Looking ahead…..

Instead of looking back on 2016, a year that was busy for our family and definitely had its ups and downs, I want to look ahead to how I can make my 2017 better. Sure, some things are out of my control. Life happens and we can’t control it all, as much as we’d like to.

I’ve been inspired by a Facebook friend who chooses a word each year instead of making resolutions. She’s shared her words for a few years and I decided it’s a more positive way to go. I struggled to pick a word because there are so many things I want to accomplish this year. After much thought, I decided on DISCOVER. I was also inspired by a recent TED talk I saw on how to gain control of your free time. The point that stuck out the most to me is that sometimes there is a difference between “I don’t have time” and “It’s not a priority.”

So this year, I want to make certain things a priority in my life. I want to DISCOVER new places. I want to DISCOVER new books. I want to DISCOVER new things. I want to DISCOVER new ways to take care of me.

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Last week, while contemplating the new year, I made a quick list on my phone of things I want to do in 2017:

  • More yoga, meditation and exercise
  • Watch less TV. Seriously, it’s a time suck and hindering me doing other things.
  • More reading. I’ll have time for this if I watch less TV. Duh.
  • More fun times with friends
  • More date nights with my husband. We do get out—it’s great having older kids who can stay home for a few hours so we can spontaneously grab dinner together—but we don’t make it a priority and don’t plan to do different things.
  • Visit more new places, both local and further away.
  • Teach my kids to cook.
  • Spend more time outdoors (in nicer weather—this New Englander hates the cold, even though I’ve dealt with it all my life).
  • Blog more.

These were the first things that came to mind. I want to make some changes, prioritize my time differently and DISCOVER things I haven’t prioritized before. Maybe it’s the fact that 2016 brought my 40th birthday with it, but it’s time to start thinking differently. And writing more, even if no one else ever reads this blog. 🙂

Happy 2017! What changes are you planning to make?

 

What I’ve Learned During My Blogging Hiatus

Wow! It’s been a while since I’ve published a blog post. I miss writing for me and really hope I can get back to blogging, but let’s back up a bit and you’ll see why I haven’t written.

2016 has been a busy  year.

I changed jobs last December, my husband’s role at his company changed in January and he started to travel much more, one of our dogs hurt his knee and later had surgery, our other dog wasn’t doing well in the spring and we had to put him down in July (one of the hardest things I’ve ever done), we’ve been doing home improvements to the house…..and I’ve barely felt that I’ve been able to take a deep breath all year.

Most of the time, this doesn’t feel interesting enough to write about. It’s life, right? It’s what families with two working parents and two middle school and high schoolers deal with on a regular basis. (Side note: how the heck is it that I have a child who’s in high school?) It’s carpooling and figuring out how get the kids where they need to be, fitting in all the errands and grocery trips and being thankful that there’s this wonderful thing called Amazon Prime to make at least some things easier.

In the midst of all of this craziness, I’ve had a hard time feeling like I’ve got it all together. I live by my calendar and have felt like I’ve been going a million miles an hour all year. It’s not a way I want to live. I like having downtime and over the last few weeks I’ve started to find ways to try to get some into every day.

Enter yoga and meditation. 

I’ve been meditating with one of Andrew Johnson’s apps on my phone for more than a year. It helps me fall asleep. I was trying to go to yoga last spring at a local studio, but it got really hard to get there regularly. Between my kids’ schedules, the fact that the classes are across town and the fact that I don’t want to get home from yoga at almost 9 p.m., I stopped going. But I loved it and knew I wanted to find a way to incorporate a regular practice into my life. I discovered the Down Dog Yoga app after a Google search and I can do a 15-minute restorative practice before bed. It’s helped. I got an email about a sale so I could unlock all the member-only features, and the pricing was so good that I purchased the membership. I think I’ll like having it and will really be able to do more with it.

mindfulness-isnt-difficult-we-just-need-to-remember-to-do-it-sharon-salzbergI’ve also tried to practice mindfulness in hopes to be more focused and calmer. The Calm app has been on my phone for a while, but I’d only used it once. They offered a free trial of one of their most popular features last week and I had ten minutes at the end of a particularly busy day to try it and figured I had nothing to lose. I felt wonderful after I did it, so I’ve been trying to use the app after dinner if I can fit it in.

What I’ve learned through all of this is that I need strategies for me to ground me a bit and help me slow down. My favorite past time of going to get my nails done isn’t cutting it anymore, especially when I’m cramming an appointment into my lunch break. I need regular exercise, I need to breathe. I need to try to slow down when I can and mindfulness, whether through meditation or yoga, seems to help. And writing for me, something I haven’t taken the time to do in a long time, also feels good, so if you’ve made it this far in my attempted return to blogging, I thank you.

 

Taking Time for Mom

hands

I love having my nails done—I loved nail polish when I was a little girl and was always giving myself manicures, complete with base coat and top coat, even when I was 10 or 11. I generally find going to a salon for a mani/pedi to be a relaxing experience. I used to joke with my husband that when I got a full-time job after gradutation, I needed to make enough money to be able to pay my student loans back and get more regular manis and pedis.

Well, eventually that has kind of happened. I found an amazing salon that is relatively close to our house and is near my office and I’m there about every two weeks. I love it and I love that time for me.

Between my work schedule, commitments for the boys’ schools, sports schedules and my husband’s schedule, my time is limited, but making time for me is important for me. As mothers, our natural tendency is to “go, go, go” and take care of everyone else but ourselves, but I become a very cranky mom if I don’t do something for myself. In addition to regular manis and pedis, I find that it’s important for me to get enough sleep and I’m generally in bed between 9:30 and 10 p.m. I know a lot of people seem shocked that I go to bed that early, but I also get up at 4:30 a.m. in the morning to do the next thing I need to do for myself—exercise! While I’m more naturally a morning person rather than a night owl, getting up at 4:30 is hard some mornings. It’s become a habit, however, and it’s the only way I’m going to get some necessary exercise in. I had slacked on exercise around Christmas last year and then had an injury from a fall in January and realized through the course of physical therapy that exercise is a must and not just to keep my weight down.

I’m a happier person when I do small things for myself. I’m a firm believer that women need to take time for themselves and that there’s truth to the saying, “If Mama ain’t happy, then no one’s happy!” It’s not always easy—finding a yoga class that fits my schedule right now is hard, so I get it—but it’s important to do something that works for YOU, no matter what stage of motherhood you are in. I couldn’t go for regular manicures when my kids were younger. Life was too hectic with small children and money was tight, so I did try to paint my nails weekly after they went to bed and with the fast-dry polishes, they looked okay and it made me feel like I was doing a little something for me. When I went back to school, I treated myself to a coffee out or a lunch out at Panera once in a while when my schedule allowed for it to do something little for me. I found it refreshing. What do you do for YOU?

Happy New (School) Year!

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Photo courtesy of freeimages.com

The start of September is almost like New Year’s Day for me. Just as I wonder on January 1 how the previous year went by so quickly, I often wonder in early September how the summer flew by. Wasn’t it just early June and my boys couldn’t wait to get out of school?

The back-to-school season brings a sense of hope for the upcoming school year. Each school year produces new challenges and I often hope that our family gets through it with minimal stress and meltdowns. As the boys get older, the homework increases, the after-school activities add up and the bedtimes get later. Meanwhile, I’m getting older and love going to bed earlier and earlier.

This year presents a new challenge for us. My oldest son will be in eighth grade and remaining at our public middle school, a decision that makes the most sense for us due to his special education needs. However, my youngest son, who will be going into the sixth grade, will be moving to a parochial middle school/high school in a neighboring city. A new school, new people to get to know, new policies and protocols, a different academic calendar….and new expenses. We are excited about this new adventure for him and this seems to be the best school after researching our options, but it’s not without its challenges for two working parents. There are no bussing options and we are still researching carpool options. It’s a lot to figure out and fortunately we have some flexibility for the first few weeks. By November we’ll be in a groove and then something will change—an activity will be added to the mix or our carpool will change. We know we’ll figure it all out, as we always do, but September is always a new beginning for many families. I look forward to it with excitement, hope and a little bit of parental trepidation. It isn’t just the kids who get nervous about back to school!

 

Blooming flowers a welcome sight

A gorgeous view from inside our local garden center.
A gorgeous view from inside our local garden center.

I look at spring and summer as a time for new beginnings. Sure, we have January 1 and New Years resolutions and that’s definitely a new beginning, according to the calendar. But after the miserable winter we had this year in the Boston area, seeing flowers blooming and green leaves on the trees and my grass actually becoming colorful has given me pause many times recently. I’ve found it incredible to watch the change this year, especially when everything was so white with snow and then so brown and gross as the snow melted away.

This winter was also particularly difficult for me this year, due to a back injury after a fall on black ice before all the snow started. I’m recovering and feeling great these days and it was wonderful to not only feel good yesterday, but also to look for flowers to plant in our yard. We went to a local gardening center, spent way too much money on flowers and other greenery and the flowers in a greenhouse area actually took my breath away.

As I reflect on the beauty of these flowers and this photo, I also look ahead to a beautiful summer, one that will undoubtedly be filled with New England heat and wonderful memories ahead.

It’s been a while…….

It has been a while since I’ve written for me, as evidenced by the fact that my last post was last December. A lot has happened—I graduated and I now have a full-time job! I am a writer/marketing associate for a local hospice organization, so I do write a lot, but not for ME.

There will be more to come later, but I am in the process of revamping my blog and trying to make regular posts a priority!

Inching toward the finish line…..

Today is my last day of classes for the fall 2013 semester. Where has the time gone?? I begin my final semester next month.

Did I really just type that? 

I remember my first day of school in fall 2011. I went to a writing class that is required for communications majors, after attending a challenging history class that same morning. I was already a bit overwhelmed when I entered that writing class, but I left that writing class feeling inspired after only one session and I was grateful for the opportunity to return to school.

Yesterday was my last day of Advanced Public Relations class with this same professor. Although my journey through this chapter of my college career isn’t complete, it is near its end. I felt as though I’ve truly come full circle today.

Having this professor has changed the course of my return to college. (I’ve previously written about her here.) She encouraged me to join PRSSA during that first semester. She’s believed in me when I haven’t believed in myself. She helped me to become a better writer. She encouraged me to blog. She has helped me to become a better me. She ended up being the only professor who was on campus when I found out I’d won a prestigious scholarship, so she was the first one who heard the news. She’s just…..great.

When people believe in you and challenge you to be a better version of yourself, it can change your life. This journey has changed my life and this particular professor has changed this journey. I was teary-eyed leaving her class yesterday, knowing I will never have her as a professor again. I’ve been fortunate enough to have her for three courses. I knew that this professor/student relationship would come to an end, but I look forward to the relationship I can have with her as my mentor and as my friend. I am at the point where I look forward to the future, while being grateful for the past, regardless of whether the past was good or bad.

(Photo courtesy of brite-ideas.squidoo.com)
(Photo courtesy of brite-ideas.squidoo.com)