"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." A.A. Milne

Sunday, October 28, 2012

5 For 15 For November

I am on an infinite journey to improve myself and my life. I truly enjoy making changes that make me a stronger, centered, and happier person. I will be honest, it isn't easy and often it means I have to look some rather nasty demons in the face. It is hard but it is the only way to deal with them and then banish them with my life.

I have been attempting to do this for decades. I failed so much more often than I succeeded mainly because I was a perfectionist and tended to go insane and try to change every single facet of my life....right now. You can probably guess what a resounding success that was....not. Finally 8 years ago I committed to the long haul. I decided to firmly put myself on this path and trudge along slow and steady. Because you see, slow and steady truly does win the race.

In the beginning, I had an unyielding vision of what my life should be. This is what good health would look like. This is what would ultimately make me happy. This is exactly how I would be a perfect parent. Oops, did you see that word? Yep, perfect. Perfect, in many instances, should be classified as a yucky word. The pursuit of perfection and rigid demand of perfectionism we drape across our shoulders like a lead cape is the culprit responsible for a great deal of pain and misery.

Even with these unrealistic expectations, I took the first step and stopped drinking soda. Just a little thing but it was the quiet herald of my new life. Over the following months, I made baby steps such as eating 3  servings of veggies a day, exercising 3  days a week, going to bed at an earlier time, etc. Approximately every 6-8 weeks it was time to assess my life and implement a new change.

The strangest thing happened as I focused on one thing at a time. (Imagine that, keeping my mind present and living intentional made a huge difference.) That burden of perfectionism I insisted on lugging around lightened. That voice berating me for every failure, real or imagined, lay dormant more often. The experience of making these changes had began to teach me grace, self love, and a fluidity of goals and aspirations. I laughed easier, rested well, and true joy and gratitude started pouring into my life.

I am a vastly different person today. My priorities are radically different. My journey is ongoing but instead of being focused on a definite end goal, I am loving the experience of the organic whole. The journey really is the point, I guess.

But with that in mind, I have new focuses for November. I have already started them because I was ready and excited. These changes are a joy for the most part rather than a fearful undertaking so I normally jump into the next challenge. I love the idea of focusing on a few things but in small bites. So I came up with the idea of working on 5 things with a 15 minutes a day commitment. Here they are:

1. 15 minutes of yoga- a sustained yoga practice is a true boon in my life. My kids aren't always cooperative with the hour practice but 15 minutes is workable.

2. 15 minutes of meditation- Meditation has been transformative in my life. I am really a novice at this practice. You really need at least 20 minutes to calm your mind and then everything after is the sweet spot. But see above about those littles. You do what you can.

3. 15 minutes of quality reading- I love to read but since my head was flooded pregnancy hormones I have a hard time focusing on much more than fluff. But I believe this problem is now more a matter of habit. So I will be reading classics, nonfiction, etc. I have a new interest in astronomy. That will be great reading.

4. 15 minutes of reading to the kids- I am sure I don't need to tell you how important it is to read to your children. We do read but lately it has been sporadic. I want consistency in this area.

5.  15 minutes of purging and decluttering- Living a more minimalist lifestyle will greatly benefit the flow, stress level, and quality of life in our home. It will be my version of minimalism but to accomplish this, I must purge and declutter. If it is not beautiful to one of us or useful, it is out of here.

Understand 15 minutes are the least amounts. If the kids and I are reading for over an hour, great. When I have the opportunity to fit in a 90 minute yoga session, you know I will. But these small bites make the habits  more easily fit into my life. That is the key, get them in there and they will flourish either in the natural order of things or in later focuses.

So this is how I do it. I have completely overhauled my life and have come to really love the process. I hope you find a journey filled with joy as well.


  1. I love this idea Karen! Making goals like this is so much fun anyway. I've tried to do "30 days of..." whatever this year and failed, but I think it's just too wide, too easy to break. Narrowing it to "just" 15 minutes will help. My new rule to write is to "just" get to the page, even if it means one sentence. Hey, I have more down than I did yesterday, anyway, and the day before that! ;) I also love to make lists of 100 things to do every year, in addition to my lifelong list of things to do, which is just a lot of fun. It's never fully complete--I've done around 60 things this year--but it leads to a lot of enriching, fun experiences.

  2. I have learned to give myself alot of grace. A negative, berating myself attitude made me give up easily. If I don't do it today, tomorrow is a great day to try again.