balance · self-care

Three Cheers For Fresh Starts

I love fresh starts. This is a good thing – but it’s also something I have to be mindful about as I make decisions about my life.

I like fresh starts because I like being able to start with a blank slate. I like to use a fresh start as an opportunity to form new habits. I like fresh starts because I enjoy growth and novelty.  I like meeting new people, and I like the optimism and energy I feel when I’m getting ready to start something new.

HOWEVER.

Sometimes, I love fresh starts so much that I would rather start something brand-new than make adjustments to my current situation.  Sometimes, I love fresh starts so much that I want to throw away something that really only needs some repairs so that I can buy something new.  Sometimes, I want a fresh start because I want everything to be perfect, because I believe that perfection is attainable and I think that if I have a new opportunity to start fresh, then I will be able to make everything perfect.

See? There’s some benefit, but there’s also a lot I need to be aware of. Because I don’t want to pull the trigger and engage in a fresh start when it’s not the right thing to do.

I had to wrestle with this a lot over the course of the past year while I was looking for a new job. I was pretty desperate to find a job that was a better fit, and I also really wanted a chance for a blank slate somewhere new. I had to seek out opportunities but remain patient until the right opportunity presented itself. That was really difficult.

Now that I have my fresh start, I’m excited to have the blank slate I was hoping for – a chance to form new habits and to set some work-related intentions.

These are the intentions I’d like to set for my new job:

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  1. Work hard. When I feel engaged and committed, I am an extremely hard worker. I am hoping that my new position will line up well with my strengths so that I can work hard and well.
  2. Be Kerriann. It can be really hard to remember this at work. There are so many expectations placed on me – placed on all of us, I imagine! I am often expected to know the answers, to be an ‘expert.’ But my field is mental health – a field that is full of nuance and ambiguity. Every single situation is different. I’d like to start out at this new job being honest and real – I’d like to be me rather than trying to be the perfect and all-knowing mental health professional.
  3. Be honest. It’s not that I lie at work – but I do get caught up in people-pleasing and chit-chat in ways that don’t feel authentic and honest. I want to be honest about who I am, what I know, what I do, and how I live.
  4. Don’t carry what is not yours to carry. This is something I do. If someone else is upset, I get upset. If someone is stressed, I get stressed. I don’t do this with clients, but I definitely do it with co-workers and with the parents of clients. And I’d like to use this fresh start as a time to change this habit. The only things I need to carry on my shoulders are my own worries and Edgar’s worries;everything else is for others to carry themselves.

Cheers to new jobs and fresh starts!

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balance · writing

Wow

For months, I’ve been dreaming about taking a break from work – having some time to rest, to recuperate, to reset, to recharge.

Even though I am two days into my Summer Sabbatical, I still can’t believe it’s really happened. I am on vacation. I’m resting. I’m recuperating.

The last four years of my life have been exhausting. Wonderful, at times – but exhausting. There were two years of the adoption wait, and then two years of caring for Edgar and learning how to be a parent. And, for the last two and a half years, my work life has been a source of stress – and I am not very good at compartmentalizing. When work is draining, life is draining; when work is stressful, I can feel myself experiencing a low level of stress all weekend long.

And then – today. Today was incredible. I dropped Edgar off at school – I went for a four-mile run – I ran several errands – and then I came home, and I have spent the entire afternoon focused on writing. I’ve written blog posts. I’ve organized some of my fiction writing in Google docs. I’ve sorted through drafts of short stories, figuring out what I want to work on first and next.

I haven’t had this kind of uninterrupted time in what feels like forever. I feel like I have time to get organized, to actually contemplate what I want to write about, and why, and when. I keep waiting for the stress of job hunting and work to creep back into my body, but then I remember that I am really, truly on vacation from my work life, and I say a little prayer of gratitude.

People keep asking me what I’m going to do with my time off. Sometimes I give them the small-talk-chit-chat version – “oh, this and that, nothing big” – and sometimes I share the honest truth: “I have wanted to be a writer for my entire life, and I’m hoping to use this break to set myself up so that this lifelong dream can come true.” (It’s not predictable which of these versions will come out. Really just depends on my mood, my state of mind, and my bravery at that particular moment.)

It’s definitely going to take practice. I can feel myself being pulled in different directions. Right now, I keep thinking that I should get up and do the dishes. And then my better self gently reminds me: You did not quit your job so you could be more prompt about doing the dishes. 

I am so grateful for this day, and for this summer. I am so happy to be taking care of myself and taking baby steps toward my creative goals.

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balance · mindfulness

Mindful Check-In #How’sMyBalance?

My last check-in was JULY 31, 2017.  That was a long time ago!  I have a feeling the last six months of my 2017 were pretty balanced, as my not-at-all-scientific method will probably show.  Let’s see!

Since my last check-in, I have written:

  • 13 posts about nourishing my #heart by spending time with family and friends;
  • 12 posts about nourishing my #soul by spending quiet time reflecting and recharging;
  • 16 posts about nourishing my #mind by reading, writing, and engaging in other activities that educate me or exercise my brain muscles;
  • 5 posts about nourishing my #body by exercising, eating healthy food, and taking steps to take care of my physical being;
  • and, last but not least, 5 posts about nourishing my #spirit by learning or doing new things.

Here are my thoughts on this:

  • I feel pretty balanced recently.  I’ve been doing my best to make time with family and friends a priority, and to make plans for fun things to do as a family and with our friends.
  • never write as much about #body as the other aspects of self.  I’ve never been the person who posts about physical accomplishments on social media or anything like that.  There’s nothing wrong with posts like that, at all – just not my thing.  However, I think that writing less about #body also has to do with my exercise routine sometimes being monotonous.  I’m actually in the middle of a drafted post about one of my new exercise routines, which is nostalgic and exciting – soon to be posted.
  • I expect that my #spirit posts will increase during the early months of 2018.  Tee and I have some fun plans – nothing wild and crazy, just little adventures to have, places to visit, things to do.

I feel excited and energized to be blogging again after my accidental two-month-long hiatus.  Already published seven new posts in 2018 – five more posts until 300!

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blogging · books + reading · snapshots · writing

SNAPSHOT #mind #soul #spirit

The pretext of my blogging is that I write about balance – about ways that I nourish my heart, my soul, my mind, my body, and my spirit.

Every once in a while, I find myself with a scattering of thoughts I want to share, and I include a snapshot – just a little list of ways that I’m nourishing each aspect of self.  These lists help me to feel grounded and less scattered.  They’re also a good reminder of what I am nourishing and what I’m neglecting.

Here’s today’s snapshot:

-I am on a crazy Book Binge right now!  It started with Glennon Doyle’s two books, followed by Roxane Gay’s Hunger (incredible), and then Before The Fall by Noah Hawley (so good).  I just finished one of my Book Of The Month Club books, The Love Interest, and have moved on to No One Knows by J. T. Ellison.  #mind

-In early June, I spent several days my commute listening to Brene Brown’s latest CD, Rising Strong as a Spiritual Practice.  She is amazing.  The CD is amazing.  My number one takeaway was this: you have to recognize when something – a conflict, a resentment – has you hooked.  You have to make a note when something has gotten under your skin, and get curious about it.  #mind #soul

-I am trying something new: posting a quote-slash-picture on my heartsoulmindbody Facebook page every day.  I really don’t know why I decided to do this, but I’m enjoying it.  It’s almost like a little daily check-in or prayer; the quote reveals itself when the time is right, and I put it out in the universe.  I have maybe three followers on the heartsoulmindbody Facebook page (you can follow here if you want), so it’s not really about connecting or publicizing.  It’s just a little message from me to the universe, or from the universe to me.  #soul

-I wrote a story!  It’s been a really long time since I finished a short story, and I have felt wonderful ever since the idea for their story popped into my head.  It is flawed and needs editing, and it will never be perfect.  But I wrote it, and I’m so, so grateful.  #mind #soul

balance

A Day Off #heartsoulmindbody

It’s a snow day!  One of the great joys of working at a school.dreamstime_s_46944809-300x300

This impromptu day off was badly needed.  I’ve been feeling really stressed and overwhelmed at work.  This morning has been full of playtime with Teddy, sledding fun, reruns of Parks and Rec, coffee, writing, and puttering around.  Blissful.  Perfect.

I’ve had spring break on my mind lately.  It’s weeks away, but it’s going to be amazing to have a few days at home with Teddy and Tee.

Daydreaming about vacation and enjoying snow days is fine.  But, here’s my question: how do I arrange my life so that I don’t need a vacation from it?

Sigh.  Sigh.  Sigh.

I’m on the hunt for a new job, and it’s been a pretty all-consuming process.  Sometimes when you’re looking for a job, that’s a full-time job all by itself.  I’ve been really stressed, trying to find a job that pays well and will enable me to have the work life and the home life I want, and then also struggling to get through my days at my not-a-great-fit-anymore current job.  Today I am pressing the pause button on the job search and I have a plan to make a change in my workplace by June – three months away.  Not too bad.  Three months until a fresh start – a better fit.

But I think it may still be a few years before I find an even better fit – a job that pays me the money my family needs without draining me of my spirit repeatedly.  A job from which -MAYBE? – I wouldn’t need a vacation.

So the question for the present moment is: How do I, in my current circumstances, build a life from which I don’t need a vacation?

Here’s what I’ve come up with:0f2256a5417471d3a728c1c79f495a06

  1. Maintain a healthy work-life balance, however I possibly can, no matter what.
  2. Look for a new job in an interested-but-not-obsessive manner.
  3. Be vigilant about self-care.  Run in the morning, write, read, pray, meditate.  When you’re stressed and overwhelmed, self-care is critical.
  4. Take short regular mindfulness breaks throughout the work day.  Breathe.  Pray. Text someone who can help you set your mind at ease.
  5. “Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit.  Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”  Inner peace, dude – you gotta have inner peace.

 

 

balance

Recalibrating #body

playful + peaceful

I keep alluding to the fact that we’ve had a big change in our lives recently.

I’m not trCartoon teddy bear clipartying to be vague or coy.  I just don’t have the words to describe the elation and the relief and the joy that we feel at the addition of this amazing, wonderful, two-month-old teddy bear to our family.

Someday (maybe?) I’ll write a blog post summarizing the events of this summer and the subsequent jubilee Tee and I have been experiencing.

But for now, I’d like to talk about how to get back into a good routine for #body nourishment now that all my workouts now include ten pounds of baby goodness.

Lucky for us, the NCR Trail is literally right outside our front door.  So Teddy and I frequently take mid-day walks on the trail, which is awesome.  However – I’ve been really slacking on running.

Today, I decided to…

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balance · mindfulness

#soul #mind

A few months ago, I set some heartsoulmindbody goals when I was neglecting my #soul quadrant.

-Attend a training in mindfulness-based stress reduction.

-Take an online writing class.

-Finish the self-compassion workshop I started on Brene Brown’s Courage Works website.

I am crushing it.

Today I attended a PESI training in MBSR and I loved it; it’s a two-day training, so I get to go tomorrow, too.  I’ve been journalling in an MBSR workbook and Tee and I did a mindful check-in just now.  I think this technique could be a touchstone for me – a central tool for my personal and professional growth.

I am signed up for a course in advanced fiction writing at Harford Community College beginning on March 15th.

AND today I re-committed to completing the self-compassion workshop.  I need it!  And the biggest barrier has been slow internet at home.  But today (and most work days), I was in a building with great internet.  So I watched some kickass self-compassion videos during my lunch break.  (#socialworkdork)

The workbook I’m using has exercises and text interspersed with bits of poetry.  Like this one by Mary Oliver.  Love.

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