As February draws to a close, I find myself examining my emotional health once again, and have begun setting my March “Happiness Project” goals. I never thought I would enjoy self-exploration so much!! How interesting it is when we start examining and working on ourselves; not to criticize our faults, no no! But rather to recognize & accept who we are at our core, and put effort into discovering how we can truly THRIVE being our authentic selves. How we can CARE more about our own selves; and recognize that in caring more for ourselves, we can show more kindness to everyone.
Many of my friends and fam have heard me talk lately about the profound influence that the author Gretchen Rubin has had on my daily life & habits. I began with “The Happiness Project” and was hooked! I have now also read “Better then Before” & “The Four Tendencies” and I also religiously (almost obsessively) listen to her podcast “Happier with Gretchen Rubin” (and her fantastic sister, Elizabeth Craft) Aaaaand I just purchased the one-sentence a day “Happiness Project Journal for Mothers”, so that I can preserve the most memorable moment of each day over the next 5 years of our family life (and today, Lydia said her first official word: “mama”!!! How fitting that my journal should arrive on this very day). My happiness in the course of daily life has improved exponentially, and I have HER and my Upholder tendency (if you haven’t taken the 4 tendencies quiz to find out what YOUR core tendency is, you totally should!! Go to happiercast.com/quiz) to thank for the improvements I have made to myself over the last month or 2. The fact that I am generally happier means that my husband and little ones are also generally happier, what a wonderful cycle indeed!!
As anyone who has followed the blog knows, (or anyone who has had to listen to me yammer on in conversation lately, ha!!) I began my very own Happiness Project last month. The day that we found out Evretts’ brain has abnormalities, I decided that was the time to undertake the task of becoming HAPPIER. I began by taking a look at what I deem to be the key areas of my life, which are (in no particular order): physical health, emotional well-being, environment, hobbies, romance, friends, family, finances, purpose/career, spirituality, and personal growth, and then rating them on a scale of 1-10 based on how fulfilled I feel in each area. From there, I brainstormed ideas for how to improve in each area, and soldiered forward in the quest to improve them.
In her own Happiness Project, Gretchen chose one key area to focus on each month, with individual resolutions surrounding that key focus. For me, I know that I feel most effective & fulfilled when I am improving multiple areas. So, I chose resolutions from my brainstormed list that were representative of a few different areas of my life. In February, I chose “hug Cody”, “NO Nagging & Refrain from Useless Questions”, “Track $ and Spend Frugally”, “Give Daily Proofs of Love”, and “Give 1 thing away”. (For those who may not know, the idea is to do these things EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. On the days you accomplish that resolution, you give yourself a checkmark, and on the days you fall a bit short, you give yourself an “x”) Well, upon looking back at my chart from February, it is easy to see where I thrived: I had checkmarks every damn day for “hug Cody”. He had told me at the end of January that if I hugged him every time he came home, he would feel even more loved….and I had no problem making it a priority to always do that for my biggest little man!
Which area do you think I did the poorest in? Come on, venture a guess….be honest…you won’t hurt my feelings…. 😉 Yup, I did the worst at “Give Daily Proofs of Love”. That one was written with the intention of doing something each and every day to show Scott how much I love & appreciate him. I only managed to do this 20 out of the 28 days of February. Why?….I’m not %100 sure…but I do think it has something to do with the fact that I don’t consider myself the most creative person by nature, so sometimes I found it difficult to come up with NEW ways of showing him my love in our daily life. Sorry Scott, I didn’t mean to fall flat…BUT, the nice thing about the monthly resolutions is that they are meant to continue, even as you add on new resolutions each month. Therefore, I have more chances yet to redeem myself in the areas that need it.
I have been jotting down ideas as they come to me over the last week or two, regarding how I feel I can improve going forward. And when I evaluated how I am feeling (on that 1-10 scale) in the key areas, SPIRITUALITY by far fell the lowest!! I must say, I found it more difficult this month to pick only 5 true resolutions. I had 6-7 that I was really debating between. “Why not just go with more than 5 resolutions then?”, you might ask? Because, I know myself: I won’t be pleased if I pick too many resolutions, and then get overwhelmed attempting to improve on them all. I will beat myself up for dropping the ball, and my overwhelm will quickly turn in to a feeling of failure…and sabotage any positive change that could have otherwise evolved (This is an Upholder thing, seriously, you’ve got to read the 4 Tendencies book!). So, I resolved to stick with my magic number of FIVE resolutions for March. Drumroll please: drrrrrr…….and they are:
*Schedule Time to Play: I have noticed lately that in my drive to de-clutter, organize, clean, better my parenting skills by reading more books, etc., that the moment one of the littles wakes up, I am automatically thinking “what will I do with them while I get such-and-such done?” Or, “why couldn’t they have slept X mins longer, so that I could finish doing this?”…WHY would I even think this way?!! Upon closer examination, I realized that MOST of the time, there is no pressing reason as to why something needs to be finished right then and there. No deadline. No true reason why they have to “amuse themselves” while mommy finishes whatever task she has set her upholder mind to. I can do much of this when they go to bed at night, or at another time….so why put THEM off while I check things off my extensive to-do list?!! Not anymore. Of COURSE I will still have 99 things to do every day to take care of everyone (and myself), but amongst those things, I will be setting aside pockets of time solely to play with them. Just to focus on the beauty of the moment, to notice how adorably Lydia is playing with the Fisher Price table (just as Cody, and Evrett, once lovingly did), and press the musical buttons along with her. To play “I’m gonna get you!” with Evy, and let him scream out his laughter as loud as he wants when I chase him down the hallway…while I laugh just as loud with him!! To get lost in imagination with Cody over his dragon books that Grams and Papa got him for Christmas. Because they are only little for so long. And I refuse to miss it, fooling myself that any to-do list pulls rank over their joy. As Gretchen wisely says: “The days are long, but the years are short.”
*No Amazon: Here’s a tough one to admit: I had an online shopping addiction to Lululemon for YEARS. Seriously, I kid you not. I don’t think many people truly know this about me (It isn’t exactly something I proudly advertise, ha!!) And don’t get me wrong, it is STILL my signature clothing brand; if you take a look in my closet, Lululemon will occupy about 95% of what you see. I love it just as much as I did over a decade ago when the affair began….but, it no longer controls me. It’s not my master. I control IT. I kicked that toxic addiction when I began conquering my anxiety disorders in October 2017. BUTTTTTT…..now I find myself getting eerily close with another online entity: Amazon. (I expected this, I have heard that when people kick one addiction, something else usually does attempt to occupy that space…) Amazon and I need a little healthy distance, so for March, other than our auto-ship “subscrive & save” orders, I vow not to purchase anything extraneous from Amazon.
*No fake food/gluten: I have loved daily exercise for years now, since just after our first son Cody was born in 2011. But food? I’ve not been consistent with that EVER in my adult life. I was once gluten free, at the advice of a specialist of mine, to see if it would help my vestibular migraines. (It didn’t). I was a BeachBody Coach for a couple of years, following the 21 Day Fix meal plan (which is seriously an amazing plan for those looking for some maintainable plan that is not overly restrictive). And so many other variations thereof…I have read so many books, each recommending something different (no carbs, no sugar, no fat, yadda yadda yadda)…and listened to Chalene Johnson & Jillian Michaels’ podcasts over the years as well…but what truly works for ME? What allows my body all the nutrients it needs to effectively nourish Lydia as I continue to breastfeed her (keeping in mind that she has a Cows Milk Protein allergy)? What helps me feel my best, like a finely tuned, highly functioning machine of some kind? What foods make me genuinely happy, which would make me miserable to cut out altogether? Even though I am still reading and learning about what might be best for my body, for now I am going with no fake food, and avoiding gluten. I know how efficiently my body functions without gluten, and I crave that clean, strong feeling again. And clean eating, full of freshly prepared foods void of processing and labels is best for ANYONE (I strongly believe this). So, this is my new resolution.
*Try To Say Yes: Cody often complains that all I ever say is “no”. Although I realize that isn’t accurate, I’m sure to a little guy who is just 6, adults tend to say “no” more often than they say “yes”. (Or at least it seems that way to him!) So, in an attempt to show our sweet spunkin that his values, opinions and feelings are valid, I will say “yes” whenever I can. I will do my absolute best not to use “no” for my own convenience.
*10 Minutes for Spirituality: Spirituality, as you might recall, is where I ranked myself the lowest (by FAR!) this month. I think that area needs some major fine-tuning! It’s not that I am trying to find a “religion”. I simply wish to find and identify what I truly believe about whatever higher power is at work out there. Because this world is sooooo much bigger than just us. I believe that firmly. I have FAITH. I just can’t articulate what or whom exactly I have faith in. I believe that I can pass on my energy to whomever I come in to contact with, be that positive energy, or negative energy. This is why I strive to go the extra mile for people now, to always be kind, and generous in my assumptions about why people do what they do (or don’t do). I also believe in some higher power, I pray multiple times a day. From the very depths of my heart, I pray….to someone. But to whom? I believe life goes on after death, in some form. But how? I now want to explore more, with intention, and find out which spiritual path is right for ME. And I’m so looking forward to it!!!
I wonder how March will go, which areas will I excel in, and which will require the most effort? I’m reminded of a saying from my elementary school years: “March either comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb; or, March comes in like a lamb, and goes out like a lion.”
I wonder what is in store tomorrow….will March 1st bring a roar? Or a fleecy softness?