When Focus is Lacking…

I don’t know that I could have called myself a super task-oriented person before I became a parent in 2015, but I do know that I was able to focus for longer stretches of time and that allowed me to accomplish. What was I accomplishing exactly? I suppose nothing that life altering or impactful, but we’ll just say that things came more easily.

Parenting takes up a LOT of time in and of itself, and I truly don’t mind because my child is my world. But throw on the working full time and spending up to 90 minutes a day in a car commuting, and it eats at those precious minutes that I’d much prefer to spend engaging with my child, cooking a proper meal, or even blogging without interruption for 20 continuous minutes. There isn’t much space in my schedule for “me” time. I haven’t even thrown in that her father and I are on opposite schedules, so there isn’t much “us” time for he and I either.

Determining how to magically generate time for pursuit of my own self care, goal planning, and general well-being is something I am still actively trying to figure out.

I take “stolen moments” as I call them for myself when possible. I began this post, for instance, in the 15 minute interim of my Sunday morning wake-up and my daughter’s. I am now picking up where I left off in the waiting room of my doctor’s office, and will probably resume writing one or two more times before I completely get to the point of this rambling.

I optimistically bought myself a Panda Planner after I saw my single friend with a freelance career toting one with her as she worked remotely at a local coffee shop one evening. I flipped through it, excited at the prospect that if I could just neatly organize my goals for the week into this well structured $23 notebook, surely I could revisit the page I wrote them on daily to check in with myself and hold myself accountable. I promptly ordered it on Amazon, got it two days later, and looked across the room at it occasionally throughout the month of January, delaying for one reason or another actually starting to use it: “But I should start on a fresh month,” “But it isn’t Sunday, and you’re supposed to start at the beginning of the week to set your intention!”

Let’s just say that planner is still only sporadically used, several months later.

I can be great at planning gatherings, weekend outings, domestic travel, and even a 17 day long trip overseas that involves staying in 6 countries. I orchestrate these events without hesitation because I’m passionate about the outcome. I put great care into the details because the novelty of the experiences to be had lights a fire in my soul.

Planning my “What’s Next” still causes me pause, distraction, and an overall lack of execution.

I can’t seem to find the fire in uncertainty that involves an unpredictable outcome. Yet the concept of “What’s Next” is now upon me. I can see that without propelling myself into action, nothing will change. Time has become my excuse, and so therefore I must reimagine how I can have “enough’ of it to allow myself the space to get to where I want to be as a partner, a mother, an earner, and a creative individual.

It’s time for me to reign all that seemingly ADHD behavior in and get to rewiring my thought processes so that I’m more involved in the outcomes that surround me. It’s a difficult concept to process that things don’t just happen without conscious effort. Even more so that just “letting things be” when dissatisfied will not yield the life I’m envisioning. In my 20s, I coasted through my days without great thought of what belie me. Perhaps becoming a parent has forced me out of that oversimplified realm of thought.

It’s time to open up the planner and start make plans. I might just be a grown up now after all.

Hello, Little Free Library!

I was in the good phase of my pregnancy, that point early in the second trimester where energy returns and nausea fades. I was happily enjoying a summer evening stroll with my friend and her two dogs when I stumbled upon it: a Little Free Library. At the time, I did not know that this simple structure in front of a person’s house was part of a larger community of other such “libraries. ” I thought it was just a random (and great!) idea that a local resident had come up with to build a little cabinet on top of a wooden post and fill it with books that were free for the taking or borrowing, with the option to also contribute to the collection.

As if it were meant for me on that day, Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth about Pregnancy was one of the books sitting on the library’s shelf. I took it with me, pleased with my free, unexpected gift.

After that point, I began to notice more of these little libraries scattered about town.

When I had books to unload, I began intentionally seeking out these LFLs and adding to the collection. If I needed a new read, I’d peruse the selection freely available books on the shelves of these neighborhood library boxes.

After my daughter was born and right into toddlerhood, I introduced her to the wonders of these libraries. Her first book acquired was Adventure Cat Goes to School. It’s still a bit advanced for her, but she loved the picture on the cover and still has it 2 years later.

Earlier this year, my husband and I purchased our first home. That’s another story entirely, but during the competitive, hopeful, and discouraging hunt, the first time I saw our current home I somehow knew it was meant for us. Standing in a well- landscaped rock garden stood a Little Free Library that the seller had built, stocked, maintained, and registered on the Little Free Library website (www.littlefreelibrary.org).

When the home became ours, I took over as the steward of the library.

It has been a great joy maintaining it, restocking it, and receiving donated books from local community members. Having relocated from a home in the very pedestrian friendly North Park area to a residential street in Lemon Grove, it was nice to immediately have something that connected us to our new community.

Beyond that, I’m able to network with other Little Free Library stewards via social media. There is a Facebook page dedicated to the stewards and also one for the public, aptly titled Little Free Library. It’s nice to have a sense of community with others who share a mutual passion for serving neighborhoods in a positive way. There is so much creativity put into maintaining the little libraries, be it with the decor and design of the structure, the content of reading material inside, or the incentives and gifts stewards leave for their patrons.

Curious to locate a Little Free Library in your area?

Check out www.littlefreelibrary.org/ourmap, where you can search by zip code, city, GPS, or even a specific steward’s name or library name.

Even better, if you’re interested in starting your own Little Free Library, the Insider’s Guide to Starting a Little Free Library can be found right on https://littlefreelibrary.org/start/. You can build your own library or shop models for purchase as well!

Hope to see you in the community!

How Making Time for Yoga and Meditation Nurtures My Mind, Body, and Soul.

I was recently reading an article from a link sent to my email by the Chopra Center. It was about meditating, which is something that I have long struggled with. This is quite possibly because I have felt that I didn’t have the whole Mind-Body Connection thing going on. When I had tried to meditate in the past, I didn’t feel that I was getting out of it what I was supposed to. I didn’t perceive that I had the time to devote to meditating and stillness. How would I, what with a full work, commute, and mothering schedule?

This article actually got my mental wheels turning a bit as it discussed making and finding space for self reflection and care by identifying gaps in time to put toward this practice. I began to consider the transitions between one activity and another and how I might try to use those moments to actually do some good for myself since I feel that I don’t have a lot of free time.

I love going to yoga class.

I like being in the class environment because I feel that holds me accountable to actually honor my practice for a full 60 Minutes without interruption. I enjoy the studio I’ve been going to for the past 3 years quite a bit, but their schedule has changed recently and the classes that I favor no longer coincide with my post-work availability.

What’s a busy mama yogi to do?

My practice began to wane as I was no longer attending yoga classes with any regularity. My body and mind felt the consequences of this infrequency. I went to my massage therapist due to increased tightness in my upper back and shoulders. I discussed the woes of my restrictive schedule and lack of time for yoga classes. My massage therapist then enlightened me about Yoga with Adriene, which is a YouTube channel. She gave accolades about what a great instructor Adriene was, and how you can practice at your own pace and on your own time for free by subscribing to the YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene.

I went home and I did just that. What I love about the Yoga with Adriene channel is the variety of yoga programs available. There are yoga sequences to help with waking up or winding down. She has sequences that focus on different regions of the body. As someone confined to a desk at work, I appreciate yoga flows that help relax my upper back, shoulders, and neck. What is also great is that Adriene’s videos vary in length, with some sessions as long as 45 minutes, and others as short as 5 minutes. She even does 30 day yoga challenges, with daily guided flows to follow along to. I figure as busy as I am as a mom that works full-time and also spends an hour and a half in the car each day, surely I can carve out 5 to 10 minutes at least a few days a week to watch one of her videos and go along with the yoga postures. I can honestly say I’ve never felt worse after doing a yoga class.

As far as meditation goes, my massage therapist had an answer for me in that regard as well: Insight Timer. This app is available on Google Play and iTunes for free and can also be accessed from their website https://insighttimer.com/. I immediately felt the benefit of its use. Why it’s great: it has many meditation offerings ranging from just a few minutes to 30+ minutes. There are guided meditations and there are ones without words such as the sound of waves, rain, chimes, and assorted music.

Insight Timer has been the best way to rein myself in for some silence, reflection, and decompression.

It takes some conscious effort to reconnect with ourselves as our lives become more full.

I think as a busy parent, it can be easy to lose sight of our passions and interests. Incorporating meditation and yoga into my life using these flexible platforms has helped me to remain involved in activities that bring a smile to my face.