Like it is - according to Diane I feel angry. I feel afraid. I feel confused. I feel sad. I feel frustrated.
I feel surrender. I feel joyful. I feel like I am on the right track. I feel safe. I feel peaceful.
Sometimes my body and mind experience all ten feelings within the hour. The paradox.
There are times in my life when I have walked through my days with blinders on - but this is different. This time I feel like they’re not blinders. This is not a loss of peripheral, but both peripheral and what is right in front of me. Does anyone feel the same?
I have often thought about how powerful the other senses must have to be if (knock on wood) I ever became blind (knock on wood, again). Maybe it’s time to turn up my listening skills, feel the feels, cook, diffuse … but most importantly, it’s time to turn to intuition and that inner knowing.
I am a little lost at where to go with this post, to be honest. I’m rather blocked; stuck in the muck so to speak.
I feel angry … when I scroll aimlessly. I feel afraid … for my children. I feel confused … when some people I love are pro-mask and others are pro-conspiracy. I feel sad … when I feel like I always have to be doing something and then I ignore my kids in the “doing.” I feel frustrated … that shit isn’t open. I feel surrender … when I stop doing and just be with my kids. I feel joyful … when I stop to count my blessings. I feel like I am on the right track … when the universe tells me so. I feel safe … in my relationships. I feel peaceful … when I am in the shower, or hot tub. True.
We’ve always lived in the unknown. Maybe feeling ten feelings at once and the paradox that we are living isn’t about The Unknown at all.
Maybe it’s not that we’ve been blind-folded, but that the blinders have been removed and that our senses are on overload.
Maybe this isn’t The Unknown at all, but what we’ve known all along.
Like it is - according to Vail I really didn’t want to think too much about what I was going to write because a blank page is the Unknown. Once you begin to write, it almost inevitably brings you to uncharted waters. And what do uncharted waters bring? They can lead to discovery and adventure, but they could also lead to danger and uncertainty. As we are facing the Unknown in a whole new way, I don’t want to say that it is easy to think of the journey as an adventure, but it is. We didn’t pick this adventure. We didn’t want this adventure. But, here we are. Keeping in mind that we must respect fear and danger, what if we change the equation? Unknown = adventure.
Here are the things that we do when we are on a new adventure:
We try new things: I think back on my first adventure out of the country. I was 15. I went to Austria, which I had mistaken for Australia only a few months before. It was the Unknown. I tried a salad with a dressing I thought looked much like motor oil. It was great. I fumbled through learning words in German. I navigated public transportation. I came back to the United States a changed person because I had gone into the Unknown. As the Unknown continues, what else can we try?
We take pictures of the good stuff: When I think of the best pictures I have ever taken, a tie between Dead Woman’s Pass on the Inca Trail and family selfies anywhere, anytime, the reason they stick out is because of the richness of presence and that moment in time. As we forge into the Unknown, can we take mental or real pictures of the best parts?
We take our favorite people along with us: I have traveled solo, but I have been surrounded by loved ones and fellow adventurers on most of my journeys. There was a particular trip to the coast of Italy where my whole family and important friends (Diane) shared the experience with me. Looking out at the Mediterranean Sea, I was just as grateful for the people as I was for the view. The view was unfamiliar (and breathtaking), but the people were not. I think the power heading into the Unknown with others by your side is that the circumstances might be foreign, but there is a sense of home in your surroundings. As we journey on, who will you have by your side?
Like many posts I write, the inspiration comes from one place, my bike. There is something euphoric about riding fast, riding familiar streets and riding both up and down hills. Today I am going to share a few takeaways from a particular stretch of today’s ride. It’s a segment of hill that is .85km long with a 2.7% grade (it’s not so steep). It’s called Olimpo and I have ridden it 41 times; 12 this week.
When I know I am riding the next day, I fall asleep thinking of the ride. All the parts. And I love it .Today I rode Olimpo four times chasing a Personal Best and really trying to crack the top 10 all time scores on Strava. While chasing a PB and a top-ten spot exists, there are much more important reasons I ride.
Personal Best (PB): 1:57
First Climb: I approach this climb after taking an easy loop and a fast downhill. From experience, I know that my first climb is usually my fastest so I make a few rules for myself.
Settle in during the middle
Finish gasping for air
Today I finished the first loop and then thought about how much of an Obliger I am. There was no one else on the hill, so no one to chase, so no one to prove myself to.
Takeaway: Character is built when no one else is watching. Time: 2:02
Second Climb: I always allow myself to relax a little bit on the second lap so that I can learn from the first climb and implement it on the 3rd. As I approached it today, I had one rule:
Takeaway: Give yourself permission to slow down. Enjoy the ride. Time: 2:36
Third climb: By the third loop, I usually try to do a fast loop leading up to the hill. Today I had a lot of self-talk going on, making myself promises and begging other riders to catch up or slow down so that I could have a friend (aka - competition) to ride up the hill with. I asked myself if I could PR it with my energy level. And I answered, yes. My third loop rules were these:
Don’t break on the downhill leading up to the climb
Take the inside edge of the climb and ride smart
Takeaway: Your best isn’t relative to the past - it’s only reliant on the present. Time: 2:08
Fourth Climb: By the last lap I spend the entire loop leading up to the climb planning. Since I was really alone the whole ride, I thought I would imaging Ricky, just in front of me, and I could chase this little avatar up the hill. It wasn’t until I started to descend that I thought more and more about it and decided that I would practice an out of body moment and chase myself. I would imaging a transparent me, just in front of myself and I would chase it up the hill. My rules were;
Push and pull the pedals
Finish on empty
Takeaway: If you can find rhythm in discomfort, it’s not all that bad. Time: 2:02
I was chasing a PR today. And I didn’t get one. While that is moderately deflating (cause I thought my last climb was smooth) - it will never take away from a ride. I get out on my bike because it gives me the space and time to put what’s in my head, into my legs and lungs. My thoughts are purposeful and present and time and time again, I am left breathless - in the - just rode up a hillas fast as I could - kind of way.
When life is busy as all hell - it’s hard to find lessons and nuggets. Find your thing - settle in - watch it work.
Character is built when no one else is watching.
Give yourself permission to slow down. Enjoy the ride.
Your best isn’t relative to the past - it’s only reliant on the present.
If you can find rhythm in discomfort, it’s not all that bad.
Like it is - according to Vail
“Raindrops on roses And whiskers on kittens Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens Brown paper packages tied up with strings These are a few of my favorite things”
The Sound of Music
I actually don’t envision myself singing these lyrics as I spin freely through the Austrian countryside. These lyrics remind me of my mom. She used to quietly sing or hum this tune as I sat in her lap, arms holding me tightly. My mom also lived with us for a month after my son, Oliver, was born. I would sometimes catch her rocking him back and forth and humming about favorite things.
It is important to have favorite things; those memories of my mom are some of them.
As a list girl, I also wanted to share a few of my favorite things these days.
Running: I know. There might be a collective eye roll here, reading that running is one of my favorites. I definitely got to a point in my life where it wasn’t one of my favorite things. It was an obligation. I was running 5 to 6 days a week and shaming myself when I didn’t get the job done. Here is the “things happen for a reason” moment. I had to give it up, and not just for a week. I had to give up running for four years. In those years, the appreciation came back. Now when I tie my laces and head out the door, I can’t wait for the kilometers of alone time where my body feels strong and alive.
Belly laughs. This one comes straight from Diane Clement. J On a weekend where we were sharing a house in Cuernavaca Mexico, Oliver let out one of those giggles that is contagious. It makes you belly laugh. Diane told me that day that she tried to make sure she makes her girls laugh at least once a day, just like that. It sounds simple, and it is. The greatest thing about having that goal is that you need to be present with the laughter, and when you listen to the giggle, you get so much back.
Wine. I am just being honest here. I am a sucker for memes about vino that remind us to say, “wine not”. When I travel, I always try and find a vineyard to visit. I have a running list of wines that I like and their ratings. However, I am not a sommelier, nor do I order the most expensive wine on the menu. Why do I like it so much then? It is the connection. My dream scenario is me with a bottle (or a vineyard full) of wine and a group of my favorite people. For me, wine is to be shared. When I am sipping on wine, it is the conversation and the connection that make it taste so delicious.
Books: I am a self-professed nerd. I really love to read, and I am a pretty equal opportunity reader. Novels, non-fiction, self-help, you name it, I will read it. From the days where I laid for hours on a bunk bed in the sweltering heat of the summer reading The Babysitters Club to the moments when I am now hidden in our cave-office in the basement pouring through text about education and technology, it has been a constant. It helps me escape, keeps me company and sets my brain on fire.
The list could certainly go on and it might be different 10 minutes or two months from now, but for now I will be strolling around my house singing.
Raindrops on roses And running through parks Belly laughs and bottles of wine And books with worn pages. These are a few of my favorite things.
Last week, when 2020 was approaching I felt the need to exchange the baton so to speak. I did my 19 for 19 and felt good about rounding out the year in pictures, but there was still something missing. This is it.
For many the closure of one year is a celebration of accomplishments, a look at where ideas and dreams fell flat and a moment of gratitude. For others it means donning a sparkly dress and a glass of bubbly. For others, it means something totally beyond these two ideas. And finally - a reminder that no two people are alike and not all calendars are either. We have the 12 month January-December one, the Chinese calendar which will celebrate New Year on Saturday, Jan, 25 (yes, I looked it up) and then there is the teacher calendar that basically goes from summer to summer. Finally, we have the calendar of the person who is ill. It goes from treatment to treatment. There is no right way (or time) to ring in the New Year and I am glad I procrastinated on this post until this very moment, because yesterday I got clear on a few things.
I always like to have some words to root me for any given year. I create my own definitions for them and like to put them in areas that pop op on the daily. Post it’s, posters, phone covers, ya know.
Last years words looked like this:
Can’s: Can’s are can’ts that are flipped on their head. While an inversion is fun, it’s also immobilizing. When can’ts are flipped on their heads, I can walk (or run) around them and get on with my CANS. Hell Yeahs!: A Hell Yeah! happens in the millisecond when your head and heart agree one way or another. A Hell Yeah! lets me know when I should, or shouldn’t do a thing.
Teamwork:I have someone’s back, someone has mine. We ask the important questions and know - we are on working together. No fixed destination, it’s not about where we’re going. It’s why.
Creativity: Ideas in motion.
Roots: Getting out of my head and into my feet. A reminder that growth happens from the bottom up.
While I still feel a connection to these words and will revisit this list from time to time. I have new words for 2020 and I came up with all of them on my bike ride yesterday. I have travelled a lot in my short life, but if you ask me where my favorite place in the world is, my response will be, “on my bike.” It’s true. Yesterdays ride was 38km up, up, up. It was cold, it was difficult, my legs felt like lead, but I loved every minute of it. Here are my words for 2020, in order of my thought process during the 2.5 hour ride.
Breathless: Both beauty and grit that leaves us gasping for air and grateful to have it.
Up: Just like the movie; seeking the wildest adventure. Or - that gnarly hill.
Aero: The path of least resistance.
Lean: Lean in. Lean on. Lean back. Lean body.
These words light me up very much. I am aware that there’s nothing about community or relationships or authenticity, but I think these words are going to spring me out of a 2019 that I confess was exhausting. While I work on bringing my best energy to the table, my relationships, connections and self can only be improved as well.
This is the first time that I have begun a free write with absolutely no idea what was going to come out. I did take the leap and press the timer and figured that it would take me somewhere. I guess it is that idea of taking the first step, setting yourself into motion and that will, by default, bring you somewhere. Maybe that is what 2019 has been about after all. I haven’t had the same time to plan and think ahead, but I have found myself trying things on and seeing how it goes. A bit scarier than carefully planning the next step and possible pitfalls and outcomes, but without a doubt, lots of learning along the way.
Here are a few places where I took one step that helped shape where I am today, as we forge into a new year and new decade (this is debatable, but I think it is).
I trained for my first big race since 2015. Instead of easing back into running, I was convinced by my father-in-law to start with a half-marathon. Each Monday morning, as I set out for my training runs, I felt a sensation of coming home, coming back to the girl I was when I first started running. I was nervous at the starting line, that I would be slower and that quite possibly I had bitten off more than I could chew. As I crossed the finish line at the end of the race, almost every body part hurt, but it was faster than I could have ever imagined my comeback to be. Fueled by the first race and feeling stronger than I had in years, I committed to a second half-marathon in 2019. All those mornings of crawling out of bed to start with one step and then another paid off. In my second race, I crushed my personal best time. At 41, I was faster than I had ever been.
My husband and I took a 17 day trip, leaving my son in the loving care of his grandparents and nanny. Before I became a mom, I had mom idols that seemed to balance perfectly their lives as a mother and also as themselves. I mentally promised myself that I would be just like that. I would be able to thrive as a loving mom and also as myself, no guilt attached. However, shortly after Oliver was born (probably about 10 minutes) that all changed. I realized that it would be hard to be away from that tiny human, that balance and guilt-free parenting does not exist. However, in June of 2019, I took a step out the door to go on an adventure and to explore the world with my husband, my friends and probably most importantly myself. It was incredible. But, it was a new incredible. I did enjoy every last bite of hummus and reveled in the mornings that I didn’t need to get up to do anything other than attend to my needs. All that happened while missing my son almost viscerally. I don’t think you can ever attain a balance while embarking on the journey of parenting, but maybe the idea of it holds some value.
I applied for school, finally, and am beginning the program on Monday. I have so many emotions about beginning school again. As an educator, I am also a lifelong learner and so the main emotion is giddiness. However, when I think about why it has taken me so long to finally take the leap to begin my next academic pursuit (this has been on my mind for years), it was most certainly fear that was holding me back. I was worried that I wouldn’t chose the right path. The right path to study. The right path to lead me where I want to go (which is also a bit hazy), but there was a moment when I decided that I need to just try it on, take a leap, take the next step. So, here I go back into a space that I love with a hint of the unknown.
I was racking my brain for the person who wrote a quote about doing the next right thing. It is something that I think about a LOT and I will find the right one, just not in this 30 minutes. But I did find one by Michael J. Fox. Here it is and this is the gist, “Do the right thing, then do the next right thing, and that will lead you to the next right thing after that.” I guess it is about having faith that if you know the next step you take is the right one, eventually it will lead you down the path you need. That is what 2019 was about for me. And now I am taking a huge step right into 2020.
We have all dropped the glass, glass shards all over the floor, broken the egg, dunked the cell phone (sometimes twice in the same pool), opened the carbonated bottle too fast, bubbles spewing everywhere, spilled the paint, the wine, the soup, the coffee, the oil, and … the milk.
Spilled milk; the metaphor for that little thing that didn’t go your way, probably today - or ten minutes ago, cause let’s be honest. Life is FULL of spilled milk - and most often, just when you are on your way out the door - and five minutes late. It. Just. Is.
Last night I had an event at the school. I was to be on stage in business attire at 5:15pm, with a presentation to parents to follow. At 4:40 I discovered I was locked out of my office - business attire and presentation notes inside.
I sent a few frazzled messages to chat groups asking for clothes, but the moments faded away and I found peace in what was. Worse things could have happened.
No one was hurt. No one was sick. No one was in danger. No one died.
By 5:05pm I lost hope that a key might be found to open the door. I graced the stage unshowered, and in a dress that a fellow coach was kind enough to give me off her body. I settled for the running shoes I was wearing and the presentation - well, I had created it - so the nuts and bolts were in my head and in my heart.
Running shoes, dress, unwaxed legs, no presentation notes, and materials missing from presentation summed up to a laughable evening that I could only have fun with after I realized that’s what I was dealt with for the night. That was my hand.
Life is a game of cards. You can buckle and fold when things don’t measure up to what you consider a good hand, you can bluff, you can play the blame game and accuse people of playing unfairly, OR, you can hold on to your “I really don’t give two shits” chips. Just hold em - don’t give ‘em, don’t bluff, just hold on and let go of the need to give two shits. Cause when the milk is spilled, remember, no no one is hurt, no one is sick, no one is in danger, no one is dead. Grab a piece of toilet paper or an old rag, and carry on.
Cause the reality is, people are hurt - call them. People are sick - check in on them. People are in danger - lend a hand. People (and our planet) are dying - care.
Spilled milk is just a reminder that there are bigger fish to fry - or better yet … no fish at all.
Like it is - according to Vail
We all know the saying goes, “don’t cry over spilled milk.” However, when it spills, sometimes there are tears. In my mind there are two types of spillage and sometimes I think it is ok to break the rules and let it out. What is the milk after all? The milk is the little mistakes that you make that aren’t supposed to hurt that much, but sometimes they do.
Type 1: I spilled my own milk.
There are moments in life when you leave your computer behind you and it gets stolen in Starbucks. There are moments when you leave the gym, pregnant, and you drop your keys in the middle of the street, rendering yourself momentarily homeless. There are moments when you are in a rush and you crash your car into a beam in the parking lot.
What makes this your own milk is that for the most part, it affects you. You did it to yourself and you are left dealing with the consequences. I used to get scary mad at myself over this spillage. I would call myself stupid, beat myself up about it and not be able to let go. (Let’s be honest… this is still sometimes my immediate reaction.). We have been programed to think that mistakes make us bad, therefore often make us sad. The more and more I have spilled my own milk, however, the more and more I really do believe these can be opportunities to grow and learn. When you spill your milk, you might actually remember not to put it on the edge of the table next time.
Type 2: I spilled my milk on someone
These are the moments that you say something about someone and they were listening. These are the moments when you forgot your dad’s birthday. These are the moments when you buy a “best friend” necklace with a friend, when you already own one with another friend. Here is where I consider myself kind of an expert. There is visceral feeling I still get when I think about these milk spilling incidents in my life. These ones don’t just affect you, they affect someone else. The clean up here isn’t easy and you often are not in control. You can apologize, take actions to try to rectify the situation. But, in the end, you did it. You spilled the milk on them and they are wearing the dirty clothes. Not you. In my mind, there is only one way to clean up this kind of mess and that reflection and again, growth. I actually think these moments have been the ones where I have imprinted on my heart the kind of better person I can and want to be.
A final note: Crying
Though I don’t run around the city crying at the drop of a hat or a glass of milk, I think it is ok to cry. Quite often when we spill the milk and the tears flow, it wasn’t just the milk. It was the million of things that lead up to the milk. As I keep learning and remembering all the time, everyone has a story that we don’t completely know and understand. So, the next time someone spills the milk and the tears start flowing, pick up a rag and help them out. PS. To all the breastfeeding moms out there, this is for you. You are extra allowed to cry when you spill the milk you just pumped.
Let’s start here. In Mexico, there isn’t a driving test to get a licence. You pay $40, go to the transit office with a proof of address and an official ID and your licence is ready in about five minutes. It is very convenient. Until it’s not.
I discovered the licence thing during my first year here, when I would see people repeatedly put their right blinker on - and then turn left. Or vice versa. And the old saying landed, “They know not what they do.” Most people here in the city have never had to learn the rules of the road. For that reason, it is unsafe to cross the street on the crosswalk, because for many, the white lines are not understood.
There are also stoplight inconsistencies. You know the delay in lights where your light turns red, and then there are two-three seconds before the opposite light turns green. In Mexico City, we don’t have that delay. One light turns red WHILE the other turns green, and when it does turn green, the person behind you honks (in case you didn’t see it turn green). Add this to the fact that many people driving in Mexico believe that red lights are optional, and intersections take on a whole new meaning.
Many entrances to the highway do not have a space to enter and merge, you just enter the “slow” lane and hope the car behind you will slow down while you accelerate. Most traffic police are on their phones, or passing the “secret book” to the person they pulled over so that they can deposit bribe money into it to pay them off (confession - I have paid it three times). Some days a road is reversed in direction, and others it isn’t, motorcycles have no lane, the potholes are sometimes a foot deep, bus drivers truly believe that they have the right of way 100% of the time, the street signs are often twisted and you can’t tell which way is which, people often walk on the road instead of the sidewalk, there are streets where you’ve seen or heard of muggings so your guard goes up when you are stopped on them, people constantly stop/park in the right hand land of some of the cities busiest streets, and driving 5k can often take over an hour. This list is just a start.
Driving in Mexico, sometimes this means the difference between bread on the table and no bread on the table. In my case, I am becoming more-and-more aware of the privilege I live - and driving is a choice. When you move to a city with 21,000,000 bustling souls, sometimes you just gotta put in a podcast and be grateful you get to listen to the whole thing before you get home.
Bonus! Check out THIS amazing birds eye of the city!
Like it is - According to Vail
Traffic… that word.
You have no idea what that word does to my body and my stress level. My brow begins to furrow, my heart starts to race and unfortunately inappropriate words begin to fly out of my mouth.
The scene. It is Christmas time in Mexico City and I have had a long week at work. All I want is to get back to my house, open a bottle of wine and enjoy the weekend and the season. On my 9.2 km (5.7 miles) commute back that sunny December day, at about 2 hours in, I was at a complete standstill. I could see my building. It was almost taunting me as I sat there helpless. There was nothing I could do. I thought about abandoning my car…
This is how bad it gets.
However, as most things in life, the difficulties often teach us a lesson, if we will let them. What traffic has taught me is that it is all about how we manage and respond to situations that counts.
Sitting in that traffic jam that day, I was livid. Fuming.
I would like to think that if I were in that same traffic jam today, I would relax my shoulders and let go or let it be. It isn’t that I have reached a complete Zen state with traffic these days, but I usually chose to do one of two things:
Avoid it: I sold my car shortly after the Xmas car fiasco. Whether hitching a ride or taking an Uber, I let someone else take the wheel. That shift of not being in the driver’s seat has allowed me to relax and curse less.
Also, I love to walk. If at all possible, I walk instead of driving. In this city, it is usually a time saver. It is also a whole lot healthier.
This may seem extreme, but I also say no to moving far from my house during peak traffic hours. If I have to struggle for hours to get somewhere, I am not going to be in the mood to enjoy it.
Make it your playground, your adventure:
Now, there are some places I have to get to in my car. It is inevitable. I have to get in the car and I have to behind the wheel.
There are moments when I am stuck behind an endless sea of red taillights and my breath begins to quicken. That is when I decide how I want to play. I might call a friend, play a podcast or meditate (eyes wide open, listening to my breath). I try to remember that I will not get anywhere faster the angrier I get.
Big cities mean heart-crushing traffic. However, in Mexico City, like most cities, there is insanely amazing food, a plethora of art exhibits and events and incredible weather for you to enjoy it in.
So, strap on your seatbelt and get out and enjoy life. (I just suggest you do it on the weekend, with less traffic.)
Momentum is such a powerful action, it deserves a period. About a year ago, I was listening to one of my mentors (do mentors need to know that they are your mentors?) Ange Peters, talk about life. This is a gal who has not only found her calling, but has created such a playground out of life. She lives a life of choice. Not of obligation. Ange spoke about momentum and about how to create it, and sustain it.
I fell in love with the word. And I started to use it more and more. And one day, the idea came to create a program, and call it just that.
Y’all may know. I love my bicycle. So much in fact, that after living in six countries, and visiting a bunch more, that if you asked me today, “Where is your favorite place on Earth?” My reply would be, “On my bike.” Doesn’t matter where. Heart pumping. Sweat dripping back to the Earth (or sometimes in my eye), the occasional vocal exhale that sounds as if I was plunging an axe into a tree trunk, wind - lots of it. There are places you can go with people you love, and your legs, your lungs and your heart take you there.
I don’t always have a vault of momentum. There are times, when my tank runs dry, when that voice in my head acts like a roadblock and stops me in my tracks. When that thing I wanted to do doesn’t get done, that conversation, the thank you card, the minimizing, the story rewritten, the big idea, the small idea, the check-in, the letting go, the cake baked, present bought, the act of service, the book read, the book written, the outfit sewn, the new recipe, the trip, the puzzle … and I could go on and on. I lose momentum all the time. And that is ok. We all lose momentum sometimes.
There have been hiatuses - when my bike has needed servicing because it hasn’t been ridden in so long (not many … but there have been some). When saddling up seems daunting because I am out of practice. Isn’t this just like life. That thing you want to do, but don’t - cause you are out of practice.
I invite you.
Step outside yourself for a moment - take a good look at yourself and let the inertia of your deepest desires be the wind in your sails. That thing that’s calling you, there’s a reason for that. As the great Gretchen Ruben says, “The years are short but the days are long.” Live a little life every single day and your wheels will forever be turning.
Saddle up friend. Fear and all. The Unknown is abundant.
Like it is - According to Vail
Momentum will change your life. How do I know? It has already shifted mine in two ways and I feel like there is possibility for so much more transformation.
When Diane and I began to brainstorm Momentum, we moved 12 small pieces of paper around my kitchen table, trying to figure out which order we would use to give Momentum its biggest impact. In those initial moments, I knew we were on to something. I didn’t know exactly what, but I knew it was BIG. In a frenzy of creativity and creation, we were able to get the structure of the Momentum book, planner and program in place. However, life happened and the little pieces of paper got put away as the school year and a new baby entered our lives. Though it was still on my mind, like an itch that still needed to be scratched, Momentum seemed to lose Momentum.
This was life changer #1: Keep moving, no matter what… and let others help you get going, if you need an extra push.
With my baby at around 4 months and while I was taking on another venture (see life changer #2 for more details), Diane called and really wanted to finish what we had started. To be honest, I just didn’t know if I could do it. I felt stuck with Momentum and I didn’t think we could possibly complete it by the proposed finish date. Enter type A personality. I shut down because I didn’t think I would meet my initial expectation for myself. BUT, who made the deadline? We did. Could we still get our puzzle pieces together? Could we still move forward? Yes, we could and we did, mostly by the positive energy and actual grunt work of Diane. I needed that push and I needed to be reminded that forward is forward.
Fast forward several months and Momentum is published! It is in our hands and it is magic. We begin. Not as as had planned, but we take the first steps, start the first module and gather a group of incredible people to helps us pilot. We dig in.
Life changer #2: There is a feeling in your gut that lets you know what you should and should not do. Be careful about where you put your energy and as Diane always reminds me, don’t do it unless it is a “Hell, yes!!!”
There was a day when I had an extra 15 minutes on my hands. In the spirit of Momentum, I decided to reflect on our module about Energy In and Energy Out. When I put the pen to the beautiful Momentum planner, I realized that I had been giving my energy to something that made my shoulders tense and my stomach cringe. In that moment I made a decision and I wrote it down, I was going to let go of one of my three side-hustles. (It was that venture that was blocking Momentum, making it feel impossible to finish.) It didn’t light me up, it wasn’t something that was going to positively impact lives in the way that I want to and most importantly it was sucking time and energy away from my time with baby Oliver.
I can’t wait to see how else Momentum will positively change my life and yours. ☺
Every time I come to write a post, I am wishy washy about starting the timer. It's like ripping a bandaid off - maybe even worse. You just have to press start, and let the words come naturally.
This week's topic has been rolling around in my head this week. It almost feels like there are stones drifting about - because it can be a heavy topic. I don't want to write with heavy hands or heart, and so, I have been playing with how to make it a little lighter - and less the 1980's anti-drug commercial - see below.
Saying NO - is a bold form of expressing your YES. Let's play with some scenarios.
In 1999 my boyfriend of a couple of years broke up with me. Hi Jesse! When he came back, cause he always did, something powerful inside of me could only utter one word to him. "No." I wasn't saying no to Jesse. I loved him with all of my heart and continued to do so for many years after. No, my one powerful word was not about Jesse at all. I was saying yes to the the adventurous soul inside my body, the one that would board a 747 just three months later and take a trip to Asia that would change the course of my life, and many others - I hope.
When someone says no to you and you feel the sting (and heart wrenching ache) of rejection, consider for a moment, that's it's really not about you at all.
Another prominent no that comes to mind, was one that I uttered through trembling lips in 2003. I allowed a stranger to share a cab with me late at night. One thing led to another, and I ended up with a knife at my neck, locked in a garage. My stranger friend asked me to take my clothes off. I remembered some advice my brother Dave gave me: If anyone ever steals you (real life people) and they have a gun, you run. You never get in a car with someone who has a gun. We waltzed around the garage for what seemed like an eternity, and my "no" was fierce and firm. What was my yes? My one word response was actually saying, "Yes I am strong. Yes I am alive. Yes, he will let me go."
He did, albeit with a kick out the door.
There NO's that redirect you, NO's that build you up, and there are NO's that pivot you from one course of action and into a whole new trajectory.
In 2011 I was dead set of moving to Kenya. I signed up for the Bangkok job fair to be held, January of 2012, planned a three month trip to south-east asia and penciled in the details of my life (my travel map was even in the shape of a heart). But on Nov. 27 of 2011, I met Ricky. The curiosity and instinct superseded my previous ideas and when it was time to cash in on all of my planning, I simply said, "NO." I sold and gave away most of everything I owned, paid a change fee for my ticket and three weeks later, was jet-set for Mexico City.
My NO was a YES, to a life that has been richer than any I could have imagined.
I always tell people, If you asked me seven years ago to list five cities I would never move to, Mexico City would be one of them. Goes to show - it's not where you are - it's what you are. Saying NO is not a closed door. You don't have to be a people pleaser or complacent. You don't have to say NO when NO feels wrong. And when you start to get clear about what your YES is, saying NO isn't just important - it's necessary.
Like it is - According to Vail
As a self-proclaimed people pleaser, saying no has been a challenge for me for most of my adult life. I have been asked a few times to think back about why I say yes when I want to say no and when it all began. I know I wasn’t always this way. In fact, my mother calls me her strong-willed child. When I didn’t want to eat my grilled cheese because it was cut the wrong way, I said no. When I didn’t want to go to the top of the Hancock Tower in Chicago, I let my opinion be known, loud and clear. It is a bit of a mystery when that power to say no began to get clouded with wanting to be easy-going and pleasing others.
Now, I think it is probably a positive thing that I no longer have tantrums when something does not go my way, and I think there is something to be said about being able to compromise when necessary. However, I am constantly trying to build my “no muscle” or at least be conscious about when to use yes and when to use no. When I look back there are several instances where I wish I had said no:
The moments when my boss or bosses asked me to take on more than I could handle or to do something that did not align with my morals
When a certain “shall remain nameless” boyfriend asked me not to break up with him
Any moment that someone ordered a round of shots at the bar… this led to many other choices that needed a no
To “friendships” where the person wasn’t encouraging me to grow but rather dragging me down
With all this talk about no, I would be remiss not to mention that I do believe that being open and saying yes to new opportunities and adventures is something that I believe is important. If I were a total no person, I probably would have missed out on many of the life-shaping experiences in my life. If I wielded no for every instance where something feels uncomfortable I wouldn’t have:
Lived in Colorado
Gone back to school to become a teacher
Moved to Mexico
Continued with fertility treatments even when I felt like I was exhausted
Though they are tiny, little words, yes and no can really be powerful. Use your super-powers wisely!
Fear. Of. Missing. Out. I used to be the girl who opened up the dance floor and who closed down the bar. Who hit the after parties, and who walked home in her bar clothes, often, in the morning, not having slept. These habits crept their way well into my 30s. I was afraid that if I didn't go until my battery died, that I would miss out of the chance to be funny, the chance to find someone special, the chance to be accepted, the chance to find an adventure. And when I think about FOMO in my past, it's interesting how it is totally connected with a night out on the town, probably wasted.
Ironically, I am probably missing out on many of the details of my life, having been inebriated for a good portion of weekends between the ages 18-35; that's 17 years. Ugh!
Peculiar how life morphs, sometimes over the course of a night, and sometimes in the blink of an eye.
I don't know when my relationship with missing out changed. But it did. Perhaps, in the blink of an eye. I do not miss sloppy nights out and hangovers. I no longer feel like I need to prove myself when my inhibitions become porous with the help of a drink. I do not miss feeling large and in charge with it's me and my drink-ski. I don't miss any of it. None. When I think about missing out, now, in my early 40s, it's much closer to home. It's right here, under my nose … and I have mentioned it again and again. I fear missing out on what is happening in my real life, away from my phone.
I feel like a hypocrite writing this, because it feels a hell of a lot like do as I say and not as I do. For that reason, I offer you no advice. My phone is a drug. Truth is - I feel like I NEED it to advance. To get ahead as I work my way to financial freedom. The problem - is that I lack the focus to open it - do desired task, and close it. There is always one more post, one more scroll, one more search. Opening to check the weather has me racing down a rabbit hole, unaware of what is going on in my peripheral vision (aka - my real life).
So, that's what I have FOMO about these days. Perhaps this isn't a post to advise you at all, perhaps this is when I say HELP! What's working for you and how can I get a grip (no pun intended) on this relationship.
I don't want to miss out - and here's your permission slip to call me out on it if you see it happening. You can kindly say, "Diane, life is amazing out here!" I'll get it. xo
FOMO might look like this.
Like it is - According to Vail My first thought about FOMO was that I used to really struggle with the Fear of Missing Out when I was in high school and college, but I am much more evolved now. I am rarely worried these days if I miss a party or if I hear that others have gotten together and I wasn’t there. That used to really get me going. The negative thought patterns would set it. Did they not want me there? Am I not fun to be around? Am I a total nerd? You get the picture. So my conclusion was that I don’t have a FOMO problem… then, I thought again.
Now that I have fully embraced my nerdiness, which I would rather call uniqueness, I think FOMO shows up in two other major areas of my life.
Living Abroad FOMO: When one lives abroad, far away from family and many friends, it is probably impossible for the geographic distance not to cause FOMO. I really LOVE my family and when I see post or pictures of them together in Michigan. My heart aches all the way down here in Mexico. I am worried that I am missing all the important moments. I fear that I am losing connection. I sometimes am racked with guilt that I am not there, that I am missing the little stuff. This is the big FOMO in my life.
Phase of life FOMO: Another manifestation of FOMO I could characterize as more of a phase of life fear. I am a late bloomer in many senses when it comes to the big milestones most people go through as an adult. This does not mean that I regret the pace at which my life has unfolded, but at every pass I have kind of felt like I was behind. In my twenties, when my friends were pairing off and getting married, I decided to chuck it all and move to another country. The experience of living in another country was thrilling and new, but I couldn’t shake the FOMO on marriage. I wondered what it was like and if I would ever make it down the aisle. I did.
This continued and deepened as those pairs began to have children and create their families. My husband and I began to try to catch up, to create a family of our own, but it wasn’t as easy as it looked on Facebook and Instagram. We struggled, and struggled and struggled. We met with doctors, we tried almost anything that you can imagine to become parents, but at so many moments it seemed impossible and elusive. Cue FOMO. I grieved and felt the FOMO of becoming a mom. Every belly that I saw was a crushing reminder of that fear.
So with so much experience with FOMO, what is the solution? I have found that really investigating the fear, getting to know it and letting it be gives it space and allows it to release a bit of a grip on my life. I discovered Tara Brach during the last part of my FOMO journey and she uses an acronym with self-compassion: RAIN.
Recognize what is going on; Allow the experience to be there, just as it is; Investigate with interest and care; Nourish with self-compassion.
Makes a lot of sense to me to fight one acronym with another. The Fear of Missing Out, like any other fear, will always be there, but I think that we get to decide how scary it is and how much space in our lives it can take. One final thought on the specific fear of missing out. You chose your life. If you are missing out on something, it is because you chose the other option. So, enjoy the hell out of the option you chose. Brach, Tara. True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart. Bantam Books, 2016.
Disclaimer: You are allowed to disagree with any or all of this post - kind of like Ricky (my hubs) did. So, as a result of the above mentioned disclaimer, I have been so reluctant to write this post. Even though I have a blue post it note in my pen/paper agenda with a few writing points, I have felt fine moving that post it note from week to week. I am worried I will offend you. So please. Be not offended. What follows is merely some thoughts that have been rolling around in my head for, oh … about 5 years.
The idea for this post came up one day when I was scrolling (this literally could have been any day in the past 10 years). I saw a picture of a friend on facebook and read the comments. "What a great picture." It may have even said, "What a great picture of you!" but I am not certain. I took pause and thought to myself. What a great picture. Was the person commenting on the person's ability to take an artistic photo. No. Were they commenting on the ability to capture light and use the space well? No. They were saying, that the person in the photo looked good in the photo. It struck me. While the well-intending commenter (no names cause here cause (spoiler!) we've all been this person) meant to be giving a compliment, it wasn't a compliment at all. Telling someone they look good in a picture is the same as saying, "You don't normally look like this, but the picture makes you look good." or "Wow, two dimensional and possibly a filter is better than the real thing!" You might simply say, "You are beautiful." Three words. That's all you need.
The second example I am going to write about, was one that came up a few weeks ago. The day after watching our Middle School Musical, I needed to email a student who played Golde in Fiddler on the Roof. I started with, "First and foremost, you were amazing in the performance last night." Once again, I took pause. Were. I was giving a compliment for something in the past, and basically leaving the compliment in the past. You were ...amazing .. same as saying, "You were great yesterday, but today, you are just normal. Nothing special." This is where Ricky and I had a little "agree to disagree."
I rephrased the compliment with "First and foremost, you are amazing. My husband and I really enjoyed the performance last night." I am not sure if this had a greater, or even different impact. Let's be honest. She is in Middle School and was probably thinking, Who is this mailing me? But these situations have me thinking about how our words are intended versus how they land. There is a definite discrepancy here, and one worth considering when we craft our discourse.
"Have you lost weight?"
Oh dear. This one. While this might be a compliment to some (those working to lose or who feel like their appearance is attached to the red digital number - cause let's be honest, the ones with the little arrow … are they really accurate?) it's not to everyone. I am not sure I want to go into detail here - so I won't. But I offer you this alternative if you are truly trying to compliment someone's appearance - especially if you don't know their health and fitness goals.
"You are beautiful!" Oh … there they are again … those three words.
Now, this one isn't a compliment per se, but it's a comment often made out of compassion.
"You look tired."
Thanks, but really … no thanks. Basically saying "Wow. You look like shit. Bags, circles, melty face …" Just. No.
And finally, an I see you and I want to take note, and possibly compliment you, compliment-not-compliment …
"Are you pregnant?" Often asked with excitement and raised eyebrows. Like they have x-ray vision.
People. For reals. I know for a fact I am not the only girl (I know of four off the top of my head) who had to reply, "no." (<- period or comma inside the parentheses??) to this comment.
I don't need to break this one down. Unless you KNOW and I mean know in that, Ms. Preg-o-nante told you herself, don't … just don't ask.
Now - get out there shape shifting your words, and I bet you a million bucks, you'll shape shift a life while you're at it. You are beautiful! xo
Like it is - According to Vail
“You have lost so much weight!!” a colleague smiled and said to me a few years back.
In her defense, I honestly think that she was trying to compliment me in a positive way. However, I it struck a chord with me and a I mumbled, “I know,” as a response. I am sure this comment would have fallen on someone else very differently, but for me it was most certainly a compliment that was not actually a compliment. In fact, I often think that “compliments” that are focused on appearance rarely have the effect that we desire.
There are two major reasons that body related comments are really tough for me.
They make no assumptions about the past: This is the glaring issue with these non-compliments. If I have lost weight or look skinny now, what does that say about what I was like before? Not only does it imply that I was fatter, heavier, but there is a layer of you were just not good enough. It places so much importance on physical appearance and not the amazing individual inside.
They don’t take into account someone’s personal history: In the above example I mentioned, the person trying to give the compliment certainly did not know my history with body image. However, it is safe to bet that most women and I think many men have or have had a complicated relationship with their physical bodies. I suffered from an eating disorder in my early twenties which was painful, scary and finally cathartic when I was able to pull my way through the worst of it, but it will stick with me whether I want it to or not, for life. When I was truly ill, a comment like, “you are so skinny,” would have been like eating disorder crack. I would have loved it and it would have fueled the controlling desire to be even thinner. So, when I hear a remark like that, I still have to check in with myself and give a little self-love. I have to give myself a true compliment. “You are strong and healthy and your body can do amazing things.”
The second layer to my history is that at that very moment I received that non-compliment, I was struggling deeply with infertility. At that point it had been about three years and the reason for my weight loss was out of my control. Though in the end a misdiagnosis, I was taking medication to support my thyroid, thinking that it would help my body be more receptive to pregnancy. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the right fix. I was on high levels of synthetic thyroid medication and I felt totally out of control. I wasn’t happy about the weight loss; I was worried that there was something genuinely wrong with my body. Shortly after, I suspended the medication and the weight and strength came back. Not surprisingly, when I reached a healthy weight, compliments did not flow in.
So what is the take-away here? For me it has been to make sure that my compliments, when given, are thoughtful and speak to the whole person and who they have and always will be. Compliments are wonderful and it is so important that we lift each other up. In my experience, being careful about how your words fall comes from receiving a really meaningful compliment and thinking about how to mimic that sentiment.
I find personally that the greatest compliment that I can receive is confirmation that someone heard me or saw me. When some starts with, “I loved when/how you said…” or, “thanks so much for doing…”, I am listening and I am taking it in.
Compliments should feel like a warm blanket on a winter night or a hug from a cherished friend. If you hear a compliment and that feeling is not there, you might have received a compliment that is not a compliment. Don’t fear, all it takes to let that feeling go is to give yourself a loving compliment and remember to bring compassion to the person who was doing their best, trying to lift you up. Sometimes it is the thought, not the actual words that count.
“The greatest compliment that was ever paid to me was when someone asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.” – Henry David Thoreau
The timer has started. And now I have to navigate writing - while in the fog. I can recall one time in particular. Ricardo and I landed down in Toronto, rented a car, and then had to make our way to Meaford to my sister's house. I was five months pregnant with Cami, it was night and from Toronto to Meaford, the headlights of the rental car barely pierced the fog. My heart felt heavy and my fear was cusping. Is that even a word? Cusping? That's one kind of fog. The kind that blinds you. The other kind of fog, is the one that is brought on by lack of sleep. This is the fog I believe I have been operating in for the past I-don't-even-know-how-many months. The fog of fatigue. It doesn't help that every self-help podcast, book (just kidding, I can't/don't read books right now) and conversation I have with healthy people seems to conclude with one thing. 1. Sleep is uber important. 2. Starting the day with lemon water is HUGE. I know. That was two. Living in the fog has me drifting from room to room, forgetting why I am even there. Looking at people like I have something to say to them - and then forgetting, forgetting if I washed my hair already in the shower, moaning from time to time, and the best - wondering what is real, and what I dreamed. Are you thinking, "Ah ha! You are sleeping after all!" Nope. These "dreams" are the mish-mash of thoughts, and ideas that I have while lying in bed at 4:00am, unable to get back to sleep. Unable cause I am so tired, but hear a baby coughing, or unable because I start thinking about the university fund I haven't started yet. This fog. I'll name it for you all. Motherhood. And I have it b.a.d. Someone said to me that going from one to two was a game changer, but this? And some people have more than two kids … these people - my heroes and sheroes. I don't even know what's happening anymore; a miracle that I can function. And I say that to people all the time, "I don't even know how I am functioning." And then I make the comment about how amazing the body is. Cause, it is. So my question is this. Moms and Dads out there. HOW THE HELL DO YOU DO IT? Do you hear me? About the fog? Do you live in it too? What's it like for you? Do you remember who you were before kids. Have you had conversations with your spouse recently? What did you talk about? What are some of the funny things that have happened in the fog? Ricky always catches me when I do stupid shit. "How was your tea?" He'll ask. When my tea cup is starting to form icicles because I forgot about it nine hours ago. The fog is a real thing. But back to the story of us driving to Meaford. Let's heed the advice from real life situations and inject this metaphor with what we know works. It's not just moms and dads that end up in the fog. We all get there now and again. So let's remember:
Slow down. You can't race through the fog like some sort of maniac. Or someone's going to gonna get hurt.
Turn off your high beams. What? It's easy to project when you're coming from a place of vulnerability. Turn that down. Own your own weather, and move on. Albeit, slowly.
Be ok with not being ok. Once you let go of the need to control certain aspects of your life, you can find comfort in the unknown. Not everything can and should be controlled.
Now. having said this. Well - written it, I will heed some of my own advice. I have to get the girls from daycare … and I am going to walk slowly this time round.
Like it is - According to Vail
The following is list of things I would like to blame on the fog:
Forgetting 3 ATM cards in the machine and letting them get sucked back in. (My husband forbade me from using ATMs where I needed to insert the card for a period of time.)
Locking myself out of my own house and having to break in through a window with an umbrella.
Allowing my dog to eat on the morning of her surgery. Anesthesia required.
Sometimes I feel like I have to make a mistake or tragic error to snap me out of the fog. Then the fog will lift for a while and begin to slowly, sneakily creep its way back into my life until the next awakening happens. Like a jolt.
Sometimes, the fog and the clearing are not that evident. There are days where I feel like I am just a bit removed from the clarity and colors of life, like I am not operating on all cylinders.
I wish I had an understanding of exactly what causes the fog in my life. Brain fog seems to be all the rage right now, and I have been reading a lot about why I do things that my normally functioning brain would be too intelligent or alert to do. I have read that it can be lack of sleep, hormones, stress, diet and medications. At any one time over the last 5 years of my life, any or all of these could have been the culprit. I have often mentioned to friends and loved ones that I am not myself. When I don’t feel like me, that is the fog talking.
But not all fog is bad. I had the opportunity to hike the Inca Trail years ago and I still treasure the photo where we crested Dead Woman’s Pass. Was is a cloud? Was is fog? I don’t know, but it was one of the most beautiful things I have seen in my life. A white mist was rolling over the landscape. As we trekked on, the fog began to clear and opened into a breathtaking valley.
This is true in my experience too. Once the fog lifts, there is often a deeper clarity than I had before. The textures of life seem twice as bright. I guess I am always trying to figure out how to break through to that technicolor opening, living less time in the fog.
Kind of like happiness and sadness, fog might be a necessary state to understand the value of a spectacularly present and vibrant moment. If I never knew the fog and what it feels like to be a little bit off, would I know to search for my most powerful, lucid me?
Although I hate to admit it, I am probably part fog and part clearing. I will bring compassion to my fogginess and try to let go, because it will eventually lift.