Letting life unfold

My body has been sending me a lot of messages lately about allowing for rest and play in addition to work. It is quite interesting. I sometimes find when I am planning or stressing about something, there is this uncomfortable pit in my stomach.

When I notice that slight pain, and I come back to the present and just breathe, typically it releases. I know that people talk a lot about making detailed plans for their future endeavors. And normally I subscribe to at least having a loose plan, and a vision for the future.

Something in me is telling me not to make super concrete plans just yet, and to play a little looser for now. I typically start with a “shape of the week” plan and then time block in 2-3 hour increments.

I start with a healthy dose of time for writing, reading and thinking from 6-9 a.m. That is when my mind is clearest, after I have meditated and had my coffee. Then from 9-12 I either go to a yoga class, a dance class, or sometimes a coffee meeting with a colleague.

Noon to 2 p.m. is blocked off for my lunch break and any small errands I may have to do, or sometimes just a little nap break or a podcast. Then 2-5 I work on things that do not require as much focus, sending email correspondence or doing smaller projects.  I do not work in the evening, unless I am very inspired to write something in particular.

life unfolding
Photo credit link

I find that keeping a very regular routine helps me sleep better and also I can produce “on demand” when the time is scheduled for me to do so. Right now I am taking it one week (and sometimes one day) at a time.

When I get very excited about an idea, I follow that path. When I feel a sense of dread, I avoid that path. Right now, that seems to be where I need to be, just letting life unfold, not getting too caught up in doing all the right things.

I recognize the privilege of allowing this time. I also remind myself that I planned for it. I trust that using this “body meter” intuition to follow what is right for me will lead me where I am called.

How is your life unfolding? Do you ever doubt the process of finding your path? What helps you nurture that trust in yourself?

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Advertisements

Wellness Wednesday – healthy boundaries

It is Wellness Wednesday! The question for the day is this:

Do you consciously set healthy boundaries in your life and work?

I only recently started understanding what good boundaries are for me, and how to say a courteous “no” to certain requests when appropriate. We are wired for connection, and this means we often strive to please other people, not out of any weakness on our part. This is part of the human condition, and how we survived as a species, through relationships and connections.

The problem comes in when we do not see how the multiplying complexity of our social platforms and our networks creates an ever larger amount of choices and opportunities. That can be a blessing. But it can also have a cost, in terms of our overall productivity and focus on the things are the most relevant to us. Do less, but better (as Greg McKeown would say).

Wellness Wednesday

My need for regular solitude and time to think and reflect sometimes comes into conflict with my desire for input and learning, for example. Often I must put some constraints around the input, whether through books, podcasts or audio books.

I have learned that adding some constraints to my schedule, such as when I will meet with people or how many calendar items I will schedule in a given week, helps me be more productive with my time. In my previous position, when I was working in a corporate environment, it helped to block off some time for planning and thinking. Otherwise, I was at the mercy of others dictating my calendar.

It was harder in the days when I was traveling to put constraints on my hours because I often wanted to take advantage of the time to meet with people locally. But at the same time, I learned that running myself ragged did not increase my productivity at all. In fact, it usually led to consequences such as less quality sleep and less creativity about problem-solving.

It can be a tricky balance. Some people have an easier time with boundaries at work but home is the place where the requests can feel mandatory. I am interested in your experience with this idea, and where you find it most challenging.

What can you do to set healthy boundaries to fulfill your needs for rest, creativity and play outside of work and family obligations?

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

What are your habits?

Hi Friends,

This morning I awoke after going to bed early and getting a nice, juicy 10 hours of sleep. I had dream fragments on my mind, so wrote them down in my journal before I forgot them. Whenever I sleep more than 8 hours, I seem to dream so vividly. Clearly my subconscious is doing some important work, and I am allowing plenty of space for that to happen.

I woke up with a sense of possibility, now that my sabbatical is officially over, and October has begun. While part of me hoped to have my venture more defined and certain by now, an equal part of me knew I needed to have plenty of spaciousness and time for incubation in my life.

After a year of writing nearly daily, I realize that I can create any habit which I really care to develop. That gives me a lot of confidence for the habits I need to adopt as a self-employed person. Aristotle said that “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore is not an act, but a habit.”

As I sit to work on my plan for the next 3 months, it occurs to me to ask myself and also you:

What are your habits? Which habits serve you? 

Which habits to you intend to keep?

Which new habits to you want to begin?

Which old habits are you ready to release?

happy october

Can I ask you a favor?

My Friends,

Hubby and I are planning our September vacation/honeymoon trip to the U.K. and I would like to ask your advice if you either live or have traveled to England and Ireland.

From September 5-19 we will be traveling. We have already reserved AirBnB’s in London (St. James Park), Plymouth (with day trip to Cornwall planned), Wiltshire (close to Stonehenge), and Liverpool. We are hoping to fly from Liverpool to Dublin for 3-4 days there and then will return to London for a couple of days before the final flight home.

London by night
Photo credit link – London by night

Questions:

What is the train transportation like? Is it better to just buy the Rail Europe passes to use the trains? What about the Oyster card? That seems like a great deal for getting around London.

While in Ireland, we hope to visit Belfast and Londonderry (where my husband’s family originated). Any advice on things to do in Ireland for non-drinkers? Not that we never drink, but we are not especially into it, and I like historical things, but am not particularly interested in breweries.

Other transportation advice while we are in the area or suggestions for what to visit are welcome. My grandfather was from Cornwall, so we would like to see that Southwestern part of England and perhaps see Land’s End as well.

I know that a number of my readers are from the U.K. and surrounding areas. Hey, if it’s possible, let’s meet for tea while I am in your area! It would be fun.

Thank you in advance for any advice you are willing to give us. I realize some of this can be located on the googles, and I will be doing research that way as well. But sometimes people can give you the inside scoop and that is infinitely more helpful.

Cheers,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

What makes the most sense?

When you start your work day or your work week, do you ever ask yourself: What makes the most sense? It may be a good way to clarify your objective in any given moment or hour of the day.

Do you ever consider what time of the day you work best?

(I am going to answer for myself in the parentheses below the questions: yes, morning. My best work happens before noon.)

Do you plan your time so that (if you are a morning person like me) you accomplish your most important work at that “best time”?

(Yes. Most of the time that works well. In my corporate job, it did not work as well, because I had to be sure to be available to my team at certain times, and morning was the time the most probably intersections.)

Do you spend multiple hours checking and responding to email?

(I used to do this. It took up WAY too much time and required me to refocus far too many times in the day to get to my “deep work” tasks as much as I wanted.)

Are you able to put aside distractions such as social media, email and other items while you are trying to complete your most important work? 

(It is truly tempting to have the social media “open” during the work day but I realized this was a recipe for disaster. So now I define times I will do that, usually during a break between harder tasks, before/after lunch break or at the end of the day when my brain is shot anyway.)

These are some questions I am using for my own self-coaching as I begin to work for myself, and launch a successful consulting practice. If they can be helpful to you as well, awesome! If you have some other coaching questions you like to ask yourself for helping to focus on working effective, I would love it if you share them with me. 

make sense
Photo credit link

Cheers & happy Monday!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

 

 

Wellness Wednesday – vacation

I recently implemented Wellness Wednesday as regular feature to my blog to give it some rhythm and focus during my week.

This week, since I have a vacation coming up starting on Saturday, I want to focus on the wellness practice of scheduling vacations at least twice a year, and being committed to taking them. This can be challenging in the U.S., where we do not have mandated vacation time by law, and companies have discretion about how much vacation to grant.

However, whether paid or unpaid, time off is a very important part of self-care that allows us to recover from stress. It also allows for time away from the day-to-day grind that can sometimes sap our energy and dampen our creativity. A change in setting and in the rhythm or pace of our week can provide the necessary variety to rejuvenate our ability to generate new ideas.

I used to believe I could not take a vacation, that people could not cope without my absence. Now I look back on that as a youthful delusion. Planning ahead, putting it on the calendar, and committing to taking it means I anticipate activities in advance. I allow others on my team to be resourceful and solve problems in my absence. I make sure to communicate on any pending projects where input may be required.

Mount Rushmore
Photo credit link – one of our planned vacation stops

In order to fully enjoy vacation, I typically do not check email and I use that ubiquitous auto-responder for my email box. I used to invite people to call me for urgent issues, since I do not check email. I no longer do that. If something is truly urgent, they will probably call. But since I am not a physician (like most of our customers) and lives are not on the line if I am not in the office, fortunately, very little rises to that level.

When planning vacation, if you can take 2 or more weeks off in a row instead of just one, at least once a year, do it! One week of vacation allows for tasks to pile up while you are gone, and you may have a full inbox, because people will wait for you return rather than seek someone else out in your absence. For a two week vacation though, I find that people either solve their own problems, or find someone who can answer their question, and it seems there is less of a “build up” while being gone.

Another reason to take 2 weeks, if you are anything like me, it literally takes me the first 3-5 days to truly get my mind AWAY from work, and get into the rhythm of vacation. If you only have one week off, take means only 4-5 days to truly enjoy yourself once you find that rhythm. If you have two weeks (or more), you can truly immerse yourself in the pace and enjoyment of your vacation.

For me, this June’s vacation will be a chance to connect with my husband and share some new adventures on our motorcycle. We will see Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse (South Dakoka) and Devil’s Tower, Wyoming. I’m excited – I have never been to either one.

Do you have vacation plans for this summer? What will you do to make sure you are ready? 

cristy@meximinnesota.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Escape Plan

I have been jonesing for weekend vacation getaway. This winter, without an escape vacation planned has felt long to me. Don’t get me wrong. I realize I am very spoiled by my ability to travel to Latin America for work, and I had I trip to Mexico in December.

But I have been wanting to go on a retreat of some kind, to get away from the day-to-day with my sweetie and/or go on a workshop. I just saw a promo from Martha Beck and Liz Gilbert for a weekend workshop in Scottsdale, Arizona yesterday and today I decided: let’s book this thing! I am so excited now!

Liz and Martha

I have been reading Martha Beck for about 16 years now, and I discovered Elizabeth Gilbert just a few years ago. Her work also speaks to me at a soul level that is hard to describe. Both of them have been like magical gurus to me over the years.

I am kind of dazzled and amazed that I just booked this weekend trip. I asked my hubby to go along with me. He’s not into the workshop part but the enticement of motorcycling in the Arizona dessert sounded like a good deal to him.

Fortunately I have a gazillion Skymiles so the flight from MSP to PHX costs us $22.40 in total. So now the task will be to find motorcycle rental while we are on the trip. I want  my hubby to have his share of fun while I am indulging my own fantasy of meeting two of my favorite authors.

Scottsdale McCormick Ranch
This is the photo of Scottsdale Resort in McCormick Ranch where we still stay for 3 nights.

This is one reason why I love vacation: planning head and having a couple of months of sweet anticipation is fun. Then the event itself! So cool! And the memories afterward: priceless. I’m thrilled my hubby is game for my random adventure ideas, and so very jazzed about the opportunity.

I started my taxes last night and realized we were getting a modest refund, and when I plan for the expenses of the trip I realize we are covered. No need to take the money from savings, though I was willing to do that if needed. So much gratitude right now. It will be a little hard to calm down and breathe in my yoga class. But it’s all good.

Have a great weekend, y’all!

Paradise found

I woke up with the song “Remember Me” in my head from the movie Coco. If you have not seen it yet, please do. It is a sweet movie.

I wondered what it was my brain wanted to remember. And since it is January in Minnesota, the most logical choice is summer vacation.

We get something we call “cabin fever” right about this time, a little restlessness with being inside so much of the time. It got up to 42 degrees F yesterday which is actually quite warm for us, so I did fit in a little run outside in the fresh air and to get some sunshine. While I take my vitamin D religiously in the winter, since are all deficient at this latitude, there is really no substitute for real sunshine.

Paradise, Michigan
Photo taken from Paradise, Michigan – July 201

I thought back to the lovely motorcycle trip last summer around Lake Superior, and checked my phone for pictures. Ah, sweet memories. One night when we had made it to Paradise, Michigan, we stopped at our campsite, realized it had rained a bit that day and the campground was soggy. So we opted for a hotel that night, a place with laundry facilities. Hot showers and a real bed were awesome, and the view from the hotel was amazing.

This is why you often hear the advice: buy experiences, not things. When you spend money on a vacation, not only do you get to enjoy a lovely time away, you get the benefit of anticipating and planning the trip. Then you also get the experience of fond memories on the trip, and stories you can tell after the trip with your loved ones.

Granted, vacations can be expensive. But they do not have to be when planned in advance. My hubby reserved campsites for 8 out of our 10 nights on this trip, and then 2 B&B’s/hotels so that was quite affordable. When traveling on a motorcycle you have to plan alternatives in case of rain, so we did forfeit the campsites twice and opted for hotels. But still, a lovely and memorable trip around Lake Superior with good memories was a bargain for the cost.

Those of you who are indoors and tired of the cold and snow: try thinking about where you may want to spend some summer vacation time. It gets your creative juices going and if you plan now, you may be able to put aside some savings to make it happen.

Ah, Paradise!