Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: susannah conway

Welcoming December

November was a month full of travel – leaving home for work once and fun twice.

December is home-bound all the way.

We got back from our Thanksgiving trip to Joshua Tree yesterday afternoon – driving home in the rain that visited SoCal (gosh, we need it). We spent the later afternoon reading (me) and napping (H & Carter Cash). It was a very active, fun, adventurous weekend. I plan on writing more about it this week.

This morning I welcomed in December with a quick trip to Starbucks to write out all of the swirling ToDos in my head. Getting things down on paper is not only a relief, but also gives me a solid way to keep track of the next thing I want to / need to work on.

The season of red cups, Christmas music and gift-list making is upon us. We have family visiting in T-2.5 weeks and we’re hosting everyone for Christmas, officially, for the first time this year.

After work I am going to pack up the Thanksgiving decorations and pull out the Christmas ones. The weather plus end of daylight savings time has made the evenings dark and long. I think it’s 6pm when it’s only 4pm. I think it’s time for bed around 7pm. We’re asleep most night by 9:30pm, and sleep 8hrs straight. We wake before the sunrise, moving through the dark apartment by 5:30am.

But it’s part of the season, part of the change, part of the flow. I can’t believe we’re in the last month of 2014, I’m holding on to every last bit of it as the days go by.

The photo above is for day 1 of December Reflections, hosted by Susannah Conway. I don’t plan on sharing the photos here in that exact capacity, but feel free to follow / join over on Instagram.

And lastly, a happy 50th birthday to my awesome MIL who embodies the spirit of the (Sagittarius) with her enthusiasm for life. xo

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Hand To Heart

“Knowing we can create a safe space for ourselves, no matter where we are or how we feel, is a gift that will last the rest of your life.”
~Susannah Conway

It started with a simple suggestion from Heidi Taylor. That I could put my hand on my heart*, breathe in an observation (usually an unhappy, panicked one of overhwhelm) like “I don’t know how to deal with these emails” and then breathe out a response (usually a productive, supportive and self-loving suggestion) “sort them by sender, set a timer and take them one at a time”.

This practice of breathing with my hand to my heart started to create space around my responses to things. It gave me a way to acknowledge what I’m feeling and to self-soothe. Game changer.

I’ve also started meditating – short little guided meditations from Susannah Conway’s The Sacred Alone. I signed up for the class months ago, but never participated in real time. I try to do them when I wake up, between drinking some water and writing my morning pages.

These practices spilled over into my free time. I chose to go without any music or podcasts during a few of my commutes and a few 2m runs. One night, I laid down on the floor in our office, in the dark, and just watched the sky. A few days I didn’t check Twitter at all. I started reading a new book. I took my lunch break at the beach & stared at the waves.

With my anxiety up a lot the past few weeks, it’s been really amazing to have these physical practices of both self-soothing with my hand to my heart and sitting still for a few minutes while meditating. Both get me more into my body and out of my head, where the anxieties tend to grab their fuel. Making the conscious decision to limit the input/output of my days only creates more space.

It seems that what I’ve been craving is space. Safe, open, calm space. And space + noticing seems to equal presence. Because I don’t want to miss my one precious life. I want to live it.

*Heidi will tell you she found this practice via Kristin Neff.

**I highly recommend this hand-to-heart practice. Go on. Give it a try xo

 

 

2014 One Little Word


Flow first came to me via the INFJ business class I’m in. Abby spoke about working with our preferences, energy, cycles, seasons – “designing for flow” she called it.

Genius.

As I thought and felt through the last weeks of 2013, I tossed around a few words: hum, resonance, depth, grow. I wanted a word that could embody growth in an upward, expansive way, but also in a deep / depth way. I wanted a word that gave me the feeling of being one with energy, with people, with my life, and supported me in the way that “trust” did in 2012. Mostly I wanted a word that would move me forward through another spiral of life, *and* would be comforting.

The more I thought about “designing for flow” the more I realized this could be my word.

Here’s what flow means to me at the start of this year:
-Go with the flow, overcoming resistance. Energize focus.

-Cycles & seasons – following the planets, the moon, my own energy / body, a time to work, a time to harvest, a time to lie fallow. Respecting these rhythms. Aligned.

-Creativity – depth, bringing things together, allowing creativity to fill in the gaps of my days.

-Finding flow – the actual state of engagement and productivity.

-Waves, oceans, currents, tides. Sacred energy. Heidi  Taylor mentioned “sacred idleness” on Twitter – that seems to resonate here. So does my Year of Ocean project.

-Movement – clear space, energized focus give and take. Set up systems & structures to flow through.

-Priming the pump, filling the well, and taking care not to overdraw my reserves.

-Power in Ease (path of least resistance) – let go or be dragged, trust.

I’ve found that my one little words ask me to look at their opposites. The opposites for flow I see now: resistance, stuck, scarcity, lack. When I’m experiencing these feelings through the year, I want to remember to come back to flow.

Aligned + moving. Riding the waves. Living by the moon. xo

Interested in choosing your own word to guide you this year? I suggest two resources: Ali Edwards One Little Word series, as she’s the creator of this online project and Susannah Conway’s Unravelling booklet. Missed this in January? Don’t let whatever month it is keep you from choosing a word to carry with you the rest of the year. 

August Break Recap

 

For the month of August, I followed prompts and took a photo (or a 5) a day for an online challenge created by Susannah Conway called August Break. Looking at the photo grid above, I am really happy with the results.

Buuuttttttt…. I didn’t love doing it.

It’s supposed to be a great excuse to take a break from serious blogging over a summer month, but since I’d just gotten into the swing of posting via an editorial calendar in July, it was mostly a distraction. Aka – total derail. And I started to dread it. I stopped on day 21.

What I learned from all of this is that scheduling blog content and pre-posting (by a day or two) is actually more engaging for me than the “pressure” of taking photos and posting daily. I also love love love collecting* all of these photos in the calendar grid as a recap of the month. That’s definitely a bonus. And I started following some lovely women on Instagram I found only because of the hashtag. Live and learn.

You can see all of my August Break posts here. *Calendar grid made with the Collect App – free in the iTunes app store. I don’t :heart: it, but it works.

Did you participate in August Break this year or something similar before? How was your experience?

 

 

Day In The Life: Live Is Being Lived

Lately, I’ve been up and down emotionally. When this happens, I never know exactly why and therefore randomly try things to help me feel better. Most don’t seem to work and the best plan is just to wait it out. Monday was anxiety, Wednesday was frustration, and Thursday was something close to depression.

But when I remembered it was June’s “day in the life“, I perked up. Here was something that could anchor my day. Something that would remind me to notice the moments and to choose the “better” task hour to hour.

So, I went through my day, taking photos. And I remembered my horoscope from Astrobarry last week:

In case you haven’t noticed by now, Pisces, the horoscopes I’ve been writing you lately have been pretty fucking awesome. They have mostly centered around accepting yourself for who you are, right here and right now (instead of mooning over what could’ve been or might someday be), and just reveling in the giddiness and gorgeousness and general good-time feelings wherever and whenever you can find ’em. Now, I don’t want to be a sugarcoating bliss-ninny and give you the mistaken impression that everything in life will be sunshine and rainbow and tutti-frutti ice-cream cones from here on out—hell, I bet even at the best of times, there are still some things that are functioning poorly and/or mainly serve the role of ‘giant pain-in-the-ass’. And yet, here comes a year full of Jupiter-in-the-5th, starting early next week, which is one of the loveliest astrological happenings a sign can experience: an increase of encouraging planetary energy in the house of love and romance, children and child-like wonder, pleasure and play, and all leisure-time activities which bring creative self-fulfillment. Raise the roof on that one, dear fishy! While this will not magically remove all bumps-in-the-road or thorns-in-your-side, it does support you whenever you take steps to improve your appreciative enjoyment of the world. Knowing you, the hardest part just might be determining what you most genuinely enjoy… without unduly considering everyone else’s preferences and pressures. Doing more of what you really really love, by the way, is an incredibly attractivequality.

And I focused on doing what I wanted to do.

This is the hardest thing for me. I may seem all bad-ass and confident, but sometimes the slightest look from a friend or word from H can send me off into the hustle for worthiness.

This week had plenty of that as I prepared for my annual review. Even though I just received a promotion, even though I rock my job, it sent me into a panic. Thoughts swirling about if I’ve done enough and will make the cut. If I’m liked

But I kept my focus on taking those photos. And the ideas from above: “just reveling in the giddiness and gorgeousness and general good-time feelings wherever and whenever you can find ’em… pleasure and play, and all leisure-time activities which bring creative self-fulfillment“.

And I realize now as I write this that the act of taking these photos, of noticing my life, gives value to where I’m at, allowing myself to do what I want with these precious minutes I’m given each day. And it brings creative fulfillment, which brings me deep happiness with myself and my life.

*The picture of the 3 of us on our family walk is my fav

—Related—
Ali Edward’s Day In The Life
Susannah Conway’s e-courses, especially Unravelling
Liz Lamoreux
Brene Brown

Unraveling The Year Ahead

Each year, Susannah Conway puts together an “unraveling the year” beautiful workbook that helps you review the year and dream for the coming months. Printed it up in color today – one copy for me, one for my sister – and we spent a few hours this evening journaling, thinking and writing. It’s helped me grasp the enormity of 2012 (wedding, marriage, family, siblings moving to LA, honeymoon, other travel, so many work events, changes at work, my own ups and downs). I didn’t realize until tonight that by choosing “Trust” as my 2012 One Little Word, I also brought “Doubt” into my life. (Hopefully more on this soon).

I’m toying with a word for 2013 – I feel I’m on the brink of it being secured. In the workbook I chose a word, but I’m also feeling it’s not quite there yet. Still, it’s exciting and fun to dream about the year ahead. I ended up writing way more than my sister and tired out before I finished – so I’ll work on it again. Hoping to complete it this weekend, but maybe it needs to simmer some. We’ll see.

Get yours here: Let’s Make 2013 The Best Year Ever

Let the Holiday Seaon Begin!

Last night I ran a holiday event for work. It was awesome – we had a fabulous group of people show up, all went smoothly and my superiors are happy. On the other hand, it was tiring – talking to that many people, standing in the cold (my hips and feet were so stiff) and working a 12hr day.

Being the first event of the holiday season, it was a nice kick-off. I got to see so many people from the alumni community I oversee and all were in bright moods. I especially loved seeing Krysta who has become one of the coolest people I’ve connected with in 2012. (I wrote about her here) We’re pictured above 🙂

I spent most of the day recovering – events take so much out of me (I’m an INFJ) I did my work, had Starbucks with my sister, went grocery shopping, she’s baking cookies and we’ll make arroz con pollo for dinner. I spent a chunk of the afternoon chatting with my good friend Liz who’s two weeks into her relocation to the East Coast.

None of this is incredibly interesting but it’s my life this week. It’s balancing events and home and anxiety and enjoying friends. It’s the start of the holidays and the end of 2012. It’s me circling and revisiting what matters most – time with people I love, being home and not putting too much weight on the things that don’t matter.

**If you’re looking to review your year in a gorgeous and inspiring way, visit Susannah Conway’s blog for her yearly workbook.

Nourishing & Creative

I did a bunch of thinking today about my digital sabbatical / detox.  My whole day felt like a practice run and even though I logged onto FB for work, checked personal email 1x, work email during work and scrolled through Instagram after dinner, it felt like a success.

Because I’m paying attention.

I chose to drive a gorgeous street without any music or podcasts. The same quiet accompanied me on my evening walk with the dog. Both were awesome.

While waiting for a doctor’s appt I scanned a magazine and enjoyed the “Annie” movie on in the waiting room. I was the only patient not on their cell-phone. Trying to read a full article was difficult – I kept scanning around and eventually, just gave up and looked at the pictures.

After work, I chose to do 20min of yoga, read Susannah Conway’s book and journal instead of collapsing in front of the TV or dicking around on the computer.

And here I am blogging for myself, turning the blaring Olympics (aka endless commercials) off early, taking a quick shower and getting into bed before 11pm.

All are helping me focus and allowing my brain space to quiet down.

Today I wrote:

The detox feels like a pull-focus. It’s not deprivation. It’s an excuse, a call, a directive to do what I actually want with my time…so many not so much a detox as much as a creative wish list…a sabbatical in the sense that it’s a set time to focus on something.

So I don’t know how much I’ll be off-line as much as I’ll be working to use my time on-line as productively and quickly as possible. To make sure that I’m not using it to just procrastinate, to beat myself up, to stay bored or to avoid doing something creative.

And I saw that Jen Louden commented on my previous post, which is insane b/c she’s a legit person out there in the world blogging, writing, helping people, and I don’t even share this blog with anyone but… her comment…

I am working toward finding a way that is nourishing and creative and informative not addictive and pointless. Have a wonderful break, may it bear much fruit. ~Jen Louden

What perfect rails to ride during this time. When it comes to my online time, if it doesn’t feel nourishing, creative or informative, I’m changing the behavior. Perfect.

Stay tuned. xo

Thinking About: A Digital Sabbatical

Sort of out of nowhere, the idea of a digital sabbatical popped into my head. I’m not sure if it’s mercury retrograde, being back to “normal” life, being away while on vacation or just a fluke idea. I don’t even have that much time to figure things out, as I’d like to start on Wednesday August 1st.

Oh irony, as I’ve spent a bunch of time this evening “researching” a digital sabbatical online. Susannah Conway did a digital detox, which seems more in line with my emotional goals for this time. Others work digital sabbaticals into each weekend. Some took 4 days, others, a month.

Here’s a list I read through that you can enjoy too:

For me, I know that it needs to be at least a week. It coincides with recalibrating my work routines and the feeling that August is here for me to reboot my life. The urge to go through things, sorting out what I want to let go and keeping what serves me… this is my jumping off point – my motivation.

Why am I doing this?

I just took 20+ days away from work for my wedding and honeymoon. It was glorious, but I found all the boredom / stress / anxiety entering into my actions via social media and Instagram. During vacation, I stayed off email and “off the grid” for work, but I mindlessly checked my phone. I logged onto Facebook, seeking comments and support, complain a bit on Twitter, and showed how awesome my life was via Instagram.

It’s addicting. And kind of pointless.

I want to feel present – with my husband in this new phase of our relationship, with my dog in his new rhythms, with my body, my work schedule and my own thoughts and emotions.

I want to reevaluate – how I spend my time, where I put my energy, how I use (and enjoy) my creativity.

I want more creativity – in my journaling, my writing, my photography, my art

I want a few more systems in place – things I can’t step back and think about or set-up unless I have some time

I want more quiet in my mind’s eye – computer screen at work, TV screen at home, Kindle screen for reading, iPhone screen for my phone… etc. Turn ’em off!

I want more human interaction with friends and family that’s deep – phone calls, letters, and hang-outs

The General Plan

I can not take full time off from email / the internet for work (just got back from a 20day vacation!), but I can build in some tight boundaries.

  • Actively cleaning up Facebook, Twitter, Email subscriptions, Inboxes, and LinkedIn – I’ll need some type of plan and schedule for this. Unsubscribe and delete!!
  • Take a full hiatus from Facebook & Twitter (personal) and check 1x per day for work
  • Tighten up my Flickr and Instagram accounts
  • Log onto Instagram 0 – 1x per day. Process photos but do not post to feed. (Airplane mode on phone)
  • No reading internet posts / blogs – deleting (mindless) web surfing for the full duration
  • Checking email 2x per day for work – 1x per day for personal (use ‘out of office’ replies and phone to connect)
  • Clean up hard-drives, desktops and back-up all files
  • Put e-books on Kindle and iPad
  • I am unsure if I want to post on my blog during this time

August 1st sounds like a great starting date. August 15th is 2 weeks, and August 19th feels good too come back.

Feathers & Serendipity

For the past few weeks since I’ve started my new approach to life I’ve spotted feathers in my neighborhood. I don’t know if it’s a seasonal issue for birds or what, but I’ve started taking them as signs of universal support for my actions.

It wasn’t until last night, though, that I actually picked one up and brought it home. I’d actually picked up two, but one was lost from my pocket. This morning, as I contemplated exercising before I checked email, to make sure I put my needs first, the large feather above appeared on the side of the road. If I’d been biking instead of walking my bike up a hill, I would’ve missed it. It felt magical.

I started wondering what this could mean. And then just this morning, I came across the following in “This I Know: Notes on Unravelling The Heart” by Susannah Conway:

And then there were the feathers… From then on feathers were the way I knew he was near me – I’d be thinking about him in the street, and next moment a feather would appear on my path. I’d find them in the house – little white ones between the pages of my books, a gray feather in the bathroom. It was strange and comforting… pg 35-36

She also wrote about her trip to New York in the same chapter:

Snapping my way through the kaleidoscope of restaurants, I found a bookshop with a poster of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe displayed in the window. Lured inside – who can resist a new bookshop? – I browsed for an hour, thumbing books about the city and the books about writing…pg 44

I am currently reading “Just Kids” by Patti Smith about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe.

So many little connections, and I take them all as signs I’m on the right path.