Living with Intention
At the beginning of 2018, I decided my word for the year would be “intention” (see here). Because we are now half way though the year, I thought it timely to reflect on what it means to live with intention, and how I am going with it so far.
Why did I choose “intention” as my word for the year?
The simple answer is time. Time is so precious, we only have a finite amount of it and I can feel it passing way too quickly. It is easy to get caught up in the everyday routine of life and forget what it is that really matters – I wasn’t living life, life was living me. As I approach 40, I want to pay more attention to what is important to me, to live a life I am proud to live, without time or other people dictating how my time is spent. I felt like too much of my time was being spent mindlessly moving from one required task to the next, without giving much thought to making sure I am achieving what I want out of life. I needed to take back a bit of control.
What does living with intention mean to me?
Intentional living is about knowing what you value in life, what’s important to you, and what you want to get out of life. It is about making every effort to ensure that what you do every day helps bring more of what you value into your life. What you value becomes a sort of compass, directing you back each time you feel like life is mindlessly progressing along without you. It is about being focused rather than wasting precious time on things that don’t bring value to your life.
Intentional living is about slowing down. I realised that I need to stop multitasking and start paying attention to what I am doing right now, in order to get the most out of myself and every moment. It is about being able to say no sometimes to other people and their requests or demands, so that I am able to say yes to what is truly important to me. It is about listening to my body and mind and honouring what it is that I really need, trying to create a sense of balance in my life. This is about protecting myself so I am able to give my best self to others.
It is about trusting my intuition and following my heart. About being less impulsive in areas where being impulsive doesn’t serve me well (like eating, drinking wine, shopping, snapping at the kids). It is about being mindful about every moment, every choice, and making the best of every day.
What have I done to implement this into my every day life?
- I have developed meaningful habits that focus and centre me each day:
- meditation – I have begun a daily meditation practice which started with a self imposed 30 day challenge. I have a blog post coming soon on that so watch this space.
- daily list of priorities – Each day I set a list of three priorities that help plan my day and focus my efforts on what is important to me
- set a weekly theme for each week to help me achieve success in particular areas – for example, I know that I need help establishing good routines that will enable me to function better and have more time connecting with loved ones. One week I made my theme water and washing – drink at lease a jug of water and do one load of washing each day. Feeling well hydrated gives me energy, and keeping on top of the washing protects precious weekend time that could be better spent with my family.
- I have practiced saying no to things when I feel overwhelmed, which is a good start. I hope to one day be able to say no without feeling guilt. How amazing would it feel to be able to say no to something just because you didn’t want to do it?
- I am beginning to slowly declutter some of my possessions in an attempt to free physical space within our home and provide more space for what is important to me (the people in the home!)
- I am moving towards a capsule wardrobe
- I am having phone/device free time each day
- I am training myself to “look up”. Every single day. And I am loving the benefits. I am seeing more gorgeous expressions on my children’s faces. I see the beautiful blue sky and clouds moving along in their journey to wherever. I am noticing more little things which are really the big things in life.
- I am seeking out information on things that interest me and move me closer to where I want to be. I have been doing a lot of reading on the concept of minimalism! Those that know me may laugh at this (especially my husband!), but I am finding that more and more I am being drawn to the concept. Keep an eye out – I may even share some of my thoughts on this with you soon. There are so many great books, podcasts, websites etc out there with so much inspiration. I am feeling energised and keen to keep gaining momentum on this new way of living.
- I am more conscious about how I spend money. This is an area where I need a lot of reforming! I am very very good at shopping and spending money! Just ask my long suffering husband 😉 I am trying to be more intentional about the way I spend money – really thinking about what I/we need, looking out for sales, less impulse buying. I am definitely a work in progress in this area, but have made a good start. I have taken more control over our family’s finances too, which is helping to make me more aware of how things are going. My mantra in this area is progress not perfection.
How is it going?
I am really loving how it is going so far. I feel lighter, I have more energy. I am really enjoying my meditation practice, and feel like it brings a sense of calm and perspective that stays with me through the day (most days!). I am happy to be pursuing what makes me come alive.
The funny thing about it is that my life hasn’t changed much at all. But my experience of it has. I still have the same demands on me that I had a couple of months ago, but I am approaching them differently now. I am more protective of the time that isn’t full of scheduled activities, and I am being true about how I feel. I am asking for help or a break when I need it and am finding that people are more than willing to lend a hand and be understanding.
I am noticing things more. Things I didn’t even know I was missing until recently. I am paying attention to facial expressions, to the tiny hand reaching up to hold mine regularly, to the way my son hugs me in his own special way. I pay attention to the colour of the sky, to the sound of the birds singing, and to how warm or cool my skin feels when we are outside.
When I was writing the paragraph on what living with intention means to me, I was conscious that it could sound like I am being selfish… what is important to ME, what I value, protecting MY time, saying no to others…. but I’m finding that the opposite is in fact true. By living intentionally I am better able to give the best of myself to others. I am making time for those that are important to me. I am feeling more like me than ever before and I have the energy to put into those things that I am choosing to take on.
I’m not saying that everything is perfect and that I am living with intention 24/7 yet. But I feel like I’m off to a good start and I’m making progress in the right direction.
Do you like the idea of living more on purpose? How might that look for you? I would love to hear from you. Let me know in the comments below if you have practiced putting more intention into how you live and what difference you have felt or seen in your life.
Until next time,
Welcome to my new look blog! What do you think?
I have been absent from the blog for a long time now, last year got increasingly busy and I had to find something that fell off the list of things to do in order to try and preserve my sanity.
On Saturday I was driving to see a friend who was in hospital and was all alone with my thoughts in the quiet car. School holidays were almost over and I was relishing the precious quiet time while I had the chance. As I was driving I was mentally processing the day I had on Friday and suddenly a blog post was forming in my mind. I was excited! I haven’t even had the urge to write for a long time, but now, it seems I have the space that the words are ready to come again.
Friday was a tough day for me. It was the day that our daughter, Hannah, should have turned 4 if she had survived. I woke feeling as I tend to do on these anniversary type days, empty, lonely and trying to suppress the negativity. “The kids need you, you have to go to work, get up and get on with it”.
If only it were that simple!
My almost 3 year old daughter had a terrible morning too. She has had a lot of big changes in her tiny little life lately and it had all been getting a bit much for her. With school and family holidays, she was out of routine, overtired, had given up dummies and nappies and was transitioning to another room at childcare. She loved having her big brother home from school, but I think was also missing the time she was used to with Mummy that we usually have when he is at school. It was all just getting a bit much for her.
Her tantrum started at 8.10am when she realised she had to go to “school”. I wish I had a dollar for every time she screamed at me “I don’t want to go to school Mummy, I don’t want to go to school”. I would be flying first class around the world on that payoff.
Because I had to get to work, and she was fighting me so much – you know how it goes, Mummy gets you dressed while you kick her, scratch her and scream at her, only to remove your clothes as soon as Mum turns around to get your shoes – she went to child care with no shoes on (they were in her bag), hair not done, teeth not brushed. I dropped her in her old room where she felt comfortable with the carers, but today, she was having none of it. Screaming, clinging to me, begging me to take her to work with me, real tears, the whole works. They literally prized her little arms from around me after twenty minutes and I ran out the door to have a good sob in the car.
The point of this post is not to have a whinge about my day, but to encourage you to look for the good in even the crappiest of days.
That particular day, several beautiful things happened. I had a phone call from my Sister, who is always there, for all the good days and bad. She had called just to say she knew it would be a hard day for me and that she was thinking of me.
I had a similar text from my oldest dearest friend.
A Pilates client came in saying “now where’s my favourite person today?”, meaning me (!), which was an unexpected boost to my spirits, because this particular lady finds social situations a bit difficult.
When I went to the gym after work before picking up the kids, a random stranger with problems much bigger than mine, reached out, smiled and introduced herself.
Her name is Julia and I think that Julia has significant vision problems among other things. She was at the gym with her carer, and noticed me on the floor doing my ab work. She came over, said “hi, whats your name” and we began chatting. Her personal trainer got a bit cranky with us for distracting her from her workout, but that trainer has no idea how the short 2-3 minute interaction changed my day.
Perhaps that day, I was being sent little signs from everywhere that there is unexpected goodness when we choose to be open to it. I want to choose to be open to it more often.
To put the phone down and look at my kids when they are talking to me.
To take the time to make meaningful connections with people.
To send short messages to those I love letting them know that I’m thinking of them.
To live more intentionally in the moment, and in the positive.
It is not easy to do all the time, but even if I get it right a third of the time more than I do now, what a great improvement that will be.
So now, if you will excuse me, I have some letters to write to those I need to thank.
Until next time,
This post is inspired by something I remember my Dad saying when he was in hospital having treatment for bowel cancer. He had just had major abdominal surgery, and was recovering in his quiet, graceful way. He said something to me like “imagine how many people were involved in helping me get better today”, and proceeded to list all the people that he could think of who were in some way involved in his stay in the hospital. And not just the obvious ones like the Doctors, nurses and surgeons, he went deep and thought hard. He included people like the people who transport the sheets to and from the laundry, the chef in the kitchen who prepared his food, the engineer who designed the machines that were used in the operating theatre, the scientist who discovered the combination of drugs for treatment, and many many others.
Today, as I sat peacefully in the sunshine enjoying a cup of tea on a break at work, I got to thinking about all the people I could be (and am) grateful for for helping give me this wonderful moment. Obviously, the lovely lady in the cafe near my work who is always so friendly and knows how to make my tea just the way I like it. But who else? I sat for a good twenty minutes enjoying that tea, and here are just some of the people/things I came up with that had a hand in making it such an enjoyable experience:
- The cow who produced the tons of milk I like to drink in my tea! Also the farmer who owns the cows, the truck drivers who transported the milk, the supermarket staff where the cafe owner buys the milk from.
- The people who design and make the carton the milk comes in.
- Those that made the fridge that kept the milk chilled.
- The farmers who grew and harvested the tea. Those that had a hand in turning it into the brew that sat in front of me today.
- The people who designed and made the teapot, cup and saucer my tea was served in. The teapot maker was good, this particular teapot didn’t drip at all and kept the tea warm so my second cup was just right too.
- God or the Universe or whichever higher being you believe in, for delivering this sparkly, blue sky, warm day. I appreciated the warm sunshine on the left side of my face even more after the particularly cold, rainy start we had to this week.
- The architects of the building I work in, for designing that beautiful little outdoor spot where I was able to sit in the sun, sheltered from the wind.
- The lady who massaged my neck and shoulders prior to my cup of tea so I was able to sit comfortably without the nagging headache that had plagued me for a couple of days.
- Everyone responsible for making, selling and transporting the table and chairs at the cafe.
- My beautiful client who i saw this morning who is a total inspiration and always makes my days brighter – with her “nothing will stop me” attitude to life, her determination and her sunny personality, spending time with her always puts me in a good mood.
- My husband and children, who also added to my good mood today. We all managed to get ready for school and work without any stress or yelling,
- The people who planted the trees I was admiring while sipping my tea. The colours in our little city at this time of year are just stunning.
- My bosses, who chose to buy the space for our studio in such a lovely setting. If I didn’t work there, or if our studio was in a different location, I never would have experienced this beautiful moment today.
- My husband for helping us make it work so that I can do a job that I love, a job that rarely feels like “work”.
- The workers at the Mint who made the money I paid with.
- The “gurus” I look to who have been instrumental in me discovering mindfulness, encouraging me to live more in the moment, and living life with more purpose and gratitude.
On and on I went. I stopped when my phone beeped at me to go and teach my next session, but I could have stayed all day. It was such a beautiful experience. I wonder how much more joyful and satisfying life would be if we all practiced this approach more often. It made me really be in the moment, and also I felt a strong connection to something bigger than me. A part of the bigger picture, connected in some small way to people from all different walks of life, all because of this little cup of tea.
Why not give it a go? Pick any situation and apply my Dad’s suggestion. I bet it lifts your spirits the same way it did mine today.
Until next time,
|Image via Pinterest|
The very wise Amy Taylor-Kabbaz from Happy Mama asked a group of busy Mums last week, prior to the Easter long weekend:
“what would happen if you gave yourself four days to just switch off… if you just gave yourself these four days to breathe, rest, just be in the moment?…”
So, this weekend, I gave myself a mini holiday. In the midst of what has been a CRAZY, crazy few months, I took a moment, paused, got my breath back. Reconnected. Enjoyed the sunshine. Reminded myself of the way my babies eyes sparkle when they laugh. Let all the jobs go. I just was.
When you take the time to slow down, it is amazing how many beautiful moments there are, in every day. It is the simple little things that tend to bring the most joy. Like taking our beloved dog of a walk in the late afternoon light. My husband took us on a walk I have never done before, literally out our back door, where we were rewarded with a spectacular view of the valley we live in.
|Image: Emma Schmid |
It is the moments spent listening to our daughter “read” to me last night as she sat snuggled in a beanbag making up stories from the pictures in books.
It is the smiles in my parents eyes when we surprised them with an unscheduled late one afternoon.
It is the super tight hug from my oldest dearest friend when we caught up for a much needed chat.
It is in appreciating my husband offering to cook the dinner.
It is in the excited chatter of my son as he tells me about his adventures with his Grandma and Poppy.
It is in the wandering through the markets savouring the feast for the senses.
All of these things that I miss when I am in my normal “Mummy mode”, rushing from one thing to the next, always thinking of who has to be where, by when, with what.
How amazing would it be if we could take a part of that with us in every day? What would we notice differently? How different would life be if we focussed on being instead of our to-do lists? It would be filled with different priorities. The real priorities. Spending time with loved ones. Stopping to feel the sunshine on our faces or smell the roses. It would be filled with giggles, snuggles and moments where it all just feels right instead of stressful, cranky, rushed, and mundane. Who lets us decide these “priorities” anyway? Why do we let ourselves get so caught up in the “doing” that we forget about the “being”? When do we allow the “to-do” list to become more important than being present and appreciating the magic that surrounds us already?
It is my promise to myself that in this second school term of the year, I will take more time to “just be”. To allow myself a little of this “holiday” time in each day, to really appreciate what is around me. To be with my children. To listen intently. To love wholly. To be in the moment. I might not get it right all the time, but with consciousness comes a desire to do better.
So beautiful Amy T-K, to answer your question – what would happen if…? What happens is an awakening. A shifting of priorities. A reminder of what is important. A decision to get back to my core desired feelings. To be creative. To have moments of calm. To connect.
And it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Thank you for the beautiful assignment.
Until next time,
You may have noticed that this year I have not been blogging
as much as last year. You can blame Santa!!
For Christmas 2015, Santa bought me a sewing machine. I had wanted one for a long time, and when I
finally got one, I didn’t really know what to do or where to start. So the poor love stayed in the box for a good
7 months or so.
But then, one day, I opened the box and discovered a love of
sewing that cannot be stopped!
I have enjoyed making things for myself and others, and
particularly like sewing bags. I have tried sewing a number of different things
– a basic quilt, some zippered pouches, long kaftans for my Aunties, handbags
for a couple of Christmas presents, a costume for my son for the Nativity play,
tote bags, aprons, pencil cases, library bags and more! I just cant stop! I love to sew. I particularly love the part where you are
just about to finish the new creation.
Seeing it come to life is so satisfying.
I also love that I get totally immersed in the work. I tend to sew when my daughter is in bed in
the afternoon, so the house is quiet, and I just get lost in the moment. For me, it is almost meditative.
|A Stormtrooper library bag|
I made for my son
|I sewed this apron for my Soul Sister- |
it has an adjustable neck strap!
|Christmas presents – handbags for two of the coolest young ladies I know|
That sewing machine has worked its little heart out. And then she broke! The hunt began for a new machine, something
that I was prepared to invest in, that would make life easier while sewing,
that would take this new creative interest to new heights.
Last week, she arrived!
|My new machine! |
I loved sewing before, but now – my goodness! It feels almost like going from driving an
old rusty Datsun 180B to driving a top of the line Lexus! This new machine is so easy to use. It almost does the sewing for me. I love that it is super quiet, so smooth, and
has beautiful features like being able to sew words, pretty stitches, a large
workspace and fantastic LED lights.
The first thing I sewed on her is this beautiful bag and
zippered pouch for my Mum. Complete with
a message on the interior pocket, so that each time she uses her bag, hopefully
Mum thinks fondly of me.
|The message inside the bag I made for Mum. It says “I love you Mum”|
In this new habit, I get to work with pretty fabrics that
make me feel good when I look at them.
With a bit of research (I’m teaching myself to sew!), a bit of skill,
and a pinch of love and concentration, I get to turn a plain piece of fabric
into something useful, with a whole other purpose. And that feels pretty good. In a couple of weeks I’m doing a workshop
where I will learn how to make the bags I sew look more professional. Who knows what that will lead to! I have no
intention of stopping any time soon.
When you find something that lights you up and brings so much joy, you
must be on the right track.
What do you do that lights you up like that?
I’m off now to finish sewing a skirt for my daughter!
Until next time,