I have a secret…

I have a secret that I want to share with you.

I have another blog.

It’s still me, but it’s less of a personal journal and more about my personal development journey.

As always, I’m so grateful that you took the time to read what I wrote here at mostlyfitmom. It means a lot that you invited me into your life, and I welcome you to join me over at my new website anytime.

Want to check out one of my most popular posts? Click here to read about why I think work-life balance is a myth.

Opting Out of Social Obligations and Into Authenticity

Opting Out of Obligation and Into Authenticity - mostlyfitmom.com

Last night I opted to stay home rather than attend a party for the parents of my son’s hockey team. It’s sort of a parent wind-up to the 6 months of hockey season. And then today I opted to go for a 5 mile walk – in the bright sunshine, I might add – rather than attending my son’s hockey wind-up with my husband and kids. I thought both of these choices were fantastic. I avoided social interactions that would only drain my energy while I took care of myself by getting a good night’s sleep last night and plenty of exercise today. Win-win.

After lunch today, my husband and kids headed off for an afternoon of fun activities and treats at the aforementioned hockey windup while I headed out for a solo walk. I listened to a couple of Brooke Castillo podcasts, an upbeat indie playlist on Songza, and experienced pure happiness as I basked in the warm spring sunlight. As I entered the house after my walk, the phone was ringing. It was my husband asking if I wouldn’t mind bringing a few items to the soccer centre where the wind-up was being held. No sweat. I gathered the items and headed on over.

When I dropped off the computer cable and clothing items requested, my husband suggested that I shouldn’t have posted on Facebook that he and the kids were going to the wind-up while I went out for a walk. Guess he thought it looked bad that I did what I wanted to do rather than what I should do.

Pfft. Whatever.

I have been avoiding the shoulds lately, upon the advice of my life coach, and I am much happier for it. I think everyone would be happier if they examined their expectations and discard those that don’t work for them. I believe that’s a should right there… Sorry about that.

I absolutely do not regret the choice I made to take these legs for a walk this fine spring Sunday. Further, I do not feel mom guilt over not going to this event. One of the intentions that I set for the year as a result of The Desire Map process was choosing to live an authentic life, and to me, that means opting for activities that I like, and opting out of events that I feel obligated to participate in and that create a sense of dread, not enjoyment. That doesn’t mean that opting out is necessarily the right thing in every case, but today, it was right for me.

Here’s what I thought about before declining this event:

1. Is the event about me?

In this case, absolutely not. The event is about my son as a member of his hockey team, and, to a lesser extent, my husband, as an assistant coach on the team. My son will be hanging with his friends, playing ball hockey, as will by daughter. They will not notice that I’m not there because they’re having fun. My husband, an extrovert, would probably appreciate that I’m there, but honestly would not be spending his time at the event with me anyway and really won’t miss me.

2. Do I enjoy spending time with the people involved?

I really dislike the coach of this team and want nothing to do with kissing his ass, which is what the team treasurer tends to turn the wind-ups into (this is our fourth year my son has played on this coach’s team, so I’m speaking from experience). There are a lot of great parents on this team, and while I do enjoy spending time with them in smaller groups, I’m not friends with any of them outside of hockey, and they’ll be just as happy hanging with each other with me not there. No one is missing me, and I am okay with that.

3. How do I want to spend my time and energy?

I am making a concerted effort to manage my energy in a way that maximizes it. I am an introvert, so interacting with people drains my energy. I will still choose to go to get togethers, but I am becoming increasingly selective in which events I attend. A hockey wind-up with people that I only know casually, where kids are running around, making tons of noise, and I have to celebrate a coach who I think is not particularly good, not for the fact that he volunteered – which is totally awesome and I appreciate his time – but for how great he is at developing character in the kids on the team – which, he is not great at. He has asked kids on the ice why they are smiling, because, “This is not supposed to be fun.” I want to spend my time doing something that makes me feel good.

4.What activities do I want to participate in?

I am signed up for a 10k at the beginning of May and had a 5 mile walk/run on my schedule today. With the forecast being amazing for this afternoon, I wanted to go out there and feel joy at being outside rather than choosing a time that would be cooler and simply not as fun for me. I choose something that got me outside, got me moving, brought me closer to the healthy life that I want to live, and gave me the opportunity to listen to podcasts on growing as a person. This is awesome! Attending an event where I eat junk food and make small talk is not so enlivening to me.

Hey, we all have the opportunity to make choices that make us feel good and help us achieve our goals every day. Those choices may not be in line with what other people expect, and I’m okay with with that. A little flak from my husband or acquaintances about making choices that don’t meet their expectations is worth it because I’m committed to living a life where I am happy more often.

What choices have you made that people may have not agreed with? In this vein, check out Jolene’s post on her non-traditional wedding. This could have been a decision that others didn’t support, but it sounds like she is surrounded with people who get her, and that is pretty wonderful. Kat also seems have figured out that you want to be surrounded by your people and that it’s okay to embrace the relationships that work and let go of the ones that don’t.

My Core Desired Feelings

Have you read The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte? I finished working my way through it over the weekend, with the assistance of my life coach and a group of like-minded women, and it was totally enlightening.

The premise of The Desire Map is that most of us go about setting our goals in a backwards way, by setting out what we want to accomplish, hoping that we’ll get to the feeling we want in the end. LaPorte proposes a different approach: figure out what you want to feel (a.k.a., your core desired feelings) and then establish your goals to align with those desired feelings.

The message of this book resonated with me completely because this is exactly the kind of thing I’ve been working on with my life coach (which is probably why she recommended the book). Over the past several months, I’ve been examining and shifting my thoughts, and my feelings have followed.

Using the workbook portion of The Desire Map, I worked through each area of my life, identified what was working and what wasn’t, brainstormed three core desired feelings, set out what I wanted to do, experience and have in each area of my life, and recorded four main intentions/goals for the year ahead. It took several hours of listening in on my thoughts, conversation with my life coach, and bouncing ideas off the four other women who were also working through The Desire Map. We discussed kids, joy, anger, and bangs, among other things, and really dug deep to come up with three words that would describe our core desired feelings for the year.

My three words? Abundance. Enliven. Confident.

Abundance to me is about feeling like I have enough time, money, and energy. Time for my kids, husband, family, and myself. Money to travel, have a comfortable home, no debt, choose exactly what I want to do for work without restriction, explore my interests, have freedom. Energy to exercise, explore my interests, and share with my husband and kids.

Enliven is about feeling active and vital, savouring the small things, feeling alive, being energized, feeling happiness and joy, being light, practicing gratitude and appreciation, being enough and growing toward more, being open to new things and people, feeling inspired and uplifted.

Confident is about feeling strong and powerful, not fearful, being sure of myself, owning my own opinion, owning my choices, being unswayed by others, knowing myself, making up my own mind.

Going through The Desire Map process was hard work and absolutely worth it. I feel so much more clarity about what I want to focus on over the coming months and know that I will dig through The Desire Map again.

What method do you use to set your goals? Are you familiar with The Desire Map?



A Simple Way to Show Appreciation at Work

I’ve noticed a big shift in my outlook on life the past several weeks. The sun seems brighter, I’m smiling more, and I feel greater appreciation for those around me.

A lot of the gratitude I feel flows from the work my staff does and how they are present at the office. My staff has a big part in my day-to-day life, since I spend so much of my time at work, and the fact that I work with such great people makes me happy. In short, I’ve got some fantastic team members and really could not do my job without them.

A Simple Way to Show Appreciation at Work - mostlyfitmom.com

A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated Dental Assistants Week. I wanted to do something special and personal to celebrate the work that my dental assistant does. I used a multi-pronged approach: We went out for lunch as a team, I brought my staff coffee, and everyone made a list of 10 things that they appreciate about my dental assistant and we presented the lists to her.

As my assistant opened her gift and began to read what the team had written about her, I could see her begin to glow. Her smile got wider and brighter, and she told us that the appreciation lists were the best work gift that she has ever received. Score!

Check out the worksheet I made to document our appreciation for her.

10 Things I Appreciate About - mostlyfitmom.com

I definitely think that the process of practicing gratitude as a team was a worthwhile one. I’ve often read that people feel unappreciated at work and will leave jobs for that simple reason. Not only do I want to avoid turnover, but I also want to encourage the people around me to recognize each other for the work that they do in order to create a more harmonious, happier place to spend our days.

In what way are you recognized for the work you do?

8 Ways to Get Happy

It’s the end of a long and satisfying work day. I am exhausted and my eyes are dry and blurry, but I wanted to take a few minutes to myself to sort through my day and my feelings.

8 Ways to Get Happy - mostlyfitmom.comThe past few weeks, I’ve been happier. I’ve had some days where I was in the most amazing mood all day, I’ve been feeling cheerful and smiling more, I am having an easier time getting out of the bed in the morning, and I’m not eating junk food nearly as much. I’ve been working out more consistently, spending more time with my kids, and more pleasant with my husband.

I was thinking about what changes I’ve made over the past several months to lead me to this place of growing contentment and I can pinpoint several habits I’ve adopted that have made huge difference in my level of happiness.

1. I started working with a life coach. Working with her has been incredibly enlightening. I’ve worked through stuff from my childhood, started to tune into my thoughts (which were not self-loving in any way), started to shift my thoughts, took steps to move away from feeling overwhelmed all the time, and started dealing with the poor financial situation I’ve found myself in due to my business not growing the way it was originally planned to. I have moved away from ruminating on problems and complaints to accepting what is and looking for possible solution.

2. I practice gratitude daily. My life coach encouraged me to end my day by taking the time as I was lying down for bed to mentally run through what I appreciated from my day. That was good, and I stepped it up a couple of weeks ago to keeping a daily gratitude journal. I use it at night and write down everything I can think of that I am grateful for from the day. As an extra bonus, if someone has ticked me off during the day or I’ve felt frustrated about something, I try to look for what I appreciate about that person or situation. For example, after a day of fighting with my daughter, I will note that I appreciate her fierce spirit.

3. I’ve been eating the frog. Some tasks you dread so much that they create a knot deep in the pit of your stomach and seem to grow over time. I decided that instead of procrastinating when dealing with those unpleasant tasks, I would tackle them first thing. I’m not always successful. Sometimes my desire to avoid the unpleasant feeling of doing the tasks wins out, but increasingly, I eat the frog and feel that knot unwind, leaving me higher in energy and lighter in spirit.

4. I set my three most important tasks for the day and don’t stress out about the rest. This has been particularly challenging for me, as I have a habit of overestimating what I can accomplish in a day. I would make a long to-do list and then beat myself up for failing to check all of the items off my list. This would negatively affect my energy so that it was even harder to be productive. Once I started scaling back my expectations, my load lightened. When I completed my three tasks, I felt good about myself, and if I didn’t complete my three tasks, I started to use that opportunity to analyze which goals were really important to me and what my priorities actually were vs. what I said they were.

Calendar and phone5. I strive to be curious. When I’m feeling low energy or a negative emotion, I really try to zone in on my underlying thoughts, without judging them or trying to change them. I’ve often been surprised at the internal dialogue going on, and at how often it was negative. That growing awareness has often been enough for me to start to think differently about myself and what I’m experiencing, and in general, my thoughts have become more positive.

6. I’ve been meditating daily. I started using the Calm app on my iPhone, often before bed or before work in the morning. It really helps me let go of my stressful feelings and the related tension in my body. When I meditate in the morning, I find that I enter my day with greater calm and a brighter outlook.

7. I’ve been practicing yoga regularly. At times, I practice daily. At minimum, I practice a few times a week. Not only am a noticing an improvement in my balance, but also I am enjoying the time I am spending to take care of myself. My back feels freer, my mind calmer, and I really appreciate that I am taking better care of my body so that I can be more active.

8. I’ve simplified meals. Much as I love meal planning and believe in the value of it, I’ve been finding it a struggle lately. Often, I would plan the week but not make it to the grocery store, so then the plan would get scrapped and we’d be scrambling at dinner time. Sometimes I would plan and shop and then find I didn’t want to cook or was short on time to make what I had laid out. In addition, my expectations in terms of home-cooked, healthy meals were high – too high. I decided to let go of the expectations, buy more pre-chopped and packaged veggies, rely on deli chickens more, stock up on easy (though not always super-healthy freezer items), and roll with it when our time was tight or we didn’t feel like making a big meal. It’s been a relief and seems to be working for me right now.

What habits do you practice to make your life better?

Practicing Gratitude: My Wicked Good Day

Practicing Gratitude My Wicked Good Day - mostlyfitmom.comIt can be hard sometimes to feel good about your life. So often we focus on the problems and the negatives and neglect to recognize our accomplishments and the sweet moments found in day-to-day living.

Today, for me, was so not one of those days.

Today was wicked good. I’m not sure how it happened and I consider it an amazing accomplishment resulting from working with my life coach for several months. Here’s why today rocked.

  • I listened to an energizing guided meditation from calm.com on the way to work today and I made it to work without swearing at another driver.
  • It’s Dental Assistants Week, so I stopped at Starbucks and got coffee for my staff, and a grande flat white for myself – totally my favourite.
  • The Starbucks staff was totally awesome. The guy taking orders even remembered the order of the guy two spots ahead of me in line. Good customer service.
  • The barista created some latte art on the surface of my flat white. So pretty. Wish I had a snap.
  • At work, all of my patients were early so we ran ahead of schedule all morning. Pretty sweet. And the patients were all great.
  • The crown I cemented on a patient fit perfectly and we got it on in a snap. I called the dental lab we worked with to thank them for their fantastic work 🙂
  • I took my staff out for lunch for Dental Assistants Week. The conversation was great and the food was delicious.
  • Yesterday, it was minus thirty-something with the wind chill and my vehicle barely started despite being plugged in. Today, it rose to -2 (-8 with the wind chill) and it started melting. Beautiful.
  • After lunch, we presented my dental assistant with lists of 10 things that we each appreciate about her during our team meeting. She said it was the best gift she ever got at work.
  • I finished a task I really dislike doing at work today.
  • I was able to get to a hot yoga class today and I really enjoyed the instructor who guided the class.
  • After hot yoga, I enjoyed the cool breeze and the sun on my face.Hot Yoga Face
  • I had leftovers in the fridge and didn’t have to cook supper.
  • I took a hot bath while listening to the Barefoot Beach Chill playlist on Songza. It fit my mood perfectly.
  • My daughter helped out around the house while my husband took our son to hockey practice.
  • I had time to clean up around the house so that my husband didn’t have to. Our cleaner comes tomorrow and we always pick up so that she can focus on cleaning rather than tidying.
  • I started reading The Desire Map by Danielle Laporte and it totally resonated with me.
  • It’s before 9:30pm and I am winding down for the night.

How was your day? Take a few moments and run through the best parts of your day, feeling appreciation and gratitude for the good moments and the people who made your day better. You’ll feel happier. I promise.

40 Weeks to 40: 3 Simple Steps for Easy Decluttering (How I Got Rid of 40 Items in Less Than 10 Minutes)

3 Simple Steps for Easy Decluttering - mostlyfitmom.comI have too much STUFF. Papers on my table, old shoes in my mud room, decorative items that I tolerate but don’t love on my shelves… Clutter leads to stress and increased cortisol levels, so why not make the choice to become happier and less stressed by clearing those items you don’t love out of your life? Simplify in a few easy steps.

1. Set a decluttering goal. Start with something easy. 5 items, 10 items, 25 items, or whatever magical number suits your fancy. In keeping with my “40” theme, I set myself of goal of finding 40 items to delete from my environment.

2. Set a time limit. If you know you have a limited time to work with, you’ll usually be more efficient and just get ‘er done. I set a timer for 10 minutes and began. I basically went from room to room, looking for areas in my house where stuff piles up and stealing things from those hot spots. In about 7 minutes, I had found the 40 items I was looking for.

Labeled Items Decluttered3. Decide what you’ll do with the items. If it’s broken or plainly garbage, then toss it. Clothing, shoes, or books can often be donated or given away to friends, while expired drugs can be taken to the pharmacy for proper disposal. If you’re into garage sales or eBay, consider selling your goods and making a little cash. In my case, a few items will be placed in the garbage or recycled, the clothing and household items will be donated, the expired meds will be taken to Shoppers Drug Mart, and I’ll check with my friends to see who wants my books.

Forty items are a start, but I know that over the next several months, I have a lot more to let go of. Decluttering is a habit that can be cultivated. It can be difficult to do, though, because the items tucked away in your junk drawer or in the basement storage room require that you make a decision about them, and that can be tough, especially if you’re sentimental and items serve a physical reminders of people, places, and events.

Does decluttering make you happy? Do you struggle with clutter or is everything in its place in your home?

40 Weeks to 40: 40 Day Gratitude Challenge

Forty Day Gratitude Challenge - mostlyfitmom.comI try to practice being grateful every day, right before bed, but I have to admit that I’ve been slacking lately. No big deal, right?

I disagree. Let me say that again: I DISAGREE.

I think it IS a big deal.

When I first started working with my life coach last fall, one of the first suggestions she made was that I start making a mental list of what I was grateful for every night before bed as I prepared to sleep. She told me that this subtle shift would have a huge impact on my life because it’s not possible to feel bad when you are feeling gratitude, except she said it much more eloquently. I may have inwardly rolled my eyes, because it sounded hippy-dippy to me, but darned if she wasn’t right – as she is about many things.

I also started sitting with my kids at bedtime and had them start to list a thing or two from their day that they were grateful for. It’s interesting to see how my son, who’s pretty relaxed and chill, will usually have no problem listing a few things from his day that were awesome, why my daughter, who is prone to anxiety, will jump around to the things that made her unhappy during the day, even as I encourage her focus on the parts of her day that she enjoyed. Hmmm, that seemed to be significant. Maybe there is something to this gratitude habit that can lead to more life satisfaction.

There’s research to support that gratitude and happiness are linked, and since I’m on a quest to make the next 40 weeks as awesome as possible, it’s a fantastic time for me to get back to practicing gratitude at the end of my day.

Guidelines for Gratitude

It can be hard, particularly if you’ve had a rough day, to come up with things that you feel wonderful about, that you’re truly grateful for. When I ask my kids about their day, I have a few simple prompts to help them get rolling.

  1. What friend were you grateful for having today?
  2. What food were you grateful for having today?
  3. What was your favourite part of today?
  4. What was your favourite activity today?

When I reflect on my day, I ask myself a few questions, too.

  1. Who was I grateful to have in my life today?
  2. What made me happy today?
  3. What situation did I get through and learn from today?
  4. What was the best part of my day?
  5. How did I love my body today?

I’m setting myself a challenge to not only practice gratitude, but also to write down what I am grateful for for the next 40 days.

Do you keep a journal or otherwise deliberately practice being grateful? Do you think gratitude is linked to happiness?

Interested in joining the 40 day gratitude challenge? Don’t be shy! Leave a comment below.

The Ultimate Energy-Boosting Playlist

The Ultimate Energy-Boosting Playlist - mostlyfitmom.comI love chocolate. Really, really, a lot. But if I eat too much, my blood sugar will crash and my stomach gets upset and I start to feel blah. Before long, the guilt for eating all those calories kicks in and I feel terrible.

The beautiful thing about music is that I can indulge – indeed, overindulge – without all of the negative consequences. Oh sure, I might get sick of that Taylor Swift song if I play over and over and over, but music is almost magical in its ability to uplift me. Not happy about doing the dishes? I can crank up the tunes and bop while up to my elbows in the sink. Feeling low energy and avoiding that workout? Let’s turn up the Bose. It’s almost impossible to not move.

A girl’s gotta have a go-to playlist to get the blood pumping and to put a spring in her step when she’s in a slump. Feeling down in the dumps because it’s minus 33 with the windchill and still dark outside at 7:30am? Turn up the volume on these songs that you can sing to, dance to, face the day to. Without any guilt at all.

Boost Playlist

7 Ways to Fight the Winter Blues

7 Ways to Fight the Winter BluesThis winter thing is getting me a little down. It’s currently -30 (Celsius) with the wind chill here in Saskatoon and there is no end to winter in sight. Six weeks left of winter? I wish it were only six more weeks that I were facing. Last year we had snow until May, and I know from almost 40 years of living in this province that I can expect winter to extend until at least the Easter weekend.

Cold temps and short days are leaving me bereft of energy. This week, I was in bed before 10pm on more than one occasion and racked up multiple 9-hour-plus nights of sleep. I’m feeling good this weekend, which is fantastic, but I find February one of the hardest months from a mood perspective, so I know that I need to seek energy to feel happier this month.

7 Ways to Fight the Winter Blues

  1. Get a cardio workout. I am really enjoying my home yoga practice and I am getting back into lifting weights, but I find that a cardiovascular workout boosts my mood more than any other kind of physical activity. I am committing to a minimum of three cardio workouts per week to get and stay happier this February.
  2. Tropical dreaming. I may not be heading to a sunny beach any time soon, but I can imagine that I’m there. I’m lining up movies set in warm and sunny locales to keep those winter blues away. My movie list is based pretty much entirely on where the movie is set rather than on whether or not I think it’s a good movie, or even a fun movie to watch (I’m referring especially to Eat Pray Love). It’s entirely about beach views and sunny skies.  I’m thinking of Blue Crush, The Descendants, 50 First Dates, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Just Go With It, Cocktail, Six Days Seven Nights, Fool’s Gold, Castaway, Couples Retreat, Eat Pray Love, Jaws, Pearl Harbor, Into the Blue, The Talented Mr. Ripley.
  3. Open the blinds. Let’s be serious. I am not going for a quick walk around the block when the wind chill is making it crazy cold. I know that it’s recommended that you get outside and expose yourself to natural light to boost your mood, even in the winter, but I don’t think that the people who published that research live where I live. And even if they do, there’s nothing like the idea of heading out into the bitter cold to make me want to curl up under a blanket on the couch. But I can open my blinds and let the light in. The good thing about really cold weather is that it’s usually accompanied by clear skies, meaning that it’s sunny a lot.
  4. Get enough sleep. Not getting enough shut-eye is a surefire way to feel sluggish and cranky, not to mention the fact that it affects your body’s ability to fight off the fun viruses that seem to be floating around at this time of year. I’m doing myself a favour and promising that I will get at least eight hours per night, which means being in bed by 10:30pm most nights. It’s not always easy, especially since my daughter has been fighting bedtime lately, but it is important.
  5. Stay hydrated. It tends to be easier said than done during these dry, winter months, but dehydration and fatigue are linked, so it’s probably time for me to bring a water bottle to the office. I find it easier to sip all day when I’m at home on the weekends, with water and herbal teas my drinks of choice. Tea has the additional benefit of warming me up from the inside. It’s like giving myself a hug.
  6. Listen to music. Blasting some tunes is pretty much a guaranteed way for me to get happier, and research shows that I’m not alone in that response to music. Whether it’s an energy boosting playlist from Songza or a playlist of my own creation, music gets me smiling and dancing and, embarrassingly enough, singing.
  7. Declutter. As I look around my house, I see that clutter has accumulated on nearly every available space, and it does nothing to increase my energy level. At the same time, the idea of decluttering the whole house is overwhelming, which is also a big energy suck. Why not make it easier and commit to something more manageable, like 15 minutes of decluttering daily?

What do you do to boost your mood during the winter months?