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Actions vs Expectations

I was journaling this morning and I realized that there was an interesting pattern in my behavior.

Let’s say there’s an area where I fall short. This can be because I genuinely don’t yet know what I am doing or it’s a case where my expectations are not lining up with my reality. It could be at work where I am not measuring up to some task or it could be on a personal level with the quality of the food I am eating or the way I am treating people I love, etc.

The context is not as important here as the pattern itself.

So there’s this thing that I am not doing as well as I would like to or feel I should.

With some rare exceptions, I almost always know what needs to be done to close the gap between reality and my expectations. Maybe I need more training, a bigger time commitment, better choices, more patience, etc. The fact is I know what needs to be done.

But I don’t want to do it.

Even if I have a wonderful and authentic and valid reason why, what matters most here is that I know and don’t want to do what it takes to make this happen.

Which is okay. I don’t have to want to do everything.

Here’s where things fall apart: even though I know what needs to get done and know that I won’t do it, I also won’t let go of the expectation that it “should” be done. I “should” be able to do it.

So on one side, I won’t do it, on the other side, I won’t let it go so I still feel bad about not doing it.

This is where suffering comes in.

I am continuously giving myself a hard time for something I know I won’t actually fix.

When put that way, it seems obvious that I am creating a no-win situation. And it seems obvious that I should stop doing this.

But I do it all the time. I want things or feel bad about not measuring up to certain standards (often set by me) but I don’t want to do what it will take to make it happen.

So I decided this morning that part of being a grown-up is admitting when this dichotomy exists and actively choosing one side. If I am not willing to do what it takes, I will acknowledge that and then I will let go of the “should.” I will let myself off the hook. I will admit that this must not be important enough (compared to other things I choose to do) and that’s ok.

Whenever I find myself frustrated, disappointed, sad, I plan to ask myself “Am I willing to do what it takes to make this go away?” and if the answer is “No” then I let the feeling go as well.

I know there are cases where things are out of our hands but, for me, most of the time, it’s a self-caused problem. So that means it should be self-resolvable.

Let’s see how I do.

Healing

I’ve been thinking a lot about healing lately. It seems to be a common theme across several classes I am taking and as I sat down to write my actions for the One Little Word class, it came to me almost immediately. I had this image of carrying around a lot of dead weight. I wrote:

release.

I think that’s what I want to do. I feel like shedding. I feel like I’ve been carrying all this stuff for this long and maybe I am ready to put it all down. And when I thought about it, putting it down didn’t even seem enough. It had to be shed. Putting down implied I might pick it up again.

But I have no intention to do so.

I want to be done with it all.

So I’ve been thinking about healing. How it can be done and what I am willing to do. Melody had an intense exercise in her The Walk class and I spent some time doing it yesterday. I’ve also been reading some of Cheri Huber’s work and listening to her audio.

and it all helps.

But I think what helps more than anything is the unwavering determination to be done with it all. Maybe all this stuff served me for a while and maybe it helped me in some ways but at this point it feels like a large mountain of dead weight I am dragging around with me.

It’s dragging behind me and slowing me down. Sucking my energy. Keeping me heavy and close to the ground.

It is definitely not serving me anymore.

And, this time, I don’t even want to know why. Who cares why I latched on to these thoughts, who cares why I chose to believe the untruths. Who cares how they served me in the past. Who cares whose fault it was. Who cares, who cares, who cares?

Knowing the why doesn’t help. It doesn’t move me forward.

The only thing that moves me forward is the what. What do I want now? What am I willing to do to get rid of it? What will be possible for me if I shed it all?

Healing.

That’s what will be possible. I can reach one of my most core desires: I can be whole.

I can’t think of a better reason than that.

So I’ve been thinking about healing. What it means, how we do it, what helps and what doesn’t. I am still trying to sort my way through it all but I feel readier than ever.

Small Actions

I was watching this short TED talk yesterday and I loved the three points made in it:

1. Don’t wait. The right time is now.
2. Eliminate negative energy: choose happy over right.
3. Remember what matters most.

I’ve been thinking about all three of these since I watched the talk. I feel like they are deeply profound and considerably harder than they sound. All of these appear obvious at first glance. It’s the kind of things we would tell other people. People who are not us.

If your best friend comes to you and tell you she wants to take a big step but is scared, and you know in your heart of hearts that she’s ready, you tell her to do it now. You tell your friend time is short and we should not postpone happiness. Don’t save your china. Don’t wait for the perfect day to wear that dress,etc etc. I think deep in our gut, we know that now is always the right time. And choosing to use the china or wear the dress is easy. (or easier.) But making a big change is hard. Walking away from a bad relationship. Quitting a job. Moving to a different town. These are big life shifts and even when they are the right thing to do, they are hard. There’s uncertainty and fear wrapped into the decision. Inextricably tied. When talking to others, we can separate the two, but when it’s us, not as easy to do so.

Same for the elimination of negative energy. Obvious. Something you would recommend without a doubt. But when it comes to doing it in the moment: extremely hard. Creating the space that allows you to step back from a moment of confrontation, anger, hurt, etc. takes monumental strength. It takes mindfulness. It takes awareness. And at that moment, your higher level thinking isn’t even functioning. Not easy to just let it go and choose happy.

And finally, remembering what matters most. At least this one should be doable, right? We all certainly know that we should be focusing our time, energy and love on what matters most. Again, it’s what you’d tell your friend to do. But life gets in the way. There are the millions of little and big things that happen every day. Things that take your attention away. Things that seem urgent. Or even important. They fill up all of our moments and then when we zoom out and look at the days, the weeks, the months, we notice that they are filled with moments and not chunks of time. So how we choose to fill the moments ends up being how we live our life. It’s hard to remember what matters most from moment to moment. Moments are filled with laundry, grocery shopping, bill paying, etc etc.

So while I agree that these three things are fundamentally important and will likely lead to a more fulfilled life, I think they are hard. They require a lot of conscious awareness and strength of mind, heart and soul. And maybe once you come really close to dying, it becomes easier to let go of fear long term, but I’ve been trying to figure out how I can do it without some life threatening experience.

And here’s what I came up with: take baby steps.

I feel like the power of cumulative effect is often underestimated. Let’s say you’re really unhappy with your life. Your work is unrewarding and you don’t have as many friends as you’d like and you are not sure you like where you live. Most of the time, we think that this means we have to make a BIG SHIFT so things can change. If I can’t quit my job, it’s pointless to even try other things. IF I can’t move there’s no way to be happy. And while a fundamental shift can be the best cure sometimes, it is not always the answer and sometimes it’s not an option. So what do you do then?

I think the thing to do is to start doing other things now. If you could quit your job, what would you be doing with that time? Would you be making art? Ok, great, how about you start doing art now? Do it at night, do it during lunch, do it during the weekend. Get up an hour earlier and do it. Yes, it’s not perfect, but how badly do you want it? Or do 15 minutes of art every day. Take small steps. Buy an art book. Enroll into an art class once a week.

There are multi-layered benefits to this approach:
1. You see if you indeed like art. It might be that once you start doing it regularly, you don’t like it as much as you thought.
2. You start making art and growing and getting better because you’re doing it regularly.
3. You start getting braver. Being brave is not something we wake up to. It’s something we cultivate. The more steps you take, the more you feel you can take bigger steps. I am a firm believer that courage is something that requires practice.

So does mindfulness. By taking small steps, you are reprogramming your brain/heart/gut. You’re showing yourself that you can be brave. That you can create a moment between event and reaction. You can start by wearing your favorite dress. Using your favorite dishes or the paper you’ve been saving for the perfect layout. Each time you try something, you’re getting better at trying. You’re getting braver. You’re teaching yourself what it looks like to try. to be brave. to be mindful.

Life is not all or nothing. Little steps translate to big steps. They accumulate. Consistently.

So that’s what I decided I am going to do. I will take these three points and try to break them down to small actions for myself. In perfect synchronicity, the February OLW exercise is to set some actions for the year so let’s see how it all comes together.

How about you? What do you think of the three items and what makes them more doable for you?

Around Here

I know it’s been a long time since I wrote a thoughts post. I had big plans for 2014 but the universe had some bigger plans for me in January. And, as always, the universe won. So I figured instead of waiting until I am ready to write a longer, more thought provoking post, I’ll give you a few small tidbits of what’s been going on here:

  • Within a week of each, Nathaniel got the fifth disease, David got strep, and I got strep.
  • Out of the three Sundays since I went back to work, we spent two of them in the ER.
  • I was expecting work to be crazy during the month of January and in some ways it turned out to be a lot less hectic and in other ways, it turned out to be much worse. Alas, I made it through.
  • This is a new mantra I use often “Next week this time, it will be over. ” or “tomorrow this time…” or “next month” whatever it takes. I just keep reminding myself that it’s all temporary and even if it feels big/bad/frustrating/painful right now, it will eventually be something of the past.
  • I’ve started The Walk and I love it so far.
  • I am also enjoying Life Book. Some lessons speak to me more than others but I like the challenge and variety.
  • I have mixed feelings about my projects for 2014. I like that they are simpler and more manageable and still teach me new skills but I also worry that maybe the art I create is not so great looking. But, alas, that’s not the goal this year. The goal is to learn, learn, learn. And there’s always an ugly period in the middle of learning. So be it.
  • I have been listening to Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch on audio for over a month now. I really love it but it’s taking forever and I wish I could buckle down and finish it soon.
  • While I was really, really ill with strep, I watched Enough Said and three seasons of Damages.
  • David and I started volunteering together. This has been one of my goals for a few years now and I am so grateful to finally see it come to fruition. Last week was our first visit to the assisted living home and he played monopoly while I helped out with some crafts. It was wonderful.
  • I have been in so much pain and the pills are making me so nauseous that I can’t concentrate on anything at all. I’ve been going to sleep around 8pm every night.
  • David’s birthday is coming up this weekend and it’s also his last basketball game for the season. I am so happy to see how much he’s flourished with basketball in the last few months.
  • Nathaniel started the last semester of pre-school and when I think of next year and how he’ll be going to school for longer, I am filled with mixed emotions. Even though it makes it challenging to work, I love having him around so much and will miss him so.
  • I can’t wait until I am feeling back to 100% again. Here’s to a much healthier February.

Tell me a bit about what’s going on with you.

Today I Know - Week 3

This week’s page is inspired by Joanne Sharpe’s Color Love class I took a few years ago. The flowers are drawn with a Micron and then I colored them using watercolor markers. Then I went to town on the journaling.

The prompt says: Today I know that I have sacrificed a lot for
And I wrote about how it felt to choose to work from home when Nathaniel came along and I decided not to go back to the office. A lot of learning.


Today I Know is a project for 2014. You can read more about it here.

Celebrating Success

One of my clients and I were talking a few weeks ago and I noticed that she had a tendency to equate her successes with luck. If the got something she worked for, she was lucky. If she failed at something, it was her fault.

So in the case of the positive outcome, it wasn’t her doing (it was “luck”) and thus she didn’t really celebrate or pat herself in the back. But in the negative outcome case, it was all her, so she beat herself up and felt bad and small, etc.

When I pointed out this imbalance to her, she was surprised because she hadn’t even noticed she was doing it.

I think it’s important to pay attention to the subtle ways in which we create these skewed perspectives. I’ve seen so many people, especially women, diminish the credit and exaggerate the blame. I am not encouraging bragging or taking undeserved credit, but I do want to point out that success does not automatically equal luck.

If you believe luck played a part in your success then you also have to believe lack of luck played a part in the failure. I strongly encouraged her to really look at the success, was it really all luck? Did you play any part in it?

My bet is you did.

And if you did, it’s really important that you take the time to celebrate. For most of us, we tend to remember the bad stuff easily but we have a harder time with the good stuff. This celebrating allows you to lock in the good stuff into longer term memory.

Which comes in handy when the tougher stuff happens.

This is why I made a point of having celebration parties as a family last year. Each week, each of us, have at least one thing to celebrate. Some weeks it’s something small and other weeks it’s a major accomplishment. But there’s always something. And I am a firm believer that celebrating success is as important (if not more important) as learning from your mistakes.

Not very many things are an outcome of pure luck and as the saying goes: “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.”

So make a point to go out and celebrate your successes this week!

Life is not a Buffet

I’ve been meaning to share this for a long, long time but I never manage to remember so here we are. One of the sites I read occasionally is called quora.com. It’s a site where people ask questions on many different topics and others answer them. The quality of the answers are usually very high.

One of the questions I’d seen was something I hear people around me ask often:

How can I stop thinking other people’s happiness and success is my loss?

when I read one of the answers, it mirrored my personal philosophy so well and articulated it so clearly that I emailed the poster to ask if I can copy the answer here and I was graciously granted the option, so here’s the unedited reply:

I once heard a great analogy on this.

So imagine you go to a party. It opens with a buffet, where the food is spread for everyone across a few tables. The food is plentiful: there are fruit platters spilling with melon and berries, sushi stacked in all shapes and sizes and colors, cuts of meat artfully arranged on rectangular trays, vegetables cut to snacking sizes, salads, cookies, and drinks lined up for duty. But as you casually mill about, you can’t help but attempt to cut ahead of people to reach the platters, trays, and bowls. You overstock your plate with the worry the food will run out, artfully shove people out of the way to get to the sushi before it runs out, and fill your cup up the top with soda in case it’s gone.

The hosts have planned to make sure there is enough food for everyone, but the buffet style meal creates a panic in which we can’t help but believe that other people filling their plates will take away from the portions we can select for ourselves. It’s as if the entire concept of food as we know it will be gone within minutes! We frantically stab the last few chunks of pineapple, drain our glasses so we can top them off again, and refill our salad plates before we’ve finished all the pieces of lettuce. We compete with the other guests – despite our friendly conversation – to ensure we get the portion we deserve.

When the buffet is over, the event continues – perhaps with a speaker, a performance etc. When it’s time for dessert, waiters come around with individual plates for each guest. The same people who were elbowing to get to the front of the buffet table before their friends now elegantly say, “please, you take the first portion. I can wait.”

Where has the worry and panic and hurry gone? Why is everyone so patient and generous all of the sudden?

Because it is much more clear that there is a plate reserved for everyone. If the hosts informed the caterer that 208 people are coming, there are 208 plates waiting in the kitchen – there is definitely one for me, so I’m happy for you to get first. I’m feeling magnanimous. I feel secure in the knowledge of the portion I will receive, and there is no frantic competition between us.

We have to understand something about life: Life is not a buffet. It’s served up on individual plates for each of us. When we come to recognize this, our friends’ successes and victories and possessions will not faze us. We know that we can work for whatever we want, and what our friends work for does not affect what is coming to us. If the guy you want lands up with a different girl, he’s not the guy for you! If someone else got the promotion you wanted – it wasn’t meant for you. Work a little harder, and if you deserve it, you will get your own promotion.

In recognizing that there are portions of happiness, wealth, and success in reserve for each of us, we would be much less resentful of others’ success, and lead more secure, happier, satisfied lives.

Isn’t it magnificent? I am a firm believer that the only person you should compete with is yourself. Each day, the only question to ask is “how can I be a better version of myself?” within your own definition of “better”. And you need to remember that there’s always, always enough to go around for every single one of us.

Once I remember that, all I focus on is my individual plate.

Leaving Out your Supplies

A few years ago, I did a video for Creative Jumpstart about what I do to get creative. One of the things I shared in that video was leaving all my art supplies in plain sight. I find that it has a significant impact on my creativity and on whether I use my supplies or not.

The image you see above is the configuration I set up for 2014. On the other side of the desk are my stamps, washi tapes, my sakura watercolor box, sewing machine, and some supplies I use less often. And this side is all the art supplies I use to do my yearlong projects. The only thing not shown is my Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils which I use daily, religiously and own in every color. I love and adore them. They are far and above my favorite product.

I often get asked what I use and for Christmas this year I got a few new things and I also made a resolution to use a wider variety of products so I can learn and experiment. Due to all this, I thought I can do a post on what I have, how I store it and how I use it. Hopefully this is helpful.

For the most part, I store all my art supplies in three black plastic containers. The containers are actually the boxes from the lego advent calendars my kids had for previous holidays. I find they are almost perfect for my needs. They are not super sturdy so I keep the new ones each year and swap them after 1-2 years of use.

Right in front of me is the container with all my acrylic paints. I tend to use mostly Golden and exclusively heavy body paints. It’s what I like and what I am used to. I haven’t experimented a lot with other brand names so I am not making any political statements, just this is what I have. I paint the tops of each tube so I know what’s inside quickly.

To the right of that, I have another one filled mostly with my new supplies:

In the front are the Montana pens which I want to remember to use and experiment with this year since I just got them. Behind them, to the right, are the Conte pencils for sketching and some color pens I’ve had for years. And then RH oil Pigment sticks for facial colors, another new supply I want to make sure to play with. And finally my tombow watercolor markers which I love and use relatively often.

Next to that is a basket with my two notebooks and the ATG gun which I use a lot, and a towel to wipe paint. Behind that is my lesser used products or tall stuff like rulers, scissors, etc. I have the copic markers and Pitt pens back there, too. I use those less often, for now, though I might move them up to behind montana pens since I have room there.

Next up is the container to my right:

This one has a lot of variety. The Caran D’ache Neocolor II water soluble crayons, Derwent Inktense and Graphitint pencils, Col-Erase pencils, Stabilo CarbOthello pastel pencils, Faber Castell Aquarelles and Art Grip pencils. In the second row: Posca pens, Prismacolor Pencils, Frixion erasable pens and markers, guache paints, water soluble oil pastels, and Faber Castell gelatos. Then I have lots of Pitt Pens in black and Sakura Microns in 0.005, which I use for everything. I also have mechanical pencils, erasers, and the Stabilo All pencils which I use all the time. And finally some other pastels and sticks that I use less often. And the new Sennelier Pastels I got for Christmas (yes, I was really well spoiled this year on art supplies.)

And finally, inside the basket that holds my ATG gun, I also have this:

These are peerless watercolors and the arrangement and idea and everything comes from the awesome Jane Davenport who explains it all in detail here. I took these with me on the flight to CHA this week and I love love love them.

What you don’t see in the photo is my PenPastels which are stored away and end up never getting used. I firmly believe this is because they are not out and I am trying to find a way to keep them on my desk too so I find myself reaching for them.

I know this seems like a lot of stuff, and it is, but I use every single one of these during the course of each week and I know that’s because they are sitting right there within my reach. Each item that I put away or make inaccessible never, ever gets used. For example, I put away my Liquitex Ink! bottles and even though they are on my desk, because they are less accessible, they never get used.

So if you want to start using the art supplies you have, my first recommendation is to find a way to have them out in the open! I hope this answers some of the questions and please feel free to leave me comments if you have more.

Off to do some art!

Reevaluating

Two nights ago, one of my son’s close friend’s mom emailed me (and several other moms) to see if we were interested in signing up our kids for summer camp classes. As I looked at the prices and the feasibility of driving my kid back and forth to the faraway location, I started stressing and worrying and my mind started spinning.

I’ve noticed that I’ve been doing this a lot in the last few years as my son started elementary school and I’ve been trying to make sure I can meet his needs as well as the demands of my work and life and my other son and my marriage, etc. Each time something comes up, I feel a sense of panic and I try to do what’s “right.” I talk to my husband and when he questions my thoughts, I get aggressive and defensive.

And then I was reading this wonderful blog post yesterday.

It made me realize exactly how much stress I’d been carrying for the last few years.

More importantly, it made me realize why.

I don’t know if it’s because I didn’t grow up here and didn’t know the rules around Elementary school or if it was the dynamics of where I live, but either way, somewhere along the line, I felt like I was ill-equipped to figure out what my son’s life should be like at this age. What extracurriculars should he be doing, how much, what play dates, sports, academics, etc. Because I felt like I hadn’t spent enough time thinking about my values and thoughts around this, I was reacting to what others around me did. Since I had no idea, they must be right and we must do what they were doing.

Reading that post woke me up.

I am who I am and I do what I do. There are things I stand for and it shouldn’t be that hard to figure out how this extends to my son. We have our way of living and family values. I decided that it was time to take a big step back, think about what really matters to me, to us, to my son and then figure out how this looks in the real world.

For example, instead of going to the camp that’s really far away, I’d much rather my son spends some of his summer time volunteering. I think he will learn much more valuable life lessons there than at any camp. I also believe since we both work, we are not in a place to drive our kid 2 hours each way for camp and that just means we have to pick one that’s closer if he really wants to go to camp. This doesn’t mean my kid is going to be devastated (in fact, I talked to him afterwards and he doesn’t even want to go to that camp.) It just means that this is the way our family works and we all adjust to make it optimal for everyone involved.

Once I’d lined up my values and what matters most to me, I decided I will talk to my son. Let’s see what matters most to him and between him and us, we can decide how to handle summer (and all other things that come up.) This moves us from a space of reacting to a space of intentional action. That’s the space I want to be in.

And also to remember nothing is personal. This wonderful mom wasn’t “pointing her avocado at me.” She was trying to do her best for her kid, aligned with her values and life choices and wanted to make sure my son felt included if he so chose. It was a kind and generous gesture. And I am grateful.

Thanks to this new perspective, I know that when I find myself reacting and defensive and aggressive, it’s a sign that I need to step back and reevaluate where my values are. What matters most to me and what that would look like in action.

Amazing what one blog post can do.

Day One

Like most people, I usually like to start fresh at the beginning of the year. There’s something magical about beginnings. Beginning of a new year, a new month, a new week or even a new day. It feels like anything is possible in a new beginning.

As long as it’s not used as another excuse to postpone beginning.

The new year this year fell on a Wednesday and I had decided that I would be taking some downtime with my family during the holidays this year until we all had to go back to our external obligations (school and work). Since neither started until today, I had the conundrum of trying to figure out what to do with my monthly projects. I knew I wasn’t going to start until we’re back to work, but then it would be the 6th of the month. Does that mean I should skip January altogether? I know it sounds silly when I write it like this but so many of us do this in so many ways.

I’ll start Monday, I’ll start tomorrow. Or even when we really want a specific goal, we put conditions: I’d like to start my new company but I need to have a logo first. Or my website has to be professionally designed first.

No it does not.

There are very few cases where there are a slew of must-have prerequisites. No one day is actually any more “special” than the other. The best time to start anything is: right now. Always.

Always.

Just think of it this way, if you start now, by next year, you’ll be 359 days into it. That’s definitely better than 0 days. By now, you will either have failed and moved on to something else or had small setbacks and conquered them all or you’ll be a huge success. In my opinion, any of the three scenarios is better than doing nothing.

I feel like when we’re scared of things or when inertia is strong, we just pile up reasons as to why it’s not a good time to start right now. When I woke up this morning, I reminded myself that this is day one. I can choose to start today. And if I try but fail, well guess what? Tomorrow is day one, too.

So, I woke up this morning and drew my little birdie. This means I will only have 25 days of birdies instead of 31. But it also means I will have 25 more birdies at the end of January than I would have if I decided I could only begin at the start of each month.

So if you’re like me and you’re pondering when’s a good time to start, the time is now.

2014 - Monthly Projects

 

A few years ago, I did a few month-long projects. I did Art Journal Month and Layout A Day and I remember liking the rhythm of doing something every single day for a month. I love my yearly projects. I love the idea of working on something regularly, slowly, throughout the whole year which culminates in something bigger and wonderful. I like the sense of continuity. I like pace of it and the size of it.

But I also like the monthly projects. I like how it’s every single day and becomes a part of my life. But it’s only for 30-31 days and then I am done. I like the repetition. It becomes a temporary routine. I like how the short duration makes it doable. And there’s a sense of accomplishment that comes well before the end of the year. I like the idea of dipping my toes in seriously but not jumping in all the way and committing for a whole year.

As I was thinking of 2014, I was thinking I might like to try having a focus each month. A little project. Since I already have my yearly projects and other things like family, work, etc. I didn’t want to go too hard on myself. And if these don’t work out, I am ok with it. I just liked the idea and wanted to give it a try.

I decided to pick one health/self-care item and one art one each month. I decided they don’t have to be big things. Actually, the smaller, the more likely they will get done daily.

So here are some ideas I have so far:

Art

  1. A month of drawing figures/poses 
  2. A month of drawing faces
  3. A month of drawing wings/angels
  4. A month of drawing trees
  5. A month of drawing butterflies
  6. A month of drawing birds
  7. A month of writing phrases
  8. A month of monograms
  9. A month of sketching landscapes
  10. A month of collage
  11. A month of oil/pastel/copic (not sure here since i need a subject first)
  12. A month of photos

Health/Self Care

  1. A month of meditation
  2. A month of yoga
  3. A month of strength training
  4. A month of only whole foods
  5. A month of thank you notes
  6. A month of 5ams
  7. A month of morning pages
  8. A month of no gluten
  9. A month of no sugar
  10. A month of flossing
  11. A month of 15,000 steps
  12. A month of connecting
  13. A month of gratitude
  14. A month of celebration

I can’t say any of these make me jump up and down but I still like the idea of monthly projects so I am going to think more on this and see if new things show up. (I am open to ideas if you have any!) And if I don’t do them every single day, that’s okay. My goal is to do them for as many consecutive days in that month as possible.

For January, I’ve picked meditation and drawing birds; I will start with those.

2014 - More Thoughts and Goals

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

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

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

One of my goals this year is to really slow down. I know this might not seem so from the list, but I am focusing on what I know will comfort my soul but no more so I can also rest and breathe more as I want to keep working on being more present and listening.

My other big focus this year is on learning. I’ve noticed that I go through different cycles and 2013 was a year of practicing for me but not a lot of learning. I want to feel free to experiment, to mess up, to copy others, to learn new things. I want to my own voice and to do that, I need to start with others’ voices, with what calls me. I want to create room for that this year. I also just want to learn new things. In every topic. I love learning, it makes me come alive.

So here we go:

Goals for Each Priority
Family
1. Have Nathaniel read one book to me each week (Project Nathaniel Reads to Mommy).
2. Take photo of full-family and write updates weekly (Project Weekly Diary).
3. Write weekly gratitudes and celebrations for me and the boys (The Savor Project)
4. Take online classes with David and focus on learning (Project Learning with David)
5. Spend an hour with each kid a week on mommy-me time. Just me and the one boy.
6. Volunteer in both David and Nathaniel’s schools
7. Schedule minimum bimonthly date nights with Jake
8. Capture and Tell our family stories (The Savor Project)
9. Visit my family and Jake’s family

Health
1. Continue walking/running daily, work your way back up to 5K a day
2. Find three strength exercises that I can do regularly
3. Work your way up to eating whole foods 80% of the time
4. Get minimum 7 hours of sleep every night and 8 on the weekends
5. Take weekly hikes with family

Serene
1. Read a book a week (Project A Book a Week)
2. Journal daily. (Project Today I Know, Project Remember This)
3. Spend time stitching (Project Stitching Circles)
4. Set weekly intentions around listening (Project Listen with Intent)
5. Experiment with meditation, yoga, breathing
6. Go camping
7. Take a walk with Nathaniel for 15 minutes a day (this could also be health or family)

Grace
1. Make and keep regular pedicure and hair appointments (every 6 weeks or so)
2. Find a volunteer opportunity for David and me.
3. Send one kind email to someone each week
4. Have and end-of-day ritual each night and a welcoming-the-day ritual each morning
5. Clean up closet and only keep what fits
6. Come up with a self-care routine (lotion, floss, etc.)

Engaged
1. Learn to do lettering (Project Listen with Intent)
2. Take at least 6 online classes that are not art
3. Teach Nathaniel to Read
4. Tell the longer stories when scrapping
5. Take classes with David all year long
6. Practice doodling, drawing (Project Today I Know)
7. Learn new art techniques (Project Remember This)
8. Experiment with new art mediums
9. Continue to coach clients and offer more options

Whole
1. Create a new Savor Project for 2014 (The Savor Project)
2. Go out to breakfast/lunch once a week with a good friend (or a potential good friend). If not possible, call/email a friend to reconnect.
3. Extend an invitation to someone new once a month
4. Speak up more and participate more
5. Attend all book clubs
6. Journal daily (Project Today I Know, Project Remember This)
7. Regularly attend all three book clubs
8. Drive on the freeway more regularly
9. Learn to ride a bike (it will happen one of these days!)

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

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

  • Mondays : Listen with Intent
  • Tuesdays : Remember This
  • Wednesdays : A Book a Week + The Savor Project
  • Thursdays : Stitching Circles
  • Fridays : Today I Know
  • Saturdays : Learning with David /Nathaniel Reads to Mommy
  • Sundays : Weekly Diary

For this year’s projects, I decided to have two themes:

  • Learn/tackle something new. Explore something I haven’t done. Copy others, iterate, come up with your own voice.
  • Couple each art project with inspiration/introspection topics that I want to explore.
  • I also tried to use different formats, paper types, and media.

This year I thought it might be fun to aim to have themes for my thoughts posts, too, but I have no idea if it will work out or not, so we’ll see. Here’s what I have in mind. If you’d like others, let me know:

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

Thoughts to Cultivate

I decided this year’s thoughts to cultivate will be around my core desires. So here’s some of what’s on my mind.

1. Serene What helps me be most serene is taking time for myself. I plan to start the day and end the day alone. I will go back to getting up before the kids so I can take some time to journal (and maybe meditate). I will see if I can do some art (however small) in the mornings as I listen to Tara Brach. I will take a break in the middle of the day and walk with Nathaniel to get some fresh air and to step away for a bit. I will slow down and breathe more. When I feel worry and panic, I will take a moment, I will name it, I will let things get quieter and then act (and not react.) I will use the Four Questions. I will set intentions each week. I will end my days with a small routine to re-center myself. I will make sure to get enough sleep.

2. Grace I will carry myself with grace. I will take the time to be kind. I will practice ease and comfort. I will take the extra few minutes to wear things that make me feel good. I will take care of my body, my soul and my heart. I will slow down and move deliberately. I will get quieter. I will listen more talk less. I will thank. I will show my gratitude. I will practice self-kindness and care as well as extending it to others. I will volunteer. I will practice patience.

3. Engaged I will choose to engage. I will show up. I will step up. I will learn and grow and participate. I will choose curiosity again and again. I will choose to lean in. I will pay attention to what makes me come alive. I will practice art. I will practice both depth and breadth.

4. Whole I will practice self-compassion. I will choose kindness towards myself. I will celebrate achievements big and small. I will practice gratitude. I will show up to events and reach out to those I love. I will make room for new friends. I will choose to cultivate belonging. I will make the time and room for others.

And there we are. I am sure more will come up. But these are some of what’s on my mind.

Here’s to a wonderful 2014.