Friday, February 28, 2014

Flecks #16

As in flecks of reflection from the week: what I'm learning and celebrating.

Things I learned this week:

  • You can make any time sacred by lighting a candle and sipping hot tea. (Try it out. Before calling someone - whether with family, friend, or mentor - light a candle, pour a beverage in your favorite mug or glass, then sit at the table and be present for the phone call. No multi-tasking allowed.)

  • There are certain people in this world that we can connect with deeply even if we have never met in person.

Things I'm celebrating this week:

  • Connection.

  • Healing.

  • Love.

  • Noticing.

  • Clearing.

Things that are resonating with me this week:

A new (and free) ebook from Pace Smith: The 11 Most Dangerous Myths about Finding Your Path

This article: 16 Habits of Highly Sensitive People. Because yes, yes, and well, yes to nearly all of them.
I mentioned this one last week, but I'm still reading it and it's still stirring me: The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul by Danielle LaPorte. This passage, in particular, caught my attention:
Decide to Rise

Push. Turn up the volume. Go hard. Go harder.
Reprioritize your aches and pains.
Infuse your sensitivities with courage.
Tell fear to f*** right the f*** off.
Devote yourself to done.

I jumped right up after reading it, photocopied it, cut it out, and put it on my bathroom mirror as a reminder. There are so many important words there: push, aches, pains, sensitivities, courage, fear, devote, done. They all hit me at different levels and for different reasons. It's hard to explain, but I know I need to sit with this passage for a while.

In case you missed it...

I wrote some new articles for Grandmother Hen this month:

What did you learn this week? What are you celebrating? Leave a comment and I'll share a "Woohoo!"

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Interview: Jamie Ridler

Hearing other people’s stories is a great way to see things from a different perspective and perhaps find something new to apply to our own lives.

I am so excited about our guest today. Jamie Ridler is a creative living coach whose work I have followed for years. I've worked with her through one-on-one coaching, group workshops online, and self-study programs. Jamie is a rock star! She has a gentle way of encouraging you to find your path and follow it. I can't say enough good things about her, so let's just read her words.

JamieRidlerWhat have you been wonderstruck by recently?

I am wonderstruck by the sheer volume of gorgeous opportunities there are for learning in everything we do. With a bit awareness, a smattering of intention and a dash of curiosity, life turns into an amazing studio of experimentation, creation and discovery. I am amazed by it every single day.

What part of your day are you grateful for?

Every single bit of it. Losing my mom to cancer this past summer has made me hyperaware of the power and preciousness of every moment of life.

What part of your day is tough? How do you move through it?

The awareness that we each have only a certain number of days. I can find myself driven and overly forward-focused when I start to worry that there won’t be enough time, that there isn’t enough life in front of me. What helps me stay grounded is my delight in the present, my deep commitment to not only sharing my gifts while I’m here but also to enjoying the process along the way.

What do you wish you are more conscious of?

I often stop to remind myself that things are wonderful now, that even without more achievements, more creating, more sharing, more discovery, life is rich. I want to be more conscious of the fact that even if there were no more moments, my life would be complete.

How do you stay focused on what is truly important to you?

The first step has been getting clear on what that is! One of the gifts of getting older (especially after years of self-reflection) is being really grounded in my priorities and really clear on where I want to spend my energy and my time.

After that, my approach is really practical. Every week I set myself goals that are directly linked to my top priorities. (In fact, I recently shared some free focus journal sheets to support people in doing just that. You can get them here ( Over the years it’s become very clear to me that the less aligned my life is with what’s important to me, the more my happiness, energy and health suffers. The more focused I am on what really matters, the more vibrantly alive I become.

And just before we go, I wanted to share that as I was readying to send this to you, What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong started playing. I’ve heard it so many times but today I stopped and really, really listened. My eyes filled with tears and my heart grew with love and I thought, “Yes, this is what it means to be wonderstruck.”

Here it is for you and your readers.

About Jamie Ridler:

Jamie Ridler is a creative living coach and the founder of Jamie Ridler Studios. From coaching to workshops, from podcasting to blogging, Jamie’s work helps women find the confidence and courage to discover and express their creative selves so they can be the star they are.

Find Jamie here:

Website: Jamie Ridler Studios
Podcast: Creative Living with Jamie
YouTube: Creative Living TV
Facebook: Jamie Ridler Studios
Twitter: @starshyne
Pinterest: @starshyne
Instagram: @starshyne

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

4 Small Things You Can Do to Lighten Your Load

I took on an unexpectedly monumental task: cleaning out my purse (or really, two purses and a diaper bag that I had rotated between over the past few months).

I was frustrated with my bag because it was too full. There were too many things crammed in that it made it difficult to find what I wanted inside.

When I emptied the contents of all three bags on the bed, I was horrified. It looked something like this after I got rid of all the garbage.

2014-02-19 08.38.50

What I had amassed:

  • my large daily wallet

  • a small wallet with just the basics that I used for a weekend away

  • sunglasses and case (not coexisting)

  • diaper, wipes, changing pad, and trash bags

  • travel-sized tissue pack

  • a roll of toilet paper (from when my son had the sniffles and the travel tissues weren't enough)

  • napkins from a fast food restaurant

  • 4 toy trucks

  • various receipts and old shopping lists

  • 3 small notebooks and a stack of notecards

  • 6 pens and 1 highlighter

  • camera

  • charger and extra battery for camera

  • phone headset

  • coupon book

  • medicine stash from our weekend away when my husband and I were recuperating after the flu

  • business cards in a case

  • business cards not in a case

  • 4 lip balms and 2 lip glosses

  • hand lotion

  • a pouch of miscellanea: band-aids, Tylenol, kids' disposable placemats, hair ties

  • a Christmas gift to my son from his teacher: plastic-wrapped Christmas drinking cup filled with a candy cane, two pieces of chocolate, and a lollipop ring

Seriously. No wonder I'm overwhelmed.

I'm missing the days of shoving my driver's license and debit card in my pocket and being on my way. In fact, as much as I like purses, I don't much like carrying them, but now as a mom, I find it necessary. And if I'm going to carry a purse, then I want something to write on and my camera so I can capture moments and beauty and fleeting thoughts.

The point, however, is not just my purse. The point is... too much. I have too much, and I'm trying to do too much.

More stuff means more stuff to care for, clean, and look after. On the flip side, less stuff means more space and more time. I don't know about you, but I could certainly use more space and time.

I want to be unencumbered. Right now, that is guiding a lot of my daily decisions.

In light of that, I've rounded up some of my recent undertakings into a list of...

4 Small Things You Can Do to Lighten Your Load

  1. Clean out your purse. Don't just look through it, dump it out. All of it. Every little corner and zip pocket. Now, pick one item at a time and decide if you really need and want it in your purse. If it's not a "hell yes," it's a no (a la Victoria Brouhard's No-Brainer Scenario).

  2. Cancel magazine subscriptions. If you don't have time to read them or they no longer interest you, cancel your subscriptions. Not only will you have less clutter coming into your house, you'll remove an item from your "to do" list (admit it, not getting through that magazine adds to your stress).

  3. Plan meals for the whole week. Instead of forcing yourself into "What should I make tonight? What food do I have on hand?" stress every single night, sit down one day of the week (I'm doing Sundays) and plan your meals for the whole week. Grocery shop once for everything you need, then each day you simply consult your list and get cooking. Bonus: My grocery bill has been lower because I'm getting exactly what I need and not guessing or adding things that "sound good."

  4. Clean your closet. Put your shoes back on your shoe rack. Hang up the things you left scattered about. Being able to see what you have and get to it easily will mean you can get dressed quicker in the morning and get on with your day.

These small things have made a world of difference in my day-to-day contentment. I've removed some stressors and made things easier on myself.

I'm still working on it, so as I find out what else is helping my overall sanity, I'll keep you posted.

Do you have any tips? How do you lighten your load?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Flecks #15


As in flecks of reflection from the week: what I'm learning and celebrating.

Things I learned this week:

  • To move gently through pain.

  • To be patient with myself.

  • To be patient with my family.

  • That having a meal plan in place for the week takes the stress out of cooking. Instead of daily decisions, there was one day of deciding and the rest of simply consulting my plan. (Even better that my husband chose one meal for the week and my stepson chose another, leaving me with even fewer decisions to make at the beginning of the week.)

  • To pull over on the side of the road and capture beautiful scenery in a photograph rather than driving by thinking, "That would be a pretty picture." (The horse photo is in one of this week's pauses.)

Things I'm celebrating this week:

  • An invitation.

  • A lot of time with friends.

  • Writing.

  • Pausing mid-scurry to appreciate the moment rather than rushing my toddler along.

  • Progress.

Things that are resonating with me this week:

I'm currently reading The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul by Danielle LaPorte and learning how to identify the feelings I want to have and set goals from there, rather than arbitrary goals that just sound good.

I'm learning that, in this moment, what I most desire is to feel unencumbered. So that is what I'm focusing on intently right now.

What did you learn this week? What are you celebrating? Leave a comment and I'll share a "Woohoo!"

Thursday, February 20, 2014

So That's What Was Missing


I've had a bit of a revelation in the last few days. My frustration comes not just from back pain and the flu as I mentioned earlier this week. Certainly, that's part of it.

The bigger issue is that since Christmas break, I haven't been able to maintain my routines. I haven't gotten as much done as I normally do. I haven't taken time to write (which always leaves me cranky- you'd think I'd learn that by now). I haven't read my favorite bloggers. I haven't taken much time for introspection, journaling, self-discovery, or play.

The flu definitely wreaked havoc on my routine, but so did snow. The snow not only inhibited my ability to run errands, but also to get things done around the house. School cancellations kept the kids home, delayed openings made for late starts all around. Yet there were still a lot of appointments and meetings and get togethers. Even the weekends have been full of activity.

Life has been full, which can be good, but can become overwhelming, too.

It's left very little quiet time. And I need quiet time.

Yesterday my mother-in-law came to watch my toddler for two hours. During that time I ran one quick errand, then went to the library and wrote for a full hour. Then I packed up my stuff and took the scenic route home, pulling over a couple of times to take pictures of the snow (like the one at the beginning of this post).

Quiet, space, and creativity. That's what was missing.

So this morning after I dropped my toddler off at nursery school (and their belated-due-to-snow-closures Valentine's party), I once again ran a quick errand, tackled a "to do," then took my notebook and pen to a diner (where I wrote this post, incidentally). Quiet, space and creativity.

It's not easy to make time for seemingly frivolous things, but if they contribute to my overall well-being and contentment, it's worth carving out an hour.

Let's bust through the cold, fog, and crowdedness. What do you most need right now? Carve out some time whether it's 30 minutes or several hours. Refill your soul's well.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


I'm feeling debilitated. It's been a tough few weeks for health here. Nothing major or serious, so I feel bad even talking about it because I know there are far worse struggles out there. Even still, we're allowed to be frustrated with setbacks and small things and that's where I am.

It started three weeks ago with the flu. For a full week I spent much of my time on the couch (not all because, let's face it, I'm still a mom even when I'm sick). My husband got it the day after me and also spent much of that time on the couch.

For me it started on a Sunday and I was thinking, "surely by mid-week I'll feel a little better." Wednesday rolled around and it turned into, "certainly by the weekend I'll be on my way back to healthy." Then Sunday rolled around again and I was back on the couch.

Finally I started to round the corner. I was getting my energy back and just about felt like myself again when I started having lower back pain.

Back pain isn't something I'm used to. It certainly happens from time to time, but can be healed with some stretching or, if it's bad, with a visit to the chiropractor.

For the past week my back has intermittently hurt like crazy, then felt okay, until this weekend when it became more frequent. Two nights ago I had trouble sleeping and kept waking from the pain. I don't think that's ever happened to me.

So yesterday morning I called the chiropractor and sort of expected to walk out of there feeling like a new woman as usual. He did his thing then said, "Come back Wednesday. This is going to take some time."

I walked out not much better than I walked in. As I walked to my car and struggled to lift my three-year-old into his car seat, I felt defeated. Defeated and debilitated.

Again, I realize in the big scheme of things, these are minor ailments. It's just that it's been three full weeks now of not having my normal health, energy level, and range of movement. It's making it difficult to keep up with daily life.

I'm beginning to wonder if it's all a reminder to slow down. In fact, last week I pulled the Turtle card from my Motherhood Wisdom deck. Turtle represents slowing down, focusing on one thing at a time, and grounding yourself.

After looking at that card for the past 4 or 5 days I decided yesterday to reshuffle the deck and pull a new card. You know what? I got Turtle again. (And I shuffled really well... in multiple ways. That sucker just really wanted to be found.)

With the flu, I had to get by with doing a minimum of activity so each one had a purpose (mostly related to basic nourishment). Now with this back pain, I'm moving slowly and deliberately because one wrong twist or bend makes my entire body revolt in pain.

So I'm working on slowing down. I'm trying to stay focused and resist the urge to hop up and multi-task.

I'm trying to shift from debilitated to deliberate. But really, I just want to feel like me again.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Interview: Jennifer Louden

So there's this woman. An encourager of self-care and self-love. She is an author and a speaker whose blog, e-newsletter, and videos I have followed for years.

One day last month I sent a message requesting a wonderstruck interview with her. I didn't know what would come of it, but I'm trying to embrace the ol' "it doesn't hurt to try" adage.

And you know what? She said yes. YES!

She asked if a video interview might be possible. I have only ever made a few videos and I have never conducted a video interview, but she took a chance on me, so I took one right back... I said yes.

Then I spent the next two weeks practicing on Skype with friends, downloading recording software, and testing it. And I made it happen.

It's not perfect. For some reason that day my video was a little blurry and the sound hiccupped a few times. But I did it. WE did it- she and I.

So without further ado, please enjoy this video interview with Jennifer Louden.

Where to find Jen Louden:


Life Organizer App and Mindful Questions:


Twitter: @jenlouden