Making Time for Your Priorities: 6 questions to ask yourself

What are the things that are most important to you? What are the things in life that you wish you had more time for? Life is so full of the push and pull to do various things, that finding balance amongst all of these, is one of the challenges we all face. I used to look at people who were retired, or didn’t work for one reason or another, and thought they must have it made. They have all the time they need to do whatever they want. As I have paid more attention to this perceived abundance of theirs; it seems not having a job does not mean that there is plenty of time to do it all. These people are still very busy and vocalize having a lot on their plate to get accomplished.

So, I had a couple thoughts about priorities during a meditation this week.

The other morning, as I sat in meditation and my husband scurried around cleaning up the kitchen, it struck me that we make time for the things that are priorities in our life. If we feel that there is no time for our priorities, we need to take a look at our life and see how we are really spending our time. What things have crept into our life that are not priorities, but we just treat them as if they are? I am blessed to have a husband who shares the household duties with me.  He never suggests that I am not carrying my fair share of the load or that I should be doing more and this helps allow for more time. Working a full-time job, that often requires more than full time hours and almost weekly travel, makes the time to pursue things like blogging, planning retreats, offering classes, sharing inspiration, and my own personal development quite sparse. I have changed things in my life to be able to have time for the things I feel are priorities. Here are some things to ask yourself. I have and continue to reevaluate these as life marches on.

  1. Where does time go? By looking at how we spend time, it is possible to find some extra space in the day to do more. Things that steal time for me are playing games on my phone, procrastination (where I stay busy to avoid something else) and the occasionally TV binge.
  2. Is it really important? About 25 years ago, I made a conscious decision that the TV would not be in the main room of the house. When there it steals our time. It is easy to fall into the trap of coming home and plunking down in front of it. Don’t get me wrong; there are a lot of really great things to watch on TV. Just be mindful about what you are watching and how much of your time it is truly taking. Is it really the priority? Our Tv (at home) is in a family room in the basement. So that it is not in the center of attention when meals and conversations are had.
  3. Is there another way to accomplish it? We all know that living in a sanitary way is important for health. I am not a germaphobe and my house does not have to be perfect, but It does need to be tidy. Also, according to Feng Shui, a cluttered environment causes a cluttered mind. Your space needs to be a priority, but maybe you make a chore list to share with others in your house? Can you hire a housekeeper? Are there efficiencies you can add like cleaning the shower as you get out of it in the morning once a week? We have worked out a trade deal with one daughter so she comes and cleans our house in exchange for us helping her with things she needs. Be creative!
  4. Is there times when you can multitask? I love audio books! I listen to them while I commute, exercise, cook, etc. It is a nice way to fit in some learning or self development while doing other things that I have to accomplish anyway.
  5. Could you start your day differently? I am a morning person and getting up early to get things done, before the demands for the day start closing in, works well for me. Even if you are not a morning person, is there a way you can make a morning routine more supportive of the things you want to be priorities in your life? I recently started daily meditation again as well as another 40 day yoga practice. I have found that if I get up a little earlier in the morning I have time to meditate, do my yoga, and often even blog, before I have to go to work. Having this routine has been very positive for me feeling more centered and finding balance in my life.
  6. Check your attitude. How is your mood or your tude? In March, I had a tough month. I couldn’t seem to find the energy or desire to blog or commit to other healthy habits. I was eating poorly, vegging out in front of the TV, and I was uncharacteristically crabby. Then I started “shoulding” all over myself, which made it worse. I felt guilty for the choices I was making but yet I seemed incapable of changing them that month. On April 1st, I decided enough was enough. I made intentional changes to take control of my life again. I got my diet back into check, stopped the sugar and restarted intermittent fasting. I stopped zoning out in front of the TV. I started the daily meditation and the 40 day yoga practice. My mood shifted the first day. It is very empowering to take control of your life.

I hope these questions will help you to make your priorities, priorities. Remember that you are a priority and not to give all of yourself away. You need to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, so that you will have what you need to be there for the others you hold dear.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May your priorities fall into place, as if by magic.

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21 Days Without Complaining: I Am Gratitude.

During this morning’s meditation, Deepak told me that my true self sees only gratitude. This got me thinking. How would this view change the world if we saw only gratitude in all situations? Along this line of thought, Adventure Sister Emy recently inspired me. After a March where I just couldn’t seem to get going, Emy inspired me to use April to refocus on myself. By going back to all the healthy initiatives that I had been working so hard on recently. Daily meditation, avoiding refined sugar, financial wellness, 40 day yoga practice, and 21 days without complaining. Then it hit me! How does gratitude change these things?

Of all of the health initiatives listed above; the 21 days without complaining has been the hardest for me. I believe what you think about you bring about. So it makes sense that if I was focusing on not complaining what I was actually attracting was more and more complaining. What if, instead of 21 days complaint free, I work on 21 days of gratitude? When a situation arises that I may be tempted to complain about, I will instead look for something within it to be grateful for. Find the underlying blessing or lesson in each situation. This is not a new idea or concept, just a new way to focus on my life, in order to live it to the best of my ability. To be the best person I know how to be. I do not want to be that person who drones on and on about things I am not pleased with. I want to be grateful.

Last night, I once again placed my purple bracelet on my wrist. This morning is day number 2! I will flow through the next 21 days with gratitude in my heart. I will change the way I see the world. I will know that life loves and supports me while I love and support others. I will know that when something or someone pushes my buttons; there is always something to be grateful for. Noticing these opportunities to embrace my deep and true nature, will propel me forward to success in this endeavor.

Many of you have reached out to me to let me know you would join me on the 21 day adventure to a more positive mind set.  Are you still with me? What success have you had? What things helped you stay the course and get you to new days without moving your bracelet? For those of you that are new to this adventure, please click on the embedded links to learn more. I would truly love updates on how you are doing on this path to a world were gratitude rules.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you find all the blessings in your life, as if by magic.

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6 Tips to Decrease Procrastination

I have long been a procrastinator. Are you? My dad always said, “Why do today what you can put off till tomorrow”. I guess I took his funny little statement to heart because I would put everything off until the last possible moment. Telling myself that I work best under pressure. Let’s explore procrastination and see how it fits into our overall wellness.

People who are prone to procrastination tend to procrastinate until it becomes more painful to “not” do something than to do it. It is all about stress and pressure. We may think by avoiding doing something, we can avoid the stress and pressure of it. However, the stress and pressure of not doing it will be come worse by avoiding it and then we will eventually submit and dig in and get it done. When I was young I often quoted Scarlet O’Hara from Gone With The Wind. “I can’t think about that today. I will think about that tomorrow”.

As I have gotten older I have come to realize that not doing things till the last minute does not actually give me any more peace. It actually just gives me, as my daughter would say, “Low key stress”. Instead of avoiding the stress, it just simmers under the surface, causing a little bit of subconscious pressure, until the task is completed. I even feel a little guilty about those things I put off, along with a bit of anxiety that I may miss a deadline or forget about it all together.

Over the past few years I have made a real effort to decrease my procrastination. Here are some of the techniques I have been using:

  1. Just Do It – When I need to write reports at work I start them and keep adding information to them as I go, so I can turn them in when my site visit is done, rather than having them hanging over my head.
  2. Use Natural Rhythms – I know morning is my most productive time of the day, so I work to jump out of bed and keep the momentum going. Using times that I know work for me, helps me to check the boxes and get things done.
  3. Make a List – I love to work from a checklist.  I use an orange highlighter to cross off what is done, because orange is the color that makes us feel most productive. Checking things off a list is also a nice visual way to see what you have accomplished.
  4. Notice How Good It Feels –  Notice the big relief you feel when you have everything done and nothing is hanging over your head.
  5. Rewards! – I like to give myself little rewards. I get to go for a walk if I get XYZ done on my “to do” list.
  6. Start With The Easy Stuff – Dave Ramsey suggests a debt snowball starting with the smallest debts first so you can feel that first success early and quickly. It is the same with procrastination. Do the easy stuff first so you can feel the success of getting stuff done.

I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but I would say I procrastinate 50-60% less than I used too. I definitely feel less stressed in life by getting things done as they arise (at least a little more often).

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you find tasks easy to complete timely, as if by magic.

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Plastic a go-go

I have decided to reduce my usage of plastic. I feel bad when I see articles about plastic being found in the bellies of sea life and that so much of it cannot even be recycled by our local recycling facilities. I want to do my part to reduce the use of plastic. I was raised Catholic and all my Catholic friends and family are talking about what changes they will make for Lent. For those of you who do not know, Lent is a 40 day period when Catholics make some sort of sacrifice or commit to do more good deeds.  Although I am no longer a practicing Catholic, I decided Lent was a perfect time to start a commitment to decrease my consumption of plastic.

Right off the bat, I learned that at this time, I cannot completely eliminate plastic in my life. Making this conscious effort to decrease my use of plastic has fully brought to my attention how it is everywhere. Let’s just start with my yesterday.  It was a travel day for me. That meant I was served my first beverage of the morning on the airplane. My water was given to me in a plastic cup, so I decide on the next flight to ask for the can of water without any ice and therefore eliminated the use of that plastic cup. For lunch I grabbed take out so I could get into the office and get to work. The takeout summer rolls were wrapped in plastic and came with a little plastic sauce cup of peanut sauce for dipping, that also had a little plastic cover on it. Then it was in a cardboard box which was placed inside a plastic bag with plastic utensils and a napkin.  I do not carry my own shampoo and conditioner with me when I travel. I just use whatever is in the hotel room. That is nicely package in more little plastic bottles.  When I checked into the hotel I was given 2 plastic bottles of water. For breakfast this morning I just grabbed some oatmeal to go. I put it in a disposable coffee mug and covered it with a plastic cover. Wow, this is going to be much harder than I thought, now that I see how much plastic I really do use.

I am having some success in the early phase of my efforts though. At home we are avoiding using the zip lock bags that I love so much. When we empty one that was used prior to this initiative, we rinse it out to reuse it. Out leftovers are getting put into storage containers that are reusable instead of plastic baggies. I am not using the plastic wrap either. If I do need to cover something, I am using tinfoil or putting it in reusable mason jars. Both my husband and I have reusable travel mugs and water bottles. We use those rather than plastic bottled water. We recycle the plastic items that come as packaging on things we buy. We use reusable shopping bags or ask for no bag whenever possible.

Just becoming aware of our use of plastic has got me thinking about how and where can I make other, better choices. Hopefully more and more companies will understand the damage this is doing to our planet and start to decrease plastic packaging. Better yet, switch over to biodegradable packaging. Until then, we will do what we can to make a difference. Even a small step can make a big difference, especially if a lot of people join in. You do not have to be a total “no plastic” purist, to have your small efforts matter.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you follow the call of your heart wherever it may lead you, as if by magic.

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Not All Hero’s Wear Capes: A different perspective

My daughter recently sent me a series of cartoons that depicted an abusive relationship. The artist who created them, was not someone I was familiar with. Her name is Polly Nor. The series of drawings shows an abusive relationship and all of the garbage that so often is a part of that unhealthy dynamic, including affairs, trying to get out, and blaming the victim. They are some very powerful images.

The series shows a progression. There is one image where the woman believes she has found a way out. In the next image the abuser becomes suspicious of what she is doing and her attempts to escape are foiled. Then there is an image titled “Not All Hero’s Wear Capes”. In this image another woman is having an affair with the abuser allowing the other woman to escape. This image really got me thinking.

I have been in abusive relationships, both physical and emotional. How does it change things if we look back at those who where the extra person, who had an affair with one of the people in the relationship and caused that relationship to fail? If we look at that person’s role, on a spiritual level, they may have indeed been a hero. A divine being who came down to cause a distraction to enable our escape from an unhealthy relationship.

The Lovers Tarot Card often depicts 3 people. The reason for this is because a choice must be made. It often represents a love triangle. When you look at the scenario we are discussing, you can see how this love triangle may be a blessing in disguise. We spend a lot of time being terribly angry at those people who get involved with our partners. We often blame them for the break up of the relationships, but it changes things when we look at it in this way.

Polly Nor’s work is powerful. I did not see the image I am speaking of on her website but I did see it on her instagram. I appreciate her powerful work which me this different perspective. I send love to all those divine souls who come in to help break the cycle of abuse, when we feel so horribly stuck and fail to get out on our own.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you find it in yourself to be your own hero, as if by magic.

*Photo taken in Tigard, OR

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Doing the “Right” Things

When I was young, what was “right” and “wrong” was easy. Listen to your parents and teachers, don’t lie or steal and do what you are “supposed to do”. As an adult this is much less of a sure thing. Words like “right” and phrases like “supposed to do” can take on different meanings. Those elder, who you love and respect so much, may have different opinions and views on topics than you do. So, how do you do the “right” thing? How do you know what that really is for you?

Even as young adults we look to our elders for advice. This is wonderful. They have a lot of life experience we do not yet have. Do they always know what is “best” for us? There is no way they could, even with all their history. As we grow older, we have to take the reins of our life in hand and make the best possible decisions we can, in the time and space we are in. We can and should certainly consider all of the advice given to us that our wise elders have offered. Ultimately though, it is up to us to make the final decision. What was considered the “right” things to do in the world those elders were born into, may be very different from what you feel is the “right” thing to do today.

When you feel that pull, deep down in your core, that is your divinity guiding you. Some call it the “still small voice within,” intuition, gut feeling, higher self, or your conscience. At times that voice can cause you to make decisions that seem counterintuitive, but it will not lead you astray. It does, however, take some practice to learn to hear it. There is some learning involved to understand how it speaks to you and become able to hear it over the sound of your mind; which is always trying to protect you. Start by practicing with small decisions and notice how those turn out.

Once you get good at listening to that inner knowing, it may ask of you some difficult things. It may ask you to make some choices to do the very thing your elders and friends are telling you not to. It may ask that you go against the advice of many trusted people and this requires great strength. When your Spirit is screaming at you to choose this path and everyone else strongly believes the other path is correct for you; it takes real personal power to stand up and say; “Thank you for your advice and concern for all involved, but I must go my way”. All of these people just love us so much and want to keep us safe. We are truly the only ones who could ever possibly make these decisions for ourselves.

As you become more comfortable listening to that deep part of yourself, you will know without a doubt, what you are really supposed to do. Ultimately you get to choose to listen or not. Believe in yourself! Be brave! Follow your gut! You may find it brings you much happiness; with your dreams waiting for you at the end of that decision.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! may you hear your inner knowing clearly speaking to you, as if by magic.

*Photo taken at Agrigento, Italy

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Family Roots

Having placed a child for adoption, changed my life and changed me. It formed the way I think about things during a very formative part of my life. Maybe changed isn’t even the right word; maybe germinated things inside me is a better way to say it. I think, as a young person, it was not something I thought about a lot. Family was family.

It has given me new insight as I watch my daughter figure out who she is and explore her roots. The stories that I have heard my whole life about my ancestors, were not taken for granted by her. She, in fact, has a whole group of ancestors not even related to her by blood but rather by the heart. Because she has ancestral stories from the family who raised her as well. This does not makes these stories any less powerful or any less important on her journey.

I was recently having a discussion with a relative, where I stated people who are adopted need to find their roots. She shared with me that she was adopted. I had never known this about her. She told me she had completely bonded with her adopted family and felt no need to look for her birth family. I am so grateful that she shared this with me. It has taught me that the need to know blood ancestral stories is completely individualized. She does not have that yearning, that so many other people I have spoken to seem to have.

Since I grew up with my birth family, I cannot even begin to guess how I would feel. My grandmother used to talk about the importance of blood and family. I do know though, that family is much more than blood. There are soul families, who are not blood in this lifetime but may have been in past lifetimes. There are friends who feel like family. There are non-blood relatives like aunts, stepchildren and adopted parents that are every bit a part of who we are, without the blood connection. The face of what family looks like today is constantly changing and evolving. Who shows up to holiday meals can be a wonderful, changing, eclectic group of people that we call our family.

Family roots ground us. They hold us deeply to the earth. They can be like a blanket telling us who we are. However family roots, whether blood or not, do not define us. Allow yourself to be more than your story. Your story formed you but it is not you. Your story contributes to your view of the world through the experiences you have had, but allow that view to be ever changing.

I am blessed in my family heritage stories. They are full of examples of strength, comedy, and lots of love. They are not without their share of times of struggle, but it is that pressure that makes us into diamonds. As the parent of a child placed for adoption, I have spoken to many other birth parents over the years and it has been my experience that placing a child for adoption is a gift of love. Myself and other birth parents think about that little soul out there in the world. We send them love, wish them every happiness, and wonder how they are doing often.

However you define your family or who you chose to claim as your people, remember that those stories are a part of who you are, but you are much more than your family roots. Just as the roots of the tree hold it to the earth, nourish it, and allow it to grow; so do our roots. However, a tree is so much more than it’s roots and is shaped by so many things that have nothing to do with the dirt in which it’s planted.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May your roots give you comfort, as if by magic.

*photo was taken in Bellingham, WA

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