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!

Summer Fun

In my last journaling workshop, we focused on summer fun. When my boys were little, as soon as school was out we wrote everything we wanted to do that summer on a big poster board. 

Some staples were strawberry picking in June, going on vacation, swimming, picnics, bike rides, concerts, movies to see, family to visit, how many ice cream places we would visit and rate, etc. 

I made sure there was downtime, but it gave them structure and lots to look forward to. I haven’t done that in a long time. As adults we can get caught up in our lives and forget to enjoy life no matter what season we are in. 

The Northeast summers are so short, I want to be outside as much as possible. 

So here is my list for the summer:


By putting it in my journal, it becomes real and I remember to look up when Shakespeare is in Congress Park or that I still need to see Guardians of the Galaxy (although not in the theater at this point!) I have much to do still!

As you check off your summer fun activities journal about them so you remember the details and the joy. 

Then do it all again in the fall with apple picking, Halloween, and hay rides!

Create and decorate your summer fun list today. Put it in your journal or on your fridge as a reminder. Enjoy!

Step Back to Basics

It’s summer. The sun has mostly been out, everything is growing, the birds sing joyfully, and my dogs roll around in the grass. 

I love summer, but haven’t quite felt like I’m enjoying it. I’m busy and jumping from one event to another, one project to another, one unnecessary activity to another. 

I need to slow down and get back on track. How do I do that?

The first thought that came to mind is step back to basics. To me that means cutting back on what stresses me and fill it with what nourishes me and makes me happy. 

Here are some ways to step back to basics:

1. Cut back on what I don’t enjoy doing. Of course there are times when I have obligations to fill. I’m not someone who enjoys housework, but I make it better by listening to music or an audiobook or setting a timer to see how much I can get done. 

2. Go for a walk. Nothing slows me down and brings perspective quicker than taking my dogs for a walk. 

3. Listen to music. Discover new types or artists. 

4. Make time for a hobby that you love. If you don’t have one, then figure one out. Maybe it’s carving wood, painting, hiking, reading, pottery, photography, learning an instrument or language. What brings you joy?

5. Shut down the technology. My son yelled at me this morning as I’m using my phone to blog. He wanted me to talk to him and not get caught up in social media. I put my phone down until he left for work! It’s so easy to get dragged into someone else’s drama and not even know what the drama is! We feed off everyone’s negative responses. Stick to the facts and call that person if you are concerned. 

6. Be Still. Sit outside and enjoy the sounds, scents, and sights around you. Be in that moment. Or if you have a garden connect to nature and the earth. 


7. Unclutter your life by getting rid of what you don’t use and either give it to someone or recycle it. 

8. Eat close to home and food that is simple and fresh. Farmer’s Markets are abundant. Eat fresh and organic when you can. Eat what nourishes you. 

Here is a list of markets in the Capital District

Cut out the fluff and activities that don’t serve you. Do what moves you and makes your heart and body feel lighter. This takes listening to yourself and not loading your life up so much that your spirit is tamped down. 

There is nothing wrong with slowing down and getting back to basics. It also means getting back to the foundation of who you are. 

How will you step back to basics?

Different Levels of Activity 

Sitting still is one of the hardest activities for me to do. Yes, I sit when I write, but my mind is extremely active as are my hands. To sit and let the world flow around me is very difficult. 

Even Dakota, pictured above, is waiting for me to say, “Wanna go for a walk?” His mind is in constant motion. But for a little while both he and I kept still even if our minds went crazy. 

I let the crazy fly through and move on. 


Even if I can’t be completely inactive, I try to take the time to sit and read. Dakota enjoys chomping on his toy, named Marvin, or chewing on a bone. Having that quiet time rejuvenates me for the chaos of my week. 

In order to go inactive, another word for downtime, I need to prioritize. I haven’t stopped for months, so I worked really hard to keep this weekend free. I may go on walks, tend my garden, read and write, but I’m home and in slow mode. 

Perhaps there are different levels that we should strive for. 

Stillness- simple meditation where we sit in a comfortable position, focus on our breath, and let our thoughts go.

Inactivity-Hanging out in your backyard, pool, beach, the woods, or anywhere you can relax and not be required to do anything. 

Slow Mode-keeping your schedule light, so that you can do something you love or be with those you love. No schedule. 

Conscious Activity-choosing to go to events, be with friends, finish that project you have left for months. You make a conscious decision to do what is important to you, not because you feel obligated. 

Busy Bee Mode-working, fulfilling family and other obligations, every day chores that must get done. Deadlines. Goals. 

None of these levels of activity are all good or bad. If you sat in stillness all the time or never had downtime, your body and mind might eventually rebel. 

Finding the balance and giving yourself permission to be in any of these modes are key to living a full life. 

What level of activity are you at today?

Going with the Changes

 

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My sister and I are crazy. Simple as that. We know how to have fun and laugh at ourselves. Michele is five years younger than me (I know we look like twins!), and we both were very active in high school sports. How does this relate to life and changes, you may ask. Allow me to digress and weave a story.

In high school, Michele ran track and played soccer. I played soccer and softball. My older sister, Stephanie, played softball, and my brother played soccer. We are a very athletic and slightly klutzy family. Compared to the skills in soccer nowadays, I may not have been considered a very skilled player, but I was tough and successful. I was the bomb!

Fast forward 15-20 years later. My younger son, Stephen, is an awesome soccer player. My husband, Luke, still plays soccer and yes, Stephen gets some of his skill from his dad, but his toughness from his mom. Over the years, Stephen has asked me to kick the ball with him, and we have played in parent vs. kids soccer games on his travel teams. I’m in good shape and, in my mind, I’m still that vibrant soccer player who plowed through the defense.

Some of the last few times I have played soccer with Stephen have been enlightening and deflating. My legs go wobbly, my balance flies out the door, and the ball goes everywhere, but to my son. What the heck happened? Where was the skilled soccer player who ruled on the playing field? My son asks, “You sure you played soccer?” I had to show him the certificates proving I played sports. Here’s proof in case no one else believes me!

Wait it gets better. Michele’s job at the time had a summer softball league. Michele wanted to play and recruited me since I was so skilled on the field and at bat. She talked me up like I was the answer to their prayers. I was psyched! I couldn’t wait to get up to bat and send that ball to the moon! I played first base in high school, and I knew I could make a difference and be an asset to this team. Plus playing a sport with my little sister was bound to be a hoot and a good time for all involved.

The time had come. I was up to bat. I swung it across my body a couple times to  loosen up. My golden rule was never ever swing at the first pitch, so I let the first one go by. Hmm, that one looked pretty good, but it didn’t matter. The next pitch came, and I swung. Oh, my back! Swung a bit too hard and missed the ball. No matter. I could do this. Next pitch I connected, but it felt like someone sent a jolt of electricity up my arms that reverberated through my teeth and into my skull. I ignored the shock. I had hit the ball. No matter that it didn’t make it to the pitcher. I sprinted toward first base. Why was it taking so long to get there, and why did my heart feel like it was going to vomit right out of my chest? Not able to believe it, I was called out before I hit the plate.

Needless to say my ability to eye the ball while catching wasn’t the greatest, although it was better than my hitting. The ground was so uneven, I tripped running to get the ball, fell on my face, and wondered where the 16-year-old sports star had gone.

The one saving grace was that Michele did about the same, and we laughed hysterically  over it, much to the dismay of our competitive teammates.

So I wasn’t the jock I used to be. It’s a tough pill to swallow. I can’t sprint across the field and frankly I don’t want to! It’s hard not to live in that past and think that my self worth was based on how I performed in high school. But it’s not. It’s based on who I am as a person now. Sure I gave up soccer and recreational softball, but I took up yoga. I can bend and twist like I don’t think I could have as a teen. I’m stronger inside and out. Even as a martial artist, I can’t do jump kicks and spinning heel kicks as well (actually I never was good at getting any hang time), but I have learned to be efficient and effective as the athlete I am today.

This was a long, but hopefully exciting, story to basically say that change is hard. We can fight it, we can deny it, we can rail against it. We can delay change by staying in shape and trying new exercises. But the fact is our bodies change as we age. Playing soccer and softball made me feel alive, strong, and happy. Now yoga makes me feel that way and more.

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Michele and I can still and always will be able to boogie!

What did you use to do as a youth that you no longer do as an adult, or maybe not as well as you would like? It doesn’t have to be sports, it can be anything from knitting to singing to riding a motorcycle. How did you feel when you did that particular activity? What emotions went through you? Write about it, describe it. How does it feel not to be able to do that anymore?

What activity can you do now that would give you that same sense of accomplishment, joy, and emotion? Is there something you’ve been wanting to try? What is stopping you? Make an action plan and do it today.

Change is good. We only need to embrace it.

What you Manifest

 

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Photo by Alysia Thomas

I told the adults in my journal writing workshop last week that one of my favorite books is The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. I actually listened to the book and loved the dog, Enzo’s voice. I always say that books can purely entertain, but when they are most needed, they can transform.

I found this book the year after I lost Nick. The main character, Denny, suffers loss and is drowning in his grief. I had adopted my dog, Zoey, who found and saved me, so I could relate to Enzo trying to save Denny.

But what transformed me was Enzo’s mantra: “That which you manifest is before you.”

If I wanted to live a full life in the midst of my grief, I had to create it. I had to do the work. “It’s not easy being green,” my dad used to say. And it sure ain’t easy being sad, lost, heartbroken, devastated, and uncertain about life. This path I have been placed on has been treacherous, rocky, happy, crazy, and life-changing, but I have followed it.

This year I am manifesting my passion–writing and bring the art of writing to anyone who wants to manifest it. I was worried about having enough experiences to write about in my daily prompts and bringing all sorts of journaling workshops into the community. I didn’t need to worry, because I have come from a place of joy, wonder, and selflessness. I want to manifest hope, and I do that through writing and teaching.

My other creation for 2017 is publishing my middle grade novel called The Puzzle Quests: Shimmer’s Eggs in October. During 2016, I tweaked it, but it wasn’t until I committed to publishing it through my company that it became real. By focusing on that goal, that dream, the people I needed to help me accomplish this have crossed my path. I see my vision. I see good people who need hope to get them through the hard times, so they can bloom and manifest their dreams.

What do you want to manifest? What is your focus this year, the next six months, a month from now, or tomorrow?

Write the details, see it as a manifestation, not a wish. Create an action plan and stick to it. It’s all before you if you do the work.

The Dogs Ruined my Meditation!

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Yes I know. Quite adorable Zoey and Dakota

I sat in my library where I usually do my meditation. The dogs like to be in there, and it’s better than them banging on the door to be let in. They will calmly sit at my feet. This morning they kept barking at our neighbor’s dog as they walked by, they chomped loudly on a bone, and basically were a nuisance. I got mad and said, “You are ruining my meditation!” What did they do? Went back to barking and chewing.

That got me to pause. My dogs weren’t ruining anything. They were being dogs. By barking at Bindi walking by, they could be protecting their space and me. Or they could be saying, “Let’s play together!” Chewing on their bone is part of their daily routine, and I’m sure satisfies some craving.

They didn’t ruin my meditation. I let outside forces affect my inner calm. It’s easy to be calm and centered when life appears that way. But when the dogs of life let loose or those black clouds appear, all the yoga, meditation, and calming techniques can blow up in your face if they aren’t practiced daily.

I wondered about one technique that I could do before I got upset or overwhelmed and would help me get centered. In meditation one cue is to always reconnect to a part of your body that is touching something–your feet on the floor, your back to the chair or your fingertips touching. I usually connect with my fingertips touching and feel the energy in my palms. This simple act brings me back to the present moment and allows me to pause before reacting. I could have done that this morning and realize that yes the dogs are being loud, but I can choose how I react.

I’m going to try this during my day when stressors and emotions get the best of me. It takes a conscious effort, and about 21 days to create a habit. If the black clouds in life get the best of me, then I will take a deep breath and start over again.

What stressors or crises do you currently have in your life? Write them down and why they are stressing you. What is a simple technique that you can incorporate into your daily routine to pull you out of the downward spiral of emotional stress? For example, keeping a stone in your pocket and rubbing it; carrying worry, mala or rosary beads that can be held or counted. Rubbing your hands together to create heat and a connection to you. It can be anything that immediately places you in your body.

Try it out and let me know what works for you.

Step back Saturday

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Looking back at my week, I actually accomplished a lot, managed to walk my dogs, and got some exercise in. I’ve been focusing on meditating every day, so all in all I felt positive. Yet last night when I went to bed, I felt anxious and out of sorts. I physically didn’t feel well, and I know that my emotions or some underlying issue affects my body.

I went to bed with this intention: What do I need to see? I had just seen this intention from Robert Moss’ blog (great one to follow on dreams) and it made sense to ask this specific question instead of getting deluged with too much insight. This was my dream:

What I Don’t Need Dream

I volunteered to drive a tractor trailer somewhere. I also told a dad that I would drive his son home after the soccer practice that my husband coaches. He didn’t ask anyone to drive his son, I just volunteered.

Then when I was leaving to go to the tractor trailer, I saw the kid’s mom and his sister in a cast. I was going to ask her to just go pick up her son, but I felt bad about his sister. She yells telling me to make sure I didn’t forget. No thank you or I’ll just get my kid. Then I realize that they live all the way in downtown Albany. I feel trapped.

I’m driving the tractor trailer and am pretty amazed that I can do this. I’m almost to my destination when I take a turn too sharply and the trailer flips onto its side. I get out and my phone rings. Some friend of the family wants to know why I haven’t picked up the kid yet. I explain my situation and say that they will have to handle it. I feel bad, but relieved. I turn around and the tractor trailer is gone.

Feeling: Totally trapped. Snowball effect of saying yes.

Reality check: Except for the fact that my husband coaches a soccer team, everything was extreme, which is common in dreams. If the dream was fairly normal like something I would do, then I may not have paid attention. The fact that I was driving a tractor trailer, which I have never or probably wouldn’t ever do was a big message for me.

The question that of what I needed to see turned into my asking, What Don’t I Need?

I don’t need to get involved with anything that has absolutely nothing to do with me. I don’t need to fix the world; I only need to work on me, take care of myself, and from that positive place, I naturally help those who need it. I’m not talking about family and friends where we want to help each other and that is what we do.

I’m talking about filling the space so that I don’t have any time to reflect or do what I’m called to do–write. I also didn’t take enough time to do yoga. It’s important to me and by stepping back and looking at my past week, I see the pattern of stepping in where I don’t need to.

Why do I do this? Well that’s a totally different journal entry. What I was meant to see is that I need to make space for writing and that is what I will do.

Catch Phrase to remember what I needed to see: CUT IT OUT!

What do you need to cut out of your life that doesn’t serve you or is stopping you from fulfilling your purpose? If you aren’t sure, write the intention “What do I need to see” in your journal and keep open to the answers. In addition write “What I don’t need.”

Light my Fire!

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Photo by Alysia Thomas

Now if you know me well, a couple thoughts may be going through your head. One, what novel is she writing at this moment, and two, she doesn’t like The Doors, so why is she quoting them?!

Right now I’m focusing on my middle grade novel, so sorry ladies, and I’ll give The Doors the credit due for this song.

What really struck me this morning is how excited I am about my personal journal writing  (I’ll write about this tomorrow) and teaching my journal writing classes. The adult workshop begins tomorrow night and is full. My middle grade has three more sessions and the kids are open-minded about expressing themselves.

I’m excited because I’m doing what I love, and I see firsthand the benefits it has for me as well as for others. My inner fire, that light that makes me shine, is literally burning like the flames in this photo. That’s how I know I’m on my path, I’m expressing my truth, and living life as I want. I woke up this morning and couldn’t wait to see what words would flow out of me. It’s a completely organic process, and that is when I have to trust that I’m doing what my soul craves. I feel alive, and I just want to feel, express, and write.

That is your inner fire. That is your calling. That is your life purpose. I know that mine is writing, and teaching makes that fire crackle into the sky and explode!

That is my wish for all of you. What causes your belly to heat in excitement, your heart to quicken, your mouth to break open in song, and your soul to burst with energy? Yes, it’s much like being in love–with yourself, your path, your journey! That is what we are meant to be doing!

What lights your fire?!

What do you like to do that can be a part of your daily path? Maybe it’s career related or maybe it’s volunteering for a cause that ignites you. Perhaps it can be both, which will really create an inferno! Maybe it’s time for a new beginning! Write about it, how you feel emotionally and physically when you think about bringing this into your life. Then make a plan to put it into action. Even tiny steps will stoke your fire. Journaling about it will keep the flames burning.

Feel free to share what you learn!

Let Them Know

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My niece, Olivia, is heading to Miami for work next week, and I’m not sure how long she will be there, but it’ll be a while. I call her and her sister my nieces, even though they aren’t blood related. The bond we have with them and their parents is one of family, and they are a part of my heart.

I thought about Olivia and all the joy she brings into my life and those around her. She babysat my boys when they were little (poor thing!). She was always there for them and was especially supportive during Nick’s journey with cancer for both Nick and Stephen. Seeing how much Olivia brings me joy, I thought about all the wonderful people in my life. I have been blessed with a fun and wonderful family, friends who would go to the end of the earth for me (and have), a husband who adores me (and is very patient!), and two sons who taught me that love is endless.

I make certain that I see all these fantastic people as much as possible, because they lift me up, they make me happy, and they empower me to be the best person I can. I check in with my nieces and nephews and other friends who don’t live close by. I don’t do it enough, so that is an action plan for me.

Life is too short to get caught up in the rat race and forget why we are here. Sharing your love, sending it to those far away can be as simple as a text, although a phone call or FaceTime is even better. Perhaps you can plan a trip, go to the movies, or get together for dinner. Connect with those you love and brighten your life. Do it now. Don’t wish for it, act on it.

We fall into the negative commentary of: “Well they should call me.” Create the action you want mirrored back to you. If you want to see more of someone, let them know, and tell them why. Show your love.

Tonight I gather with people who mean so much to me, who have lifted me up, and have brought me joy, so we can send off one of our chicklets with flair! I will tell Olivia that I love her, that I will miss her, and that I am very proud of the compassionate, strong, and determined young woman she has become.

And yes I will plan a trip to see her! If that happens to be on an awesome beach, then I am even luckier than I thought!

Who in your life brings you joy, empowers you, makes you laugh?

Who do you wish to see more often? What is stopping you?

What action can you take to reach out now and connect?

Do it today. You never know what joy you make bring them.