Learning Curve

Just recently I wrote a post about my new realization about how closely linked my mental health is to my daily exercise and nutrition.  It’s something I should have recognized years ago, but for whatever reason I didn’t. Perhaps I was too caught up in my efforts to lose weight simply to look better and to fit some kind of ideal that I thought my body should be.  But after dealing with feelings of fatigue, exhaustion, lack of motivation, and mild depression for some time now, I finally made the link. What I eat and how much (or how little) exercise I get, truly matters.

I put this new information to the test immediately.  I started out slowly – cutting gradually back on the amount of sugar I consumed, going for a brief walk, and ensuring I went outside for at least 20 minutes each day.  Within just a few days, I felt the positive effects. I was still tired after a day’s work, but I wasn’t completely exhausted.  In fact, I had enough energy to be more productive at home in the evenings and didn’t actually feel really tired until bedtime instead of my typical 4 p.m. crash.

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That was two weeks ago.  Last week, I started to let things slip. It started when we headed out of town for my son’s hockey tournament.  For convenience’s sake, we ate at fast-food restaurants several times (burgers and fries mostly).  We stayed at my parents’ place which is packed full of every treat and goody you can imagine at this time of year!  On top of that, Mom graciously hosted a Christmas party, complete with all my favourite appetizers.  After a weekend of indulgences and eating “crap”, I was determined to get back on track with my new-found habits on Monday. But when Monday rolled around, I had no energy.  I dragged myself through the day at work, over-ate at the potluck lunch, and when I got home, collapsed with exhaustion.  I’m too tired from the crazy weekend, I told myself, I’ll workout tomorrow. 

Tuesday came and all of Monday’s leftovers were pulled out of the fridge at work. Without thinking twice, I ate another huge plate of mostly unhealthy foods.  Then I had a huge piece of chocolate cake for dessert.  I dragged myself through Tuesday and collapsed with exhaustion when I got home. I skipped yoga at the gym, although I did attend my Weight Watchers meeting (how I dragged myself out of the house, I am not sure).  When I got home, I put on my pyjamas and promised I’d work out the next day. Later that evening, feeling agitated and overwhelmed, I got into a fight with my teenaged daughter and cried myself to sleep.

Then came Wednesday.  It was another hard day at work.  Granted, it’s the week before Christmas and I teach ten-year-olds, but the reason it was so difficult, was because I simply had no energy.  Sure, it’s safe to say that most teachers feel this way at this time of year (the typical pre-Christmas Break burn-out), but I knew that all the crap I had been eating and my lack of workouts was contributing more to my sluggishness than anything else. For the third day in a row, I immediately changed into pyjamas when I got home and buried myself under blankets on the couch.

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Normally, I would have sat there wallowing in self-pity and asking myself over and over again, why am I so tired?  Why don’t I have any energy? Why do I feel like crap?  But when you know better, you do better and know I know that the reason I feel like this is because of my poor nutrition and lack of exercise.

Although I just wanted to hibernate for the third night in a row, I knew it would only lead to making me feel worse the next day.  So I reached out to my friends in Weight Watchers on our online support group.  I confessed how terrible I was feeling and within minutes, one of my friends was urging me to get out for a walk.  I decided right then and there that that’s what I had to do.  I didn’t even hesitate to think about it (for fear that I would too easily find an excuse not to go).  I closed my iPad, got dressed in my outdoor gear, hooked my dog to his leash, and headed out.

I was so proud of myself for actually getting up and doing it that my motivation and energy immediately increased.  In fact, it jolted me awake so dramatically that rather than take my normal, short route, I set out on a much longer route.  Fifty minutes later (and lots of trudging through deep snow), I had completed my walk and my motivation to take care of myself was back.  This morning, on my coffee break when I usually indulge in sweets, I headed out for another walk and took in the mild weather and gorgeous sunshine peaking through the clouds.

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It’s still absolutely incredible to me how simple it is to change our emotions and mental state into positive ones, yet so many people like me get sucked so easily into the dark hole of lethargy, fatigue, and depression.  It’s all the more reason to remember just how critical proper nutrition and daily exercise really is.  I am so happy that I have finally make this crucial realization!

 

 

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So Blessed, So Happy

Three weeks into September, I think it’s safe to say that we’re back into a routine.  After the long lazy days of summer, I was feeling all kinds of emotions about heading back to school, but now that we’ve been back a few weeks, I can honestly say I’ve been feeling nothing but happy lately.

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Last December, I made a life decision that has done nothing but benefit my life.  I made the choice to quit my part-time job that I had been working on the side since I became a teacher ten years ago.  For much of my teaching career, I’ve only been able to secure short-term contracts so always needed some kind of additional work to help make ends meet.  But finally, two years ago I secured a permanent position with my school board – and this year, that position finally became 100% full-time.

I’ve always had a job since I was 13 years old and have always believed myself to be a hard worker.  Even when I was in my undergrad at university, I often worked two part-time jobs on the side so I could do the best to support myself and not have to depend on my parents or too many student loans.  This continued well into my early 30s as I struggled to secure a career in a market that was over-run with qualified teachers, and build a family and a life with my husband and stepchildren.

But last December, the time to leave my second job behind finally came.  This decision wasn’t easy to make.  First of all, I felt like my family needed the extra money – no matter how much we make, there never seems to be enough.  But secondly, I had finally landed a part-time job that I actually loved (working retail in a clothing store).  The work was enjoyable but the staff of ladies I worked with were what made the job so wonderful – they were incredibly lovely and made such an amazing team.  Plus, I got a great discount on clothes!

But the stress a second job added on my life was nearly unbearable.  I taught all week, marked assignments, planned lessons, cooked dinners, tidied our house, did laundry, and took care of my family.  When the much-anticipated weekend finally arrived, I had another schedule to meet – shifts at the mall- which sucked up the time I’d normally spend on the weekend cleaning my house, catching up on laundry, cooking for my family – not to mention, relaxing and taking some time for myself.   There were days where I’d get home from school at 4:30, have to been at work again for 5 pm, and not get home until 10 pm or later (in my waitressing days).

The stress of that lifestyle was taking its toll.  I had to start anxiety meds, I was always cranky and irritable with my family, and I was constantly worried about not having time to do the things I felt I needed to do to be a good wife, mother, teacher, and friend. I felt like my life was spiralling out of control. I cried a lot and I felt panicky and overwhelmed all the time.

Finally, last November I was at my breaking point.  I couldn’t take the stress of two jobs anymore – I was seriously concerned about my own mental health, which was also affecting the well-being of my family.  (Not to mention, I am pretty sure I already struggle with some level of Seasonal Affective Disorder – a kind of depression that creeps in when the season changes – usually around October/November for me).  Finally, the day came where I had to make a decision.  I seeked the advice from my doctor who advised me to leave my second job and assured me that I could maintain a satisfactory lifestyle without the added income.  My husband was tried of having an over-worked, cranky wife (and of having to cheer me up all the time).  With a heart that felt guilty for diminishing my family’s income and for leaving the wonderful women who I worked with, I gave my two-week’s notice (in the midst of the insane Christmas rush no less).  My boss hugged me and was incredibly understanding which lifted the crushing guilt I had been feeling.  (To this day, she is one of the sweetest, most genuine women I’ve ever met!)  I worked my last shift on Boxing Day and bitter sweetly said goodbye to my amazing co-workers (and awesome discount).

As the summer neared and another school year came to an end, I started to think about all the free time I was going to have.  For a brief few moments, I considered going back to my part-time job for the summer (which I would promptly leave in late August so I wouldn’t have to work two jobs again).  But my husband put his foot down and said no.  He knew that if I went back to work, I probably wouldn’t quit come August, and we’d be right back to where we’d been before.  And I knew he was right (plus, who doesn’t want a work-free summer?!)

So I took the summer off (for the very first time since I had my first job when I was just thirteen years old), and it was marvellous.  My days were wide open and I could fill them with whatever activities I wanted, without having to check any kind of schedule.  If my parents planned a camping trip, I tagged along without having to book the weekend off work.  If my cousins were visiting from out-of-town, I could go stay at mom and dad’s and visit family for a whole week.  Or I could just stay at home, read a lot of books, go for walks with my dog, and get little projects around the house down.  It felt amazing and so stress-free.

Relaxing this summer

Relaxing this summer

And now it’s September.  We’re going into our third week of school which means I’m back to working full-time.  I generally leave my house at 7:30 am and get home just before 5 pm.  I usually stay late after school to get all my marking and lesson planning done so I don’t have to bring any work home.  And now, when I get home I don’t have to rush out the door to my second job.  I get to cook dinner for my family, take the dog for a walk, and then have an entire evening to relax.  Life is so good.

Then there are the weekends.  We’ve had three weekends since school went back in and each one has been perfect.  I love the feeling of productivity and I’ve found the time to get projects done at home (washing bedding, cleaning, preparing freezer meals for busy week nights), but I’ve also found tons of time to relax and take time for myself.  The weekends used to make me feel panicked.  I’d wake up on Saturday morning and a long-list of to-dos would immediately take over my mind.  I’d start trying to figure out how I was going to get everything done in between my shifts at the mall.  I’d start to panick as I realized my weekend was going to slip away, drowned in more work, and I’d be left with no time to relax, before the vicious cycle started up again Monday morning.

Now I have lots of time to snuggle with this guy on the weekends.

Now I have lots of time to snuggle with this guy on the weekends.

But now that I’m not working two jobs, this season isn’t feeling so stressful.  In fact, I feel so incredibly happy lately.  My life feels so much more simple and fulfilling.  I’m so happy with  my new school, my wonderful new co-workers, and my amazing group of students who have impressed me so far.  I love spending my time on the weekends hanging out with my family, cooking (something that only ever stressed me out before) and still having time to take a nap or watch mindless TV.   And the thought of being able to slip away for a weekend to see family without having to book a weekend off is incredible.  There are moments on the weekend now where I look at the clock and can’t believe I still have so much time left before Monday morning rolls around.  It’s unbelievable and I feel so blessed.   Because now I have more time to do what matters most in life – spend time with my family and spend time with myself.  The benefits far outweigh any amount of added income.

Happy Sunday, guys!

xo

 

 

Do What You Want, Not What You Should

I’m struggling today.  It’s the same old problem that I am faced with so often – the decision between doing what I think I should be doing versus doing what I actually want to do.

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It’s beautiful out today.  It’s warm and sunny with a perfectly cool breeze.  It’s the last unofficial weekend of summer and the weather is perfect.  I should be outside.  Summer is so short around here, I should be soaking it all up before the weather turns dark, gloomy, and cool.  I should be out in nature, enjoying a hike or visiting my friend who is camping for the weekend, because I know it will be good for my mind, body, and soul.

But instead, I’m curled up on the coach, unshowered, still in my pyjamas, and wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket.  Because I’m tired, and it’s cozy here, and I don’t feel like moving.  I slept in today too – until nearly 10:30.  Then I laid in bed for nearly another hour playing on my phone and just dwelling in the cool comfort of my bed and the wonderful company of my husband and our dog.

I did get up after that and make pancakes for the family.  I even tidied up the kitchen.  I had intentions to shower. I told my friend I would drive half an hour to see her at her campsite.  We’d go for a walk or maybe to the beach.  I could stop at the grocery store and stock up on the few things we need for lunches this week.  I could take something out of the freezer and plan dinner.  And lord knows, the bathroom needs to be cleaned, there’s laundry to do, lessons to be planned, the list goes on….

Haha, love this one!

Haha, love this one!

But I don’t feel like doing any of those things.  I don’t even feel like getting dressed.  I’m even seriously considering ordering pizza for dinner. The Jays game is on, my husband and dog are here with me, and I am comfy and content laying here on the couch – other than the bit of guilt that is eating away at me…

My husband has a theory.  Whenever I complain that I have so much to do, he tells me “You’re an adult.  You can do whatever you want.”  I usually counter back with, “Yes, but adults have responsibilities” as I continue working my way through my never-ending to-do list.  And it’s not that my husband neglects those responsibilities (although he is a procrastinator), it’s just that he understands and accepts the whole notion of having the freedom to do what he wants rather than what he should be doing.

At the beginning of this year, I claimed the mantra “good enough” for myself in the hopes that I’d learn to let things go and step away from being such a perfectionist in so many areas of my life.  But, despite my good intentions, somewhere along the way I have forgotten what it means to let things be just good enough.

Now that back-to-school is just around the corner (two days!), I’m clinging desperately to this notion of doing what I want instead of what I should because I know in just a few days time, the slow, lazy days of summer that I’ve enjoyed are going to come to a screeching halt and my life is going to become chaotic again.  There will be alarms to wake up to, busy mornings, jobs and school to get to, laundry to do, lunches and dinners to make, errands to run, lessons to plan, a house to clean, assignments to mark, practices and clubs to bring kids to…. You get the idea.

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For me, my personal time is so important.  I’m a bit of a day-dreamer, an over-thinker.  I like time to explore my personal interests and to find inspiration for new ideas.  I like a schedule that’s wide open so I can decide each day what I feel like doing (and not just what I have to do). I like time to write and read books for pleasure. This is what this summer has been all about and it’s been glorious.  It’s been wonderful, peaceful, and so fulfilling.

So maybe my resistance to wanting to do anything productive today is a desperate attempt to hang on to those days when I have nothing to do.  Or maybe I’m just finally starting to accept that I am an adult and I can do what I want.  Because there has to a balance in life.  And I am sure there will be many more days to do what I should.  So today I am going to let go of the guilt, do what I want (which involves a whole lot of nothing), and try my hardest to accept that it’s all good enough.  And I might order pizza for dinner.

Positive Affirmations

I was telling a friend the other day, that now that I am in my thirties, I am continually learning about myself, my personality, and my behaviours more than I ever have before.  Just yesterday,  for instance, I realized that as much as I like the idea of waking up early to workout, morning exercise just isn’t for me.

Today, another light bulb about myself went off in a moment when I wasn’t really expecting it.  Sort of out of the blue, I realized that I really don’t mind people giving me advice (in fact, I actually appreciate it) but that it’s all about the delivery of how that advice is given. For anyone that knows me, it’s no secret that I’m extremely sensitive.  So if the advice given is perceived to be harsh, a touch condescending, or the least bit critical, I’m more likely to take it personally.  When this occurs, one of two things happen.  Usually my stubbornness kicks in, my defences go up (admittedly pretty quickly) and I fight back with a lot of emotion and gusto – or, I feel attacked, sad, and defeated.

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For instance, I decided to play ladies’ soccer again this year.  I haven’t played in four years and even then I was just a beginner.   I admitted this to my new teammates today when we met up for a scrimmage.  I urged them to give me advice and teach me about the game and promised I wouldn’t take it personally.  After all, I have a lot to learn and I’ll be the first to admit it.

And although today the girls were nothing more than friendly and encouraging, and I left with an overall drive to continue working towards improvement, I certainly had a few moments were I felt discouraged.  As my teammates yelled directions at me (simply giving me the advice I had requested), fleeting thoughts such as “maybe I shouldn’t play this year” and “maybe I should quit now” passed through my mind.  Most definitely their messages were not ill-intended, yet my sensitive personality took over and allowed me to doubt myself.

In this particular moment, I realized something else.  When working hard at something or attempting something challenging, I do better if I am given praise, acknowledgement, and appreciation.  It means a lot to me for someone to notice my efforts and to praise me for them.  Usually even the smallest compliment is all I need to keep working hard and to achieve success.

Now don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I expected my new teammates, who are virtually perfect strangers, to realize this about me and to pull me aside for a sweet little pep talk.  It’s just that I learned something about myself which I always find fascinating.  I realized that I am the type of person that needs recognition.  I need positive affirmation.  As Gretchen Rubin would say, I need a “gold star” in order to achieve.  I need advice that’s soft around the edges and delivered in an encouraging and positive tone.

This is not to say, I need to be showered in praise and recognition all of the time. And it also doesn’t mean that there aren’t times when I don’t want someone to challenge me and to push me past my limits.  I can recognize that sometimes it takes firing up my stubborn streak to really get results out of me.  But I think more often than not, if someone wants to help me, a soft and gentle approach is more likely to get me to listen and to accept the advice (especially in those times when I really need to hear it).

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All this being said, I am very excited (albeit nervous) for this year’s soccer season!  As I said, today’s first outing left me feeling motivated and eager to learn the game – it even gave me a few ideas for workouts such as sprinting and shifting my weight and changing directions quickly.   I’ve already forgotten those couple of moments where I doubted myself and felt like quitting.  I may be just a beginner but I’ve got a willingness to learn and an eagerness to succeed and that’s got to count for something.  At least I can always find a “gold star” to give myself.

Are you the type of person who needs recognition/praise or do you work better when someone challenges you?  Tell me about it in the comments below!

 

 

Reflections

winterLast week, I wrote a post about my resolutions (or goals) for the New Year which included to be gentle with myself, to maintain balance, and to connect with family and friends (read more about my resolutions here).  Shortly after, I also adopted the mantra “good enough is good enough” as a means to be rid of my perfectionist view on life in general (read more about that here).

Well, it’s only been just a little over a week and already I am feeling positive effects from these three simple promises to myself.  Of course, one of the ways my life changed recently was by leaving my weekend job in order to have more time for my family, household responsibilities, and ultimately, myself.  Although we spent a night out of town at my son’s hockey tournament, I’ve found I still had time this weekend to get stuff done (something that was very difficult to do while working seven days a week!) I have to say this new “weekend freedom” has been absolutely wonderful. For instance, I spent the entire day today in my pyjamas hiding from the blizzard outside, drinking coffee, and slowly working away at plans for the upcoming week at school. While this certainly may not sound thrilling to some, is truly something that I find fulfilling and enjoyable and in my mind is one of the perfect ways to spend a lazy Sunday!

I’ve also been working really hard on taking things one day at a time and only worrying about what has to get done each day.  While some future planning is inevitable, I often plan so much in my head that I easily become overwhelmed and stressed out.  I am now starting to realize that all that tiresome planning and thinking doesn’t really serve a purpose (other than to exhaust me).  Things are much clearer and less stressful, if I can focus on just a few small things at a time.  Surprisingly, training my brain to focus only on each days’ tasks hasn’t been nearly as difficult as I had anticipated.  I’d often argued with my husband that all the planning ahead was just “how my brain works”, but suddenly it seems that I can control that thinking (at least to a certain degree).  It’s something that’s definitely a work in process but certainly worth my time.

The mantra “good enough is good enough” has helped me immensely in only thinking about each day’s tasks (and to be clear, I try to focus only on one or two tasks each day… not an exhaustive list, otherwise it’d be pointless!)  For example, I am slowly learning that something as simple as cleaning my house does not need to be an “all or nothing” job.  So today, after we had finally packed away the Christmas decorations, I simply passed the vacuum quickly, rearranged a few décor items, and said to myself “that’s good enough for today”.  Normally, I would have moved on to dusting, cleaning the bathroom, doing heaps of laundry, scrubbing floors, and purging closets which is not only exhausting to me but would make my family members miserable and resentful too.  So, in the end, my house may not be spotless from top to bottom, but it’s presentable enough, and best of all, my family’s had time to enjoy our day doing the things we love!winter peace

In addition to maintaining balance by reminding myself of the good enough mantra, I have also made strides on my resolution to connect with family and friends.  My husband and I decided that this year we’d go all out for birthdays.  Fortunately for my friend Jason, he was the first person I got to test this resolution out on since his birthday was this past week.  Since Jason lives so far away (as do many of my best friends), I couldn’t really go all out but I still wanted to think of something I could do to brighten my friend’s special day.  That being said, I knew if it wasn’t something easy, manageable, and inexpensive, I’d be less likely to follow through.  I started to think about what I could do and realized that over the last few years, I’ve completely dropped the ball on sending my friends’ something as simple as birthday cards!  I immediately set out and spent several minutes in the card shop picking out a card that I knew would make Jason smile.  Then, another idea came to me!  I am blessed to have so many wonderful memories with my friends, why not create a list of these special memories to send in the birthday card?  So that’s what I did.  It took me only a few minutes to write a letter to Jason full of meaningful and hilarious memories we’ve had over the years.  I was thrilled when he responded to tell me that the letter not only made him laugh, but nearly brought him to tears!  It amazes me how something to simple could have such an effect! I was so happy I made that connection with Jason on his birthday!

(As a side note, now that I’ve conquered the first birthday, I am thrilled that  we get to go all out for birthdays two more times this month!  Next week, we’ve planned a terrific party for my stepson Brandon who is turning 12… stay tuned for an update, we’re really going all out for his birthday… and my younger brother’s birthday is also at the end of the month… still working on ideas on how to make his big day extra special!)

I know it’s only been a little over a week so already celebrating my New Year’s resolutions as successes may be premature.  But the fact that 2016 has started off with a lot less stress, crying, agonizing, and worrying, is definitely a step in the right direction…. and the fact that I found enough time to write three blog entries in just over a week?   Well that in itself makes me one very happy girl 🙂

xo,

K.

Good Enough

good enough 3As I reflect on my New Year’s resolutions and think about some of the reading I have been doing lately, I am liking more and more the idea of good enough being better than perfect.  I am thinking that good enough is going to help me in letting go of my “all or nothing”, perfectionist attitude.  Furthermore, I’m starting to realize that the notion of good enough is really going to help me in my efforts to be gentle with myself and in maintaining balance, two of my main resolutions for 2016.

One of the ways I’ve been adopting the good enough strategy in the last couple of days, for instance, is to simply focus on one or two tasks per day.  Typically, I am a hyper-organized person, constantly making to-do lists and planning the next minute, hour, day, week, month of my life.  This weekend I allowed myself to let go by focussing on one (or two) tasks I wanted to complete that day (in order of priority.  Yesterday, getting a manicure was at the top of my list (good-bye holiday nails, hello fresh mani!) and today was all about preparing for back to school (tomorrow!  yikes!)  My husband strongly encourages this one task at a time mentality and I have to admit it did alleviate a lot of my usual stress. In fact, just a few days ago (before I adopted the good enough idea), I was already running a mental to-do list through my mind of all the things I “needed” to complete this weekend:  take down and pack away Christmas decorations, clean the house top to bottom (not a small feat), stock up on groceries, meal plan for the week, prepare for back-to-school, prepare an appetizer for a party Saturday night, attend party Saturday night, watch my son play hockey, and then of course, make time for myself (reading, blogging, social media, maybe a walk…)the list goes on…

Just thinking about that list is utterly exhausting.  But that’s how my brain has been trained to think.  It takes conscientious effort for me to be gentle with myself and to accept good enough.  But with my husband’s support, I was able to focus on just a few simple priorities and I have to admit, I felt a lot more relaxed.

Sure, I didn’t clean my house top to bottom (for some reason, I’ve always thought house cleaning tasks all have to be done at the same time, so time consuming!) but I did sweep the floors which took care of the biggest problem (dog hair!) and I did wash some dishes and run the dishwasher.  I also re-organized our winter recycling system and completed a load of laundry.  Considering we normally keep a fairly tidy house, this small tasks were easy to complete and were good enough.  After all, my house and it’s messes (or lack thereof) aren’t going anywhere, right? 

I also didn’t get time to take down my Christmas decorations, but so what?  More time to enjoy our beautiful tree!  When it came time to prepare an appetizer for a party I was attending, I remembered to be gentle with myself and opted to buy a pre-made (yet delicious!) cake which took off the pressure of having to find the time to make something.

Another aspect of my life in which I think it will benefit me to apply the good enough approach is in my efforts to improve my physical health.  As I mentioned in a previous post, in the past my diet and fitness efforts were definitely all or nothing.  This year, I’m trying a new approach based on the notion of good enough.  Sure, I may still be eating white bread and using creamer in my coffee with way too much sugar content, but today when I couldn’t find anything for lunch, rather than running out to grab takeout, I made a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up some soup and crackers.  As I mulled over what to make for dinner, I realized our vegetable intake lately has been really bad, so I opted for making a chicken stir-fry (even though pasta sounded so much more tempting). And while I didn’t fit a walk in this weekend, or lift any weights, or do any yoga, I know that this is only the beginning of the year and I’ve got lots of time to fit those things into my schedule, when they fit.

good enough 2Now that I’ve felt the benefits of good enough I know it’s a strategy that will help me to meet some of my resolutions – to take pressure off myself, to be gentle with myself, and to find balance.  And even though I am tempted to write more, I know that for now this post is good enough.

xo

K.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year, 2016!

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Like so many others, I rarely keep a New Year’s resolution but even so, I have always loved making them. There’s something motivating and exciting about the chance to make a “fresh start” and of resolving to make things bigger and better for the forthcoming year.

Last year, around this time, I read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project which I found to be extremely motivating for making resolutions (considering the entire book is based around Rubin’s personal resolutions for making her own life happier).  I identified with Rubin so much and found many similarities between my character and hers.  Likewise, I adored Rubin’s philosophies and ideas about happiness based on research and her own personal experiences.  Even more, I loved the organization of her book – broken into twelve chapters, with each chapter representing a monthly theme that she set personal goals (or resolutions) for.The Happiness Project

This year, I just finished reading Happier at HomeVery much like The Happiness Project, it focuses on Rubin’s research around what it means to be happier at home and goes in depth with her own personal experiences.  Again, because I identify with Rubin so much, I loved this book and the ideas it presented.  Upon finishing the book, I was thrilled to realize that Rubin recently released a third book entitled Better Than Before and immediately purchased it in iBooks.  I haven’t started Better than Before yet because I actually decided to read The Happiness Project again, and this time I am highlighting my favourite sections, quotes, thoughts, and ideas. I  haven’t really decided yet what I will do with the highlighted sections (I have considered responding to some of them with my own thoughts and interpretations here on the blog…stay tuned!) but I’m finding that The Happiness Project is inspiring me all over again to set some really well-thought out resolutions. Of course, this highly organized way of thinking also appeals to my nature.  In fact, I didn’t want to actually write this post until I new exactly what I wanted to say about my goals and intentions for the upcoming year.  It’s been on my mind all week ~ many different ideas floating around but the right words just out of touch.  Then I read something in The Happiness Project about the notion that good enough sometimes is more important than perfect.  This idea is based on the thought that we sometimes never get anything accomplished because we are waiting for the perfect way to do it – in reality, if we can accept good enough we will get a lot more accomplished and be all the more satisfied for it.  So with that thought in mind, here goes…..  My resolutions for 2016 (in a more or less unorganized fashion…)

Be Gentle with yourself budda

There is a fairly new trend that has people choosing a theme word for the new year.  I have mulled over the idea and the first word I came up with for 2016 is gentle.  I chose this word mostly because one of my main goals for 2016 is to be more gentle with myself.  I want to take some responsibilities off my plate and to ease some of the pressure I put on myself.  I want to focus more on the things that really matter, and less on the things that don’t.  I want to really learn how to take care of myself and develop a more gentle nature, so as a result I can take better care of my loved ones.

Balance 

This being said, one of the reasons I have struggled so much with my New Year’s resolutions is because the very notion of being more gentle in itself means working hard to be more conscious of my behaviour and choices. This seemed a little redundant to me until I read a quote in The Happiness Project: “There is a constant tug between striving and accepting… there is a time for both pursuing and accepting.”  This very thought rang true with me.  So much so that it had me thinking about balance.  There is a time to strive, to push oneself, to work hard, to attain goals… and there is also a time to relax, to find calm, to stop working, and to just be.  Maybe balance should be my theme for 2016?

Another area in which I hope to find more balance has been my quest for good physical health.  My weigh has been a struggle my entire adult life and the whole issue of dieting or not dieting has always felt so extreme.  I’ve always had a perfectionist mentality so I’m either on the wagon or not. I’m either working out like a maniac, running, lifting weights, counting calories, tracking food, and obsessing over every choice I make, or I’m eating everything in sight, not working out at all, and finding a lot of pleasure in bumming around on the couch.  In 2016, I need to get rid of the “all or nothing” mentality when it comes to being fit and healthy.  I need to remember that good enough often gets more accomplished than perfect.  Here are some things I plan to do to try to find that balance.

  1.  Go for walksyoga3
  2. Lift weights
  3. Do yoga
  4. Eat less fast-food
  5. Cook more
  6. Keep a food journal

Connect

Recently I gave up my part-time job ( I still teach full-time) to have more time for my family and for myself.  Working two jobs while maintaining a household and being a wife and a mom, proved to be overwhelming and stressful.  It put me in a place that was difficult and mentally unhealthy.  Now that I have my weekends back I am looking forward to connecting more with my loved ones, and especially with myself.

With my Family:

  1. Go all out for birthdays Admittedly, my husband and I have dropped the ball on birthdays, even our kids’ birthdays.  This year we have planned to go all out to make sure each birthday boy/girl feels extra special.
  2. Work without rewardRemember that chores that I deem important aren’t necessarily important to others and therefore I shouldn’t always expect to be rewarded for  them.  If I learn to do them because I want them done and they feel important to me, I won’t be so upset when others don’t notice or don’t give me the recognition I feel I deserve.
  3. Walk the dog (good for him, good for me)
  4. Pause to think (before I react to a difficult situation or before I answer a difficult question, especially at home).

With friends:

  1. Set a schedule for regular phone dates with my best friend.
  2. Have a “girls day” with my best girl friends more than once a year.
  3. Send out Christmas cards and family letter.

With myself:reading2

  1. Write more (develop my blog and write regularly!)
  2. Read (love having a pile of books waiting for me to read!)
  3. Do yoga (spiritual, physical, and mental wellness!)
  4. Explore meditation (be mindful, serene, and calm – improve mental health)
  5. Get massages (reduce stress, and let’s admit…. I love a good back rub!)
  6. Think positive (and give myself a break…. Be gentle with yourself).

 

Hope I can keep all of these resolutions because I truly believe they will bring more happiness, love, and peace to my life this year!  What are your New Year’s Resolutions?

xo

K.