Finding a Way to Lighten the Load

We are in the middle of one crazy winter here in Minnesota & I am finding that as the snow & snow days continue to pile on, my patience & energy are quickly melting.

But I know that this season will eventually pass & that my grumbling isn’t going to change Mother Nature’s plans. And it does nothing to help the mood around our house!

So today I am committed to making a shift & here’s how.

First, I’m going to acknowledge that IT’S OK to be CRABBY! This has been one loooong haul! At times it has sucked! Plans have had to be changed or put on hold. Calendars rearranged then rearranged again! My flexibility buttons have been pushed to their limits!

So yes! It’s ok to be crabby! I’m going to allow myself to feel it! Maybe even scream it!!!

Then it’s time to MOVE ON & look for some small moments of gratitude.

Here are a few that are coming to mind for me:

  • The treadmill has been dusted off & given some use.
  • We have been able to offer a helping hand around the neighborhood with our trusty snowblower.
  • A choir concert was cancelled which meant we had a night in to play a new card game with the kids.
  • We are making history (and lots of memories) with each snow fall!
  • We are fortunate to have a warm house to protect us from the cold.

After that I am going to offer myself a little SELF-CARE. All of this time indoors with my kids (and husband) around has depleted my energy reserve. This introvert is going to offer myself permission to retreat into a good book or take a couple hours off to do a hobby that I enjoy. I may even bundle up & brave the biting cold to enjoy a quiet walk.

And then I am going to continue to tell myself that this is temporary. Winter is only one season & it will have to move on eventually!

My expectations may have had to shift a little to adjust to the weather’s unpredictability but eventually routine will re-emerge. We will talk about braving the winter of 2019 & feel pride that we found ways to persevere.

This quote in Of Mess & Moxie by Jen Hatmaker, reminds me that even if another storm blows in this week & adds another couple inches to our snow banks, I am the one that gets to choose how I will respond.

YOUR TURN…

How are you handling the unpredictability of this winter weather?  What have you done that allows you to keep perspective, reserve energy, or make the best of this season? I’d love to hear it!

I believe that the more we offer each other permission to be ourselves in our struggles & in our joys, the easier this world becomes for us all.

What if you chose NOT TO do a few things?

“Sometimes what you don’t do is just as important as what you do.”

– Buffett & Clark as quoted in Essentialism

When I read this statement, I thought of all of the choices that come our way each day.  I thought of the ads & other junk mail that fill our mailboxes & then create our paper piles on the table.  I thought of the daily barrage of emails that ask for attention as our inbox count continues to rise. And I thought about the amount of time that we are able to allot to ALL of the tasks that we have hopes of doing each day.

Often, the time needed for the amount of tasks & activities on your list is just not there. And when you realize that is THE TRUTH, then it’s time to make a change.

This is when recognizing the power of choice in your life really becomes a game changer. When you truly embrace that YOU get to decide what to spend time on & what you can let go of, then big shifts can happen.

Here are some tips on how to begin choosing what is important & necessary vs. the things that you can decide not to do?

Start by practicing this skill in an area that feels safe (fairly risk-free) or in an area of your life that has been nagging at you to make a change. Often your gut knows what is important & what really feels like a waste of time to you.

First take a step back. Pull back from the immediacy of things & take a look at the overall picture. Make a short list of the things that are non-negotiable (you need or want to do these things). When it comes to mail, the short list might include bills, personal letters, & medical benefits papers (this list is different for everyone). Those are the things you will make sure you do.

Now look at your usual patterns with curiosity. Ask yourself if you are doing things out of habit or because you have always done it that way & haven’t considered another option. When it come to mail, you could ask yourself if you need to keep the subscription to the magazine that never gets read? Or think about how much energy you might save if you immediately recycle the ads & junk mail.

Then create a statement that becomes your “new normal.”  These are the words you can tell yourself every time you are tempted to do more than is necessary or essential. Use this statement or create one that feels true for you:

“I am choosing to spend time on things that are urgent & align with my values.”

Deciding NOT TO open all the extra ad emails, the coupon flier, and the junk mail is a choice that can open time & alleviate stress.  When you choose NOT TO spend time on these things, you can hit delete, recycle or shred without the guilt.  You have made a decision not to allow your time to be taken up in this way.  

And remember that you can choose not to do something for a temporary amount of time.  If Paper or emails are overwhelming you RIGHT NOW then your choice to limit yourself in this area could be what you need for now.  Once you feel like your inbox is more manageable or your piles have decreased, then you might CHOOSE TO spend 5 mins looking at ads on a Sunday night.

As Greg McKeown says in Essentialism, “our options may be things, but a choice – a choice is an action.  It is not just something we have, but something we do.” So grant yourself the freedom to NOT Do a few more things & instead spend that time on the stuff that really matters to you.

Let’s Connect!

Fill out the form below & tell me about the things that you DON’T DO that have changed how your day flows. Or be in touch if you are ready for a partner that can help you declutter the things that are holding you back from what you truly want to DO!

How to Shift out of Robot Mode and Engage with Life

Some days can feel like a blur.  Work, emails, appointments, kid activities, meal prep, exercise – the list goes on and the clock ticks as I continue to push through one item after another.  These are the days when I can easily slip into “robot mode.”

When robot mode gets turned on then my day revolves around production.  I become very efficient and very determined.  I find myself driven by the voice in my head that thrives on “Look how much you are getting DONE!”  A mechanical human with eyes focused on the next thing & a heart guarded to keep emotion at bay – no time for that!! 

And robot mode feels very stiff.  I am unable to flex with life’s curveballs.  The clock & the to-do list are constantly on my mind & when something unplanned gets introduced, I get resentful & cranky.  “How dare you mess with my timeline!” I scream inside.

It has taken years of falling into this pattern to realize that a robotic life is not the life for me.  It may be efficient, productive and keep the machine of my family & work running, but it doesn’t account for joy, creativity & the wholehearted love that I need & crave.

I know that in order to live a fulfilling life I need to take my time on things and be open to embrace moments of spontaneity.  I long to enjoy beauty and feel the wonder & awe in everything that surroundings me.  I want to be engaged and ready to connect with the people in front of me. And I am happiest when I sing and laugh each day.

But the stiff armor is always waiting for opportunities to trap me into it’s more, more, more mentality, so I work to stay watchful and be proactive.  Here are a few simple strategies that keep me from getting stuck in robot mode or pull me out when I am head down & my to-do list is running on overdrive.

Create A Daily “Enough” List 

Each day I write down the three things that I really want to accomplish for the day.  These are the items that feel the most essential to complete given all of the moving pieces of the day.  Keeping a smaller daily list of tasks allows for a sense of completion and the freedom to invite spontaneity.

When I catch myself trying to add more items to my daily list, then I stop, turn the page & instead write them on a separate list that captures ideas for the whole week.  This practice eases the urgency.  I haven’t forgotten about these ideas/projects, but can give myself a break about getting to them right now

Shift the Focus

When my head is spinning & I can’t stop watching the clock, I use a simple trick that I learned years ago on a yoga retreat.  I shift my focus to something far off, like the sunset or the top of a tree and allow my gaze to blur – zoom out.  After a few minutes, I turn my eyes toward something close by & focus on one tiny aspect of that thing – zoom in.  This shift from grand to tiny is a simple practice that brings me back to the present & keeps the big picture in mind.

Take A Daily Dose of Nature

Each day I make time for a few moments outside.  I might spend it walking my dog, eating lunch in the sunshine, or stepping out to watch the trees in the breeze.  The amount of time varies, but this time in nature offers the expansion that keeps my focus from becoming narrow & rigid. 

Make Eye Contact

If I have stopped making eye contact with the people around me, then I know that I am in robot mode.  I stop & look into eyes of the person right in front of me and there is an immediate shift that breaks down my armor.  I am no longer running on auto-pilot, I am open to whatever emotion is present in front of me. 

Be Moved by Music

I find that I switch right out of robot mode when I turn on some good music.  I can’t help but engage with the words & feel a lightness in my body when songs that I love are playing.  I love to listen & sing along while I cook & find that music makes me feel flexible & light- no robot allowed unless I choose it as a dance move! 

End the Day in Gratitude 

I keep a small dated journal by my bed & each night I write 3-5 simple things that bring a sense of gratitude, contentment, or joy.  This simple ritual doesn’t take long and has become a peaceful way to re-center & take stock at the end of the day.

On the days when robot mode is in full gear, it requires a little searching to find gratitude.  But those are the days when I remind myself of immediate things like my warm bed or the ability to breathe in and out.  This practice is simple, consistent & has become a habit that allows me to tune in to my heart each day.

It is easy to get stuck going through the motions, but my life is so much more enjoyable when I am engaged, flexible, open & present to the people & things around me.  I know I wasn’t meant to be a robot.

Can you relate?  What helps when you find yourself stuck going through the motions?

 

 

How little projects can add up to BIG relief!

Last month, I found myself tackling lots of little clutter clearing projects.  And I have to say it felt good to complete lots of little projects that didn’t take a lot of time & energy but together added up to relief.  

First I cleared out the file box that lives under our main floor desk.  Out went the old school papers from last year, the summer community ed. brochure & other summer activity papers.  

The next week, I sorted & cleared the lightbulb collection that had been hidden in a cabinet & was the source of grumbling for years!  (Check out my instagram to hear about that project.)

These lightbulbs had been driving me crazy for years!

Then I cleaned & cleared out the washtub & extra laundry supplies that were waiting to be recycled.  And after that it was on to the mini fridge in the garage.

These projects were not that important or urgent.  They had been hanging around waiting for attention for quite a while.  But September offered the energy of fresh starts/restarts and I took advantage of it.

I might actually have been “procrasticlearing,”  This is a term that Gretchen Rubin describes on the Happier Podcast #175 (you can read or listen here).  It happens when you use clutter clearing as a way to postpone work.  And lots of people do it! 

If you ever find yourself rearranging your desk or testing pens instead of working, then you may be procrasticlearing.  The key is to recognize if you are using this project to avoid doing the actual work that needs attention or if this is something that you have been meaning to do for a while & will lead to better work & more efficiency? 

Gretchen says to ask yourself if this is  “useful preparation or unhelpful procrastination?”  

Looking back, I think I was doing a combination of both.  At times I avoided or delayed work when I dug into the project & other times, it felt purposeful & led to a clear head & greater focus when I moved on to the next thing.  Either way, those little projects created relief in areas of the house that normally were passed by.  And it felt good to prep spaces before the big shift to indoor living.

YOUR TURN…

I’d love to know if you ever find yourself “procrasticlearing” or if this concept seems totally foreign to you.  Comment below & it will go right into my inbox.

NEXT STEPS…

If you have longed to clear clutter & feel this relief but don’t know how to start then here’s one idea:

  1. Grab a piece of paper
  2. Enter one space in your room
  3. List all of the things that have been bugging you
  4. Pick one project on the list & break it down into some bite-sized chunks.
  5. Set a timer and work at that small chunk for 30 mins.
  6. The next time you feel the urge to clear, check your list & chip away at another small chunk.

Give it a try.  If you get the urge, go with it!  You might be surprised how much you can get done in a short time & how good you feel after.

Looking for a sense of relief?

Yesterday I was on an intake call with a potential client.  She was describing her projects and we were talking through her goals.  As the call wrapped up, she said, “I feel better already.” 

It seems like a simple phrase, but I know to pay attention when I hear these words because I can sense a shift happening and I am flooded with gratitude!  Gratitude because I can feel the relief through the phone.  The relief of giving voice to a burden that has been a source of struggle.  And the relief that someone will be a partner and take the lead on making a plan.   

And it isn’t just relief, I can also hear hope. 

We all have dreams and visions of how we want life to go, and when those dreams seem like they have been taken off-course, then it can feel daunting to find the path back without support.  And while it takes courage to ask for what you need, the reward is that sense of relief.  You have opened the door for some light to shine in.  You have started to set your course in a new direction, even if it is ever so slight.  Things feel hopeful!

Mark Nepo, author of The Book of Awakening, wisely says, “it helps to share our journey with others, because in doing so we become a chorus of voices, and the stress of going solo lessens once we discover that we are not alone.”

So if you are longing for support, but are embarrassed, intimidated, or still unsure of how to ask for help, then try one of these ideas.

Write about it.  Journal about the things that are keeping you stuck.  Getting it out, even if it’s on paper, can decrease the heaviness.

Offer yourself some self-compassion.  Notice when you are judging yourself harshly and instead offer yourself the same warmth & compassion that you would share with a friend.  Recognize all the things that do come easily to you, embrace your unique talents, and remind yourself that we all have different gifts.

Take a baby step.  Start by asking for help with something small so that you can ease into the experience of sharing your burdens.

Lift someone else’s burden.  Watch for an opportunity to offer your time or talent and notice the benefits of working with a partner or team.  Then remind yourself of those things when you find yourself questioning if you should/can ask for help on your own projects.Let’s ask for what we need, support each other, and embrace all the possibilities that are open and available on this journey!  Relief and hope are waiting.

If you have a project or area in your home that keeps tripping you up &  you wish you could get a fresh perspective or a partner to help you tackle it, then be in touch!  Let’s lighten things up together!