goals · writing

Immersed In The World Of Writing

One of my goals is to become immersed in the world of writing. At least, as immersed as I can be in my current circumstances.

There’s a bulletin board that hangs on the wall beside my bed. Not much is pinned there – a few inspiring quotes, and then these three pieces of paper that I created during a group therapy session I led a few months ago. Three pieces of paper – three words, one written on each one. The words? Family, service, and writing.

When I zero in on what my priorities are, it’s these three things: my family, service to others, and writing. I am hopeful that, with my new job and my new schedule, it will be possible for every moment of my life to be in pursuit of these three priorities.

Now, my instinct, as always, is to write out a detailed plan for how I can stay immersed – how I can be connected to my writing pursuits at all times. 1. Listen to writing podcasts. 2. Read books about writing. 3. Use non-writing time – like time walking the dog – to think about specific pieces of writing. However – one thing that recovery has shown me is that things work out way better for me when I let go rather than when I tighten up and try to meticulously plan out every minute of my life.

So, my aim has been to let go a little. I now have more time to write than I’ve had in years, and that’s great. I don’t need to beat myself up for WHAT I decide to write at any given moment in time. Some days, I’ll show up to my computer, and I’ll start typing out blog posts; some days, I’ll want to visit my novel or a short story. If there’s ever a need for concentration in one area, it will arise naturally; for now, I have the freedom to write the thing that feels best in the present.

I only have a certain amount of time to write. But I want to devote as much of my non-writing time as possible to runway work – time to prep for the moments when I can finally sit down and put words on the blank page. I can feel it happening already – I’ll start pondering a potential blog post while I’m out on the trail running, or I’ll make a note when I’m reading of an interesting plot point an author has used.

Ever since my sabbatical started, I have a feeling of lightness in my heart that I haven’t had in years. I’m excited to see where the lightness takes me. For now – my butt’s in the chair, and I’ll be here, typing away.

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balance · goals

What I Wanted

A few months ago, I drafted a blog post called “What I Want: A Living Document.” I never had any intention of publishing this post. I started it because I was desperately trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my work and my life.

Becoming a parent really changed the way I think about work. I’ve always known that it’s really important to me to like my job, and to feel inspired and motivated by my work. But my patience level for my work life decreased significantly once I became a mother. My guess is that this happened because I utilize a lot of patience and energy in parenting and now have way less patience for the trials and tribulations of work life.

One of the reasons why I started making a list of What I Want is because what I want has been constantly changing throughout the past year.  I’ve really been lacking clarity about my goals, and I find that so unsettling. I like to feel sure about what I want – when I feel indecisive or unsure, I feel lost.

I wrote this little list over a year a go: Things I want to be – A writer. A therapist for children. A farmer. A mommy. A wife. Peaceful. Loving. Kind. Healthy. Strong. Graceful. Faith-full. Mindful. Sometimes I just like to look at these words. There are times when I am all of these things, and there are times when some of them feel so far off from what I am in the moment.

Now that I am getting a fresh start, with a new job as a school social worker at a local public school, I am wondering if I got everything that was on my list. (SPOILER ALERT: I didn’t. But I’m still really excited about everything that I’m getting that was on my list!)

1. I want to learn more about meditation and mindfulness. YES. I can definitely do this at my new job! I’m going to be working with middle school students, who would TOTALLY benefit from this kind of intervention.

2. I want to live closer to where I work. YES! My new job is about 20 minutes from home, which is half my current commute.  WINNER.

3. I would like a school job, with summers free.  OMG YES. So happy and grateful that this one worked out.

4. I want a job that enables me to love and serve the world in the best way I can. I think so? I hope so. But I’ll have to start to know for sure.

5. I want my WHOLE life to be an honest representation of who I am.  I want everything in my life to connect, to be aligned – my job, my writing, the farm, and my family. I don’t know about this one. My fingers are crossed!

6. I want to do crisis intervention work AND/OR grief and loss work with children and young adults. I am pretty sure this will be part of my job, though I guess I’ll have to start to see for sure.

7. I want to feel good about going to work every day, especially on Monday mornings. I REALLY HOPE THAT THIS ONE IS TRUE FOR MY NEW JOB. Usually, the thing that gets me out of bed is feeling useful and connected to the children I am helping, so there is a high likelihood that this one will work out.

8. I want a job that is less mainstream – a little more counterculture. NOPE. Working at a public school is pretty mainstream.

9. I enjoy being a leader, and supervising young social workers. NO. But that’s okay! There will be time for that later.

10. I want to feel free to be my authentic self, at home and at work. Maybe? I think some of this is up to me. I’ll write more on that in the fall!

12. I want to learn more about personality work (Myers Briggs et al). Maybe! I think I can probably incorporate this into my work if I want to, which I definitely do, since I am a major personality type dork.

13. I like helping other people think about what they want to do for work and for life. I think when I wrote this, I was thinking of working with young social workers. But if I apply this to working with young adults, then I am absolutely getting that, too.

Wow – I feel like I got so, so close to exactly what I wanted! And, the bottom line is – what I do for my day job isn’t even the point.

All these months, while I have really thought about what I wanted, what I wanted came down to this: I want time to be with Edgar and Tamara, and I want time to write. If I  could snap my fingers right now and make a professional dream come true, it would have nothing to do with a job as a social worker. My professional dream would be about writing fiction and being paid to do it.

And this new job, with summers free and a manageable daily schedule, will give me exactly that. I am so, so grateful.

balance · goals

Summer Sabbatical

Today is the first day of my Summer Sabbatical, and it feels awesome.

I’m starting a new job in late August, and my last day at my old job was yesterday. It feels like a giant weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. After daydreaming about a new job, one that is a better fit for my family, my lifestyle, and my goals, for months and months, I have found a new job.

AND – I am taking over a month off from working. A little break. A vacation. A mini-sabbatical from the grind of work life. I’m thinking of it as my Summer Sabbatical. It will be a time to rest, to reflect, to recharge my batteries. A chance to reset my system and to get myself ready for a wonderful fresh start.

Wow. I feel amazing. I can feel my body start to tense up at times, as if I’m clenching, waiting for anxious thoughts about work tasks and job hunting to come – and then I remember that those anxious thoughts no longer apply to my situation, and I relax and come back to the present.

WOW.

Now that I am getting exactly what I’ve wanted – new job, great schedule, six weeks off – I have a tiny little anxious thought. It’s nothing like the constant work-slash-job-hunting anxiety that’s plagued me for the past few months, but it’s there – this tiny little fear.

Because, if I now have everything I need to take some big steps toward my goals – WHAT IF I DON’T SUCCEED?

I am mostly excited, that’s for sure. But I also feel a strong sense of purpose. I want to use my mini-sabbatical time to achieve my goals. I don’t want to allow laziness, fear, or anxiety to keep me from doing what I want to do.

These are my big, lofty goals for my sabbatical:

  1. Finish my freelance writing course.
  2. Take care of EVERY SINGLE ITEM on my TTD list so that I can have a fresh start.
  3. Create a system for getting tasks accomplished and managing my TTD list (including general household maintenance) all year long.
  4. (This one is connected to #3.) Start setting aside some Sunday planning time – a little date with your planner to look at the week ahead and make sure that tasks/writing/running/meditation/etc are going to get done.
  5. Kick my caffeine/sugar habit.
  6. Exercise a LOT and form a GOOD exercise routine, one that I can maintain once the new job starts.
  7. WRITE. I am hesitant to set specific goals here. I might try to meet a certain word count whenever I sit down to write. I’d like to stick to my “write a draft of your novel by the end of the year goal,” but I’m  not feeling confident about which novel to write. I’d like to set up a regular writing routine, one that I can maintain once the new job starts. But really – this goal is just to WRITE and to ENJOY WRITING.

That’s it, for now. Seven goals. Seven goals that are more about creating routines for how I want to live than crossing things off of a bucket list.

This time is a gift. It’s partly a gift from the universe, and it’s partly a gift that I’m giving myself. I am so, so grateful.

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anxiety · goals · self-care

Funcertainty

Lately, I’ve been contemplating my relationship with uncertainty.

I am not a fan.

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In fact, I wrestle with uncertainty. I sometimes will make a crappy decision – one that I don’t feel good about – just so that things can be decided. Certain. Over and done with.

It’s not a good way to be, especially in a life that is filled with uncertainties, good and bad, nerve-wracking and wonderful.

Usually when I am wrestling with uncertainty, it’s because I am imagining the worst possible outcome occurring. This is funny, because if you ask me if I’m an optimist or a pessimist, I’ll say, without hesitation, that I’m an optimist. I believe that most things work out for the best. AND, more importantly, I believe that I am a happier and better version of myself when I believe that most things work out for the best.

That’s the theory. In actuality, I am a worrier, and I often worry excessively about outcomes. Much as I try to just do the next right thing and not get too attached to what comes out of it, I can almost always feel myself angsting about what will be.

I don’t think I was like this as a kid; my mom would know better than me, I bet. But I don’t remember being an anxious child, although it’s possible I was underneath and that it just manifested in different ways.

For me, I think the first time I was really anxious about uncertainty was when I was 21 years old. My dad had died six months ago, and I’d just moved overseas to Barcelona with a few college friends. I was taking a course, becoming certified to teach English as a second language, and the course was nearing the end.

Which meant I needed to find a job. In order to pay my rent.

PANIC.

It was so much easier dealing with uncertainty as a child, and as a college student. Very little was at stake, and, thanks to my parents, I had a secure and comforting safety net. (Though I don’t think I was consciously aware of it at the time.) But sitting in my tiny Barcelona apartment, facing the panic of the unknown – I felt an uneasiness that I’d never felt before.

I often wonder if this was related to recently losing my father. Would I have become quite so overwhelmed if I wasn’t right there in the middle of my grief? I’ll never really know. I mean, of course they were related – my grief and my panic, my panic and my grief. And of course, also, they had nothing to do with each other. It’s always both/and. Everything is its own thing, and also everything is connected.

This is basically a big lead-up into the title of this post, FUNCERTAINTY, which is a concept that I possibly made up and might mean nothing to anyone but me. But bear with me.

The reason why I angst about uncertainty is that I ask myself and the universe this question: What if everything falls apart and is terrible?

So – if I want to feel less uncomfortable with uncertainty – can I re-train myself to ask a different question?

Such as: WHAT IF EVERYTHING IS MORE AWESOME THAN I EVER THOUGHT WAS POSSIBLE?

 

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http://www.amelix.co.uk/awesome-week/

 

Seriously. What if everything turns out awesome?

This possibility usually does not even occur to me. When I was younger, I daydreamed about amazing things happening to me and for me and around me. But that’s been harder for me to do recently. I’m not old, but I’m also not 18 anymore. Daydreaming is way different these days.

WHAT IF EVERYTHING TURNS OUT AWESOME? What if I achieve all my personal goals, all my career goals, all my travel goals, all my financial goals, all my family goals, and also do a whole bunch of awesome stuff that hasn’t even crossed my mind?

I have no idea what’s coming next in life – when Our Second Baby will come home, when I’ll identify a clear career goal, when we’ll find a farm to buy. But I like the idea of trying to switch things around on myself – imagining awesome things happening instead of worrying about things that may suck.

FUNCERTAINTY. Same exact situation as UNCERTAINTY – but with a more hopeful state of mind and an openness to the possibility of good things happening.

I like it.

 

goals · meditation · self-care · writing

2018 #heartsoulmindspirit

I really love New Year’s Day.  It lines up nicely with my enjoyment of fresh starts and blank pages.

I enjoy setting intentions for the new year, and I enjoy reflecting on the year that’s just ended.  The year I just finished was just like every year before – moments of sweetness and moments of sorrow, lots of joy and stress, all mixed together.

My favorite thing about 2017 was mommying a toddler.  Teddy started crawling on Valentine’s Day, and it’s been really fun ever since.  I love the everyday joys of parenting a toddler – so much to teach, so much to discover, so much joy and laughter and personality.

My least favorite thing was all the ANGST – mostly over the direction of my professional career.  I’m still at a crossroads, not sure which path to take next.  I’m sick of thinking about it.  I’m also sick of how stressed and anxious and ANGSTY I get when I’m thinking about it.

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Here are a few of my intentions for 2018:

-Meditate.  This doesn’t always have to be the kind when I sit quietly in one place, though I do enjoy that kind.  For example, yesterday I swam laps for the first time in years, and it was the most meditative thirty minutes of my week.

During 2017, one of my wise and gentle helpers suggested that it’s my anxiety, rather than any specific problem, that really gets in the way of my happiness and peace.  I’d like to take this seriously in 2018 and make a commitment to calming my monkey mind.

-Keep writing.  The OTHER best thing about 2017 has been my commitment to writing.  I submitted THREE stories for publication – all rejected, as far as I know at this point.  But I wrote them, and I sent them out into the world, which is something I’ve been wanting to do for over a decade.

When I’m overthinking, I worry that it’s too late for me to have a writing career.  There’s a wonderful advice column piece from Roxane Gay in the New York Times explaining that this is not the case.

-Choose self-care over angst.

I found this post-it note stuck in my latest Louise Penny library book this week:

I decided that this was the universe telling me to let go of my angsting.  Angst has not been my friend.  It was not my friend during the adoption wait.  It was not my friend during 2017, as I struggled to figure out what to do next with my career.

I often get tripped up by justifiable angst.  It’s perfectly understandable that the adoption wait was upsetting, right?  And it’s perfectly reasonable that I feel upset and stressed when my job is not a good fit.

However, my angst is no less awful when it’s caused by real things.  So I need to let that stuff go.  Every single last lime and kiwi – in the trash can of 2017, no longer getting in my way in 2018.

I made a decision this fall that. whenever I feel disturbed, I need to do something nice for myself or an act of service to someone else.  Hence, this intention – self-care over angst FTW.

-Be intentional.   Make your choices carefully and mindfully.  Spend less.  Do less, with more purpose.  Shop less, and when you do it, shop local.  Use every moment you have; don’t lose them to mindless activities.

Tee sent me an article by Ann Patchett to read called “My Year of No Shopping.”  That’s part of what inspired this intention – thinking about how often I mindlessly spend money, or order things on Amazon instead of making more satisfying purchases that support local small businesses.  Or, not making purchases at all.

I’d like to continue my quest to keep things simple in 2018.  Simple, sweet, and significant.

What’s your intention?

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goals

Be More Awesome: My Intentions For 2016 #heart #soul

I love my birthday.

A birthday is a time to reflect and to set intentions for yourself.  Every year, no matter where I am, I try to spend a little of my birthday curled up in a coffee shop with a journal, a planner, a book, and Tee.  My birthday is the day after Christmas and a few days before the New Year starts, so this time of year is chock full of moments of reflection for me.

This year, there are a few different intentions I’ve set for myself for the year 2016 and my 34th year.

With the hope of making these resolutions abstract enough to really embrace them as well as specific enough to make them measurable, I have chosen a big picture resolution as well as one or two distinct objectives to go along with it.1012536_972659872806777_4646776751665399893_n

  • Be more present.  Do one thing at a time fully.  (Less multi-tasking and less background noise.)
    • Listen well.  (I strive to be a better listener.)
  • Be more connected.  Write letters and cards.
    • Plan visits.
  • Be more honest.Be impeccable with your word.  (I get extremely stressed by white lies and half-truths.)
  • Observe a nightly ritual.  Go to bed a little later.  (You’re a grown-up.  Maybe ten?)
    • No screen time after nine.
    • Have some winding down time – drinking tea, brushing your teeth, and washing your face.
    • Go to bed without television or headphones.

It’s already after nine tonight, so this will clearly not be observed until tomorrow.

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