May 2016 – Choosing Means – All

And here we go. Another month gone. Another monthly project done. This was a slightly different one but I enjoyed it just as much as the others. It felt good to see the patterns in my head. It felt good to remember why I chose this word. It felt good to know that while I totally dropped the ball on the health, I am still working on some of my other goals.

Here are all the cards together.

Here’s to June!

May 2016 – Choosing Means – 20

Today’s card says: Choose to stop and pay attention when they ask a question. Whatever else you are doing can wait. Everything else can wait. It seems urgent but it is NOT.

Well this one is mostly about my kids. I want to choose to stop doing the other things and really focus on them when they talk to me. Not always. Sometimes it’s ok to do other things. But enough times that they remember how much I love them, how much I valued them, how I made them feel.

I want to pay attention to the moments. With Jake, with my parents, with my sister, my nephews. My friends. My boys. Even myself. I want to pay attention and listen to the people around me the way I listen to my coaching clients. With curiosity, openness and rapt attention. I want to know more, dig deeper, connect.

I can’t think of any better way to show love than to gift people with my most precious item: my time.

I feel especially in this day and age, time and attention are the most valuable assets we have. And it’s something I want to choose to give to the people I care about the most. (Not to the loudest, most annoying or the most urgent.) Work will never end, worries will not stop, my thoughts, my brain, CNN and all the other noise in my head is endless. So there will never be the perfect time to give my attention to those I love.

I have to choose to make the time.

None of us have time. We all make time for the things we care about. Choosing to listen to people is also about making time. About showing them that they matter. That they are worth your time.

That I am choosing them.

Choosing Means is a Monthly Project for May 2016. You can read more about my projects for 2016 here.

May 2016 – Choosing Means – 19

Today’s card says: Choose to be the best version of yourself. Choose to be kind. To smile. To thank people. To appreciate others. To do favors where you can. To smile. To hug. To listen. To be there.

I love this card. This is something I so wish for myself. I want to be the best version of myself always. I know this is not possible. I know I can’t always be my best self. But I want to. I want to always choose kind. Even as I am choosing the opposite, in the middle of my behavior, a part of me is constantly yearning to be the best version of myself. I want to always bring out the best in others. To reflect their wonderful light back to them. To listen intently. To be generous and kind. To focus on them. On the people I love, the people I care for, even the people I barely know.

I’ve learned that one of the best ways to get out of my head (where I tend to be a lot) is to really focus on others. If I am spending a lot of time on someone else, I am not spending it on me. I am there, present with them. I want to say yes to others. Yes to favors. Yes to being there. Yes to showing up. Yes to trying new things and sharing them with others. Yes. yes. yes.

This isn’t about eating right or exercising more (though yes to those too) but it’s really about the person I am all the way deep inside. I want to embrace all the best versions of me and show them to people all the time. Let the love pour and the light shine. I want to smile all the time. So much that my jaw hurts. To hug the people I love.

I am so grateful for my little life and more than anything I want to choose to be the best version of me. The one that I really love. The one who isn’t scared, tired, worried, anxious. The one who doesn’t even need to think about worthiness because she’s busy living and focusing on others. She’s too busy shining and reflecting others’ light. This is who I want to be.

This is the choice I want to make. Most of all.

Choosing Means is a Monthly Project for May 2016. You can read more about my projects for 2016 here.

May 2016 – Choosing Means – 18

Today’s card says: Choose to see the magic in the ordinary. These little moments are the ones you will miss the most when it’s all over. Sitting together, laughing together, holding hands. Be grateful.

Oh the loveliness of the everyday extraordinary.

Years ago, when I first started scrapbooking, it became quickly obvious to me that what I loved the most was preserving the tiny, ordinary moments of our lives. I liked holidays and birthdays just as much as the next person but I also didn’t forget those ever. I did forget the fleeting moments of ordinary life. The particular phrasing my kids used when they were little. The way David said destruction instead of construction or the funny crawl Nathaniel had before he walked were all moments that would have come and gone if I didn’t take the time to somehow capture them.

The taking of the photo and writing down the words allowed me to etch these moments deeper into my memory. I feel like life, especially my life, passes by so quickly, so fully, that it’s easy to miss these magical ordinary moments.

And, by definition, today’s ordinary moments are so different from tomorrow’s because life’s constantly changing and along with it, our definition of ordinary changes. This is the same reason I do a week in the life or other similar projects that capture the ordinary. It’s one of the reasons I chose this word this year. To remember to choose these little moments. To remember to choose to create opportunities for these moments. To spend more time together being in the ordinariness of everyday life so that these moments are more likely to happen.

I am so grateful for my ordinary life. I am deeply grateful to get to spend moments with my amazing husband, my wonderful kids, my growing array of friends and my one and only family. So here’s to choosing the everyday. Here’s to not taking those precious “ordinary moments” for granted. Ever.

Here’s to the extraordinariness of ordinary life!

Choosing Means is a Monthly Project for May 2016. You can read more about my projects for 2016 here.

May 2016 – Choosing Means – 17

Today’s card says: Choose to create moments with people you love. Life’s moments are slipping away and the people you love are growing up or growing old. You will miss these moments so very dearly.

Oh near and dear to my heart. I think I definitely do this in small ways. I try to make sure I am there for my kids’ life events. I spend a lot of time with them. Less so with my husband and even less so with my parents, etc. But I try.

The part of this that resonates with me is that I am doing this even less so with big things. I am not good at taking vacation. I often worry too much about the expense or the timing for work. I worry about my body during the summer. I worry about planning and I worry about traveling logistics. So much unnecessary worrying gets in the way of creating more memories.

This is not to say that I need to travel far and widely to create memories, it’s just that I am less good at this particular type of memory creation. So it’s important to me to do better here. What are the choices I can make to make this less painful? What choices help me make sure I do these vacations more? What choices are getting in my way? What new choices can I make to get out of this mindset and/or work around it?

I want to choose to create both big and small memories. I want to look back on my life and have moments to smile about with my kids, my husband, my parents, my sister, my nephews, my friends. All of it.

While I love my job and find it intellectually stimulating and challenging, I am definitely one of those people who work to live. I don’t want to live for work. I want more in my life. I want to focus on my family, my loved ones, I want to spend time doing art, reading, etc. So to ensure that I make those moments in my life, I need to choose them. I need to make them easier for myself.

First step, see if I can make a plan for this coming weekend! 🙂

Choosing Means is a Monthly Project for May 2016. You can read more about my projects for 2016 here.

May 2016 – Choosing Means – 16

Today’s card says: The only way people know what you stand for is by the choices you make. If you say one thing but choose to do another, which one do you really stand for? Have your actions in line with who you are.

Ah what we believe in and what we do. It’s so easy to say things but so very hard to actually do them. At least certain things.

I find that for many of us there are life’s willpower-related convictions, do I eat this, do i exercise, do i read more, sleep more, etc. These are just to make us better versions of ourselves and people we strive to be but they are choices you make all day long and require your willpower along the way.

Then there are those fundamental things that we “say” or “believe in” but don’t do. This is what this card is here to remind me. That what I say or think in my head is irrelevant and what matters is what I do. Out here in the world, the actions make the biggest difference. How I choose to behave, what I choose to do, who I choose to be ends up being who I am.

There are certain areas of my life where I really feel like I am very aligned with my values and my actions reflect my values. I choose what I say I care about. But then there are just as many where it’s just not the case. Sometimes it’s because I feel an unnecessary sense of urgency in some less-important areas. Other times it’s due to laziness or because choosing to do the right/better thing is really hard and requires energy I don’t have.

These are the things I want to remember. That if it takes energy, I need to save my energy for the things I value and not for whatever happens first. I need to remember that urgent and important are not the same thing. And I need to make my choices accordingly.

Like most things, if I don’t actively make the choice myself, it ends up being made for me. And not always in the direction I might have chosen. So I need to remember to choose.

Choosing Means is a Monthly Project for May 2016. You can read more about my projects for 2016 here.

May 2016 – Choosing Means – 15

Today’s card says: Some choices seem inevitable but nothing is ever written in stone. just because you always did it one way does not mean you have to continue. today can be the first day you create a different story. a new way.

I feel like I’ve talked about this particular theme several times this month already. But apparently I felt I needed the reminder more than once. Because I didn’t read the previous cards when I was writing new ones.

So maybe this is a message for me to remember that I don’t have to be who I am today. I can be someone else tomorrow. I can be someone else in the next 5 minutes. I can be a different person.

I can also be the same person and have a different story about it. I can do what I’ve done and feel good about it. Or ok at least. I can choose what things mean. I can choose how I see myself. I can choose all of it.

This is hard for me to remember. That I can change me. I can change my story. I can change what I make things mean. I can change nothing and just choose to be ok with what is. I can do whatever I want. All of the options are available to me.

The hardest thing is remembering that I have choices.

And so I need the reminder.

Again and again.

And again.

Hence the multiple cards. 

Choosing Means is a Monthly Project for May 2016. You can read more about my projects for 2016 here.

May 2016 – Choosing Means – 14

Today’s card says: To be able to choose you need to pay attention. you need to slow down or even stop and realize that there is a moment of choice. a moment where you get to make a decision.

If I can remember one thing about choosing, it would have to be this one. If I want to choose, I need to know that there’s a space to make a choice at a particular moment. Without that knowledge, without recognizing that space, I don’t have any chance of making the right choice. Because I can’t make any choice at all.

When I listen to meditation experts, this is the one point that is often made about meditating. That meditation helps you get better at paying attention. At noticing that millisecond of choice. Even though I know this, and I want to get better at catching that moment, I still don’t meditate. (just like i don’t exercise lately at all.)

This is also why we have the 24-hour rule in our house. It forces us to have the moment of choice stretched out to a whole day. Something happens to you -> you’re not allowed to do anything in return for 24 hours. I can feel sad, mad, i can cry but I am not allowed to take some action for a day. This means I extend my moment of choice. Which then makes it much easier not to make an emotional reaction. It makes it easier to be rational, thoughtful, and purposeful.

So I need to do this more. I need to be able to walk away. To hold back. To stay silent. Let my brain catchup with my emotions. If I make a rule to stay silent each time. To count to ten in my head before I say anything. It will make it much likely that I respond and not react. If I make a rule that I have to say something to my kids quietly 5 times before I yell, it makes it harder to react. Because I have to keep count that I did it 4 times, etc. I work much better with consistent rules. So making a rule I have to apply every single time is easier for me.

So maybe that’s the trick here. A modified version of the 24-hour rule. Maybe this will help me choose what will help me to pay attention and notice all the moments of choice that are present. Choosing to create room to choose.

Choosing Means is a Monthly Project for May 2016. You can read more about my projects for 2016 here.

May 2016 – Choosing Means – 13

Today’s card says: Sometimes you get to choose short term discomfort for long term gifts. some things take time and perseverance to pay off and sometimes it’s ok to choose just to rest. 

I think one of the saddest things about being in today’s world (and I think there are a lot of great things about being in this time and age) is that most of us don’t seem to have patience anymore. We want things to happen now. I am one of those people who have the ability to focus for long periods of time. I can sit and read a book from start to finish without getting up. I can work at my desk for hours on end.

Or I used to be able to.

Now I find that I have no patience. It’s not that I am distracted (though I am that too sometimes), it’s just that I have no patience. I don’t have the perseverance to stick with something, especially if I have a sense that it will take a long time to accomplish my goal. I don’t even have the patience for a 4-minute video if I don’t think it will be interesting. Or to read articles online, etc.

Let alone for the big things like exercise or learning a new skill. I just feel tired and I feel like sometimes it just all feels like too much. And I want to remind myself that sometimes it’s ok to choose the discomfort. The hard work that comes with choosing to grow, change, learn. And sometimes it’s ok to just take a time out. To rest. To relax. To just stop trying so much.

I try hard often and in many areas of my life. So, for me, the choice sometimes is about letting myself off the hook. Telling myself it’s ok to take a break and be ok with not constantly making it hard for myself.

But I also want to choose more patience. slowing down. choosing things that I know are worth the work and maybe changing the nature of the work so it doesn’t feel like work so much. Which, maybe, is a compromise.

Or maybe it’s another choice point.

Choosing Means is a Monthly Project for May 2016. You can read more about my projects for 2016 here.

May 2016 – Choosing Means – 12

Today’s card says:  You get to choose your past. What you choose to remember, what you choose to bring to the present moment, what you choose to still hang on to is all up to you.

When I was in 6th grade (or maybe 5th grade), we were assigned Jonathan Livingston Seagull as summer reading. I remember immediately falling in love with the story and going through a Richard Bach period where I read all of his books. Nothing measured up to JLS for me but I spent quite some time on Illusions. And there’s a quote in that book that says:

“You are led through your lifetime by the inner learning creature, the playful spiritual being that is your real self. Don’t turn away from possible futures before you’re certain you don’t have anything to learn from them. You’re always free to change your mind and choose a different future, or a different past.” -Illusions by Richard Bach

I didn’t understand this quote at all at the time. How were you free to choose a different past? But then, over the years, I’ve made my own interpretation of this and wrote about it here and here. (sidebar: How is it possible that I wrote that first post fifteen years ago!) And I find it to be a powerful reminder each time I see myself falling back into my old patterns.

Choosing the word choose was all about reminding myself that I hold the power to choose not only what to do, how to respond but also what to hang on to and what to let go of. What I make things mean. What I bring into this present moment. What I take away from this moment. What I move into the future with me. It’s about choosing what I learn and what I forgive and what I embrace. It’s about all of it. Remembering that I hold the power of how I live my life.

How I choose to interpret it.

Choosing Means is a Monthly Project for May 2016. You can read more about my projects for 2016 here.

May 2016 – Choosing Means – 11

Today’s card says: You get to choose who you are at every moment of every day. nothing is set in stone, including you. who you are can change moment to moment, you get to choose.

I wrote this down because I think about this a lot. Often enough that I have created a few cards this month that say the same thing. Because I can’t remember this one often enough. The biggest reason I picked the word choose this year was to remind myself that I get to choose who I am at any moment. How I can respond and not react to events. Part of this is remembering that who I’ve been does not have to be who I will be in this moment. Or who I will be tomorrow.

As we grow up, we form parts of our identity. Good at math, not good at sports, geeky, introverted, shy, loud, bad at writing, good at music, etc. etc. And I made mine just like most others I know. I then spend my days perpetuating this identity, especially in my head. When opportunities come up to do things, it goes through the filter of how I see myself. I am not good at social events, so when I am invited I choose not to go. I love reading so when it has to do with books, I go. Hiking/running – no. Quiet conversations – yes.

But the thing is, just because it’s been true, it doesn’t have to continue to be true. As much as I believe in stepping into who we are wholly (and i really really do) I also believe in choosing to be anything you want to be. If i want to be a runner, I just have to get up and do it. Yes, I will suck at first, but I’ve had years of practice not being a runner so I have to give this new identity some time to grow. I can be a runner. Someone who’s social. Someone who can dance, drive on the freeway, play a musical instrument, or whatever else I choose to be.

The important part is the choice part. I don’t have to do any of these things for other people or for society. I don’t have to do them at all.

But I can.

The choice is up to me.

Choosing Means is a Monthly Project for May 2016. You can read more about my projects for 2016 here.

May 2016 – Choosing Means – 10

Today’s card says: Choosing the life you have is so much easier than fighting everything. Choose to see the amazing gifts that already exist in your life. Choose to see what’s there, not what’s missing. There’s so much there.

This is something I should frame and put up in my room, my desk, my ipad, everywhere, so I can see it again and again because I can’t remind myself this truth enough times. My life is so blessed, so lucky, so amazing. There are times I sit in this coffee shop by my house and look around and I can’t believe this little girl from Turkey is now sitting at this cafe, in the sunshine, with this amazing husband, these beautiful children, wonderful friends, incredible family, challenging/interesting/rewarding job. How is it possible that I got this lucky?

And of course there are many moments when I am sad. I wish for parts of my life to be different. For myself to be different. I wish for different things on some days. I feel bad not doing more, not being more. I feel guilty, I feel less than, I feel frustrated, lost, angry, hopeless and all the other feelings.

There are days when I wish some things were different and days when I wish everything was different. But then I know that my life is what I make it. What I made it. I worked so very hard to build this life that I have. This life that is such a gift to me.

This life that feels like a miracle most days.

And I remember that it’s so much easier to choose what is. This is my life. It’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. But perfection is not the goal for me. It’s never been the goal for me. What matters is that I get up each day and I try my hardest. I show up and do what I can. And part of that is choosing what is here. Seeing it. Being grateful for it.

Because it’s pretty darn magical.

Choosing Means is a Monthly Project for May 2016. You can read more about my projects for 2016 here.