Monthly Archives: December 2013

How to Not Break a New Year’s Resolution

I wrote a post in January 2013 on the “large stones;” the things most important in my life and where I want to focus my time and energy. I identify my large stones as the things that provide me with a warm feeling throughout my body and feel good to me.

I realized that career no longer held a place in my life as a large stone and that it was more a means to an end, providing income to enable me to do things that I enjoy like traveling and donating to organizations that do good work which I choose to support. Of course income also pays the bills, and puts a roof over my head and keeps the lights on. I’m grateful for what my work provides, however, I’ve long recognized that it takes too much of my time and my soul. I’ve allowed that and I can change it.

During 2013 I recognized that two things very important to me are my nephews and my volunteering work, and I’ve spent time, money and energy to dedicate myself more to them. I understand how important it is to spend time doing things that matter to me.

New Year’s Eve approaches– the night of issuing New Year’s Resolutions. I have long decided to not follow this custom, which often includes a week or two of honoring the resolution followed by weeks of guilt of breaking it. Instead, I take some time to reflect on the year passing, and decide what I have done well and what I wish to improve upon for next year.

Honoring me

I worked in 2013 to listen to my body more. Not only as a barometer for my life and my happiness, but also to stay true to taking care of myself. When my back and neck are all knotted up, and I have days of insomnia, it means that I’m out of touch and that I’m not listening to what my body is telling me. When this happens I take some time to redirect, and focus on things that feel good to improve my physical state. This includes:

  • Hiking, exercise and meditation (trying to meditate, at least)– and not doing it when I didn’t feel like I needed/wanted it
  • Not dieting but instead really enjoying what I eat, incorporating more farm fresh foods in my diet. When I decide to eat chocolate, I want to enjoy it with gusto.
  • Expanding my social network a bit
  • Deepening my friendships by opening up and sharing more of myself with those whom I’m closest to 

Making time for what’s most important

  • More trips to visit my nephews and friends
  • Carving out time for my volunteering activities and maintaining a regular schedule
  • Doing work I love while helping people through my small business, Volto

Focusing on the moment

Really enjoying where I am and what I’m doing instead of allowing my mind to race with all of the other things I could be doing with my time. Pushing myself to think past my to do list and center myself on where I am. Right. Now.

So, how do you not break a New Year’s resolution?

Don’t make one. 

Instead, focus on what’s important and what feels good and commit to setting that as your pursuit. 

Image

Not a Dress Rehersal

I was watching a tv show the other day. A lady went to visit another woman receiving chemotherapy, and they were talking about life. The visitor was sharing an exciting opportunity, but had a long list of reasons why she shouldn’t pursue it now. She was told, “Don’t wait. If there is one thing we have learned through this experience it is that this is not a dress rehearsal. Do it. Now.” 

I started thinking about life and the importance of action.

I’m a planner, especially for big decisions in my life. Could be how I ended up working as a Project Manager. Once I set a goal, I like to map out my plan for getting there, detailing how I’ll do the big steps and what I need to get there. I’m all about to do lists in my daily world, professionally, and even personally.

Image

12-31-69 © OvertheHill

I’ve been trying lately to be a little more spontaneous about the small things, like going out last minute when I wasn’t planning to. That can be a lot of fun and had led to adventures that I wasn’t expecting and enjoyed anyways. 

I do spend a lot of time with the big decisions, however, as I don’t want to trigger action until I have thought through it fully. Sometimes this is a great thing as it has kept me from doing some impulsive things that I later learned I would have regretted, but other times I think that I may miss out on some fun things because I over-think them.

My natural tendency to plan is not something I expect to or want to change. It’s who I am. However, I do find that sometimes I am so bogged in the details of making decisions in my life that it leads to long delays, or even, not doing something I want to do because by the time I get through my lists, It feels like it’s too late. Essentially, my plan of action causes inaction. What an interesting thought.

Here’s what I am going to do: I’m going to make a list of all of the things that I want to do..

Clearly I have some work to do, but it’s great to laugh at myself about it and then to give it some thought to see what I want to do different, and what I can do differently moving forward.

 

The Power of Legacy

Image

The passing of Nelson Mandela last week blew up the airwaves with commentary on this great man: his life, his accomplishments and his ideals. Most people agree that he changed the world, and for the better.

Thinking back on what I know of him and what I have heard throughout my lifetime, I don’t recall anyone ever saying a bad word about him. He had his detractors—people will always have something negative to say of those who are famous. But overall opinion of him was incredibly positive. He was admired, respected, loved. Of course, not everyone can be a Nelson Mandela.

What does this mean for the rest of us? I think there are a lot of great takeaways from a life like that of Nelson Mandela. 

Importance of integrity and conviction

He held closely and firmly to his beliefs and lived his life in congruity with his dreams. Mandela was known for his sincerity and continuously demonstrated his ideals throughout his lifetime, when it was easy to do so, and when it was challenging. 

Strength of connection

People loved him because he loved them. Mandela had a belief in the inherent goodness of people, and saw himself like any other. He was willing to mingle with the people when his security team advised him against it, because he truly understood the importance and power of connection. He listened and truly heard.

Power of forgiveness

He endured what few do, and later arose triumphant. The injustices he endured made him a martyr, and the dignity and grace with which he forgave his captors while he steadfastly pursued his goals made him a hero.

Value of passion

No one could question the zeal with which Mandela pursued his beliefs. Politician. Humanitarian. He fervently pursued his beliefs regardless of his personal risk. And look what he gained: achievement of his goal in ending apartheid in South Africa, and the love and admiration of the world.

The world lost a great man. We can live his legacy by pursuing our own passions to make the world a better place. The outcomes we achieve in our lifetime may be tiny in comparison, but if we help one person, if we improve the life of one being, then we have made a difference.

In Tribute:

 “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” – Nelson Mandela

“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” Nelson Mandela

 

 

 

 

Home is with your Family

The holidays are a time of year when people often want to spend time with their family and loved ones. I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with some of the people that mean the most to me.

The week before Thanksgiving, someone asked me if I was going home for the holiday. How do I define home? When I was five, my family moved from where my parents grew up, and where most of my family lives. A few years ago, my parents moved away from the home that I grew up in, which is where I consider “home”. I’m sure the person was asking if I was going to visit my parents for Thanksgiving, but I found it interesting thinking about what “home” means to me.

Image

I told the person that I was spending the holidays with people I love. I was surprised when she commented that I wasn’t spending the holiday with family; I consider the people I spent the holiday with my family, even though we’re not related by blood.

I believe family consists of those people that you choose to spend your time with. They can be blood relatives, or family “of the heart” that are chosen throughout a lifetime. I don’t mean to imply that I don’t love my family, however, I do believe that my family extends well beyond blood lines to people that I have chosen to surround myself with and that I love very much.

This includes my “sister,” whom I’ve known for over twenty years. I don’t talk with her every day, and for that matter, months sometimes go by without contact. But when I consider whom I’d call in an emergency, and who would be there for me if I ever needed someone, she would be top on my list. I’m blessed to have her in my life, and we didn’t need to share a parent to be sisters of the heart.

I’m thankful for my family, and especially grateful for my extended family. These are the people whom I share my life and my heart with, not out of any obligation except that we choose to be there. In my book, that’s what family is all about.

Image