A Life that Loves You

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This saying popped into my head as I was writing a note to my niece about how proud I was of her going for her dreams. Sometimes it takes some swerves and curves to figure out what our dreams are. Sometimes they change or are fulfilled, so we wonder what’s next.

A great deal of my life is influenced by my purpose what drives and fulfills me. When I thought about how I lived my life, I asked myself if I’m living my life in a way that is loving to myself, that is good for me, and is supporting my purpose and dreams.

Those are big questions to ask, and I don’t think it can be a yes or no answer or black and white. So what does living a life that loves you mean to me?

  1. Fueling my body properly: What I put into my body has a direct correlation to how I physically feel, how creative I am, and how much energy I have. I’m really good when I plan out meals and have good food on hand. I’m an emotional eater, so when life isn’t loving me so much, I don’t show myself love with food. I’ll reach for that chocolate bar or some type of comfort food. That may be fine once in a while, but instead of placing food that makes me feel crappy in my body, I ask how will this food show love to me. What kind of life do I want to live and does what I’m eating move me forward toward that life or pull me back?
  2. How I spend my time: I am a really good time waster. I can skirt around what I should be doing and not get anything done. When I finally sat down and journaled about why I did this, I realized I was prioritizing what I thought I should be doing instead of what fulfilled me or led toward living my dreams. I credit the change in how I spend my time on some deep soul searching and writing through why I’m here. How do I want to make an impact on the world and what is my purpose? After I was clear on my purpose and the fact that writing is my passion, I began to clear out what no longer served me. Don’t get me wrong. I still waste time, but I have clear goals that are stepping stones to my dreams.
  3. People in my life: Living the life that loves me also includes being surrounded by people who love me. It’s people who believe in me and vice versa. We lift each other up and celebrate our successes with true joy. I will have separation anxiety if I don’t see my tribe enough, so I plan gatherings, outings, and tribe dates. Spending quality time with my husband and son is equally important if not more so. I love being around people who accept me as I am.
  4. Get moving: Exercise has always been a part of my life. I remember waking up at 6am in high school and doing aerobics in the living room of my family home. My brother would scream at me in the basement because my pounding woke him up. Working out is my stress reliever. Bringing yoga into my life balanced out the physical and mental strengthening.
  5. Be where you are: I recently tore my ACL and will have surgery next week. This has changed my exercise regimen, but I’m doing what is best for my body as it is now. My injury has forced me to slow down and be fine with not pushing my body or my schedule where I don’t want it to go. Living the life that loves me right now means letting go of my expectations and doing what serves me best.

Living a life that loves you is an endless checks and balance. Checking in to see how life is feeling. And I mean that literally. We can move so fast that a whole month goes by, and we don’t remember what we did.

Take a moment to pause and answer this question in your journal–What does living a life that loves you mean? Physically, mentally, emotionally, financially. Feel free to use the headings I chose or create your own. What matters most is that you love yourself first,check in and begin again.

Slow it Down and Enjoy the Bloom

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Over the last few months and really the last three years, I have planted multiple seeds that I have wanted to grow for a very long time. Sometimes life throws us too much rain or tsunamis or earthquakes that force us to abandon our blooms for a bit. But once it happens, it’s very important to slow down and enjoy what you have worked so hard to grow.

In addition to being clear on what I want to grow, I have added daily intentions that I foster throughout the day to nourish my seeds. If you’d like some journaling techniques on growing your purpose, check out my previous blog titled: What is Blooming for You?¬†On day 10, my intention was Slow Down and Enjoy the Bloom. The week had been hectic and a few times I wanted to skip the intention process, finish one project, and jump into the next. There’s so much I want to bloom that I tend to rush. This intention process is showing me that I take on too much and don’t stop to appreciate the results of my hard work and nurturing.

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I met with my beta readers and my third manuscript in three years is heading toward the publishing process. It won’t be until the end of 2019, but because I have nurtured this dream, it is growing faster and more vibrant every year. I’m excited and grateful. It’s not done yet, but I slowed down, enjoyed talking with the students who will read the book, and learned from them.

What I love about these intentional words or phrases is that they are like rays of sunshine that remind me throughout the day what I want to focus on. Over the weekend it was Unselfish Me Time, which influenced my decision to get up early, journal to my boys, read, and enjoy the quiet time. This allows me to rejuvenate so that I can give to others and be fully present with my family when they arrived. On Easter Sunday, it was Family Love. It was quiet, but precious in that I spent valuable and quality time with my son and husband.

Throughout the day, I’ll check in so that I stay on track or write through any rough spots. My journal is my ‘pause place.’ I can take a break and reconnect with my purpose. At the end of the day, I take a couple minutes and write about my intention, my growth, whether the intention worked or didn’t. Why and what I can do differently tomorrow.

Use your journal as your personal guidance system. You’ll be amazed at how self-aware you become and you’ll foster your own ability to recharge, reconnect, and nurture yourself.

Give it a try and let me know how it works.

What is blooming for you?

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As the world outside comes back to life, the birds sing once again, and the sunshine sheds its light on the goodness around us, we know that hope is blooming.

Growth

–What is blooming for you? It could literally be flowers and vegetables, but it could also be something inside you that you want to grow. Or a project that you want to build. A change that has been bubbling all winter that you are ready to manifest. Maybe it’s within something you have no control over, but have to accept it into your life. If you aren’t sure, writing about possibilities will help the ideas take root.

Seeds

–Once you know what you want to grow, get specific. Here are some suggestions:

Personal–health, reducing stress, self-care, relaxation, exercise

Job stability or a new one–going back to school, getting a promotion, changing careers, retirement or what to do now that you have retired.

Simplicity–downsizing, decluttering, slowing down, spending time with who and what matters.

Rain

–In spring we often view rain as a hindrance to our ability to enjoy ourselves or the outside world. Rain is needed to nourish the earth so that flowers can grow, trees can bloom, birds can find worms to eat. Without the rain nothing would grow. April showers do bring May flowers, but we have to find the goodness in the dark clouds or setbacks that may affect what we want to grow.

–What do you see as rain in your life? What is the negative that you feel is preventing the growth, that you might have seen as a hindrance, but actually can help you bloom and nourish what you planted?

Sunshine

–What positive sunlight can you cast on your seeds to help them grow?

–What can you do to nourish yourself and what you are blooming?

–Shifting your perspective to seeing the good in very situation will make the harder parts of growth and change a bit easier.

Flowers

–Once those seeds sprout and you are growing what you planted, how will you feel? –What will it change or affect in your life?

–What does it look like? Describe it like you would a flower or plant.

Create a visual. It could be flowers with what you want to grow in the petals or a garden with the seeds noting what you want to bloom. It can be a quick reminder and motivator in our daily path to grow, heal, and become more aware of who we are. Writing in your journal helps to translate what you want on the page into your life.

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Visual example by Arthur Forest

Write about the process of what you are growing. Every moment of our growth or transition into spring, into change, into something different whether we want it or not needs to be a gentle movement. The more we ease into the moment, the easier the transition, the more we are aware of our intention and our potential.

 

 

March Month in Review

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Goals/Purpose: This may be on the of the first months where I accomplished most of my goals between the foundation and my publishing company. I think it was partly because I was going away at the end of the month and wanted to relax so worked extra hard, but also because I put less due in the month and broke it down.

In journaling class, Arthur said he has so much he wants to do and that can often make us not do anything. I can relate as I have so many writing projects. The main focus has been my middle grade series, The Puzzle Quests. Book three had to get to the editor. It didn’t get to my beta readers as I had wanted, but I built in time and I needed to let the book sit.

While it was with my editor, Karen Knowles, I worked on a draft of a picture book about my dog, Zoey, and my non-fiction table of contents for the book I’m writing on journaling. When my middle grade manuscript heads to the beta readers, I’ll shift focus to the pictures books, which is due in June. Learning to break down my goals within what I want to accomplish and grow based on my purpose has been key to getting so much done.

Mentally: I was edgy most of the month. I know it’s because I’m stirring things up and have been for a while. I have always listened to my gut (that innate intuition) that we tend to tamp down. I admit I have tamped it down for a long time, but now I’ve let it loose. It’s shifting my eye to writing, my goals within it, who I want to write for, and what I want to write.

Social/Me: March was wonderful socially. Family time. Stephen was home. A fabulous relaxing retreat in Sarasota with Karen filled with soul searching, writing, yoga, great food, and lounging. It was just what I needed.

It ended with a visit to Stephen and my first cousins who I hadn’t seen in a long time. I came full circle and April has me easing through the transitions March has begun.

 

Swerve

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I’ve been listening to Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming. She mentions how her best friend, Kevin, swerved from his path of becoming a doctor so he could be a team mascot. He enjoyed his time doing that and then became a doctor. This whole section has made me pause and ponder whether I ever swerved in my life. The other question that has been plaguing me is what it a Swerve and was it a necessary part of his path to make Kevin a doctor?

Michelle went straight to law school partly because of the applause she received from people when she told them of her career plans. She admitted that she has a need for approval and is a people pleaser. But she wasn’t happy. Maybe her Swerve was finding a fulfilling job that balanced her career and family life.

From the first time someone mentioned they wanted to be a lawyer when I was in high school, I chose that field. Instead of writing or being an English teacher, I majored in Political Science and History. The pride my family felt in me kept me on this path. I did change my major to English with a minor in Political Science during my undergrad years, but I went so far as to visit law schools and take the LSAT’s. But I wasn’t excited about it anymore. I was filled with worry when I told my mother I didn’t want to be a lawyer. She was fine with it, and so I continued on to get my master’s in English Literature.

I met my husband when I was 22 and was married at age 24. Had my first child at age 29. My second at age 31. Before children, I worked as a receptionist then at a bank in the facilities department. When I had my first son, Nick, I was determined to be at home to raise my children. I kept on a traditional path, but did I swerve?

I did and still write books. That’s my passion, my purpose. I don’t think it’s a Swerve.

What does it mean to Swerve? Is it doing something that you have always been afraid to do or is it trying something untraditional or outlandish or crazy? And who decides if it is crazy?

These questions have been plaguing me for myself and also for my son, Stephen. He is getting ready to graduate college. He will get a job, hopefully be able to support himself, and enjoy what he is doing. But what if he wants to Swerve? What would it be? I almost want to encourage him to Swerve. Take that year off and travel the world. Ride a motorcycle across the country. Move to another state and see what it’s like.

To me a Swerve is a calling that keeps beckoning you to do something that makes you feel alive, pushes you out of your comfort zone, and shocks even you. Who says your path has to be straight? Why not curve with a Swerve and venture into something or somewhere that you never thought you would?

So my big question is: What is my Swerve? What is calling me? Am I brave enough to take the chance? Is it that important? Well, yes it is, because I can’t get it out of my mind.

What about you? What is your Swerve? What have you wanted to do that you have stomped down because it’s not acceptable or timely or a financially sound decision?

Please share what Swerving means to you. I need some answers!

Be With What’s Present

Every moment is magical. Be present with it.

This morning I received an email to update my accounting software information. I clicked on my browser and FaceBook photos jumped out at me. I had to respond by clicking hearts, adding emojis, and typing comments. 30 minutes later, I couldn’t remember why I had gone to my browser. I bounced back to email only to see the reminder again to update my account.

Being present is so much more than being mindful of what you are doing in this exact moment. If I’m being perfectly present, I am aware of my fingers tapping over my keys, the blog post I’m writing, Zoey licking her chops behind me. But then I wonder why Zoey is licking her chops and crying. I’m completely distracted.

Long Pause…………………….

OK, I’m back. Zoey wanted a drink of water. Sarah just texted me. I responded. Now I’m back to being completely present with my post. I didn’t have to respond immediately to the text, but I heard the dinging, and it’s like I’m Pavlov’s dog and can’t think of anything else until I have answered. I multitask all day long thinking I’m being more productive and attentive.

But I bounce around so much, I’m not aware of what I’m doing, and my heart rate is rising because I have multiple balls in the air. I’m afraid I’m going to drop one and it will fall through the cracks.

Being present, which means mindfully being present right where you are and with what you are doing, turns off the sympathetic nerve or that fight or flight reaction you get when you have too many activities/stressors/fears happening at once. It doesn’t have to be a life or death situation for our body to think we are in danger. It can be bouncing back and forth between answering a text, responding to FaceBook, and hitting a deadline.

Every moment of our lives is magical, precious, and deserves our undivided attention. If I concentrate on what’s in front of me as if it’s in the palm of my hand and nothing else matters, I feel a sense of calmness and attention that I don’t have when I’m scattered in 2, 3, or 4 different places.

It’s a practice, and there are more times in my day that I’m jumping through the air saving falling babies, throwing in one more load of laundry, having a tea/coffee break with the hubby, and imagining the world of Dragonia all at the same time! When I’m in the moment right here, right now, I’m safe, clear in my purpose, and present.

Challenge yourself to be completely attentive to what you are doing or who you are talking to. Note the difference in your memory, your mind’s clarity, physical body, and productivity. Create your intention and be in that moment. Sometimes that’s all we can do, and it makes the biggest difference.

The Power of Pets

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Two weekends ago, Zoey and Dakota, my two rescue dogs went on an adventure. They traveled three hours to stay with my son, Stephen, while my husband and I went to Florida. The car was packed, because it also was Stephen’s 21st birthday. He loves the dogs and had been wanting to introduce them to his friends for a long time. It was a win-win situation, and his friends totally fell in love with both of them.

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Zoey settled right in, but Dakota was like a caged animal. He followed Stephen everywhere. They both loved roaming the streets of Providence, and they were a nice distraction for Stephen during our toughest part of October.

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Zoey and Dakota meeting college friends at a soccer game.

That’s the power of pets. For us it’s always been big dogs. They keep life in perspective, give you a reason to take a break and reset your day on a daily walk. I walk the dogs on most days after I have been sitting at my computer for a while. It’s like a walking meditation, and I can be in the moment with them.

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Chloe was my stand in for my dogs on our trip to Florida. She gave me lots of kisses!

I didn’t realize how much I missed my dogs until they weren’t at home when I was there. I kept thinking I would take them for a walk or sit with them and rub their bellies before bedtime. I didn’t have Dakota to warm my feet under my desk or let them out 20 times a day, because Zoey had to hunt for chipmunks (well that last one was a nice break!).

Pets can give us purpose, someone to take care of, and offer comfort and unconditional love. It’s a part of their nature.

When I met Stephen to swap cars and bring the dogs home, Dakota practically jumped over the seat to get to me. My dogs can lift me up on my lowest day. As crazy as they can sometimes be, they have had a positive and enriching effect on the entire family. That’s the power of pets.

How does your pet enrich your life?

Be Magnificent!

I am taking a course on Insight Timer app called The Art of Timefulness: Transform the Way you Manage Time by Tom Evans. Day one focused on breath, day two on relaxation, and today was about procrastination. During this meditation, he asked us to focus on fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of ridicule, fear of success, and fear of being magnificent.

By identifying these fears, we can remove them and replace with unconditional love. Through this we learn what our purpose is and speak our truth.

I connected most with being magnificent and letting my light shine as I call it. I don’t necessarily fear the unknown. I most certainly fear failure and this has stopped me from trying activities or business ventures. I fear failure with building my publishing company, I fear ridicule when I publish a book and worry whether people will enjoy it. Will it impact their lives? Will they want to read the next one?

I fear success, because then the bar has risen, and I fear that I can’t live up to what is expected.

But what I fear the most is sharing my light, my magnificence in the truest form I know. Imagine being completely yourself, sharing who you are without pretense, opening yourself to vulnerability–and being rejected.

That could stop anyone from being magnificent.

But if I do what I am meant to do from the purest part of who I am, which is to share hope through writing and empower others to create hope, how can I fail? And if someone thinks I write crap or isn’t affected by my words or doesn’t enjoy my stories, it’s not personal to me, it is just who and where they are in their life.

When I think of being magnificent in this way, it’s freeing, uplifting, and empowering.

BeMagnificent

So today I’m going to be magnificent in whatever I do. I’m going to be myself, share my truth, and hope that others can do the same.

Knowing ourselves is the first step to being magnificent. Journal your way to magnificence:

Answer these questions for each (unknown, failure, ridiculed, success, magnificence)

What do you fear about . . .

Write about a time when you faced . . .

What did you learn?

What is standing in the way of your magnificence?

What would being magnificent look like to you?

Once you answer these questions, create a mantra for your day, week or month or use the one I created. I highly recommend Tom Evans’ class and the free meditations on Insight Timer.

 

Create Space–Tracking Goals

I woke up this morning with a renewed clarity for my business. It stemmed from the goal tracking I’ve been working on for the last couple months for myself and my journal workshops.

Last month in journaling class, we worked on specific goals. This included what accomplishing that goal would mean to us, why we were doing it, what was standing in our way, and what detailed steps were needed to achieve this goal. Of course a deadline was included. The goals ranged from self-care, losing weight, writing a book, and planning a trip.

I did this for general self-care, which included journaling, lowering or eliminating gluten and dairy, as well as increasing exercise, and meditation. It’s still a work in progress, but I have been tracking it and journaling how I feel physically and mentally.

However, I also wanted to Create Space in my personal life (home) and my business (office). I have written many times about having too many balls in the air. I have recently tossed some to others or to the side. As a result, I have chaos throughout my workspace and home.

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Need I say more? Embarrassing, but I’m going for full disclosure here & I want to see if this process of using my journal works.

Over the last couple weeks, I identified what I wanted to accomplish–clearing specific rooms, cleaning them, throwing away clutter, and organizing papers and files. What stood in my way was time, the sheer enormity of the project, fear, and still having to work.

I broke it down into clearcut areas. I rearranged my schedule to take this week off (so if you don’t hear from me, you know why). Each morning I am committed to editing my book, because that is still on a deadline.

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I want to do this, because my goal is to have a successful publishing/writing business and a healthy and empowering personal life with less stress from the mess!

I’ll journal about the process each day and what clearing this space means to me and why fear comes up. I think it’s because once this is done nothing is standing in my way, so the fear of failure looms, but lets see what happens!

I have my support group and scheduled yoga and walks mixed in to keep me centered and sane.

Each part of this process is broken into specific daily steps. Today’s goal: J9’s office space!

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The details even came down to specific meals for the week and moving a meeting.

 

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Keeping it positive, light, and bright are essential for getting the work done. Daily mantras will be huge!

I’ll circle around each night to let you know how it goes. Wish me luck!

June Month in Review

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June went by in a flash.

It always starts quick with a weeklong venture to the Americade Motorcycle Rally in Lake George. Luke, friends, and I rode motorcycles back and forth to Lake George each day. We demoed bikes from manufacturers, walked around, and met other bikers. It’s always a cold and rainy week, but we plowed through and had a great time.

We rode bikes by day and roller coasters at night that week, because our annual Gillette Carnival fundraiser was the same week. It made for lots of goodness and by the end of the week, I was wiped out.

Because I habitually have so much on my plate, I had to get the eighth draft of The Puzzle Quests: Saving Atlantis done, so my illustrator, Danielle LeBlanc, knew the page count for the spine and another set of readers could look for those nitty gritty mistakes. There are still quite a few, so you know what I’m doing in July.

By mid-June, I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and emotionally spent. Yet I was determined to find balance and self-care. In my adult journal workshop, we worked on setting goals and tracking it to support our purpose. Doing this with everyone clarified what I wanted to focus my time on, who I wanted to spent time with, and what I needed to do to make it happen.

If there is one think I have learned, it’s to ask for help. Volunteers, friends, and my wonderful husband joined in to help with fundraisers, get me to yoga, and simplify the rest of my summer.

Balancing work, play, and self-care has always been a conundrum for me, and I think many people feel the same way.

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I took this picture of three balancing rocks while I was with my husband for a soccer tournament in the middle of June! It reminded me of what I juggle in my life. In order for these rocks to maintain balance, there has to be a secure and firm foundation.

The three rocks represent my purpose, family, and life. My purpose is what I’m passionate about, my higher calling, which is to bring hope through my books and teaching writing. In order to do this, I need to take care of myself, mentally, physically, and spiritually.

The next rock is my family. I am extremely family oriented. I have my husband, sons (one here and one in my heart), siblings, my mom, nieces, nephews, and and friends who are my chosen family. I love to spend time with all of them and have to balance how often I can see them and how I can help them when needed. Love is the ultimate reason why I’m here, and I express this to my family as often as I can.

The most precarious rock is life. It’s what happens along the way as I try to take care of myself, fulfill my purpose, spend time with my family and friends, and be the best I can be. When life throws me a curve or throws me off a cliff, I have to trust my foundation of family, friends, and purpose.

Then I can rebalance and start over.

July will be a month of simplifying, clearing space in my life and my physical space, in order to create in a more positive atmosphere. Completing the ninth draft of Saving Atlantis, and enjoying my beautiful family. Reflecting back on each month keeps me on my path and makes me grateful for this practice.

How was your month of June? Review, reflect, and do what serves you best!