Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Moderation in social networking.

I've seen a lot of folks lately talking (or, I guess, typing) about wanting or needing to spend less time on their social media habits - some, even to the point of going cold turkey OFF of them altogether. I can see the value in that - I will fully admit that I occasionally realize I'm spending way too much time surfing Facebook rather than, say, well, doing absolutely anything else, and every now and then I'll say ENOUGH and cut myself back to just checking "the important things" a few times a day, when it is not otherwise interrupting something that is a higher priority.

However, in just the past week, thanks to my using Facebook, I have located a store in town that sells raw, local honey (my two usual sources are tapped out); I have figured out what most likely killed one of our goldfish, corrected the problem, and have seen vast improvement in the other goldfish; and I have connected with a former short-term coaching client, who wants to re-begin coaching next month.

I've also heard the argument that Facebook (et al) has become a substitute for making real connections with those you know - pecking out a few phrases on a keyboard, witnessing their life through the screen, rather than picking up the phone, writing a letter, or having coffee in person. And, to a degree, that's valid - if you COULD have coffee with some of these friends, why not do it? But, what about the friends who live in different time zones, different cities, work different hours, etc., who you may never actually reach out to via those means? What if you're just not a phone person? What if, without social media, you may not have some of these people in your life at all? Some of most of whom you may a truly value as good friends, even if you never see or talk to each other.

So, what's to be said for moderation here? I see so many people go to extremes with this kind of thing, and me, I personally live in a world made entirely of different shades of gray. You don't have to be "one of those people" who is "always" vegging out on the internet just because you enjoy surfing social media sites, any more than you would have to close your accounts to be able to use the rest of your time wisely. There are benefits, and there are detriments. Just like anything else in your life, it's all about finding the balance that works for YOU, and using these tools in ways that are positive for you. It's about responsible choices way more than it's about the website where you're making them.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 30 - The "real" goals.

Today is the last day of November, and thus, the last day I will be posting daily. Of course, by "daily" I mean "mostly daily," obviously.

While I didn't necessarily meet the goal to post "daily," I'm honestly not too surprised by that; I have a history of problems with "have to's," even if they're my own "have to's" that I've given myself, and for some reason I just seem to have this vague need to rebel against them every now and then. I'm not thrilled with that about myself, but I've accepted it, and it's not at the top of my list of things to work on at the moment, so we'll just leave that there for right now.

What I can say, though, is that the "daily" part of it was just sort of a guideline to get me started. My real goal when deciding to do NoJoMo on this blog was to get myself out of my self-defeat boxes -- the ones labeled "It has to be perfect before I can posted," and "It's been so long since I've written that now it REALLY has to be good." In the mostly-daily posts, I feel like some of them were pretty good, and others I sort of winced at, but still posted. Thus, I have definitely broken out of those boxes, and daily or not, I feel I've reached my goal.

I've also learned that by trying to come up with something to write about every day, I normally don't get around to really thinking about it until about 9:30 at night, and don't get around to posting something until closer to 11pm. After this month, I'm thinking that spending a few days thinking about what would be worth posting, and then actually posting it at a decent time, might be worth trying out. My current goal: Tuesday and Friday afternoons. Should the mood happen to strike me to write something on a Monday night, I'll write it then -- and then revisit it to post Tuesday afternoon. That, hopefully, will give me the flexibility to get around my issue with "have to's."

It's been fun, though, and I'm glad I did this. I occasionally need a kick in the butt, and this did it. Thanks to everyone who followed along!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Day 29 - It's okay to be grumpy sometimes.

It's been one of those days -- lots of heavy, irritated sighs, and lots of muttering, "Really?!"

This is something I still struggle with. Not that I struggle with having the occasional bad day -- I mean, I do, and I'm always striving more and more to see the bright side, opportunities, positives and lessons. What I struggle with is being okay with myself when I'm not 100% optimistic.

I used to be a very negative person, I'll just put that out there. There was always something wrong with everything, and I was basically never happy with anything. In fact I was probably my happiest when I had something major and dramatic to gripe about. Once I started working with my first life coach and moving past that into something healthier, I learned to see the good in things... and, I've discovered, the pendulum swung so far to the other direction that I don't feel like it's okay to get grumpy every once in a while or to be disappointed in anything.

And some days, let's be honest, it's just hard to see a bright side about getting a sore throat, and it's hard not to mutter, "Really?!" when, for example, you go to blogger to write a post about being cranky and saying "Really?!" a lot, and get a 503 error when the page is trying to load. After the internet had died for a while earlier in the evening, anyway. (Insert heavy, irritated sigh, here.)

What really opened my eyes to where my pendulum seems to have swung was a conference I attended last July, where one of my favorite people on the planet is an instructor. She is the most loving, joyful, wise, giving person, with the greatest sense of self of anyone I have ever known. She is who she is, and who she is, is absolutely amazing. So when I heard her speak in class about being disappointed by one of the conference events being too rushed, unemotional, and anticlimactic, I really perked up. She, who teaches classes on how to be joyful, who has "joybringer and light bearer" on her business card (and accurately so), wasn't happy with something?

I actually approached her about it, and she told me (and you have to hear this in an English accent), "It is absolutely okay to be disappointed with an anticlimax." She even went so far in class to discuss some of the silly things she'll occasionally get upset about. Listening to her was a good first step in helping me realize that I don't have to beat myself up for not being absolutely happy with absolutely everything, absolutely all of the time.

But I'm still working on it.

And today is giving me lots of opportunity to be okay with the fact that sometimes, I'm just grumpy, and things are just annoying. It helps to remember that it's not permanent, and at the same time, giving myself the permission to just be cranky when I need to, also helps me move past it when it's no longer doing me any good.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Day 25 - Holiday magic.

One of the funnest (yeah, I said funnest) things about having a kid, is making everything new all over again by seeing the world through his eyes.

Before he was born, I'll admit it: I'd become a pirate. (You know, all grown-ups are pirates?) Especially around the holidays -- I just didn't enjoy them, with all the "have-to's" and family bickering about presents and schedules and worrying about money and traveling and weather...

And then I had a kid, and the magic is back.

It's not even just the holidays; it's silly things, like watching him eat his first corn dog from the side rather than from the end, and realizing that there's no reason that you "have to" do things the way everyone else does, or seeing his reaction to completely ordinary foods that are brand new to him; watching with him the same movies I watched when I was a kid, and remembering why I loved them when I was small even though they may seem silly now as an adult.

But this time of year... how excited he is to have all the family together; all the questions he's asking about how Santa does things, what Santa's doing right now, if Santa shops at Walmart; the pure joy in his eyes when we drive by houses with (even poorly-done) Christmas lights; wanting to give everyone "Thanksgiving presents" in the form of pieces of candy from his Halloween stash. He makes it fun again.

So tomorrow, with the little guy being at the most fun age ever, we are going to decorate the house with Christmas decorations like we've never done before! Which means buying some... but that kid's smile is absolutely worth however much a few strings of Christmas lights and some yard decorations may cost. (But oh, believe me when I say we'll be shopping at discount stores.)

What about you? What makes this time of year fun for you? If you're a "pirate" like I used to be, what could it be like if you were to try and see the holiday season with "fun" eyes -- what could be fun, if you wanted it to be?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day 24 - Thanksgiving!

I am so stuffed. We ate at noon, it's approaching 5:30, and still, I am so stuffed. Oh man, I love food.

I'm not sure if it's cliche, obligatory, or both to do a list of things I'm thankful for on Thanksgiving, but I have a lot to be thankful for today. Including:

  • I am thankful that when family asks me, "How you liking the new job?" I can honestly tell them that I love it.
  • I am thankful that I have finally learned to request minor changes on Thanksgiving dishes to make them gluten free, rather than eating the normal recipes and suffering the consequences. (Like I'm not gonna be in a food coma already! All I need is the gluten grog to go with it!)
  • I am thankful that my family and my in-laws respond favorably when I ask. For example: my mother in law made the green bean casserole with Progresso cream of mushroom soup, which is gluten free, and put some in a separate dish for me on which she did not add any of the crispy onions, and that she made cookies from a gluten-free cake mix so that I'd be able to have a dessert.
  • I'm thankful that I've learned to listen to my body and avoid the foods I know make it not feel well. Let me tell you, those cheesey potatoes really looked and smelled good, but I've learned potatoes are a pain trigger and there was plenty of other food that I know is not.
  • I am thankful that I've learned to see things this way, rather than looking at the dinner spread and seeing all I "can't" have.
  • I'm thankful for my creativity when it comes to making gluten-free stuffing. I don't follow a recipe, I just toss things in until it smells/tastes right. It must've paid off this time, too; my father in law specifically told me, "Make it exactly like this next year."
  • I'm thankful for the opportunity to nap, even if I wasn't able to get all the way to sleep.
  • I'm thankful that even though the little guy has a cough right now, he's not all-out sick like he has been the previous three Thanksgivings, and I'm thankful that we seem to be keeping the worst of the cough at bay.
  • I'm thankful that I married a man with a pretty good family, giving me two pretty good families to have nice Thanksgiving dinners with, with all their different traditional foods to send me into a food coma.
  • I'm thankful that I've learned not to over-indulge in food just because it's there.
  • I'm thankful for the snuggly cats that are currently keeping my legs warm.
  • I'm thankful for pretty much my whole life right now, because whether it's the way things are working out, the way I've learned to see things, or both, there's not much I can complain about right now.
Happy Thanksgiving, all! Drink plenty of water and go for a walk ;).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Day 22 - Hm, what?

Apparently all the lack-of-writing I had been doing in the months previous to November had left me with a backlog of mental back-burner ideas. To be more precise, about twenty of them. Now I kind of feel like I'm grasping at straws, trying to think of anything worthwhile to say. It's getting to be slim pickings now, topic-wise. Want to know anything about my cats? They meow a lot. Their names are Agent and Clockwork, and they are orange.

I am learning, though, that if I can somehow pull together a post nearly every day for 20ish days -- some good, some not as good -- that there is absolutely no reason I can't write regularly once or twice a week.

I'm sure the next 8 days' worth of posts will be another mix of some good, some not as good, and I do intend on completing NoJoMo. I also intend to write once or twice a week (I haven't decided yet) after November is over. Maybe having more than one day between thought processes will give me some better quality posts. Or maybe not. But maybe.

In the mean time: What would you like me to write about for the next week or so?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Day 20 - Even less-than-100% can be more-than-before.

(I took Friday night off for date night, and Saturday off because, um, because it was Saturday? Basically family time was priority, and I'm cool with that.)


My poor kid. Friday afternoon he told us he was losing his voice. He sounded fine to me, but sure enough, when we picked him up after Date Night was over, he was, in fact, losing his voice.

The poor kid just seems to get colds way, way too easily, and his colds usually turn into a very bad lingering cough. I've had him at the doctor off and on a thousand times or so in the past two months trying to get everything under control, and it just seems like every time he finally gets well, it's time for the next cold to start again.

This round, however, we're on Day Three, and so far he's only coughed eight or ten times. This is where the husband and I disagree. Since the little guy is sick at all, he says, this means that the doctor is obviously missing something, and when the first two coughs showed up, this meant, to him, that the breathing treatments haven't been doing any good at all.

Me, I'm on the fence. I don't know that we can say yet what good anything has been doing, since we don't know how bad his cold (if it's even a cold -- right now just a raspy voice and extra-runny nose) is going to get, how bad the cough is going to get along with it, how long its going to last... If this is the worst of it, then, to me, the fact that his cough isn't constant nor is it so bad that he's throwing up, means to me that though we obviously aren't at 100% with keeping him healthy, it's also a vast improvement.

I've known lots of folks who see anything less than 100% as a failure. I probably used to be one of them, to be honest -- I'm sure that being able to see any improvement as improvement is a product of years (and years and years) of working with coaches, studying metaphysics, going through life coach training, and practice with coaching in helping others to see (and celebrate) their small improvements while they're on the way to something bigger.

It can be applied to nearly everything. For example, you're on a diet, and you vow not to have ANY potato chips, then at a social gathering, you break down and have three. Is that failure? What if, before you decided to start eating healthier, you normally would've had three handfuls plus four or five of the cookies next to them, instead of three chips? Is that still a failure, or is it a vast improvement?

Or... you take two days off from writing a blog post when you've said you'll write every day for a month. Is that failure? Or if, before, you were barely writing anything once a month, does skipping two days rather than thirty or so still show a dedication to improving? (Ahem. Hypothetical, of course.)

The choice, as always, is in how you choose to view it. Which feels better -- to call yourself a failure for being imperfect, or to see how differently you're doing things now than you were before and to feel good about it?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Day 17 - Changing the right habits.

I'm doing that thing again where I see connections in seemingly-unrelated things.

For eleven or so years, I did a lot of trial and error to figure out what was causing some of my health problems, and how to fix it. Lots of doctors, lots of naturopaths, lots of getting very very frustrated, lots of searching the internet for ideas. As it turns out, my symptoms fit a lot of different conditions -- and all of those conditions have conflicting if not complete opposite ideas for how to reduce pain and flare-ups. There's the low acid diet, the IC (interstitial cystitis) diet, low oxalate diet, low glycemic diet, anti-candida diet... and if you compare them, foods that are definitely okay on one diet are absolutely not okay on another.

Since I didn't know what the cause was, I had no idea which direction to go. I'd try a diet associated with a condition I thought, maybe, I might have, I would feel like I was eating "healthier" and doing things "right," and I would end up hurting more. And then I would bang my head against the wall and wonder if I needed to try harder, give it longer to work, or go a different direction.

When I finally got a diagnosis, the best part of it was that I finally knew which diet to follow. As it turned out, I had been making things worse while trying to make things better.

When I was describing this to someone earlier today, I started seeing similarities in other situations.

How often do we tend to try and change the circumstances around us without really addressing why we're unhappy with our surroundings in the first place? What if all the stuff we try to change around us is the wrong stuff? How do you go about figuring out the right course of action for you, without knowing quite where the cause for discomfort really falls?

On the other hand, I did just talk yesterday about how trying the things that don't work is helpful, too.

Again, I guess it's all about balance. Trying things to improve your situation is always a good thing, even if it doesn't work the way you'd like. But keep digging -- sometimes finding out why you're having difficulty and addressing it can help you move forward more productively.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day 16 - When things click.

I remember The Hippie Housewife mentioning once that she had been working with her son (who is just a few weeks younger than mine; we were pregnant together online!) on using scissors, and he just couldn't get it. She realized one day that they hadn't worked with them for a while, and felt like she should, so he could get some practice. The next time he used scissors, without having had any practice in between, it clicked; he was suddenly skilled with scissors, because now, he was ready.

I've experienced the same thing with my son, and knowing that this tends to be what happens, I work with it. Right now, it's drawing and writing. For the longest time I would see kids his age coloring pictures with different and appropriate colors, at least trying to stay in the lines, and my kid? One crayon, three scribbles, "I'm all done," and he'd move onto something else. He just didn't seem to care about it. His abundant (abundant, did I mention abundant) inquisitiveness and communication skills showed me that I had nothing to worry about as far as overall development; he just didn't really care about drawing or coloring. Until about two or three weeks ago. All of a sudden he's coloring (mostly) within the lines, showing an amazing attention to detail where color is concerned, you can recognize his name when he writes it, and he is asking to practice drawing and writing, all on his own. Something just finally clicked.

How does this factor in for adults?

I know similar things have happened to me, as well. I'll struggle with something for a while, seem to be beating my head against the wall, and then all of a sudden, it clicks, and magic starts to happen.

The tricky part is finding the line between exhausting yourself working on something that just doesn't seem to go anywhere, and sitting there doing nothing while you're waiting for the time to be right. It's possible that continuing to work on something you're having a hard time with will eventually pay off and the work itself will make things click; it's possible that waiting for the right time will actually help you find it, and once it's right, things will magically fall into place. I also think it's possible that the right combination of both attitudes could yield some great results -- that putting the time in and learning what doesn't work could be an important step of letting things work perfectly (give or take) when the time is right.

I'm not sure if a child who had never used scissors before could know exactly how to use them at "the right time" without the prior experience, or that my son could color Robin (as in Batman) with a red suit, yellow buttons, a green mask and a yellow cape if he'd never before held a crayon. But even with some prior practice, they weren't able to do it well until they were ready.

So how about this: if you're beating your head against the wall over something, relax, and know that when the time is right it will pay off. Conversely, if you're hesitant to take any first steps until the time is right, start trying something until then just to get some practice.

What examples do you have of things working out well when it was obviously the right time for it to happen?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 15 - Slogging through apathy.

So, let's say you've realized that things need to change in your life. You're not happy where things are. You have a vague concept of what could be different. You feel like you should be doing something else. You feel that you have every power within yourself to improve things. You might even have a vague concept of how to go about it -- what specifically you could be doing to improve yourself, your circumstances, your health, whatever you feel needs improving.

And then you don't.

It could be a fear of change; it could be a fear of improvement; it could be that sitting still and not doing any of it is just plain easier.

But you really, really want to! Kind of. You think.

Then what?

The approach I tend to take with clients who really-want-to-I-think, or who are just plain stuck on the couch, is to take baby steps. Really tiny baby steps. I even have to laugh at myself sometimes when I catch myself saying to a client, "What would you think about thinking about..." making some type of change in his/her life. If diving into something is the hard part right now, get used to the idea of it, before you dive in. Think about what your life could be like if you were to take some real steps toward your goal. Think about your life could be like when you accomplish your goal. Think about why you have this goal. Think and think and think, and plant the idea into your head so hard that you want it, and sitting on the couch isn't comfortable anymore. Build some internal momentum to help you get started. Then when you can't sit still on it any longer: go! You have the plan in mind; you've been thinking about where you need to start; you've been developing an idea of what you want this to look like. So go for it!

A lot of times, doing the mental prep work for making a change in your life and getting yourself to the place that you're really, really ready to do it, is a big part of the battle. Once you start taking the steps to make it happen, the momentum happens pretty much organically.

What do you want to do or change that you keep putting off, just because? Start thinking about it. Create a picture of it in your head. That's it. Then see what sort of life the picture takes on for itself.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 14 - Brain surgery on myself.

I'm calling Day 13 a wash and not double-posting today. Mostly because I am exhausted, and I'm just gonna go ahead and see that as a valid excuse :).

After weeks of insomnia, the opposite has been the case the past week or so and I seem to be barely able to stay awake past 9:30. (So, given that it is currently 9:29pm, you'll forgive me if this post trails off into random characters any minute now due to my falling asleep on the keyboard.)

This recent exhaustion and its marked contrast with my less-recent insomnia has me thinking. We seem to be in a society that thrives on encouraging productivity. In fact I feel absolutely safe in saying that I was much more productive when I wasn't able to sleep: wide awake, folding clothes or catching up on emails or blog posts I'd neglected the rest of the day. I may not have been sleeping, but I didn't feel so behind. Now that I'm getting tired earlier -- arguably at a normal time of the night -- I find myself struggling to keep up.

Am I expecting too much of myself? Even if it's things I want to do, with no tangible benefit other than "I just wanna," compared to things like, "Hey, we're all out of clean underwear," where do the priorities lie, and where ought the priorities lie? Productivity, me-time, or getting some dang sleep?

This is one of those things I'm great at when it comes to my clients. In fact, one was commenting recently that after a session she and I had where she, too, was stressing out over a mile-long to-do list and not enough time to complete it, she was able to take the "what absolutely has to get done or the world explodes?" approach to prioritizing that we'd done during the session, and apply it on a fairly regular basis when she feels herself feeling the same type of stress. I remember my own coach commenting one time that you "can't do brain surgery on yourself," and this is definitely one of those cases for me. I'm so glad I'm able to help my clients feel more empowered when it comes to their to-do lists, because, man, I can relate to stressing out over them...

Today is just one of those days. But that's okay, because I know that once the immediate STRESS of realizing how full my calendar is this week is able to wear off, I'll be able to look at everything I absolutely have to do and realize that for a lot of it, the world will not explode if it doesn't get done. (We currently have plenty of clean underwear. And even socks.) And I know that at the end of this very busy week, I'll feel very accomplished. So right now, I'll just remember to breathe.

What about you? How much stuff that absolutely has to get done or else is on your plate right now, stressing you out? And how much of that, actually, could be put off until you realistically have time to do it, without the world exploding?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Day 12 - Appreciation.


Occasionally my kid will have a day where nothing is good enough. It's not that he's necessarily unhappy with what he has, it's just that what he has isn't enough. He has a million Star Wars Legos, but not the new Boba Fett; the picture I colored for him was good, but he asked for the lava to be orange and part of it is red; we're on our way to get ice cream and he's holding a toy in each hand, but he needs a quarter for the vending machine; he's played way more video games than we normally allow but he didn't get to play this one. So we often find ourselves with the opportunity to teach him about appreciating what he does have.

But how many of us need that same reminder?

I'll admit it: I'm one of them. Lately, I've been keeping myself conscious of the feelings of "not enough" of something, and as soon as I feel it kicking in, I stop it, shift it, think of something I can appreciate instead, and move on with a smile and a contented sigh. I'll catch myself complaining that I don't have any free time, and remind myself that I'm choosing to spend my free time keeping up with chores rather than reading or writing, but I could just as easily make that choice differently; or, whining to myself that I don't have any friends I can talk to until I remember that, oh wait a minute, yes I do, I just don't talk to them often, so I take the opportunity to shoot a text to a friend; or, complaining that we always do what they want but never what I want, only to be met with the reminder that hey, I can ask to do things I want just as easily as they can.

How often do the choices we make keep us living with a limited idea of our resources? How easy could it be to reframe things, to remember all that we do have and to better utilize what we have rather than looking for more to fill a void? 

Right now, think of something you've been feeling a lack of. Time? (Time for what? What could be rearranged to give you time for that?) Money? (Money for what? What could be rearranged so you could use your money differently?) Friends? Love? Support? Attention?

What of that do you already have that you could appreciate a little more? Because the funny thing is, wishing you had more makes you more aware of what you don't have, yet appreciating what you do makes it easier to see more of what's already in front of you.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Day 11 - Soullessness forthcoming.

I don't even know how to explain this.

So, there's this movie, Manos: The Hands of Fate. In short, it is the worst movie ever. I only wish I were exaggerating. It really, really is. And it's not just bad like "wow, what a total waste of time" bad, or bad like "wow, this is so bad you can laugh at how bad it is" bad. It's the kind of bad that sucks out your soul moment by moment, makes time slow down so that the movie lasts seventeen hours instead of two, and by the end of it, you generally have lost the will to live.

MST3K did Manos and that doesn't even make it tolerable. If you're not familiar with MST3K, one man and a few robots he made are launched into space by a mad scientist who forces them to watch terrible movies, which they sit there making fun of. Typically this can turn a terrible movie into something hilarious with all the making-fun-of going on. In Manos, by the end of it, the dude and the robots are all crying, and the mad scientist and his assistant both independently apologize to them for sending them Manos, saying that they've gone too far.

I have seen it three times.

The first, I was in college, and I watched it with a group of nerd-friends.

The second, some other friends who'd seen it and I were talking about its awfulness, and Rich felt left out... so we watched it together to let Rich experience the horror.

Which he then felt the need to spread to his brother, which makes time number three.

What typically happens is that at the beginning of the movie, people are all geared up and "Ooh! A bad movie! This'll be awesome!" and excited. Then after a bit, the excitement not only fades but is gone completely, and posture goes from upright to a general slump. A while later, you just get fidgety and uncomfortable and want it to end, when will it end. Then by the end of the movie you feel dead inside, posture is something close to being a puddle of goo barely even maintaining a position on the furniture you're slumping so hard. In groups where we would tend to watch multiple movies in one night, by the end of Manos, you just.... can't. There is no desire to watch anything on the television again, ever. Period.

And we'll be watching it tonight with some newer friends, who are currently excited to see a how bad a movie it can be.

If I don't make it out alive, just know that I love you all.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Day 10 - Creativity with restrictions.

I mentioned the other day that I have some food sensitivities; add in my husband's and the tastes of my four year old and cooking around here can get pretty creative.

I had a similar transition on a low oxalate diet as I did when I first went gluten free: a general panic that I can no longer eat ANYTHING and that there is no way to eat a healthy diet by removing all the foods it seems I now need to remove. Of course, there are plenty of foods out there, but my initial reaction was to see the restrictions. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that's pretty typical.

Now, I've had some time to calm down and realize that, no, even though it's easier to remember that they're low oxalate, a diet consisting entirely of meat and dairy is probably not very nutritionally sound. So, I re-examined the list of oxalate content in foods with a different perspective: instead of looking for what I can't eat anymore, I was looking for what I can.

Squash, zucchini, cucumbers, cauliflower, avocado...

Shifting from the attitude of More Things I Can't Have into one of More Things I Can Have, I've found some pretty interesting combinations of foods.

For example, my latest favorite was derived from the fact that it's pumpkin pie season. One night, by chance, my rice pasta was done cooking at the same time as the fresh pumpkin was done boiling (in preparation for the pies my husband cooked immediately following). I glanced over at the spaghetti sauce and various other pasta-ready components that were sitting on the counter, and on impulse, disregarded them, shifted gears, and asked my husband if I could use some of the pumpkin. Pasta, pumpkin, butter, oregano, pepper, garlic: voila. I've made it three times since and I love it.

I tried different spice combinations with an acorn squash for several days in a row.

I plan on trying "zucchini bake" that a friend of ours recommended recently, which consists of sliced zucchini in the bottom of a baking dish, some olive oil, salt and pepper, topped with cheese, then baked.

The phase I went through where I made avocado-based smoothies for breakfast was interesting; I wouldn't recommend blending avocado with blueberries as the color just turns out wrong, but it tasted just fine; bananas and strawberries work much better.

But in general? Now that I'm seeing this with an element of creativity rather than an element of "can't," I'm having fun with cooking (those who know me may fall over dead reading that statement, just sayin'), and I'm discovering new flavors that I never knew I'd like.

What is something in your life that you could use a shift? Instead of the "can'ts," look for the "cans." Let me know what you find, and have fun with it!

Day 9 (late again) - Inspiring.

It always amazes me seeing how people respond to their circumstances -- how some folks react outrageously to things that seem small to others, how some respond calmly and see opportunities in things that would be devastating to others, how different people can respond to the same exact thing in completely different ways.

A friend of mine and former metaphysics teacher had his foot amputated last week. I visited him in the hospital yesterday, and in the face of something that others could find truly devastating, he was happy to feel better after the issues leading up to the amputations had been taken care of, discussing how interesting it was to observe the different personality types of the hospital staff and how their attitude affects their work, and curious what type of career he may go towards next, since he had, until now, been in construction.

In the face of losing a foot and part of his leg, in place of pain and loss he was talking about change, and how this can help him better help others.

It's all in how you see things, I suppose. I like his way. And I wish him speedy healing, and an exciting transition into the rest of his life.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day 8 - Made with love.

A hand-made present from your kid is always the best present you could receive. A pie made entirely from scratch, made for people you really want to enjoy it, always tastes better. A greeting card is more appreciated you spent the time to pick out the perfect one, and it shows.

What if you decided to hand-make your day from scratch, with love, and spend time picking out the perfect message you want to send yourself that day? What kind of day would that be?

What's stopping you?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Day 7 - Mistakes.

Since writing Day 6's (late) post earlier today, I've been thinking about the concept of "failure." In the School of Metaphysics, we learned -- and I'm totally paraphrasing here -- that there are no mistakes, only opportunities to learn. There is so much you can learn from the "mistakes" and "failures" in your life -- if you choose to.

I would be willing to bet that not one person out there hasn't had at least one big, huge learning experience in the form of what could otherwise be called a "mistake." A car accident that taught you to drive more carefully; unintentionally hurting someone's feelings which taught you to be more careful with your words; a close call with drinking or drugs that led you to make healthier choices for yourself; forgetting too many important appointments leading you to learning better calendaring skills.

The important factor in this is what you choose to do with it. You could choose to beat yourself up over hurting someone's feelings or forgetting too many appointments, or you could choose to learn from it and work to reduce those types of mistakes in the future.

The cool thing? You can even do this in retrospect. Do you have a mistake in your past that you're still holding a grudge about against yourself? Stop and look at it. Did you know it was a mistake when you were doing it? How has this mistake changed you as a person? If you hadn't made this mistake and learned from it, who might you be now without having learned that lesson?

Chances are, a lot of what's made you as awesome as you are today, was figuring out all the things that didn't make you feel so awesome before, and then working on it.

It occurs to me that this ties in with self-forgiveness... Topic for another day.

Day 6 (a day late) - Success is in how you see things.

Six days into November and I missed a day. I could look as this a couple of different ways:

1) I SUCK and I FAILED less than ONE WEEK IN and I should just GIVE UP now that I've failed because I can't even make it ONE WEEK so what's the point in doing this the rest of the month when I've already failed?!

or

2) I was spending time with my family yesterday and at the end of the day, I chose for my priority to be resting and spending time with my husband after a good, long day, rather than blanking out on the internet and forcing words onto a screen, just because.

I'm going with option two.

There is a difference between "failing" and choosing to spend your time and energy elsewhere.

Yesterday was a good day, complete with hand-made presents from the little guy, pizza with the in-laws at the request of the little guy, free fabric from my mother-in-law with lots of grand mental plans to make more tiered skirts, our bedroom and closet cleaned and reorganized, the little one's bedroom picked up and some toys reorganized... and? Apparently just moving around toys makes them all! brand! new! and exciting! so I had plastic eggs and pretend grape juice for dinner, after snacking on some plastic broccoli and a plastic banana.

There is nothing "fail" about yesterday.

Today I'll choose to make up for it and write twice :).

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day 5 - Relaxing.

Sometimes, the days where you do nothing productive but a load of laundry and spend the rest of the day leisurely relaxing, and it is a purposeful, "I deserve this" sort of relaxing, that is just as good a day as the days when you check a dozen things off your to-do list.

Today is one of those days.

What do you do on your "screw it, I'm doing nothing!" days? (Other than... nothing.) Reading? Writing? Are you huddled on the couch with a blanket? In the recliner with the cats? I want to hear all about your chill-time.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Day 4 - Food for thought.

You may or may not know that I'm gluten intolerant, and that due to my vestibulitis I also try to follow a low oxalate diet. My husband has a problem with milk products, and claims he's "allergic" to onions to better avoid them; my son doesn't like mushrooms or cumin; none of us do very well with too much sugar.

And somehow we still manage to eat :).

I've noticed lately a sort of amusement I get from listening to others talk about the healthy food choices they're making. A client will be talking about making healthier food choices for herself, something along the lines of a spinach salad and broccoli, and I have to really separate the Coach from the Self for a minute to be able to celebrate her healthy choices with her (because, hey! good for her!) without thinking to myself, "Hahaha, sounds like death!" A friend will share a tasty, healthy recipe with me, full of pasta, canned tomatoes, onions and heavy whipping cream, and I smile to myself knowing very simply that this is a recipe that will never make it into our house.

We try our best not to make holiday dinners too complicated, honest.

I wondered the other day, though, in how many other areas of my life this same type of back-burner, personal-experience semi-judgment crops up. If I do things a different way than someone else, do I have that quick moment of personal judgment where I stop to think, "Actually, that sounds terrible... but good for you!" Or if something great happens that I would like to happen to me, do I have a moment of quasi-bitter, "Oh that must be nice..." before genuinely being able to celebrate something with the other person?

And if I do have that momentary self-comparison-judgment, is that okay? If I feel something less-than-ideal for a split second and then can still put it aside to celebrate with someone else, is the response, as long as it's still genuine, what really matters?

What do you do when you catch yourself in a moment of comparison with someone else?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day 3 - A little creativity.

A couple of weeks ago, the four-year-old informed me that he doesn't have a scarf. This statement was followed by, "You need to make me one." Oh, how I love that my child knows that things can be made and not only bought, and oh, how I love that he is still young enough to think it's cool to wear things I make him :).

I let him pick through my yarn stash and he chose, I wasn't surprised, lime green. The word "green" can't even be said by itself in our house right now; it's "green-my-favorite-color." But he needs choices, so I give him choices, even if I'm 99% sure what he will choose. And of course, he chose green.

I started working with a basket-weaving type stitch I found in the book I bought myself a few months ago, 99 Crochet Post Stitches, and while it looked just fine, it also just looked... fine. Not neat. Not something neat enough for a four-year-old.

So, about fourteen or so inches into the fine-but-plain scarf, I ripped it all out, and found something better.

The pattern I found for a snake scarf was a great start, though I was still pretty intent on learning a new stitch in the process, too, and that one's still mostly just single crochet. So, back to the book, I found a few stitches that I thought could look snake-scaley and, again with my son needing choices, let him choose which he thought looked the snakiest.

A couple of modifications later (because, you know, trying to meld two patterns you've never done before into one final product doesn't always go exactly right the first time) and a lot of crocheting a little bit at a time over the course of, oh, I don't know, I have no concept of time, a week or two maybe?, we have a snake scarf -- just in time for cold weather!


How have you been expressing some creativity lately? What creative endeavors do you like learning more about? What's one thing you can do to expand your creative horizons?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Day 2 - Improvement through being fine where you are.

Something has me thinking.

I saw a post on facebook the other day that suggested the idea of self-love and self-acceptance rather than self-help and/or self-improvement. For a second, I loved the idea -- accepting yourself for who you are, right now, sounds like a great idea! But then I started wondering...

Okay, so what if "self-acceptance" were the idea of accepting you, as you truly are, on the inside, and letting that shine? Wouldn't that be different than loving the "you" that shows up with all the masks you put on and barriers you put around yourself, to keep the rest of the world from seeing who you truly are? If we were to love and accept ourselves with all our masks and barriers, would that hold us back from being more of who we really are?

Couldn't part of "self-acceptance" be accepting who you are on the inside and then wanting to use self-help/self-improvement tools to shed the masks and kick down the walls?

So now I'm thinking, self-improvement and self-acceptance can go hand in hand, and possibly even be the same thing. Do you think? Or does it depend on motive? Do you want to "self-improve" for yourself? For your spouse? For your kids? For your boss? If you accept yourself for who you are now, with all the masks and barriers, does that then help them to shed more naturally, as you no longer feel the need to protect yourself with them?

How does that work?

What if you love and accept yourself so much that you want to be an even better you?

Maybe the facebook post had the right idea... what if self-acceptance is the key, and with that, all the "improvements" start happening more easily and more naturally?

So... what do you love about yourself, that could help you be an even better you by embracing it?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day 1 - "I love you enough..."

My son is going through an argumentative phase. This phase started when he was pretty small and I get the odd feeling it will continue the rest of his life, so maybe "phase" isn't the right word, and maybe "argumentative" isn't, either. My son just has to push boundaries, to see what he can get to happen his way, and what will happen in response if the answer is that he can't. He likes to have things on his terms (who doesn't?) and is very vocal about it when he's unhappy about the way something is going.

On the flip side, he's also very vocal when he is happy. Pretty much, the kid is just very vocal. And I think the boundary-pushing that frustrates us, as his parents, while he is four, will be a fabulous trait when he is older.

The past few days I've been experimenting with some new wording when I am setting boundaries that he's not happy with. Instead of arguing or explaining or reminding him that "we're working on listening the first time right now, remember?" or what have you, what I've started doing is giving him a hug and saying, "I love you enough to teach you about boundaries," or, "I love you enough to teach you to be a responsible person and make good choices." In this way, instead of one of us "winning" an argument, it's a reminder (to both of us) that I'm doing what I am because I love him and want him to learn good habits.

I got to thinking this morning about how I could apply this concept to myself. I tend to have internal arguments with myself, and to rebel against the "rules" I put in place for myself to follow. Simply put, I don't like have-to's, even if they're my have-to's. I give myself lots of choices. But still I catch myself losing momentum (or not even being able to get momentum in the first place) on things that I would really like for myself to learn. So I wondered, what if I were to change the wording with myself? Instead of telling myself I "have to" do something or that it would be "good for me" to learn to be more responsible with this or that, what if I told myself, "I love you enough to teach you to be a responsible person and make good choices?" If I came at my list of have-to's and ought-to's and keep-intending-to's from a position of love thyself, how much better might those healthy decisions feel?

What about you -- how do you talk to yourself about your I-really-ought-to's? How effective is it, and what might make it feel better?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Almost November.

I haven't written here in what feels like forever, and I know exactly why: since I've gone a little more public with this blog, I feel much more conscious of what I say in it. People might see it now. Real people. This has made me very conscious of the message I am putting out there -- what the words are saying, what the undertone may imply, how much to say about me, what type of message I want to send, where the balance is between personal-blogging and mommy-blogging and coach-blogging, where the balance is between sharing honestly and keeping some personal space, what direction I want this to go in general, if I have a direction for it at all. I'll think of something interesting to say, but just not quite be sure what to say about it.

So then: I say nothing. I can't find the lines, so I'm over-cautions not to cross any of them. But you know what? Not saying anything isn't a message I want to say, either. In real life, I am a talker, a sharer, and I will answer any question you ask me as honestly and completely as I feel appropriate. So as it turns out? Saying nothing is the exact opposite of any message I would want to send. Saying nothing is dishonest.

And I realized that to sit and think about where all the lines may be, I am just sitting and thinking; to find them, I have to explore and bump into them a little bit, see where the lines fall and if, by finding them, I would choose to move any of them elsewhere. I may find other lines I haven't thought of, and I may erase some that turn out to be unnecessary, but I'll never figure that out just sitting here thinking about it.

So here I am. Hi! I'm exploring my own public, online boundaries. And I'm going to continue to encourage myself to do so. November is coming up in three days (I know, right?), and with November, in the blogosphere, comes NoJoMo -- November Journaling Month, with the goal of posting one entry, every day. That's thirty days of blogging, sharing, and boundary-finding. I'm excited to see where it goes.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Uncomfortable, awesome new shoes.

So, let's say you're used to things being less than fabulous, then suddenly your world is shaken up and though it's rough for a while, you start to settle into something amazing... But like, amazing? What? What's this about? And you have no idea what to do with the amazing.

I've experienced this myself recently: at my awesome, flexible new job that I can leave at the office and never have to take home with me, I suddenly feel myself stressing out about work and deadlines and how am I going to get it all done and I realize that, um, hey. I don't have to stress out anymore. Apparently I am just used to being stressed at work and have no idea how to handle having it easy.

When I mentioned this recently a friend replied that she had experienced the same thing with her new relationship: she has no idea how to handle having a partner who actually wants to spend time with her.

I was thinking about this and realized it's kind of like buying awesome new shoes. They look fabulous on you, you're getting tons of compliments on them, you absolutely love them... but are you sure they go with this outfit? Normally you'd wear those shoes; do these shoes really go better? I don't know, maybe I should go with the old shoes. Besides, I'm not used to these shoes. What if wearing them too much gets them scratched up sooner? Maybe I should reserve these shoes for special occasions.

Is it like that with happiness, too? Do we just get so used to our old feelings that we're not sure what to do with the awesome new ones?

So: Do you wear your new shoes with pride and know that even though they're a little stiff right now, as soon as they're broken in they will be the best shoes ever? Or do you throw them in the closet until the old, scuffed shoes completely fall apart and you have no choice but to wear new shoes, even though the new ones are a little dusty now?

It's your choice, of course. But that's the cool part: You get to choose. There's no rule; it's entirely up to you.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The ice cream truck.

Ever since the last time we were able to catch the ice cream truck ages ago, Raiden has been asking when he'll be coming again. The other night while we were reading before bed, I heard it dinging! After a pause and a second "ding-ding" of confirmation, I dropped the book and told Raiden, "RUN!!", grabbed the husband's bank off his dresser and RAN outside myself... just as the ice cream truck was passing our house. I yelled, "WAIT!! WAAIIIIT!" and Raiden joined in screaming it behind me and the dude, who wasn't even one driveway away, did. not. hear us. I bolted for the next yard over still yelling for him and Raiden followed suit and still, nothing. He immediately started crying, out of sheer disappointment. I heard the ice cream truck turning down the street behind us and told Raiden, "Run to the back yard! Quick!" and we did, and again as he passed by on the opposite street we yelled and again, nothing, and again, Raiden started crying.

It's not a spoiled cry because he didn't get his way. He was really looking forward to the ice cream truck coming back, for weeks, and it finally came and we almost got it but missed it! Total disheartening, especially for a four year old when catching the ice cream truck is the adult equivalent of winning the lottery.

In about a split second, my Mommy brain weighed the options of going back in the house with a disappointed, crying child and dropping the boring old "we'll try next time" crap that wouldn't do any good, or... running for it. I chose running for it. Reaching for Raiden's hand I told him, "Let's run. Let's try to catch him," and we took off down the street, hoping that I could cut him off while he was weaving through, catching him at the end of one of the roads as he was turning.

I didn't realize until we were three houses away that I was barefoot, and it dawned on me, too, that the white on Raiden's feet I had registered as shoes, were actually socks.

Oh well.

We kept running.

Raiden was crying all the way down the street, and part of the time after we reached the sidewalk at the corner. Another house or two down that street I told him, "We're trying, bud. We're doing our best." Another half-a-block later, he was laughing and saying, "This is fun!"

We totally lost the ice cream truck. Didn't hear him anywhere, but in my mind, I was thinking, okay, we'll go around the block the other direction to try and cut him off if he went to the next subdivision. I forgot that the way we were going didn't have any other cross streets for a while... they are all "avenue ends" from the other direction. But turning back meant admitting defeat, and my Mommy Brain said we had to at least try.

We didn't hear any more "ding-dings," but halfway through our escapade Raiden started explaining that the rocks we were stepping on were asteroids and started telling me all about asteroids, and that he had bat ears and the ice cream truck's bell would echo into his bat ears and he'd hear it. Around that point I realized that 1) it was very dark outside, and 2) the husband was due home any time. I could just see him getting to the house with the door left open, us gone, my phone on the counter...

Luckily, we made it home before he did. And when Daddy got home from Kung Fu shortly after, Raiden, instead of being disappointed, was excited to tell Daddy all about his adventure in chasing the ice cream truck, and that "We lost him, but we tried our best!"

And really, that was my goal.

(We also promised him that from now on, we'll leave a window open in the evening so we will hear the ice cream truck sooner, and be able to make it out in time. I also plan on keeping shoes by the front door.)

I'm so glad to see my son having experiences like this, at this age. How many adults get so attached to a specific outcome that they totally miss the fun along the way? In my mind, being barefoot and walking on asteroids is way better than getting ice cream.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Feelings as habits.

I remember reading something, or watching something, or in some other way learning something from somewhere (perhaps various somewheres; I am obviously vague on details here), about how feelings, and the chemicals your brain produces because of these feelings, can be addictive. Basically, the more you feel a certain way and then continue to feel a certain way, the more your brain and body get used to the chemicals being produced by those feelings, and wants to produce more of them.

I'm a big proponent of the awareness that you can choose how you want to respond to something, even choose how you want to feel about it, and make that happen. It's a pretty cool awareness thing once you get some practice at it. But what if your brain is so used to you feeling a certain way that once you no longer need to, your brain isn't sure what to do with that?

Let's say you're habitually angry due to stressful or unfair work conditions, and then you get a fabulous new job in a fabulous new place and everything is fabulous... but you're still angry, about nothing in particular, just because that's what you're used to feeling? Or you are habitually depressed, sad, or bored, and then you do a lot of work on personal growth and suddenly feel very good about yourself with plenty of things to do that you enjoy... but if there's the slightest trigger, you're right back into being depressed, sad or bored again, just because that's where your feelings, your mood, your brain, are used to going?

Of course, I also fully believe that both choice and your brain's chemical dependency on itself can work together. Once you realize that you do have the choice, that you do not have to feel any way you don't want to feel just because you do feel that way right now, you can retrain yourself -- your thought habits, your "default mode" as I've heard clients describe it -- to switch gears and feel something you'd rather be feeling. And then guess what happens: over time, you get used to feeling that way, your brain gets used to the new combination of chemicals it's producing, and you have a new "default mode."

So basically, you can teach yourself the habit of happy. How cool is that?

(And, hey, you know something that life, personal growth and empowerment coaches are good for? Helping you gain awareness of your habits, decide what you'd rather be doing instead, and get yourself there. For more information about coaching, you can visit my website, Life Spiraling Forward, and/or Like me on facebook. Because really, empowering yourself to choose who and how you want to be, is pretty awesome.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Packet-free.

Oh, man. My world is full of changes right now. Good changes! Just changes, in the middle of which is a busy schedule, so though things are fabulous right now -- really! -- I still find myself looking forward to August when all the dust settles and the changes can become routine. I've been discovering recently that I do better with routines, and when they're thrown off, so am I.

(If you're curious: I started two new jobs, the little one started preschool, the husband is out of town for training, and next week I will be out of town being a hippie at the Great Lakes Retreat in Michigan.)

And none of that has anything to do with what I actually wanted to jot down today.

Today, I am doing just a little more to do just one more little thing to help us eat a little healthier and save a little money.

My son -- I love him -- asked to make "that bean soup I like" (and I like that I have a 4 year old who specifically asks for bean soup), so I promised him I'd look at the recipe, make sure we have everything we need for it, and that we would make it tonight. I knew we had all the beans, but I knew we did not have the packets of taco seasoning or ranch mix. And I also knew I didn't want to buy them; the reason we don't make the bean soup more often anyway is that I don't like all the chemical ingredients in the packets of seasonings, not to mention that they're $1-2 for basically 3tbsp of cheap spices plus all the crap added in.

So today I decided that instead of going to the store and cringing at myself as I bought more maltodextrin- and MSG-ridden flavoring packets, that I would look up homemade recipes for them myself.

I have done this. I've emailed myself a few versions of each recipe just in case we want to experiment and see which one we all like better. Also, I'll admit it, I specifically picked one of two of the combinations to save because I knew we already had all the ingredients for those at home and I wouldn't have to stop and buy anything else. This may sound like a money-saving adventure, and sure, I guess, it is, but really? I just don't want to have to stop at the grocery store on the way home from work.

Have you ever done that? Everyone stops at the grocery store after work. It takes at least three times more time than I'd normally spend just running to grab something at the store, when I go there after work, and I'm hot and I'm tired and the people make me overstimulated and I feel like I have to rush even more to get out of there relatively quickly and that makes me stressed and forgetful and frankly? It's not worth it.

So now I don't gotta. I'm saving us the MSG and fake ingredients, I'm saving us a few dollars, I'm saving the trash I'd throw away from using a packet of seasonings, and I'm saving myself the hassle of stopping at the grocery store.

Hey, motivation is motivation, right?

In the mean time, I'm learning to be less dependent on one more unnecessary convenience. And my kid will get his bean soup.

Monday, June 27, 2011

It'll be fun next time.

Sometimes, having coaching skills is awesome when you're a mommy.

Admittedly sometimes I feel like That Mom when I talk about this... mostly when my coaching school, iPEC Coaching, will post something on facebook asking something along the lines of, "When was the last time you used X coaching skill?" and I'll chime in, "Yesterday, with my 4 year old!" But I did. Because it's awesome. I'm teaching my pre-K things that I've seen adults have a hard time figuring out; then again, adults have to re-learn and break existing thought habits, while my 4yo is just now forming those thought habits himself.

For example: We were at the park one day playing on the big-kid equipment after fattening up some of the geese nearby, and the pole. Oh, that pole. It was out to get him. He'd worked with Daddy the time before, learning how to reach out and grab it, then jump and wrap his legs around to slide down. It was scary, but with Daddy's help, he was brave and went down the pole by himself! Once. And then he remembered that it was scary, which is what carried over for him during this visit. The pole is scary. He was scared. I tried cheering him on but frankly, I'm not Daddy, and Mommy cheering never has quite the same effect as Daddy cheering (just like Daddy's bedtime songs aren't quite as good as Mommy's).

Several minutes were filled with a back-and-forth of "I'm too scared!" and "You can do it! Just count to three and jump!" before we finally decided that it was okay, we would try again next time.

As we started walking home, the 4yo was repeating to himself, "I was just too scared. That was so scary. The pole was too scary. I was really scared." So I told him, "Raiden, what you're doing right now is called psyching yourself out. Do you know what that means?" Of course he didn't. "Psyching yourself out means that you're telling yourself that it's scary so much that you're making it even scarier for yourself. The more you tell yourself 'it's too scary!' the more you'll believe it!" I think he said something along the lines of, "Oh." I went on, "But, did you know that you have the power to change your own thoughts?" "I do?" "Yes, you do! You can choose to stop saying it's too scary, and start saying that you can do it! Can you say, 'It'll be fun next time'?" If there were a way to articulate a whiny tone through text, I would do it, but since I can't particularly think of one, I will simply tell you that in a whiny tone and with a slouchy stance, my child did, in fact, repeat, "It'll be fun next time..."

Still, I cheered him on. "There you go! The more you say it the more you'll believe it! Can you say it again?" With a similar whine and slouch, he repeated, "It'll be fun next time..." I cheered him on some more, and after a dozen or so more times (because what four year old doesn't love to repeat himself and repeat himself and repeat himself and repeat himself and...), it became enthusiastic.

So the next time we went to the park, do you think he was able to go down the pole? Well, no. It was still scary. Because, let's face it, he's four, and that's a big jump for a 4yo. But he also did not stand there telling himself how scary it was. He tried, he just couldn't do it, and he told himself, "It'll be fun next time."

Since then, he has asked me a couple of times in similar situations, "Am I psyching myself out?" If I confirm that yes, he is (and comment that it was very big of him to recognize that), he'll stop and change his phrasing to how fun it might be next time. And that's way better than sliding down a pole.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

As within, so without. Or vice versa. Or...

As you may or may not know, we have moved into our new house (which previously belonged to my late grandparents-in-law), but still haven't sold the old one.

I've gone through a lot of different emotions over the old house being on the market and moving to the new one over the past three years (three. years.) that the plan has been in the works, mostly stagnant. It started out, "But I love this house and I wanted to stay here forever and I don't like the new house because it's boring and this one has character and I don't want to get rid of it... but it's very financially responsible to do so;" morphed somewhere along the line to, "Okay, it'll be all right, we've given this house all we can and now it's time for someone else to take care of it," with visualizations of the perfect new owner and how much the new person would love the house and fix it up and do all the things for it that we just weren't able to do; and eventually became, "I'm done being in limbo. I'm mad at you, house. You need to sell now. We're outta here. See, now you'll be alone because you didn't attract a new owner," and my wish for the Universe has gone from a visualization of the perfect owner to something more like, "Okay, Universe, just find someone else to make the house payment. Don't care how. Make it happen."

It hasn't yet, but that's not where I'm going with this. What I'm getting at is: I am currently in charge of mowing two lawns instead of one, and due to the "doneness" I have come to with the old house, it's something I kind of roll my eyes at and say FINE and do it but I'm not happy about it.

The last time I was mowing the lawn at the old house, I realized about halfway through that even though I am frustrated and, okay, I'll admit it, a little resentful that I still have to take responsibility for the lawn at a house I would like to be done with, that the actual process of mowing the lawn itself was very comfortable and familiar. I know the spots where I need to go slower to get through the thick patches; I know the areas where I can go faster due to the grass being thinner and drier; I know that if I angle the mower just right over the curb we don't have to use the weed-eater as often; this is the spot where I'll just backtrack a few short rows to even it out into the longer rows in a minute; mowing the area between the sidewalk and the road as part of the bigger yard rather than its own section makes it feel more doable and less long and horrible. It's very familiar, and even still slightly enjoyable to find a new, better, more efficient pattern to follow to let the job feel like it's getting done faster.

Even though I am tired of having to do it.

And as tends to happen, being the type of person who tends to think about the things I'm thinking about, I thought bigger. I know that "thought is cause" and that "as within, so without" and in general, that what is in your mind creates the world around you. So I wondered: what's in my mind (within) that is creating a situation in which mowing the yard is still comfortable and familiar yet the house it belongs to won't sell (without)? What else could be going on in my mind in which I am feeling comfortable with something I would rather like to get rid of? (Oh, as soon as I asked myself that, I thought of about a dozen possible responses.) And as such: what do I need to resolve within myself, to allow something different to be manifested outwardly?

What about you? What frustrations do you have in your life right now, that you would like to see change, shift, disappear, or evolve in some way? What qualities does that situation have? What other mental conflict could be similar to that situation? And how ready are you to change it within yourself?

The cool thing is, even if resolving something within yourself doesn't result in the outward change you would like to see manifested, you still grew, and something even better may come of that.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Once in a lifetime.

I'm sure most of you have heard or read about the tornado that destroyed most of Joplin, MO, this past weekend. That's only about 45 minutes away from where we live, though we were lucky enough only to get some wind and rain. And some beautiful skies.


After the rain had passed us by and the sky was absolutely beautiful, I was doing laundry while my husband was in the living room, keeping an eye on the news to see what was happening in Joplin, and yelling in my direction occasionally about how I needed to come look at the sky; it was changing every second, and I was missing it, he said. "This is a once in a lifetime sky!"

It occurred to me that every sky is a once in a lifetime sky. Never again will we see that exact color scheme with those exact cloud patterns laying on top of it. And I wondered, why don't we stop to appreciate every once in a lifetime sky?

As tends to happen, my thoughts broadened. Not only is every sky a once in a lifetime sky, but every moment is a once in a lifetime moment. Never again will we be at this exact place in this exact moment being exactly who we are right now; we are ever-changing, the world is ever-changing.

How many beautiful moments do we pass by in our lives because there's something to distract us from it? Or because something boring or aggravating or terrible is still on our mind from a moment previous? Or because we're in a hurry to get to the next moment?

What would it take to pause and find the beauty in every moment, the way we can pause and find the beauty in an orange and blue sky with a double-rainbow after a devastating storm?

I challenge you to stop, once, in the middle of your day -- especially if it's a busy day -- and find something once-in-a-lifetime around you, or within you.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Identity.

Given my current job situation (the situation being that soon, I will no longer have my job), I've noticed that as a result, I've started shifting my identity into something different. For years (eleven of them) I've been The Webmaster, and I've never really liked it. I always felt the need to say that I was The Webmaster but don't blame me, it was like that when I got here and I intend to fix it, or The Webmaster but no I will not do your fluffy puppy website in my spare time, or The Webmaster but I'm not a computer geek, I'm an "artist" and the Internet is my canvas. Anytime I would identify myself as The Webmaster, I would sort of cringe on the inside. That's not who I am. I'm not that stereotype. It's my job, but it's not me.

In five weeks, I will no longer be The Webmaster. How amazing is that??

For several weeks while this knowledge was settling into my mind, I became The Webmaster but not for much longer. The past couple of weeks now I have caught myself casually shifting into The Life Coach. EEEEE!

I'll admit it, there's some fear and hesitation around that. What if people don't know what that is? What if I have to answer questions? What if they think it's nuts or think I'm crazy or pat me on the head like oh, of course you are dear, that's so cute, like it's a fake job and not something real or understandable my mainstream societal standards? But you know what? That's good practice for me to get better at explaining what coaching is, what I do. And you know what else? I don't cringe when I say it; I smile.

It's funny how in today's society one of our favorite questions is "So, what do you do?" Our jobs somehow define us, and there are all these beliefs floating around about What You Do being Who You Are.

I've seen this cross over into way more than just the job arena, too; I frequently call my clients on listing "doings" when I ask them "being" questions.

The cool thing about coaching is, it's both. It's a way of being, and it's what I do.

So if you could be whoever you choose to be, what would you be doing? How would you identify yourself in a way that would make you smile?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Disciplining your inner four year old.

Part of being a mom is figuring out what method of discipline works best for your kids. Every kid is different (and I know I will learn this even more clearly if/when there is a #2). Things that work for some kids don't work for other kids. Things that work for your kid might not work for your kid next week. Things that work for your kid may not work for you. It's a constant act of trial and error, assessment, reassessment, giving up for a while and just hoping they'll be good no matter what, realizing no matter how well you're handling things they might still just be a holy terror for a while, wondering if their recent diet of grilled cheese and popsicles may be a factor, and trial and error again.

The same can be said for ourselves. I know I'm grumpy when I have too many pastries.

While I was rearranging the 4 year old's star chart recently, the thought occurred to me: if I were parenting my own inner 4 year old, what would I put on my star chart?

This of course led to tangent thoughts: What reward would I want to earn with my stars? What if it weren't just about a star chart and I were constantly parenting my inner child?

When our kids ask us for, say, an extra cookie, or another new toy even though he just got a new toy (because Daddy really wanted the new toy, too), when is the answer yes, and when is the answer no? How do you explain to your kid why this time it's okay, but next time it may not be? And, what occurred to me this morning, when your kid yells at you and demands that extra cookie or new toy, do you give into his demands or do you dig your heels in and demand right back that he ask nicely for things or he Does Not Get Them?

I'm a dig-my-heels-in, I'm-just-as-stubborn-as-you-are mom, personally.

So why, then, when my inner child demands I WANT THAT PASTRY RIGHT NOW BECAUSE, UM, BECAUSE IT'S THERE AND I WANT IT, do I say, "Oh, okay Inner Child! Here's your pastry!"? How could I handle that, instead?

If I were talking to my kid (and having a Good Mommy day, and this wasn't the 50millionth time I had to answer this question), I would explain that eating sweets without eating something healthy is bad for your body, and I know it tastes good, but later with lunch we can have some strawberries instead. So, what would it be like if I were to catch my inner child's demands, realize them for what they are, and explain things in the same way? "Okay, Self, I know you'll like that cherry tart, but you're gluten intolerant, remember? And remember that you're trying not to eat processed sugar? Is that pastry worth getting a headache and being grumpy? You have gluten free cookies made with organic sugar at home! Let's wait until we get home, okay?"

Honestly? My inner child would throw a temper tantrum and say BUT I WANT IT NOW, THOSE COOKIES AREN'T THE SAAAMMMMEE AS A CHERRY TART.

And then I would tell my inner child that it's being rude and now it absolutely can't have it because of how it's acting.

So just as parenting your own actual child requires a lot of trial and error, bargaining, and explanation of consequences, what would it be like if you were to put that kind of effort into "parenting" yourself?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Getting a taste.

Just recently I was commenting that I didn't really know how to be home with my son by myself all day, even though I've always wanted to be a stay- (or work-) at-home-mom. For years I've been saying that web pages (what I've done professionally for the past 11 years) just aren't my thing anymore. A year ago I bought the domain name for my would-be coaching business, and promptly created a placeholder that has remained there ever since. Ever since the windows were installed in our house just after we bought it five and a half years ago, I've been thinking to myself that I really ought to finish painting the trim.

What do all these things have in common?

I found out almost two weeks ago that in three months, my position will be eliminated.

It wasn't that great of a shock; we've been warned of budget cuts for the past two years. In this round of cuts we knew our department would be losing two positions. Since my position was merged into this department, it had never really been the most important service being provided in the eyes of those deciding things like what services will be provided, so I sort of figured that my position would be one of the cuts. Finding out for sure, though, makes it real. That's different than probably.

So now, glance back at the first paragraph and guess how many of those things have either moved up on the priority list, or have become sudden real possibilities?

The house has been on the market for nearly three years and still I'd always put off all the little things like painting the window trim, little things that I felt like we needed to hide when we'd leave the house for someone to view it, which would end with the curtains being drawn and the house feeling dark. Along the same lines as the bathroom shelf I mentioned recently, it didn't take that long to paint the window trim; I open the curtains constantly now and it feels so much brighter in here, not to mention the good feeling that comes with being able to show off more of the house rather than feeling like I have to hide it.

I have a gazillion sick days saved up that I'll lose at the end of my job, so instead of cramming doctor's appointments into lunch hours, I'm taking half-days (we can't take sick leave hourly) and using the remaining time to clean up the house or just take some me time. (I played a video game the other day. By myself. For as long as I wanted.)

My father-in-law has been sick, and since my in-laws watch the little one during the day, that left me without childcare today... which, by the way, also counts as a sick day. I spent today with my son in a totally different mindset than the last time -- what could this be like if it were an everyday thing? Would I make breakfast every day, or cook up extra sausage and muffins early in the week to reheat later? Oh look, I can look through a cook book and toss something in the crock pot to be ready for dinner with absolutely no rushing around after work! I can do laundry! I can wash dishes as I go, because I'm not hurried! Oh, and since my father-in-law is still sick, I get to learn even more about what it's like to stay home with my kid and take care of my house all over again tomorrow! And I can already see the bottom of the laundry hamper! Well, one of them.

I've been crocheting more, as I realized I'd stopped making fingerless gloves that I was making so many of for a while, simply because people stopped asking. And then I felt stressed out and trapped and like I needed to do something but didn't know what, until I figured out that, oh yeah, that whole crochet thing was totally my creative outlet. Now I'm figuring I can build up a stock and sell them at the hippie store around the corner, and/or craft shows, and/or on etsy, and bring in an extra few dollars occasionally (in case that few dollars makes a difference).

I realized that after saying so many times "I am so done with websites!" that this time, I am so done with websites! I don't ever have to do them again if I don't want to when this job ends. I love me some barter so I'll keep up the ones I love doing, or love what I'm getting in exchange, but I am done being a webmaster. I actually started giggling when I realized that. I'm free! Now it's all on my own terms.

Like my own. That domain name I bought a year ago for my would-be coaching business? The one I kept telling myself I really ought to build a website for? The coaching I kept telling myself I really ought to start building a clientele for? Now that I finally got my kick-in-the-butt from the Universe telling me, "Okay! I'm giving you all these things now! You figure out what to do with them!" it took me a week to build the website from the ground up. And I love it.

And here it is: Life Spiraling Forward

Please, take a peek, and you know anyone who you feel that would resonate with (including yourself!) please feel free to shamelessly promote me as much as you want! I even have a sweet "hey, my new website is up!" price special going on for the first five folks to sign up. And if I find out they came from you, you might get a present. Just sayin'.

I've been having conversations with the Universe about this house attracting its new owner this month, and after a long dry spell we've seen a huge increase in traffic, which is pretty rewarding and says to me that the Universe listens. So I'ma keep talkin'!

You know, I didn't used to be this way. I used to be a worrymonger (which I would occasionally worry about). This "new" way of being, the way of seeing opportunities, feels so much brighter. (And hey, if you'd like to learn to do the same thing, there's a link up there for a life coach...)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Thoughts as a medicine cabinet.

Our house has been up for sale for quite some time now, and though we really haven't had any activity recently, we've become restless with the state of limbo we've been in. Our new house, which belonged to my husband's late grandparents, is just sitting there waiting on us. We've put some work into it here and there -- refinished the hardwood floor we discovered under the living room carpet, started painting what will be Raiden's bedroom -- and have moved some of our extra stuff over in various spurts, but we have finally grown restless with the restlessness. We're moving there. For real.

Though at times it feels like this process is really dragging out (and, let's face it, after almost-three years, it really is) we're lucky, in a way, that we get to take our time with it. There's no mad flurry of WE HAVE TO PACK RIGHT NOW OR ELSE and that allows us a little space to really go through what we have while we're packing it. Keep; yard sale or donate; trash. We've had several moments of "I forgot that even existed" and "So that's where that went! How did it get in there?!"

The most significant for me, so far, came yesterday afternoon. Raiden had become a holy terror and it was very obvious that it was because he was tired (though he refused to admit this, of course), so after getting him down for a nap, which pretty much never happens anymore, Rich and I were able to get some packing done without having to 1) stop a million times to entertain a three year old, or 2) feel guilty ignoring our three year old. Rich took to the bedroom; I stationed myself in the bathroom.

My first stop: the medicine cabinet above the washer. Storage tub in front of me and trash can to my side, I started going through all the stuff we had piled in our bulging-at-the-seams cabinet, deciding what to keep at the house we're still living in, what to go ahead and take over to the other house, and what to get rid of entirely. My being a pseudo-hippie came in two-fold in this scenario: 1) I had at least a couple dozen bottles of Standard Process supplements in the cabinet that have been there for who knows how long and for who knows what purpose, and 2) this made me think. It occurred to me, especially after a recent conversation with my fabulous coach (her website, her blog), that it was an analogy for thoughts.

I had all this stuff stored in my cabinet and though I knew vaguely that it was there and that I wasn't using it, I hadn't taken the time before then to really look at what the stuff was, how it was serving me by staying in my cabinet, when I picked it up in the first place, when it outlived its usefulness, or if I would ever use it again.

What about thoughts? What thoughts do I have sitting in the back of my mind that I know are there but don't really pay any attention to? How can these thoughts be serving me (or even "serving" me by allowing me the freedom to stay stagnant when moving forward is scary)? Where did they come from? Do I still need them? Will I ever need them again? Could someone else I care about benefit from me keeping them around?

I recently discovered the power in letting a thought go and replacing it with another, and even the power in realizing I could let it go.

What was funny to realize while cleaning out my cabinet was that if something was full, I had a hard time throwing it away. It was taking up a lot of space and I knew I would never use it again, but the thought of getting rid of something that hadn't really been utilized still bothered me. It made me wonder what big, full, useless thoughts may be occupying my mind, keeping me from replacing them with something I felt better about.

---

Later in the adventures of bathroom tidying, we removed a shelf we had never liked. There had been a built-in cabinet when we first bought the house, and I don't remember when we removed it or why, but the section of wall behind where it had been was painted a different color than the rest of the wall. We even color-matched the paint and picked up a quart a while back, but never painted it. Instead, we got an ugly shelf and decided that hopefully the clutter on it would cover up the ugly wall. It was functional, but it's always bugged me.

After the shelf was out, the wall was painted and the new shelf was in, I wondered aloud, "Why didn't do do this when it was for us??"

One of my favorite questions on my new-coaching-client questionnaire is, "What are you tolerating?" I was reminded again that I ought to ask it of myself occasionally, too. And then move on it. It didn't take that long to move the shelf or paint the section of wall. There was no reason to let it sit there bothering me for however many months or years it has been that way, when an afternoon took care of fixing it.

What else am I tolerating? How much energy am I giving the annoyance it's causing me, compared to how much energy it would take to do something about it and then be happier with it?

---

So what about you? What's hanging out in your brain's medicine cabinet? What is your unpainted bathroom wall that you're hiding with clutter on an ugly shelf? And when will you do something to change it?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Routines.

I never meant to be a working mom. Still, I have dreams of being a stay/work at home mom if/when there's ever a child number two. But something occured to me this morning.

My mother-in-law, who watches my son during the day, is sick today. So am I - in fact, I'd already had serious thoughts of calling in sick today, even before she called in sick herself and solidified that decision for me. I laid in bed with the little one to help him sleep longer while I read a bit until he woke up, later than usual. And he immediately hurt my feelings, saying that he didn't want to spend the day with me, he wanted to spend the day with Mamo.

It had upset his routine. He's three. I get that.

We played a bit in bed before I was absolutely starving and got up to make breakfast. While I was cooking, after we ate, and in the rest of the day since, I realized that my routine has been upset as well.

That was a pretty startling realization, actually, because what it showed me was that, since taking care of my son, by myself, all day long, during a weekday, is not my routine, I'm really not sure how to do it. What do you do with a three year old all day long? I know how to parent in the two hours or so between getting home from work and getting him ready for bed, and I know how to parent on the weekends in the rush of getting chores caught up from the busy week preceding, but apparently, I realized, I have no idea how to be a stay at home mom for just a single day.

This is where the justifications kicked in, all the reasons that couldn't really be it and that today was an exception, not an indication of a lack of parenting skills.

I'm sick today, and it's harder to be an involved parent when your head aches, your chest tickles when you breathe, and your nose is stuffy and raw. Anyone's patience is thinner when they're not feeling well, so of course the constant sound that accompanies a verbose three year old is getting on my nerves; I wouldn't always want him to be quieter, it's just that I'm sick. I'm only extra busy with chores today because it's so rare to have time during the week to do any of them; I wouldn't be ignoring my kid(s) for chores every day if I were home with them every day.

This just isn't our routine.

And perhaps staying home with Mommy during the day wouldn't be such a novelty to him, either, if it were an everyday thing. Maybe he would want some space instead of taking advantage of the ability to have constant Mommy attention.

It just makes me wonder what kind of a relationship I would have with my son if things had worked out differently. It bothers me, as a mommy, to realize that taking care of my son is out of my routine.

Dont' get me on my soapbox about how America is the only civilized country whose mothers are ripped away from their babies at 6 weeks or 3 months after birth, because the productivity and the status quo and the almighty dollar are given more importance than family. Or the tangent soapbox about how 6-12 weeks of maternity leave don't really give American babies the chance to breastfeed for as long as the WHO recommends. Or the other tangent soapbox about my disappointment that it is normal in our society for someone else to be raising our children for us, save for the few hours after work and busy weekends. Or the seemingly-opposite soapbox about how parents aren't given realistic expectations as to what it will be like to take care of a new baby or raise a child, that they are told it should be happy all the time and they should be able to do it themselves when really, parenting can be very frustrating and the more help you can find, the better!

Because I have a lot of those soapboxes.

And a lot of them would just lead me back to being very sad at realizing that I really wasn't sure what to do with my son, for one whole day at home together, because it's outside of both our routines.