Not surprisingly, my goals for November 2019 are mainly going to be focused on house and home. Things are slowly getting unpacked, and there’s so much to do, from hanging towel racks to building a fence to establishing routines for us and the boys related to schedule and cleaning.
Unpack and declutter! Follow this maxim: Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.
Extend your break from fiction writing. I’m hoping this doesn’t turn into a “until 2020” thing. Once the moving is done and farming season is over, I want to dive back into novel writing.
Make a huge list of things to do and things to buy. (SO. MANY. THINGS.)
Establish new habits and routines related to exercise, cleaning, phone-free time with the boys, and family. I am all about using a move as a chance to start new habits! (Including meetings. That needs to be a priority ASAP.)
We’re in! Our life is in boxes, and we still have a ton to get done at the old house. But we are living in our new home and loving it.
My blogging routine is still going to be a little off this week. I’m currently typing this on my phone, because we don’t have internet set up yet. And it still seems difficult to write about the topics that are most relevant to me at the moment: habits, routines, rituals, and my work toward living a minimalist lifestyle. We are slowly unpacking, and we need to buy a ton of things: towel racks, shower curtains, baby gates, furniture. Our family to do list is long, and the time we have available to tackle different tasks is limited.
So, I’m going to do my best to stick to my regular blogging schedule – posts on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Hopefully the posts will get more substantial as my internet access and mental energy improve.
The chance to start fresh in a new routine with new habits.
Waking up early and drinking a hot cup of coffee before the boys wake up.
Ali Wong’s new book. LOVE HER.
Glennon Doyle’s new book, coming out in March 2020. Can’t wait!
Lovely fall walks down the NCR trail.
This beautiful house we’re saying good-bye to – Edgar and Jonas’s first home, Tamara’s beautiful farm, right on the trail. We’ve lived here for four years and, as happy as I am to move forward, I’ve loved our time in THIS home and the memories we have of this beautiful spot.
This gratitude post is a little early this month, in the interest of low-maintenance blogging during Moving Week. Hope you’re enjoying the fall as much as we are!
It’s Monday morning. We closed on our house on Friday, and we spent the last three days moving furniture and boxes to the new house. We’re still not done. We have lots to move and a million tasks to take care of.
So, let’s be real – there will be no new blog post tomorrow.
It’s not really about the lack of time to write. It’s the lack of mental energy. I’m exhausted, and also – I’m excited to write about the new house, new habits, and new routines, but I feel like I can’t really write about those things until we’re THERE – fully, completely, at the new house.
I am hopeful that I’ll be back on track with my blogging schedule by this coming Saturday. Fingers crossed for a smooth transition and a lot more writing headspace in the very near future!
When I sat down to write this post and glanced at the title I’d written – how to slow down and be intentional when life is crazy times five – I literally laughed out loud.
There are times when I write blog posts that I think might be helpful to others. And then there are posts that are just about me throwing my hands up in the air and admitting that I have no expertise or insight to offer.
Life is crazy right now because a) we’re buying a house and moving to a new town, b) we’re closing up shop for a small business, c) my job is hectic and stressful lately, d) ugh packing ugh, and e) we’re just a regular ol’ family with two young kids.
We start the moving process on Friday – three days from today. And I’m experiencing anxiety in various forms. I’ve got did we buy the right house anxiety, I’ve got so much to do anxiety, and I have my entire life is in boxes anxiety. Yesterday Tamara asked me what would help me to destress this week.and I couldn’t come up with anything.
This morning, I have three ideas for getting through the next three days. Exercise; everyday self-care; and aggressive mindfulness.
You know how you can go off your exercise routine for a few days, and sort of still feel okay? But then a few more days go by, and then suddenly you feel lethargic, heavy, and like you’re busting out of your jeans? That’s where I am today. I don’t know how to squeeze it in this week, but I know that I always feel less stressed and more capable when my body feels strong and agile.
Eat well. Don’t overdo the caffeine. Take your time. I think that the little things are important during times of stress. I mean, they’re always important – but the impact that healthy choices can have on my mood is significant. Things like staying hydrated and maintaining a calm state of mind are going to help me this week.
When I am stressed – and sometimes when I’m not – I fall into the habit of listening to Netflix constantly in the background of my life. Recently, I’ve been listening to and watching old episodes of The Good Place – while I’m washing dishes, while I’m getting ready in the morning, while I’m making breakfast.
It’s not good.
I started listening to books about mindfulness last week, and I checked out a few books from the library. Then yesterday, it hit me – I know how to be mindful. I can totally do it. In fact, I do it all day long at work most days. I don’t need a book, and I don’t need to learn a new technique.
I just need to DECIDE to do it. I need to CHOOSE that I am going to be mindful.
We close on the house in three days. THREE DAYS – that’s not that long. I am going to attempt Aggressive Mindfulness – no background noise – for the next three days. I know it will help me, and three days is a short enough time that I think I can attempt it without feeling overwhelmed. Three days of doing one thing at a time fully.
My goal for this year has been to slow things down so I can live my life more intentionally.
I’m impulsive by nature, and, much as I talk about mindfulness, I am not a naturally mindful or present person. I’m often distracted, my brain either consumed by the past or the future. When a decision needs to be made, I can get caught up in the moment and end up saying or doing something that is not aligned with my personal values.
Recently I decided that I wanted to come up with questions I can ask myself in the moment when I am about to say or do something. The questions would be unique to me; they’d be questions that would help me to check in with who I am and be sure that I am acting in a way that’s centered around my values and not other people’s expectations.
The questions I came up with are NOT unique to me, as it turns out. In fact, they’re almost verbatim the questions that I’ve heard people recommend in rooms of recovery – questions to ask yourself before you speak.
1. Is it kind?
2. Is it helpful?
3. Is it true?
I had forgotten about these questions. Their intent, I think, is to help people to realize that we don’t always have to say everything we think – particularly if what we want to say is not kind, helpful, or true. I mostly think of these questions when it comes to what I say, but they’re also effective for checking in before I act. I tweaked them, just a little, so that I could use them every time I need to make a decision about what to say or do.
Am I being honest?
Am I being kind?
Am I being authentically myself?
It’s early in the morning as I write this, and I have a day full of decisions ahead of me. Will those questions help me to slow down and be intentional with my choices and my words? We shall see.
I’ve written a few previous posts about my wish to have everything in my life align with who I am and what I value most. I started calling this Life Alignment, without knowing if this was a real thing or just something I made up in my head. For me, Life Alignment means:
Everything in my life – work, hobbies, side hustles, family – is somehow aligned, connected, in a kind of flow.
There is a common theme or passion running through everything in my life.
Everything in my life feels like it’s in balance and harmony.
You’re forgiven if this doesn’t make sense to you; I’m still figuring it out myself! I don’t always know how to describe Life Alignment, but I know it when I see it. Like my friend whose passion in life is early childhood mental health; her job is in that field, she listens to podcasts and reads articles and books related to that subject, and she spends as much of her time around young children as possible. And my friend who is all about social change and service; he works in that realm, he volunteers and advocates for causes he cares about in his free time, and he is well-informed and well-read on the issues he cares about. THAT’S what Life Alignment is to me.
The summer is a great time to reflect, and I started a little low-validity low-stress research project related to Life Alignment. I scrolled through my Facebook friends, one by one, and I took note of any friends that seem to have the kind of Life Alignment I am seeking. I was surprised to find that there weren’t many – maybe 15 people out of several hundred friends.
Now, to be fair – this was not a scientific experiment. For many of these people, I have no idea what their passions are or if their work lines up with their values. It could be that many more people feel they have Life Alignment, even if it doesn’t seem obvious to me that they’ve got it. And, for the 15 people that I see as having great Life Alignment – I have no idea if they feel aligned! Maybe my friend who is a yoga instructor and seems so passionate about her work and her hobbies secretly wishes she was a travel writer. Maybe my friend who spends all her time gardening and cooking actually wishes that her life was centered around education or politics. You cannot tell how satisfied someone is with their Life Alignment by checking their Instagram feed; I know this.
However, this non-scientific bit of research was helpful to me. It showed me that the thing I’m seeking is rare and perhaps challenging to achieve. It showed me that Life Alignment is probably not as clear-cut for most people as it is for my friend who teaches, plays, lives, and breathes softball. For most of us, perhaps it’s more subtle; there might be things that tie my life together, but maybe my life will have multiple themes that are woven together throughout my work, play, family, and home.
I scribbled a list of things that I’m passionate about, thinking, I’ll know that I have Life Alignment when my life includes all of these passions in some way. (Wait for it.) Here’s the list: writing; books + reading; adoption + family + parenting; children with special needs; the outdoors; exercise; mindfulness + meditation; laughter + silliness + play; honesty and authenticity and shameless truth telling; mental health + wellness + recovery; and service.
I mean, come on. Talk about unattainable! That list is long. Maybe it’s impossible to incorporate every single one of your passions into your life’s work. For my current job, I’m a school social worker at a public middle school. That means my work days could potentially incorporate the themes of mindfulness, meditation, laughter, silliness, play, mental health, wellness, and parenting. That’s a lot; there’s a lot of potential to weave my interests into my days. Of course, to do so, I have to be intentional. I have to either work toward achieving Life Alignment or just allow Life Alignment to have a stronger influence on my everyday activities than other factors might.
I’m going to continue to explore this topic, in my writing and in my thoughts. I’ve slowing been developing a skeleton plan for how to have greater alignment in my personal and professional life. Getting a job with summers off was an amazing first step. Incorporating mindfulness and play into my work is a great second step. Onward!