health and wellness

Chin up, buttercup! If you have the post-holiday blues, I've got you covered.

A Seattle stormy day…

A Seattle stormy day…

Now that the holiday cheer and merriment that kept you busy from Halloween to New Years is over, you (or a loved one) may be feeling a range of emotions from relief to sadness to fatigue to explainable body aches.

While we expect the holiday season to be busy, somewhat stressful even, we tend to ignore the emotional aftermath, which can leave us navigating unfamiliar, dark territory. Unlike a physical wound where we would apply a bandage, emotional distress can be harder to acknowledge and therefore heal. As humans we also have a propensity to make our emotional wounds worse by discounting them as something else.

Post-holiday blues are unique to everyone. However, when some basic symptoms arise that seem out of the ordinary, you may want to slow down to evaluate why they may be cropping up.

Symptoms may include:

  • Headaches

  • Fatigue or insomnia

  • Muscle tension

  • Negative self-talk

  • Lack of focus or ability to concentrate

  • Anxiety

  • Hopelessness

  • Anger

Now, if you simply feel off this winter or show any of the above signs, read through the following list to determine what resonates with you. Pick one or two that you can commit to, to help remedy your symptoms.

Be sure you’re maintaining an excellent baseline for your body to function.

This includes:

  1. Quality sleep (ideally 6.5-9 hours) in a cool, dark room; if this is not possible, carve out a time to take a power nap. Most Americans undervalue sleep, yet if the majority of us would get enough sleep and drink water, our lives would be dramatically different!

  2. Staying hydrated by drinking half your body weight in ounces of water per day; set yourself up right by beginning your day (yes, before your coffee), with a large cup of lukewarm, lemon water to get your body hydrated and active, flushing out toxins that have settled while sleeping.

  3. Eating fresh, whole foods; include vegetables with every meal, as well as some healthy fats (nuts, avocado, coconut and extra-virgin olive oil); skip the sugar and processed foods and drinks. The old adage, “you are what you eat,” is scarier today than in any other modern time. Buy organic meats and know the Dirty Dozen list to avoid breaking the bank on fresh produce.

    People like to bypass the importance of nutrition and focus on the exercise component. I can’t emphasize it enough that you CANNOT exercise your way out of a bad diet. Those abs truly are made (or lost) in the kitchen.

    If this is an area you truly struggle in, I highly suggest you reach to me so that I can help you achieve your body health goals or at the very least outline a plan to help you create healthy eating habits. I have 21-Day Sugar Detox groups monthly or can also coach you one-on-one, digging deeper into the root cause of your health, or lack thereof.

  4. Exercising. This doesn’t have to be intense. Simply start your day with a minimum of 10 minutes of your favorite movements. This could be push-ups in your living room, squats while brushing your teeth, a dance party with your kids, or getting off of the bus or train a stop early to walk to the office, etc. Extra points if you can get outside in natural sunlight while exercising.

  5. Speaking of sunlight, get outside every chance you get. We have a very bad habit of sitting for hours, tucked inside, possibly never seeing the light of day for more than 5 minutes during the winter. By regulating your circadian rhythm, you’ll naturally have a lighter mood. Shoot for 20 minutes outside in the light. Better yet, break up your day with a walk at lunch with your best bud.

Create new  routines in your day that provide proper outlets and boundaries to help you thrive, including:

  1. Breath work – most of us take our breath for granted. Take a few minutes out of your day (ideally first thing in the morning or before going to bed) to slow down and pay attention to your breath. Simply breathe deeply in and out of your nose slowly 10 times or better yet meditate for 10 minutes.

  2. Be grateful – express your gratitude by pen or by voice daily. Finding 3-5 things to be grateful for daily, big or small, has a significant impact on your mental health.

  3. Draw or journal.

  4. Create time for creativity and play; detox from technology and the competing noise from being plugged in. We become more inspired and creativity flows freely in these “white” spaces of time in our day than forcing the hustle mentality.

  5. Get into nature – as noted above.

  6. Exercise – again, as noted above, make this a non-negotiable. If you’re sitting most of the day in front of a computer, be sure to take breaks every couple of hours and walk around the office or go for a walk outside. Getting your eyes off the screen and moving your body will dramatically alter your state and clear your mind, making room for better creativity.

  7. Mantras – your thoughts are incredibly powerful. What do you say about yourself; how do you talk to yourself? If necessary, change the self-talk to something positive and/or proclaiming powerful, optimistic statements that start with “I AM _____!”

  8. Level up your squad – Jim Rohn says, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” To expand on that, 1) you become more like your entire circle of influence, and 2) you should audit the people you spend time with. Are they encouraging you to be a better person? Do they promote healthy habits? Do they help you be the person you excel to be? Do they help you pursue the activities that speak to your heart? Excellence and joy are contagious –make sure you surround yourself with people that make you better.

  9. In the same vain, genuinely connect with people and environment. Unplug your phone. Show up and sit down for family meals. Look people in the eye. Tell people you appreciate them. Look around at the sights and sounds, the architecture and the diverse people, when you’re walking. Listen closely as someone speaks; think before you speak. Stop and smell the roses.

  10. Celebrate little victories – it’s easy to get swept away in the busyness of the season or the work week or the deadlines, but if we don’t stop and celebrate the little wins, we keep plodding ahead with little to no enthusiasm. By nature, we beat ourselves up over perceived poor performance or mistakes. However, when we celebrate our little wins, we are building our confidence, pride in our work, and reinforcing the good behavior that produced the successful result. in contrast to the hustle attitude, it’s energizing. Don’t forget to find people to celebrate with you!

  11. Give – whether that’s giving of your time by volunteering, giving back to the earth by planting a tree, donating to your favorite charity, or purely giving of your time and being present, the ROI is always more than expected.

  12. Give yourself grace. Some days are simply easier than others, don’t beat yourself up. Especially after the holidays, it will take some time to get back to a normal routine. If all else fails, a good Epsom salt bath usually does the trick!

  13. Break down larger projects into bite size, actionable tasks. When you write your to-do list, either at home or at work, be sure to keep your tasks specific, and limit each day with no more than 8 priority items. Tackle the hardest item first to get it out of the way, gain momentum and be more confident moving forward. (remember, we want to celebrate the little victories!).

  14. Research shows that physical clutter clutters your mind and reduces your productive. Gift yourself the best gift this year and purge your desk or your closets at home. Take the one-minute to tidy up at the end of each day.

While creating new habits can feel overwhelming, take one day at a time. Reject the idea that you must do everything all at once and perfectly. Choose one thing to focus on and master it before moving on. Little by little, a little becomes a lot. So, remember one foot in front of the other, no matter how slow or how often you must get up and try again.

All that being said, if your winter blues seem a shade darker, refusing to lift in the days and weeks upon returning to the office, consider reaching out to a mental health professional. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a common, legit issue that should be addressed properly. Above all, know that you’re not alone in the process.

A season of expectancy and why to stay in the game.

This time last year, I was a bad-tempered girl complaining I wasn’t getting any Christmas presents. I don’t know who that girl is anymore. I want to be her again because she didn’t know what would be savaged and almost lost. And yet, I don’t want to be her because of all I’ve gained.
— Jo, Little Women

together.jpg

The oldest of my little women started watching Little Women on her own volition. So last Saturday morning when I stumbled downstairs after sleeping in a bit, I cuddled with my little ones on the couch and listened to these poignant words boldly proclaimed by Jo.

They fell on me like a weight.

So much can change, so fast.

Be it a moment, a month, a year – or three.

Sometimes we’re impatient because we feel we aren’t getting somewhere fast enough; our goals and dreams still seem too far off. And so we quit.

But what if we stayed in the game a little bit longer and refused to give up, knowing that whether or not we succeed, we will be changed; whether or not we were able to physically hold our dream in our hands, we will have gained.

With Christmas 3 days away (side note: what the heck? This was the FASTEST year ever!), I find that despite the hustle and bustle, in the backs of our minds we know the new year is around the bend. We know New Year’s resolutions are thing whether or not we subscribe to them. We know we should be mindful of setting some goals and not let another year pass us by.

We know, but do we plan on pursuing that person we want to become or the idea that has been rattling around in our brain? Or do we let fear hold us back because we don’t want to be disappointed if it didn’t work out in the time span we gave ourselves?

Sigh! It’s ok!

It is a season pregnant with anticipation after all, and I want to remind you of that.

While I’m most definitely NOT pregnant, the excitement of the season reminds me of my anticipation of meeting my babies for the first time.

In this season of expectancy - of Christmas gift giving and receiving, of fresh beginnings with the coming of the new year - there is renewed hope.

Hope that our resolutions, our goals and dreams will come to fruition, and the new year will magically transform us.

Now let’s get one thing straight. There is no magic! Those hopes and dreams don’t simply happen! It’s a PROCESS requiring planning, discipline, and effort....a certain gestation so to speak.

elephant.jpg

Did you know the average elephant pregnancy lasts 640 – 660 days? That’s roughly 95 WEEKS or 22 MONTHS! Granted, a baby elephant is rather large at birth, about 200 lbs to be exact, but that is a long ass time. I certainly would not want to be pregnant for nearly 2 years. No thank you!

But you see, things take time! I’m sure the mama elephant is just as content carrying her baby for 22 months because, like I did, I knew it was going to be worth it, no matter how unconformable I was at the end.

When things don’t come easily or naturally, we’re inclined to give up because it’s harder than we expected. It’s not ok to quit (unless perhaps it was a terrible idea to begin with) but it’s ok if it demands some elbow grease and patience.

Another side note: my second grader naturally loves words, reading and writing. Math, like her mama, is like a foreign language to her. It takes effort. Nowadays math is also extremely different from when I grew up and I have no idea how to help her, nor the time to YouTube how to do it every night. Both of us want to give up. That’s not really the answer though. She needs a foundation in math to continue to make progress. I don’t expect her to be a mathematician someday, but today, I trust that as we put the effort in, we will succeed.

That’s faith. That’s hope.

HOPE changes things....the way you face your day, the way you walk and talk. Hope, a level of unseen expectancy, puts that fire in your belly to look for miracles, to be patient through the trials, and to keep pushing through, turning the intangible ideas in our minds into tangible facets in our lives.

Be faithful to YOUR process. Stay true to your intuition, your values. Don’t let the shiny stories and objects of others - or even your own doubts and fears - distract you. Stay true to you, friend, and find a few friends to celebrate the victories along the way. We must stop and celebrate otherwise we’re susceptible to burnout, or worse yet, not even realize the progress we’ve made.

In conclusion, I’m not saying it will be easy, but I have faith that in a year, when you reflect back on the previous year and look ahead to the next, you will be proud of your growth - the successes and the perceived lows that taught you how to problem solve in a different way. And like Jo says in Little Women, “…I don’t want to be her because of all I’ve gained,” you will have gained a new perspective on where you stand versus who you were a year prior.

Little by little, a little becomes a lot!

So, embrace the rhythms of life (know the universal laws), be generous, love, be responsible (you’re in control, don’t play victim), and take captive your thoughts - unraveling yourself from the lies you’ve believed, the stories you’ve narrated that hold you back, and unlock yourself from limitations.

Enjoy this very merry Christmas season and have the happiest of new years!

I trust you’ll get after 2019 and embrace all that it has in store for you. In fact, I can’t wait to see what you do over the next 12 months.

xox, erin  

 

WEDNESDAY WISDOM: Step One.


Now this is the story all about how
My life got flipped, turned upside down
And I'd like to take a minute just sit right there
I'll tell you how I became the paleo queen of my home affairs


Long story, not-so-short:

Like a lot of people, I first got into nutrition by healing my own body. You can read more about it on my website.

Around the same time, I married into a CrossFit gym, and was introduced to what seemed like the wacky world of paleo. I was already gluten free but this was no doubt taking it up a notch. I turned into the friend who made raw brownies (aka larabar bites since desserts were off limits), made every meat dish under the sun, used my crockpot to make the spiciest adobo ever, and basically spent all of my time looking up recipes. Sadly, it was the early 2000's and Pinterest was not a thing back then! Shocking, I know!

And by the way, I was not a good cook….yet!

Most of the time I got the evil eye because I turned into that friend who made social gatherings awkward when it came to food.

Ultimately my fascination with paleo and continuing my journey of healing my body through food, included my vision to step up my involvement at the gym by creating create a nutrition program to coincide with the intense training of these beasts. I also wanted to become a better chef. These interwoven aspirations spurred my pursuit of going back to school for nutritional studies, or naturopathy, or Chinese medicine, or holistic cooking.

Side note, sometimes I can be really indecisive!

While I knew a fair bit from my own studies, my intention and dream was to go to Bastyr. After attending an info night, going on a tour, and sitting on the shores of Lake Washington to pray about it, I felt certain this was the road to take. I truly felt like the world was my oyster.

And yes, I’m a total nerd and LOVE school.

After a quarter of prerequisites in the books, I got pregnant with my first daughter. Working full-time, going to school part-time, and being pregnant, was interesting. When the fatigue hit and I’d fall asleep mid-sentence of a conversation, I decided something had to give, and my dream got derailed….for a bit.

Funny how life throws you curve balls once you think you’ve figured it all out!

Then one day, now with babe in arms, I picked up a little book called Practical Paleo at Costco.  Or perhaps I ordered it from Prime, charging it to the business! At this point mom brain has set in and the timeline gets a little fuzzy!

This not so little book, in case you’re not familiar with it, is essentially the Paleo gospel. Every ailment is addressed, from adrenal health to thyroid health – with a meal plan; to how to live a paleo lifestyle – from getting started to eating out to getting your friends on board; to healing digestion to managing stress. The 470 page book truly covers it all.

I was a quick fan.

Since Practical Paleo was such an inspiration to me, I later, nearly a year post-partum after my second daughter, decided to try my first 21-Day Sugar Detox (21DSD).  Although I only did Level 1 (Elleno’s guava greek yogurt was too hard to give up, and I may have slipped in a bag of popcorn along the way), I was amazed when I noticed my abs making an appearance.

Please believe me when I say it’s not about the aesthetics of my body, but the sheer excitement of how simple shifts (um, wasn’t I already eating clean paleo?), made such a difference.

Needless to say, Diane Sanfilippo became my kitchen buddy and guru.

When she launched her 21-Day Sugar Detox beta coaching group, I was naturally curious. I was a SAHM, now with two daughters, and it was nearly 4 years between when I took the first step toward my nutrition education, with nothing to prove for it.

At this point there were so many more options to choose between. NTA was just starting, IIN was big, Bastyr was still there, FDN was gaining traction, and on and on. I felt overwhelmed with the different avenues, time and financial commitments. Did I already mention I was indecisive?

The 21-Day Sugar Detox Coaches group felt like a happy medium – and an easier commitment for my little family to swallow. It was a platform in which I could get my feet wet, have the structure and support I needed, while shedding the fears and doubts of starting a business from the ground up.

Since I was already helping other mamas sort out what the heck to feed their kids, meal prep, and navigate their grocery store outings, I jumped into the 21DSD beta group.

Now let me get one thing straight - I’m not one for doing one thing at a time. Once I decided to join the beta group, I also started studying with Precision Nutrition (which I’m now certified in) and continued cooking for the frozen paleo meal service I started for some clients at the gym. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention I started that a few months prior when a coach persuaded me to help his client dial in his food. Eeek!

It was a slow start but I have fond memories studying my Precision Nutrition, the more science heavy chapters, and listening to the 21DSD coaching calls at the South lake Union Whole Foods, or while slurping up pho on wet PNW nights, and while drinking chai at Uptown Espresso in Belltown.

I have visceral memories of these Wednesday nights, which was my “night off” as a mom and wife. As I pursued these things that fed my mind and future, they quickly became my favorite evenings around town.

And of course during all of this, I was raising two babies, battling infidelity in my marriage, and trying to figure out what the hell to do with my life!

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, there’s NEVER a perfect time for anything.

There’s no doubt about it, with what you have at any given moment, make the wisest decision you can. But remember, you have the power to course correct at any time. Life is about constant change; and life rarely unfolds as well as you expect or plan for.

Now, nearly four years later (if you haven’t noticed TIME FLIES!):

  • I’m divorced.
  • I’m living in the Bay Area.
  • I’m Precision Nutrition Certified.
  • I’m still a 21DSD coach.
  • I have a nutrition coaching business.
  • I'm a Beautycounter Educator and mentor
  • I also have a FT marketing job.
  • I solo parent – making all the lunches, doing all of the laundry, meal prepping, and cleaning all of the toilets!

And somehow, I make it work. Even on the days when too many people comment, “I don’t know how you do it all,” and I want to slap them in the face - seriously, this comment is not helpful and really, what kind of answer are you trying to elicit? – we survive.

This not the end game.

Sure, everything takes longer than I expect. I’m tired. I don’t get to read as much as I desire. My house never stays clean as long as I’d want it to. Nor do I don’t exercise as long or hard as I’d like to.

But hope remains!

I know this is only a season.

Somedays it’s easier than others to crank out the gratitude, yet I'm always thankful and grateful for:

  • Podcasts, audible, and the kindle app for the long BART rides (does this count as my tribe?);
  • Unique chances to learn
  • For trial and error
  • For pushing myself out of my comfort zone
  • For new opportunists to create healthy streams of income
  • For fresh starts every morning
  • For cuddles
  • For the little sleep I do get
  • For my body, living room, and kettlebell allowing me to creatively break out into a sweat session.

I don’t wear any of this as a badge, but rather to thoughtfully share with you that this is the messy life I live right now. And that if I can pursue dreams and goals, so can you.

At this point in time, I get to connect with and help men and women, mamas and grandpas, across the country connect the dots between their health and nutrition.

For me, this is a stepping stone toward creating a platform for busy, career parents, in the throes of raising young kids, to find confidence, balance, and happiness in their kitchen, skin, and life.

What is it for you?

Have you forgotten that you’re stronger, more powerful, and more creative than you think?

Your beautiful mind is waiting for you to crack it open and try something new. To break free from the mold you think you’re supposed to fit into and shine brighter than you have before.

It’s about taking the first step. Putting one foot in front of the other until you get enough momentum.

I can’t say you ever gain enough confidence to never fear, even a little bit, but it’s getting up and getting in the race that will get you closer to your goal.

So again, what is it for you?

  • If it’s nutrition, call me!
  • If it’s writing more, write your 500 words today.
  • If it’s that guy over there that gives you butterflies just looking at him, go talk to him.
  • If it’s going back to school, enroll.
  • If it’s joining a gym, get your membership tomorrow.

Just please, don’t wait. Don’t sit on the sidelines waiting for the right moment.

One way or another, the time will pass. Embrace it because in a year, or five or ten years, I want you to have a really good story tell!

I’m sorry, you want to do what?


needles.jpg

Before it was trendy to do so, I went gluten free in 2003. I recall having immediate results - my head and gut aches practically vanished, and my body was simply happier. Even as a self-prescribed bread addict, I thought it wasn’t terrible to give up bread and wheat. Call me young and naïve, but I even wondered, what else could I do to my body to heal it? I’m no biohacker like today’s Ben Greenfields or Dave Aspreys, but I dabbled.

Detoxes, fasts, blood tests, weight training (pre CrossFit days) or cardio - I tried it. Honestly, not a lot of profound results, but I learned about myself and my body as I chased the ideal of healing limiting beliefs, aches and pains.

So in 2007, when I continued to explore other alternative health options for my ailments, Laura, my yoga teacher recommended I come in to see her for acupuncture.

I trusted her so I went.

Otherwise it would have been a big hell no. Me and needles, um, no thanks!

But again, when you’re in your twenties, childless, and apparently don’t have much else to do on a weekend, the hour or two spent with needles in your limbs is quite the adventure.

We chatted, she looked at my tongue, took my pulse, and with quick precision placed the needles. I barely felt them, and even napped.

Acupuncture was nothing what I expected.

Not only was I pleasantly surprised at how relaxed I was, I was more impressed by having the best night of sleep that evening. Needless to say, I returned.

In my next appointment, after addressing my issues with the needles, Laura asked me if I had ever done cupping.

I’m sorry, what?

When you’re exposed, lying on a table, and people ask you vague questions, it can be a little intimidating.

I got the run down and was game. At this point in my life I was at the gym every day, addicted to running, sitting behind a computer for 8+ hours, and needed whatever she offered.

But back to cupping. Even if you’ve been debriefed and mentally prepared, it’s hard to know what to expect with that first experience with the cup. While there is more pain associated with cupping than acupuncture, it’s a good kind of pain. It truly hurts so good. You feel me?

Where acupuncture gently realigns our energy, reminding our body how to heal on its own, cupping provides pressure, encouraging blood flow, breaking up any stagnation to the area applied.

All in all, cupping was different, somewhat magical, and since it leaves painless bruises, it was an easy conversation starter at the gym the next day.

But, life happened, as it does, and I didn’t see much of yoga, acupuncture or cupping for some time. That was until I got pregnant and had other aches and pains I wanted to address naturally.

But as you can imagine, once my babies came, I again pushed my healing to the side.

Sure, I made time for things I love, like a good meal with dear friends, moving my body regularly, and a good living room dance party with my littles. But what I love about acupuncture and cupping, aside from the healing, is the personal nature of the time spent with the practitioner. This is not your typical run of the mill 10 min, box checking, interaction with your GP or therapist. Acupuncturists take their time to get to know you. They have to!

Part therapist, part healer, part teacher, acupuncturists are there to help, and spend their time to do so.

Though I often find myself a little lost when my daughters go with their dad on his weekends, it’s not hard to hide my excitement for the quiet and the ability to retreat to activities that speak to my soul and offer healing. My most recent visit with Candise provided just that. Once we got past the formalities and updates from the last month, Candise quickly had me in tears. Happy tears, tears of frustration, tears of freedom! When was the last time you were in someone’s presence and you could let your guard down and let everything flow? No judgment, only pure empathy, concern, and care.

Like a friend who has seen you through thick and thin, and still chooses to offer a hand, Candise has that touch. That is in addition to her touch with needles, ear seeds, and cupping.

breathe.jpg

Where are you on your journey of health and balance?

Have you hit the wall and realize it’s been far too long since you did more than the usual to take care of yourself? As career women, as moms, we do what we can, when we can. Manis, pedis, a spa day, a glass of wine, here and there.

But does it add up to the balance you need? Does it address the root issues or only numb the dissonance between your desires and your reality?

It’s a lot to address right now, I understand. But do take the time to ask yourself these questions. What’s missing? What are you ignoring? What could you say “no” to, to be able to say “yes” to feeling your best?

Let’s return to the first issue I brought up – I quit gluten, which led to an interest of healing all of me. Even knowing, despite wishing otherwise, it wouldn't be a quick fix. But why wait? There are no perfect moments to start anything!

Do you have the confidence to search for and find balance? Are you bold enough to take control of your health - whether that is ditching the foods you know don’t love you back, or creating the time to exercise, or finding a coach to help you strategically make sense of it all, or making a monthly appointment for acupuncture?

All are good, all can be necessary, but what makes you feel your best?

Start there!

I think we can agree, we all yearn to be heard, understood, liked, loved, and to belong. It begins with knowing who you are and being willing to write a different ending for ourselves.

I know I want to thrive, and I’m sure you do also.

For lack of better words, for the most bang for your buck, or when all else fails, start your journey of health in all of it’s imperfection….and get yourself an acupuncturist (or a health coach, like me!).

Comment below with where you are on your health journey or if you love acupuncture.

I’d also love to know what would serve you best as you navigate the balance between work, health, kids, and life.

xox

Do you have a PULSE?


drowning.jpg

When in a moment of wanting to zone out on my commute home on an overly packed BART train, I accidentally read an article about mercury going into retrograde soon. Dude, wasn’t mercury just in retrograde?

So yeah, while I’m over here trying to simplify and creatively be the superhero in my life, I guess things could get crazier. However, that’s not where I choose to focus or put my energy.

That being said, March snuck up on me like a ninja in the dark. 2018 is whizzing by and I’ve barely been able to come up for air. I’m bursting to create but I never feel like there is enough time. Yet, it’s time to manifest this whirlwind of dates, ideas, words, and emails that have been swirling in my mind.

It hit me especially this last week when everyone wanted something yesterday. As soon as I began to focus on a task, an email, a skype message, or a text would buzz through and someone needed something else. My mind was ever shifting from this deadline to that deadline, or to this idea scribbled on yet another sticky note, to another line item on the personal development to-do list, to what’s for dinner, to wondering who I could pay to come fold the laundry that’s in a pile on the couch. I’ll skip the many “mama, mama, look at this,” and “MOM! She hit me,” and “I’m starving, I’m going to die,” interruptions, conversations, and fatigued shifts in direction and focus. Phew!

I jokingly told a coworker that I was going to lead a lunch + learn on mindfulness and single-tasking because I was fed up with the barrage of chaos, stacking deadlines, and the feeling of early onset Alzheimer’s, let alone the shame of wanting to sit in silence or take a time out.

Having deadlines is nothing new and can be great motivators, but when your work becomes subpar because there are too many week after week, it’s simply too much.

list.jpg

And somehow, despite not being proud of the busyness, I get used to it and don’t know how to turn off.

Even on vacation, I find myself checking email unnecessarily because I fear I might miss an important email (even knowing I won’t) and more so, don’t know how to fully relax, because it almost makes me feel like I’m lazy if I actually enjoy myself.

Can we all agree that’s not healthy?

Based on a suggestion, I started reading Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, by Brigid Schulte. When I initially began reading the book, I found myself wanting to throw it across the room with every other page I read. As a woman, and a single mom, I could relate with the author’s frazzled existence and pursuit of leisure and time. Simple enjoyment of one’s life and family -  the elusive balance we all talk about but seldom discover, seemed more doomsday and I didn’t want to read it. I’m more hopeful than that, or so I want to believe. Perhaps I’m just being naïve – or else I need to move to Denmark. Regardless, I kept reading.

She made it apparent that women, especially mothers, have a bum deal.

“Women’s leisure tends to be more fragmented and chopped up into small, often unsatisfying bits of ten minutes here, twenty minutes there, that researchers call “episodes.” ….that’s too short for anything other than a quick item on the to-do list.”

“Mother’s leisure tends to be more interrupted, contaminated by mental noise, and “purposive.”

It seemed like a dead end. This was something I most certainly didn’t want to read about since my pursuit of 2018 is to include more peace and joy, and surrounding myself with freedom and learning from the dreamers and doers, the high achievers, movers and shakers.

Redemption came toward the end of the book, as it usually does.

This nugget of wisdom, and the following tips of how to create the time management, leisure, and freedom we all crave, is golden. Because let’s be honest, at the end of the day, all of our problems are a TIME issue:

[Terry] Monaghan’s approach to time management is simple:

You can’t manage time. Time never changes.

There will always be 168 hours in a week. What you can manage are the activities you choose to do in that time. And what busy and overwhelmed people need to realize, she said, is that you will never be able to do everything you think you need to, want to or should do. “When we die, the email inbox will still be full. The to-do list will still be there. But you won’t,” she told us. “Eighty percent of the email that comes in is crap anyway, and it takes you the equivalent of 19 ½ weeks a year just to sort through. Eighty percent of your to-do list is crap.

Look, the stuff of life never ends. That is life.

You will never clear your plate so you can finally allow yourself to get to the good stuff. So you have to decide. What do you want to accomplish in this life? What’s important to you right now?”

So much grace, with a healthy dose of reality and tough love.

So let’s do it. It starts with you, me, right now. Yes, right now.

time.jpg

How, you ask?

If Shulte can do it, so can you.

Her trick: “Pulsing — deactivating and reactivating the brain — actually makes it pay better attention.”

Despite the belief we accomplish more when we multi-task, it in fact fragments our time and our thought processes, making tasks take even longer.

We've become a society of lollygaggers, with extended water cooler conversations, multiple IG and FB scrolling every 20 minutes as source of a “mental break,” all the while extending our actual work day.

What if we got our work done in an allotted time frame and allowed ourselves the rest of the day to be free? To actually live, in the moment without thinking about the emails that “need” to be written (hint – they probably can wait), or the dishes that need to washed when our kids ask us to play a game.

This tactic of pulsing allows you to focus on yes, a single task, and follow it through to completion without interruptions.

As a result, the structure of dedicated time allows you to accomplish more, more efficiently.

Much like attempting meditation for the first time, it may seem foreign and excruciatingly painful to sit there for 30 minutes in utter focus. If needed, set a timer and begin with a single task for 30 minutes before you take a break or move on. Most tasks require more than 30 minutes, but begin there and slowly increase the time to 45 or even 90 minutes. Take a short break and come back to the task, or move on to something else. But given that time span, only focus on that one issue – do not be tempted by the black hole of email, or any other “alarm” that sounds.

Applied to the family side of things, this can be accomplished with family rhythms which provide an organic approach to creating structure around reoccurring activities built into your day. This works especially well with kids who need to know what comes next as a sense of well-being and safety.

Meal time is a good place to start. Turn off all electronics and focus on your food, each bite, and the people sitting around the table. Talk to them, ask questions, and get to know them!

For example, in our house:

  • Friday is our Picnic movie sushi date night, where we make homemade, nothing fancy sushi, pick out a movie, pull out a towel and eat dinner picnic style on the floor while watching the film. Ok, yeah, this one involves a movie, but we it’s really the only time we have the TV on for more than 10 minutes.
  • Saturday mornings are for waffles or scones and sausages before ballet classes.
  • Sunday mornings are for farmer’s markets and church.

It’s in these little moments where the extraordinary can happen.

Not only can this time be more focused because we’re somewhat on autopilot due to the rhythm we created, but we also allow our brains to sit happy with the single task rather than jarring, redirection every 5 seconds attending to this thought or that email or that person’s emergency.

The world will not end if we slow down.

The weight of another’s crisis, is not a burden we’re called to carry alone. You’re not Superman.

The laundry pile and dirty dishes don’t have a heart and soul like the child that simply wants to play a game with you. It can wait, your child cannot.

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. – Annie Dillard

Don’t waste it away with a frantic brain in a sea of deadlines and busyness. Pursue purpose and passion, and create the space and time to love on those that mean the most to you. What’s the point of running the race, burning out, and forfeiting your precious time?

It’s up to you my friends. Seize the day and seize your life.