The Gift Of March Break

Like most of my stories, this one begins a few weeks ago.  It was early on an unseasonably warm Monday morning, the kids, the Husband and I were heading off to our favourite playground in Central Park, the sun was rising over the buildings on the Upper East Side, and my son looked up at me and asked “Can we move to New York?”, before taking off with his sister to beat the adults to the playground.

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Last week, we were fortunate enough to spend a week in the Dominican.  As I waded out into the ocean with my kids to watch the sun rise, I silently wondered “When can we move to the Dominican?” (or anywhere else where I can wander out in bare feet, put my toes in the ocean and watch the sun rise?)

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But as we are now firmly back in Canada, (where there will be no wandering outside in bare feet for at least another few weeks), and preparing to get back into our routines with school starting tomorrow, I’m realizing that my desire to stay in the sunny warmth of the Dominican was rooted in something much deeper than the enjoyment I get out of this particular routine.

Travel, and this trip to the Dominican, in particular, allows each of us to follow our “must” and, for the most part, to forget about our “shoulds” (please check out this amazing article that I just can’t seem to reference enough to understand the idea of must and should).  For me, on this particular trip, I MUST start each day with a wander out to see the sun rise, with camera in one hand, espresso in the other, and preferably in the company of my little ones, and/or the Husband.  (I also MUST end each day with a (large) glass of bubbly, preferably in the company of several amazing new girlfriends, while the husbands chat and the kids play with their new friends).

But more importantly, in the absence of the million and one little “shoulds” that I have in my normal everyday life at home, the endless to-do lists, the pinging of incoming texts and emails, the urgent ring of the phone, there is time to breathe, and respond to the “musts” of others.  Whether that was curling up with a book to read to the little one, or venturing into the cool water of the pool to play catch with the older one.  There was unhurried time to listen, to respond, and to engage with each of the kids (and the Husband).

What made this experience all the more poignant for me, though, was in the moment, right after taking a series of photos of the kids, in their rings, watching the sunrise, when I put my camera down, and went to float with the kids; as we watched, and quietly chatted to each other, it struck me just how grown up my kids were becoming.  And just how little time I have left with them like this.  Normally, in moments like these, I start to reminisce about the past, to romanticize what was, and to do my best to will time to stop marching forward.  But this time, I simply enjoyed the moment for what it was; and after the sun had risen, and we floated back to shore, I allowed myself to look forward to what the future might hold.

I entitled this post “The Gift of March Break”.  In all honesty, this break provided us with several gifts including the gift of new friends, of good times, happy memories . . .But the gift I’m referring to, is the gift of perspective.

While there will always be “shoulds” in my everyday life, how I deal with those “shoulds” will allow me the opportunity to follow my “must” and allow the kids, and the Husband, to follow their “musts” too.  I don’t want to get so caught up in what I should be doing, that I let this precious time I have with the kids fly by unnoticed; unsavored.  When my son innocently asked if we could move to New York, it wasn’t just because he loves the City so much, or because he is the world’s biggest Rangers fan, I think it’s because I think he felt there, what I felt in the Dominican.

And as we start back at school and into routines tomorrow, I will do my best to make sure that we can all feel that way, even though we’re not on vacation.

 

 

 

It All Makes Sense & How I WILL Reach My Pull-UP Goal

I mentioned in an earlier post that my reading list lately has been light on the fiction and heavy on the “self-help” (I did read This is Happy by Camilla Gibb . . . while I couldn’t put it down, it was decidedly NOT a happy book).

The books I have been LOVING include The Gifts of ImperfectionThe Crossroads of Should and MustThe Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and Big Magic.

All of these books have a similar theme; that when you live the life you want as opposed to the life you feel you “should” live, you will start to feel a whole lot better.  By embracing creativity (be that in the form of art, physical pursuits, or any other pursuit that brings you joy), letting go of the idea of achieving perfection, and tidying and organizing your home in a way that brings you joy, happiness will be the inevitable outcome.

And then, yesterday, after finishing the 2nd of two of the BEST workouts I think I have ever done (and by best, I mean despite being gruelling, I had a light heart, light sprit, and a smile on my face the whole time), I came home, and while soaking in my recovery epsom salt bath, started reading The Desire Map.  And all of a sudden, IT ALL MADE SENSE.

“Small, deliberate actions inspired by your true desires create a life you love”
(The Desire Map)

For the past few weeks, as I’ve chewed through my aforementioned reading list, I’ve incorporated a variety of suggestions the authors make and made small adjustments to my, and my family’s life.  The new habits of getting all the activity bags packed on Sunday, stealing 10 minutes here and there when the kids are occupied/doing something with the Husband to get something small tidied or a little chore done, getting the kids dressed at 7am as soon as they’re done breakfast so we can have a full hour of “mommy school/together time without a mad dash/cranky mommy running around 5 minutes before we have to leave for school getting everyone ready . . . they are ALL making a MASSIVE difference in our lives.  We’re more relaxed, the kids are happier, the house is cleaner, and I feel far less anxious about everything that I’d like to get done.

Why has it been so easy to stick to all these new habits????  Because they make me FEEL good.  And from the way everyone else in the house is acting lately, I pretty confident in saying they FEEL good too.

“When you get clear on how you want to feel, the pursuit itself becomes more satisfying.  The quality of the journey and the destination begin to merge in your heart”
(The Desire Map)

Ahhhhh.  Ok.  So what I want is to feel this way every day; light, happy, full of joy, and able to focus on whatever it is that I’m doing at that moment (not worried about what I have to do next, what I haven’t done, or what I should be doing).  And if I keep up with all these little habits, I will be able to keep feeling this way; and if I keep feeling so light and happy and full of joy, it’s easy to keep up with the habits . . . I sense a virtuous cycle forming . . .

So how does this cycle back to training and my desire to be able to do pull-ups?????

Right now, I’m in what we call a “strength building phase” of training.  That means, when I go to the gym, I’m not trying to hit PR’s (Personal Records) in my lifts, or complete workouts in faster times.  I’m simply working on a variety of movements, working at a percentage of my maximal lifts, and trying to improve my technique and overall strength.  And I’m LOVING every minute of it; especially the last 2 workouts.  I haven’t questioned why I’m so happy, I’ve just been going with it.  Then I read this “Constant racing for success creates habitual and unconscious goal-setting.  We need to re-learn how to move toward our dreams-with (the) trust and well-placed devotion”.  Wait a minute . . . . that’s exactly what’s been going on in my training . . . remove the constant race for success, and replace it with trust and well-placed devotion . . . and it makes for much happier training.  Don’t get me wrong – I do love a good PR-smashing session, and these types of sessions definitely have a place in a good training plan – they just don’t have to happen EVERY time I go to the gym.

Ok then.  But I do still have goals that I REALLY want to achieve.  Is that still possible under this paradigm???  Well, Danielle LaPorte has some words of wisdom on that too:

“Feeling Good along the way doesn’t mean you do’t work your ass off to get what you want.  It means you joyously work your ass off.”
and
“When you’re connected to the greater purpose of an intention – honouring the call of your heart, not just proving yourself – and there’s peal sure in the process, you can pull off some amazing feats.”

So . . . I want to be able to do pull ups because I want the feeling of knowing that I’m that strong.  And the only way to get that strong is to work on it, and build that strength.  So . . . I know why I want to achieve this goal, what I need to do to achieve this goal . . . and so I trust that as I go into the gym today, I will joyously work on developing the strength I need to master those pull ups.

(Ironically, and article entitled “2 Programs to Build Up Your Pull Ups” appeared in my blog reader this morning . . . thanks Universe!)

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