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!

The Gift of Awareness

On Monday mornings my sons’ school has a school-wide assembly where they talk about different topics each week. This week was the first one for the 2014-2015 school year. The head of the school talked about awareness. Being more present and aware of this moment. Aware of your choices. Paying attention.

I drove home thinking about awareness in my life. Where I can foster it more. What gets in the way of my being more aware?

Then, later in the day, I was talking to a friend from work who’s frustrated with a situation. As we talked, I realized that he was making a mistake I have made in the past. He was too busy complaining about the other person and how this person had to change instead of focusing on himself. When I asked him what he wanted from his own life, he wasn’t sure. He said “if only I knew.”

Awareness.

So I told him that what was getting in his own way wasn’t this other person but his own lack of awareness about what he wanted. His lack of desire/willingness to get that figured out. It’s tough to do this work. Most of us really want to complain and have the situation fixed in the easiest way possible, ideally where we don’t have to do the work but it’s fixed for us. This is why we complain, point the finger, or whine about others.

It’s easier.

I’ve done it a million times myself.

Looking deep down and understanding what you want, what you deeply desire is tough. Figuring out what you’re willing to do to make that happen is even tougher. And doing it is the toughest of them all. But, sometimes, once you know, it’s really easy to take the necessary steps. It’s as if you’re suddenly propelled forward. What was holding you back was really the lack of articulation. Not sorting out what you really want.

As with everything, it all starts with awareness.

So I am doing the same thing myself today. Making a list of my desires. My frustrations. My hopes and dreams. Things I whine about. And then looking at them through the eye of awareness. What do I really want. What’s getting in the way? What am I willing to risk to get what I want?

Welcoming the gift of awareness into my life.

Magical Moments

karenika.com

Here in California, we are blessed with quite nice weather every day. My job, however, is in front of the computer and often indoors. Generally, I go out twice a day: to drop my kids to school and to pick them up. That’s when I see sunshine and remember that I live in lovely California and need to get out more.

I also tend to have this revelation each year during July. I go home to see my family, come back and decide it’s time to sit outside. So I setup camp in our small backyard. I bring out my computers, diet coke, coffee, art, and my audiobook. And I settle in for the day. This generally lasts all summer and comes to an end with the beginning of school.

Last week, when the boys went back to school, I spent the whole week inside and then over the 3-day weekend, I decided I wasn’t ready to welcome the end of summer just yet. So I am back outside. I sit here as the breeze washes over me, typing on one computer and keeping my eye on the other while the boys do their homework (david) and play (nathaniel.)

Transitions aren’t easy for me. I like to live a relatively scheduled life and transitions cause major havoc to my planned days. I think that might be why I am rebelling against the fall. So instead of fighting it or resisting it or just relenting, I’ve been thinking about what I like about these summer days and what, if anything, I might want to bring over to the fall/winter.

Siting outside is not just about sitting outside, of course. It’s about the calmer attitude. It’s about enjoying LIFE and not making all my days just about the computer. It’s about remembering that I am part of something so much bigger. This helps me put my worries in perspective. It helps me remember the transient nature of life. It helps me remember that it’s all cycles and we’re in this phase now.

I also love it. I love the air. I love the green. I love the birds and squirrels and even all the noise. This morning, a hummingbird paused right in front of me for a split second. It was magical.

It’s about remembering that life is magical. And that magical moments happen all day long, every single day.

That’s what I want to take with me as I welcome the fall.

Growing a New Skin

I feel like it’s been months and months and months since I’ve written a blog post. The funny thing is I found myself here last year, too and I remember specifically thinking how I want to write more posts this year. More of these thoughts posts. But then it just doesn’t become a priority. I feel like I make the art a priority. The work, the kids, the exercise, the coaching. But not the blogging. And the fact is, for me, blogging really does help. It’s therapeutic. It’s centering.

So it’s something I want to find time for.

Life’s been passing by really quickly over here. I feel like this year has passed by more quickly than any before. In exactly ten days, I turn 40.

Four-zero.

That’s a big number.

I have no qualms about getting older. In many ways, I actually like it. I know this is because I am blessed enough to be in good health and have a job that allows me to support my family. I am grateful for both of these things regularly. I don’t mind the lines on my face or the sagging (well i am not a fan of sagging but more on this later.) I don’t mind the number. I feel I’ve spent my life well and have wonderful things to show for my forty years on this earth. I am proud of where I am and how I got here.

But.

(There’s always a but, isn’t there?)

But, forty is a big number. I am likely done with the first half of my life (if i am lucky and live to be in my 80s) and there are some tangible changes I’d like to make to my second half. Things that were maybe a necessary part of getting here but things that are now holding me back from enjoying “here” and from getting to the next place, wherever that may be.

Here’s some of what’s on my mind: (in no particular order)

  1. Health/Wellness: I’ve spent a lot of my teenage years, twenties, and thirties yoyoing with my weight, eating habits, exercise (or lack thereof) etc. I’ve fretted about my weight, my size, my food… all my life. I am so very ready to be done with this. I don’t want to spend the next 40 years of my life worrying about my weight. About what I eat. About wearing a bathing suit. Or even pants. I just want to be done with this particular worry. To address this, I am trying to figure out if I can make some fundamental shifts in how I eat and what wellness means to me. (I will readily admit to eating Nutella out of a jar as I type this. So I think we can all agree this needs to be addressed.) For me, this is not an issue about being thin (though I do want to be thin, even if it’s not cool to admit this.) but it’s an issue of being aligned. I want what I do and what I say to be aligned. I don’t want to eat badly, be sedentary and then whine constantly about my weight. I want this kind of out-of-balance lifestyle to no longer be a part of my life. So, to that end, I am going to try to do the whole life challenge starting in a few weeks. (one day after i turn 40, in fact.) And I will give it an honest try. I will try to use it as an opportunity to shift my way of living around wellness. If it doesn’t work, I will figure something out. What I know is that I will not carry this issue with me much longer. I am determined to put it to rest one way or another.

  2. Worrying about Work: Over five years ago, when Nathaniel was born, I made an active choice to downscale my career. I decided to work at home full time so I could raise my boys while I earn money and still have an intellectually challenging job. I have a job that I am proud of and love in many ways. I am grateful to earn what I do and take care of my family how I can. I love and adore Chrome and I am incredibly proud to be a part of the product I love so much and the team I respect and the company I love. All of these things are wonderful. I am incredibly grateful to get to do all this while I also raise my kids, take them to school and pick them up from school, and check their homework and on and on. I am lucky. Lucky, lucky, lucky. I don’t want to forget that for one second. I also want to remember that this came at a cost. And one of the costs was career progression, etc. My job is still relatively high pressure and demanding. There are many moments where I am really, really stressed and a lot of hours I spend worrying. In the last few months, I’ve decided that while the intensity of my job might not be alterable, my attitude towards it all certainly is. There are times I yell at my kids because I am stressed about something on my computer screen. And here’s another example of lack of alignment… the fact is, I chose my kids. I decided being a mom and being physically around was more important than being at work and having the benefits of that. So if I am choosing to work at home, I should not yell at my kids. Because I always knew what working at home means. I understand it’s tough for my kids to have me there but not always available. And this is my burden, not theirs. Taking my work stress out on them kills the whole point of being home. So my plan is to worry about work less. I still work just as hard and vigorously. I just tone down the worrying. I remember what matters most at all times. And that’s my boys. My family. My life. My friends. They will always matter most. Work matters a lot. Just not most.

  3. Sense of Self: I’ve spent a lot (a LOT) of my years apologizing for who I am. Feeling less than. Feeling unworthy. Not belonging. Apologizing. On and on. I am done with that. Done. I fully accept that I am flawed. I am not the perfect person. I mess up just as often as I do well. I try to be kind and generous and sometimes I am. And other times I am selfish and manipulative. I yell. I can be cruel. I am incredibly hard working and I can be lazy. I am weird. I have issues (oh, lord, do i have issues.) and I randomly freak out without a lot of reason and apologize not long after. I fail. Sometimes I don’t even try. And sometimes I am awesome. I belong just as much as anyone else ever did. I am worthy just like the rest of us. I have my good sides and my bad sides. I am not saying I am the best person ever but, either way, I made it to 40 and the chances that the core of my being will shift are low at this point. And, to be honest, I still choose to be me over other options, even with my flaws. So here we are. I am 40. I am me. I am done apologizing for who that is. I am done squashing myself. I will still apologize for many mistakes I will undoubtedly make in my life. I will still feel bad many times. But I will no longer subscribe to the belief that there’s something fundamentally wrong with me. Good or bad, I seem to be stuck with this person for now and it is time I honor and cherish her instead of beating her up regularly. I have decided to fully grow into loving my self. Grateful for the gift of being me.

  4. No Guilt Trips, No Arbitrary Rules: Along with the sense of self, I’ve decided I am done worrying about being someone I am not or living my life by others’ rules. If I don’t like to cook and my family is ok with that, it is not of anyone’s concern. I am not feeling guilty about never ironing. I am not feeling bad about things I don’t do. My messy house. I just don’t want to do anything with resentment. I want to do it because I truly value doing it. My time is so precious. We are here for such a short amount of time and I want to use mine the way that makes me (and the people I love) happiest. I don’t want to make up rules about anything. Drawing from a photo is not cheating. Using pencil isn’t either. If I want to do art, I shall do art. If I want to walk away from it all, I will and if I want to come back, I will do that, too. The only rules are the ones I want to live by. The ones that enhance my life and bring joy into my days. I am no longer living my life by some random shoulds.  I am officially old enough to make up my own rules.

  5. More Grace, more self care: Along the lines of wellness and sense of self, I want to spend more time taking care of myself. My soul. My body. My teeth. My skin. I want to treat my whole body, inside and out with more care and love. And I want to make this a priority. For me.

  6. More/Better Connection: As I get old, I realize how much I cherish my friends, family and even acquaintances. Social events are not easiest for me. I usually prefer being alone or one-on-one but I want to put myself out there more and to expand my circle. I want to deepen my connection with my friends. I want to show them that they are a priority with my actions.

  7. Braver: And finally (at least for now), I want to be braver. I feel like courage is a muscle and it needs regular exercise. I want to exercise my courage muscles. More. Deeper. Regularly. I want to try new things. I want to walk away from things. I want to go places I am scared to go. I want to be brave. I want to live life fully. There’s joy that comes from courage. Excitement and freedom. I want both of those.

So here we are. Just a few things on my mind as I approach the big four-oh. I want to look at this as an opportunity to shed one skin for another. Create a new “truth” for myself. No need to carry around the past and stories I made up in my teens.

Here’s to being brave.