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

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!

Open or Closed Communication? (A Tool to Help Families Turn Upset to Calm)

I’m sure you’ve been there before. One minute you’re having fun with your family and then before you know it you’ve reached a stalemate… Here is one such tale.

I am sitting at the kitchen island finishing eating dinner with my family. My boys are laughing hysterically. I turn both my hands into the “closed” position (a fist) and knock them into each other. My two fists battle it out until they explode. Bam! More laughter erupts from the kids and this time my husband Matt and I laugh too.

I am acting out being “open” and “closed” with the new hand motions I just made up and for some reason everyone finds it amusing. But if you turned the clock back a few minutes, it was like we were in a different place. Frustration was palpable, no one was having fun. Adam had a pile of vegetables on his plate and was trying to escape the island to go play. Matt was trying to wrangle him into finishing eating and not get up until he was done. The stakes were rising as they both dug deeper into their positions.

Suddenly a thought floated into my mind about a podcast Matt had shared with me recently about being open vs. being closed. And for whatever reason my theater instincts from childhood took over, and before I knew it I was performing an almost puppet show full of hand motion characters to visually represent the different ways of being.

My hand went straight into the air to represent being open. When you’re open, you can turn, you can look around, you can pivot. You are clear.

Then I quickly clench my hand into a tight fist. I am closed. I don’t look around. I am drawn inward and mad. I can’t see the bigger picture and just want to rage, rebel and hide.

The boys are drawn in to my story and I am fueled by my interested audience, so I go on, all off the cuff. I open one hand and then close the other and describe how when one person is open they can surround the closed one in a “hug”. They can be patient, take their time and share their openness or love until they both turn into a heart.

And then I perform the two closed fists battling and exploding over and over as that is clearly their favorite part. Tonight, it was Matt and Adam battling over dinner.

It all sounds totally cheesy, and it is. But I will tell you it has been super useful in our family and we reference it anytime one of us starts to be closed. I think the visual representation of being open or closed really resonates with the kids. It’s nice to be able to show them without having to remind them or feel like nagging them. It is a nice hint.

For example, this past weekend we were getting in the car to go to the gym when Adam decided he did not want to go there and play at the kid’s club. He was mad! So, I turned back from the passenger seat and pulled out my closed fist with a silly look on my face. He got it. And even though he still didn’t really want to go, he got that he was being closed and we were able to have a conversation about it rather than having him stay stuck in his madness. He also coined a new additional hand motion for medium halfway between fist and straight, when you are not quite open but not closed.

Sometimes even just moving from closed to medium is a great place to start a conversation. No one is perfect. As adults we get upset about things. We get defensive or mad, both closed ways of being. If we can even just get to medium we can start assessing the situation from a calmer vantage and see more clearly how best to move forward. Even just admitting or realizing that you are in closed is helpful as it delineates your way of thinking and approaching the situation.

Life isn’t perfect. There will be upsets for kids, for parents, for everyone. The more you resist something the more it persists. Sometimes we need to take a step back, realize what is actually happening and work our way toward being open about it or even just being medium about it.

Anyway, I share these silly stories with you as I know how valuable it has been for our family. I have always been the peacekeeper of our family, but mostly because I try my best to stay open. I also look for where I am responsible in the situation. Like if I keep my kids up late at a fun party, the next day I need to be prepared to be extra patient with my kids if they are overtired and a bit whiney. I want to help my kids and myself be the best versions of ourselves and a lot of that starts with healthy choices which I will talk about in the next post.

In the meantime, let me know if you try out the hand motions with your kids and how it goes!

Xoxo

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