food I’d bought was oatmeal that was 100% oats to ensure I had some breakfast. I ate my breakfast and then went shopping for food. I also went through the house and threw away everything I knew I could no longer eat. (There wasn’t much left at this point because I hadn’t been buying much and I’d been eating whatever I bought.)

The way this challenge works is that there are 7 aspects: nutrition, 10min workout, 10min stretching, supplement, water, lifestyle(changes each week), reflections (journaling). I spent some time deciding what all these mean for me and how they will manifest in my life.

Last night, I finally decided it was time to get organized. So I sat down to list all the different parts of this process:

  1. Water – Drink 3 containers full of water – this is sized to work for me
  2. Supplement – I’ve decided to take Omega-3 for now but seeing the doctor tomorrow so we’ll see
  3. Stretch – The WLC site has different daily stretches they recommend and for now I am just doing those each day for 10 mins.
  4. Exercise – Exercise component is a bit involved for me partly because I wanted to do different things:
    1. Walk 10,000 steps each day
    2. Walk up 10 floors of stairs each day
    3. Do the NYTimes Scientific 7-min workout daily (I use this YouTube video)
  5. Nutrition – There are three different levels you can choose in the game, I’ve decided to go with LifeStyle which is the medium level. (PDF of Levels)
  6. LifeStyle – This week this is about no technology during Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
  7. Reflection – This is just a small amount of journaling I have to do each night. Not hard :)

And to ensure I don’t forget about some part, I’ve made a printable I glue to my notebook each week:

This way I can track it all day long and feel good about my progress. (you can ignore the sketching bit, that’s a different daily goal.)

So far, the biggest challenge has been the 7-minute exercise which apparently is working out muscles I didn’t even know I had. So I am sore everywhere. And, I mean: everywhere.

But, other than that, I have been doing fine with no bread or lattes or nutella. At least for three days.

My hope is that this 56-day challenge will fundamentally shift the way I eat food so that I can move my diet to a more plant and protein based one. Here’s to giving it an honest try.

Mixed Media Class with me and some Amazing People

A few months ago, the awesome folk at Big Picture Classes contacted me to see if I’d be up for doing a class on Mixed Media with some other Mixed Media artists. I was scared but I said yes. And then I saw the list of artists and I got a lot more scared. They are AMAZING.

I am so incredibly honored to be amongst these artists.

The list includes artists like Donna Downey, Rebecca Sower, Christy Tomlinson and Celine Navarro.

For my part, I show a technique I like to use on my pages but also walk you through how I make a page from beginning to end. I made a brand new page for this class, of course. Here’s a little sneak:

I know it’s tiny.

The page I have is very much in the vein of the pages I create usually.

I will be up front that all the links are affiliate links as that’s a big part of how I make any income from the class. So if you’re thinking about taking it I hope you’ll use my links :)

More than anything, though, I hope to see you in the class!

Sign up here: Mixed Media Studio!