goals · life alignment

Update On My Birthday Funk

Ever since my 37th birthday, I’ve been in a bit of a funk.

That is a substantial age – 37. One could say that I’m in my late thirties. And I don’t feel content with where I’m at, professionally, creatively, and personally.

Now, in the world of family? I am content. I love my two kids like crazy, and I love parenting. I love my wife, and we’re at a moment in our lives (Post Farming) when we’re sort of resetting our lives, routines, rituals, et al.

But everything else feels not-quite-right. And that’s silly, I know. I’m incredibly blessed, and incredibly privileged. When I am not in a funk, I practice gratitude and I count my blessings wholeheartedly. However, when I’m in a funk like this – an existential birthday funk that leaves me filled with regret about past choices and worry about being able to achieve my dreams – I get overwhelmed.

There were a couple of other triggers for my funk in addition to my birthday. I had a coffee date with a friend who is self-employed and running several different businesses, and I found myself envying how inspired and motivated she is. And I started noticing a lot of writers and bloggers who have found a niche and a platform, and realizing that many of them are either my age or younger. That terrifies me, and triggers a lot of comparison and envy. And FEAR! Because what if it’s too late to achieve my dreams related to writing? Or what if I don’t have enough money, talent, or dedication to get it done?

Oy. I know better than to compare myself to others, especially via the internet. I should not compare my experience to anyone else’s experience. But my envy really is caused by fear and dissatisfaction related to my own life. If I felt like I was moving toward my creative goals, then I would not envy others. And I have known that I want to be a writer since I was seven years old, even if I didn’t realize it at the time.

When I start to feel regretful and overwhelmed, my kids keep me from completely losing my perspective. Adoption is a miracle; there are a million different circumstances that had to transpire to bring my boys home to Tamara and me. When I start to ponder, What if I had moved to California ten years ago?, it’s not long before I remember that if I’d done that, it’s quite possible that I wouldn’t be Edgar and Jonas’s mommy, which is unfathomable to me. So, they help me to keep faith, and to remember that everything happens for a reason.

After my coffee date and a mini meltdown when I found out that an extremely successful blogger is my age and way wealthier than I’ll ever be, I realized something. I don’t actually want any of the things that my self-employed friend has; I just feel insecure because I’m not working (enough) toward all the things I do want. And sometimes, I get so caught up in envying others that I lose focus on the things I want. By the time my coffee date was over, I was daydreaming about becoming a yoga instructor and starting a private therapy practice. Once I calmed down and clarified things, I realized that I actually don’t want either of those things.

I love yoga. I love running. I love reading. Those are big, huge aspects of ME that I enjoy. But when I really sat down to clarify what my top priorities are, I came up with the same three words that I identified months ago: family, service, and writing.

I would not have felt envious of my friend if I were a) making progress on a draft of a novel, b) writing stories or articles and submitting them for publication, or c) financially secure enough to know that I have plenty of time, space, and money to do what I want to do.

Now, item c) is tricky at the moment; we’ll table that for the time being.

But when I look at those three top priorities – family, service, and writing – I know exactly what needs to be done. I need to prioritize my family – that one’s easy. I need to seek out and take advantage of all opportunities to help others.

AND THEN THERE IS WRITING.

I know what needs to be done. I know the challenges – kids, full-time job, community. I have to find the time and the way to make things happen in my writing life. My birthday funk won’t feel funky if I am working toward the goals I want to achieve.

I’ve been contemplating life alignment for such a long time, and it feels amazing to zero in on my three top priorities in life. NOW – to make the changes I need to make so my priorities become prioritized. Let’s do this.

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goals

May 2020: Goals

There is a global pandemic happening. I’m 37 years old. I’m working remotely with no social life and a lot of time to reflect on life and work on myself.

This month, I want to think about the Big Picture that is my life. I want to spend some time seeking clarity about these questions:

  • Who am I?
  • What are my values?
  • What do I want to do with my one wild and precious life?

My biggest goals are related to writing, but there are others, too. I’ve had more time to think recently and I’d like to get some things down on paper.

GOALS and the Big Picture! That’s what May will be about. Let’s do this.

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goals · recovery · wellness

April 2020: Wellness + Recovery

For my first post for every month of 2020, I’ve chosen a theme and made some resolutions that fit the theme. I started out big in January, with a theme of Health + Longevity and a list of eight resolutions.

Then, as the days became weeks and then months, I realized that I wasn’t following most of my resolutions. This is pretty typical Kerriann – I love making resolutions but rarely keep them. Because for me, it seems to work better to say, “Well – I’d like to try to eat better. But making a Healthy Eating Plan doesn’t work out for me, so I’m going to turn it over to a higher power and stop worrying about it.” When I do that – when I set an intention, but let go of my urge to make a detailed plan to meet the intention – I get better results. It’s weird, but it’s me, and it works.

So I’m not really doing the “happiness project with resolutions” thing anymore. But I do love a theme. In March, I chose Creativity, and all I did was occasionally remind myself that my goals for the month centered around creativity. It worked. I got back on my blogging schedule, and I’m moving forward with my novel. The unexpected flexibility with my scheduled inadvertently supported this goal, which is one of the weird silver linings of this coronavirus experience that I feel simultaneously grateful for and guilty about.

tree branch

For April, I originally planned to focus on Minimalism + Decluttering. And my focus on minimalism and decluttering in my life has been great! I’ve been discarding and organizing and limiting what I buy. This unexpected time at home has really helped with the decluttering and discarding. But in the big picture of life, it’s not what I want to focus on this month.

I’ve been worried about so many people this month. People who are especially vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus. People who are losing their jobs or their livelihood. People who might have medical needs this month and next who may have trouble accessing treatment. Local businesses who are closing indefinitely and may not reopen. People who are dying. Kids who are missing the structure and love and care they receive at school. AND – people who are trying to get sober.

I stopped drinking in July 2012, and I was able to do so because of Alcoholics Anonymous and going to AA meetings. Full stop. If there was another way I could have gotten sober, I would have tried it; I probably did try it. For me, there was no other way. And once I agreed to try AA and meetings, I got sober quickly and I’ve stayed sane and whole for almost eight years now.

When I think about people who are new in recovery, I can’t imagine how hard it must be right now to get and stay sober. There are AA meetings, because smart and wonderful people quickly figured out how to move meetings online. You can participate in meetings using a computer, via phone, or using an app on your smartphone. If you’re okay with the technology piece, or can get help with it, then in some ways, it’s great. It’s easy to “get to a meeting” because you don’t have to leave your house. You don’t even have to put pants on!

But, it’s different. And you might not get the same wraparound support that you’d get if you walked into a room full of people who were willing and able to help you achieve sobriety.

ANYWAY – this is a long lead-up to the fact that for April, my focus is Wellness + Recovery. This month, I want to:

  1. Attend at least 3 Zoom (video conference call) AA meetings a week.
  2. Continue to work on my own recovery program with my sponsor.

That’s it.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay home, everyone.

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creativity · goals

March 2020: Creativity

I’ve definitely considered abandoning my 2020 Happiness Project. It’s just been too hard to keep the project at the forefront of my mind.

But, I also really like consistency. If I commit to a yearlong project, I’d like to see it through, even if it’s super simplified.

For January, I focused on health and longevity. For February, I focused on mindfulness and wellness. I don’t think either month was wildly successful, but I have made small changes that are helping me to be more healthy and well.

For March, I am going to focus on Creativity. That wasn’t my original plan, but it makes sense at this moment in life. March is an emotional month. Edgar’s adoption day is on the 3rd, the anniversary of my dad’s death is the 6th, Dad’s birthday is the 23rd, Tamara’s birthday is the 15th – plus my Nana’s birthday (she passed away when I was 15) and two nieces’ birthdays. It’s a month of ups and downs and grief and joy. It’s emotional in all the best and worst ways.

For my whole life, the best way for me to process emotions has been through writing. My blogging routine got off track in February, due to sickness and tiredness and the chaos of life with littles. For March, I want to get my blogging routine back on track AND I want to get back into my creative writing routine. I’ve been making notes everywhere and feeling inspired. The next step is just to Get. To. Work.

So my mini resolutions are:

  1. Resume my regular blogging schedule.
  2. Set up a (doable) new creative writing routine.

Simple – but not easy. We’ll see what happens.

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goals

Clarity

A few weeks ago, I had coffee with a friend. It was lovely. I mean, Edgar was there, too, so we were frequently interrupted by random WHY questions about anything and everything, but it was still great.

When I got home, I found that I was feeling envious of my friend. I was comparing my current situation to hers, and subsequently feeling jealous.

Let me explain.

My friend is awesome. She is an entrepreneur, a therapist, and a yoga instructor.  and she is currently running two businesses – a private therapy practice and a children’s yoga business. We talked together about my envy; I explained to her that I mostly felt jealous of how inspired and motivated she is. And that is accurate.

However, by the time I got home and was chatting with Tamara about it, I found myself making mental plans to become a certified yoga instructor (the last yoga class I participated in was in July 2019) and to open up a private therapy practice (which Tamara politely explained to me that I decided I wanted to postpone until our kids are older).

Why does this happen? When we compare ourselves to others, it’s almost always problematic. I know this – but that doesn’t mean that I don’t fall down that rabbit hole repeatedly.

The thing is, usually when envy strikes, I am envious of someone who has what I actually want. Like a blogger who is making good money writing from home about the things she’s passionate about. So why did I spend half a day feeling envious and confused after a coffee date with a friend who is doing awesome things – but not the awesome things I want to do?

I decided that it was about clarity of purpose. I envy my friend’s inspiration and motivation, for sure – but that doesn’t mean that I want to pursue the specific goals and dreams that she is pursuing. And in the midst of this crazy life – little kids, full-time job, new house, adult responsibilities – it’s easy for me to become unclear about what my priorities are.

A few years ago, I hung a bulletin board on my bedroom wall and pinned three flowery note cards to it. There was a single word on each of the three cards: family; service; writing. My three priorities. The three purposes of my life. Loving and caring for my family; being of service to others, however I can; and writing. When I started feeling distracted and disgruntled, and making plans to become a yoga instructor, I remembered these three words and it helped me to come back to center and remember what I care about the most.

This is all related to my birthday funk. When I start to feel regretful and worried about achieving my goals, it helps me to have clarity of purpose and a plan of action. My clarity of purpose, I decided, is those three words – family, service, writing – plus three more: adventure, wellness, and simplicity. When I think about the past and the future, I think a lot about adventure and travel; they’re important to me, and they have often been neglected due to other responsibilities. When I think about life right now, I realize that wellness is a theme running through everything; I can’t achieve my goals if I’m not taking care of my overall mind-body-soul wellness. And finally, the priority of simplicity is really about frugality and minimalism – living simply and saving money.

Thinking about those six priorities – family, service, writing, adventure, and wellness – helps me to focus. When I am clear about my priorities, I don’t get sidetracked making plans to open up various businesses that aren’t in line with my current plans and passions.

Now that I’ve been writing my way through my birthday funk, I’m a little grateful for it. It’s so easy to get lost in the chaos of life as a working parent with little kids. I’m happy to be reminding myself of my goals, and getting some clarity about what’s most important to me in this life.

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goals

My Birthday Funk + My Plans To Get Out Of It

Can I be honest? I’ve been in kind of a funk since my 37th birthday.

I am not usually someone who feels bummed about getting older. But, dude – 37 is an adult. Like, 36 was, too, but 37 DEFINITELY is. I could say that I’m in my late thirties; that would be an accurate statement.

And I am not where I want to be, professionally, creatively, and personally.

My family is wonderful and amazing; they are my rock. I am so grateful for my wife and my two boys. But everything else feels wishy-washy and unclear.

The reason why I’m writing this is: the next few blog posts on playful + peaceful will be all about the baby steps I’m currently taking so that I can get really clear about what my goals and priorities are and then get even clearer about the steps I can take to achieve my goals and keep my priorities at the forefront of my life.

I often write about habits, goals, and priorities, but I felt that the cluster of posts coming should be placed in context. And that context is: I’ve been in a funk, and I’ve been really struggling with regrets. Regrets about time and money I’ve wasted on the wrong things, and regrets about opportunities and dreams I’ve not yet pursued.

NOT YET PURSUED. I am using those words very intentionally, because I know that there is time. When I get into a funk, my mind becomes a cluster of “Not Enough” thoughts. There’s not enough time. I don’t have enough talent. We’ll never have enough money.

One of my wise and gentle friends reminded me today: You are enough. You have enough. You do enough. And I know that this is true – even when it doesn’t quite FEEL true.

So, please be prepared for a whole lotta posts on habits, dreams, goals, clarity of purpose, and life alignment. If you’re an Enneagram person, I’m a 4 and we are ALL ABOUT the navel gazing and self discovery. Let’s do this.

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goals

February 2020: Mindfulness and Wellness

My plan for February 2020 was to focus on service and kindness, but I’m changing it up a bit.

My January resolutions were hard to manage, particularly the ones related to food. I constantly find myself slipping back into unhealthy habits – too much caffeine, junk food – when I’m stressed or busy. (OR when I’m just stuck in a bad habit, like stopping to get a snack on the way home from work!)

So I don’t feel fully ready to dive into a topic like service. It makes more sense to me to take my topic for March – Mindfulness, Meditation, and Presence – and blend it together with my health and wellness goals to make a new theme.

Therefore, my theme for February 2020 is going to be Mindfulness + Wellness. Here are the resolutions I’ve come up with so far:

1. Attend 2 AA meetings every week. (Aim for three; don’t allow less than two.)

2. Meditate every morning.

3. Dock my phone AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE – limited screen time.

4. Plan adventures. (More on this soon.)

5. Take baby steps (atomic habits) toward improving my sleep hygiene.

6. Stop worrying about eating healthy and limiting caffeine; I seem to do better in this area when I’m not stressing about it.

May this February be heart-shaped and lovely. Let’s do this.

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