March 16, 2018

I Want . . .

I want a simple cottage in the woods.
I want to hear singing birds and rustling leaves.
I want to snuggle on a squishy couch with my laptop.
I want long walks through tree-lined paths.
I want my family around me laughing.
I want to travel with my husband to new places.
I want to explore ancient buildings.
I want bravery to speak my mind.
I want to stare at the stars in awe of what I still don't know.
I want to doodle an entire sketchbook.
I want unlimited time to browse through art museums.
I want my words to lift lonely hearts.
I want to paint freely with abandon.
I want to soak up every moment while I'm in it.
I want to love well and live long.

March 12, 2018

Something to Say

You have something to say.
It may not be profound
Or extremely life-changing,
But you have wisdom to give.

Small, explosive wisdom
That comes from living life
In the honest trenches,
Deeply aware of your failures.

You learn lessons in the pit
About what connects you
To the heart of others and
What pushes you away.

You learn your weak-
Spots and blind-spots.
You see your mistakes
And bravely own them.

You find your hidden power
In unexpected moments.
Emerging as a leader,
Creator, or problem-solver.

You awaken from growth
On the side of experience
With tender wisdom to share ~
Something important to say.

January 16, 2018

Introverts Get Happy on Less

When our kids were little, my husband always wanted to have people over but I rarely did. I felt out of energy at the end of the day and having people over (as much as I loved said people) sounded horrible. I wanted quiet and solitude with a side of cuddling. I felt guilty and selfish for not wanting to be social. Often I would give in, but feel resentful for it. I hated telling my husband and kids that I wasn't up for company because I felt like the bad guy, the party pooper. Being extroverts, they couldn't understand me.

But now I realize why. 

Reading through The Introvert Advantage, I learned some key pieces of the puzzle. According to Laney, 

Introverts actually get energy or dopamine hits much faster than extroverts. 

That's why it doesn't take a whole lot for an introvert to be happy. Sitting under a quilt with a good book is dreamily stimulating for me. While the same "hit" would take my husband multiple outings and/or multiple people interactions each day.

I used to feel frustrated that my husband couldn't just enjoy being home instead of going out. But now I realize that staying still too long feels suffocating for him, just as going out too much or interacting often is draining for me.

Since introverts reach their "hit" faster, they can become overstimulated easily. 

This is why at parties they seem to wilt, sometimes with glazed-over eyes. They often seek solace in less crowded areas, like the porch or the bathroom. You'll often see them sitting in a corner away from the crowd.

I've learned to conserve my energy if I have multiple interactions coming up. 

I give myself quiet and solitude in the hours or days ahead, immerse myself in a book or intimate discussion with a close friend. These things fill me up and get me ready to dispense energy out. I'm much less judgmental about my family's need to go and do things these days, but I'm also more vocal about when I need to quit.

Sometimes keeping the balance is simply going home for an hour to sit in the calm and allow the over-stimulation to settle down. Sometimes it's refusing an invitation to go out because I've already exerted too much for the weekend. Sometimes it's taking two cars so I can leave early.

I used to feel weak because I was happy with small things. I love repetition and all things familiar. It made me feel boring next to my adventure-seeking family. But now I see the strength and beauty all of us bring to the table. My extroverted family convinces me to try things I would never try on my own and they keep me from being a recluse. I help them rest and notice the simple pleasures in everyday life.

Both perspectives are needed.

Instead of feeling trapped by being an introvert, I now understand my strengths. I go deep. I'm easily entertained. I enjoy life. 

Introverts get happy on less and that's a good thing!

July 26, 2017

30 Day Yoga Challenge Last Thoughts

After having an especially grumpy day, I sat down on my yoga mat to start the day's practice. I wasn't in a great mood and I didn't especially want to do it, but I knew it would help relax my shoulders and possibly lift my spirits. As I began moving through the motions, I could feel the weight of my irritation disappearing. Just the act of breathing and stretching while listening to the calm voice of Adriene took all the worries of the day away.

I haven't done this month's challenge perfectly, but it has been so good for my body and mind. I can tell my mood is lighter when I'm done with the yoga practice of the day. The kinks in my shoulders and neck evaporate.

Participating in this challenge has convinced me that this is a good practice to continue. I am going to continue doing the 30 day yoga practice this next month as well, even if I stumble along at it. I've seen improvement in my balance and flexibility. I'm able to bend forward and touch the floor with much more ease than when I began. I've used the breathing exercises in the middle of anxiety and it's helped to calm me down.

Overall I'm incredibly glad I did this. Every time I experiment with a new challenge, I fight against perfectionism and worrying that I'm not doing something "right"; but I'm learning to let go and enjoy the process.

I'll be revealing next month's challenge at the end of this week. Since last month's was focused on the body, this next month's will be focused on the mind. Starting back to school and all the stresses that come with that, I want to do something that will help me be more mindful and present.

Do you have any recommendations on good books that've helped you be more mindful and present?

July 19, 2017

My 30 Day Yoga Failure

My husband showed me a video of an engineer whose friends dared him to ride a bicycle they had re-made so when you turn the handle bars to the right, the wheels go left. He understood it in theory but couldn't ride the bike that way because his mind and body were wired for riding how he'd learned as a child. Many people tried but no one could do it. He shared how our brains have something like algorithms that take a long time to change. Even if our minds know something, it takes much longer to accept and it's often with practice. So he practiced riding the backward bike five minutes every day for eight months. Finally, it clicked and he was able to ride!

I started this challenge to do yoga for thirty days. Sidenote: I am not an A-type personality; I'm more of a Z-type. So naturally, I haven't done so well with my challenge. I started out strong logging my excitement through the first week:

Day 1:
Today I woke up with a stiff neck and sore right shoulder so jumping into yoga was exciting because I knew it would stretch them out. This first video seemed really gentle and slow. It wasn't completely what I expected but it was exactly what I needed! Felt so amazing at the end. The stiffness in my neck was almost gone and soreness in my shoulder had disappeared.

Day 2: 
I really enjoyed today's stretching video. It felt good on my shoulders and back. The low lunges were difficult for me and I found myself having to lower my knees to stay balanced even after adjusting my position. Hopefully I'll gain strength there. I enjoyed the routine of touching toes and stepping back though!

Day 3:
This lesson was more difficult for me. It focused on balancing and I really struggled to hold several of the poses. It just showed me that I really need to work on building balance. it was a tiny bit discouraging but I know over time I will gain strength.

Day 4:
Oh my, I loved this day's practice. It felt so good to my body and lower back! I was able to easily do all the practices so that helped boost confidence. I am wondering how to do the child's pose when I have a belly. Do you open the legs to make room? Keep your head higher? I need some adjustments in that. It's so relaxing to end in corpse pose.

Day 5:
This was a fairly easy practice and seemed short compared to the other ones.

Day 6:
I usually hate abdominal workouts, but I'll admit I liked this one. It was done with enough flow and change of activity that it didn't register as too difficult to my brain, even though my abs felt it!

Day 7: 
Worked up a sweat today! This one was a bit more active and used many of the moves she's been teaching. It was easier to follow along because I'm becoming more familiar with them. Only the side leg lift took me off-balance, everything else was doable.

Day 8:
More meditative and calming. This feel on a Saturday and was perfect for relaxation and resetting my mind.

Then I had a rough day and didn't fit yoga in. It snowballed into a bunch of days. 

Day 14:
This one was nice and stretching with legs and shoulders. I did have a pain shoot through my left knee during one of the forward lunges, so I turned my foot outward a bit more and that seemed to help.

Entered day fourteen, then nothing. Today's the eighteenth.

My inner critic started in with: "I knew you wouldn't do it", "You can't finish anything", and "You never do it right". Inner critics are so mean! I didn't want to blog about it. I felt silly and stupid for not being consistent with 30 days of yoga (especially since I was enjoying it). 

But then I thought of you and how you might feel alone in your struggle to do new things. How you might feel like you're the only one falling down, when you're certainly not. Maybe you have failures like me and need to see someone bite the dust to know we can stand back up. I thought about the bike rider and how we're all wired. New habits are not like a switch you flip and suddenly you're different. It takes time. It takes re-training and practice. Reaching goals is more like stumbling than walking a perfect line.

Fall down, get up again. Fall down, get up again. Fall down and sit for days, get up again.

We need time to change the algorithm.

So I'm getting up and I'm going to finish this challenge in an imperfect, falling-forward way. Maybe I won't get all the days in, but that's okay; some days are better than nothing. I'm shushing the inner critics, embracing imperfection and continuing on.

Do you struggle with this? Are you a stumbling goal-setter?