Intentions for 2018

Every year, as the New Year approaches I spend a lot of time thinking, daydreaming, and considering what resolutions I can set for myself that will make the coming year the best one yet.  I love the time to think about areas of my life that could use improving and then setting goals to strive for.

This year has been a little different in the fact that I haven’t really been able to come up with clear, cut and dry resolutions.  When I  look back at last year’s post, I had a very detailed, organized list of resolutions that I hoped would bring good health, peace, and love into my life in 2017.  And while, I didn’t necessarily achieve every single goal I had so carefully laid out for myself, I certainly feel like I made strides in most of those areas.

This year, in an effort to release some of the pressure I put on myself, I have decided rather than focussing on the finish line of meeting a goal, I am going to concentrate on the journey of getting there.  Achieving goals or keeping resolutions is not a static process with a clearly defined beginning and end; rather it is a fluid, ever-changing process with many lessons, challenges, and celebrations along the way.  This year I want to embrace the journey of the intentions I have set for myself so when New Year’s Eve rolls around next year, I can celebrate the progress I have made, rather than think about all the resolutions I did not “keep”.

I suppose in a way, this is my way of going easy on myself.  There are so many areas of my life where I place far too much pressure on myself and I don’t want New Year’s resolutions to be one of them any longer.  That being said, I’ve always loved setting goals (and writing lists!) so below is a general idea of some of the journeys I hope to go on in 2018.  May it be as blessed and wonderful as 2017 and all the years before that.

2018 INTENTIONS

  • Find a nutrition plan that optimizes my health (heals my gut and IBD, helps me to lose weight in a healthy way, gives me lots of energy, a clear mind, and clear skin)
  • Do at-home workouts (BOD) on a regular basis
  • Establish an early morning workout routine
  • Stop hitting snooze on the alarm clock
  • Make sleep a priority
  • Spend more time outdoors (hiking in the woods, cross-country skiing, walking the dog, camping)
  • Socialize with friends more often
  • Learn calligraphy & lettering
  • Be creative – find new creative outlets (art classes?)
  • Push myself harder in some areas (exercise) and less hard in others (work).
  • Complete a Learn to Run program (again)
  • Do more yoga (at home and at the studio)
  • Continue writing and journaling
  • Live more slowly — pause & think before reacting — prioritize
  • Cut back on hours at work – let go of the perfectionist mindset
  • Keep a positive mindset at work – one day at a time
  • Drink more water (from a reusable bottle)
  • Continue to be positive and to notice the beauty all around us (snow on evergreen trees, sunshine on freezing cold winter days, students who have a desire to learn and be loved…)
  • Continue to show gratitude
  • Volunteer

Wishing you all the happiest of New Years!

xo

 

 

 

 

 

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My Intentions for 2017

Happy New Year!

Like many, I love the fresh start of a new year.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and reflecting over the last little while to try to decide what my resolutions will be this year.  I love exploring different sources for creativity and inspiration, and a theme that keeps coming up over and over again, and one I am really latching on to, is the notion of self-care.

img_1011Self-care is unique to the individual so it really means figuring out what is right for you.  Here’s what I’ve discovered so far about the components of my own self-care practice that I hope to implement this year.

PHYSICAL HEALTH

Exercise

This year, I’ve decided to cancel my gym membership and find different kinds of exercise that I truly enjoy.  Some things I plan on doing are:  walking my dog, cross-country skiing, hiking, at-home basement workouts (cardio, strength training, weights). I’ve also finally registered for my first yoga series at a local yoga studio that I can’t wait for.

Nutrition

I’ve decided to commit to cleaning up my diet for a few reasons.  One, I’ve continued to struggle with ulcerative colitis and am hoping that by making changes to my diet, it will improve my symptoms and eventually put me back into remission.  Secondly, I want to be in the best physical shape of my life and I know a huge part of that is eating properly.  I’ve decided to try something different and have recently started the 21 Day Fix in hopes that a new program will give me the motivation I’ve been lacking.  Finally, I know that eating healthy foods (and cutting back on the unhealthy ones) will give me more energy and help alleviate a lot of the fatigue I have been feeling.

Water

As part of my new nutrition program, I am trying to consume more water on a daily basis.  I find drinking out of a reusable water bottle helps me to get my daily water intake and also helps me to easily keep track of how much I’ve consumed.

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MENTAL / EMOTIONAL

Yoga

Besides its physical benefits, yoga positively benefits our minds helping us to become more mindful, release negative thoughts, and open our hearts to love, light, and peace.  Yoga helps me to feel relaxed and helps me to slow down the rush of day-to-day life.  I am really excited to get started on my yoga journey!

Journaling

The main reason I started this blog was to have an outlet for creativity.  While others may paint, dance, sing, or scrapbook, my creative outlet is writing.  I think a lot and sometimes my brain feels overloaded with too many things.  Journaling helps me to release some of the things I am thinking about which eases my mind.  Furthermore, it allows me to express myself and reach out to others in a positive way.

Slowing Down

As I get older, I find I crave a more simple and quietwe life.  The drama, chaos, and negativity that thrive in the world, make me upset and make me desire a slower, simpler pace. This year, I intend to slow down my daily activities whether it’s my morning routine, driving, reacting to the choices of others, teaching, or just day-to-day tasks.

Being Outdoors

Until recently, I never truly understood the benefits of spending time in nature.  Lately though, I’ve realized that being outside makes me feel overall more positive, calmer, happier, and more at peace.  I’ve even found a new appreciation for our Northern Ontario winters.  I’ve finally realized that fresh, outdoor air and quality Vitamin D is essential to my mental health.  This year, I intend to spend more time outdoors by doing things like: walking (with friends, my hubby and my dog), hiking, cross-country skiing, skating on outdoor rinks, camping, and exploring the woods.  When summer rolls around, I may even try canoeing or kayaking!

Home

One of the places I love being the most is at home.  Our house is small but it is cozy and it’s one place where I can (usually) fully relax.  Most of the time, this happens in my favourite arm-chair, with a cuddly blanket.  Nearby, you’ll find my water bottle, sometimes a coffee, the latest book I am reading, my Chapstick, my hand cream, my iPhone, and my iPad.  Next to me, my husband is watching TV from the couch with our fur baby curled up beside him.  Another favourite place in my home is my bedroom. I love the cozy weight of our duvet, the coolness of our pillows, the light pouring in from behind our white, gauzy curtains.  On my nighttable, I have a simple statue of Buddha that helps me to feel peaceful before bed.  I love long, slow mornings lounging in bed on the weekend with my husband and our dog, scrolling through social media, reading, or making plans for the day.

Of course, there is always room for improvement in our home.  While I have some projects I’d like to see happen this year, there are a few simple things I can do to help make my home even more cozy.  I’ve started listening to acoustic music when doing household tasks.  I love lighting candles around my home.  I love the greenery of dispersing plants throughout our house. I love having cuddly blankets and pillows.  I am also considering putting up some white twinkly lights in my bedroom to help create a cozy, romantic, warm space.

Relationships

There is nothing in life more important to me than the relationships I have.  I am very blessed to be surrounded by so many special family members and friends.  This year, I hope to cultivate those relationships even more by paying more attention to my loved ones’ needs and showing more kindness and appreciation where I can.  I hope to stay in better contact with friends that live far away and to visit my three, precious nieces more often.  There’s nothing that makes my heart feel fuller than time spent with those I love.

Parenting

Parenting is a tough job, and I would argue that step-parenting is even harder, especially to two teenagers.  That being said, this year I intend to practice more patience when it comes to parenting.  I am a highly sensitive and emotional person that tends to react too quickly to feelings of stress, frustration, hurt, or anger.  This year, I will pause and think before reacting to these kinds of situations.  I will listen, not half-heartedly, but really listen to their needs and interests when they talk so that they feel the love and attention they deserve.  In essence, I will be kinder and more loving to my children.

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SPIRITUAL

Mindfulness

This year, I hope to practice being more mindful and fully present in the moments of my life.  By slowing down my day-to-day routines, I hope to notice the small things that make life so pleasurable (example: the beauty of the snow-covered evergreens that line my route to work).  Practicing mindfulness will also fill my heart with gratitude, faith, and love.

Yoga / Meditation

I am excited to learn more about yoga and meditation this year and hope to discover more about myself through the practice of both.  I plan to explore some guided meditations and perhaps even create a yoga space in my basement surrounded by things that inspire and motivate me.

Light

For me, light is both figurative and literal.  Especially in the long, dark days of winter, spending as much time in daylight is crucial.  It’s one of the reasons I always open the blinds in my home and in my classroom, and switched all my indoor supervision duties for outdoor ones.  But light can also be figurative. For me the notion of bringing light into my life means to bring positivity and happiness ~ something I definitely intend to do this year!

Morning Intentions

At school each morning, our principal asks us to take a moment of silence to reflect on our day.  Each day, I use that time to set some intentions for myself, for my students and co-workers, and for my loved ones.  Recently, I have starting sharing my morning intentions via Facebook as a means of sending hope and light into the world. Also, by writing down my intentions, it allows me to reflect on them and express them more clearly.

Gratitude

Similar to my morning intentions, I sometimes share daily expressions of gratitude on my Facebook account.  Again, writing these thoughts helps me to see them and feel them more clearly.  But it’s also my intention to help others recognize the small, simple things in life that we have and to realize how very blessed we are.

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What are your goals / resolutions / intentions for the New Year?  Whatever it may be, I hope your year is filled with love, light, peace, and positivity!  💕

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!

2016

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.