How did I go?  Follow up post to “Be Gone Cranky Rushed Mama”

How did I go? Follow up post to “Be Gone Cranky Rushed Mama”

Firstly a note – my post “be gone cranky rushed mama” was not meant as a
whinge about my husband not doing stuff to help out around the house.  He
is actually quite amazing and does a lot each day to help make the house run
smoothly and get us out the door on time.  My post was written from
my point of view and reflected my thoughts on me, my disorganisation, and my
hopes for change. 
So, how did I go being more organised?  The results were
mixed.  I had some success, but it didn’t feel like I had hit the
right mark.  There were lots of moments in the week where I
was better organised, however, I must confess that there were still moments
where I was rushing around at the last minute trying not forget anything. 
I did start my quick morning meditation habit again, so I think that
helped bring some calm, but I need some structure, more of a routine or
something to help me be more organised.  I am going to revisit my
routine and make it work better for me. 
This week I decided that my mantra would be “put s@*t away”!! It
made a big difference until Thursday and I don’t know what happened then.
 I didn’t get my normal quiet time during the day when the baby was
sleeping.  I spent those two hours battling with her to get her to go to
sleep, so my middle of the day tidy up didn’t happen.  And the second half
of the day was busy running here there and everywhere, and I couldn’t recover
my “put s@*t away” mojo.  
I have been reading Better than Before by Gretchen
Rubin, which is a book about how to establish and keep habits.  Rubin
suggests that
“Habits make change
possible by freeing us from decision making and from using self-control” (p5).
I like the idea that if I make some good habits, I will be freed of
decision making and life will run more smoothly.  After helping
readers know themselves better, Rubin outlines several strategies that help in
habit formation.  While I haven’t yet finished the book, I have
already picked up several tips that I think will be useful. 
I have been trying to work out what it is that stops me from making
plans that work for me.  I like to have a
plan.  I like to know what I will be doing in any particular week so
that I can plan ahead and be organised. As well as our online family calendar
(which my husband and I can both access at any time), I have an old school
paper diary AND a weekly planner that I fill in religiously.  So why
can’t I make it work in real life? 
A personality quiz that we did at work (I can’t remember the name of it,
nor do I still have a copy of the results),  identified me as someone
who dreams big, likes coming up with new ideas, but fails in the
execution.  While I love doing personality quizzes, I generally think
they should be taken with a grain of salt; however this result resonated with
me and has stuck with me for many years.  It is true; I often have
big bright ideas and then fail to follow through.  At work, I think I
can get away with it a little better because we work as a team and everyone has
different strengths and weaknesses. But at home, it is a bit harder to hide
from that truth. 
My plan is to review our regular weekly schedule and work out a plan
that might work for me.  But, how will I make myself stick to that
plan?  For those who are interested and think it might matter, I am
an ENFP or ENFJ in Myers-Briggs and an Obliger in Gretchen Rubin’s Four
Tendencies framework.   
Rubin suggests a couple of things that I think might work for me.  The
strategy of monitoring, where you keep a record of how you are going with the
habit you are trying to introduce, is said to be effective especially at the
beginning of habit formation.  I also think the strategy of pairing
might be useful, where you pair one action with another, usually already well
established routine.  For example, if you are trying to drink more
water, you might pair that habit with making a cup of tea.
I think they are great strategies to get started, but how will I make
myself do the things that are harder (or come less naturally for me)? 
Further into Better than before Rubin discusses the use
of rewards and treats.  She argues that when trying to establish a
new habit rewards actually get in the way and do more harm than
good.   Treats are different because you give yourself a treat
just because, it is not tied to doing something in order to “deserve” it. She
says that by giving ourselves treats we can ask more of ourselves.  So
perhaps I need to give myself regular treats?  It
seems counter-intuitive to me though, I like the idea more of
rewarding myself for sticking to my habits…. Maybe if I stick to the
habits for 3 weeks, then I could treat myself to a day’s shopping at
Birdsnest!! 
I WANT it to work.  I WANT to be able to feel more in control
and calm.  I would be really interested to hear your ideas on what
works for you?  Have you read Better
Than Before? 
What did you
think?  Do you have any ideas on how to
establish good new habits and routines that will help me feel more calm?
Until next time,
E xx
Be gone “Cranky Rushed Mama”

Be gone “Cranky Rushed Mama”

In my hurried rush to get the kids out the door yesterday, I caught myself snapping and grumpily
saying “hurry up” and “quick, let’s go” for the thousandth time that
morning.  It wasn’t their fault that we
were late.  My son had got himself up
early, got dressed, made his bed, and had breakfast, all before I had even made
it out of bed. 
So why were we late again?
There are a number of excuses that I could write, but they
are just excuses.  The truth is we were
late because, once again, I failed to get organised.  Instead of thinking ahead for what we were
doing and getting the snack bag ready the night before, or preparing bottles
for the baby, or laying out our clothes, I chose to stare at the telly, zoning
out all the noise and retreating into my thoughts. 
I often wonder why I do this.  Our nightly routine is dinner, put the kids
to bed and then watch the TV before I head off to bed to fall asleep reading my
book.  I enjoy the quiet after the kids
are asleep, I can finally switch off for a while.  It sometimes feels like the greatest treat,
especially on days that have been a bit challenging or noisy with the
children.  But more and more lately I am
feeling like this is not the best way to get my daily dose of calm. 
It may be because at the moment, there isn’t much that my
husband and I agree on watching together, so often I sit wasting time on my phone
while we watch something that I wouldn’t have picked. 
There is so much more I’d rather be doing.  I have recently rediscovered my love of
reading.  It has been getting a bit
easier since Miss 1 is in more of a sleeping routine.  I’m not so exhausted (it’s all relative
though isn’t it – there are still some days where my body feels so heavy and
tired that it is a mammoth effort just to move!), so I can get a short reading
session in before my eyes close for the night. 
I should bring my book upstairs and read while my husband watches the
telly. 
Or I could be crocheting. 
I have recently been teaching myself and find the work satisfying.  It has super calming powers, and I love
really been enjoying seeing my creation grow (I’m currently making myself a
blanket with all my favourite colours).  
My
six year old son has put in a couple of requests for things (Star Wars toys, a
green cushion), and I love making things for him, so I should get started on
those. 
Or, I could spend ten minutes after our daughter goes to bed
thinking about what we will need for the next day and get a head start on
tomorrow.  We have a pretty regular
routine, so it’s not like there are often surprises.  For example, one night a week my parents look
after the children while I teach Pilates. 
Every week it is at the same time, and every week I run around like a
mad woman five minutes before we leave trying to gather the things we need.  I always forget something – nappies, a dummy
or formula.  But it doesn’t have to be
this way. 
I’m sure that with a small sprinkle of planning, and a pinch
less laziness, I could manage to bring more calm to my days.  The mean, snappy, rushed Mummy could be a
person I happily leave in the past.  We would
all benefit.  Our mornings would be
smoother, with less negativity and more opportunity to be present and enjoy the
precious time I have with my children. 
And I would probably not forget important things that we need for the
day. 
So, I am setting myself a challenge.  For the next seven days I am going to check
my diary each night for what is on the next day.  I will prepare what I can the night before.  I will go to bed a little earlier so I can
wake up fresh and bouncy in the morning and we will see if that makes a
difference to our days. 
Will you join me? 
What ideas do you have to make your days run more smoothly?  How do you make sure that you never forget
the important things when you head out the door with children in tow? 

Why “Creative Calm Connected”?

Why “Creative Calm Connected”?

If you don’t know me, or even if you do, I thought you might be wondering why I have called my blog Creative Calm Connected.  What follows is my attempt at explaining a bit about why I decided to start a blog, and why I settled on that name.

My story is not new…. A mother trying to find her purpose in life… frustrated with her career, lack of fulfillment at work. If I have to go to work I want it to be for something that makes me come alive, and justifies the time spent away from my two children.  So I have spent a bit of time this year considering what it is that I want to do.

All my life I have had dreams of being a writer.  I am an avid reader and always did well in subjects at school where writing was a focus.  I thoroughly enjoyed my studies at university, and did best when the assessment pieces were written.  My job since uni has been in the public service, where I have held a number of policy positions that require creative thought and the ability to research and write convincingly.  So in a way, I guess, I have always been writing.

But I want more than that.  I want to be a writer where I am allowed to write whatever I want to write about.  I want to put my random thoughts on paper, I want to make stories come alive, I want to be creative and not bound by bureaucratic rules and political agendas that prevent me from writing what is true or right.

So here we are.  My blog.  My little piece of the internet where I can write whatever I like.  But what am I going to write about?

While on maternity leave with my second child, I have been able to really get back into reading.  I have been reading lots of fiction, but have also decided this year to read more non-fiction too.  I have really enjoyed books about self-improvement, like Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin, What I know for sure by Oprah Winfrey, and Happy Mama by Amy Taylor-Kabbaz.  One book
in particular, connected with me and sparked my inspiration to have a go at changing my life from the mundane to one where I can sparkle from the inside.  The book is called The Desire Map:  a guide to creating goals with soul by Danielle LaPorte.

In essence, LaPorte suggests that in order to live our best lives, to honour our souls and be the happiest we can be, we should connect with what she terms our core desired feelings. These will lead us to make better decisions about what we want to do with our life, fulfill us and connect us to the deeper parts of ourselves that often get overlooked when we are goal setting or planning for the future.  She suggests that “everything we do is driven by the desire to feel a certain way”.

This passage on page 39 of La Porte’s book explains a bit more and resonated with me:

Core desired feelings originate deep within us and make themselves known when we take the time to listen.  They do not change with circumstances…  They are “the soul cry”…it is good to remember that the soul always desires that which will reveal its true nature…. When we are able to recognise our core desired feelings as sparks of divinity that can begin the illumination of our life, there is a feeling of ahh… we are unveiling what is already there…there is a sense of having arrived home..

There are a number of exercises in the book that help you identify what your core desired feelings are.  Having contemplated, worked and reworked, I have settled on my core desired feelings being creative, calm and connected.  In my life I want to feel:

Creative – I love using my imagination, dreaming up big ideas, blue sky thinking.  I love to read, write, crochet, knit, loom.  I love using creativity to solve problems in my clients’ bodies at Pilates.

Calm– I feel I can be at my best when I am calm.  Particularly around my children, but in all situations in life, I am a much nicer person when I’m calm.  Shouty Angry Emma disappears and I have more patience, clarity of thought and a more positive outlook on things when I’m calm.  I want this to be at the essence of who I am every day.  Things that make me feel calm include snuggling up with my husband and/or kids, reading a good book, meditating, the mindfulness of Pilates, crocheting, being with really good friends, going to the beach, writing, holidays.  In my mind, being calm doesn’t mean that I can’t be excited about things.  Quite the opposite.  It means instead, calming the inner rage that sometimes gets in the way of me being truly present in the moment.  It means I am not fighting with the pressure/anger/frustration of the moment and am open to the possibilities that are in front of me.

Connected– I hate to be alone.  I get sad, lonely and deflated if I am not around people regularly.  I get my energy by connecting with others.  In my life I want to be connected to myself (who I really am at my core), to others (my family, friends, colleagues, clients, etc.), and to the universe (something that is bigger than us….I’m not quite sure what this is for me yet, but it might be spirituality??).

So there we have it.  In my life, I want to feel creative, calm and connected.  Having identified these core desired feelings I can make better choices about what I want to do by asking myself if the
option at hand will allow me to feel one of these feelings.  If not, it probably isn’t the right option for me right now.

This blog is my musings on life and will connect back each time to one or more of those three themes. It is my dream that by sharing my thoughts, we will create a place where like-minded people can journey together to discover who it is they want to be, and how to live their best life.

On the blog I will post about my thoughts, my life and whatever else comes to mind that may help me, and subsequently readers, live a more creative, calm, connected life.

I will post thoughts that inspire me, ideas I have tried, reviews of things that help me achieve a creative, calm and connected life.  I will share websites, insights and ideas as well as seek input from readers.

It is my hope that you enjoy your time here as much as I enjoy writing for you.

If you feel like it, maybe you could share what you think your core desired feelings would be.  How would you most like to feel in life?

Until next time,

E xx

 

The  calm during the snowstorm

The calm during the snowstorm

This morning my husband quietly crept back into our
bedroom.  “Get up, we have snow” he
whispered.  
It was early, school holidays and both kids were still
asleep, and I could tell he thought he might get in trouble for waking me.  But he didn’t. 
I love snow.  We live
in a city that gets cold in winter, but it doesn’t often snow here. The closest
snowfields are about a two hour drive from home.  So it was quite a treat to get up and see our
yard with a light dusting of snow that had settled overnight.  I love the crisp freshness that snow brings.  And somehow (in my mind at least), if it
snows, it makes the bitter cold worthwhile. 
While I stood in the backyard taking in the beautiful view,
I was reminded of how much I love it to be outside in a snowstorm.  My husband is a good skier, (and I am not!)
so when we go skiing, he will ski with me in the morning, and then after lunch
he goes off to the black runs while I stumble down the beginner slopes or head
inside for a hot cuppa by the fire.  I
have beautiful memories of one such day, my legs aching from trying my best to
stay upright all day.  I had decided to
head inside and warm up by the fire. 
On my way back, it started to snow.  Not a crazy white out blizzard, but a
beautiful, gentle snowstorm.  It was one
of the most peaceful moments of my life. 
I stopped and watched the snowflakes on their gentle journey to the
ground, and was mesmerised by the soft quiet that had suddenly fallen around
me.  I stood there, still, quietly taking
in the beauty of a snowstorm while others rushed by eager to reach the warm
comfort of the chalet.  There was an
overwhelming sense of peace for me in that snowstorm that day, and I don’t quite
understand why. 
I headed back into the warm building and cozied up by the
windows watching the snow continue to fall. 
It was really one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. 

So no, my husband didn’t get into trouble for waking me
today.  I thanked him.  I had the opportunity to experience a little
moment of calm with the snow before we woke our son and ran around the backyard
all excited, taking photos and throwing snowballs.  What a beautiful way to start the day.