3:30 Thursday, Projects

17 Lessons to carry into 2018

For me, 2017 was a year of inviting and accepting paradox. I believe (and perhaps this is a little “woo woo” but it’s how I feel about it) that life is always sending us lessons: the sooner we listen, the less painful it will be.

The biggest lesson I feel that life has taught me in 2017 is that many times, the action, attitude or belief I’m looking for lies on the razor edge of paradox. As we say goodbye to 2017 and hello to a new year, I want to share some of the paradoxes I have come to accept (often the hard way) in 2017. tumblr_n09kfduO0y1trprbro1_500

  1. Say AND instead of But. Say YES instead of No. Whatever follows can be the same: ‘and’ and ‘yes’ open up your life to more possibilities, and when a NO is required, it is stronger.
  2. Slow progress is not the same as no progress. AND Sometimes, you have to sit down and get something done.
  3. Sometimes it’s okay to just let things go. AND sometimes it’s okay to not let things go

    Thoughts on Happiness (these may not be true paradoxes, but they’re worth considering)

  4. My actions and attitudes affect other people’s happiness, AND it’s not my job to make other people happy
    side note: I’m not responsible for my children’s happiness AND I can create an environment that cultivates their happiness
  5. I am happier when I set an intention and follow through with it

    A few thoughts on help

  6. It is not cheating to ask for help
  7. Secure yourself before trying to assist someone else

    Lessons from an ugly wart
    Feel free to skip this if you think non-contagious skin conditions are gross.Back story: Shortly after my second daughter was born (2 years ago) a wart appeared on my left finger. In that time I have tried tea tree oil, garlic, duct tape, Dr. Scholl’s Wart Remover, specialty wart removing soap, apple cider vinegar, etc. to get rid of the wart. As we begin 2018, it is still sitting on my finger.

    I feel like this wart has taught me several important lessons.

  8. Just because something is there, doesn’t mean you have to give it your attention
  9. Ignoring things does not make them go away AND most things will go away in their own time (whether you want them to or not)
  10. Sometimes it’s worth the effort to make a doctor’s appointment

    Be and love yourself

  11. Engage in person
  12. No one else has to care about your passion AND it’s okay to share your passions with other (because enthusiasm is fun)
  13. You need to have a budget for underwear
  14. Do things you love because you love them, not because other people approve of them.

    (For example – I have loved being a part of the 3:30 Project: reading my dear friends’ posts and putting my thoughts on a variety of topics into words was one of my great joys of 2017. I’m grateful to you for reading them, and I would have enjoyed doing this without a single reader all year.)

  15. Take care of your body because you love your body

    This was a revolutionary idea for me. It came to me one day when I was thinking about my exercise routine and getting in shape, and how hard it all is. I lamented that my husband wakes up an hour or more before me 2-3 days a week to get his work out in. I was jealous of his discipline.

    Then, I was struck with a realization. It was as though the heavens parted and the angels sang: I realized that he works out because he loves his body. Not in a vain, self-absorbed way, but in a genuine way – he wants to get the best out of himself and be his best self for me, for our kids, for our business, for our students, etc. And he knows that he is better able to be his best self when he exercises.

    The more I thought about it, the more mind-blowing it was. I realized that for as long as I’ve been “out of shape,” I’ve been trying to hate my body into something acceptable. I wanted to deprive it of bad food so it would be good. I wanted to sweat out the fat so that I wouldn’t look like a fat cow.

    But, when I think about my possessions: The ones I like, the ones I love, the ones I treasure – I treat them well. I dust the bookcase I made with my grandparents the summer between 7th and 8th grade and treat it with a wood polish to preserve it. I use bookmarks in special books so I don’t have to dog-ear the pages. I carefully hand wash and dry my favorite coffee mugs, so they’re not damaged in the dishwasher.

    What if I treated my body like that?

  16. You don’t usually get to solve a problem just once.
    I tend to think that with tasks in my life – getting in shape, sticking to my budget, playing with my kids, having a good day at work – that if I could just get it right once, I’d stay on track.

    But, I’m beginning to appreciate that it doesn’t really work that way. You’re never going to get one haircut and never have to worry about your hair again. You’re never going to take a shower and not have to worry about keeping yourself clean anymore. You will never brush your teeth once and for all. These things just come up again and again. So, whether it’s a problematic behavior from my kids, going grocery shopping or a bedtime routine – I need to accept that most problems don’t stay solved.

  17. We must find a way to live our lives like we’re going to live a long time, and as though our lives could end at any moment.

    Perhaps it was because of my 30th birthday. Perhaps it’s because my daughters are growing up so quickly, and I feel the passage of time so acutely. Perhaps it’s because my dog is getting older and I feel like we may not have many years left with her, but I put a lot of thought energy into mortality this year.

    Taking the time to remember how fragile we are, and how precious life is has been helpful to me. It helps me remember to tell my daughters I love them. I try to always leave them on a positive note (just in case). And, it helps me keep my frustrations in perspective (this too shall pass).

    But at the same time, we could have a long time left on this earth. If I live to be 100, then I have 70 years left. That is a very long time. It’s hard for me to keep both things in my mind. I still have time for many things, and the only time I have is now.


    Thank you for joining us in the 3:30 project this year. It has certainly been a place for growth, joy and fun this year. I cannot wait to see what 2018 holds for us all!

    Happy New Year!

3:30 Thursday, Projects

A season for taking stock

In Florida, fall is the most wonderful time of the year. The weather slowly transitions from barely tolerable heat to obscenely pleasant. At the beginning of October, most days are in the mid to high 90s and the whole state watches every thunderstorm that rolls off Cape Verde in fearful anticipation that it will form a hurricane. By the end of the month, we’re putting out pumpkins, and basically moving outdoors to settle in for what I consider to be the BEST time of the year.

Seriously. I spend the summer months fantasizing about moving somewhere, anywhere, less hot. But, if you just wait, the relief of cooler temperatures will come.

The other wonderful thing about Fall in Florida is that it’s a fall/spring hybrid. You get the relief from summer heat, the anticipation of the holidays, fall festivals, pumpkin spice everything, AND it’s planting season. Yes, planting. Like normal places do in spring. Because (from what I can tell) summer in Florida is so hot and rainy that most plants are doing good just survive the summer. But, in the fall, you can plant a garden – or, in my case, purchase the fruit of other people’s gardens at seasons peak in the grocery store! Over the next few months we’ll start enjoying fresh oranges, strawberries and more.

So, yes, fall in Florida is my favorite.

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Another upside: Floridians get the beach all to ourselves in the Fall.

I also have a sense of satisfaction about 2017. I almost hate to say this since I see so much suffering and turmoil in our country and around the world. But, in my little corner of the world, things are going pretty well.

Thanks to the 3:30 Project, I’ve intentionally set about being a little better in various areas of my life this year.

  • I haven’t experienced a total body transformation, but I have exercised at least twice a week all year.
  • My house still falls into disarray, but on the average it’s cleaner than it’s ever been.
  • My marriage is warmer, more loving and more fun than it was at the beginning of the year.
  • I’ve not achieved financial freedom, but I have maintained a sustainable budget for several months.
  • I have done a little better this year at keeping up with friends and family than I have in the past.
  • I’ve also managed to walk my dog sometimes.

In fact, now that my youngest baby is settling into toddlerhood, I feel – for the first time since becoming a parent – a little more like myself. I’m feeling a little more able to successfully make and execute plans. Sure, some of them are foiled when my four-year-old dives face first into a book case. Sure, some of them are executed while my two-year-old cries and cries because she refused to take a nap today. And yes, I spend more time than I’d care to admit watching Super Why, Sesame Street and the PJ Masks.

A season of transition, like fall, is a nice time to assess how the year is going and make any final adjustments as we head into the holiday whirlwind. And, this year, unlike the past several years, I have the satisfaction of knowing I’ve had the year I set out to have. I don’t want to say that this year has been free of sadness, worry, heartbreak, outrage, dismay, and writing letters to my elected representatives – because that has also been a part of this year. But, I think – on mornings like this – when there’s the a nip in the air, when my daughters are resting in a room that feels clean-ish, when I’ve done some very grown up things like get life insurance and called a roofer – that I am doing okay. And from that place, I have more. More energy to reach my goals, more compassion for others, and more acceptance for my own and others’ pain.

I think there’s a very real fear when we’re having a happy season in our lives that “If I acknowledge my happiness or take credit for how well things are going right now, if I am too happy – I might jinx everything and my life will fall apart.”

Nevertheless, I am going to acknowledge and enjoy my current happiness. Because another thing this year has taught me is that a hurricane or wildfire can destroy everything you have in a moment. As Master Oogway says in Kung Fu Panda, “Control is an Illusion.”

He also says:

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.”

(Side Note: Kung Fu Panda is full of little gems like this, and you should probably go watch it…now)

So, rather than trying to protect my happiness by hedging, hiding or holding back, my reflection on this fall is to acknowledge that this is “good times.”

Someday, I will miss the nights where my daughter wanted to set up a little bed in my room so she didn’t have to be alone while she slept. Someday, I’ll miss the days when my two year old could be soothed by me carrying her in my arms. And it’s entirely possible that there will be a day when I miss the PJ Masks theme song, and I might even look back with loving fondness on the day my daughter had a temper tantrum in the Halloween costume aisle at Target because there was no Owlette costume in her size.

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Motivation Monday

Motivation Monday

This weekend, I watched the movie Trolls for the first time. I’ll be honest, this was a movie based on a toy and 80s music, so my expectations were low.

But wow, I was impressed.

I not-so-secretly love children’s movies because in children’s movies we highlight our best ideals. We want our children to know that stories have happy endings, and we want them to learn to be loving, accepting, kind and (as we see in Trolls) happy.

(Spoiler alert)

This is a clip from one of the most beautiful moments in the movie, the Trolls have no reason to be hopeful and all the good that Princess Poppy (the pink troll) set out to do has turned around and gotten way worse instead. At this moment, her curmudgeonly companion, Branch, sings to her to encourage her to cling to her hope and happiness, even in the face of despair.

I think of myself as an incurable optimist, but sometimes, I do feel like I’m trapped in a pot with everyone I care for and am about to be eaten by the Bergens. I would like to think that even in that moment, there is still a reason to be hopeful, to cling to love and cherish happiness. Because, as the movie says, happiness is something you can give yourself not something you take from others.

 

Have a great week!