(The) Good Life

Attention please, alert the presses, there is a new contender for the 2014 Mother of The Year Award.

Who? Why, yours truly of course. Duh.

Supporting evidence:

Me. In pajamas. Driving my children (all) two blocks to school, five minutes before the bell rings.

Yeah… so that just happened, and no by pajamas I don’t mean my yoga clothes, I mean puh-jam-uhs.  I straight up rolled out the door in tiny ruffly shorts and a cami paired with a hoodie and flip flops. Wow. #stayclassysandiego.

But, besides confirming my membership to the Humbled Mothers Club (and narrowly escaping the total and complete humiliation of my children that only a parent can create), I also got a pretty decent dose of satisfaction out of that moment.

The funny thing is, I kind of sort of don’t care that I didn’t make it to the status of “fully dressed by 9 a.m.” today (as if that wasn’t totally obvious). Actually, quite the opposite is true; the fact that at 8:50 a.m. I was sitting working at my kitchen table, in pajamas, is kind of… awesome.

Why? A year ago that couldn’t have happened. A year ago at 8:50 a.m. I would have been two hours into my workday, but sitting in my office, in business wear, putting out fires with my right hand while my left hand directed traffic, my shoulder held the phone up to my ear and my feet kept the pedals turning so the whole contraption didn’t come crashing down. I would have spent at least eight more hours on site, picked my kids up two minutes before childcare closed and had just enough time to get them home, fed, bathed and put to bed before I crashed out on the couch ten minutes after I finally sat down.  Sounds fun, no?

Orrrrrrrr, not.

Today? Today I slept until I felt like waking up. I had about two hours to work in total (blissful) silence at my kitchen table, with my coffee, my spotify “Flow” playlist, and my amazing sleep attire. I made my kids a hot breakfast, woke them up to music, chatted with them while they ate, supervised them getting ready, then sat down to work again while they played. That’s just the tiniest bit different than last year. Smidge.

My life is still crazy, I run in more directions in one week than I used to in an entire month and my google calendar makes the rainbow jealous. I still have fires to put out. I still have traffic to direct and objects to keep in motion. The difference is, it’s on my terms. I choose my fires. I decide in which direction to drive, who’s on the road with me and what kind of transportation I’m using. I have never been happier with my life’s direction. Ever.

A year ago I couldn’t have imagined this would be my life. That the suits in my closet would slowly be replaced by “lifestyle wear” in the form of yoga pants, running shorts and sarcastic statement tanks, or that I would have the time and energy to devote to my interests and passions that I do now.

I had no idea that at this time I would get to be doing three things that I LOVE, and with considerably flexibility on where and when I do each of those. This means I sometimes work on the beach (I kid you not), on the green, on the mat, in the box, on my couch, in a coffee shop, or on the trail. Sometimes “working” actually means “eating lunch and drinking cocktails with clients,” and sometimes it means “cracking jokes while serving as a catalyst for growth.”

A year ago I wouldn’t have guessed that only twice a week I would be encouraged (not even really required) to wear professional attire, and that even then, it wouldn’t feel like work. And, even on those two days a week I lecture, I would have a three hour break in the morning that I would fill with exercise and assisting. Assisting. At a yoga studio. 18 months ago I didn’t even know that studio existed. Now I’m there 6 days a week. I repeat – WOW.

I am filled with gratitude for my life. I’m overflowing with appreciation, eager to maintain that momentum, and most of all, to share that joy with others, because what good is happiness if not spread?

To that end, when I reflect on why I am where I am right now, besides the fact that I was willing to take a risk (a really really big one), I can narrow down the contributors to this reality to a few key shifts in paradigm.

When I decided I was ready take charge of my own happiness, I left my job, moved, cashed out my entire life savings and then I :

  1. Let go of expectations, predictability and routineness. I got out of my comfort zone. Way out.
  2. Removed “should” and “have to” from my long term goals. I replaced them with “get to” and “want to” and “will.”  Simple change in vocabulary. GIANT change in result.
  3. Visualized what I wanted, I put positive energy to that end, then watched for opportunities for that to become a reality. I took ownership of my own fate and got out of my own way.
  4. Saw people, and myself, differently and I applied that power in my life with renewed effort. I stopped being concerned with what others expected or thought of me. I sent out grace and compassion instead of judgement and anger. I learned to manage my time and energy more effectively and how to leverage my resources, including my emotional reserves. My lens changed, permanently.
  5. Calmed the fuck down and the let universe provide. And provide it has.

Does this mean my life is perfect now? Nope. Negative. Not even close. I’ve just improved my ability to hide my crazy hold it down. I’m still getting my game tight, I’m still learning, I’m still failing, and I’ve got plenty of room for improvement. Miles and miles actually. However, I’ve got a pretty good toolkit at the ready, so I’m um, ready for the bumps in road, whatever they may be.

Ready to take charge of your own happiness?  The first step starts with you; lace up and get moving already.

Life is mostly froth and bubble,

Two things stand like stone,

Kindness in another’s trouble,

Courage in your own.

~Adam Lindsay Gordon

 

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I LIKE THE WAY YOU WORK IT

I am starting to realize there are people who work, and people who work OUT. Apparently, I am increasingly becoming one of the latter. Oops. Note to self- find a way for exercise to pay the bills, like soon.

Given my flexible(ish) schedule, I am able to devote an average of about two hours a day, most days to getting my sweat on. I get up early, stay up late and juggle a whole lot to do this, but it’s worth it. On the one hand, two hours is a lot, as that’s about 12% of my daily waking hours, but the more I do it, the more I realize how much it impacts me positively. It keeps me going; it’s my fuel. Taking care of my body is how I am able to do what I do (it also, btw, allows me to eat. And drink. A lot. Both of which I enjoy, uh, a lot. Win-win-win).

Let’s just say I figured out what Wonder Woman eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner- endorphins.

Currently, I have little trifecta of exercise nirvana going down. I run, I practice yoga, and I (attempt to) do CrossFit WOD’s three times a week. All three are of equal importance and each provides a unique benefit to me, and in turn, I might add, to those around me. In fact, you probably don’t want to be around me on a non-exercise day. Approach with caution, and by caution I mean wine. Or vodka. Or maybe both.

So, what? Why? When? How? And why should you care? Well, you know how I feel about sharing (it’s caring. . .) so besides a smidge of my own ROB, I am hoping to provide a little inspriation in hopes that my virtual audience might learn something, or something. So here it is, the DL on my exercise regime. Let’s call it:

CTFD: Improving the Relationship Between You and Your Endorphins

Part I- Running

I’ve been a runner my entire life, spriting, relays, distance, you name it. I’m pretty sure I did my first fun run sometime around nine, and have already coerced encouraged my own children to run their first 5k (yes, they ran, the entire way. GO TEAM).

I run, because I can. I run because it pushes me past my limits. I run because of the runner’s high. I run because it makes me stronger. I run because my body craves the mind numbing beat of my feet up on the ground, the world whoosing past me as I go. I run to be mindful, to be present, to notice. To appreciate nature’s beauty. To pay reverence to the glory created on earth that lives and breathes all around me.

I run to feel the sunlight peeking down on me through the leaves of a 100 year old sycamore tree. I run to spot the loving hands of an elderly couple strolling through the park. I run to hear the peals of laughter of children on the playground and the squeals of delight from the baby in the stroller seeing the wagging tail of the furry old golden retriever in front of her. This, is my run. These are the joys that fill me up, the energy that encompasses me, encourages me, keeps me going. It’s my perspective.

Part II- Yoga

I just passed my one year anniversary of practicing yoga. This is amazing to me, because it feels as though it’s a part of me that’s always been there. Maybe it has, actually, and I just finally found it. Om. Namaste Universe. You rock.

I do yoga because it keeps it real. It grounds me while opening me up. It is grace and power; beauty, and strength. It’s how you reach Spiritual Gangster status, players. Yoga, particularly this style (hot power vinyassa) is an emotional, physical and spiritual workout like no other. It’s no wonder I’m basically addicted. Yoga Jedi? I think not. More like Yoga Junkie.

Zuda- #theotheryellowpill.

I go in like this

stressed3

and then for the next 75 minutes of heat, sweat, and chat-fucking-rungas, I work out it all out on my mat. There I fluctuate in my flow between being so present in what I’m doing that I surrender all other thoughts and am 100% in tune with my movements, or hit auto pilot and am so deep in thought I am completely oblivious to a) what I’m doing, b) who else is there, or c) where the hell I am.  Sometimes I find myself in forward fold and wonder when I got there. Not kidding.

However, either way, when I leave, I’m all better. I’m also like thisquadsonfire

Yoga is like a gigantic band-aid. Or, well, more like a hot compress, actually. It warms my soul. When I leave, I am in a creative zone, inspired and open, (and sofa king hungry). Once I come out of my yoga puddle (yes, yoga puddle. Let’s be honest, driving after yoga is more dangerous than driving after drinking. I’m completely serious) I have a total sense of calm and focus stemming from deep within that carries me through the day. I can identify and articulate my feelings, so much so that I can produce writing pieces for this site, for my work on medium, and for clients with so much more, well, vibe, for lack of a better word.

But that’s not where my yoga ends. I also hit the studio at least twice a week to assist. You know, that person who pushes you deeper into downward dog, holds your leg in the air during balancing half moon, rubs your shoulders in child’s pose, climbs on your back in plank (only if you’re really lucky)? That’s what I do and I LOVE it. I love it so much I’m doing Yoga Teacher Training this summer so I can legitimately get my zen on with all y’all. “CTFD Summer 2014,” coming soon to studios near you.

What’s so great about it? “What’s NOT great about it?” is my response. Assisting is my time to fill up, with good, with gratitude and with love; it’s part of my connection to community. Giving the gift of service through my time, energy and touch all to empower others to grow in their practice is by far the best part of my week, every week. On Thursdays, for example, I almost always hit the 9:30 class to practice myself then go back and assist at noon. It’s amazing, thebombdotcom (yes, I just went there, whatever, it is. Don’t believe me? Try it, then we’ll talk). First I work my week out, bring up all my troubles to the surface, process them, empty my bucket (like, all over the floor, with my sweat) then fill it back up again in hundredfold.

Part III- CrossFit

I admit I’m late jumping on this bandwagon. I resisted, for a long time, as I considered myself someone who “doesn’t do that,” or isn’t a “weightlifting kind of girl.” I saw people’s hand callouses and thought “hell no.” I saw pictures of people deadlifting three times my weight and thought “they PAY for that?”  Then I started doing obstacle races, which turned out to be kind of, sort of amazingly fun. They also, however, require some agility and strength training I wasn’t already doing. So, begrudgingly, I bought a Groupon and started going to a CrossFit gym in February.

Um, anyone have any humble pie to serve me? I would like six servings please.

I have never had more fun working out. Ever. Dead serious. Who knew? Okay, well, maybe the like 1 million people that already go (don’t check that statistic, I totally made it up), but I for one, did not anticipate the giant wrinkle lines forming along the sides of my mouth as a result of grinning (and grimacing) through a WOD three times a week.

CrossFit pushes me out of my comfort zone, way out. As an athlete, I like to get it RIGHT. I want to do it BETTER. I want to the hashtag under my imaginary action shot to read #nailedit, and not in a sarcastic way. When I workout I get in the “ZONE,” or at least I try. Intense might be a word used to describe me in that setting. Focused. Serious. Practically taking notes and asking 25 questions every ten minutes (great way to make people hate love you btw).

However, I am finding CrossFit loosens this up for (in?) me. It makes exercise fun and I get to do crazy stunts I never even knew existed, let alone thought I’d be doing, and willingly at that. When I’m trying something new, like say, chest to bars, or double unders, or handstand push-ups, I give myself full permission to to laugh at my flailing attempts to figure it out. It’s really quite comical.

In addition to the laughter, I am supported, and well. I get constant positive feedback from the coaches, I feel the sense of teamwork and encouragement from the other members. I feed on their energy and am motivated by what they can do.

Watching the advanced CrossFitters do things like walk across the entire gym floor on their hands, or do muscle ups on the rings doesn’t intimidate me, it inspires me. It makes me want to jump up and try it, regardless of how much it might hurt, how little I know, and how unskilled it turns out I actually currently am at this whole gymnastics+lifting+stepaerobics+tabata business.

I’m strong, for sure, but when it comes to hands going in one direction and legs going another, or a sequence of six moves just to get a weighted bar over my head- my brain is a fast learner but my body – notsomuch. I am learning (again) of the value of getting out of my comfort zone, of pushing past my limits, of positive self talk, and of letting myself be okay with being a novice at something. CrossFit makes me CTFD. Yikes.

Part IV- Bring it

Just kidding. There’s no part four, well, yet anyway. Just the continued practice and application of learning and practice that’s going down already. So long as exercise provides a healthy benefit without detriment to health or negative impact on work or relationships with others it’s worth every drop of sweat. Just be careful to keep it balanced.

If you are on the fence about exercising, I hope this is motivating for you. Or, if you are feeling guilty for devoting too much of your time to this effort, I hope this relieves some of that doubt. If you think I’ve completely lost my mind then I say “obviously.” I cancelled my subscription to Predictable Uniformity and am now a proud card carrying member of Team Doesn’t Give a Shit, confirmed resident of the city of Happy, application pending for the county of Zen, and on the road to the state of Bliss.

See ya’ll on the trail, or the mat, or the bars (both kinds :-o).

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CARRY ON

“The more we embrace the constant change of life, the less we get knocked over by it”

– Baron Baptiste

After Monday’s post on focusing on the positive (I think that’s what it was about anyway, I’m still a little confused, to be honest) it seemed appropriate to have a little chat/pep talk/follow-up with some action items for implementation. The concept of focusing on the positive is simple. The practice, however, is where things start to get a little trickier.

We know that your thoughts control your habits and your habits determine (or at the very least, affect) your actions, right? Agreed? So essentially, positive thoughts produce positive habits which produce positive behavior which result in happier selves. You with me so far?

The reverse is also true. Negative thoughts produce negative habits which produce negative behavior. If I think I’m fat then I will punish myself for eating things I’m not “supposed to” which will create patterns of behavior around food which creates stress and anxiety which makes me unhappy. Got it?

This is the universal law of attraction at work as well. You get what you put out there. Be careful what self fulfilling prophecy you start writing when you chose to stay in that shittitude you’ve worked yourself up into.

I’m not saying you can’t ever be in a bad mood. You can. Absolutely. In fact, I have a spotify playlist for just those moments. But, I also have a playlist to follow that, my FIX IT playlist , you’ll notice it’s longer, a whole lot longer, actually.  Why? Because being in a bad mood gets me nowhere, it perpetuates negativity, breeds resentment and grows anger. Staying mad doesn’t help. Whatever happened is in the past. Let it go and move on. You can’t move forward if you keep looking behind you. Well, I mean, you can, but you might incur a whole lot more injury that way. Deal with what you need to deal with and leave drop that baggage like it’s hot, baby.

I have always been an optimist, always. I have not, however, always known a) how to articulate the concept b) how to leverage that resourceful mindset, and c) that it was a conscious decision that had become a habit as a result of repeated practice. Turns out I’d been practicing how to smile like I meant it my whole life. I smiled through every set of troubles the universe threw my way, and when I got knocked down, I rose.

Thanks mom, for teaching me how to stand up, dust off my knees, and get back on that horse (or uh, bike, I suppose, as it were), even in the rain. Even in the dark. Even when I was scared.

This is what the lotus on my tattoo stands for. Thriving in the face of adversity. Constant rebirth. Growth despite the odds. Optimism.

Okay, so back patting lecture over. Input provided. Basic background information, covered. Let’s take a look at the nitty gritty details, and move past the “why” into the “how.”

The foundation of optimism is attitude, and that is easy to adjust through reframing.

What is reframing, exactly? It’s the art of bullshitting. Only, it’s bullshitting your brain until it believes it is truth. It’s faking it till you make it, it’s visualizing to materialize, it’s creating your own reality through perspective.  It’s wearing rose colored glasses, even in a shitstorm.

Reframing is taking an experience or a statement, and turning it on its head into a positive thought.

As an illustration, while at CrossFit, a recent fitness interest of mine, I often find myself struggling with new skills (which, sidenote- if you are seeking some fun and humility in your life- hit up a CrossFit gym-  those WOD’s are guaranteed to keep it real) I have a pretty good time laughing at myself in these moments, like when I get the jump rope caught in my hair, or the back of my neck, or my, uh, ass (that hurts, kind of, a lot, actually). It would be easy to get frustrated, quit and shut down. But I don’t. I keep it light. I let it flow. I reframe.

For example, instead of saying “I can’t do double unders. Double unders are stupid” I could say “double unders are challenging for me, but I am getting better every week.” Or, when given 60 burpees to do as a part of a WOD (uh huh, you read that right. Sixty. As a PART of a series of exercises) I could say “buck furpees,” but instead I can say “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger,” and knock them out, sparkling (yes, sparkling) with sweat and all.

In a non fitness example, gasp, consider being on the road. Sometimes when I’m running late to my 8a.m. lecture (like uh, today) and I’m driving the back road to the staff parking lot there are people walking, directly in the middle of the road, trailing their backpacks behind them without a care in the world or any effort whatsoever to move over.  I could get upset. I could start bitching about people being inconsiderate and start rolling my eyes seeing grown adults with rolling backpacks. . . But, that is neither helpful, nor kind. It provides no benefit to me and lands harsh and unwarranted judgement on them. So instead, I take a breath and remind myself that a) it’s my fault I’m running late and b) dude, I run in the street. Like, right smack dab in the middle of it, facing oncoming traffic. . . so. . .  yeah. I’m gonna put down that stone now.

So in an attempt to put this reframing concept into an action plan, in the form of a list of course (#obviously), here are some steps to help you get started on your attitude remodel:

  1. Notice your negative thoughts. Acknowledge them. Consider the source. Then stop.

  2. Resist the urge to build them up by inviting friends to your pity party. Be impeccable with your word. This is going to be hard, really hard, especially if you are sarcastic (like me, gulp). It’s more fun to make mockery of things than it is to let them go, and misery loves company. STOP RECRUITING FOR TEAM WHINER. Like the Red Sox, they might win a game but not a title.

  3. Let go of your judgement (on yourself or of others)

  4. Decide what it is you want the result to be and visualize that in your mind. See yourself doing the thing you want to do or be, and not the thing you don’t want. Where your mind goes your energy flows.

  5. Create a new statement for the situation that:

    1. identifies, specifically, what you want the outcome to be

    2. is positive or at the very least, is lacking in negative connotation

    3. creates ownership and encourages responsibility

  6. Say the statement, to yourself or out loud, several times.

  7. If it is helpful to you or others, share it. If it is not, don’t. I repeat, be impeccable with your word.

So as one more quick walk through example, it might look like this:

Problem: Work and time balance are considerably unbalanced, with great weight given to the former and the latter seemingly as light as a feather.

Initial thought:  “I have too much work to do and not enough time to do it all. Fuck, fuck, fuckity, fuck.”

Reframing:

  1. That is not helpful Michelle. CTFD.
  2. Do not open up Pinterest to find funny work pins to make you feel better about yourself. Do not broadcast your self imposed disaster on facebook. Shut that shit down. Stat.
  3. Take a breath, prioritize and identify step one.
  4. See myself at ease. Relax my body. See the list completed. Visualize turning in an assignment, giving a lecture, or meeting with a client.
  5. Create the statement “today I will continue working, to the very best of my ability, and will complete as many tasks as is reasonable to maintain a healthy balance for those affected by my effort.”
  6. Write down the statement, and look at my vision board, if helpful, as motivation.
  7. Share one positive thing out to the universe. Tweet a great quote, post an inspiring picture, send some positive energy out into the world, then get to work.

As a final note, I ran across this cool channel on YouTube, called Charisma Matrix,  which has some thought provoking short videos with practical “how to” advice for shifting your paradigm. In fact, oddly enough, right after I wrote this post I watched this video, which is all about mindset, attitude, perspective and controlling your response. Um, sound familiar? Yeah. Thought so. This of course is the universe’s way of reinforcing my lessons, apparently. Team RAS scores another point.

So, good luck with your reconstruction. May the odds be ever in your favor, the force be with you and your positivity extend to infinity, and beyond. Ha!

Peace out friends.

“I am not a product of my circumstances, I am a product of my decisions”

– Steven Covey

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SOUND OF SUNSHINE

WOW.

I repeat. WOW. That, was one hell of a week. Holy.Shit. I’m not even sure where to start with the brain dumping required to process all of that. Somebody reel my head down from the clouds, I think it’s time for me to join the land of the gravity bound again. Reality check please?

I spent Sunday through Wednesday at a private school in the Bay Area as a member of an visiting committee for an accreditation team. It was a learning opportunity that both motivated and depleted me all at the same time. I left inspired, and exhausted (but fortunately, not exhausted of inspiration, PHEW).

Beyond the leg cramps induced by 12+ hour work days spent sitting and observing, sitting and writing, sitting and meeting, and sitting and uh, eating, I got a mental workout that left me in a completely useless work mode for the rest of the week; total cognitive shutdown (seriously, I couldn’t even get through my favorite Thursday morning yoga practice, it was a sad, sad scene).

As a committee, we were tasked to evaluate the level of teaching and learning occurring at the school based on detailed criteria specified by the accrediting institution. In search of supportive evidence of the school’s stated claims of proficiency, we reviewed all available data, made observations, ran discussion groups, conducted interviews and poured over reports looking for trends and what our chair wisely called “golden threads.”

On top of this work I still had my classes for whom to write lesson plans and create assignments, as well as writing obligations requiring my attention. So yeah, I got maybe 4 hours of sleep most nights, possibly a 5 hour snooze Tuesday night when I fell asleep mid sentence, laptop on my lap, virtual audience left hanging like a dangling preposition (insert eye roll here).  This was possibly not my best effort in staying balanced. Maybe.

But whatever, that’s not the point. I’m not a martyr nor am I looking for sympathy where none is due. That’s 100% self inflicted ridiculousness. I signed up for that shit, pro bono, so feel free to remind me of the level of punishment for which I am apparently a glutton.

In fact, it’s a rather good lesson to stop ignoring . . . sometime . . . later . . .-ish. #justsayno#ypMichelle

The explanation for the killer long days was to illustrate the depth to which we engaged in reflection, the breadth of the ground we covered, the scope of our lens, and the extent of our commitment to the task.  It was kind of a big deal.  (Okay, fine. That’s a hyperbole. It wasn’t really, I just wanted to throw out a Ron Burgundy reference).

However, engaging in this explorative endeavor resulted in reinforcing several key things for me. The universe, as usual, was putting it on me, gangnam style.  I was reminded of the value in reflective action, the power of individual and team accountability, the benefit of doing a personal SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats), the importance of of positive self talk and the yogic lesson that,

Where your mind goes, your energy flows.

Sometimes, I forget to focus on the good shit; the things I’m getting right. Occasionally, I focus so much on learning from my failure, I spend so much energy trying to FIX IT, to get it RIGHT, to grow by acknowledging that which I am doing “wrong,” that I end up only noticing the WT (in all sense of the acronym….) and I downplay my accomplishments. This in turn prevents me from seeing opportunities and reaching my full potential. Oops, that’s a swing and a miss in my book. Right game, wrong playbook.

I am my own worst critic and I know it. This is both good and bad, depending entirely on what I do with that power.  I’ve talked about this before, here. Apparently it was time for another reminder(sssss).

And reminders, well, I got plenty. Ask, and you shall receive.

It took me a full day to recover physically from the trip, and since mentally I was still on a little personal time-out from thinking I spent essentially the entire day Friday exercising before heading back into San Francisco with some yoga pals of mine in preparation for a Zuda team event on Saturday- the Yoga Reaches Out Bay Area Yogathon.

My “not-plan-plan” to “let the universe provide” resulted in making new friends and being generously provided with a room with a rooftop view of the city to stay the night and the event turned out to be beyond amazing. Surreal might be a better descriptor, actually. Stellar. Once in a lifetime. Uplifting. Motivating. Inspiring. Happy.

Not only did I get to get my zen on with about 300 fellow yogis, in the Palace of Fine Arts, with some of the most well known and respected yoga teachers in the area, I also got to do all of that while Michael Franti played, live, on stage, about 15 feet away from me. Oh, and then I got to come up on stage, stand next to him, sing (badly) into his microphone and dance (even more poorly) my heart away. So you know, it was a totally standard, perfectly average kind of day.

Or . . .  not.

I mean, FOR REAL UNIVERSE? No.Fucking.Way. In the history of reminders for my learning to CTFD, this takes the cake on the positive reinforcement side. Thank you. A million times, times forever, thank you. What a way to recharge and put life in perspective. Be happy. Choose good. Celebrate life. Focus on success. For the love of Buddha, just say “om” and chill out already.

To make this long story, uh, longer, the lessons kept coming. Following the abundance of universal teachings was my opportunity for application; in terms of Bloom’s Taxonomy, this was the synthesis or creative level of learning.  I had a half marathon to run at 7:45 Sunday morning. Yes, following a six hour day of exercise Friday and an eight hour yogathon Saturday, I had 13.1 miles to knock out by 10am Sunday. Ow. #bestplanever

But really, it was kind of genius. Every lesson I had received earlier that week manifested itself on the course. When I got tired, instead of telling myself I was “not allowed” to walk, I took a 30 second break to recharge before I ran myself into burnout or injury. Instead of focusing on how many miles I had left, I thought about how many miles I had completed. Hell, I even high fived a couple of mileage signs. “Why hello Mile Seven, don’t you look AWESOME today?”

When my knees started to hurt, I sent them positive energy then focused on something else, like the beautiful sunny day or the cheery (and drunk-ish, it was a St.Patty’s Day run after all) spectators on the trail. When I felt alone in my struggle to keep moving, I looked around me, saw the thousands of other runners busting their ass and got my my own in gear accordingly. Instead of focusing on my (rapidly) declining pace around mile eight I simply accepted the fact that I was doing the best I could with the body that showed up at this moment. I let go of all judgment on my race time and kept moving forward, one step at a time. When I crossed that finish line I was rewarded with a rush of endorphins that tasted almost as good as my post-race beer (turns out this shirt was kind of legit. . . .).

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As a final reminder, while reflecting, I accepted the fact that I hadn’t trained for the race like I had intended. I reinforced to my inner self that intentions don’t mean anything if they aren’t backed by action. I embraced the humility in that lesson, and then I let it go.   I patted myself on the back for what I DID do, rather than what I didn’t.  And it felt good, really good.

So, here’s to a week of celebrating successes. Of only recognizing failures as they are helpful to growth. Of giving, sending and being love, both for self and for others.

Namaste.

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RUNNING TO STAND STILL

Lately I’ve found myself focused in several different directions. Yes, that’s right.

Focused. In several different directions. . .

That’s a bit of an oxymoron right there. Fairly standard protocol around these parts.

The multiplicity of tasks demanding my simultaneous attention are increasing, and not surprisingly coinciding with the amount of sleep I’m not getting. I’m going to do something about it, I really am. But uh, after I spend some time engaged in satirical reflection and sharing said parody with ya’ll.

For your reference, laughter and to make yourself feel more human, here is:

HOW TO PROCRASTINATE LIKE A BOSS

1. Make a to-do list of top five priorities for work and personal life for the day on google drive. High five self for extraordinary organization skills.

2. Look at the to-do list and consider doing item one. Get up and make breakfast instead.

3. Sit down again. Start item one. Open up three more tabs on your internet browser “just in case.” Notice beeps, chimes and other charming alerts stemming from said tabs, spend at least ten minutes attending to those super high priorities (“a Groupon for half off wine tasting? Yes please. She posted what link? I better read that”)

4. Return to task one. Lose interest. Switch to task five. Note to self that putting the shortest task first might be a better plan.

5. Unwisely leave phone nearby. Reply to three texts. Lose thirty minutes engaging in mutual exchange of snarky remarks with friends. Crack self up. Barely escape forfeit on Words With Friends due to lack of activity. Get nothing done.

6. Finally finish task five. Ignore task one. Get up to do some laundry.

7. Take an exercise break. Return to house 90 minutes later famished, so;

8. Take a snack break. By snack I mean second breakfast. By second breakfast I mean a meal twice the size of your first breakfast and requiring the use and washing of at least three cooking items.

9. Decide you are not productive enough at home and take work to coffee shop for inspiration and motivation. Order coffee, negotiate table space with other like minded working cafe dwellers. Pop in headphones, get cozy, open up laptop and stare at screen.

10. Finally get motivated. Foot tapping to the rhythm of da beat, fingers flying across keyboard, totally in the work zone, baby. Look at the clock, realize it’s now after noon and you have to be somewhere in 10 minutes. Sigh, shut down shop and wave goodbye to your inspiration.

11. Return to operation post commitments, tiny human pick-up, obligatory snack production and support in “successful” completion of lamest educational invention of all time (elementary school homework, in case that wasn’t clear).

12. Discover real and determined energy to complete tasks. Engage in futile attempts to work from home while children are present. Make high use of the mute button on your phone during conference calls and replying to clients while said small people increase the volume and frequency of animated exchange of contrary ideas. Consider locking self in bathroom or closet, whichever gets better reception. Decide to change rule about screen time for kids during the school week instead. Get 30 minutes of total silence. Bust out three tasks at the speed of light. Do happy dance.

13. Take a two hour break to get 50 things done, including but not limited to the production and clean up of dinner as well as tomorrow’s lunches, preparing kids for the night and the next day, reading bedtime stories and other intrepid feats of time manipulation. Remark on Herculean efficiency in such short term.

14. Use that as inspiration to try to finish work once the kids have stopped vying for title of “Most Loquacious Child” and finally have fallen asleep. Review to-do items and discover that while you have actually only completed one and half tasks on the real list, you have, however, done at least 100 items that were not recorded. Consider rewriting to-do list just so you can cross something off.

15. Return to real hit list. Find progress is slow when distracted by misguided attempt to multi-task (watch tv show while writing content while grading student discussions while checking email while texting friend while reading article. . . .). At 11:00 p.m. almost fall asleep on top of keyboard. Go to bed, resolved to get more done tomorrow before the kids get home.

Repeat as needed.

procrastinate1

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JUST CHILLIN’ IT

This last winter I almost fell off the wagon. Ow.

Now just simmer down now people, I’m not talking about THE wagon, like the dry ride that the recovering wasted take, I’m talking about the Chill Wagon. The CTFD train, the Slow Motion roller coaster, the Hide Your Crazy carriage.

That was one bumpy ride, February. Especially following December and January’s bruise inducing expeditions. Thanks, but uh, no thanks.

The shortest month of the year held some of the biggest tests of endurance I’ve ever not wanted. The longest days, the biggest lessons,  and unfortunately, more tears, despite my effort to take leave of that pity party. That was the closest I think I’ve come to a relapse in awhile. Like almost a year. Yikes

It also had some amazing, amazing, UH-MAZE-ING weekend adventures. Don’t get me wrong, I still had a whole lot of fun. Like, A LOT of fun.  However, I also initiated said festivities to avoid dealing with some of the near panic inducing obstacles that have continued to spring up all winter along with the early bloom of the daffodils. Playing ostrich much, Michelle? Ummmmm, maybe.

Many things came to a head all at once for me. Many potential stressors, many tasks, many obligations, many decisions, and many opportunities to get out of my comfort zone, whether I wanted to or not.

This is not particularly unusual really, but rather than take everything in stride, deep ujjayi breaths and all, I did a little foot stomping, a little heel digging, and allowed my type A brain to gain a temporary takeover of the space between my ears.

I went, gulp, into plan mode. #fail

Let’s just say I was blowing up the list apps on my phone like a war zone and using Siri to set reminders so regularly I started to miss her voice when my phone was off. Furthering my futile attempts at control, I made playlists on Spotify for every mood possible. Why? Becuase my life is just like a hip hop song, obviously, and it needs a soundtrack, organized into lists. Nice, tidy little lists. In boxes. And categories. Happy sigh. My brain was working on overdrive, ON FIRE.  “How am I going to solve problem A? With solutions 1, 2 and 3. Problem K,  with solutions a2 + b2 = problems2, of course.”

Yeah. We know how that works out. It doesn’t. Getting the universe to cooperate with Michelle’s Plan For Total World Domination goes over about as well as a lead balloon. Ouch.

So I’m obviously exiting intact. I’ve made it through the Hallmark holidays, the bogus days off and the four rainy days the universe saw fit to bring Sacramento to date in 2014. I can see the mountain, covered with thorns; but I brought my shears and my big girl boots and I’m summitting.

How? Why? In between those moments of manic production, I’ve managed to check myself. For example, I found a blurb (see below) from a journal entry I wrote after running a 200 mile relay last fall. I read it, remembered the experience, heard my own words, felt that euphoric state of mind again and well, calmed the fuck down.

“Last night I was reminded of a great life lesson while running in the dark and the fog. I couldn’t see more than 20 yards (at best) in front of me, while running an unfamiliar course in an unknown location. I quite honestly didn’t even know what city I was in. And I was tired. It was 3 a.m. for God’s sake, and I was running, alone, exhausted and basically blind.

And yet, I knew that if I just kept moving forward something amazing was ahead of me. Something great was waiting, just a few more miles down the road. I just had to keep moving. One step at a time. One forward motion, one leap of faith, one small effort in stride, even when I didn’t know where my foot was going to land.

And so I did. I crushed it. And, not surprisingly, it was badass awesome. I finished my leg, passed of the baton to the next brave soul and did a little happy dance.

Thank you universe. Thanks for the reminder that we don’t always need turn-by-turn directions to get somewhere we’d like to be. We don’t have to see the whole path in advance to arrive at our destination, just the next 20 yards. If we do our best, we keep moving forward patiently and with strength, positivity and courage, then goodness, perhaps even greatness, lies ahead.”

So, once calmed again, perspective regained, I slowed my roll. A little. Enough. I still made plans, as some problems do actually require action, but I gave up those things for which I ultimately have no control anyway. I released the expectations and assumptions I was willingly and knowingly creating, and I let go of the banana, freeing my hands to hold fast to the sides of the wagon.

Let me tell you- every time I am open to accepting anything, I recieve in abundance. Every.single.time. The more free I am, the more I am offered. The more closed and narrow I become in what I want, what I expect, what I assume (erroneously) is mine for the taking, the less I am able to do.

This does not mean I sit around on my ass and wait for shit to happen. This means I am constantly observing the particular kind of shit that shows up on my lawn, from what type of beast, when, and with what intensity and potential for assistance in growth. It’s up to me to decide to stand on that grass or not.

I don’t know exactly where I will be in a year. I don’t know precisely what I will be doing and what specific experiences I may have had by then. And, I don’t need to know.

The minutiae aren’t what matters right now; I know in which general direction I am heading.

I’m visualizing to materialize, but I’m not painting by number.

I have my friends. I have my family. I have two beautiful, darling children to adore and love and with whom to bring goodness to the world.  I have a template for my life, not an itinerary, and the format is subject to change at a moment’s notice. As I’ve said before:

The best part of the calendar function, is the option to edit.
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