Family Goal Night

Goals Board2

There is nothing that makes me more anxious or feel more like a kid pretending to be a grown up than “goal-setting.” Am I right? For a recovering perfectionist like me, setting goals has become one of my most difficult tasks. In the past, setting a goal meant I had to accomplish said goal (in record time, with pizazz and sparklers) or else the whole practice was a total bust. Not achieving my goals equaled failure, which was obviously not an option. So when I decided to change my life, and become someone who is more satisfied with what she has and who she is, instead of what she wants and who she wants to be…well, goal-setting became a bit of a challenge. How was I supposed to have goals, but also be satisfied with where I am right now? Am I complacent? Am I passive?

One book that really helped me move forward and get to a place where I wasn’t asking myself hypothetical questions all day was The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin. This book has been recommended to me a zillion times, but this summer I finally picked it up from my local library. I loved it. The way that Ms. Rubin breaks down goals into monthly mini-goals, and also changes the language around goal-setting (calling them “resolutions” instead of goals, as resolutions are something you are continuously working toward, while goals are something you check off your to-do list), which helped me immensely. After reading The Happiness Project and downloading some of the materials of Rubin’s website, I felt ready to move ahead.

Thus entered Family Goal Night! Trent is a huge fan of goals and goal-measurement, so he was thrilled I was finally on-board with the idea of “family goals.” We both did research on the best ways to present and create goals as a family and as individuals, then we scheduled a night for us all to work on the project as a family. We all went to our local craft store and picked up poster board, a million stickers, glitter glue, and anything else that got the kids excited to work on this project. We ended up creating a crazy goal board, which was designed mostly by the kids and is completely nuts and wonderful. Sure, it’s no Martha Stewart creation, but that wasn’t the point! We wanted the kids to have ownership over the board and be excited about it, and by letting them go to town with the glitter glue, we got just that. We hung the board right by our garage door, where we leave the house every day and can see it.

Each of us decided to take on three goals and to work toward them for the next three months. Trent fixed whiteboard calendars to the Goal Board, where we can track our progress. All of our goals are different, but reflect who we are and our level of understanding. For example, my three goals are:

1. Declutter the House
2. More Date Nights with Trent
3. Revamp and Organize the Blog

Tate’s three goals are:

1. Poop and Pee in the Potty
2. Sleep in His Own Bed All Night
3. Play More Golf with Daddy

Obviously, the goals relate to the age of the person setting them!

We also created Family Goals for us to all work on together. These include doing charity work and spending more time together as a family. Whenever we do something that moves us closer to our goals, we mark it on the whiteboard calendar, and each month we plan on having a family meeting where we can talk about where we are with our goals, get help, and ask questions.

We are so excited about this process, but we are sure it will change as we go. What about you? Does your family set goals together? How to do you work toward them? How do you get your kids excited to participate? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Goals Board1

We May Contribute a Verse

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The other day I was at a restaurant opening with my friend Lane of Missalaneyus and we were chatting about blogging. I was just about to come back from my self-imposed hiatus, and I mentioned how I’d had this silly, little blog for 10 years. It’s been a long time, guys. A really long time. The blog has gone through so many changes, redesigns and directions in those 10 years, evolving as all things must. But especially this past year, I have found blogging to be a difficult, tedious task. There has been so much going on in my life personally this past year and a half, and while in the past, blogging about difficulties in my life was therapeutic, it just wasn’t an option this time. That made blogging really, really hard, because at the heart of it all, this blog is for sharing my life. I’d post here about a cute outfit or photoshoot, and I felt like a fraud, because I was putting on a happy face while my universe was spinning out of control.

A very positive change that has occurred in the past year is I am no longer very good at “putting on a happy face.” This was my go-to mode for dealing with stress or any other negative emotion in the past. I’d pretend it was all okay and stuff all the yucky stuff deep down inside. While I do believe that positive thinking and gratitude can change lives, pretending like is all rainbows and unicorns when it simply ISN’T just doesn’t work for me anymore. Around the time I realized this phenomenon, blogging became impossible. I’d sit in front of my desktop, willing myself to type out something (ANYTHING!), but nothing would come out. Blogging became a chore, something I hated to even think about, let alone a way to spend my free time. I became anxious and irritable whenever I felt I “needed” to write something. Blogging was once a hobby that I loved…now it was just another item on my endless to-do list. I needed a change.

I spent the last month of the summer really thinking about my life. What do I need on a daily basis to feel generally happy, fulfilled and good about my existence? I asked myself this question often, and spent a lot of time testing out new and old activities, trying to find a healthy balance. I am still not sure of all the answers, but I realized a few things:

- I need time to myself on a daily basis to pray or meditate (or both, if possible!)
- I need a good night’s sleep, which for me means 7 to 8 hours
- I need to get up at least an hour before my kids in the morning to get my day started
- I need to spend time reading a book every day
- I need to do something for fun with my kids
- I need to be grateful and write down what I’m thankful for
- I need to show kindness and love to my husband
- I need to move my body
- I need to reach out to supportive people in my life
- I need to do something kind for someone else

Notice a few items missing? Me too! I always assumed watching TV or movies would be at the top of my list, since I enjoy those things so much, but I found on the days I skipped that activity, I didn’t feel any worse for it. Also, blogging? Not on the list. Taking photos? Not on the list. Now, I’m not sure if it will stay this way, but for now, those activities aren’t making me happy, just stressing me out. I need to fall in love with them again, before they are a daily necessity.

This is a first step. When I started this blog, it was just to write. To write because my life and my experience on this earth are of value. To write because maybe something that I have gone thru may help someone else in the same position. To write so my kids can read this one day and know me as a person, instead of just their mom. To write because writing is how I understand the world around me. Horrible things are happening in our world, and while I may not be able to write about all of them, I have my own life experiences, and writing them down and sharing them is a service. All of our voices are worthy. We all have stories to tell. I am lucky to have this space and these words. I am going to try and not take that for granted.

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race, and the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering…these are noble pursuits, necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love…these are what we stay alive for! To quote from Whitman,

‘Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

Answer.

That you are here—that life exists and identity.
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.’”

- Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society

For the Love of Poetry

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“So what’s up with the blog?” she asked curiously. “I thought the plan was to use this time to grow creatively and work on all that stuff?”

The plan.

Plans are fickle things. You start something new and you have the plan in place, at least, that’s how I operate. There is a plan, a way, and things will go accordingly. I will work hard and keep my head down, and soon, very soon, the plan will come to fruition.

But life…life is strange. And just when you think you have it all figured out, BAM, it knocks you sideways and you’re left shaking your head wondering what the hell happens next. It’s confusing and disorienting.

I have learned so much in the last year, there is no way to gather it all into one blog post. But probably the most important thing I learned in the last year was I cannot function without self-care, and sometimes self-care doesn’t fit into one’s plans. For most of my life, I have ignored those signs that most people see easily. I was constantly busy, a fury of check lists and unread emails and calendar appointments. Most days I wouldn’t realize I’d missed lunch until around 4 p.m. I consistently got around 4 or 5 hours of sleep per night, so proud that I could sustain myself on such meager rest.

“How do you do it all?” they’d ask. I’d coyly smile and give myself a silent pat on the back for my amazingness. I was *almost* enough. If I could just finish that assignment or blog post or project, I’d really be a wonder woman! I chased that status like I’d die if I stopped for a sip of water or some fresh air.

The problem with living like that, especially for such an extended period of time, is it’s extremely hard to stop. It’s mind-bogglingly difficult for someone like me to sit down and rest. And it’s compounded by the fact that I have surrounded myself with people who think the same way. Friends, family, colleagues…they are all massive overachievers of the highest sort. So when I tried to stop or sit or breathe, I looked at them and felt guilt. Shame. Less than.

Here is the catch, and the thing I really learned in the last 11 months:

I am enough. Just as I am. I am enough with one blog post every 10 days and I am enough with 5 a week. I am enough with crisp, edited photos and I am enough with a quick iPhone capture. I am enough with late nights working and I am enough with a cup of tea and a good movie.

It’s okay to take care of myself. And it’s okay to be afraid of doing so. For me, it is scary, and I had to learn being scared wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I was so afraid if I stopped, and took a breath, I’d find out I was a fraud. All the spinning around in my hamster wheel was a way I could avoid looking at what I was doing, and if it really made me feel good. When I finally did stop, I had to cut it all off in order to see if I missed it…to see if writing and photographing and creating was truly what made my heart sing.

Turns out, it does. I love to write. I love capturing people and moments in photographs. It makes me feel alive. There is poetry in my life again. I feel it. It’s a good thing.

I saw this commercial a while back, and I felt my breath stop, then slowly start again. A creative mind is sometimes a hard place to live inside. My brain isn’t rational…it seeks life and love and joy. It does not spark with items crossed off a list. Which, honestly, is why I believe I felt so lost for so long. I was forcing it to think in a way that wasn’t how it was built. Now, instead, I’m letting it go. It’s scary. But scary things can be very, very good.

Repost : Why I Blog (Lessons from Alt Summit 2013)

This was originally posted last year, right after I returned from the Altitude Design Summit in Salt Lake City. Can you believe it’s been a whole year?! Me either! I thought it might be fun for some of you who are headed to Alt 2014 or just dreaming of a future blogging conference to re-read some of my thoughts after returning from Salt Lake. An honestly, it was a good thing for me to re-read as I’m pondering the future of this blog these days. Hope you enjoy!

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Alt Summit stirred up a lot of feelings in me, some positive…some not so much. And I’ve spent the last few days trying to figure out why that is. Why do I feel a giant weight of inadequacy about to crush me after I’ve left such an uplifting experience?

I was so overwhelmed with all the goodness at Alt Summit, and I think I was internalizing it in a way that was totally negative. Which, I mean, come on, right? Stop it. But I couldn’t help myself. I met so many people, tons of whom had only been blogging for a year or two, whose lives were overflowing with sponsorships, book deals, speaking engagements and everything else under the sun. Many of the people I’ve spoken to left Alt with a new sense of purpose…a new idea they were going to make come to life or an amazing plan for a collaboration. I left with a book full of notes and a big case of “oh poor me” syndrome. Gross.

But luckily for me, I at least had the foresight to look through that big book of notes and found my answers staring me in the face. Page after page of my notes described talks by bloggers who had started out with the same doubts and worries that I was feeling. In fact, a few of them expressed how they are STILL dealing with those emotions. Suddenly, I felt less alone.

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Photo by Brooke Dennis for Alt – Layout by Me

Over and over people had asked for advice during these sessions, and over and over the answers were simple: Be Yourself. Don’t try to emulate others because you’re just going to come off as a cheap version of whoever they are, and you’re so much better than that. Karon Walrond gave a speech on “Finding Your Voice” and one of her main points was to stop comparing. She outlined the difference between inspiration (makes you want to do better) and comparison (makes you feel bad about yourself), and that was a real lightbulb moment for me. I was comparing. And it’s never going to do me any good.

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iPhone Photo and Layout by Me

I’m me. Crazybananas. I write a blog about nothing. And everything. I’m not a designer or a professional photographer or someone who can craft my way out of any situation. I’m not usually the most fashionable girl in the group. Sometimes my life is mundane. Sometimes it’s extraordinary. I write about things that I like. I write about my life. I write about TV and pop culture and shoes that I think are totally rad. I’m not an expert on anything. Except for myself. I’m a world renowned expert in the study of me.

And now that I think about it, that’s a pretty awesome thing to be. And that’s why I continue here. This is why I blog. Because I have an internal voice that wants to tell my story. Someday, when I’m old and my grandkids can’t imagine who I was before, I want them to be able to read here and learn about what I am all about…what I liked and who I loved, no matter how mundane it may seem. My voice matters to someone out there, even if I can’t see it yet. And that someone is me.

(Someone remind me to read this before the next time I go to Alt, deal? Deal.)

(Just in case you need to have a dance party after that heaviness…I’m having one right now too!)

Shine On

Shine On!

// Photo taken on New Year’s Eve in Gove County, Kansas at the Coberly Farm //
Thanks to my assistant, Trent, who helped me capture this amazingness! //

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