What is Bringing YOU Light? (Finding Snippets of Magic in the Dog Days of the Pandemic)

Hello everyone.

Life is kind of crazy these days still, right? People are approaching the pandemic in their own ways. Everyone is dealing with a different hand. We are all flooded with conflicting viewpoints and information. And that’s not even mentioning the white elephant in the room for parents, school!

Eik! Luckily this post is on the opposite end of that darkness. It is about LIGHT.

Recently I had an amazing conversation where I was asked a poignant question. I liked the question so much that I immediately sat down to capture it so I could share it with you (and remind myself of it again later too)!

Here is the question: “WHAT IS BRINGING YOU THE MOST LIGHT RIGHT NOW?”

A person standing in front of a sunset Description automatically generated

This question is so powerful that I will ask it again. “What is giving you the most energy or light right now in your life?”

As parents, we are responsible for so much. Life stacks up on us every day. Then we stumble to bed, steal some sleep, wake up, and repeat! Over, and over and over. (It’s like we are living our own version of Groundhog’s Day, especially now!)

We take care of our jobs, our kids, the never-ending laundry, cleaning, cooking, snacks (how is it that it ALWAYS seems like it’s time to cook, eat or cleanup?!) Plus, now we are adding in school from home?! The list goes on…

We are swamped, inundated. We turn on the news and it is disheartening. There is so much wrong. We have so much work to do.

But, what if in this darkness we PAUSE? What if we pause to discover that tiny little gem in our day that gives us energy? What if we think about what is lighting us up inside, if only for a moment? If only to give us that added strength that we need to tackle all there is to tackle these days.

Maybe the answer is obvious- and it came to you as soon as I asked the question. Awesome! If not, no worries. Take a minute now to think about it now.

Ask yourself where do I find refuge? Where can I play, relax or find joy? (It’s ok if it’s ridiculously small or otherwise inconsequential. What matters is that it lights you up.)

Once you recognize what is making you feel the lightest, then you can make time for it. Hopefully this can help you slip in more uplifting moments and survive pandemic life!

With everything swirling around out there, I know I need to take some time to care for myself. If I don’t, I won’t have enough energy left to be there for my family.

It doesn’t have to be big or long. It doesn’t even have to be alone. Sometimes we are surrounded by kids and responsibilities all times, so we need to be able to find light in the presence of our family.

I needed someone to give me permission to find my energy-giving pursuits. I needed her to tell me, “Laura, it’s okay. Please find what is giving you energy and go after it, even if just for a little bit!”

Let me give YOU that permission too!

It is okay!

Please find what is giving YOU energy and GO after it! 

Be as big as you can in this hard time. Shine your light and share it with others so they can shine their light too. It’s like my friend Alex says, “It’s all about the ripple effect!”

I know right now doesn’t look anything like we expected. But let’s hunker down and pretend this is our winter. What can we create now that will be ready to bloom in spring? Let’s bring our light, share our energy, and lean on each other along the way.

Though we may be “socially distant” let’s stay connected and pump each other up. If you need pumping up reach out to me right now!

I know we all have magic inside us. Let’s give ourselves the time and space to let our light sneak out of us, even if all can manage is one tiny snippet at a time!

 

PS- Upon reflection I found that writing, connecting with others and being creative is bringing me light right now. I also am energized by playing and creating new games with my family for our #WeWriteTheStory2020 Challenge.  I would LOVE to hear what is bringing YOU light! So please reach out to me personally or share in the comments 🙂

What Will You Create? How to Use Self-Care & Creativity to Survive

I don’t know what the last few months have been like for you, but if you’re like me, I’m guessing that it has been a whirlwind of emotions and feelings! One minute I feel one way and moments later it’s like I feel the exact opposite. I’m feeling good, I’m feeling bad. I’m energized, I’m tired. I’m brave, I’m fearful.

Taking on new challenges comes with a new set of circumstances. So much has changed and there is so much newness to deal with and navigate.

Through the ups and the downs, I have felt an innate desire to serve people and help myself and others rise to get through this crazy time. Sometimes it has been easier and other times it has been harder.

But tonight, on a walk I took by myself, I was able to let my mind wander… I think I found an answer for me, and I wanted to share it with you (as I imagine we all may be facing some of the same roadblocks even though our particular circumstances may be totally different.)

The answer that came to me was being CREATIVE.  To CREATE a new way.

According to Merriam-Webster here is the definition of creative & create:

 

Definition of creative

1: marked by the ability or power to create : given to creating

2: having the quality of something created rather than imitated

3: managed so as to get around legal or conventional limits

 

Definition of create

1: to bring into existence

2a: to invest with a new form, office, or rank

b: to produce or bring about by a course of action or behavior

3: CAUSE, OCCASION

4a: to produce through imaginative skill

b: DESIGN

1: to make or bring into existence something new

 

Yes, my responsibilities and roles have been altered. Yes, I am now a TK & 2nd Grade Teacher. I am a housecleaner. A chef. Yes, I am home ALL THE TIME. Yes, I did most of this stuff before, but no I did not do it alone and I did not do it ALL THE TIME!

I’m sure you can relate. Maybe you are trying to balance having two parents working from home trying to homeschool at the same time. Maybe you are trying to balance the different school workloads of your three kids, all different ages and levels. Maybe you are trying to balance caring for your elderly family members who you may or may not even be able to see right now.

Life is complicated. And it is complicated beyond complicated now as we face unprecedented times.

But let’s get back to being CREATIVE.

YES, things are hard, and things look different. But what the heck can we actually DO about it?!?!?!?! How can we make the best of it?

We can CREATE.

The idea just popped in my head and even though it didn’t make my headache go away, it did seem to offer me some much-needed SPACE and possibly a taste of potential freedom.

Then when I was listening to a podcast interview and it brought the idea home even further. They were talking about the importance of self-care right now, how the people doing well right now are the ones who are making their own self-care a priority; vs. the people who are barely holding on, they are getting swamped in the gravity of it all, neglecting their needs, and struggling.

But what really got me was when he said the people in prison war camps who survived were the ones who thought that this was going to last awhile. Those who thought it would be temporary didn’t survive.

So clearly this isn’t war camp. We are not POWs, but if we act in ways that say this is how it’s going to be for a while, then we can adapt our lives to our current situation. We can be CREATIVE and find ways to make at least some of the things we need and want to work!

Let’s create from scratch. Let’s be creative and find ways to make space for some PLAY in our day-to-day lives.

PLAY is essential and now more than ever we need to create moments of joy, love and flow in our lives. We need to show our kids that we can do that. We need to play with our partners. We need to leave the heaviness behind from time to time so we can hang out in the world of LOVE AND POSSIBILITY, even if just for a few moments.

So, I can’t wait to see what you are going to CREATE for yourself and your family! Let’s take on our self-care and sneak in some PLAY! Game On!

 

PS- I also want to take a minute to thank amazing my boys and all the wonderful people who partnered with us in our #WeWriteTheStory2020 challenge so far! They inspired me to find creativity and blew me away with all the fresh and fun ideas they came up with. Playing and sending out over 50 games so far has shown me how we all have the innate ability to be creative, we just need to allow the time and space for it. You can learn more about our challenge here and you can stay up to date on my daily posts including games, sanity hacks and more on my instagram. Thanks all!

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/creative

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/creating

The Beauty of Imperfection

Written on February 29, 2020

The drive to perfection is pervasive. It slips into every nook and cranny in my life. Kitchen counters, clothes-organized-by-color in closets, stellar achievements. It even tried to seep into my head watching my 7 year-old-son’s basketball team that I coach underperforming. Having a drive to be successful and work hard is amazing. But so often it tows (and often crosses) the line into over-competiveness and unhealthy need for perfection.

And what is the deal with perfection anyway? Live in the perfect home, have the perfect career, sculpt a perfect body, date/marry the perfect person, have the best dressed kids/win every award/achieve/achieve/achieve.

Strive. Strive. Strive.

And for what?

What are we losing? What are we giving up? And worst of all what are we missing out on as a result?

The science proves it and these days there is no lack of studies- money, success, and awesome things DO NOT CAUSE HAPPINESS!

So why do we keep on doing it? Why do we keep pushing for more? And then more and then more.

Hedonic adaptation is definitely part of it. Get something good in your life, get used to it, need more to reach that next level, then reach it, get used to that and so on.

But this is a post on wabi-sabi and see how long my ego kept me from getting to it? I could go into the research on how to beat or pare down hedonic adaptation (and I definitely can in a future post), but for now I’d rather side swipe it and skip to wabi-sabi.

According to Collins Dictionary wabi-sabi is a Japanese term loosely translated as “a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay.”

What a drop dead gorgeous and completely intimidating concept for this American born and raised girl.

Find beauty in the imperfect.

That sentence could stand alone. I can imagine flipping through Instagram and just seeing that sentence show up on EVERY SINGLE POST! Maybe just that phrase with a rainbow of background colors behind it. Or maybe that phrase with an elegant and potent image unique to each poster that really drives home the POWER of celebrating the beauty of what is already there. The beauty of DROPPING all the striving, angling, positioning, wanting and wishing.

Proud but not satisfied.

I am proud of where I am. Life isn’t perfect, but I am doing the best I can. I am enjoying what I have and what life surrounds me with. And I am following my dreams and passions in a way that supports me and those around me. No one is perfect.

A perfect life is an illusion.

And if you are around people who claim to have it or claim they can teach you how to have it I call shenanigans!

Find yourself some real people who admit their life sucks sometimes but keep getting back up, holding their head high (or as high as possible that day), and give it their best try. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. You learn more from losing.

I have learned so much from wabi-sabi and am just a novice. It’s my word of the year and I still study it more and practice it more. But along my journey I want to cherish where I am. Life is fleeting. Moments slip away into memory faster than blinking and I just want to know that I’ve given it my all. I will fail. I will fumble. But I will never give up my pursuit of happiness. And wabi-sabi will be my secret tool to use along the way.

It will be my light saber guiding me in times of darkness to fight off the evil intuitions my mind sometimes pulls up. I will honor myself and those around me in celebrating the ultimate beauty in life, aka imperfection.

My soul has spilled out on this page for you and for me. I will reread this lots of times and shake my head and feel it in my heart. Tears slide down my cheeks as I type this. I just want to leave my all on the court. I want to give my all. I want to make a difference. I want that for the entire planet. I want us all to come together in love and acceptance and drop all this crap and hate and intolerance. We are the same. Let’s build each other up. Let’s work together as one team.

Think of the generations that living like that could become. Think of the love, the power, a universal team. I pray for that….

EPILOGUE: April 24, 2020

I wrote this post above on Leap Day, February 29, 2020, well before COVID-19 was running its tidal wave across the world, before it was even called COVID. It’s unreal how much has changed yet how much of the above is even more relevant now. People are sheltering in place. We are being forced to slow down and face imperfection and the cycle of life. We are realizing all we took for granted.

We are facing new challenges and stresses, and we are facing them alone due to social distancing. Each day there are new facets of this pandemic that become apparent. But I am going to do like Mr. Rogers said, and look for the hero’s. I am going to keep sharing my #WeWriteTheStory2020 games each day and posting Sanity Hacks in hopes that we can sneak in even a moment of play, joy or connection.

I’d love to hear what you have been learning about embracing the beauty of imperfection during this time so please comment below or shoot me message on my blog or my instagram @chasinghavers.

We can do this, one day at a time, one moment at a time…

Time To Pivot

Wow. If you would have told me a couple weeks ago that the world was about to go into a global lockdown and health pandemic, I never would have believed you. We are all painfully aware of our new world, the new dangers, the new fears, all the stinking newness. We’ve all already read a million articles and seen a million posts on COVID-19, how to make the best of your time, how to workout at home, how to start to cook, how to do any completely random combination of just about anything and everything. We’ve also seen a million awesome memes that thankfully make us burst out laughing.

But the one thing I see as a major context in this unique occurrence is everyone’s joint need to need to pivot. I just got off the phone with my dear friend in Toronto who said, “everything has been touched by this.” All aspects of our lives are being impacted. We are going down new roads that we never expected to face, or really even imagined we’d face as a global collective.

In times of tragedy or natural disaster, people come together. But now we are told to stay 6-feet apart. We repel from each other like two opposite sides of magnets when we get near other people. It’s bizarre. It reminds me of when my Aussie friend came to visit. We went to Vegas (obviously) and were walking down the sidewalk, yet he kept going to the wrong side. (You should’ve seen me TRYING to drive in Sydney, turning at intersections… forget about it, but that’s another story!)

But we are not outside our country; we are not outside our cultural norm. We are outside our HUMAN norm. We are forced apart in hopes that we can all come back healthy and strong together.

Which leads me to the point of this post. We are in an era of unprecedented unity in that EVERYONE is forced to pivot. Whatever you THOUGHT you were going to be doing, you’re not. Or at least not in the way you thought you were. Whatever you THOUGHT was important, you are reminded of the mighty value of your health and the simple pleasure of being alive. Whatever you THOUGHT you needed or wanted or maybe even dreamed of, you are forced to realize and vanquish your control.

But to pivot, you can think about what you DO control, what you DO value the most in your life. You know what you have to get done and what you can let slide. You can decide how much time you will spend on things (outside your necessary responsibilities), on what and when. You can choose time on social media, watching the news, sneaking into closets or garages to cry. You can choose how much time you spend reading or simply PLAYING with your kids. (Which reminds me to remind you to follow my Instagram @chasinghavers each day for a new #wewritethestory2020 game you can play with your kids, how to use it to connect with your community, and for a daily sanity tip.)

Companies can pivot and learn how to be effective and productive as employees work from home. Families with two working parents can pivot to see how they can work together to be a team and support their children in new ways. Kids can pivot to see how they can learn and play outside the traditional classroom setting. Friends can pivot by having online parties like I will be doing this Saturday (in toga by the way!)! Moms can pivot by teaching their children to help them cook, do laundry and do chores. Dads can pivot by modeling for their family how they are adapting to a new change. Entrepreneurs can pivot as they find new ways to serve their clients.

I emailed my son’s amazing TK teacher to ask her what advice she had for my son as being just home and she said the first word she teaches them as school starts is being “flexible.”

Right now, is a complete exercise in being flexible, and being present. Taking life one day at a time, one moment at a time.

Because I feel like life is flying in my face faster than ever before, I have a trillion emails to read, three meals and twenty snacks a day to prepare and clean up, a house to clean, workouts to try to sneak in, games to play, kids to teach and hang with, and on and on…. I took my priorities I had clarified (from my How to Fill Your Life With What’s Important to You post which you can read here…) and turned them into a general outline of what I want to accomplish each day. This way it keeps me intentionally focused on what I know is important to me and not slide down the rabbit hole of the craziness that is spreading all around.

My Personal Guidelines for Each Day:

  • 4 different quality times with my fam
  • 1 hard workout (4-5 days/wk)
  • 1 mild/medium workout (like bike ride with kids, playing in backyard with them, going for a walk, etc.)
  • Cook a healthy dinner for family with extras for lunch the next day
  • Take some creative time for myself
  • 1-2 meditations/prayer/gratitude journal
  • Create & post one fun family game for my #wewritethestory2020 challenge
  • Talk to at least one friend a day and reach out to someone new each day
  • (*NOTE: These are in addition to all my regular day to day responsibilities, work, kids, etc.*)

Also, be flexible with yourself on this. If I miss a hard workout one day, no biggie. It’s just a guideline. But I find having something to center myself around to be super helpful and grounding. I find it reassuring as if I can just do most of that, I can feel good about my day no matter how many ups and downs it has.

So friend, I can’t wait to celebrate MASSIVELY when we have all made it through this.  It’s my hope that when we look back we can each say, wow, we really rose up and did our best. We worked through our fears and emotions; we were leaders to our family. We were courageous in this strange time and we are proud of how we took it day by day and focused on what is most important to us along the way. We used our skills and gifts to make the world around us a better place, no matter how big or small of community we touched, we gave it our all.

Game on! Sending love, patience, and perseverance.

We can do this together.

PS- I took this photo on a run last summer in Michigan when visiting my sweet in-laws. I thought it could make a good pic for my blog in the future. Who knew it would like this… The road may end but we can pivot and blaze our new trail through the grass.

Spreading Community & Connection- Not Coronavirus #wewritethestory2020

There’s a lot going on in the world today. Things look totally different today even than they did yesterday. We are being inundated with information on coronavirus, how it spreads, how to distance ourselves, what’s happening here and around the world. And now our kids will be home for at least three weeks. We’re not quite sure what to do, where we can go, will Coronavirus come to our neighborhood? How will it affect our life today, tomorrow, next month, forever?

Stories are swirling. Group text chats are blowing up. My thoughts go wild. But in chaos and troubled times we have an opportunity to come together. Even in social distancing we can reach out and do our part to spread the feeling of love, support and connection.

Enter my new game.

#WeWriteTheStory2020

(Follow me on Instagram for free daily games & sanity hacks @chasinghavers)

When I heard that schools were getting cancelled for 3 weeks I thought of all the parents out there and how overwhelming it is to think of 3 weeks home with the kids. All activities cancelled. All sports cancelled. Parks/beaches closed. Social distancing suggested. I wanted to figure out a way to help so I came up with this idea.

For at least 20 minutes a day, we invite you to sit with your family and find a way to reach out to your community. Draw a picture to mail to grandma. Write a thank you card to volunteers in your community. Send a funny video to your friends near or far. Help send love to people around you as everyone desperately needs it right now.

We challenge you and your family to do 20 minutes a day and send 20 messages a week. Some might be a quick note or text message, others might be a more involved art project like tracing your outstretched arms and literally sending your hugs to your family members. Use your imagination. Get your kids involved. Remember, we write the story and here is our chance to show them the sky is limit when it comes to their ideas. You can share by mail, email, video, Skype, Facetime, you name it!

Let’s teach our kids to come together, to be grateful for what we have, and to send love and support to others. Let’s take time out to sit together, to color, to draw, to paint, to write a story, to put on a play.

Be creative. And let us know what is inspiring you and your family!

Post a picture or message and join us in #WeWriteTheStory2020.

Sending health and love.

PS- I want to thank Ginny from @1000hoursoutside. I love how she created a simple challenge that promotes a healthy activity and being together; it helped me come up with this. I also want to thank Abbey Gibb for prompting me & her peeps to look for ways to be compassionate leaders amidst the collective sinking energy. I also want to thank my husband, family and friends for helping me brainstorm this idea yesterday and today! You can find a new daily game posted on my Instagram so follow me there @chasinghavers. And check out my friend @liferedefinedwithjudi for more on our #WeWriteTheStory2020. Can’t wait to play together and help our community write our own stories!

Happy New Decade!

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Happy New Year! 2020! I was super excited to start a new decade and here we are almost a month into it already. Like the start of a new school year, a new year and especially a brand-new decade feels like such freedom. I feel like I am opening the cover to a new book full of blank pages where I can literally write whatever I want. I can feel the excitement of leaving old ways behind and establishing new habits and patterns in my life. And although my big plans to ring in the new decade in style were crashed by the realities of a sick kid, I worked hard to stay present and enjoyed the options I had. (Aka, I stayed home and watched the Sydney fireworks and had a family dance party.)

More time at home meant more time to be introspective. Scrolling through my limited Instagram (more on that in another post) I was inspired by three posts that I wanted to share since they were very useful for me. One was by one of my favorite authors, Leeanna Tankersley, whom I’ve posted about before. You can see her full post copied below, but basically, she said to take a few minutes to look over your past year. Check your calendar or photos for reminders; but take time to take stock of all that happened for you and your family. Think about the highs and the lows. Celebrate all you have made it through. Write it down and give yourself a pat on the back for doing it and making it through to the other side.

I loved this idea and spent some time on it after I put my kids to bed one night. I hope to continue it as a yearly tradition and keep each write up as a precious memory of everything that was our life in each year. I know that times goes by (quickly) and I believe I’ll remember life the way it is, but I won’t. Even though it feels like this phase will last forever, because sometimes it certainly feels that way in the moment, I know it doesn’t.

My child’s cutest baby cheeks. The way they cuddle into me. Nursing my baby and rocking away in his super still nursery in the middle of the night. How they call for me for one more hug after I put them to bed. How they only want the blue cup when you’ve already poured their juice into the red one and it’s too early to even see a sliver of sunshine. How they are always doing puzzles and leaving their clothes on the floor.

Each magical detail. One moment an irritation, the next moment a fleeting memory laced with warmth and the feeling of tears welling in your eyes. So, I will write it down and save it. I will look at it again in the future. I will remember. I will remember what I learned, what I gave up, what I gained. And it will help me to hold strong and stay present in the current moment. It will help me to embrace the challenges and remember how I will think of these challenging moments in the future with love.

And other memories I might not remember so fondly. Other memories still hold pure sadness in my heart, like the unexpected death of my brother-in-law last year. I certainly miss him and want to hear his laugh and how he’d always say, “I’m going to slide out,” whenever he left. How he’d play with the boys and have fun conversations about science and movies with us. But in this sadness, I remember how our family came together, how we had an amazing time in Michigan honoring his life. We shared hot summer days and nights over the 4th of July telling old stories and laughing together, sending fireworks into the air, spending quiet moments sitting together on the porch watching the storm quietly roll in as lightning bugs blinked silently all around the yard. I know that we made it through hard times by taking it moment by moment and leaning on each other. And in these memories, I’ll know that I can make it through any hard moments that may come again God forbid.

I also reflected on another big milestone in 2019, our 10-year wedding anniversary. I was surprised at how much it meant to me and how proud I was at all that we had accomplished and been through together. I love my husband and it was nice to have an opportunity to stop and think about us, rather than just being us in the swirl of life that surrounds us being mom and dad to our two young kids.

The second and third posts that inspired me were from my friend and health coach Judi from @liferedefinedwithjudi. Her first post that stood out asked these two questions: “What are you going to leave behind? What are you going to take with you?” Again, the idea of leaving things behind seems so eloquent and beautiful.

As parents we’ve seen our kids leave things behind: pacifiers, baby food, diapers, cribs… As adults, what do we leave behind? Or should I say, why don’t we leave things behind? Why do we seem to take everything with us by default? We see the patterns of learning and moving on from our children. We too can choose to leave things behind.

Some things helped us when we needed them to, but now they hold us back, physically, mentally, emotionally.  Taking time to truly see ourselves and our behaviors can help us to choose what we want to leave behind. And like Marie Kondo says about donating our used items, we can thank whatever we leave behind and move on into a new future, free to create and use new or refined skills.

The third post that inspired me (more like made me cry!) asked you to think about the past decade and all your memories and accomplishments. When I thought about mine, I was jarred by the HUGE milestones that had occurred. I got married to my summer fling. I gave birth to my son and became a mom! I had another baby boy and we became a complete family! My husband started his own business and we moved into our home. We celebrated 10 years of marriage. HOLY COW those are some BIG moments!

So much happened in the last decade, and after reflecting on it I realized the possibility of all that we will experience in this next one. Therefore, I am bringing with me my desire to continue to learn about what it takes to lead a happy and fulfilled life. I am bringing with me the dear friends I have made and plan on investing time and love into these relationships. I am taking with me my dedication to health and well-being. I am taking with me resilience, patience, and grace. I am focusing on being present. I can’t wait to write the next chapter.

References & Links

“Take 10 minutes today to go back through your year month by month. You can look at your calendar/planner if you need help remembering, but some of us had the kind of year where you know exactly what happened and when it happened. Write down a few events, milestones, memories from each month. What was significant? Stream of consciousness, bullet point, words/phrases. See, on paper, what you’ve walked through, what you’ve navigated, what you’ve lost, what you’ve celebrated. It might surprise you. Give yourself a big il’ THANK YOU & HELL YA for showing up, for beginning again and again, for making it.” December 31, 2019 @lmtankersley

 

 

Two more days of 2019!! This being one of them. What are you going to leave behind? What ae you going to take with you?” December 30, 2019 @liferedefinedwithjudi

 

 

 

“It’s the last day of the year. The last day of the decade. Take a moment to reflect on the last 10 years. What were your top 10 moments or memories? What are your top 10 things that made you smile? What are your top 10 accomplishments?

These last 10 years have had their ups and downs. The best things about the downs are that you: 1. You become a stronger version of yourself. 2. Gain new perspective. 3. Its during the “downs” that growth happens. 4. You get to go back up!” December 31, 2019 @liferedefinedwithjudi

 

Getting Off Track…

I started this blog excited to be pursuing my creative urge to write, study, photograph, and share. I still am excited about it, but life keeps getting in the way and I haven’t been able to post as often as I would’ve liked. I know that we all only have 24 hours a day. I know that I need 9 hours of sleep a night and that I have a lot of responsibilities. But instead of taking things OFF of my plate, I feel like I just keep ADDING new things on to an already full load. And I’m sure I’m not alone.

Earlier this year I wrote a post about time management and a practice I had been doing to make sure that I kept my life in check with what was important to me. Unlike my other posts, I went back to it many times. I edited it and changed it and finally just decided not to post it as it wasn’t in my voice and it didn’t seem to fit in.

And then I abandoned that practice.

I stopped intentionally looking at how I spent my time and instead kept filling it up and up and up and up until I hit overwhelm and had to step back and examine how best to move forward.

What actually happened was an old major love of mine (the sport of beach tennis!), came back into my life after having been done for 10 years. Suddenly I could play again and had a Pro Tour and ANOC World Beach Games to train for. I upped my fitness time and began training on court and in the gym, traveling to tournaments and promoting and organizing a “new” sport. Meanwhile I still had my already busy life as mom, wife, friend, board member, volunteer, writer, etc.  It’s no wonder things got hectic as I tried to fit in way more than I had time for.

A tournament we hosted as we set out to grow the sport in San Diego…

Lisa, my sister, and I competing at an ITF Pro Tournament in Hermosa Beach.

Happy to be back on the sand with my sis!

But the truth is I am still struggling to choose what it is that I want to focus on and prioritize. I still want to dedicate myself to my kids, to my husband, to my blog, to my sport, to my community. But I really cannot do it all. I definitely cannot do it all to the level that I would want to. So, what do I do? How do I move forward? I guess I’d say I need to prioritize, but that sounds so uninspiring! I am thankful that I have so many fun things calling to me, but I need to be real with myself about what is most important to me right now.

Which ironically goes back to my old practice of intentionally planning my time around my values and priorities. Looks like I need to reread my old post and see what I think of it now! And then write a new one to share what I learned from giving up that practice and starting it again.

The funny, not so funny, thing is, I remember thinking and writing that life is wild and keeps on throwing things at us all the time. If we don’t stop to think about what is important to us we can get off track just doing what shows up, instead of actively creating the life we want to live by design.

So back to the drawing board! Stay tuned…. More to come.

PS- Before posting this entry, I actually edited and posted my original article on intentional living called How to Fill Your Life with What’s Important to You. If you missed it, you can find it HERE. Meanwhile I have been re-evaluating my priorities and planning my time again according to the post!

Here are some helpful questions you can use to help you journal/brainstorm what you want to create in your life:

What’s Most Important to you?

What do you do (how do you spend your time and free time)?

What do you want to do more of?

What do you want to do less of?

What are some things you would like to plan in to create your intentionally-designed life?

How to Fill Your Life with What’s Important to You

How to Fill Your Life with What’s Important to You & Your Family

6 Steps to Make the Most of Your Time

Time flies when you are having fun- or maybe just time flies! And if time flies, I certainly want to make sure to fill it up with the things that are important to me and my family. I don’t know about you, but I feel like we are always super busy. I feel like we have a million things to do and a million more that I would want to do if I just had more time!

Clearly there’s no way to add more time to the day. So, I started to think about what I could do to maximize my time and make sure I was using it wisely. That led me to try something new. I pinpointed our priorities and made a concerted effort to plan weekly activities to fulfill them.I call it intentional living, but I guess it is more like intentional planning. The planning is the key element as it takes the week on a whole and fills it with meaningful activities, rather than just attempting to complete a never ending to do list.

Take a minute to think about what you are already doing. Where do you spend your free time? Do those activities fill you up or leave you drained? Do you feel guilty about what you are doing (or not doing?) Do you get sad when people say things like “enjoy it while you have it” and “they grow up so fast! “ (I hope I can remember to never actually say that to anyone when I am older!)

If we choose to be intentional in how we use our time, we can look back and be proud, knowing that we filled our family’s free time with the things we value.  We can be proud that we took advantage of the time we had when our kids were at each age, because we thought about what we wanted for them and for our families and planned accordingly!

Here’s how to get started

1. FIGURE OUT YOUR FAMILY’S PRIORITIES!

First you have to figure out what your family’s priorities actually are. Some ideas include health, marriage, family time, fitness, friends, spirituality/religion, learning/personal growth, children, hobbies, volunteering, travel, community, careers, and education. There are lots of choices- so be sure to take some time to consider actually is important to you, not just what you think is supposed to be important!

2. PLAN ACTIVITIES EACH WEEK THAT FULFILL THOSE PRIORITIES

Once you know what is important to you and your family, then you can brainstorm activities that fulfill each area. Once you have some possibilities you can start planning them into your actual calendar. For example, my family values fun so I try to plan at least one playdate each week. I also try to get together with my friends at least once a week (while the kids are in school or at night). Another example for me is I try to get to the beach once a week to satisfy either peace/rest/nature time or health/fitness if I make an active trip like a run, surf, beach tennis, etc.

3. FIND WAYS TO COMBINE YOUR PRIORITIES WITH YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES

In addition to just adding activities into your free time, you can also try to find ways to sneak aspects of what you prioritize into the things you have to do. You can’t escape your responsibilities (like your job, driving kids to school, doing laundry, cleaning the house, etc.) but you can find ways to make them more enjoyable. For example, if you value education, creativity, self-growth or learning, you can clean the house while you listen to your favorite podcasts. Or if you value dance or fitness you can clean while listening to fun upbeat songs that get you dancing along to your dusting. Those can be blended with health easily too if you listen to either while you cook or exercise. You can add either of those to school drop offs as well and find some fun kids’ podcast to get your kids excited about learning too.

4. SCHEDULE THE ACTIVITIES!

Take the time to schedule your important activities into your calendar. Maybe even start a family calendar where you can write it all down for everyone to see (if you haven’t done that already.) As a bonus, once you write it on an actual calendar it’s easier to see if your schedule is balanced or not. Keep in mind, you might not be able to fit everything you want into each week. Whatever doesn’t fit is either lower on the priority list or something to start with for the next week.

5. REVISIT YOUR ORIGINAL PRIORITIES

After some time has passed it’s a good idea to revisit your original priority list and make sure it is really true to what you want. Maybe you thought you valued super fitness but realize that you actually value family time more since your kids are little and you want to soak up the time with them. It is ok to change it up. It is one thing to want a six-pack, but it is another thing to actually be willing to do what it takes to achieve one. Also, the more priorities you have the harder it may be to get them all in. Therefore, you may have to trim down your list or get real with yourself about what really is important. Use your list and scheduling to feel good and fulfilled at the end of each week and adjust as needed along the way.

6. PLAN FOR DOWNTIME

Don’t forget to plan for downtime! With the endless activities available today and the never-ending to do lists, sometimes the thing missing is rest. It was a little bit of a surprise for me, a total extrovert, when I realized something I would like more of is peace and calm, aka downtime! So, I make sure to leave some free time and I also plan a beach day or afternoon as an opportunity to slow down and connect with nature. I also like to read, write and take it easy.

But what about if you are not a planner? What if this is just too much scheduling for you? I get it, though I might challenge you by saying you do keep some kind of schedule. I suppose if you don’t like to keep a calendar just the act of thinking about your priorities and how you spend your time can be helpful and maybe it will help keep that stuff at the top of your mind where you are more apt to do things to meet them. But I would also challenge you to try this method for a month and see how it feels. Maybe the act of planning based on how you want to spend your time will feel better and more palatable.

In anticipation of the holiday season that is upon us, I challenge myself and everyone who reads this to take the time to think about what priorities you have for yourself and your family and talk to them about it too. Then keep up with scheduling in time for your priorities. Fight the hectic holiday pace with planned important activities. Hopefully by having an empowering context and choosing activities that align with your family’s priorities, we can stay more grounded and calm in end of year and into the future.

Let me know your thoughts along the way. I’d love to hear how this intentional living and planning makes a difference for you!

New Beginnings

A few months ago I read a book by one of my favorite authors, Leeanna Tankersley. I saw her speak many years ago at a Writer’s Conference I attended and when she appeared again years later at my MOPS (Mothers of Preschool Children) group, I truly enjoyed listening to her stories and soaking in any advice that spoke to me. So, when she was about to release her newest book, Begin Again, I convinced my bible study group that we had to choose her book.

New Beginnings. Even just saying that conjures up a lot of imagery and emotion. Sometimes new beginnings are exciting and energizing. Other times they are scary and stressful- and everything in between.

I am in the midst of a new beginning in my life right now that is extremely exciting and totally unexpected. Imagine if college or high school was one of the best times in your life, and now you somehow had the opportunity to do it again, but in this stage of your life. Ok, maybe that sounds confusing, but that’s exactly what it felt like for me.

In the mid 2000’s, my sister and I discovered a new sport called Beach Tennis and we began to compete on the pro tour. It was amazing how it all happened. It was a whirlwind few years as we traveled around the best beaches in the US, made an appearance on the Today Show, and even competed as the first American team at the World Championships in Italy.

We had a ball, but it seemed like that era was over. The organization that was putting it on in the US stopped holding tournaments, so we just counted our blessings for the time we had and moved on to other adventures, like getting married and having kids.

Then in October 2018 my husband and I went to Pacific Beach to celebrate our 9-year anniversary and we stumbled across the PB Beach Fest (which is funny because we often go to a neighborhood and end up there on their festival day even though we’d often prefer to be there with less crowds!) But in this case, it was a serendipitous occurrence, because as we strolled down the boardwalk, I peered down at the sand and saw it! A beach tennis tournament was going on, just like the ones we had played in so many years ago!

My heart started racing and we went down to check it out. Not only was the tournament going on, but a lot of old faces of people I knew from LA where there. An old friend was MC’ing the event, just like old times! My former mixed doubles partner was playing a match and another old friend was there to greet me! I took in the scene with such déjà vu and raw excitement. I was introduced to the two ladies who are running the effort to grow Beach Tennis in San Diego. I learned that in October 2019 San Diego will be hosting the ANOC World Beach Games and Beach Tennis will be a featured event. I was stunned!

Now I have the opportunity to help grow Beach Tennis in San Diego and bring the fun and excitement of this worldwide sport to my community. I also have people to play with and I am planning on competing again!

This new beginning is very exciting and also a little bit scary. I am in a totally different phase of my life than I was last time I was in this world. I have two little children, a husband, and lots of responsibilities and considerably less free time. I want to help bring this game to San Diego and more of the US, but I am pretty full already!

But that is how it is with new beginnings. There is an unknown that sometimes is hard to sit with. It is especially hard for me because I consider myself a planner. I want to know how it will go. I want to be able to accomplish all of my dreams. But what if I have too many dreams? Then what?

Maybe I am just a perfectionist and I have to relax and release what I think it should all look like. Wouldn’t that be great to just let it all go and take life as it comes, one day at a time, one moment at a time, totally present? I want to recapture the freedom I felt in my younger days when there was so much possibility in my future. Just because I am married and a mom, that doesn’t mean my adventure is over, right? Of course, it’s not. My adventure is even bigger now because it includes my whole family too. But I need to stay on track and be present and stop worrying about the future or living in the past.

I need to listen to Tankersley when she writes, “Every day, we begin again.” She shares such inspiring and entertaining stories in all of her books. In Begin Again, she says years ago the words of a Benedictine monk stuck with her, “always we begin again.” She was living in the Middle East on base with her husband when they had their first children, boy girl twins. I can only imagine what that must’ve felt like. I remember feeling confused and undone after the emergency C-section birth of my firstborn, but I was living in the US and only had one baby to tend to! None-the-less, those words stuck with her and she was drawn to them years later as she wrote this book.

You have to read it for yourself, but a few things stood out to me. The first is that every new beginning happens after an ending. And endings can hurt. I’ve been a mom for 6 years now, but sometimes I still miss all the free time I had before having kids. I always wanted kids and adore having them as they bring a whole new level of love and joy to my life. But it still marks the end of an era (and so far, sleeping through the night consistently too!) So, if a new beginning comes after an end, it is important to grieve the end. You can appreciate it for what it provided you and then embrace the new gifts your present offers.

Another thing that stood out was when Tankersley said that walls are doors. How awesome a context is that? You come to something that feels like a wall… You butt up right against it and feel stuck, trapped even. But you can transform that wall into a door. You can open it up and begin again. You can create something new. To me that sounds like a freedom and a treasure, to be able to get beyond whatever troubles are trapping you. Sure, there will be grief over the ending and perhaps trepidation about the new beginning, but there will also be a new found ability to create and start fresh.

Taking on new beginnings can be scary and sometimes we cling to what we have even though we know it’s not right. She tells the best story of how her landscaper wanted to remove one tree from the entrance to her house. Originally she had two trees flanking the sides of the entrance to her home, a pair. But this one is dead, he told her. Yet she still wanted to hold onto it. She says often we’d rather hold on to the known than step into the unknown. But in doing so we can miss out on the beauty. In her case with the dead tree, once it was removed, it highlighted the beautiful gazebo in the background. What beauty is awaiting us when we have the courage to take the next step?

A couple weekends ago I was lucky enough to attend an event that was all about new beginnings and it featured Leeanna Tankersely live on video chat. She was awesome as usual. She said she had recently discovered that scared easily changes to sacred and in doing so it invites God into her life. She also said that you’ll know when you need to know. I really like that as an opportunity to slow down and have faith in the process. New beginnings are just that, new. Taking moment by moment and enjoying the journey is the best way to do life. Sure, you can plan and work hard, but to experience the current moment in all its glory or pain is to be alive.

This week I will be off to my first beach tennis tournament in 10 years. I cannot wait to officially begin this next chapter. What new beginning are you creating in your life?

For more info on Beach Tennis:

Like Us on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/themaloneysisters/

Beach Tennis San Diego: https://www.facebook.com/beachtennis.sandiego.3

International Beach Tennis (ITF): https://www.itftennis.com/beachtennis/home.aspx

For more info on Leeana Tankersley:

http:www.leeanatankersley.com

Tankersely, Leeanna. Begin Again. Revell, 2018.

Being Vulnerable

Why is it easier to be vulnerable with strangers than the people we know? Why do we fear being judged by people even when we are adults? What if we stood up in courage and did what we wanted and what we felt drawn to do even if we were afraid of what other people might think?

Years ago, I did many leadership trainings and now I am reminded of one thing they taught us. Everyone is just trying to look good for everyone else. Meaning you are trying to look good for me and I am trying to look good for you. Maybe we can just drop all the trying and instead just be ourselves. Imagine the freedom to do what we want and not fear being judged?

What do you want to do in freedom? It could be a million things. For me it is writing. I want to write and to inspire people to live the best life they can live for themselves and their families. I want to keep myself accountable and make up games and strategies and tricks for when life gets me down and share them with you guys. But what will you think? What will my community think of me pouring out my heart? Will they judge me? Will they laugh at me? Will they…?

Who cares should be the answer! I have been on this planet too long to get stopped by worrying about other people and what they think. Like I learned, it is better to just be your true authentic self and lead the life you want to live and let other people just be other people.

So here I am, going out on a limb and putting myself, my thoughts, my life and my hopes out there. Where are you ready to get out there in life yourself? Where are you going to be strong and go after your dream?

And who in your life needs your support in going after their dream? Not advice but support. Simply listening and being there for them. Offering advice only when asked for and instead offering love, understanding and solace as a constant.

We can all only pray to be that person for others in our lives. To build a network of trusted friends and mentors to whatever level we each feel comfortable. But in the end, a true friendship is beyond our Instagram and Facebook reel of our perfect lives. Don’t you want to know what is actually going on in your closest people’s lives? Doesn’t it make you feel good to be there for them, and even sometimes relief to hear that other people, like you, are going through things and dealing with life the best they can?

Let’s come together and bring our vulnerability. Let’s come together and laugh and maybe cry together. Let’s bring our dreams together and make things happen on this planet like the forces we are.