Welcome 2019 (& Hello to my new One Little Word)

I know the new year is officially here – and by extension I should be tackling all those amazing goals and resolutions I so carefully laid out for myself – but with the kids still off school, we are still very much in a holiday sort of mood.  And by that I mean, we’re in no rush to change out of our pj’s in the morning, there’s far too much screen time being enjoyed by all, Christmas toys are still strewn throughout the house, and the last dregs of the Christmas chocolates and candies are still being surreptitiously enjoyed throughout the day by both kids (and I’m pretending not to notice), and bedtimes have been pushed back far later than ever before.

But all of this holiday indulgence will come to a sputtering end this weekend as activities start back up, and the kids gradually start back into school and regular routines.

Which means, by Tuesday of next week, I’ll be forced to confront all those goals and resolutions I set out for 2019. And I’ll be forced to confront my abject terror of tackling said goals and resolutions.

Yup. That’s right. I said it. Abject terror of tackling my best laid plans.

It came to me this morning as I was writing my morning intentions. I talked about writing intentions way back in 2016 and it’s a practice that I keep coming back to – taking just 5 minutes to jot down an intention I have for the day – and it can be anything from the mundane to the esoteric – seems to set my day off on the right note. But I digress. As I was writing this morning’s intention, this idea of fear of working towards my goals came out of nowhere. But the more I think about it, the more it makes sense.

For the past two years I have used “Power Sheets” as a way to establish and track my goals. I usually spend a morning or two between Christmas and New Year’s to go through the process of setting up my goals for the year and thinking about how to go about achieving them – which is all laid out in the opening section of the Power Sheets Planner. And then each month you can set monthly, weekly and daily goals to help you work towards your big yearly goals.

This year was no different – I set up my goals for the year – and I was quite pleased with them.  And then on the 31st of December, I set up my monthly, weekly and daily goals for January.  And I was quite excited.  And then BAM.  The fear hit.  

You see – to achieve some of these goals I’ve set out for myself, I’m going to have to try new things.  And there’s a chance that they’re not going to turn out quite the way I want them to.  And that fear of failure is preventing me from even getting started.

Which is where my word of the year comes in.

But first . . . one more small digression.  A few months ago, while I was still working my way through my year of “magic”, I came across this graphic on Instagram, and instantly, I knew what I wanted my One Little Word to be.

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Yup . . . for 2019, my One Little Word is. . . .Love.

So while I’m still scared to try all the new things I have set out as goals for myself, I am going to do my best to treat myself with love, and maybe, if I can be compassionate towards myself, it will all start to seem a little bit less scary.

And on that note, I wish you all a very Happy New Year – and I hope it is a year filled with love and magic and joy!  

xoxo

 

 

 

Patience, My Friend, Patience.

“Patience is the ability to count down BEFORE you blast off.”

There’s a scene that is repeated over and over again in my life.  It happens at the gym – I have a barbell in front of me, it is loaded with a significant amount of weight, it is near the end of my workout, I am tired, mentally and physically, and all I want to do is go home and have a shower.  But I have to lift the barbell up.  One.  More.  Time.

“Patience” says The Coach, in a way that is as much a gentle reminder as it is a threat (of what, I’m not sure, although there’s always the possibility of death by burpees, I suppose).

You see, in weightlifting, if you are patient in lifting the bar off the ground, when you hold out for that perfect moment to really initiate the lift, it will feel almost as though the barbell is lifting itself.  Not to get sappy, but the feeling you get when the timing of a lift is just right . . . well, it’s almost magical.

I’ve been working with The Coach for almost 5 years now, and he’s still reminding me to be patient . . . what that says about me as a student, I’m not going to delve into . . . but I do like his little reminder, because it’s as meaningful outside the gym as it is in the gym.

As I sit now at my kitchen table, I have my list of goals for the month of January beside me.  I’ve been reviewing what worked well over the past month, what didn’t work so well, and thinking about what I’d like to try and tackle this month, which is how I got to thinking about patience.  (I’ve also just returned from the gym so the words of The Coach are still fresh in my mind).

Some of the goals I’ve set for myself this year are going to take the whole year to achieve them.  It’s going to take time, and effort, and the process is going to seem mind-numbingly slow at times.  Let’s face it, it can be really, really hard to wait patiently to achieve your goals.

We all want to be able to achieve our goals, to live our best life, to look our best . . . and we all want it NOW!

But then, if we didn’t slog through the hard stuff, the work of of achieving our goals, would meeting our goals have the same exhilarating feeling?

And that’s when I realized all the slow, steady work I’ve been doing over the last five years to heal, to get back to being “me” (the version of “me” that didn’t worry about doctor’s appointments and test results and tumours growing), to improve my physical fitness, has got me to a point where my goals can be “fun” (even if they are going to take a while to achieve).  Or, put differently, the past five years have been my own personal countdown, so that now I can blast off into my best life.

As you embark on your February, I hope you are able to set some good goals for yourself this month, and that you can find it in yourself to be patient while you go about achieving them.  Because amazing things really do happen when you have patience, my friend, patience.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

A Missed Lift, Goals, and Finding Joy

Last week at the gym, this happened:

Yup . . . I fell while trying to do a heavy lift . . . and I laughed.  When I showed the Coach the video, instead of offering some insightful commentary of why it was exactly that I missed the lift, he simply said “you laughed because you know you you can get right back up and hit that lift”.

Ok . . . so here’s where I’m going to head out on a tangent . . . but I promise, there is a point to this meandering path I’m taking here today.

There was a time, not so long ago, where missing a lift like that would have made me mad.  I would have gotten frustrated, annoyed, probably would have stomped around a bit, pretty much behaved like a petulant three year old.

Why?

Simply because missed lifts meant I wasn’t performing the way I was “supposed” to.  Missed lifts meant I wasn’t progressing.  Missed lift meant I wasn’t reaching my goals.

Right.  Goals.

So a few days ago, there was a fantastic seminar at CrossfitAIO about goal setting.  During the talk, we were encouraged to write down our goals.  Normally, I would have been able to churn out a list in about ten seconds flat . . . things I knew I could achieve, things I wanted to achieve, and things that I could maybe possible stretch to achieve.  But this time, I was stuck.  As much as I love the idea of having measurable markers of improvement, goals with any kind of deadline simply don’t fit into my world of unpredictability; when something as benign as a sick kid can keep me out of the gym for a week, what point is there in setting weekly/monthly/yearly goals?  It can only lead to frustration, annoyance, and likely disappointment.

Which brings me back to the whole concept that I talked about earlier about focusing on how you want to FEEL as opposed to what you want to get done (There is Magic in Focusing on How you Want to Feel).  When I go to the gym now, it’s because I want to work on getting stronger and feeling good.  And when I’m freed from the shackles of trying to meet specific targets in set amounts of time, I can just work on getting stronger and feeling good.  And the funny thing is . . . I’ve gotten stronger, and I feel pretty good.

And here’s where I loop back to where I started  . . . I could laugh as I fell squarely on my rear because one missed lift didn’t mean anything at all.  I was simply having fun, working on getting stronger and feeling good.

And here’s where I loop right back to “real” life . . . I have very publicly stated that this year, I want to feel JOY.  I’ve spent more than a few hours already this month just thinking about, working on, and figuring out just what allows me to get to that place of joy through my One Little Word project.  And yet, this month, I’ve really struggled with finding joy.  Put differently, when things haven’t gone as planned, when I’ve been knocked on my rear, my reaction hasn’t been to giggle . . . I’ve gotten down on myself and searched for external things to make me feel better (I won’t lie . . . I am loving my new gym wardrobe that was an offshoot of a particularly aggravating day, but I digress.).

And for one last giant loop back to where I started . . . life really isn’t that much different than the gym.  I may get knocked on my rear for any number of reasons in “real” life, but I can still get right back up again and do whatever it was that I was trying to do.  And when I focus on having fun (and finding and feeling the joy) in whatever it is that I’m doing, rather than trying to work towards some crazy self-imposed goal, life really is a lot more enjoyable.

Ok . . . and now for one last tangent.  January is a month where most of us embark on something new.  As this month draws to a close, most of us won’t have succeeded in whatever it is we were trying to do.  We can lay blame (on ourselves or on others), we can get down (on ourselves or on others), and we can quit.

OR, we can choose to try again.  For those of you that were trying this month to get to the gym more or to eat better . . . don’t give up.  Focus on how you want to feel, and what you need to do to feel that way.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, and again, and again . . . it might be easy to reach for the fast food, for the “easy” answer to feeding yourself and your family. And it certainly is easy to skip going to the gym.  But is that really going to make you feel any better?

Beginnings

Yesterday, I got the best gift ever.  A whole morning with the house to myself.  The Husband took the kids out to run an “errand” (which turned out to be purchasing a new guitar at a specialty guitar store in Mississauga).  And I was left to my own devices.  And I did . . . . absolutely nothing.  I was so excited by all the things I want to do/try/learn/be in the new year, I ran around the house dabbling in lots but never really focusing in on any one thing.  Which meant that when the Husband and the kids walked back in the door, I was kind of disappointed in myself; I had pretty much squandered the best gift ever.

Which leads me to today.  Today we have no commitments until early this afternoon.  Since everyone was up early, we have a huge stretch of time, with all of us at home, to focus in on some of the things that we want to get done.

I titled this post “Beginnings” because tomorrow is, in a funny way, the real start to the new year for us.  Tomorrow is the day that we embark on our annual “dry” January.  Tomorrow is the day that we re-discover fitness routines.  Tomorrow is the day that we re-establish the way and the things we eat.  And tomorrow is the day the kids get back into their routines.

Which means today is the day that I get organized for this new year.

I’ll be tackling my normal Sunday routines this morning; packing the activity bags for the week, printing the kids’ weekly charts (where we track their chores and things like practicing piano and doing homework), and of course, menu planning!

I’ll also be tackling my to-do list; meaning this year I plan to write a giant to-do list for everything that I want to get done in and around the house.  With everything that’s gone on in the last few years, it’s been really easy to let things go around here – we’d all rather just relax and have fun than do chores like cleaning out the furnace room.  This will be a road map of sorts for me and the Husband over the next few months.  And hopefully it will help us all to be able to enjoy our house a little bit more knowing that there isn’t a massive list of outstanding things to do!

And I’ll be sitting down with the Husband to figure out how we will each find time to accomplish the goals we have for ourselves this year.  For him, it’s ensuring that he gets to the gym multiple times in a week.  And given his new guitar purchase yesterday, I’m sure it will also entail making sure he has time to practice.  For me, it’s less about making sure I can get to the gym (because that’s pretty much a given for me given my daytime schedule), and more about finding a small window of quiet time for myself to work on the projects that I would like to accomplish this year.

And on that note, I believe it’s time for me to simply begin working on what I want to get done today!

PS: The image I used for this post came from this site; she’s got some pretty awesome posts on her blog!  It’s definitely worth a look!!!!

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