The Passion Planner made its way to me like most really good things do: by word of mouth. Read More »
Not long ago, I started knitting a shawl. It’s the ugliest thing I own, and I love it.Read More »
So much of what I find myself doing and not doing revolves around fear. I’m not talking about the healthy keep-you-from-getting-run-over fear that keeps you from walking in the middle of traffic or jumping off of cliffs. I’m talking about the tiny gnawing fears: what will they think of me? Who will find out? What are they going to say?
It’s been a full two weeks since my last post. In that time, so many things in my life have changed. My car went in for and out of the repair shop. My husband and I started looking for, found, and offered money for (that was accepted, yay!) a little house of our own. He and I also started a new vegan lifestyle that has changed the way we look at our eating habits and how we cook.
During this time, I started taking the bus to work. Turns out Nashville has a regular, well-run, clean and fast mass-transit (bus) system! Taking the bus meant that I either had to get out of bed earlier, get to work later, or lose a lot of my me-time in the middle.
You’ve heard this story before: it’s like If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, but with your needs. If you don’t have a car, you have to take the bus. If you take the bus, you have to make time to walk to the stop. If you walk to the stop, you have to cut out meditation. If you cut out meditation, you start to feel icky. If you start to feel icky, you have to be on guard for self-medicating behavior.
I was lucky to stay on a semi-schedule because I have to get up for work, and I have a wonderful, supportive husband who is willing to help me stay on track. I also was able to take a few minutes to meditate while walking to the bus or driving home from work when I borrowed the car.
What I have been missing is my morning routine of journal, yoga, meditation that has kept me so grounded for the past few months. The struggle to stay balanced and happy not only depends on the things you do, but how you view the struggles you’re presented with.
So, how do you stay focused on staying well in the middle of upheaval? What do you focus on (or ignore!)? Let me know in the comments!
My husband and I are both middle children of highly intelligent and motivated parents. We are both in our early thirties and in our second (or third!) careers. We love to learn and to work, and we’re protective of our free time. In addition, we tend to over-commit ourselves. We go to meetups and groups and classes, and all of this is after our normal work day has ended. This may make us early-Millennial generation poster children, or it just may make us products of our culture and upbringings (are those the same things?).
Well before we got married, Hubs and I were already working toward common goals. We’ve always worked pretty well as a team, which is one of the reasons we work so well in our relationship. Back in our first year living together, we decided to make fitness a priority and ran a half-marathon six months later. We decided to make careers our priority, and we’ve now moved from jobs that weren’t making us entirely happy into more lucrative and fulfilling positions. And gosh-darnit, we put on a wedding. Want to test a relationship? Plan a wedding together.
So now that all the honeymoon stars in our eyes are clearing, and we’re actually planning on taking a honeymoon, we’ve started a Honey-do list. This keeps us responsible for our own tasks and gives each of us a sense of ownership over our household duties. And, we’re using the Kanban technique and Trello app I referenced in my earlier Little Bits of Happiness post.
Here’s a screenshot of our Honey-do board on Trello. This is what we use to track the household chores we need to do, what we are doing, what is blocked, and how we celebrate what has been done! We pull from the “Parking Lot” on our Monday night meeting. We have a full week to get through all that week’s tasks (or not) and then we celebrate and discuss our issues on the next Monday night meeting.
It’s been working pretty well! I have not done the worms (harvested the worm compost) or cleaned the floors this week (I also need to charge my phone!), but that’s for tonight.
I also assume that once we start doing big-kid things like buying a house or procreating, that Parking Lot list will be a lot longer. For now, we’re just getting used to the idea, but the weekly meeting and the board are great motivators.
What do you to keep yourself motivated for all of that extra stuff?
Mindfulness is a big trend amongst the happiness gurus lately, and for good reason. Our lives have become so busy that we tend to multi-task everything. We drive while talking on the phone, email while composing tweets, watch TV while checking our Pinterest and Facebook and watching the kids and helping with homework and cooking dinner. All of this doesn’t make us stronger, but in fact drains attention away from each task.
Add in the constant narration of anxiety and worry that some of us have running through our heads, and there’s hardly any rational space left. This can lead to those spiraling negative thoughts while cleaning the pots and pans (one of my personal traps), vacuuming the floors or mowing the lawn. I find that my brain goes out of control when I perform a repetitive task that involves silence or white noise.
In order to combat this brain-drain, we have to train ourselves to concentrate on a single task or thought. On-the-mat meditation helps, but the practice of mindfulness in situ is also useful.
Mindfulness is simply the awareness of your current task to the exclusion of all others.
One easy mindfulness exercise is to practice mindful walking. This can be done just standing up from your desk to go to the bathroom; you don’t need to spend a long time practicing this. Here are some directions:
1. While still sitting in your chair, put your feet flat on the floor. Feel your feet in your shoes, the shoes on the floor, your seat in the chair, your back resting in the chair.
2. Prepare to stand by placing your hands on the arms of your chair (if you have them) or the seat of the chair next to your bum. Feel the ground in the 4 corners of your feet and down through the palms of your hand. Try not to lock out your elbows, as you will need to push up out of the chair (and it’s just bad for your joints).
3. Push up to a standing position, slowly enough to feel your joints and muscles stretch. Feel your bones take your weight, move the weight of your body through your feet and balance yourself into all 4 corners of your feet. Stretch up to the ceiling if you need to now.
4. Letting your arms hang naturally by your side, pick up a foot, and begin walking. It may feel strange at first, to notice how you walk. Do you put your heel down first, or your toes? When does your back heel come up in relation to your front foot going down? How do your arms swing?
5. Don’t forget to breathe! Keep walking and feeling your feet moving. Feel how your leg bones work together with your abdominal muscles and your arms and all the muscles in your body.
As always, start slowly. You will want to only try this for a few minutes at first. But as you get better, transfer this ability to other tasks. I love to use this method while gardening, as it helps me to feel connected to the earth. When have you used mindfulness in your life?
We all need a little bit of happiness in our life. I try to take my happiness as it comes: a breeze on a hot day, the way the leaves look in the wind, a flower growing in an unexpected place. Sometimes the greatest happiness can come from making your life and your surroundings beautiful.
It’s easy in this Insta-Pinter-Vega-Hipsta-Techno life to get caught up in the look of simplicity and beauty while really over-complicating our lives, but here are a few Little Bits of Happiness that I’d like to share. These are beautiful and thought-provoking things that help to get me through the day. I have in no way been compensated for endorsing any of them! All of these are my own opinions. But, if someone would like to give me a load of cash, I wouldn’t turn it down.
designlovefest: Beautiful lifestyle blog with amazing free backgrounds for your computer under the “Dress Your Tech” section. Oh la la!
design-seeds: “For all who love color” but really, I just love the plants. The daily curation of colors will inspire you to re-do every room in your house, and the flowers will make you want to run off and be a florist.
phickle: I’ve recently started fermenting, and it’s so delicious and easy that it’s really hard to stop! So far I’ve made pickles, sauerkraut, rubenkraut (from turnips), pickled radishes, and started my own kombucha from scratch. This site gives great tips and tricks, and the pictures are mouth-watering!
ChakraChime: I use this one almost daily for my 5-30 minute meditation (some days you just have more time than others!). The UX is great, the set-up is easy, and I love ending my morning sit with a chime or the sound of a monk’s bowl, rather than a phone alarm.
Trello: This is a to-do list and productivity app that uses the Kanban method for organizing tasks into assigned, doing, and done. You don’t have to know a lot about Kanban to use Trello, and you don’t have to know a lot about Trello for it to improve your life. We used it to organize wedding tasks (and our sanity) and now we use it to organize our household honey-do list.
LastPass: This password storage program is a total lifesaver. First of all, it generates strong passwords (a must) and then saves them to an app/extension/your computer for easy retrieval.
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin We’re all fighting to make our lives better and happier, but this woman made a plan and spent an entire year working towards happiness. More of a how-to than a story, this (cook?)book for happiness is full of fantastic tips. You should also check out the blog that grew from her several books, gretchenrubin.com for a daily dose.
Brain Pickings I am not one for deep philosophical preaching, but this blog will give you short doses of deep thought. It’s just enough to tide you over through the weekend, and maybe to bring you a little happiness in your life.
So those are my picks for this week. What brings a little bit of happiness your life? Anything that makes your worries smaller, your life more centered, your day more simple?