The magic & bigness in the simple things

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am becoming a lover of simple things. This is new within the last 5+ years, and more so since becoming a mother. I used to be pretty driven, always focusing on the future, dreaming bigger and higher and wanting to be and do more. I still have those desires but they aren’t at the forefront as much. Simplicity is.

I’ve experienced again and again it’s the little things that give me true joy. They aren’t usually about money, recognition,  status or numbers of any kind. If I can stop long enough to breathe and settle into the moment there is so much wonder and delight…a richness that is hard to describe. These pauses help slow down the racing mind that can be consumed with time and getting it all done and a tendency to rush from one thing to the next.

The practice is to unbusy my mind and fully engaged in sensory awareness. This bestows so much more daily grace. These pauses of celebration inspire an unhurried life. I like this. To truly acknowledge the power of the moment. The abundance of the sun shining on my face as a new day begins, seeing my child laugh, having the freedom and resources to make healthy meals, taking leisurely walks playing and exploring, listening to a heart felt song, connecting with my family, being present to my life and all the magic that is unfolding. The bigness in the simple things is my central  focus these days.

This can’t be captured on facebook or twitter or in a bank account, for this is a visceral experience captured in our hearts and bodies in a very tangible way. It’s a way of inhabiting our lives, realizing there is no “getting there”, “arriving”, or “having it all figured out”. This. Is. It. Our life journey…in all it’s colors, dimensions, textures and flavors. It’s the collection of simple things that come together to weave our precious individual stories.

We must limit the noise in our heads and our lives and be willing to slow down enough so that we can actually embrace these moments. Otherwise we miss them. The simple magical moments require attention, presence and recognition. When you feel one. Stop. Smile. Feel it in your body. Listen to the vibration of life happening all around you. Rest and delight in that particular snapshot of time.

I believe the deep breaths, the sun, the water, tuning into my senses, the wonder around me and the little moments of joy can lighten and soften the occasional feelings of overwhelm and overload. Trusting that our life is unfolding with divine perfection. Resting in that place.

Resting our minds and our bodies even while we get things done. There can be a peace, a flow even in the midst of the mess. Life is messy. There will always be toys and dishes to clean up, and things to get done. As long as we are breathing there will be details that need tending.

The listening and resting helps. It’s where we hear the call for expansion…the call for a deeper authentic life. The simplicity gently guides us with grace, love, and enthusiasm. How can we dance with the big and the small with utmost respect and importance? Boldly saying yes to it all! Yes to our lives!

Last night as we transitioned from dinner to bedtime rituals I paused looking at the kitchen before turning off the light.  My husband had graciously done the dishes. There were a few things that weren’t cleaned up. A few glasses, supplement bottles, and some dishes drying next to the sink. With the eyes of perfection I would’ve wished that it was cleaner. With the eyes of beauty I saw life. I saw our lives.

These little things we do every day make up our lives. They are yes, just glasses/dishes/bottles on the counter, but they were used by people I love. I smiled and thought yes, this is my life. It’s not sterile and perfect, but it’s mine.

There is magic in our day to day lives. The simplicity of most of our days sculpt our life stories. These divine tasks mold our character. The miracles may not seem big but they are, for if we only feel deeper we will see the love. We get to choose how we will weave our myth. Why not choose one of magic and miracles right where we stand?

There may be thoughts that it’s not enough. We can look at what is happening in the world and think we must do more and be more. But, as Byron Katie advised in a workshop I attended a few months ago: we must save ourselves first. This is how we change the world. Be the change we want to see. What world do we want to live in and create? It starts with us.

Even if we think our little space in the universe can’t really change the world. It can and it is. Because our choices are changing us, changing our families and therefore our communities and world. Our presence impacts the world. We must start where we are and let spirit/god/life move through us it guides us to our next adventure. It’s that simple. Today I honor the magic and bigness in the simple things. This is what’s calling me. What’s calling you?

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Zen Habits & The Art of Parenting – Interview with Leo Babauta

A good parent is someone who is happy.

This is an interview I did with Leo Babauta. He is the creator of Zen Habits, a Top 25 blog (according to TIME magazine) with 260,000 subscribers, and the best-selling books Focus, The Power of Less, and Zen To Done. He is a former journalist of 18 years, a husband, father of six children, and in 2010 moved from Guam to San Francisco, where he leads a simple life.

I’ve been a fan of Leo’s for years. I appreciate his commitment, simplicity, humility and energy! In this interview we explore simplicity parenting, what it was like for him to become a new parent, unschooling and a bunch of other parenting goodness. 🙂

Hope you enjoy!

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Zen to Done – 10 Productivity Habits

05c2e4c2d3ef971c336d1c1bb66c355eThe other day I read (for the second time) Zen to Done by Leo Babauta . It’s a super quick read and I love the simplicity of it.

I’ve read Getting Things Done and a variety of other organizational books but I often felt like there was too much to implement and I, ironically, never really got to far in the process.

I thrive when I get *really* clear on what’s essential and do that. I ask myself a lot: What is most important? And, then I give all of my time, energy, and attention to the answer to that question. Which means saying “no” to a lot in order to honor my values for this phase of my life.

This can be challenging sometimes because I have so many creative dreams and ideas. Creativity is one of my top strengths, therefore, it’s crucial to exercise discipline and focus to make sure I get my projects across the finish line. This helps me zone in on what I want to do most and be more efficient and productive.

Below is a snapshot of Leo’s 10 Habits for implementing his Zen To Done (ZTD) system. I am sharing these in hopes they might help you and also as a reference and reminder of what I am committed to. 🙂

1. Collect — Get everything out of your head and onto a paper or an app so don’t forget things and also, so your to-dos aren’t just swirling around taking up energy that could be directed somewhere else. I use OmniFocus (1st version) and a notebook for this. This habit has been HUGE in helping me become more organized. Life changing huge!

2. Process — This means taking the time to process your list of things to do. Make quick decisions on what needs to be. Delete, delegate, do it immediately, defer for later, file it and repeat this process until your inboxes are empty. Soon as something comes into your mind, mailbox, phone, inbox, etc. decide what you need to do to be complete with it. Don’t just let it sit there (I’m telling myself this:)!

3. Plan — What are you going to do today? He recommends having 1-3 MIT’s (most important tasks) or Big Rocks. What will you feel happy you accomplished? Plan your day around these goals/tasks. Ideally do these in the morning with a block of time. I’ve found with my mothering schedule I have less big chunks of uninterpreted time but I can easily create little pockets of time. It’s amazing what you can get done in 5-15 minute time slots.

4. Do“The habit of “do” is the key to the ZTD system. It’s the habit that’s missing from many other productivity systems, and yet it’s the most important. All the rest is just busy work if you don’t actually do the things on your to-do list.”  The key is to create the time, limit all distractions, completely focus, and then…get excited, commit and GET IT DONE! Finish is my mantra! 🙂

5. Simple trusted system — Create a system so that you can have everything you need/want to get done in one place. Then, when you have the time and space to get things done you will be ready and you won’t waste time preparing. You can just get to work and master the habit of “Do”.

The basic idea is to categorize the things that need to get done in your system like: work, personal, errands, calls waiting for someday/maybe lists, etc. So, for example, when you have 15 minutes you can go to your phone category and complete a bunch of phone calls, or maybe batch a bunch of errands/emails, etc.

Like I said above, my meta system is OmniFocus for this. I’ve used it for the last 3.5 years and I love it. David Allen’s GTD system inspired me to get more organized on this and it made life so much easier! I not a tech queen and only use a handful of apps so there might be a bunch of newer apps you can use now. You don’t need anything fancy, in fact a notebook can easily get the job done. I also use a journal where I can jot things down because sometimes I like to turn my phone off.

6. Organize “One of the oldest organizing truisms around, but perhaps the most important of all: a place for everything, and everything in its place.”

Do you know, at this moment, where everything single thing in your life is? HA! Nope! Where do the papers go? Bills? The toys? The keys? Clothes? Once we have found a home for everything then, accordingly to Leo we want to…put it away immediately, make it a habit, pay attention to transitions, keep flat surfaces clear, label, evaluate. Yep, I would benefit from all of these suggestions. 

I especially like the  transitions one…”The time between when you’re doing one thing and when you’re doing the next thing is a transition. This is the time when you should put stuff away where it belongs and clean up your mess, but it’s also the time when we’re not thinking about that stuff and only thinking about we’re going to do next.

If I took a few minutes to put everything in it’s place before moving on to the next thing there would be a sense of accomplishment and flow. The kitchen would be cleaned after a meal, the toys/books picked up from the floor, and my desk clear when I was done. Ah! That sounds like heaven. 🙂 These mini habits probably take 5-10 minutes and could probably revolutionize my life!

I sometimes make excuses having a toddler, because their creativity (well, at least for my son) is to dump a lot of stuff on the floor. Think: 100’s of legos everywhere! The thing is it wouldn’t be that big of a deal if we created the habit to put everything back in it’s place before moving onto something else.  Reminder: This habit starts with me and he will learn from me. What do I want to model for my child?

7. Review — “Let’s face it: even the best of us loses track of things over time, and loses focus on our goals, and let’s the best-planned system fall apart a little. With a busy workweek, a busy life outside of work, the best systems tend to gravitate towards chaos. That’s where the Weekly Review comes in — it gives you a chance to get things together and refocus yourself on what’s important.”

The gist of this habit: review your single long-term goals and short term goals, review your notes, review your calendar, review your lists, set your short-term goal for the week and plan your Big Rocks (MIT). This can take anywhere from 20-60 minutes.

8. Simplify — If you’re like me, you have a long list of tasks to do, perhaps broken down by different contexts (work, personal, errands, calls, etc.). Your list of tasks is so long that it’s overwhelming. You can never completely wipe out your list because it’s growing every day. Simplify your list down to the barest of essentials, and you can eliminate the need for complex planning systems.” YES!

What I do most days is get out a piece of paper and write:

1. My 3 biggest Creative Process Goals (same as MIT)
2. Blissiplines (exercise, meditation, nutrition, etc.)
3. 3-5 little tasks I’d like to accomplish for the day

“You don’t need a huge to-do list to be productive — just do the stuff that matters.” This has been vital for me in the last 3 years as I integrate my new role as a creative mother!

9. Routine — Routines can also greatly simplify your work day and personal life, as your day won’t be overly chaotic and complicated, you can group similar tasks together and batch process them, and you can be sure of doing the things you really need to do. Most importantly, it puts you in control of your day, instead of putting you at the mercy of the ebb and flow of all incoming requests. Without a routine, we have no way of saying “no” to requests as they come in, and we are at the beck and call of every person who wants our time and every website that wants our attention. That’s not a good thing, not if you want to get the important things done.”

I like routine and I also like spontaneity. I’ve found that regular routines help me to happily get the important things done. And, then my mind is less cluttered and more spaciousness which allows me to enjoy the adventure and unstructured time even more. I didn’t used to believe this but experience has shown me differently.;) I have an awesome morning and evening routine but I want to create more routines for meals and cleaning.

10. Find your passion– Some ideas from Leo: Is there something you already love doing? What do you spend hours reading about? Brainstorm. Ask around and surf for possibilities. Give it a try first. Never quit trying.

Other wise words: Don’t quit your job just yet. Do some research. What are your obstacles? Make a plan. Take action. Practice and practice, and practice some more. Be persistent. 

*I intend to share a video soon on some misconceptions I believed about following your passion for years that I think limited my results, successes and creativity.

Talk doesn’t cook rice. —  Chinese Proverb

Now, the action part! Leo doesn’t recommend doing all these habits at once. Look at where you might need some extra attention and start there. Implementing 1-4 habits at a time until they become routine.

The habits I’m starting with are: Process, Do, Organize, & Review.

Yahooo!! I’ve completed my #1 Creative Process Goal with this blog post. Now, I’m gonna go do a 15 min workout (5o burpees, 50 squats, 50 pushups, 50 lunges and 50 mountain climbers) and then do my #2, which is doing a bunch of online tests for my appointment with Dr. Daniel Amen next week. I am excited to learn how to supercharge my brain even more and hopefully his wisdom will help me with my organizational skills. 😉

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P.S. If you want to do a quick Amen Brain Checklist you can find a PDF HERE.

Bliss Diary – July 20, 2015

Functional medicine is about causes, not symptoms.
It is getting to the root of the problem. —
Mark Hyman, MD

Nutrition is on my mind today. As I said in yesterday’s post I am thinking about doing the AIP (autoimmune protocol) diet with some GAP principles for the whole family. The more I dive into nutrition the more I learn. I wish I would have known this stuff 15 years ago. It seems like there has been a lot about gut health come out in the last 3-5 years.

I remember when I was probably about 6 months pregnant with little E. We were having dinner with Dr. Junger and the Clean team and I was talking to him about my skin breaking out. He said that gut health was the focus of his upcoming book and I should test to see if I had parasites/bacteria/viruses in my gut. He sent me home with a stool test. The results showed I did have some gut issues, mostly candida.

What about the hubby? He was super sick as a kid with ear infections and allergy shots, lymph nodes removed, migraines, etc. And, in the last 3 years his health has greatly improved since we’ve taken out grains, limited carbohydrates and added animal products back into our diet. But, with his health history there is no doubt that his gut has be compromised for a long time and would benefit from a healing protocol.

The little guy? He was born naturally and healthy at home. He had a posterior tongue tie that took me 3 months to figure out and I was so grateful for all the people sharing their stories, especially the Mommypotamus’s blog posts! He didn’t have any vaccinations and he will be 3 years old in 2 months and he has never been sick, never had to go to the pediatrician for anything. He eats better than most adults I know. He’s vibrant and creative and an absolute joy. So why would I have him do an AIP diet?

A few things. One he did have some red rashes that appeared on his face/arms/legs when he first started consuming anything with almonds (butter, raw nuts, bars). It was a process to figure out that it was the almonds that were causing the rashes. His skin completely healed within 2 weeks of taking them out. Skin issues usually represent something off in the gut. I also noticed he has waves of tiredness that could be gut related (and of course maybe just part of growing a ton). He poops a 2-4 times a day but sometimes theyBSF-with-highlight are more in the type 2 or 3 and once in awhile 1’s on the Bristol stool chart. It’s ideal for our daily bowel movements to be type 4,5,6 which he does have plenty of those!

I did a stool test for him and there wasn’t anything major off and our pediatrician said he thought it was all fine but…Momma’s intuition tells me that there might be some imbalances. I’ve learned to trust myself with this whole process. I don’t want to go looking for problems but I also know that both Brian and I had gut issues when we conceived little E and from what I’ve read we pass our microbiome on to our children. So, if that’s the case he could use a little healing support as well.

Emotional side of this: I am happy that I know what I know now and also sometimes feel flashes of irritation/frustration that I didn’t know this before I got pregnant and throughout my pregnancy. I recorded my whole pregnancy journey (just like I am doing now on this blog). I was so committed to having an extraordinary pregnancy/home birth…and I did, it was amazing. I believed I was doing the right thing with as an almost veganism diet with the addition of 3-6 eggs a week. I was still eating gluten free grains and more fruit/carbs than is ideal. I know this because I did a genetic test to see what is optimal for my body. I did the best I could. I ate a whole foods organic diet and lots of salads, cooked greens, avocados, green juices, etc. But, I would have done things differently had I known what I now know. When I think about all of this it fuels the fire of inspiration and desire to support other families to be as healthy as possible.

Affirmation/Intention: I am a powerful Goddess. Choose from an empowered place.

Nutrition:
7:00 morning delight tea
10:00 16 oz green juice
11:00 4 sweet potato/egg muffins w/ turmeric coconut butter
3:45 cucumbers, carrots, chicken dipped in garlic lentil dip
6:30 salad with some hard boiled eggs

Movement:
* 45 minute adventure with toddler
* 35 minute rebounding

Meditation: 25 minutes + 50 minute napitation (felt sooo good!)

Sleep: 7.5 hours – Bed at 9:15 and woke up at 4:45 feeling good so I meditated before the little guy woke up. A few months ago I would sleep for 8.5-10 hours every night and still wake up tired, so this feels awesome!

Declutter Challenge: I starting a decluttering challenge/habit of doing something every day to keep things organized and moving forward. This is what I did today:
#1 organized and decluttered all bathroom cabinets and drawers. The goal is to just have a soap dish, air spray and 1 thing of lotion on the counter!
#2 called to set up an appointment to have someone check on our dishwasher/stove top (totally been procrastinating on this one)
#3 cleaned and organized my desk. The goal is to only have these things on my desk: journal, mom’s one line memory book, 1 book, 1 pen, family picture, a baby picture of me at 1, computer and I just added a 1979 United States dollar coin with  Susan B. Anthony on it that my hubby gave me.

Gratitude & Appreciation: I am grateful for my clean desk. I am grateful for my clean bathroom. I am grateful for little E’s help with organizing. I am grateful for all the fun and tender moments I have with him everyday. I had a moment today while we were sitting on the floor at his little table eating our carrots/cucumber/hummus/chicken and chatting away and laughing…I thought I am a Mom. Wow. I got tears in my eyes. It was one of those moments where it hits you that with the help of God, we created a human being. #AMAZING I am grateful for my incredible husband and all of his support and love.

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