8 Days & Counting!!

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There’s nothing like having a baby due in eight days to light a fire under your rear end. As a first time expectant mother, I had naturally and wishful-thinkingly told myself that the baby would be at least two weeks early, so every day that I’m still pregnant is feeling like borrowed time. Time to be savored. Time to check those final cling-ons off my to-do list. Time to do every last thing that every other parent keeps insisting I’ll never have time to do once baby arrives.

The most wonderful thing about trying to ramp up productivity at this particular moment in time is that there’s no time for perfectionism (hallelujah!).  And really, it’s the ideal time to set very ambitious goals for myself – considering that I have every excuse in the book if I don’t get them done. All those hours of breastfeeding and sleep deprivation ahead of me means I won’t even have to feel guilty – bonus!

I started this blog last spring with several lofty ambitions, but the one that’s closest to my heart is finding a way to take what I’ve learned over the years through journaling and find a way to share it with others. Over the past several months of pregnancy, other ‘nesting’ duties like preparing a nursery, learning to decipher endless lists of baby gear terminology and decluttering every nook and cranny of the house have come and gone from my list with more urgency, but now that those tasks are complete, I realize that with motherhood around the corner, sharing life lessons is more important than ever.

So two days ago, when “10 days and counting” became my reality, I sprung into action. Well, I guess it was more of a roll off the couch to action, but you get the idea. I decided that the best way to set myself up for success going forward was to be organized before baby arrives. So with the clock ticking, for once in my life, I didn’t overthink what I was doing, I just got started.

Like any multifaceted project, it helped to start with a simple process broken into bite-sized steps – so as not to get overwhelmed and give myself multiple opportunities to feel a sense of accomplishment along the way. Productivity inspires productivity, so what works for me is to make it as easy and fun as possible to feel like I’m getting something done.

In a few hours, here’s what I accomplished:

STEP 1

Take all journals out of the cupboard and place a pile in the middle of the room. Smile as you examine the heap and remember all the places those books have traveled. Inhale and sigh remembering the countless memories they hold. The joys and sorrows, smiles and tears, successes and failures. Inhale again and exhale deeply – feeling a great sense of pride for the lessons learned. Grin from ear to ear looking at the book you just started writing in and thinking about the incredible new memories it will hold. Feed your creative spirit by taking fun photos of the pile.

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STEP 2

Examine each book individually. Begin the process of arranging books chronologically by noting the dates of each book’s first and last entry. Write this on a sticky note and place on each book. This will help streamline the effort of transferring content to blog posts. Take fun portraits of each book that can be used to organize content online.

STEP 3

Arrange books on shelf in chronological order. Check for gaps in dates to make sure none have been misplaced. Take a total count and number each book with a sticky note placed inside it. In my case, I’ve got 25 completed books beginning in April 1999 and ending November 2014. That realization alone is enough to inspire a sense of productivity and the motivation to figure out the next steps in this process. 


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STEP 4

Look forward to what tomorrow brings if the clock is still ticking!

Gallery

Enjoying the Outdoors Doesn’t Get Better

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For those of us who’ve attempted to learn how to ski or snowboard after the age of thirty and found the whole experience to be, let’s say, less-than-fun, I highly recommend snowshoeing as the perfect alternative. You can still get the fresh air and exercise, and feel you’ve earned your apres-ski time next to the bar and the fire, but without the stress. Instead of feeling frustrated at being the rookie who can’t keep up (and let’s face it, if your friends have been skiing since they were kids, you’re always going to feel that way), terrified about crashing into a tree, dislocating a limb, or getting pegged off by the neophyte snowboarders barreling down the mountain behind you, become an expert at something most of your ski and boarding friends have never tried.

The other major advantage to being a snowshoer instead of a skier or boarder is moving at a pace leisurely enough to capture the stunning beauty of a winter’s day. In my humble opinion, enjoying the outdoors doesn’t get better.

And in case you aren’t familiar with what snowshoes look like these days (I still imagined a tennis racket strapped to my foot), here’s a shot of my rentals from Solitude Mountain Resort in Utah.

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And yes, they’re as light and comfortable as they look.

Intrigued? I highly recommend a trip to Solitude’s Nordic Center. They have an extensive plot of easy-to-navigate trails that offer unlimited opportunities to keep yourself entertained as you adventure.

And if you have other snowshoe destination recommendations, I’d love to hear about them!

East Coast Road Trip

Getting Back At It

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I’ve been procrastinating about getting these blog posts started again, but this quote I found yesterday on Instagram, along with an inspiring post from Live Your Legend founder, Scott Dinsmore, have catapulted me back to where I’m supposed to be.

This quote is a reminder of everything I’ve let go of in the past that has led me to where I am today – a place of happiness, calm and balance.  A place where I feel more like myself than at any other time in my life. A place where I am grateful every single day for the time I spent working through the challenges of the past, taking risks, and following the voice inside me that told me to keep searching for something that I would only know I’d found when I found it.

I dare say I’m here now – in this place that I feel like I’ve spent my life looking for – but only because I learned (after many failed attempts) that we can only move forward when have the courage to walk away from what’s holding us back. Commonly, what holds us back is what we cling to because we think we need it to feel secure, but more often than not, it’s a false sense of security. We convince ourselves that we couldn’t live without that person, place or job– those people, possessions or routines. The fear of losing one or more of those things and what we can only imagine to be the pain of living with that loss prevents us from seeing that our dependency on them is likely what’s stopping us from getting to a place where we truly don’t need them. We don’t need them because that security is within us – and we can finally stop looking outside ourselves. Often, it’s as simple as abandoning one attitude and embracing another.  In 2011, my life shifted to a place where I could feel that sense of security inside me and it invited a world of opportunity I never knew could exist.

So here I am again, still in the midst of my personal reinvention, looking to create an identity for myself that meshes with my new life. A life that in many ways is unrecognizable when compared to the identity I developed in the last chapter of my life. The parts I still recognize are the ones I want to keep. The rest is what I’m committing to let go of, once and for all, right here, right now. Thinking that I need some new version of my last chapter is what’s been holding me back from creating something brand new. And brand new is where I am now.

And as I commit to letting go, I’m also recommitting to this blogging process. And since I don’t think I could say it better myself, from Scott’s article linked above, here’s why:

A blog is simply the easiest way available for publishing ideas for others to see. It encourages you to get ideas out of your head and into the world, which then allows you to further develop them and give you a chance to showcase those thoughts as well as your passions and talents to others. And when you do that, interesting things start to happen.

Developing your writing also happens to be one of the best ways for learning how to communicate, process thoughts and ideas, stay accountable to big plans and life changes, build an audience, develop your persuasion skills and to simply become a more interesting citizen of the world.

Taking a break from the blog writing was good, getting back at it is better.

Self-Diagnosis? Analysis Paralysis.

 

A month ago, I decided that it was finally time to start writing this blog. In hopes of putting my best foot forward, I spent some time coming up with the title, tagline and theme before launching into my first post. Two weeks in, I was happy with my progress. I wrote two actual posts —  and then I stopped. Why? Well, I believe it went something like this:

After that second post, a well-intentioned friend asked me to articulate the purpose of the blog and all I remember from the conversation is that I didn’t explain myself in the way I’d hoped. I didn’t know exactly what the focus of each of my posts was going to be. I didn’t know who my ideal reader was. I didn’t know specifically what area of expertise I was ready to share. And the analysis began. Followed immediately by waves of doubt. Before I knew it, a dark fog of uncertainty clouded my words, my choices, my theme. After re-reading my last post, I felt like I’d edited it to the point where it didn’t sound like me anymore.

Before I’d even found my voice, it was lost.

Upon completion of this first round of self-deprecation, I decided to step back and dig myself into the hole a little deeper. Decided it was best to stop writing until I’d figured everything out. (When in doubt – avoid!)  Fortunately, after two weeks of pretending the blog no longer existed, I woke up this morning and it hit me like a brick wall. I had seen this all before. The familiar cunning culprit? None other than ‘Analysis Paralysis’.

Analyzing is good. Over-analyzing is the enemy. So I took a breath, got out of bed and began reminding myself why I started this blog in the first place. I went back to the beginning of the story.

A few months ago, I made the decision to resign from a job I’d held for 5 years. Like anything else, I had a lot of reasons, but ultimately it boiled down to the fact that it was time for a change. Experience has taught me that for better or worse, I live for change, thriving in the new and unpredictable. I enjoy the challenge of trying things I’ve never done before because they ignite my curiosity, motivation and engagement in ways that nothing else can. It was time to be true to myself and figure out what I wanted to be doing with my days instead of feeling like the hamster on the wheel. So I jumped – confident that the net would appear. And it will – this free fall is part of the process – and where the writing comes in. Intuitively, I know that writing is what I need to do to point myself in the right direction.

So, yes, I reminded myself that I’m here writing from a place of ‘reinvention’ – trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I’m here precisely because I don’t have the answers.

And that’s okay.

It’s okay not to know. It’s okay to figure it out as I go along. It’s okay to decide and then change my mind. And then change my mind again – especially if something doesn’t feel right. In fact, if my gut is telling me it isn’t right, it’s better to change my mind again. Life is about learning how to make the right decisions for myself. And I will only know if a decision is right or wrong by acting on it – by taking the risk.

The worst thing I can do to myself right now is stay stuck.  And by that I mean comfortably stuck in my own head. Swimming around in circles, analyzing my options to death and coming up with convincing reasons not to move forward with any of them.  It’s a bad place to be, especially since I’m motivated by productivity. The more I get done, the more energy I have to keep getting things done. Being stuck sucks the life out of me.

Movement is key.

So, I’m back. And for the moment, I’m back here writing for me and if you can relate to any of this, then maybe I’m here for you as well. If for no other reason than to remind you that you aren’t alone in figuring out what you’re doing with your life. I’m committing, as you can, to a renewed sense of purpose. To not settling for what I know I don’t want. To getting back on the track that I know I’m meant to be on.

To quote one of my favorite Paul Simon songs (sing it!) :

“I’m on my way. I don’t know where I’m goin’. I’m on my way, I’m takin’ my time but I don’t know where…”

When you embrace the ‘not knowing’ – the process is fun because you realize that when you don’t have the answers, anything is possible. When you jump in, you’re willing to risk and learn and grow. Serendipity sends you a wink. The universe delivers a smile. And the path becomes clearer.

And now that I’ve spelled this out for myself, I will try my darndest not to get stuck again!

Flapping my wings until I’m ready to land on both feet.

 

The Time Has Come

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On the bookcase next to my bed is a shelf stuffed full of personal journals. Pages and pages of once-blank books now teeming with words, photos, ticket stubs, receipts, and other random memorabilia of days gone by. They are a gift from me to me. A treasure trove of thoughts and memories and dreams. Words that bring smiles. Words that bring tears. But mostly words that remind me to laugh at myself and remember that I’m much stronger than I think I am.

But personal journaling is writing without risk. It’s what people who like to tell stories do when they’re too afraid to put it all out there. For the past 15 years, that’s been me. But I’m ready now. My back-of-my-mind, “one day”, “someday” time has come.

So, here we are.

While journaling has proved to be an invaluable tool for my own personal growth – a kind of ‘pen-to-paper’ therapy – I see blogging as something very different. Blogging is my opportunity to go back through those books, combine past thoughts and insights with my current reality and piece them into something new. Exactly what? Well, I’m not quite sure yet. I love surprises and will look forward to finding out as we go along.

But here’s what I do know:

At a micro level, I’d like this blog to be a platform for transitioning my personal journaling skills into writing that inspires introspection and helps us all to feel more connected to ourselves, one another and the world around us. Having spent years of my life traveling and living abroad, connecting with people of all ages and cultures, I have witnessed, firsthand, that as human beings, what we have in common far surpasses any differences between us. I intend to prove that.

And because I’m a photoholic, it’s likely that I will also throw in a few photos here and there – for good measure.

In the big picture, it is my hope that through this introspection and connection, we can cultivate more empathy, resilience and optimism in the world. Through understanding and connecting with ourselves, we’ll be better equipped to connect with others and our surroundings, to empathize, and grow stronger and more resilient as human beings. We’ll have the ability to not only learn from our own experiences, but the experiences of others. We’ll see and believe in more happy endings.

Now, let’s do this!