By Request! The Nitty Gritty Details of How to Do It All

Wow! The response from my post on Saturday was a wee bit more than I expected. I’m happy (and a bit surprised!) to know people are reading AND responding. Thank you for asking your questions. Everything I said in that post is TRUE. 100% true. That’s the mantra that marches through my head. But… there is a little more to the story of how I do it all.

It’s tough. It’s not for the faint at heart. But it’s possible. And I promise that just going through this process of meeting the challenge has helped me grow in so many ways.

Let’s get practical.

Here are a few of my tried-and-true Big Picture Tips for How to Do It All:Decide What’s Important

IMG_1567My top priorities are (not in any particular order): my health, my kids, my
husband, my family, and my tribe. When I schedule my week – this is an activity that I do EVERY SUNDAY NIGHT! – I always schedule these priorities first. Time to workout, time to make dinner, time to do laundry, time to play games, time to make connections with people, etc. Sometimes there are some things that just don’t make the weekly schedule because my priorities are going to take up more time than I have.

And yes, I work full-time. In fact, on average I log over 50 hours of “work” in a week! That was time spent teaching, coaching, crunching numbers, creating presentations, meeting with realtors and bankers, updating social media, professional development, writing notes to students, and more. I use quotes around the word “work” because I love what I do. Time flies when you’re having fun!

Remember too that MY HEALTH is on that list. I sleep. I eat. I take a lavender and Epsom salt bath every night. I admit that often the priority that slips through the cracks is my marriage. At the end of most days, I start snoring within seconds of hitting the pillow. Time with my husband to cuddle up, talk about our days, or have sex often slips through the cracks. This ALWAYS causes friction in my life. It’s no different than skipping workouts. So, I make it a point to take time to spend with him.

My point is that you have to know yourself. Know what’s important and know what’s critical (there’s a difference). Then, plan accordingly.

  1. Plan for the Big Picture, but Always Have a Plan!

My parenting mentor and our pediatrician, Dr. Lisa Morrison, gave me solid advice for life when explaining how to approach my kids’ nutrition. She said, “Don’t worry about 24-hr cycles or even each meal. Think about the whole week.”

Living out a perfectly planned day is like suffering through a boring, mid-western meal of IMG_2913mystery meat, boiled potatoes, and canned vegetables… every DAMN day. Ugh. I can’t handle that. Not only is it difficult, it’s BORING! And it’s hard. Salad with pizza? Just eat pizza! Did they eat all of their greens? Seriously. NO THANK YOU! Sometimes you need to eat cherry pie for breakfast. And lunch. And dinner.

If left to my own devices though, I would eat chips and salsa or cherry pie for every meal. (This is not advisable, although it is a good description of my college years.) Now as an adult, I plan. I plan meals. I plan work projects. I plan back-to-school shopping (in chunks… I can’t handle it all at once with all four in tow!). I plan holidays. I don’t plan everything but I do plan the things that matter.

Plan for the big picture. Over the course of the week, make sure that you are addressing your priorities. Not everyday. Just over the course of the week. Or two weeks. Or the month. Let go of your perfectionism and your laziness. Both are damaging.

  1. No Excuses.

Be honest.

If you mess up, fess up.IMG_2217

Do better next time, but don’t make excuses. And understand that mistakes just reveal our speed bumps and little cracks in the pavement. Likewise, don’t sign up for things you don’t want to do. If you don’t want to go hiking, don’t go hiking. Just tell your friends that you’d rather take a bath, or get a pedicure, or wash your wounds in rubbing alcohol before you would ever step foot on a “trail”. Ugh. Just be honest with the world. Mostly, be honest with yourself.

I hate hiking, by the way. Send me your pictures, because I probably won’t see it myself.

  1. Learn to Let Go.

I hesitate to use this over-used and often misunderstood “Life Rule”. But, the truth is that it is TRUTH. I think the yogis describe it best as Abhyasa and Vairagya. Look it up if you are interested. Abhyasa means Practice and Vairagya means Non-Attachment. My Western Kansas translation is to think of it as the balance of “Never Give Up” and “Always Let Go”.

Consider this. Life is like floating a river. Sometimes, you can just float. Your butt is wedged in the middle of the tube, an ice-cold beer in hand. Sometimes you hold on and ride the rapids. Sometimes when the river is slow, you meander to the side and grab hold of some grass, dip your head back and get your hair wet. If you try to do all of those things at once, you will FAIL. You might even drown! You can’t hold onto the grass on the bank with rapids crashing over your head any more than you can keep your morning workout routine when you have to catch at flight at 5:40AM!

Learn to let go. Learn to roll with the punches. Look at the big picture!

  1. Have Fun.

Everyday. Just do it. Laugh, dance, play, make jokes with the bag boy at the grocery store,
send your BFF funny memes, and when your kids complain about chores… make whiny
impersonations and then tell them, “It sucks to suck!”

I’ll be honest. I don’t know that #5 creates more time for me to do what I want to do in a day. But I know that it always lightens the load and the mood. I am more effective when I’m happy. I’m better at letting go and I’m more creative in my problem-solving. And is it a waste of time to make people smile? No! Smiling and laughter is ALWAYS worth the two seconds it costs you.
All of that said, here are some of my MUST-DO’s:

  • Plan your week. Look at your priorities and figure out when you are going to schedule each of them. Be realistic and be willing to make changes but keep your priorities as the guiding light.
  • Review everyday at the end of everyday and plan for tomorrow.
  • Speaking of tomorrow… set up the coffee (on a timer!), lay out your clothes, pack your bag, and get everything ready for the morning so you can hit the ground running!IMG_1597
  • Adopt a system for getting shit done. I’ve used Franklin Covey’s system (loved it!), Apple’s Reminders, and good ol’ fashioned paper. Currently, I use Todoist and I have to say that it is the BEST system I’ve ever used – easy to schedule, prioritize, and share tasks.
  • Where you can, assign (and pay) others to do the things that are important to you to have completed, but that you don’t necessarily need to do yourself. My general modus operandi is to do everything that’s important on my own first until I understand how and why I want it done. Then I farm it out – sometimes to staff, sometimes to my children. Child labor is my favored route.
  • Recruit! The most important priorities in your life should also be your #1 fans. Your kids, your partner, your team, your health… all parties should be on board for this journey.
  • Talk to someone. See a therapist. Someone to help you think through things. I’ve found that today’s problems ALWAYS have roots in my past. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not advising to wallow in your childhood. But, a trained therapist can help you sort through the parts of life that you’ve stuffed down, ignored, avoided, or skimmed over. In the words of a wise friend, “Wherever you go, there you are.” If you find yourself hitting the same damn wall, feeling the same feelings of anger, frustration, shame, or pain, then that’s something that needs attention. Take care of it. I promise your life will be better.

I don’t know that I have any more to offer. Those of you asking for the details, there you go. It’s hard. It’s rewarding. It’s frustrating. It’s fun. It’s life.

Yup.

It’s life.

And I love it.

Cheers!

P.S. I’ll leave you with this. The most precious and critical moments of each day are those that I spend with my closest people.

Coffee with Stella from Hella on our recliners in the morning sun.

Conversations on the commute to and from Whitefish with Baby Joe.

History trivia and sports updates in the neurology office waiting rooms with Tedzilla.

Jokes and barbeque lessons with Little Rick.

And best of all are the late night vinyl and bourbon sessions with my husband, my best friend, my partner, my muse, my love, my sweet Travis.

Taking time and appreciating time with these people is my lifeblood. This time trumps any and every appointment or task on my list. More importantly, when I’m in these times, I’m fully in this time. I don’t text, check social media, answer email, make calls, daydream, or stew about what’s next. I’ve learned how to do this and I’m thankful I decided to figure it out. These moments make up the life that I love living.

 

Easier Said Than Done

As a yoga teacher, one of the challenges of the trade is taht I am often asked about neck pain, back pain, and whether or not there is a pose that would help streacth a certain area in the body. What no one ever asks me is how to detach from designs, still the minds’ flucturations, or find steadiness and ease in a body and mind that appear so rigid and unadjustable. Funny, since those are the root practices of yoga.

I have always been under the impression that people don’t talk about the classical philosophy and practice of yoga because they don’t understand it or they are afraid. More likely it’s because of the public image of the cloth diaper-wearing, patchouli-laced, overgrown hippie who talks in strange vagaries about “beingness” and unrelatable terms that involve fabled stories of ancient times where fabled people always did the right thing and never worried about healthcare, taxes, or how to update their new iOS.

In reality, the psychology, philosophy, and practice of yoga is quite practical and very applicable to our modern lives.

The first aspects of yoga are physical. Yama and niyama remind us to be good and do good. Asana keeps us physically fit. Pranayama teaches us to be still and pay attention. Pratyahara bridges what is tangible to what is more abstract and brings us to examine our consciousness.

When we work on our consciousness – our “being-ness” – then we start to see changes in how we think, work, feel, and live. And believe it or not, therein lies our answers to aches and pains, depression, anxiety, and whatever else it is we are looking for when we type Yoga in to the Google search.

And, like all important practices in life, it’s much easier said than done.

 

Your Ego is Not Your Amigo

IV. 4 nirmanachittani asmitamatrat   Constructed of created mind springs from the sense of individuality.

Finally, the door started to open with this sutra.

Our ego creates a division between ourselves and others and creates a sense of separateness. It is responsible for making us think that we are different from everyone else. And with that division comes all sorts of insecurities and uncertainties. We then begin to speak and act in accordance with this idea that we are different, that no one understands our challenges, and that life is really too difficult to live. Fear then rules our actions. We react to the “what ifs” that spring from this ego-constructed mind. Our chests tighten, breath shortens, and necks shorten with growing tension. Arrgggh!

Years ago, I was plagued with anxiety attacks. Anyone in my shoes would have surely suffered the same. My mentor at the time suggested that for every “what if”, I simply ask a follow up question. “Then what?” This trick is still part of my daily thought process.

Moods and opinions are something we have to work with. We have to learn to observe and identify instead of reacting always. The purity of who we are is veiled and discolored with reactions. These reactions define us in the world. Reactions and opinions give us individuality. When we have such strong reactions to life, we trick ourselves into reassuring our insecurities. And it is our insecurities that veil our true selves. Instead of shooting into the dark, we learn to shoot from the hip, and then eventually to not shoot at all.

Easy peasy.

The moral of the story is that as much as we like to feel special, it’s the ego that creates that division between ourselves and others. Following our ego leads us down a dark and lonely path. An important step in liberation is to identify when we’ve invited our ego to take the wheel.