Getting Down to the Essentials

Remove more to produce more — Greg  McKeown, Essentialism

As a multi-passionate person, it’s easy to go in a thousand different directions at any given time which makes it very difficult to get any traction. I’ve often felt pulled to do lots of things but never seem to get anywhere. At least at the speed in which I’d like. This is where a lot of my frustration comes from actually. I want to do “all the things” but I’m having a major problem with understanding that’s really damn hard to do.

When my kids were little and I was able to stay home to care for them, I had zero point zero hobbies outside of my house. Cooking, cleaning, showering, eating and drinking  and going to the restroom by myself were all I had during my early motherhood days. There was a moment that I vividly remember when after my second child was born. My husband was out enjoying one of his multitude of hobbies, (men’s league of some sort, fishing, hanging with his friends, etc) and I started crying in my bed, probably right after breastfeeding for the umpteenth time that day. I remember thinking “This is all I have. These children are all I do. I have nothing else.” Just writing this makes me feel horrible about thinking that because I am so grateful for that time with my children but I craved more. I had nothing I felt passionate about outside o fmy family. I felt pathetic.

That cry in my bed was a wake-up call As much as I loved caring for my kids at that time in my life, it was suffocating  that wasn’t all that my life was about. That led me back to reading books again. I LOVED to read as a kid/teen but that dramatically dwindled when I went to college then got my first “real” job. Instead, my extracurricular activities revolved around social settings and let’s just say I was mostly reading drink menus at that time. Enter the little ones and the only reading I did were books 10 pages or less.

Finally, I decided to pick up reading again and it was probably for all the wrong reasons, I needed an escape and it was easy. Get myself a library card, put a book on hold, go to the drive through window to pick it up. No one had to get out of the car, be wrestled into the stroller, or whisked off to the bathroom for a disaster pants emergency.

I had no idea where to start so I started with Oprah’s book club list. I found it on my library’s website and decided I would just make my way down the list. Holy shit. This was NOT the best place to start for a woman with two little ones at home. To me, Oprah’s book picks were dark, disturbing, and depressing reads; books like House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III and A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. Let’s just say I didn’t get very far on that list. I ended up in wandering around the historical fiction genre then basically never left. I loved it because it was an escape from my everyday life and I often learned something new about a historical person and/or event.

This renewed hobby of reading became an itch to write. After I had my third and last child, I found I had characters beginning to swirl in my head. Then I found out about a historical movement involving the orphan trains that blew my mind and became what I wanted my characters to be connected with. I had no idea what I was doing so I read as much as I could about how to write. FYI, that’s been about 10 years ago and the novel is still in my computer waiting for me to finish. Or perhaps not. Who knows what will happen with it but I believe it served its purpose…it opened something inside of me.

I learned that I loved the feeling of writing, the wonder at what was going to flow out of my pencil or fingers. I ended up starting my blog because every writer is “supposed” to have a platform. My consistent blogging and writing in my novel was the painful process–my early posts were horrendous, no really, do NOT go back and read. Just take my word for it. I had to go through that to truly learn how to write. And I met some amazing people along the way which I believe were for a reason.

As my youngest started to approach his first year of school, I wanted to get paid to write so I could continue my stay home status. The thought of slinking back into the corporate world gave me the heebie jeebies…still does. So I took an online freelance writing course and submitted my first article to a local magazine. I ended up writing for four publications, three local and a franchise located on the east coast. It became quite a load, along with the blogging, and a freelance position I ended up taking with a boutique public relations firm.

A day came when I didn’t like to write anymore. I had crazy deadlines, extremely different editor personalities, and not very exciting subject matter. I either had to write feature stories on people/businesses because they were advertisers in the magazine or pre-selected subjects that lacked some serious depth. I hadn’t really honed my journalistic chops yet and my articles felt sterile as hell. I gave just the facts; no juicy backstory, no underdogs, and no deeply personal content in site.

At the same time, I had hit my 40’s and began questioning everything. Why am I here? Am I really a writer or am I fooling myself? Am I just destined to be my kids’ mom and I should just be happy for that? I knew that being a mom wasn’t all I was meant to be but I just didn’t know what my life could look like. I questioned if I should continue writing all together. I ended up walking away from the magazine and P.R. freelance work and

Through one of my writer friends, I found an online coaching program which broke open more than I thought possible and I became immersed in the personal development/self-help world. At this same time, I had become more vocal about natural health and getting to the root of health issues with nutrition and homeopathic methods rather than the “traditional” methods used by the majority of the population. I promise, all of this is going somewhere. I started using essential oils and wanted to teach others how awesome they were (still are!). I saw myself as a health coach/essential oils educator/public speaker/entrepreneur with my new found passion.

Good god. All of this ended up turning me in circle after circle, like I was chasing after something all the time. More like chasing my tail. These books I’m reading, Essentialism by Greg McKeown and Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield, this past week have really made an impact and helped me make some sense of all these passion projects of mine. All the things I love to do–writing, reading, coaching, educating, inspiring–mixed with the demands of parenthood, have been a bit of a detriment because I’ve been trying to identify with them all and do them all at once. Plus, the shame and guilt of starting and stopping so many things just adds to fuel the fire. Often, I end up feeling worse than before whenever I didn’t see something through.

Essentialism is teaching me how to “discern the vital few from the trivial many.” McKeown wrote something that struck a chord with me, “Nonessentialists get excited by virtually everything and thus react to everything. But because they are so busy pursuing every opportunity and idea, they actually explore less.” Rather than explore all the things, then commit to to going big on only a few, I wanted to do them all and do them all now. I still do.

Perhaps I’ve been a non-essentialist because I had ignored myself for so long that now I’m open to EVERYTHING. I’m like a kid at Disney World; everywhere I look I see something fun and exciting so I run towards it. Then, I turn my head in another direction and there is another cool thing and I take off to see what that’s all about.

But how do I want to feel everyday? If I try to do all those things, for one, I’m going to be really fricking exhausted. Two, I won’t make any progress because I’m  spending so much time trying to do it all. I know I want to feel joy, freedom and purpose in my life so how in the hell am I going to accomplish that if I’m walking around in circles. I almost picture my life like that Spirograph toy we had when we were kids. I move in a forward motion then circle back over and over again, not really making any forward progress.

Perhaps the key is that I can actually do “all the things” and feel the way I want to feel but just not trying to do them all at once. My mastermind group, mentors, and Self Journal by Best Self Co. have been a godsend lately. They’ve helped me see how having a well-defined roadmap (i.e. goals) and razor sharp focus can offer me the life I’m seeking a lot faster than how I’ve been trying to tackle it all.

When I get crystal clear about what I want my life to look like on a daily basis, my path becomes quite obvious. I can’t believe I haven’t read this yet but I’m also going to order Danielle LaPorte’s book, The Desire Map. It’s something my friend Katie introduced to me in her online workshop but I haven’t been great about implementing. Until now. Joy comes from connection and spending time with my front row, family and taking adventures. Freedom comes from creating my own business with dōTERRA. Purpose comes from using my writing and coaching to inspire others to do better in their lives: mind, body and spirit. These are my essentials…for now. 🙂

When I get essential about my life’s intent, I gain a greater sense of purpose and a clearer vision of my path. But with that essential intent, there are trade-offs and sacrifices and perhaps that is what has been the hardest thing for me to let go of. I have felt that I should do this or I should do that but most of those things don’t give me how I want to feel. Maybe we do things because how others will feel or even deeper, how they will feel about us? We feel obligated to do things because of this person or that organization but where is the obligation to ourselves? Why do we push ourselves to the side or to the back burner so easily?

I know for me I often avoided doing the hard things or I ran away from feeling fear. It’s hard to look vulnerability in the mirror day-in and day-out but it’s a muscle I know I have to train–it’s not just going to all of a sudden happen because I want it to. I have to put in the work to exercise it.

No more spirograph action, no more two steps forward and three steps back. Forward movement focusing on just the essentials.

How about you?

  • Are you a multi-passionate person as well?
  • Do you feel exhausted or exhilarated every day as you try to fit in “all the things”?
  • What are the “essentials’ in your life?

If you answered exhausted, I highly recommend you read these two books and  get yourself a Self Journal by BestSelf Co. so you can find the exhilaration again. I have found that by shedding some of my daily “clutter” and “shoulds”, I’m feeling a flow like never before. Crazy how that works when you remove your distractions! 😉

Beware the barrenness of a busy life — Socrates

The Self Journal Has it All

I’ve been looking for THE journal/calendar for a while. I’ve tried online as well as physical ones and what I’ve come to realize is that I’m resisting something (thank you Turning Pro for opening my eyes!)  It’s not like I’m against a daily routine. I definitely brush my teeth, make my bed, have my daily Bulletproof tea, use my essential oils and shower every single day. I just haven’t energy and mental effort into planning my days. However, I can no longer ignore the necessity of this type of daily tracking tool because too many of my goals, ideas and dreams have fallen to the side because I don’t put them front and center. This blog, for example. I’ve announced more than once when I’m going to post here and then I let things slide. Just when I about typed I’m inconsistent, I realize I’m consistent at being inconsistent.  Not exactly what I’m going for. <eye roll>

I love social media but it doesn’t help the schedule. It’s a goddamn rabbit hole for me because I have no discipline and according to Turning Pro, “the amateur tweets, the pro works.” I know there are apps to use to turn off social media while the work gets done but I resist having to have an app tell me to keep off the internet and all the other distractions. Anyway, social media is just one thing…there are many things that have kept me from my goals. Believe me, there’s a plethora.

I don’t want this post to be about my amateurness but more about what I’m using to help me so let’s continue with my latest find, shall we? Before I bag on myself for my social media addiction (did I mention I’m an amateur?), social media led me to the Self Journal by BestSelf Co. You may have seen the ad as well. I normally ignore all Instagram ads but I felt compelled to check this one out because of my obsession with the RIGHT calendar. This popped up in my daily feed a couple of weeks and it was like a gift placed in my lap.

 

The Self Journal is a 13-Week Roadmap that helps you get organized while aligning day-to-day tasks to your goals. You set your goals, then break down actions steps and tasks based on those goals. There is a monthly calendar, a weekly progress space that allows you to reflect and track how you’re doing. There is space for morning and evening gratitude, goal reminder and target goals for the day in the daily planner pages.

This is exactly what I needed and while the set up has been a little painful, I love the daily attention it requires. I need to build my goal-setting and daily habit muscles and the way it is laid out makes it easy to use. I love that it allows for some creativity which you can see from their customer IG shares page. 

This 13-Week Roadmap goes for $31.99 which makes me dedicated to using it because who spends $127.96 for a yearly calendar/journal? Apparently me, so you bet your ass I’m going to be diving into this baby each and every day.

  • Do you struggle with setting goals and sticking to them?
  • Maybe you’re a goal-setting phenom…so spill your secrets!
  • What journals/calendars/goal-setting tools have worked for you? 

 

{photos from BestSelf Co}

My Podcast Obsession

Photo by Alexander Mils on Unsplash

I mean it. I’m obsessed. I think it’s why my book reading has slowed way down. I can’t get enough of these little buggers. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then you’re in luck because I’m going to give you the low down.

First off, let me explain the weird name. It’s a combination of two words: iPod + Broadcast = Podcast. They are basically audio files that you can download via iTunes, Overcast, Soundcloud or a gazillion others. I prefer Overcast for the aesthetics and ease of use. Podcast hosts usually embed their episodes on their websites so you can just click and listen via your computer as well. The benefit to the website version is that is where you’ll find the show notes. These are like the Cliff Notes of show and will contain links to content mentioned in episode. The podcast apps are great for listening on the go which I do whenever I get the chance.

You can subscribe to a podcast just like you subscribe to a website’s newsletter. But all you have to do is hit a button rather than enter your email address. Whenever an episode goes live, it will get automatically downloaded to your app and you can choose how many episodes you want to have downloaded at a time. I like to have three episodes per podcast ready to go at any time. Then once I listen to them, they disappear, opening up space on my phone again. If there is a particular podcast episode that I love, I star it so I can find it again easily.

How to Find Podcasts Related to Your Interest

Usually the podcast apps will have categories to search like New and Politics, Business, Society/Culture, Arts, Most Recommended. However, my favorite categories like Health/Wellness and Personal Development aren’t listed in Overcast. So what I will do is go into my Podcast app that automatically comes with the iPhone (the purple background with the white microphone) and search there. If you click on Featured, you will see a Categories button on the top left part of the screen. There you will find every category. You can also search Top Charts as well.

When I find the podcast I want, I will go back to Overcast, type the title of the show in the search box and voila! You can either download specific episodes or subscribe to the podcast. The latest three (or however many your choose) will be automatically downloaded when you are connected to WIFI.

Benefits of Listening to Podcasts

Become more imaginative and creative

Studies show that listening to podcasts stimulate mental imagery by building pictures of what they are listening to in their head therefore, podcast listeners have stronger imaginations.

Learn new things

There are podcasts that cover every single subject you can imagine. And I mean EVERYTHING. Do you need some financial advice? Try The Dave Ramsey Show. Want to travel the world but don’t know where to start?  Try Zero to Travel Podcast that shares conversations with world travelers on topics like running an online business while traveling, traveling on a budget, backpacking and much more.

Control the noise

You know how when you turn on the television or radio and you feel blasted by a firehose of information? It used to wear me out emotionally sometimes…the news alone puts me into a state of despair. Podcasts can be a way of controlling the noise in your life. We are by-products of the people and things we let occupy space in our lives and podcasts you hand pick can be a great way to fill up that prime real estate.

Gain some empathy and insight about the world

I’ve listened to interviews and topics related to the human condition that have opened my eyes and heart as to what others have gone through. I feel as if my soul expands when I listen to these type of podcasts and almost like I’ve taken a spiritual trip. There are some amazing people in the world and I feel like I’m part of their world by listening to their stories.

You know I’m all about sharing my favorite things so here are some of mine:

The Rich Roll Podcast: Rich was an unhealthy, unhappy lawyer turned ultra-endurance athlete/inspiration/podcaster. How’s that for fricking bio? He changed the direction of his life at 40 and now at 50 is considered one of the leaders in the plant power movement as well as just a really cool dude that everyone wants to talk to. He has interviewed Danielle LaPorte, founder of The Desire Map, Jessica Lahey, educator and author of The Gift of Failure, Dr. Rachel Abrams, primary care physician, integrative health expert and author of the book, BodyWise, Kerri Walsh Jennings…do I really have to give you the deets on her? I didn’t think so.

The theme of his podcast is to highlight courageous and inspired living so he’s always on the top of my to listen list.

Finding Mastery with Michael Gervais: Dr. Michael Gervais is a high performance psychologist who shares the inspiring stories of some of the world’s best athletes, business minds, activists, teachers, etc. who basically by the end of the show all turn into heroes. Whether it’s the things they’ve endured to get where they are, the amazing feats they’ve pursued, or the suffering that they have gone through to then find a way to use that for good in the world, Gervais uses his Jedi mind tricks to unpack it all in about 90 minutes. Yes, his episodes may be long but, oh, so good.

SuperSoul Conversations: As far as I’m concerned, Oprah is the holy grail. This podcast is going to do two things for me: 1) save my soul 2) free up a shitload of space on my DVR. I have as many episodes saved as my DVR will allow me and I have yet to watch any of them. I had every intention of watching them but I failed to remember that I don’t watch television. I’m so excited that her televisions interviews with brilliant authors, luminaries, and health/wellness experts are now in podcast form.

Beautiful Writers Podcast (a monthly podcast): Writer Linda Silverstein talks with bestselling authors and creatives about writing, publishing, inspiration, etc. and has hosted some of my favorites like Danielle LaPorte, Brené Brown, Steven Pressfield, and Dani Shapiro. The only problem I have with this podcast is that is only monthly and not every week. Linda is a gracious yet authentic person and the conversation reflects two friends hanging out to talk shop. The conversation is real, stimulating, and inspiring as hell.

Can you tell I’m on a self-discovery journey?! I know I could use some diversity in my list of favorites but I can’t help it. I love me some inspiring conversation.

The GoalDigger Podcast: Jenna Kutcher, small town photographer/educator/artist, offers this business podcast for creative entrepreneurs. She mixes interviews in with workshop style episodes to support other girl bosses as well as share what has made her successful. Her content is loaded with nuggets of wisdom and proven practices that will make you want to get out your notebook and start scribbling away.

Here are some other popular podcasts in case these are more up your alley:

  • The Tim Ferriss Show
  • Serial
  • Pod Save America
  • This American Life
  • Fresh Air

Are you a podcast fan? If so, please share some of your favorites in the comments!!