What if it was Easy?

 

rhonna-collage

I heard this quote a few weeks ago while listing to the Rich Roll Podcast.  It’s a long interview, with a LOT of interesting trains of thought, but by far, the concept that stuck with me the most was this idea of making things easy.

With the start of a new year, and ten new goals that I’d like to achieve over the course of the year (all lovingly developed and explored in my favourite PowerSheets), I’ve been employing this technique with great success.

One of my goals for the year is to have improved time with the kids, and together as a family.  In the past, I would have gone about this goal by trying to create “special” things to do with each kid, and to do with both kids together.  I’d get caught up in planning something for each month, start off with a bang, then end with a whimper.  And in the process, completely loose sight of the intention behind the goal.

But not this year – because, as I wrote the goal, I also worked on how I could achieve this goal in the easiest way possible, and in what is turning out to be more meaningful for both me and the kids.

Step 1 in achieving this goal was simply to create more time to have with the kids – it’s easier to have improved time when there is simply more of it.  Put differently, I tend to have a better time when I have more than 5 hurried minutes at the beginning or tail end of a day with the kids.  So, in planning our activities for the winter term, anything that wasn’t deemed a “must-do” by me or the kids was cut.  There are things the kids would have liked to have done, classes they could have enrolled in, but that would simply have added things to do on the calendar with little added benefits for anyone.

Step 2 involved looking at the “pain points” in our day and figuring out how to improve or eliminate them entirely.  Since it’s winter and overall, it’s been pretty freezing cold so far, the kids need to be in full winter gear to go to school each morning.  The logistics of squeezing my daughter’s uniform tunic into a pair of snow pants each day was taking significantly longer than it should have and resulting in whining and/or tears, which was grating on all of us.  The purchase of a smaller tunic and a new pair of snow pants, has added ten minutes to the time we have in the morning, and eliminated the whining and/or tears.

And while unnecessary activities were eliminated, the kids still do have their fair share of activities, in and out of school.  Which means bags for school and after-school activities need to be packed.  While we have been in the habit of doing this the night before, assembling gym uniforms and dance uniforms right before bed had a habit of drawing out the bedtime routine and often times winding the kids up after we had just spent time winding them down.  So . . . the easy solution . . . as soon as the kids get home, backpacks are emptied of that day’s items, and refilled with whatever is needed for the following day.

And lastly, Step 3 . . . removing screen time.  My kids wake up early.  Really, really early.  Like 4:50 early.  And it was really, really easy for me to let them watch tv to help fill in the time in the morning.  But, because I have 2 kids of opposite genders, and I do like to be fair, tv time in the morning has evolved over the years from 1 episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse to my son watching a half hour of sports highlights and my daughter watching a half hour show of her choosing.  I was going nuts listening to my daughter whine when my son was watching sports, and listening to my son whine when my daughter chose to watch Barbie.  In other words, what I thought was the “easy” way, was turning out to be problematic for all of us.

So I instituted a new “easy” solution – no screen time in the morning.  The kids can read when they get up.  They can help me pack lunches and make breakfast.  And they can get all the little things they need to do in a day done, like practicing piano.  Everyone is happier, calmer, and, as an added bonus, we’re all ready to go about 45 minutes before we need to leave for school.  And in those 45 minutes, we play games, we read, we investigate things the kids want to learn about . . . . we spend time together.  And when it’s time to go to school, we can be dressed and out the door in under 5 minutes – there’s no last minute scrambling for items they need for the day – they’re all packed – and the kids can easily get themselves into their winter gear.

I’ve also eliminated screen time in the evenings during the week.  While they weren’t watching much, the shows they were watching, and the squabbles over who got to choose the show to watch, were driving me nuts.  In it’s place, we chat (often while all making dinner together), they play, or read.  And after dinner, they can help clean up, or play or read.  But whatever it is they choose to do, we’re together and we’re all happier.  And I’m achieving my goal.

This concept of “easy” is helping me with my other goals too . . . instead of setting specific goals for the gym this year, I created one overarching health goal “personal vitality”.  In the past, I’ve focused on learning pull-ups, or setting new personal bests when I lift weights . . . but the complex methods I developed to meet these goals were inevitably thrown off by a sick kid, or, you know, life in general, and my goals were abandoned, un-met, leaving me, deep down, with a sense of failure about it all.  This year, by working out consistently, and continuing to commit to eating well, it’s easy to meet my goal, and I feel a whole lot better about myself because of it.

As you go about your day today, think about what aspects of your day might be improved if you made it “easy” . . . you just might be surprised at what you find.

 

 

 

2018: A Year of Magic

Magic

The power to make impossible things happen;
Something with special or mysterious qualities that makes one happy;
A significant or desirable quality;
Wonderful, marvellous, exciting;
Unaccountably enchanting;
Effective in producing results, especially desired ones.

Each year, for the past few years, I’ve chosen a word to accompany me through the year. Two years ago, it was Joy – because I was still figuring my way out of recovering from the tumour and I felt I needed to focus again on finding the joy in the big and little things in life.  Last year, I chose light – because I wanted to see the light, be the light, and honestly and quite simply, be light.  Along with choosing my word, I’ve dabbled in the One Little Word workshop (meaning I’ve followed along, done some of the prompts, but never actually followed through with all the prompts each month), and used my word to help me form my goals, plans, aspirations for the year.

Last year, despite my best intentions last year, the rhythm and feel of life didn’t line up at all with my word.  In fact, it almost felt like life was the opposite of what I had intended.  I tried to find the light, but it was a difficult year to see the light.  I tried to be light, but it’s hard to be light in spirit when you can’t make sense of the world around you.  And I certainly didn’t get any lighter (which, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t a big deal, but I won’t lie, frustrated me).  But as much as my word last year didn’t resonate with me (or maybe it did in ways I haven’t yet realized),  and at times even seemed to taunt me, I wasn’t ready to give up on this concept.

As the days in December ticked by, and my social media feeds become increasingly filled with posts on choosing a word and goal setting and New Years resolutions,  the word “Magic” kept appearing; both literally in things I was reading, and figuratively as flashes through my consciousness.  The more I thought about the word, the more I grew attached to it.  And eventually, I sat down to look up the definition.  Taken from a few different sources, I cobbled together the definition I started this post with . . . and with a definition like that, who wouldn’t want to spend a year working with this word.

And so, on January 1st, I declared (to myself, and now to you) my word for the year to be Magic.  (I also declared that I would faithfully follow through with the One Little Word class and actually complete all 12 prompts)

We may only be 12 days into this new year, but already this word is having an impact on my life.  I know, it sounds ridiculous.  But hear me out.  I’ve done lots of work in the past with gratitude.  How many times have we been told to “focus on the positive”, “make a list of things you’re grateful for”, “don’t forget to be grateful”.  But I’ve turned this process around and started to look for the magic instead of just things for which I’m grateful.  And it’s amazing how my perspective has changed.  Try it!

Never mind that it’s way more fun to look for sprinkles of magic in your life than to simply trudge through endless gratitude lists . . . .

I’m not kidding when I say one of the best parts of my day is when I sit down to journal about just one piece of magic I have found during my day.

So on that note, I wish you all a magical start to this new year, and I’m off to make a note about some magic that happened today.

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The little one and I finding a little magic recently at the most magical place on earth.

 

 

 

 

 

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