Saturday, October 22, 2011

acts of love: changing the mindset

I came home from shopping last weekend and on the dining room table was a vibrant bouquet of market flowers that Charlie had arranged in a vase on the table. Yep, this is the man I am in total love with. For the past week, I have gotten to come home and see this exquisite bouquet of orange-yellow dahlias and zinnias and just enjoy their immense beauty in my home. Although a small gesture, it was a huge expression and act of love. It was exactly what I needed during these dark and dreary days up here in the Pacific Northwest.

The flowers were not only extremely lovely, but they got me thinking about cultivating acts of love. For us, our relationship centers around the values of honesty, communication, compassion, and teamwork. Those four things bring with them unconditional love. Sure, we have our days where we just can't seem to get on the same page and there are arguments and there are mood swings. But, all in all, there is a deep seated love that fills our home and our lives and I am grateful for that.

Unfortunately, I have been catching the news here and there the past couple nights before bed. Note: This is sacrilegious in my own life and I must say, I try as hard as I can to not do this simply because it's poor mental health and does not align with my values of self-care. The news is symbolic of how although we try our best to stay positive, loving, and grounded, we may feel that there will always be this lingering background of negativity, despair, depression, and dark clouds. How do we cope? 

This past week, I attended The Bridge 2011 Conference, a two day education conference about bridging the gap between the regular school day model and extended learning opportunities (i.e. after-school programs, summer enrichment, etc.) Not only did it inspire me and infuse some energy back into my bones, but it created the context that everything we do has the power to transform. Our actions or lack thereof have a direct result on our environments, relationships, work, personal life, and our money.

The cultivation of love is one of my new priorities. I am trying to ask myself what would be the loving thing to do? Operating like this can feel like a trap. Sometimes I think of being loving as an outward expression for someone or something else. I struggle with shifting this paradigm for myself, knowing that sometimes the most loving thing to do is say, "This isn't working," or "No. I won't be able to do that," or "Can we pause for a moment and come back to this?" It does circle back to creating healthy boundaries and transforming our mindset when it comes to being loving towards others and most importantly ourselves.

Bask in the greatness of who you are and what you have to offer to the world and all the relationships you have.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wishcasting Wednesday: What Do You Wish To Make Time For?

Oh time. Time, time, time. I am always wishing there was more of it, bitching about how there isn't enough of it, and always watching it fly by. I know myself to be a slave to the clock at times, especially working with tiny humans in a fast paced after-school environment. On the other end of the spectrum, sometimes I notice myself listening to the natural rhythms of the days, and I have the ability to focus on one thing at a time.

Jamie Ridler over at Jamie Ridler Studios poses the following Wishcasting Wednesday Prompt: What Do You Wish To Make More Time For?

The list is endless for me. There is always something I want to be doing/learning/exploring. For instance, reading. I love to read. I have so many articles, books, blogs, etc. that I want to peruse and enjoy and they just keep piling up. I also wish I had more time to write, do yoga, meditate, be creative, travel, and spend time in nature.

The best thing about the above is that I am already doing all those things, its more a matter of making them a priority and not letting them go, which I know to be the case for me. I read a leadership article a long time ago about time management and how perhaps balance is just a myth. What happens is that if we are truly living in the present moment in each and every day, we can put our full, 100% heart and soul into "that thing" we are doing, and not worry about whether or not we will have time for the rest. We can move into things and experiences with this heightened sense of "flow," or living in the "zone," as one might say.

For me, it's also about structure with flexibility. By having a structure in place to manage my time, (i.e. planner) I can physically see what's happening and also be flexible with things at the same time. For instance, I try to get 3 crossfit workouts in per week, but things happen, my body isn't always feeling super great, and I adjust without being self-sabotaging. The Man is really good about holding me accountable in this realm: Be gentle. He always says that. It reminds me that I am a human being with feelings, emotions, and a physical body I must take care of. I am not a machine and I don't have to chain myself to the clock.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

from the ground up & steve jobs

Growing up, my brother was the builder. I remember Tonka trucks and blocks covering the floor. I remember the vivid primary colored Lego towers mixed in with Army men and creations of bridges, cities, and spaceships. Sure, I would play every now and then, but I was the reader, the writer. I would rather pretend to play "school," grading fake papers and collecting pens. 

This fall, I am teaching a Lego class in my after-school program and I am LOVING it. In the class, we cover a different building topic each week. For instance, the kids worked in design/build teams to create bridges that we ended up loading with weights to see who had the strongest bridge. Then, one week, we built boats and raced them in a water table. Last week, we designed walkable cities and talked about what makes a community. The kids are having a blast in this class. They come in excited. They are ready to learn. And they are ready to work and create and show off their creations and projects at the end of the day. 

Not only is this class so super duper fun to teach, but it is so profound in terms of some life lessons:
...everything is built from the ground up
...creativity, innovation, and fun are key in any project you take on
...all it takes is an idea

I am a firm believer that we go through stages of thinking, planning, building/creating, and presenting. Very similar to the experiential education cycle, we are constantly in motion. Lately, I have been feeling I am in the "Building/Creating" stage in many areas of life. For instance, I have spend the past two days rebuilding my laptop from a fried hard drive. Luckily, with the help of The Man, I was able to recover my data from my old hard drive, but the majority of my Saturday was spent rebuilding Windows, Office, and a multitude of applications and downloads, which included restoring my iPod. Yikes! How exhausting. Luckily, I had some good healthy support, but I am drained, which leads me to my own reflections on "building."

When we expend quite a lot of our own personal energy on something for a large chunk of time, we can sometimes feel extremely exhausted and spent. It may come across as exhaustion, fatigue, irritability, or moodiness. Whatever it is, in can feel yucky. Below are some "Blissful Raindrops" that can help you get back on your feet again. Pick your feet up, hit up some Hulu or Netflix and just tune out. something outside. Walk, jog, skip, hike, anything.
...change your scenery. When we are in the same spot for too long, it can feel stale. Hit up that new place. and drink. Feed yourself, your soul, and your dog if you forgot. :)
...shut-down. Turn of that computer. Hide your phone. Ditch the Facespace. Even for a day.
...celebrate. Celebration is just as important as any step in the process. Buy yourself some flowers.

On another note, I was super sad to hear of Steve Jobs' death this past week. After hearing of his passing, I have spent my commute time thinking about his contributions, innovation, and pure eagerness to make a lasting impact on the world. The quote below is something I will be printing and hanging above my desk at work. We must listen to our inner voice. We must be willing to take a risk to be extraordinary in our life, in the work we do, in our relationships. Thank you Mr. Jobs for your work, your contributions, and your courage.