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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.

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.