My theme for 2013

No matter what I did, I just couldn’t whittle down all my thoughts and plans and hopes for 2013 into a single word.

So I stopped trying to force it to happen. And the words had been there all long, just waiting for me to stop trying to make them something they are not.

My theme for 2013 is creating space.

creatingspace

Kel gave me this sculpture for Christmas! :)

Creating space is a phrase that’s been rattling around in my head for several months now. It means many different things to me.

There’s the literal level. I can create space by getting rid of things that no longer fit the life I am living or want to live. I can create some space in my schedule by opting out of activities that really don’t match up to what I really want to be doing.

Or it can be a virtual space, like our new forum. (Are you going to read Women Who Run with the Wolves with us? Don’t forget to create an account for the forum if you are. We’re starting tomorrow!)

I can create some space in my life by looking ahead, by tackling the things I know need to be done before they have to be done. I can write blog posts ahead of time, I can plan a little further ahead for the kids’ school, I can schedule the payment for that bill now, so I don’t forget about it until the last minute.

Or I can get really abstract about it: the less I have to worry about things like my health or money, then the more space there is for other things to happen.

The more space I can create, the more new things can come into being.

Which sounds pretty exciting to me!

Did you find a word or a theme for 2013? Will you share it in the comments? 

Tracy

 

 

Why New Year’s Resolutions fail…and a better way to make a change.

Note: This is a guest post that Kel wrote for Nancy Sathre-Vogel’s blog, Family on Bikes. We wanted to make sure our WMC family saw it too. 

How’s your life been working for you this past year?

Did you achieve what you promised yourself at the beginning of the year?

If you’re like me and thousands of others you most likely made a promise to accomplish one of the Big Three resolutions: losing weight, paying off debt, or getting organized.

Chances are that resolution didn’t last past the middle of January.

The Problem with Resolutions

Most articles tell us that New Year’s resolutions fail because of unrealistic expectations or a lack of breaking down what we want into smaller, achievable goals. I think the over 90% failure rate by mid January is caused by two much deeper problems.

  • The first problem with making resolutions is that most of them focus on the negative, or what we no longer want. For most of the women I’ve interviewed (including myself), our frenetic, over-stimulated lives leave us feeling depleted. We already feel deprived and can hardly stand the thought of taking anything else away.
  • Many of the things we want to change in our lives are symptoms of a bigger issue.  Because we are run so ragged and feel so depleted, we try to sweeten our lives by eating sugar, hold on to things we no longer need because the media tells us we will never have enough, and buy things to help us feel more in control of our lives, all in an effort to soothe our exhausted, frustrated spirits.

Lynne Twist quote[pinit]

A Better Way to Change

At a particularly low point in life I realized that all the “symptoms” I didn’t like in my life were a result of a much bigger problem.  My whole life–every single second of it–was doing for others. I realized that I would never be able to make permanent change without first changing what I was focusing on.

And I did just that. I decided to focus on doing something I loved to do for at least one hour a day. That subtle shift in focus changed everything, including my weight, clutter and finances.

Why not make 2013 different? Start this New Year by first understanding what is really and truly important to you. 

What you focus on expands.

Start the year by taking some time to focus on your values.  Take 5 minutes and write down what is most important to you.  Prioritize them and narrow them down.  What makes you, you?  Are the things you value most being expressed in your daily life?  If not, make that your change.

We are all compassionate, creative people who are so willing to donate our time, money, and efforts to making the lives of others better.  Let’s make 2013 different by focusing on adding more of what we value most to our lives.  At the very least, focus on giving to yourself as much as to others this coming year. It’s a much better path to change.

We need to stop trying to “become” something other than who we really are. 

Instead focus on being fully, deeply, and purposefully yourself.

Kel

PS: We’ll be focusing on Values–determining our own values, how to live them, and how to protect and prioritize them–during January at our first 30 Day Focus workshop. We hope you’ll join us there too!

Getting Started: Do It Now! (part 3 of 3)

This is the last in a series of 3 posts about how I finally fulfilled my dream of making painting a part of my everyday life.  In the first post, I wrote about spending time alone.  In the second post, I wrote about the magical and practical benefits of writing wishes, dreams, and intentions down on paper.  Today is the last post in the series.

Getting Started part 3

On September 6, 2010, Tracy and I started The Dao of Doing.  It was our personal “January 1.”  I did that on purpose so that I would be able to tell people that you can start something new, make a change, take a chance, or work towards a goal on ANY day of the year.  The most important day of the year to do any of these things is…TODAY. The most auspicious time…NOW. Which leads me to the last pebble I dropped into my stagnant pond life all those months ago: doing it now.

“Whatever you can do or dream you can begin it.  Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now.”

-Goethe

I was doing all the things I thought I “should” be doing as a good wife, mother, and daughter.  I’m not sure if it’s very politically correct to say this, but doing these things were not bringing happiness to me and even worse, didn’t seem to be contributing to a happy household.  Profoundly unhappy with my life, I sought some kind of relief.  In desperation I tried spending some time by myself to figure out where I had gone wrong.  Time alone turned out to be a pebble that caused some ripples in my stagnant pond of a life.  During my time alone I also wrote about my dreams and wishes, who I wished I could be….that was the second pebble to plunk into my pond: writing it down.  Writing made even bigger ripples.  Writing down my dreams made me realize that I wasn’t taking care of myself, that I didn’t spend any time on me or things that I loved to do.  This led me to find a third pebble and toss it in to see what happened.

I decided that I needed to do something I LOVED to do….NOW.  Not tomorrow, or on my next birthday.  Not at the first of the month, or January 1st.  Now.  Not waiting for a perfect time or perfect place, but doing it right away was the third pebble I tossed into the pond.

And it has made all the difference.

The old me, the one who was so unhappy, would have waited for the perfect moment to begin painting everyday.  She would have told herself that “when she was less busy” she would paint, or “when the kids get older,” or…there would always be a reason to wait.

Read that again.

There will always be a reason to wait.

The reasons never go away.  I didn’t try to figure out if I had all the supplies or the perfect place. I didn’t contemplate how I was going to fit it into my busy schedule. And that boldness that Goethe speaks of is magic. That is the magic that made me paint. I didn’t over think it. I did it.

I just plain did it.

When I wrote that Ripples post back in September I wrote about how I wanted so many things to change. I wanted to pay off debt, lose weight, travel, dress better, and be more confident.  But I picked painting everyday because I LOVED to do it. And you know what?  It’s had a spiral effect on my life.  My life is far from perfect but I have seen improvement in my weight, in our finances, and in my stress level.

Today we are on the doorstep of the New Year, 2013.  I think it’s exciting!  I’ve always liked the New Year.  It’s a clean slate with all the momentum and high hopes of all the people in the world willing to start something new, or at least willing to let go of something old.  (Secretly, I just LOVE a new clean calendar or pocket organizer. They are so fun!)

My wish for all of you in 2013 is that you will commit to BEING you and DOING something you love to do everyday.  Take one hour to be alone and write some crazy, wild dreams down on paper and find one that you can start to do now.  Goethe’s words are worth repeating today.

“Whatever you can do or dream you can begin it.  Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now.”

-Goethe

A very Happy New Year to you all!

Kel

Getting Started: Write It Down (part 2 of 3)

“The unexamined life isn’t worth living.”

-Plato

Getting Started part 2

In yesterday’s post I wrote about the first step I took to bring about positive and lasting change into my life, spending time alone. There were three important steps I took that I believe were instrumental in bringing about REAL change into my “stagnant pond” of a life.  The 3 pebbles I tossed into my stagnant pond were:

Time alone is important so you can hear your own wishes and dreams.  Many find meditation to be helpful with this but I don’t think it’s necessary. You only need to have the intention of listening to your thoughts and feelings.  For me, having a specific day and time was an important key in making this alone time happen. Thursday nights at the library were my time for me.

But there was another step I took while I spent time alone and that is the topic for today’s post: writing it down.

There is something magical about writing down your wishes and dreams.  Writing takes the wispy thoughts floating through your mind and puts them into a more tangible form, words on paper.  Paper is something you can hold and the words you can see, read, even say aloud.  In spending more time on my creativity these past few months, I have realized how fleeting and ethereal dreams, wishes and ideas are. I wrote once that thoughts and ideas are very much like wildlife and you have to be quiet and alert to be able to see them.  Writing is the perfect net to capture the “wild butterflies” of wishes and dreams in your mind.

A book I had found at the library was Write It Down, Make It Happen: Knowing What You Want And Getting It by Henriette Klauser.  In this book, one of the very first things she has you do is write anything and everything you can think of wanting to do, have or be.  My second “date” with myself at the library I did that exercise.  A huge long crazy list of stuff came out of my pen onto my paper, with things like make painting a part of my everyday life, living in England, and learning to play the piano…like I said, it was a crazy list!

*** Warning!  When writing your list, be careful about confusing what you really want to do and what other people expect you to do.  Write this list about things you want to do.  Doing what others expect us to do helps us to feel liked and responsible and as if we have accomplished something when they pat us on the back and say nice things like “you saved the day,” or “I can’t thank you enough for helping us sew costumes,” or “I can always count on you.”  These comments are nice and I’m not saying to ignore responsibilities, but I am saying that meeting the expectations of others does not feed your soul like doing what you want to do for a little time each day.  In fact, I think doing what you want to do expands your ability to give to others.***

After doing the magical part of capturing all these fluttering wispy thoughts on my paper, I did a much more practical thing during my time alone.  I looked at what all these seemingly crazy, random things had in common.  Was there a common thread among any of them?  Were some more important than others?  Were some more within my reach right now?  So I played with my list.  I rewrote it in different ways by priority and practicality.  I did notice something as I spent time alone with my list of dreams.  I wasn’t doing anything in my life for ME.  I cooked, shopped, cleaned, chauffeured kids, taught school, did laundry, and managed finances.  And not one single little part of my day was doing something just for me because I loved to do it.  In looking at my list I found MY missing link.  My list was pages long but I managed to find 1 thing in it that I could do right then: painting everyday.

My old self, the one who helped create the stagnant pond life, would never have taken the step of writing things down.  She would have read the ideas in books and on blogs and highlighted meaningful areas with a highlighter, thought about them, maybe even talked about them, but she would never ever have written anything down on paper.  Writing down what I wanted was a huge key in bringing about change and finally starting to paint everyday.

This week may still be too busy with holiday activities for some of you to take time for yourself and write down some thoughts, ideas, and wishes for next year.  But when you do find the time, (and I firmly believe finding time to do this is a choice) spend some time alone and write your ideas down.  Even if you have to come back to it another day, write it down.

As of today there are 4 more days left in 2012.  Are you able to spend some of that time examining your life and what you want from it?  Can you experiment with what you do and how you do it?

Join us in making 2013 the year of YOU! 

 Kel

Getting Started: Spending Time Alone (part 1 of 3)

Note: This was originally posted at The Dao of Doing, the blog Kel and Tracy started to document what happened as they added something they loved to their daily lives. Kel wrote about how her life used to feel like a stagnant pond in an early post (Ripples). She then documented the steps that led her to start changing her life in a series of Getting Started posts, which we’re sharing with you here in these last few days of 2012.

Getting Started part 1

There were three important steps that helped bring about change in my stagnant pond life. These three little pebbles caused ripples to move the still surface of my days.  They were:

  • time alone
  • writing down what I wanted
  • starting now

Today we are focusing on time alone.

We all have time alone during the day like in the shower, driving in the car, or waiting in a doctor’s office.  But I’m talking about a different kind of time alone.  It’s more like a “date” with yourself.  People date when they want to get to know each other.  I can tell you that I really needed to get to know myself when I started my time alone.  It’s a specific time to concentrate on you.  This is exactly what I did to start changing my stagnant pond.  I went to the library on Thursday nights to be with myself and my thoughts.  The difference with this alone time is the intention.  My intent was to pay attention to my thoughts and feelings without interruptions or feedback from others.

You don’t have to go to the library to do this.  You could go to a park, take a walk, or ask your spouse or friend to take the kids for while. Just find a way to spend some time alone.

Time with friends, family, or spouses doesn’t count.  They may be well meaning but you are the one who has to live your life.  You should make the decision about what, if anything, has to be changed. Be alone, even if it is only 10 minutes a day. Be alone and quiet, so that you can hear your own thoughts.  Why is it so important to spend time alone and think about what you really want in 2013?  It’s so important because if you don’t know what you want, how can you create it?

If you’re wondering what you could be thinking of creating during this alone time, Adam Baker of Man Vs. Debt asked his readers  “What Makes You Cry Tears of Joy?” He also asks what makes you laugh so hard your sides hurt, or what were you so excited about you couldn’t sleep?

I think these are all excellent questions that would help direct your thoughts to things you might want to create more of in your life.

It was also very helpful to me to acknowledge the things that were not working in my life as well.  If you hate getting up everyday because you hate your job, then maybe looking for, training for, or going back to school for a different job would be good to take note of during your alone time.  Knowing what you DON’T want to do is sometimes just as important as knowing what you DO want to do.

As of today there are 5 more days left in 2012.  What can you do to make the most of these last few days of the year? Is it worth spending some time alone to organize your thoughts and dreams about the upcoming year?

Spending time alone was an important key for me to open the door of change in my life.  I am no longer able to describe my life as a stagnant pond these days.  It’s still a pond but it isn’t so stagnant now.  Painting everyday is a pebble that moves the water around and keeps it fresh.

Spending time alone is a key, but like all keys, you have to pick it up and put it in the door to open it.  Join us in making 2013 the year of YOU!  

Kel

’tis the season

This time of year, it’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness, to keep rushing, to think that hectic and frantic are the signs of the season. Maybe it’s no surprise that colds and flus seem to be a part of the mix–it’s one way to “force” yourself to slow down a little bit!

Consider this a reminder that you can make choices. You can decide what you keep doing. You can decide what is most important to you, and politely say no to the rest.

Really, you can.

(And you can even do it before you wipe out and have to say no to all of it!)

* * *

Kel and I are going to be offline as much as we can through the end of the year–spending time with our families, planning for next year, and yes…slowing down and working on getting well. (You had to know that I was speaking about the cold/flu thing from experience, right?)

Next week we’ll share Kel’s Getting Started series, which she originally posted on The Dao of Doing. Even if you have read it before, it’s a good exercise to do once a year. I know I’m not the same person I was a year ago…you probably aren’t either. I hope you’ll join me in doing these simple but important steps.

We also invite you to join us in our first 30 Day Focus workshop, which begins January 2. Get clear on your values for 2013, and build a solid foundation for the life you’ve been longing to create. 30 days of focus for just $30! 

Covey quote burning yes

 

 

Happy Holidays, Dear Readers!

Tracy