Glorious Fall: A Bucket List

Glorious Fall A Bucket List

Cool mornings, colourful leaves, shorter days. Summer is fading, and fall is coming into its glory.

This year, forget about the coming of winter. Be fierce in savouring the pleasures of autumn. Revel in what brings you comfort as the air turns crisp. Bundle yourself in your coziest sweaters and blankets, wrap your hands around a warm mug of tea, turn on the oven and bake some fall treats. It’s the perfect time to ward off the chill and snuggle into whatever warms you up.

Need a few more ideas for making the most of fall? I have some suggestions:

Do you have any fall traditions that you think everyone else should adopt? Is fall your favourite season? 

20 Simple Pleasures

Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that are the most satisfying. Like right now. I have the house to myself, I’m watching a movie that I chose to watch without having to compromise with anyone else in order to watch it, and I have a stash of Kit Kats and Twizzlers that I don’t have to share with anyone.

Life can be sweet when you choose to notice the little things that bring you joy. Today, as you move through life, make a point of noticing the simple moments that lift your heart. Here are a few ideas to get you going.

20 Simple Pleasures

  1. Waking up on Monday and realizing it’s a long weekend
  2. Beads of condensation forming on the sides of a cold drink on a hot, summer day
  3. Climbing into a bed with fresh sheets
  4. A quiet backyard on a windless morning
  5. Lying in the sun on the living room carpet
  6. A hotel room to myself
  7. Finding the chocolate bar you had hidden away and had forgotten about
  8. The cotton candy-pink clouds of a prairie sunset
  9. Your kids finally being old enough to read the books you loved when you were younger
  10. A clean table
  11. Staying in the tub so long that your toes turn wrinkly
  12. Waking up before the alarm goes off
  13. Getting into your own bed for the first time after being on vacation for a couple of weeks
  14. Your kids telling you that you’re the best mom ever
  15. Eating the first cookie off the cookie sheet when it’s still warm from the oven
  16. Taking off your shoes and especially socks after a long, hot day at an amusement park
  17. Coming across your must-watch-if-it’s-on rom com when you’re flipping through the channels (e.g., The American President) and there’s nothing good on
  18. Slipping your feet into the water after crossing the scorching sand of the beach
  19. Realizing that you have 20 bucks tucked away in your nightstand and can use that to pay for delivery

What’s on your list of joyful things?




5 Ways to Let Go of Feelings

I got angry this week. A person who had been a friend of mine, and then became an employee of mine, quit without notice and did so in a way that severed our friendship. While she said in her resignation e-mail that she didn’t want hard feelings, she turned quitting into a personal issue and made several comments that attacked me personally, ensuring that there would be no chance for any further relationship.

I’m still dealing with my thoughts and feeling around the situation, but I’m generally feeling good about it. In fact, one feeling stands out to me: relief.

I was trying to gracefully back out of the friendship I had started with this person because I had come to the realization that she was an energy vampire. Being with her inevitably left me feeling drained. Conversations had devolved into one-sided sessions of streaming complaints coming from her. The negativity went on and on and on. Team members approached me about her attitude and how her extensive complaints about her home life were inappropriate in the work place and her behaviour was making work an unpleasant place to be. Not cool.

I was severely limiting the amount of time we spent communicating outside of the office. Gone were the days where we went to yoga classes together. She and her family were no longer invited to my home for get togethers. I was shutting down the friendship because it wasn’t working for me.

I wasn’t really feeling good about that, despite several conversations with my life coach about letting this friend go for my well-being. I had the idea that you should stand by your friends, no matter what. I can see, though, that this thought isn’t serving me well here. When your “friends” are bringing you down, making your relationship all about their issues, and don’t listen to or value what you have to say, well…it’s time to disentangle yourself from the relationship and make room for people who are good for – and to – you. And, really, if all someone is doing is making you a dumping ground for their problems, without caring about your feelings and without ever listening to what you have to say, then is that person really a friend?

Shaking it Off

I find myself in a place where I haven’t quite been able to let it go. My anger has mostly subsided, but my sense of resentment lingers. Really, the only person this feeling is hurting is me, and I’ve had enough of that.

I’ve got a few ideas on how to shake off this incident once and for all.

5 Ways to Let Go of Feelings -

1. Write a letter.

Part of my frustration with the whole incident is that I didn’t really get to share my thoughts. She vented in her e-mails, dumped out her feelings, and I took the high road and didn’t stoop to her level.

It was the right thing to do, but sometimes, don’t you just want to rub someone’s face in it? Make them listen to your point of view? Vent your own frustrations? It may not be very “high road,” but it is how I feel.

I decided that the best thing to do would be to take pen to paper and get it all out. Every counterpoint, every objection to the accusations she made, every nasty thought.

And then burn it. Release.

2. Really feel the feelings.

When I was first dealing with this situation, I moved really quickly to thinking my way through it and feeling better about it. I cultivated appreciation for the situation and for the person who was creating drama in my world. I was able to spin my thoughts to help dissipate my anger, but I didn’t take the time to really experience being mad.

Sometimes, you need to sit down and just roll around in the muck of your feelings. Feel the anger burn, feel the resentment eating away, feel the guilt and shame that the accusations bring up. Don’t try to avoid them. Just feel them. See if you can feel even worse. Know you can survive them.

And then you can let them go.

3. Practice yoga and meditate.

I’ve been practicing yoga quite regularly since December, and started meditating over the past month and a half. I consider them part of my self-care, and yet, this past week, I haven’t been taking care of myself as much. I suspect that it relates to the dip in my mental well-being that has arisen as a result of dealing with ending this relationship.

Now, it’s time to really show myself how much I care. Stuff happens, for sure, but it’s important to treat myself with kindness, and yoga and meditation are key.

4. Accept that it takes time.

Sometimes, it takes time to fully process your emotions. That’s not a bad thing. It simply…is. And that’s okay. Fighting against what you’re feeling and thinking isn’t going to get you to that place of letting go any faster. Recognize your feelings without judgement. One day, you will be able to fully let go.

5. Practice gratitude.

If you can see the good in an uncomfortable situation, you’re one step closer to feeling good about it. Take a few moments to write down what you appreciate about the situation you’ve found yourself in and, if you want to be a superstar, what you appreciate about the person who triggered your emotions. What’s there to appreciate in a kinda crappy situation? You’ve probably learned about yourself, about the other person involved, and about what changes you can make in your life to experience more happiness. It may be a stretch at first, but soon, it’ll get easier. It’s a practice.

What do you do to let go of things?

Anger + Appreciation = Joy

Anger +  Appreciation = Joy -

Last night, one of my employees quit. It was Sunday. She sent an e-mail. AN E-MAIL. At 8pm. The kicker is that she was a friend and is married to my cousin.

The quitting process started Friday evening, when she sent me an e-mail at 5pm about her view on her position in the office, and it was pretty negative. I finish work at 3:30pm on Friday and consider my weekends a work-free zone, but apparently I had not made that clear enough (I have an issue with establishing boundaries).

I thought it was best to call her back and discuss, because I don’t believe that work discussions of this nature should be conducted via e-mail, and it was not a great discussion. Apparently, I am the sole cause of the issues she’s having and there is no sense from her that she has any part in how she’s doing.

She definitely got personal with her comments, so it was a difficult conversation. I really tried to keep my cool, owned the behaviours that were causing her distress, and laid out what I saw as the issues. A lot of the issues were caused by the fact that I had avoided dealing with her performance issues sooner and I had failed to set boundaries about bringing negativity into the office. I could have got personal, too, but went with the high road, though I could have been more graceful in how I handled a couple of the issues we’ve had with her attitude and behaviour.

Sunday, I spent a couple of hours preparing to do a formal performance evaluation with her. I laid out the steps I would be taking to address what she saw as deficiencies on my part, set up for a discussion of expectations, and had a plan to improve her performance. I finished the work feeling really good about the situation, and had come to appreciate that she had come forward – even by e-mail – so that it clarified all of the issues surrounding her work at the office.

Then, the Sunday night e-mail.

Again, her e-mail got personal. I will admit that I was felt angry, defensive, and disappointed.

Since then, I’ve talked to my husband and my other staff members and got their perspectives, and it has been so enlightening. I was able to turn this situation around in my head completely and, instead of seeing it as a negative one, I am seeing it as a good one. Really.

Here’s what I learned from this situation:

1. Avoid hiring family and friends (actually, I knew this one, but ignored it)

Honestly, I had reservations about this from the beginning. Yes, I didn’t know her that well, so it wasn’t like working with your aunt or something, but I already have trouble providing feedback to employees, and it becomes even harder when it’s someone you know from outside. Next time, I can listen to that little voice saying, “Don’t do it!”

2. Learning how to set boundaries is important

I have a tendency to let issues go too far and then close myself off and avoid people to deal. By establishing boundaries and being clear up front, I can catch issues early, I could avoid the discomfort I experience when someone breaches my boundaries, and there would be some feelings spared in the long run.

3. Sorting through my thoughts and changing them can totally change my feelings

Like I said, I was feeling angry, defensive, and disappointed after I received the email announcing that my employee quit. Thoughts were coming up, like, “I’m a bad boss, ” “I am a bad friend,” “I should have done something different to prevent this,” and “I am a terrible communicator.” And, you know what, I took a look at those thoughts, recognized that they were not truth, and came up with some new ones. “I am a pretty good boss and recognize that I have areas in which I can develop.” “I want friends who understand I have boundaries and honour them. ” “I did the best I could to help this employee be a functioning employee. Her thoughts and feelings are not in my control and are her responsibility, not mine.” “I am excellent at written communication and am developing more grace in my face-to-face communications.” These more positive thoughts totally shifted my feelings. Heck, I even hit joy, because I was able to realize just how far I’ve come in dealing with problems.

4. By focusing on my feelings of appreciation for someone, I can move from anger to full-out happy

I stewed a bit in my feelings of anger and defensiveness, and then I started to practice gratitude. I could appreciate the work that this person has done in the time she’s been in my office. I could appreciate that being in this situation reinforced that boundary-setting and avoidance are really important areas for me in which to develop, and this was totally in keeping with The Desire Map process. I could appreciate that, in leaving our team, the employee freed up a spot for someone who is a fantastic fit for our office. I could appreciate that I have reached a point where I could coach myself through a difficult situation and actually feel joy. I could appreciate that I could look at how this person behaved, identify how she projected her thoughts and feelings onto me, and not feel responsible for those thoughts and feelings. THIS WAS AWESOME!!!

5. Other people’s problems are just that: their own

I am responsible for what I think and feel. Other people can blame me for their thoughts and feelings all they want, but they choose to feel what they feel and think what they think, and that is within their sphere of responsibility. And if they are insecure (I am, too), they can try to take those feeling and project them onto me, but that doesn’t make them truth. I still care about other people, and I still care about their feelings, but I am not taking responsibility for them.

I have a touch of underlying bitterness, which is clear from this post, but, man, am I ever in a better space about this now than I was right after I read the quitting e-mail. A touch of bitterness is something that I can work through, and it’s a whole lot better than the level of anger I was at before.

How are you with setting boundaries? Have you ever had to give or receive negative feedback at work?

Opting Out of Social Obligations and Into Authenticity

Opting Out of Obligation and Into Authenticity -

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.

Spring Bucket List

It’s the first day of spring and there is fresh snow on the ground. I do live in Saskatchewan, after all. Snow is not a surprise. True spring, with trees budding and bulbs poking through the earth, will arrive in May in these parts.

Though cool weather is still my reality, I want to embrace the spirit of invigoration that comes with the season and really LIVE this spring. Here’s how I’m making invigoration a reality.

Spring Bucket List -

1. Clean and organize a single drawer. The idea of spring cleaning my whole house is overwhelming to me for some reason, and that’s not the feeling I want, so I’m picking an easy win and targeting a single drawer.

2. Download ten new songs and create a new life soundtrack to celebrate this season of renewal.

3. Eat an Easter Creme Egg or some Mini Eggs.

4. Sweep off the front step and put away the winter mat.

5. Buy some tulips, for at home and at the office.

6. Bake a lemon meringue pie and enjoy sharing and eating it.

7. Go for a walk. Throw on some splash pants if need be.

8. Roast a bunch of asparagus. I like use olive oil, salt, and pepper and finish it off with a touch of balsamic vinegar.

9. Pour yourself a glass of sparkling water and add a slice of lime or lemon.

10. Practice a sun salutation or two (or ten, or one hundred and eight).

11. Enjoy a pretty sunset.

12. Whip up a batch of white sangria.

Do you have any spring traditions? What are you itching to do now that the days are getting longer and warmer?

Blog Posts for a Fabulous Weekend

It’s Friday evening, the start of a few days off, the punctuation at the end of the work week, the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s the perfect time to set yourself up for some rest and rejuvenation over the next couple of days.

Need some inspiration to get your weekend off to a great start? Look no further.

After a long week, it’s easy to feel rundown and low energy. From Marie Forleo, what to do when you doubt everything and just wanna stay in bed.

Easy hair is imperative on your days off. Try a subtle twist into a side braid from Cute Girl Hairstyles. I didn’t get it quite right on my first try, but I did on my second, and got lots of compliments on it at the hockey rink last weekend.

After hunching over at work for hours and hours, a good stretch can be just the thing. Try these three yoga postures for rounded shoulders from the Peanut Butter Runner (and now I have peanut butter cups on the brain).

Saturday is the perfect day to get your body moving after a good night’s sleep Friday night. Not eager to workout? Check out what Tara Bliss tells herself when she doesn’t want to move her body and galvanize yourself to get physical.

Wanna tackle some of that clutter? Check out the biggest decluttering mistake you don’t know you’re making from My Love for Words and tweak your approach to make it even more effective. If you need a little more inspiration, check out my three simple steps for easy decluttering.

I’d love to know about any posts you found particularly inspiring or uplifting this week. How are you taking care of yourself this weekend?

Not Another Bucket List: A Guide to a Weekend of Living

Palm TreesIt’s a long weekend here in Saskatchewan, which doesn’t make much of a difference to me since I usually don’t work Mondays anyway, except that my kids will be home from school on Monday – all of next week, in fact – and so I have the opportunity that day to plan some family time. (I have to say, though, that I cherish my solitude on Mondays, so it was a deliberate shift in mindset to see it as an opportunity rather than as a drag to give up me time for family time. I insist that that does not make me a bad mom, just someone who values her alone time.) It is Family Day, after all.

It’s Friday night and I want to really dig in and enjoy the weekend, so I thought I’d take a few moments to set out what I want to feel this weekend and what I want to do this weekend to get there.

How do I want to feel? I want to feel calm and refreshed this weekend. The refreshed may not happen immediately, but that’s what I’m working toward.

How do I get there?

Do things that bring me joy

  1. practice yoga (in a quiet space, not with my family running around)
  2. reading (but not too much, otherwise I start to feel sluggish)
  3. drink some yummy tea
  4. light candles
  5. take a hot bath
  6. listen to music that matches the mood I want to embrace
  7. drink cold water with fruit in it (it feels like I’m at an upscale hotel)
  8. eat some good chocolate
  9. bake cookies
  10. write
  11. watch a fun movie
  12. take a nap
  13. listen to my body and mind and choose what feels right

Do things that will help me move forward in my life

  1. spend time working through the Positive Parenting Solutions course
  2. match up my work VISA receipts to the VISA statements
  3. lift weights
  4. cardio (ride the stationary bike)
  5. review our spending for the week
  6. spend time daily decluttering
  7. review my 2015 non-resolutions

Practice some healthy habits

  1. eat breakfast mindfully
  2. get my workout in first thing
  3. set my daily most important tasks
  4. designate several hours to unplug completely (no computer, no cell phone, no TV)

Spend time with my family

  1. watch a movie with my husband
  2. learn a card game together
  3. play a board game
  4. read to the kids before bed
  5. take each kid out for a meal or “coffee”
  6. bake together
  7. prepare a meal together
  8. go out to eat a meal together

Prepare for the week ahead

  1. do some laundry
  2. meal plan and grocery list
  3. plan my workouts
  4. go through some of the life coaching-type worksheets I’ve found
  5. set aside healthy snacks for at work

This is not a weekend bucket list or to-do list. Rather, it’s a set of activities to guide me to the feelings of calm and refreshed that I am intending for myself. It’s a collection of activities that I’ve mentally accumulated over the years that are best practices for living a good life.

What do you do to you enjoy your weekends to the fullest?

Practicing Workout Consistency

Practice Workout Consistency - mostlyfitmom.comYesterday was a low energy day. I woke up early, got my workout gear on, wrapped myself in blankets, and sat on the couch until everyone else got up hours later. I watched TV until it was too late to do anything else and took my daughter to hockey practice. After a quick lunch courtesy of a stop at Safeway, I just kept eating even though I wasn’t hungry, until I realized what I really was was tired and looking for energy. I laid down for a nap and drifted in and out of sleep, occasionally woken by my kids checking in on me and the noises they made downstairs. I awoke feeling only marginally more rested and even more sluggish. Again I looked to snacks for a boost and it didn’t work. The end result was that I ended up feeling ashamed of my lack of will power, because I knew exactly what I was doing as I was mindlessly directing Date and Walnut Mini Crisps into my mouth.

I had to snap out of it. I followed my own advice and got ready to work out. Redemption would be in the form of the stationary bike followed by yoga. I turned away from the TV, cranked some music to get into the mood, got back into my workout gear,  filled my water bottle, and got my sweat on. It didn’t hurt that I got to watch the new episode of The Walking Dead that I’ve been waiting for since last year while I pedaled.

I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again: consistency is a struggle for me and it’s totally mental. Mental, as in crazy that I can recognize my consistency struggle and still struggle so much, and mental, as in it’s all about my mindset.

Changing my mindset is possible. I know that. I have done it in other areas of my life, so why not with my energy levels and workouts? Over the remaining weeks of winter, when I know that my energy levels will need a little help, I am going to consciously shift my thoughts from, “I’m so tired and don’t have any energy” to “Moving my body gives me energy” and “Listening to music gives me a boost.”