Progress > Perfection

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I’m pretty sure this has been my all out mantra for everything lately.

Life with a high needs “spirited” one year old for this goal-oriented, anxious perfectionist is HARD. Any other mamas with kids as intense as Clare, I know you feel me. I just started reading this book and I find myself highlighting EVERYTHING.

As you probably saw, my 2015 goals were pretty lofty this year…but slowly and steadily I do feel that I’m making progress on them. And PROGRESS is what’s important. As we’ve just finished the first quarter of the year (what?!), I thought it good to do a check in on goals and how things are going so far.

 

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Meditation: I think I’m doing pretty good at this one! I’ve only missed a handful of days, mostly due to the rampant illnesses that seem to be plaguing our house, and I’ve consciously made an effort to never miss more than one day in a row. Sessions vary between 3 and 15 minutes depending on the day, and I do feel like I get more out of the practice if I do it for at least 10. Finding the time that works best has been tricky. When Chris is home, I try and do it first thing in the morning as a part of my morning routine. If he isn’t, I try and kind of do a ‘do over’ of my morning when Clare goes down for a nap. I find it’s a LOT harder if I save it to the evening. My brain is spent, and I am barely able to stay focused on a short one. Apps that I use are Calm, Buddify, Mindful and Headspace. Do you know of any other good meditation apps? Please share.

Five Minute Journal: I’ve also been really good about this one. I like that it includes gratitude, planning and reflecting on the day. I also try to always remember to write in my Mom’s One Line a Day Journal, but sometimes I find myself catching up on a couple days of that one.

Blogging: So far so good on the one post per week. I’ve only missed a week or two, and some weeks I included my post for Girls on the Grid in my count. Once per week is a much more doable goal than writing goals I’ve tried to make previously.

Recipes: We definitely haven’t really been trying out a new recipe per period. We have made a few things out of the baby led weaning cookbook. This green bean recipe is also awesome. And we’ve been making our own corn tortillas. Honestly between Chris’s schedule, Clare challenges and all of the sickness that has been plaguing us, food has dropped on the priority list. Cheese and crackers and hummus and bread have been regular meal staples for me. It’s bad. (Okay it could be a lot worse) But we’ve gotta get a bit better in this area.

Date Nights: This one has been a big fat fail. One of my best friends who was our neighbor and would sometimes watch Clare recently moved away. And when my parents have been up here, Chris has been gone or we’ve all been SICK. Have I mentioned we’ve all been sick?? So we just haven’t really made it happen. We did have a breakfast out at the end of March, but that’s about it. Here’s hoping in the later part of the year when my parents MOVE up here, we’ll get back on track with this one.

Read 25 Books – Totally on track. 6 down, 19 to go. Reviews of my first 4 here. Books and Podcasts are totally saving my sanity. (Though I am a bit ridiculous in that I am currently reading 5 books at once!)

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Learn to Sew a Quilt: Again, maybe this summer once my parents are up here, and I can plan on someone to watch Clare.

Podcast: This is going really well. Yesterday, episode 8 launched, and I’ve got some AWESOME guests lined up in the coming weeks. More at www.postpartumpodcast.com

Childbirth Educator Work: It’s SLOW going, but I’m starting to get on a better track. They re-did the program, and I like the new structure better, but it’s still very daunting the amount of work I need to get done. But, I do have a mentor, and some childbirth class observations lined up. I’ve joined a support group for other ICEA students in training on FB. Hopefully again, once my parents are here I can get into a more regular study routine, I can observe some births, and get on track to finish it all up in early 2016. I know that sounds so far away…but with the amount of work I need to get done, it sounds scary that it’s even that close.

Couch-to-5K: So I got about six weeks into the program. Now I think it’s an awesome program, and it made me not hate running, once they got to the part where you’re running straight for 20-25 minutes they lost me. But by running in intervals I ran the Girls on the Go 5k in 32 minutes at the end of March. Not too shabby for my first time running a 5K. And I’m going to chalk it up to, I can do running for cardio in a pinch, but it’s not really my ‘thing’. Zumba is. And I’m going to hopefully be teaching 3 zumba classes this summer! Hooray!

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In a perfect world, I’d dedicate several uninterrupted hours per week on my childbirth work and podcast and writing and working on a new project that I’m really excited about. But our world is far from perfect these days. So instead I’m having to make progress in the cracks and crevices of the days. On the fringe.   And that’s okay. Because Progress > Perfection. And DONE is > than perfection.

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My episode as a guest on the wonderful Sarah R. Bagley’s podcast today discusses just that! Please check it out, and the rest of her episodes. Her guests always resonate with me!

 

And remember:

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Motherhood Mondays: Anna’s Story and Being Happy

I love a story that one of my close friends Anna tells about this “epiphany moment” she had in college while walking home one day. (forgive me Anna, I’m sure I won’t re-tell it as good as you do 🙂 ) But I’ve been thinking about it alot lately.

Anna was terribly upset about a test she had just taken at Berkeley – maybe it was even a midterm or a final? – and she thought she’d done really bad on it. Her mind was spiraling thinking “Omg, I did so bad, I’m going to fail and then I won’t get a good job and I won’t etc, etc”

I’ve definitely been there. I was a ridiculous type-A perfectionist most of school and my version of “failing” typically was a B. Chris would roll his eyes at me when I would come home having similar freak outs about tests and grades, because typically by the end of the semester I would end up with mostly A’s and a few B’s. Although the semester we were planning our wedding, I think I got a few C’s (gasp!) Which is so funny to lack back at now, because honestly NONE of it mattered!

Anyway, So Anna was walking home and she saw this cute little house and there was a porch swing, and wind chimes and flowers and a garden. And she had this moment of clarity that no matter what happened, it didn’t matter. She wanted that. The simple little house and just to be happy. And what does she have now? Exactly that. A cute little house with an awesome garden and wonderful family. And in the end that’s what really truly matters.

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It’s a novel concept right?

To paraphrase one of the motherhood books I’ve read recently – our culture puts much more value on achievement rather than care. I still fall into that trap sometimes. I get frustrated that I’m not able to do more in one given day. I crank out blog posts during nap times. I sneak away and leave Clare with Chris to go work on my childbirth educator certification at the library. I’m working on a few other side projects, and Monica invited me to join her in taking this awesome happiness MOOC course through Berkeley that starts tomorrow. (More on that later!) Not to mention the other everyday stuff of keeping my house relatively clean, feeding myself, trying to fit in exercize. Oh yeah, and teaching 10 piano students a week. And of course trying to do that all perfectly.

And yet, I feel like it’s never enough.

I’m not teaching enough, doing enough, being enough, achieving enough. And it’s silly really because agonizing checking off a to do list that no one cares about but me is almost as silly as worrying about a B in a college class. What really matters is just being happy and the time I am able to spend nurturing relationships. And I am so grateful for that time. I value the time that I am able to mother and care and be. I am slowly trying to allow myself to disengage from the achievement self I used to so completely identify with. And sometimes I totally fail at it. I am stuck in my head and worried about all the things I “should” be doing or the achievement-based things I want to accomplish. Goals while being a mom of a young baby have become more like “loose guidelines that I eventually will do…maybe” It needs to be a reframing of what is enough, or at least enough for now. Enough for today. I have to remind myself that in the blink of an eye Clare will be in school and I sincerely doubt I’ll say “I wish I had done that load of laundry” or “launched that project sooner.” I recently saw this quote and I love it. I need to remember it.

 

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Around one month

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6 1/2 months

Too fast.

What I’m doing these days.

Sometimes I am amazed at what a better place I am in now than I was just a few months ago. Most of it due to medical problems that forced me to make some serious cuts and lifestyle adjustments. (another story for another post) But I think it’s also just knowing that somehow things will work out.  Chris and I are finally on the path that we want to be on and that makes the most sense for us.  Am I scared to be a mom? SURE.  Do I have moments of sheer terror or “how the hell are we gonna do this?” But I also know that it will be fulfilling in a way that no corporate career could be for me.  I am perfectly capable of excelling at a corporate office job. I’ve done it.  But over the course of the last 6 months, I discovered it was not what was fulfilling for me. Medical issues forced me to look even harder at this than I probably would have. Otherwise I probably would’ve continued plodding along…losing myself in the process. Answering to someone else, and working within sometimes chaotic, sometimes downright unfair/unethical structures that don’t help people (or kids) or better the world just didn’t work for me.  I can do marketing. I get it, and I’m a good writer so I can ‘do’ it.  But it absolutely doesn’t bring me joy.  Chris was impressed by my most recent piano student ad…and I’m like yeah, well, I did spend the last 3 years in marketing…so I can do it.  And it took me a while to really accept that while I ‘can’ do it, I certainly don’t want to and it’s okay to not want to. But if you are going to spend potentially 2,080 hours of your year in a place (if you’re working full time)…don’t you want it to bring you some joy?

Granted, I count myself lucky that things happened to work out the way that they did…(well maybe lucky is the wrong word) but that my health and reaction to the nasty side effects of birth control forced me into a place where I had to reexamine and evaluate what I was doing. I’m also incredibly thankful that I have a husband with a good job that allows my work to be more flexible and family friendly.

And sure, financially it wasn’t (still isn’t) easy.  But even with the financial stress…I am so much happier and calmer than I was 6 months ago…. and especially than just a few months ago.  Chris and I together are happier, not snapping at each other and are spending much more quality time together than we did before.

So what does the future of working me look like?  I am not so sure yet.  But I have figured some things out over these past months.  I love helping people, and especially helping kids.  I missed teaching piano lessons so much.  My old studio of kids became like family to me, and I am excited to be building up another family of kids.  Those of you who are my facebook friends have seen my posts over the past few weeks about what a joy it is to be back doing this.  I love taking on some of my old students, and I love meeting the new ones.

I think the reason I love this so much, is sharing the love of music at such a young age for kids can be the stepping stone for whether they continue music in the future.  The foundation, really. I truly believe that if kids have a loving, kind and supportive piano teacher at a young age, they are more likely to want to continue with music in future years.  And being that music and band had a significant impact on me as an adolescent and into early adulthood…gaining lifelong friendships…music people were just always ‘my people.’  So if I can provide the foundation for a child to have that in the future, then that makes me happy. That fulfills me.

I also realize that I love reading and writing.  But I don’t love writing when it’s forced and marketing writing.  So I’m sure writing will play some role in what I do.  But the creative side of it. If writing and kids can go together, all the better, too!  That creative writing degree will get used, somehow.

Post-pregnancy I will also go back to teaching zumba (and probably get certified for zumbatomic – zumba for kids). I do miss zumba, currently.  But my body is busy building a baby, so for now it’s walking and maybe some prenatal yoga.

I’m also taking some early childhood education units at the community college…perhaps to work at a preschool eventually…or just to supplement and enhance my piano teaching.  Side note…it’s very strange going back to community college after earning a bachelor’s! And while the lessons sometimes seem very basic, reading the material and discussing the situations, I am finding myself saying ‘yes, this is right!’ and I am not married to any one plan these days.  Just doing things that make me happy and work for us and our family, and seeing what happens from there!

And of course – the best job of ALL – being mommy to our new baby coming in February.

Sometimes you really have to go through hell to get to the exact place you’re meant to be.

On The San Francisco Writer’s Conference and Habits

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The San Francisco Writer’s Conference, and any writer’s conference I’ve been to, significantly inspires me to actually make the time to write.  For three days you are surrounded by creative and awesome and quirky people who love to tell stories.  Who love writing and words.  My people. Sometimes I am in awe of how quickly I can hit it off with someone, just because we are the same kind of people.  It’s wonderful and exhausting and I love it every year.

Many writers come to these conferences with full manuscripts finished, some already published, here to learn the tips and tricks of the trade.  But for me, it always comes down to what Bella Andre, Mark Coker and so many others said and have said – Tip # 1 – Write. Just write and write some more.  Just write a really great book/story.

And really, there’s nowhere to start but to write.  To make it a habit every day.  I am jealous of the writers that can truly spend hours and hours per day writing, or have the luxury of having writing be their full time gigs.  So I tend to gravitate towards writer friends who have full time jobs and are fitting in their writing on the side.  I’m sure that’s because I relate to them.  That struggle is HARD.  And it’s easy to say we’re too busy.  To let so many “something elses” get in the way. Every year after the conference I have the best of intentions and every year, life inevitably gets in the way and I manage to just do a smattering of writing, several blog posts and suddenly Valentine’s Day and the writer’s conference is upon us again.

Some days I am appalled at how much time wasting I allow myself to do.  How social media and email and google and texting and phone calls, pouring over my calendar, and even TV can suck me in and never let go. You sit down to make a grocery list or find a recipe and suddenly you look up and an hour (or more!) has been wasted.

It’s really time for that to change.

New Routine, New Habits.  Both mentally and physically.

I’ve trying exceedingly hard to add some healthier habits to my daily routine: gratitude journaling, meditation, etc and I really like what Leo Baubata at Zenhabits says about starting extraordinarily small with them.  The same will be true for writing.  I can’t sprint out the gate saying “I’m going to get up extra early and write for an hour every single morning!” Just like someone trying to lose weight can’t suddenly decide they are going to the gym 7 days a week.  Well…they can.  But they won’t likely succeed.   Starting slow and small…say 15 minutes a day…garners you a much better shot at becoming successful.

Some of my fitness instructor/fanatic friends and I recently started a group (and we are working on a blog!) to keep each other accountable for healthier habits.  We were discussing Lent and what people were giving up – regardless of their religious status– and one of my friends brought up the idea of adding a positive habit during that 6-week time frame.  Being a fan of focusing on the positive, I loved this idea.  I knew that mine would somehow be writing related and SFWC only solidified this.

Of course all of this chatter is still my “planning” mind that I’m trying to get away from. Since this year I decided I’m all about DO – time to put that into real practice.  But, because they way you make yourself accountable to doing is sharing what you’re doing, well here we are.  Follow me on the Lift app http://lift.do/ to follow my progress (and to track your own habits!)

So here’s what my weekday mornings should look like:

  • Wake Up – NO social media, email, etc first thing in the morning!!
  • Feed kitties & Start coffee
  • 5 min mediation
  • 5 min yoga
  • 15 min Writing

I know – 15 min seems really short.  But it adds up. And if you start small, once the habit is ingrained, you can expand. Plus  the beauty of starting small with habits? You almost can’t say no to doing them!

What habits are you trying to form in 2013?

3 Months Later

They say that the hardest decisions are also the most necessary and the most rewarding. Nothing good was every easy. Blah blah blah. I feel like a walking cliché these days, but it’s all so very true.

Three months ago, Nick Trujillo died. And as I look back, I feel like that is the catalyst for what put me on this path of change. One day shortly after Nick’s death, I was driving into work and I’m pretty sure I had a mini nervous breakdown. I was so panicked that I couldn’t stop crying. That was my final straw, my signal that it was time to do something. And that moment set me on a path to make some real changes in my life. And I have to say I think a big part of making that choice stems from what I learned from Nick’s outlook on life. The basis was – if you aren’t happy – why are you doing it?? I know, it sounds so ridiculously simple. But in practice it’s quite the opposite. Stagnancy is easy. Making a conscious choice to change an unhappy situation isn’t.

I’ve had to make the hard decisions. Cry the angry tears. First, there was the no brainer – I was in a master’s program that simply wasn’t the program for me. It’s not so much that it was hard. In fact, the easier decision would’ve been to just put my head down and push through. Because that’s what I do.  That’s who I am. But I realized that I was just there because I was getting tuition assistance. I was beating my head against a brick wall for absolutely no reason. It was quite frankly – stupid.

Then of course, I was in a job that was just crushing my spirit. Every weekend I dreaded when Sunday would come to an end. I’m sure in writing that sounds really dramatic, but that’s where I was at. I could go on and on about all of the reasons I felt that way, but that is better left for discussing over happy hours.

Over Christmas, I made the choice that I was done. That I had to find something else. I had no idea how long it would take, but I threw myself into the search with force. Many hours on craigslist, resumes, 3 interviews and 6 weeks later, I will be starting a new job just after President’s day. When I found out, it felt like such a win. After all of the daily disparities we are faced with – it finally felt like a win for the underdog!

But in the process of the change, I’ve struggled, and am sure I will continue to struggle with leaving.

I know, I KNOW – why struggle leaving a place where you were unhappy all the time? But I guess it’s because leaving comfort is hard and starting something new is terrifying. Even if that something new is an advancement and for the better. Maybe it’s because all of the other many jobs I’ve held over the years all came to their logical conclusions. Life changes happened, moves, graduations. But this is the first time it has really been a true choice.

And I am struck by the feeling that the major thing I will take with me is some really wonderful relationships made during this part of my life and career. People that it will be hard to imagine not seeing everyday, but whose relationships will certainly remain, if not become stronger. I’ve said it before, but that’s what it’s all about. People.

While I may not know what the future, or this new career, will bring – I am excited to be taking the leap to try something new and to be making my own happiness. By making a choice and a change.