Thursday, September 3, 2015

Goals in a messy life

Since it's Septemeber, let's talk about monthly goals, shall we?

Goals keep me intentional in a time when my life is feeling a bit messy.

I thought I'd try working on some smaller monthly goals because, as you know, September is the ultimate fresh start. I have some pretty enormous goals for the coming year, but I think I could use the help of smaller monthly goals to help me get there. Why do I love working with goals so much? Because developing and reflecting on goals helps me to live intentionally, something that helps me to order the rest of my messy world (both physical and emotional messes). 

But a little bit of mess is okay.

This week Beth at Revolution from Home wrote a really useful post on living a messy life and I've been sitting with her ideas ever since. I think we sometimes feel so overwhelmed by the chaos of life and that trick ourselves into thinking that if we put everything in order, then all our other goals will fall into place. But I'm coming to realize that we need to live with some of the messy instead of trying to banish it away all the time. Beth writes:

Maybe we’ve been misled when it comes to the “messier” aspects of life (and I don’t mean our junk drawers). Maybe messy isn’t a reflection of our shortcomings at all. Maybe the real source of our struggle stems from the belief that life is supposed to be tidy.

So I'm reflecting on my goals this month and deciding to work on them right now, even if not everything feels perfectly ordered.

Since first outlining my goals earlier this summer I've been finding myself thinking that I'll start accomplishing my goals once I've cleaned out all the closets and planned all them meals and crossed everything off the to do lists. No. It's okay that I don't have it all figured out. I can still move forward with one foot in the chaos. So while my goals keep me feeling focused and intentional about my days (a good thing), for me this month is about chasing my goals in spite of imperfection.

Five goals for September

This month I will feed myself good food, move my body in the (hopefully) cooler morning air, and devour as many books as I can get my hands on.

  • One month without gluten, to see how it makes me body feel
  • Morning walks before the girlies wake up, three days a week.
  • Reflect on what it means to thrive.

  • Read as much as I want while the girls are at school.
  • Get back into a routine of reading to the girls before bed, a habit that was lost earlier this year, and one I think we all dearly miss.

I'm really excited to work on these smaller goals, not to lose sight of my larger project, but to accumulate some smaller victories. Do you have any September goals or resolutions? Let's do this together please!

Be well!

 P.S. Some posts you might also like:

Day one

How many things have you crossed off your life list?

How to quit smoking in only 753 days*

11 tips for being an ordinary parent

Monday, August 31, 2015

It's Monday!

Hello lovelies. Did you know that tomorrow is September, and that September is the ultimate Monday? January gets all the sparkle and shine of having the first day of the calendar year, but September is the real new year, at least for those of us who have spent years decades in school. September, which already possesses so many other glorious attributes, like the first day of fall and apple picking, is also my favourite time to start fresh. There are new routines, new goals for the year, and best of all, you get to buy school supplies.

Oh, September, you're so lovely. But today, while it is still August, I'll continue on pretending that summer is still happening, because I know so many of you love, love, love the summer. We've been doing a lot of summery things in these last few weeks, like today, when we took the ferry to Centre Island and spent the day bouncing around from rides to the beach. We completely exhausted ourselves. 

Yesterday, in preparation for back to school, Alyce finally decided to try riding a two-wheeler. The two of us went shopping for a new bike, and by nightfall she was riding a bike. It was kind of magical. I don't think I've ever seen her so proud of herself and it gave me the shivers to watch her.  I know she desperately wants to ride her bike to school like her friends, because you know, she's in grade three now.

So the summer may be coming to an end, but we don't need to say good-bye to it sitting down. Let's enjoy the warm nights as long as we can, maybe sneak in one more road trip, and eat ice cream for dinner. 

Here's what's on my list for this last week of summer:

  • Centre Island
  • Visit my grandmother on her birthday
  • Convince my children to do a back-to-school cleanse of their toys
  • Take a road trip to Ottawa on the long weekend to visit some friends I have not seen in ages
  • Make each of the girls a card for the first day of school (a tradition in our house, along with chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast)
  • Think about September's new possibilities
What's on your list this week? Any last minute summer adventures?

Be well.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Things that made me happy this week

It's Sunday, you made it through another week. Was it a great one? Did you make the most of August's last days? Around our house we spent a lot of time daydreaming about the start of school (only eight more sleeps!) while simultaneously trying to get every ounce of fun out of the end of summer.  I found myself working overnight doula shifts all week and now my brain is a bit off balance. This coming week will be featuring less work, more fun.

Here are a few things that caught my eye around the internet this week:

I always seem to be on a mission to get my shit together. But maybe it's okay to be a bit of a mess.

My love affair with peach season is no secret. Here are some ideas to keep the romance alive.

On risking your heart.

Salmon + arugula is a salad I need to eat.

Some tips for productive mornings.

Making life less convenient.

Do I make this DIY sunbutter for school lunches, or just admit defeat and send in Doritos?

Do you have a favourite links list? Mine is hands-down from Joy the Baker. I always look forward to opening her posts on Sundays. It's the little things.
Be well!

Friday, August 28, 2015

On gaining momentum

How is your week going so far? Somehow it's almost over and I'm feeling caught off guard. I guess that's what happens when you sleep through a Monday. And a Wednesday (it's been a busy week of working overnight with a particularly delicious newborn). And speaking of babies, a former birth doula client reached out today and sent me the loveliest email. It made my day and has renewed my desire to send thank you notes more often. Because doesn't it feel amazing when someone sends you a note, even just a short one, just to let you know that they appreciate you? 

I wanted to check in today and tell you about our trip to the zoo on Tuesday. Last time I took the girls it was a bit of a disaster for me physically. I wrote last time about how I could barley make it through a couple of hours on my feet before my lower half screaming and shouting in pain. It wasn't pretty. We returned home from that trip and I collapsed into bed.  I'm not sure if it was obvious then, but that was a pretty low point for me. Not being able to keep up with the girlies made me feel helpless as a parent, not to mention old, lazy, and sorry for myself.

I've had a few moments like that since being home for the summer. Driving places we should be walking, saying no to going out when we had no business staying inside on such a beautiful day. Each time I felt very powerfully that these moments where the ones that would ultimately get me to do the hard work of making changes. Because while some of you might be able to act like rational people and simply change the habits you think you need changing (like my annoying better half, who is also never late and always finishes his projects ahead of schedule), I need some gut wrenching emotional lows to really get my ass into gear.

You guys, change is hard.

While my progress has been slow-going over the summer, I did something last week that made a big impact. I bought a new pair of running shoes. They are magical! It turns out my favourite pair of sandals serve fashion only, and what I needed was the support of some fancy new bright pink running shoes. It was a small step, but one that has inspired me to get exercising again, which is kind of a big deal. You see these magical new running shoes make it possible to walk longer with quite so much pain and this meant that I walked through the zoo for three hours (and the CNE last night for almost four) without hobbling. 

I know, I know, what an obvious fix, right? But I'm realizing that these small investments into our health, the ones we keep putting off for what seem like convincing reasons at the time, can put in motion some pretty powerful change. Something I learned this week is that deep down I've been telling myself that nothing will work and I'm destined to suffer in this state of pain and low energy forever, so why bother doing all the hard work of making changes. But small steps, it turns out, can give you some very powerful momentum. Momentum is a gift that I can use to lose this crappy perspective I've been carrying around. 

What small change can you make to give yourself some much needed momentum?
Be well!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

It's Tuesday!

Hello lovelies! Did you have the greatest weekend? Our weekend was a bit of a blur, filled with driving the girls back and forth to my mum's for a sleepover, and me doing some overnight doula work. (I'll be working as a doula again this year until I return to midwifery school.) So this week my Monday was spent mostly sleeping. It happens.

Summer home schooling has slowed to a snail's pace around here. Last week I wasn't feeling the greatest and spent a lot of time resting, with zero energy to devote to planning lessons and outings. This week already feels like it's gotten away from me and so far home school has involved me printing out Spongebob colouring pages. I'm okay with that. But the week isn't totally lost! We are heading to the zoo today in honour of animals week, and I think we'll try to squeeze in a research project on an animal of their choosing.

Did I mention yet that it's only two weeks until school starts? Our days have been spent daydreaming about school, all three of us. Yesterday, between naps, I took the girls to buy new shoes, a tradition I've loved since kindergarten. Still left on our back-to-school shopping list: rain boots, umbrellas, and some reusable snack bags for their lunches (I'll be ordering these later today.)

Here's what's on my list for this week:
  • lots of doula work, which means not a lot of time for other things
  • studying for my newborn resuscitation recertification course this weekend
  • cleaning out my fridge and restocking it with the best food possible, including, I hope, some homemade chicken soup I plan on making today (fingers crossed)
  • considering a very important change: should I cut my hair off again? Oh, the decisions. 
I hope your week is fabulous.

Be well!

Friday, August 21, 2015

eat: a manifesto

I believe everyone can use a good manifesto. Here's one of mine.

When I first wrote about my intentions for better health two months ago I named four big goals that I wanted to achieve in the coming year. I wanted to get better sleep, to move my body, to breathe more (reduce my stress), and to eat nourishing food. Each of these goals requires some pretty hefty changes to my status quo, but tackling the food I eat is one of my biggest hurdles to improving my health.

I couldn't just write a post about my intentions with regards to eating nourishing food. This one needs a manifesto. I'm not outlining an eating plan here, but more of an eating mood. Feel free to borrow it, improve upon it, or ignore it and write your own. 

Food is delightful.

I adore both brussel sprouts and butter creamed with sugar. I am moved by both lentils and ice cream, preferably really hard ice cream that you can bite into, filled with chocolate bits. And peanut butter. While I am committed to eating in a way that makes me feel well, I refuse to live in a world where some foods are valuable and others are evil. Food is about nutrition and so much more. I adore cooking for my family and friends (and I like to think I'm even good at it.) Sometimes this means that I create salads filled with vitamins and minerals and other times it means I bake a pie. I don't want to live in a world without pie. I do, however, want to have energy and feel vibrant in my body, so most days I will choose the brussel sprouts and lentils.

Advice is sometimes helpful, sometimes not.

Oh, advice. Isn't it everywhere? I mean, I think my neighbour would offer his two cents if I mentioned my goals to him, and he's an accountant. Advice can be lovely and often gives me all sorts of ideas. For example, I have a friend who gave up grains, sugar, dairy, and legumes and she feels amazing! It's definitely something for me to think about, but we're not the same person, and what works for her might not work for me.  I've read a great book about optimal eating for folks with fibromyalgia and it's filled with just as many restrictions, including avoiding a whole handful of fruits and vegetables (on account of their inflammatory properties). Again, something to think about. My naturopathic doctor has advised that I stop eating entire categories of food as well, so it's something I'm seriously considering (she says with an eye roll).

I have also received advice to not change how I eat. Maybe, they suggest, just maybe stop eating so much sugar (point taken), but everything else in moderation is the way to go! They can't possibly understand making such a radical change when it comes to food. While I give them points for recognizing how hard changes are to make, they don't know what it feels like to live in my body, with  my chronic pain and slug-like energy. It might not make sense to them, but radical change might be the answer for me.

Either way, the choice is mine to make.

Kill the day with one incredible breakfast.

This idea comes from a dear friend of mine, who suggested that in the face of all these changes to the way I eat, just start with the best breakfast possible. It's a win-win situation: I get to nourish my body with wholesome, real food while at the same time being able to feel the thrill of a victory. If I can't change everything at once (because that much change is just damn hard to do), at least I can win with breakfast. I am going to win at breakfast!

Shame is never the answer.

Have you ever read Rachel Cole's work on being a well-fed woman? She knows what she's talking about when it comes to feeding ourselves. You won't find any recipes on her blog, but you will find exquisite encouragement to feed our hungers, and none of her strategies include shame. I'm going to make a lot of changes to how I eat because my body deserves the chance to feel good. But I won't be perfect. There is just so much pressure to eat purely and the flip side is to demonize those times you eat a hunk off that gorgeous baguette. Let's declare right now, right here, that there is no one way to eat. Shaming impure eating (whatever that actually means) doesn't become us. 

My body deserves the best food possible.

It sure does. Sometimes that means a basket of organic peaches from the market (heaven) and sometimes that means scalloped potatoes cooked for me by my mother (also heaven). We all deserve food that nourishes us and I'm so, so fortunate that I can afford to fill my house with such good things. My health is the only thing that will sustain me long enough to live many, many more years and there's no playing around. In my life right now that means making food preparation a priority in my day, something I'm able to do right now as I'm taking this break from school. I will remind myself every day that I deserve food that nourishes me.

Now, go and eat something good.

Be well!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Taking Stock: August

Hello lovelies. Are you keeping busy with all your summer projects? I'm always amazed at how busy I feel in the summer months, a time when I expect to move through the days at a much slower pace. Maybe I just need more practice at slowing down. Are you good at slowing down? Do you schedule downtime for yourself, or does it just happen in your day?

I read a great post yesterday about the difference between being busy and being productive and it has me thinking a lot about how I'm spending my time. Maybe if I'm spending less time being busy and more time actually getting things done, I might have more time for doing nothing at all (which for me means lounging/knitting/reading). The culture of being busy all the time is not what it's cracked up to be.

In the midst of all this busy, here is what I've been up to:

Making: Still working on knitting my first pair of socks. 
Cooking: Very little. Cooking feels like such work in the summer.
Drinking: More coffee than is probably necessary.
Wanting: Some energy.
Looking: For the bright side.
Wishing: For some routine.
Enjoying: Home summer school with the girlies.
Waiting: For the girlies to go back to school!
Liking: Not having strep throat anymore.
Wondering: How to create new habits.
Loving: Watching baseball games with Matty.
Pondering: What third grade will be like for Alyce.
Considering: Letting my grey hair grow out.
Buying: Back to school things for two excited little girls.
Watching: The Knick.
Hoping:  For more time with good friends.
Marvelling: At the fall leaves I've been spotting this week.
Cringing: At the thought of making dinner. Again.
Needing: Some gentle exercise.
Smelling: Peaches
Wearing: As little as possible in this heat.
Following: The blogs of my fellow classmates in my blogging course.
Noticing: All the new summer freckles on the girlies after a long summer playing outside.
Knowing:That I'll be feeling sad when all my friends return to school this fall while I sit this year out.
Thinking: About how to make the most of this year off.
Admiring: People on their bicycles. They look so lovely.
Sorting: Through piles of clothes for fall.
Bookmarking: The pages of the book Connected Parenting.
Coveting: Fabulous dresses.
Disliking: My sore feet.
Giggling: At the girlies and the hula hoops.
Feeling: Quiet lately.
Snacking: On dark chocolate ice cream.
Hearing: The rain.
Do you want to take stock? I got the idea from Pip.