balance · self-care

Monthly Mantra: Slow It All Down

Here’s my new idea for the blog: monthly mantras.

Stay with me.

I started out 2020 planning to have a theme for every month, and it didn’t work out at all. Maybe it will someday. I always enjoy making the lists of themes, for sure! But my blogging is a little more sporadic than thematic these days.

For August, I changed it up. Instead of announcing a theme and making a list of goals, I just gave myself a mantra: keep it simple. I remembered it, too, as the month progressed. If I started to get overwhelmed, I just asked myself what the next right thing to do was, and I did my best to focus on that and nothing else. Not always easy – but simple.

I love the idea of a monthly mantra, and I’m sticking with it for September.

This month, my biggest worry is: How do I transition to the new school year, and maintain my commitments to service work, community activism, side hustle private practice, writing, and (MOST IMPORTANTLY) family? 

Whoa. I get overwhelmed just writing the list! So, a mantra is definitely in order. And the one I have chosen is: slow it all down. 

When my life gets crazy, I have a tendency to be off and running. I get less mindful, less present, more productive, and increasingly stressed. I need to remind myself to slow it all down before the month and my days start running away from me.

When I slow it all down, I can see what’s doable and what’s not. I can see when I need to say no to new commitments or take things off my plate. I can see when I need more family time, a long run, or a healthy meal. I can see – when I stop it all from going by too fast.

Cheers to slowing it all down, and to my new monthly mantra tradition! May it be more successful than my 2020 themes, and may it help me to remember what’s really important every single day.

rainbow painting
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

 

 

balance

Categories: Geeking It Up

Now feels like a good time to reflect on where things are at, in life and in blogging, and hit the reset button wherever needed. And one of the ways I like to reflect is by geeking out about my blog post categories.

I’ve geeked out about categories before – see here. I really enjoy examining my list of categories from time to time. It helps me to brainstorm what I want to write about, and it helps me to not become overwhelmed by all the different things to write about. (Like, yes, we did eat a delicious home-cooked meal last night – but I don’t really write about food, so I can just enjoy my eggplant parm for what it is.)

I decided to pare down my list of categories a little, and here’s what I came up with:

  • Writing.
  • Books + Reading.
  • Adoption.
  • Family + Parenting.
  • Mindfulness.
  • Self-Care.
  • Goals.
  • Rhythm + Routine + Rituals.
  • Wellness + Recovery.
  • Balance.

These are the topics I love to think about and write about.

Often my posts are dictated by what’s happening in my life at a particular moment, and I think that will most likely continue. I would love to have a little more intention to my planning, but with all the responsibilities I’m balancing, I feel blessed if I’m able to steal a little writing time to write about whatever the heck is on my mind.

It does feel nice, though, to have a tight list of ten categories I can look to when I’m writing and planning. It helps me to pay attention to where my thoughts and my words are at any particular moment, and it might help me to have a little more balance in my blogging. MIGHT. All caps. We shall see.

doe walking near path in forest
Photo by Luca Paul on Pexels.com

 

 

balance

Changing It Up

My blogging schedule has been really off this summer. My schedule for writing fiction has been even worse. 

So recently, I made a decision. I’m going to change my expectation of myself related to blogging. and I’m going to aim to just publish one post per week instead of two. I feel really good about this; it’ll give me a little more space to write fiction and to pursue other writing opportunities that have come up.

This possibility hadn’t really occurred to me until last weekend. I was bemoaning how little fiction writing I’ve managed to get done this summer, and how off my blogging productivity has been lately. Then I realized – no one is pressuring me to post on the blog twice a week. I also realized – I’m not posting twice a week, and I feel just a tiny bit like I’ve failed at something whenever I don’t meet that personal goal.

It feels like a good time to adjust expectations and set new intentions. This month, I am acutely aware of the school year approaching (first day is 8/31), and of the need for a new balance. There’s family, writing, private practice (!!!), household tasks (more on that soon), baby steps in the area of community organizing and social justice (more on that later!), mindfulness work, and, of course, the day job.

THERE IS SO MUCH.

And yet, there’s time for all of it.

Looking forward to blogging with less frequency, but, perhaps, with increased intentionality. Cheers to August, and cheers to my air conditioning being fixed today!

close up photography of cup of coffee
Photo by Jason Villanueva on Pexels.com
balance · parenting

Setting The Tone For The Work Week

Ever since I started working from home with my boys (ages 1 and 3) home with me, the first morning of the work week has been a clusterfreak. (Keepin’ it PG-13 on here!)

I think it’s a combination of factors that are causing the havoc.

  1. I don’t WANT to “go to work.” (Imagine that said in the whiniest kid voice possible!) I want to just play with my kiddos. I definitely prefer working from home to having to be away from them all day, but really, I’d love to just play and be silly with them all day long.
  2. I don’t always have a plan for the day, and I think our days go best when I have a plan. They don’t have to know what it is. The plan doesn’t even need to be executed well! It doesn’t matter if they do the awesome craft activity; it just matters that I’ve thought through our day with some intention and have a few activities or projects up my sleeve.
  3. I sometimes have a Zoom meeting first thing Monday morning (like 8 a.m.), and that seems to set us off on the wrong foot immediately. We can’t go outside or be on a hike while I have a meeting; they usually are just playing (and not understanding why I’m not paying attention to them) or watching a show (which seems to just set the wrong tone for the rest of the morning).

Pretty much every day, I try to get the boys in the car to go for a hike right after breakfast. There are days when I feel lazy about this, or when the weather’s not great,  and the hike doesn’t happen. And that’s okay!

But I am going to start putting forth a special effort to make Mondays a good and positive day for us. That means a hike as early in the day as we can, possibly followed by a treat (Dunkin’ Donuts drive thru is an option), and a few special activities planned for the day. My theory is that I need to devote a lot of energy and creativity to the FIRST day of the week. If Tuesday or Wednesday end up being a little lazier or less creative – well, at least we’ve eased into the week with a good day already. My mood, as the parent, really is a big factor in how our days go. And I am better able to have the patience and energy to get through a tough day when I have the confidence of a good day already.

I am working really hard at my job – but the most important thing to me right now is being a present, playful, and peaceful person for my kids. I am hoping that this Monday will be a day that sets a nice tone for the rest of the “work week.” But if not? Then TUESDAY will be the new Monday. And it will all be okay.

writings in a planner
Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com
balance · self-care

April 24

The announcement was just made: April 24.

Across the state of Maryland, schools will be closed due to the coronavirus pandemic until April 24.

In some ways, it’s unsettling. There are several school districts that have closed until the end of the year, but our state is planning to re-evaluate and re-assess as the weeks progress.

I’m glad to have some information, but it does feel slightly uncertain. On April 20th, will I get another update saying we’re closed for longer?  Or will we be back to school?

No one knows. We all have to sit with that uncertainty.

That said – for now, for today – I have more info than yesterday. And that means that for today, I can set intentions for the following:

  • Every day, I will wake up at 4 a.m. to write. This will continue. I will write, write, write until my boys wake up!
  • At some point between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m., one of the boys will wake up. We’ll get them dressed and have breakfast and then have some free time – unstructured playing, cuddling with books, etc.
  • This would be a good time to go running! 
  • Once everyone has eaten and dressed, we’ll head outdoors – to the Gunpowder River, to Irvine Nature Center, to Oregon Ridge – for a family hike and adventure.
  • When we get home, there will be several windows of time:
    • We’ll get home from our hike at around 10 a.m., give or take some time. So there’s a window from about 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. that is open.
    • The boys’ nap time will be from 1 to 3 p.m. I think that the boys’ naptime will be the best time for me to do work; if I have more to do, I can keep working past 3 p.m. until dinnertime.
    • There’s playtime between 3 and 5:30 p.m.
  • We’ll eat dinner at around 5:30/6 p.m.
  • The boys will go to bed at 7 p.m. After they’re in bed, it’ll be a good time for an AA meeting, cleaning, and reading before bed. I can write, if I can muster the energy, or I can finish up any BCPS work I need to get done.
  • I’ll try to get to bed by 9 p.m.

That is a glorious plan. I know it will change – the world is uncertain, and it’s not all up to me – but I like this plan a lot.

If we go back to school on April 24th, that’s 29 more days at home with my boys. The world is in crisis, and things are stressful. But this time is also a tremendous gift. The gift of time with my wonderful family. It’s hard and it’s wonderful. And/Both, as Glennon Doyle would say.

29 days. It is what it is. My thoughts and my prayers continue to be with – well, with everyone. Because this is a “whole wide world” kind of thing, and we’re all in it together.

inspirational quotes on a planner
Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com