Back off baby: slow down!

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NaNoWriMo day two (see “Jump right in…”): 2,068 words down, 47,932 words to go. And I’ve already learned something about myself, and my writing. I realized that in the not-so-distance past when I’d sit down and compose, I’d navigate from A to Z in a straight shot to arrive at the “good parts” quicker. This hit home as I drove through my neighborhood recently and a vehicle raced up behind my car. Back off baby, I thought, right before the driver swerved around me, only to be forced to stop at a red light. It seems we’re always in a rush to get to the “good parts;” consequently, we oftentimes miss the magic that unfolds during the detours and roundabouts, the hills and the valleys—in life and on the page. As I plunge into this month of writing, I promise to allow myself to slow down, explore new territory (whether planning/plotting or pantsing) and simply tread water for a bit.

When do you need to back off?

When you run out of margin: create more

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In November, my second three-year term as secretary on my neighborhood community’s HOA board of directors concludes. I’m beyond excited to allocate my extra time toward other pursuits in an already jam-packed schedule. Case in point: a goof up this past Sunday in regard to said schedule reiterates that my margin runs shallow. While I spent two hours in the mountains hiking and writing, my church peeps waited for relief at the information desk. Although written in my planner, I overlooked my commitment when organizing my morning trek. With one minute to spare, I showed up for service, located a seat and later learned I had missed my volunteer stint. Yes, I’m human, but the oversight forced me to admit I either need to a) slow down or b) color code my task list. Regardless, good riddance to crabby neighbors and hello to more time for things that thrill me. It’s about creating margin (and taking a nap or two).

What happens when you run out of margin?

Photo courtesy of nunawwoofy at

Consistency is key: 8 steps to become a better version of you



After 30 days of practicing mindfulness, I can honestly say: it works. Not only have I gained a deeper level of awareness of who I am and what I want to be, I’ve also discovered that consistency is key to (lasting) change. Practice these eight steps to become a better version of you:

  1. Recognize and acknowledge negative thinking; work to change your train of thought.
  2. Choose happy: every moment, each day.
  3. If you’re not happy with XYZ, pray, say and/or take action.
  4. Don’t take life too seriously: laugh at yourself. It heals, it’s contagious and it’s a free ab workout.
  5. Smile often: it’s sunshine on a cloudy day, for yourself and others.
  6. Mistakes happen: own up and rectify if possible. Then move on.
  7. Slow down; life is not a race to be run but a journey to be savored.
  8. Be kind to your neighbor, your fellow human-being: we are all in this thing together.

How do you practice consistency daily?

Under construction: how to cope with change

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under construction

A major renovation is underway at the grocery store I frequent. A ‘pardon our dust’ sign hangs over the entrance and, inside, plastic curtains hide activity and workers move stock from one area to another, shelving in disarray. I don’t like it, but I can find a teachable moment if I pay attention. For example, I no longer know my way around like the back of my hand, which forces me to slow down, take notice, ask for and accept help—important attributes to practice in ‘real life’ as well. Also, although change is oftentimes painful, better things may be in store (literally and figuratively). As for my grocery store, the changes make no sense to me. Sometimes that’s how we feel about change in our own lives. Even when everything looks the same on the outside, major transformation might be taking place within. And if we are patient and wait to see what’s to come, we might be pleasantly surprised.

What kind of transformation are you undergoing?

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Moms don’t get sick

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[Image credit: David Castillo Dominici]

The spreading myself thin(ner) thing happened and that’s likely why I got sick last week.  I kept piling the commitments on top of each another until I was running ragged.  After getting sick, however, I took time off from working out and Yoga, stopped cleaning the house, served leftovers and take-out pizza for dinner.  And there was a day or two where I left for work with piles of laundry and an unmade bed.  I took sick time, missed church and an HOA Board Meeting, plus a charity benefit.  But in the midst of it all, I saw something very clearly even through the haze of my fuzzy head.  Nothing happened.  I didn’t lose my awesome mom award; the neighbors didn’t storm my house and dub me an unfit homemaker.  My family didn’t starve.  And surprise, surprise —my body didn’t fall apart (yet).  I think I’d better listen, slow down and cut back, though, before it does.

Are you afraid life will fall apart if you get sick?

Starting at square one

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[Image credit: tungphoto]

I’m always standing up for the underdog.  Or the “old dog.”  If you followed my journey as a nontraditional student, you’re familiar with my mantra that you can teach an old dog new tricks.  I see the proof of that in what I’ve accomplished since returning to college and graduating the same day my daughter finished with high school.   Maybe not a lot of new tricks in the scheme of things, but I’ve learned a great deal.  And I’m still learning.  For instance, in a Yoga posture clinic yesterday, I realized it’s okay to start over from square one to get a pose right rather than hurry along my progress and potentially injure myself.  I also learned it’s important to slow down inside of class — with my breathing and postures — making it easier to take my time outside of class to process what’s going on around me instead of simply reacting.  And most importantly, I was reminded Yoga is practice.  Like life.

What lesson(s) have you learned lately?

Handle with care

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[Image credit: Idea go]

For the past month, I’ve been writing more, making plans, getting out and doing more, meeting new people.  Living.  But a few days ago, a nasty headache kept me bedbound for the better part of two days.  I wouldn’t be surprised if my body was telling me time out.  Unfortunately, it oftentimes seems to take a flare-up of my stomach issues or some other health concern to remind me to slow down.  To give me permission to take an extra day off from the gym or put the never-ending chores on hold.  What happened to scheduling frequent mini mental holidays, or self-imposed timeouts?  Life.  I suppose if I would just remember to take regular breaks, my body wouldn’t rebel (and at the most inopportune times, like when the office is short-staffed).  Thankfully, there are others to pick up the slack when the going gets tough, but we only have one body.  And I, for one, need to start handling mine with care.

Do you take regular timeouts?

Something’s gotta give

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[Image credit: luigi diamanti]

This week I said yes to more things than I should have.  I’ve been trying to take care of a couple different health issues, while at the same time working full-time, serving as secretary to our association homeowners’ board of directors, attending a support group with a close acquaintance and accepting a writing opportunity that is a bit ambitious (with an even more ambitious deadline).  I’ve also been running on minimum sleep and when I came home from work yesterday, I crashed.  My half-hour  nap turned into an hour and a half snooze and I was pretty worthless the rest of the evening.  This morning I planned to hit the gym first thing as my typical MO, but I was invited out to breakfast with girlfriends and realized if I don’t take this time out — this  opportunity to slow down for a couple of hours — something is going to give.  I still feel exhausted after seven solid hours of shut-eye.  And  I could have said no to breakfast out to sleep in a tad longer.  But then I may be looking at picking up the pieces of my sanity.

Are you good at prioritizing the stuff your life is made of, or do you wait until something’s gotta give first?