How to Have a Great Maternity Leave: How to get over being a rookie mom that makes mistakes.

 

Today I’m going to address some of the barriers we have to learning.  I see students run up against barriers to learning when they are immersed in courses at the University level. I wrote an article about it on Linked In today, but I decided to adapt it for the Great Maternity Leavers too, because this is such a big topic for us.

On maternity leave we are learning how to be Mums, but I’ve noticed there is an absurd amount of pressure to be perfect and that we cannot make mistakes.  There are no mistakes in motherhood.

How many of you had a moment with your baby when you learnt something new and secretly in your mind you thought “oh man, I’m so glad noone saw that, they’d think I was such an idiot.”

Oh hi, yes, I’d like to my hand up about fifteen times on this one?

To truly embrace learning and a path of change as we embrace motherhood, we must take an honest look at our obstacles to learning, shine light on them and then choose to tackle them head-on.  The fear of judgement and our own egos are an intense hurdle to overcome.

Our egos have a strong hold over us – and it is reinforced by our fear of judgement from others  (which is the ego’s work too.  The ego wants to have everyone love us and think we are amazing, lol.)

 

There’s an external battle. There are so many moms out there who are SO quick to judge and stand on their high horses, right?  Especially on the interwebs.  You cannot make any mistakes as a mom.  Their egos are running rampant.  They spend so much time judging others to make their egos feel good, that they in turn are terrified of being judged.  They are locked in a really bad cycle.  One thing I’ve noticed as I became a mum, is that it feels like all of a sudden I became an item of public interest.  The public feels it can comment / judge my mothering and offer their feedback – in the grocery store, at the park, etc.

There’s also the internal battle. The ego convinces us that making mistakes and learning will disadvantage us in life. It throws out all sorts of thinking patterns to avoid the situation.

Did you know our thoughts create a stress response in our body (threat responses) to further convince us not to engage in discomfort?

All of a sudden, it’s making sense that there is so much pressure to be a perfect mum. The pressure comes from two angles – external and internal.

This specific barrier has a nasty effect – it blocks us from learning, and immersing ourselves in a new experience.  It also blocks us from the practice and repetition that allows us to embody and master a new area of learning.

I can give you a really good example.  I love rollerblading, and it’s a key fitness activity for me.  I’ve been doing it since I was 6 and am good at it.  When I had my babies, I decided to start rollerblading with the stroller.  But, it took a few weeks to get the courage up.  I hit a barrier to learning.

Internal barrier:  What if a fall and look like an idiot?

External barrier:  What if people think it is wrong that I am rollerblading, or worse, what if I fall and people see me falling?

Those two barriers made me procrastinate and procrastinate.  Eventually, I got the courage to do it and eventually, each time I went out, the discomfort faded away.  I’ve got to tell you though, I had to face my fears.  I have people shake their heads at me (usually mums) – but I also have people say “that is AWESOME! Good for you!” (usually dads.)

And the best part? I DID fall.  I wiped out on my rollerblades with the stroller.  The fears came true.  People jumped out of their cars and ran over, horrified.

So uncomfortable.  But because I learnt about rollerblading with a stroller and figured out how to do it (failures and all) it means that now, I get amazing exercise, my kids have an absolute blast in the chariot, and I am a happier and healthier mum that gets to be around  longer for the kids.

 

Now, let’s put the story aside, let’s get back to the meaty parts.

A key to overcoming this learning barrier is first becoming aware of when this barrier occurs and how it shows up in your mind.  And in what areas of your life is this triggered?

For me, I am always a bit intimidated to participate in meetings or conversations with new people of high intellect.  I have worked through acknowledging this discomfort, engaging with it, understanding where it is coming from and choosing to go for it anyways and add my two cents.  It has become easier over time, to the point where I have moved from crippling shyness to easy, enthusiastic networking and engaging conversation.

How does it show up for you?  What do you think?

 

 

I get excited when coaching clients reveal this struggle. This, right here is fertile ground.  Their reflection and awareness is the best sign.  It is the first stage to growth and overcoming learning barriers.

The next part is what do you do in that moment.

How do you override the ego and biological systems that are conspiring against you?

They want to keep you in a net of security and safety.  They don’t want you to learn or grow.  They tell you “don’t go rollerblading!”  “don’t try to install your carseat you won’t get it right and you’ll get in trouble”  “nah, put off figuring out how to unfold your stroller until there’s noone around.” 

 

When you dig in and get uncomfortable often enough, it begins to silence the ego.

This week, choose to do something new with your baby.  Something small (figuring out that moby wrap) or maybe something big (figuring out the configurations of your stroller – I cried my first time.)

This is called embodiment.  When you practice being uncomfortable enough that the body thinks “ah, I’m familiar with this,” and the ego shifts from a shout, to a whisper.

All of the super mums you know who easily embrace challenges, new baby carriers, going on hikes or just doing really cool things that intimidate the bravest of us – they are so used to getting uncomfortable that it doesn’t phase them anymore.  They still feel uncomfortable, but the ego doesn’t overrule everything with its shouting.

 

The second technique is to actually put yourself through a thought experiment.

IMG_6246

Do you know anyone in your life who never challenges themselves, never learns, who cycles through the same pattern with a fixed mindset, every day in the bubble that they have created for themselves?

Do you know anyone in your life who challenges themselves, is always learning something new, who has a growth mindset and is constantly upgrading and evolving their life?

They are two very different stories, aren’t they?

 

What if you were too scared to leave the house,  try out that new stroller, what if you worried so much about your baby crying in the grocery store you avoided it?  What if you used to love hiking and don’t do it anymore because you are afraid of the weather, or stumbling, or the baby crying? What does that feel like in your gut if you imagine giving in to the fear of judgement and your ego?

What if you figured out that new stroller (but you definitely cried as you watched youtube over and over) and finally got the hang of it, and your baby got used to it, what if you found a new freedom in going out each day with it?  What if you had a nutritious meal, because that time you went to the groceries you took a deep breath and rolled with the baby crying?  What if you rediscovered the joy of hiking and rediscovered a way to feel like yourself again?

Tell me, how does each feel in your gut.

Keep pushing the edges of your comfort mama, you’ve got this. It gets easier.  Stay steady on that path to growth and evolution.

Acknowledge it’s totally uncomfortable and be ok with that.  Know that great rewards come with great challenges.  It is so worth it.

 

 

What I’ve Learnt from 200+ Hours of the Tim Ferriss and School of Greatness Podcasts

Podcasts can be a new mum’s best friend.

They are intellectual stimulation and a sense of connection and engagement in what can be a lonely and isolating time.  Today I share the podcasts that changed my life and daily practices for the better.

I discovered podcasts on my second maternity leave, and fell in love with the Tim Ferriss and School of Greatness podcasts.

The range of interviewees and topics discussed was food for my brain, which had recently departed the world of adulting and intellectual conversation, and had entered the rather lonely world of maternity leave.  Podcasts were my intellectual stimulation and each one left me scrambling to record ideas, inspiration, quotes and notes.

One of my fondest memories from mat leave was walking (and then training for a 10k) with these podcasts going in my earbuds. I can’t list off specific guests (guess I’ll blame the brain fog) but I can certainly tell you that each podcast left me completely jazzed up.  No matter the topic, I came away feeling engaged.

Despite not remembering the names of more than a handful of guests, I have absorbed a lot of information, and my daily practices have shifted.  Some were intentional and planned out, others I believe have occurred in a strange process of osmosis.  Here are the 15 ways in which podcasts have changed me.  These are all practices that I aspire to and have worked on in the past year or so.

The 15 game-changers that I learnt and applied from the School of Greatness and Tim Ferriss Podcasts:

The biggest reward of meditation is not immediate.

Meditation is a practice that is performed in the present moment, and connects you with exactly that.  However, its most rewarding application is not the practice itself.  It is the ability to apply the results of a regular practice to times of stress and chaos.

Meditation takes many forms.  If it hasn’t stuck with you, try out different styles.  Lie in the sun and visualize the rays penetrating through the skin’s layers.  Listen to a relaxing song without vocals.  Pull up a youtube video and listen to it with earphones on.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MR57rug8NsM   Download the headspace or flowy app.

START AND END EACH DAY WITH AN INTENTIONAL RITUAL THAT CAPSTONES THE DAY.

Here is my daily greens juice, blasted in the vitamix blender then drained through a mesh sieve.  https://www.vitamix.com/Recipes/Ginger-Greens-Juice/C-Series/Variable-Speed/Classic-64-Ounce here is my go-to. Minus celery. I don’t like celery.

Other capstones I’ll employ in the morning:  Running.  A great cup of coffee.  Loud music in the car.   In the evening:  Foam rolling hip flexors (strangely relaxing) and licorice root or adaptogen teas.

 

FILTER YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA TO THAT WHICH ALIGNS WITH WHO YOU ARE, AND WHO YOU ASPIRE TO BE.

Filter out the noise that distracts you from your goals, and leaves you scrolling aimlessly, looking for something that catches your attention.

Spend a day reducing the accounts you follow to 30% of what you once did.  Pick only those that a.) are your family or friends b.) represent a life or mindset you are working toward.

STOP READING YOUR EMAIL FIRST THING IN THE MORNING.

Today, I slipped up.  I opened my email to a hate message from a troll type on kickstarter.  It was rude, insulting and discouraging.  That is how I started my day today.  No Bueno.

In the first hour of your day, you are rebooting your brain and setting your energy for the day.  Fill it with good things and good energy.

LEARNING IS A LIFELONG PURSUIT.

 

Be curious.  Google.  (But then look into proper research.)  All of the interviewees followed paths of curiosity, whether it made sense at the time or not.

YOU MUST ALWAYS HAVE SOMETHING TO 1.) REFLECT UPON, 2.) ENJOY IN THE MOMENT, AND 3.) LOOK FORWARD TO IN THE FUTURE. SANDWICH YOUR DAY BETWEEN GREAT MEMORIES AND INSPIRING GOALS.

My mum was one of the happiest, most engaged human beings I had the pleasure of knowing.  Her biggest rule was always have something you are looking forward to.  Listening to these two podcasts, every.single.guest lights up while they are talking about a project.  You can hear it in their voice, even if you can’t see them.

TREAT SLEEP WITH THE SAME PRIORITY THAT YOU GIVE AN IMPORTANT BUSINESS MEETING IN YOUR CALENDAR, IF NOT MORE.

WHILE WE’RE ON THAT TOPIC, GO TO BED EARLY AND GET UP EARLY.

BE PICKY ABOUT WHO YOU SURROUND YOURSELF WITH. REALIZE IT IS A CHOICE.

Surround yourself with game changers, inspirations, teachers, mentors and happy people.  If you are part of their lives, their stories will become your stories, and vice versa.

FOR ACCESS TO CREATIVITY, ENTER THE STATE OF FLOW ONCE PER DAY.

The flow state lights up the brain and promotes creativity.

KEEP A JOURNAL FOR THOUGHTS WORTH SAVING, BUT ALSO TO PUT ASIDE UNHELPFUL THOUGHTS WHILE COMPLETING A TASK.

SOME OF YOUR BEST IDEAS WILL COME WHEN YOU ARE DRIVING OR IN THE SHOWER.

SHIFT YOUR MINDSET AROUND HEALTH; BECOME THE CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER OF YOUR HEALTH AND BODY.

Your Doctor is a consultant in your health.  They can offer great advice and services – but it is up to you to do the day to day work.  Treat yourself (within reason) as a science experiment.  Try out different things. Find the unique combination of health practices that work for you.

CREATE A DAILY GRATITUDE PRACTICE.  INSTAGRAM PICTURE AND HASHTAG, JOURNAL ENTRY, FACEBOOK STATUS UPDATE – THE FORMAT DOESN’T MATTER.  THE REFLECTION DOES.

READ THE BOOKS THESE PEOPLE RECOMMEND (YES, THEIR OWN TOO) AND KEEP LISTENING TO PODCASTS!

Great books I’ve read as a result of these podcasts:

The Power of Habit

The Upside of Stress

I Know how She Does It

Outliers

The Myth of Stress

Finding Ultra

How to Have a Great Maternity Leave: Sign up for a Course on Happiness!

Good morning great maternity leavers! So in the spirit of growth, learning and always working at things, I am signed up for a course on happiness! I am taking Happiness Basics, a course designed by the Red Deer Primary Care Network and being piloted on the University of Campus. We had our first 90 minute class yesterday.  I’ve had a rough time lately with feeling really down, like in a total funk for 2 months down.  So I’m working hard at addressing this with all of the tools in my toolkit.  It’s safe to say this is a priority right now.
Happiness:
We’re all experts on what makes people happy, right? (we could all list the major things.)
I know I can!  But I was curious about actually signing up, sitting in a class, and engaging with others in discussion and activities.  How would this be different from just consulting one of my gazillion books on happiness?
We live in a society that loves to learn.  However, there is more to learning than just intellectual (logical) intake of information.   To truly master something there are few more steps:
We must practice it and take it out of the mind, into our body space and emotional space.
It is then, that we  become whatever we are studying.
learn
In the classroom, I am learning about happiness by reading, writing and discussing.
But what does it mean to become happy?
 What would it look like for happiness to move from my intellect (brain) into my body and emotions, so that I truly embody it? 
It would mean that my self talk becomes more positive, my mood space feels lighter.  It would mean that my posture and body move upward, and outward, and I walk with my old poise and confidence. I am not as fatigued.  I feel in control of my thoughts.    It means walking with lightness and a smile, but also being grounded in my steps; not rushed.
What does happiness feel like in your body?  Ask yourself that right now. 
I wonder, how do we help a bunch of concepts and thoughts in our brain literally float down from the brain, into our neural networks, and get distributed into our muscles and body.   How does a reading on happiness, turn into a thought.  How does a thought travel into our body and shift our posture, or our chronic pain, or our moodspace?
PRACTICE.
And this is precisely why this happiness course has lots of homework.
You cannot become something if you do not practice it.
How do you practice happiness? 
This week, we looked at the research that shows there are 10 positive emotions directly associated with happiness.

Frederickson (2009) identifies the ten most common positive emotions as joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe and love.


 
We sat down and described an example in our lives where we have experienced each of these ten emotions.  Just sitting down and taking the time to remember those moments, reconnect with the emotions in those moments, was in itself the most amazing mood boosting exercise.
 
For example, the emotion of amusement:  I couldn’t help but laugh remembering back to the time I saw a person at a bus stop getting attacked by a tiny, very angry little bird.  It took me right back to that emotion.  The writing exercise let me go back there and feel it. 
After stepping back into memories ten times and letting myself feel those ten emotions again, I can tell you I was in a much, much better state than when I first walked into the classroom.
 
At the end of the exercise we were assigned to intentionally engage in one of the ten emotions that week.  Once a day. So I chose Amusement. My strategy is going to be to watch one hilarious video a day that makes me laugh.
This is the importance of homework.  
When you sit in a class or read a book and experience a positive emotion once – for sure, you feel better.  But the brain will enjoy it momentarily – and  get back to daily life and routines.  What if you make the brain experience it every.single.day.?
It will have to start sitting up and paying attention, building neural networks and start firing more of the feel good chemical messengers to facilitate those thoughts.
I’m excited to engage in such a feel-good form of homework and it will be interesting to watch how happiness is embodied this week, through practice.  I plan to help facilitate this process by reading a bit more about the brain and laughter, to deepen my knowledge and immersion – as well as and boost my motivation.
In the spirit of amusement, I would LOVE if you share with me your favourite youtube video, clip, cartoon, whatever that you think is hilarious. I know you have a good stash out there 😉

Building a Business on Maternity Leave: Know When to Stop Learning and Start Taking Action.

Why Read This:  If you struggle trying to find the balance between learning, reading, taking courses – and taking action – this post will help you focus & clarify.

This is part of my series on building a business while on Maternity Leave.

Reading Time:  3 min

The Internet in 2016 is VERY exciting.  It is possible to choose yourself, rather than wait for a company to “choose” you.  You can build a business based on being yourself, instead of  changing yourself to meet someone else’s expectations.

The Internet provides you with all of the information you need to build a business online. While working full time or on maternity leave, you can at the very least build the foundations.

Here I am on my second maternity leave, building the foundations for my business(es) (yes I have a few – go big or go home, right?)

Why There are a Shit-Ton of Coaches out There:

What you will begin to notice, as soon as you start “liking” coach pages, or communities, or groups, and start learning about building a business, is that there are TOO MANY TEACHERS AND NOT ENOUGH STUDENTS.

It is good money to get into the business of “teaching” others.  That is why everybody is some kind of “coach.”

The thing is, anybody can research and develop their own curriculum.  I have completely self-taught myself how to build a business using a combination of podcasts, bloggers, facebook groups, pinterest and instagram.

Knowledge is a big business.  People make big money off of collecting knowledge on the internet, reformatting it, and then selling it to you.    What I want to write about today though, is the caution you need to exercise.

Before you Pick a Coach or Take a “Course”

There are two elements you should receive from a good course:

1.) Knowledge and information.  Do they really know their stuff?

2.) Proper Coaching:  For example, do they provide you with the ability to address your own obstacles, how to tackle the demotivation, the head games you play, etc.

And Most Importantly:  Do Not Get Caught In The Knowledge Acquisition Trap

  1. Every.Single.Resource that you will come across as you build your business is not “free” – because they are trying to create an addiction in you – an addiction to acquiring more and more information.  It is so easy to keep buying books and courses, and not actually take action and do the hard work.  It’s why of 100 people in a course, 20 will actually launch successful businesses, and 80 will not.  But the other 80 will keep coming back and buying products.  That’s great for the “Coach” or “Teacher.”

I finished my professional coach training 1 year ago and I could have happily continued just “learning” and reading coaching material.  But the deepest learning, growth (and progress) happened when I finally started DOING IT.  Taking action. Forcing myself to jump in and work with clients and have my calls evaluated by an International Coaching Federation board.

Knowledge acquisition is a super hard habit to kick, especially when EVERYBODY is throwing knowledge at you.  Much of it is free (as long as you give them your email, which is a way to get you engaged and create a potential paying customer out of you.)

I Did Take One Online Course… Once….

The only money I have shelled out is a one-time “building an online business” course run by Penelope Trunk.  She sold me on it. I loved her blog.  I spent $100 along with at least 50 other people (!)  I did take information from the course but I also took this:  Holy shit: I can do a much better job than this.  I also realized that much of the knowledge is either common sense, or the same principles recycled over and over.  Also, much of it is intuitive.

Most business owners know the information taught in these classes.  Most business owners do not take step #2:  Put it into practice.  This is where the real reward is.

Kick the Learning Addiction with Analysis:

Needing to know everything before you start is what we call an enemy of growth.

So how do you kick the addiction to learning, the feeling that “I can’t do this until I learn to do that.”   “I need to know this before I can start that.” How do you separate and become the 20% of success stories?

You undertake an analysis to understand how much of your “to do list” is LEARNING and how much of your “to do list” is ACTION.

Here you can see an image of the current “To Do” list that is on my mind with my business:

TRAJECTORY COACHING TO-DOS

Lots to do, right?

Next, I need to analyze what is going on here.

WHICH are learning items?

WHICH are action items?  

**I highlighted the action items in orange.

TRAJECTORY COACHING TO-DOS (1)

Once you have done this, you can then address the balance.

LEARNING VERSUS ACTION:

What are action items I can take right now, that will get me closer to my goal?

Which learning items will have the most immediate impact on my business and how much time do I want to allocate to getting things done vs. learning.

Budget your Learning:

I make room for ONE new learning topic per day, to avoid information overwhelm and to avoid getting off track.  Today I learnt about using better hashtags on instagram.  That’s it.  That’s all.

Have an Information & Learning “Dumping Ground:”

If I come across other articles that pique my interest, I keep a “brain dump” board on Pinterest called COACHING where I save articles for later.    Learning is my candy – I LOVE IT and it is motivational.  But I’m addicted. So I need to partition it out as a reward.

I have future podcasts saved in my overcast app under “to listen.”  I have great infographics or web services I can used saved in my pinterest folder.  Great quotes or articles saved in Evernote.   I extract them from my memory and put them somewhere external, so I can dedicate my willpower and motivation to action items instead of learning.

Willpower is very finite (and quite variable) so every precious drop needs to be conserved for the more challenging aspect – getting shit done.

 

I am currently reading the NY Times Best Seller “The ONE Thing” by Garry Keller http://www.the1thing.com/  and there is an entire chapter dedicated to the taking action piece.  What stuck with me last night, as I read it, and designed this post was this quote, which I’d like to leave you with.

 

“The secret of getting ahead is getting STARTED.  

The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks

into small manageable tasks.

And starting on the first one.”

-Mark Twain

 

The Great Maternity Leave Essays: How to Become Deeply Inspired and Motivated

Why you should read this: I share with you an extremely important practice that the most productive, fulfilled and “switched on” people use. I use the analogy of a childrens’ toy you all know and love. This essay will inspire you to curate your social media, filter incoming information and engage in the pursuit of inspiring, motivational growth.

Reading time: 4 minutes.

Sometimes when I create images and typography to use as my featured image, it’s frustrating, because it’s IMPOSSIBLE to convey a lifetime of learning into one picture and a title, so my deepest hope is that somehow, some part of this essay today resonates with you.

 

Become Your Own Gatekeeper

There are thousands of social media platforms + people + organizations scrabbling for our attention.

If you think about it, you scroll through your Facebook news feed.  You whip down through all of the status updates, photos, sponsored links at a fast speed.  Imagine if we had commercials going at the same speed as we have scrolling on facebook going?  It would be madness. I would probably not be able to handle TV, period.  But when we scroll through social media it’s coming at us hard and fast. BOOM BOOM BOOM.  LISTEN TO ME! LISTEN TO ME! LISTEN TO ME! (coming at you from all corners.)

I’ll write sometime my thoughts about this fascinating “speed” of incoming information, but what I want to focus on is the volume and sources of information.

I am constantly talking about how precious and valuable your time is on maternity leave, because the structure of your free time has shifted and morphed.

Your time is now worth thousands of dollars an hour.  Advertisers know it.

When you casually sit down, pull out your phone and go on to social media, you hae just given air time to all of those posts, people, things competing for your attention.

Rather than being a passive recipient of information, we should become active curators.

Two months ago I sat down and thought about the messages, information, photos and people who line up with the goals I currently have, and the vision I have for my life.

Then, I spent about 2 hours unfollowing on facebook, instagram and twitter.  Then, I spent an hour specifically curating my feeds so that the only inflow on social media were things that support, inspire or motivate me to achieve my goals and mission.  Unrelated feeds, “distractors” went out of the window.  Any source of information that was unhelpful (or in some cases, even harmful, was gone.  ESPECIALLY those zillions of accounts out there that use fear & warnings to get you to click on their articles.  Parenting magazines, social media accounts know that fear is easy bait for a parent and they can hook you.)

Find Blogs, Podcasts, Pinterest Posts, Quotes, Tweets, Instagrams that inspire you.

Your job is to become a curator of inspiration.

Where many people go wrong, is they do it one or twice, make a pinterest board, save some quotes, and occasionally remember to find things that inspire them.

What the “greats” do is listen, view or read something EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.

They also do it first thing in the morning, to set their energy levels for the day.

 

So Why Do you Have a Childrens’ Toy on Your Featured Image?

Because it’s a constant effort and a constant hunt for inspiration. There are so, so many great voices and accounts out there. And the true reward is in the hunt. Each podcast that you find, website that you enjoy following, influencer that you like will boost you up a little bit more.

But you have to find the right fit for you.

When famed author & motivational speaker // influencer Wayne Dyer passed away, his family & estate made his entire library of works available online for a vastly reduced price. Last year, I downloaded his entire collection of books onto my kindle to read, while I was feeding my baby at night (this is a daily practice for me.)

I had heard about him constantly as I was finishing my professional ontological coach training.  He made wonderful points, but his writing style and language just didn’t land with me.   I was trying to fit a triangle toy into a square hole, just like the image on this post.

So I kept searching. I looked at what other people read on Amazon, read reviews and spent some money “investing in myself.”  I hold the view that for the price of a latte, I may find a book that change my life and the way I think.

A few months later I came across the works of Brian Tracy.  I had first been exposed to him while working at Lululemon as an Educator (one of the.best.jobs.of.my.life.)  but at that time I just wasn’t ready for his philosophies and advice.
Curious, I downloaded his book on Self-Confidence.

WHAM.

 

The book had a profound impact on me.  Every page, every section I thought “Yes!  Yes!  I agree!  I do this!” – it was incredibly validating and educational.  It nailed home practices that I thought were unimportant and it motivated me even more to make them daily habits.

In my enthusiasm, I raved about Brian Tracy and his book to a few people I knew.  I was very suprised that they weren’t as enthusiastic about Brian Tracy as they were about Wayne Dyer.

I realized I had just fit a square, into my square hole, but they were holding triangles.

We all have different shaped toys & different shaped holes to fit them into.  Keep searching.  Keep reading.  Keep trying out different philosophies and thinkers and inspiring people out.  For every 5 shapes that don’t fit, one is going to fit perfectly and profoundly influence you.

Think about someone or something that shifted the way you see your world.  Shifted the way you act, the way you think.  Remember how powerful that moment was? When it was almost like you could hear an audible “click” as your universe shifted + made sense in a new way?

Imagine having that happen every month while on maternity leave.

Your brain is currently in a gorgeous state of growth & activity.  New neural connections and pathways are being formed every single day.

It is like a sponge, learning and absorbing new information as you learn about this little human being, as you learn about your new role.

Right now, all sorts of new slots are appearing on your little toy box – so go out there and start collecting shapes, and start trying to fit them in the holes.  Soon you will have a beautiful toy, with colourful shapes fitting into each slot.

You know the look on your childs’ face when they finally fit a shape into a hole?  That look of knowledge and accomplishment and excitement?  

 

That is exactly, EXACTLY what you will experience.

 

Knowledge & inspiration are amazing “toys” to play with.  They will never wear out.  They will never become boring.  They become a permanent part of you.  You can share those toys – but nobody can ever take them away from you. 

What I learnt From Watching 30 TED Talks in 30 Days.

Early in the maternity leave days, I found it hard to have the time to read.  This was frustrating for me as a lifelong learner, because I had a deep need to continue learning, growing and exploring topics.  Though I was undergoing a steep parenting learning curve, I wanted to continue to learn about things that had nothing to do with parenting or babies.

So, I decided to start watching TED Talks each morning as I drank coffee.

In the spirit of the Great Maternity Leave, I made it a formal goal.

WATCH 30 TED TALKS IN 30 DAYS

 

Here, on this blog today, I present to you the most important lesson I got from this Great Maternity Leave (GML) Project.

 

I thought I’d walk out of the month with insane knowledge and a different life.  But something interesting happened:

Out of 30 videos I could only remember key points from less than FIVE videos.

I beat myself up over it, thinking if I am so passionate about growth and learning from successful people, why can’t I remember the lessons from a famous TED talk?

Then, I got caught up in a particularly common Maternity Leave discourse “mommy brain.”

At first, I chalked this up to simply being a mom and the message that gets circulated that with everything going on with a new baby, your ability to learn and grow and involve yourself in topics outside of being a mom…well… they all just dry up.

I’m really pleased to report from my current maternity leave deployment that this is horribly, horribly untrue.

Because this is something that even the success stories, the “greats” in their respective fields, experience.

Have I caught your intrigue?

 

 

So let’s get to the big issue at hand, the one I beat myself up for:

 Why Can’t I Remember all of These Awesome Lessons from thirty, THIRTY TED TALKS!

Because you bet I was asked this A LOT once I announced my project.

The answer:  A lesson  (In this case, the TED TALK) has to land with you and meet you where.you.are.  And it’s a numbers game.  

 

Let me explain with an example…

 

About two years ago, I came across a video of Former Admiral (and Commander of Special Operations Command) William H. McRaven giving a commencement speech at the University of Texas Graduation in 2014.  It was a game changer.  It is one of the few videos that has stuck with me to this day.

(What I love about Mr. McRaven is his accessibility and incredible life advice that transcends the military.)

This video changed the game for me.  I make my bed every single day because of what this man said in his video.

University of Texas at Austin 2014 Commencement Address – Admiral William H. McRaven

 

These are just two of his many points that stuck with me.  Yes, I actually remember this every single day.  

-If you want to change the world, make your bed.

-All you have to do to quit in SEAL training is ring a brass bell in the training area.  With that bell rung, everything is over. All of the hardship, all of the suffering is gone with one ding.    McRaven teaches that if you want to change the world, don’t ever ever ring the bell.

 

Why was This Video so Profound?

This video hit me to the core, because I watched it while I was in military & strategic studies.  It met me where I was.  And the examples made total sense to me.  They hit home, were explained in a style I like, and how he framed them made sense to me.  I happened to be experiencing some of the challenges he spoke to in the video.  I was also going through a lot of huuuuge challenges in my life where I wanted to “ring the bell” so to speak.  The video met me where I was.   The lessons had direct relevance and application.  

 

-Which Means You Need to Keep Looking.  Never Stop Searching.

The key message I want to give you in this blog post is to keep exposing yourself to podcasts, videos, blog posts, influential people, ideas, stories.  There are more than 6 billion people on this planet, and an awful lot of them are sharing knowledge, wisdom and lessons. Especially now on this beautiful thing called the internet.

Not all of them will impact you.  Like the handful out of THIRTY Ted Talks.

But do know that you will find one or two gems, that stick with you, that meet you where you are, in your present level of awareness and at Mile 6, or 7, or 8 of your current journey!

 

Ignore the “Mommy Brain” Messaging.  You are in a Great Place for Growth.  

 

I was told I was nuts – an acquaintance looked at me with great skepticism in their facial expression and said “good luck with that and a baby, your brain won’t keep up.”

Don’t worry if you keep reading books and watching videos and can’t remember much.

Stop telling yourself it is mommy brain. Stop listening to people that say “mommy brain” shuts down your intelligence and growth.   It isn’t that.

You are not in some sort of holding pattern.  You’re practically doing an accelerated masters degree right now in a totally new domain (parenthood.)  You’re MORE than capable of learning and being exposed to new information and retaining it.

It’s just that you haven’t yet come across a message that is resonating with you.

The more you explore the world and the lessons people want to share, the higher the chance you will find a diamond in the rough.

It’s a numbers game.  For every 10 TED videos, or interesting blog articles that you take the time to read, you WILL find 1 or 2 that forever shift the way you see life.

Successful People Keep Exposing themselves to New Content and New Wisdom

After studying and working with many successful people – moms, business people, entrepreneurs, visionaries, it is crystal clear that all of them are voracious consumers of knowledge.  Just like us, they only remember fragments of what they have read or learnt.

Because they, too, retain only the pieces that fit with their present level of awareness and make sense to their lives at that present moment. For every 10 Podcasts they listen to, only 1 or 2 will precipitate an “ah-hah” learning moment for them, that they take away and retain for months to come.

 

That is what I took from 30 TED Talks in 30 Days.

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Never stop learning.

 

 

 

 

The Great Maternity Leave Projects: Get your Most Poignant Thoughts on Paper

It is so easy to go through an entire mat leave being caught up in the day to day.  The surface level tasks of maternity leave.  Goodness. There are SO many. You could create an infinite list of things to do every day, that you couldn’t possibly accomplish in 14-16 waking hours.

The routine is soothing on many days, but after the first few months of adjustment passed, I felt ready to dig a bit deeper beyond the surface of my everyday.  To go deep.

I knew this was becoming a need, because I felt a tingle of frustration when somebody asked me surface level questions like how many hours my little girl slept the night before. Valid question, but surface conversations left me hanging, craving more, wanting more connection.  I didn’t want my conversations to match the surface level tasks of each day.

I started listening to my mind, beyond the hum drum of to dos and other tasks of daily life.  I realized there were some profound thoughts swimming just below the surface.  But I had a baby brain.  It was foggy.  Each thought would fade away so quickly.

As I write this I see a snowflake coming down, and catching it.  But as I try to take in the beautiful patterning, it melts away before I get an idea of the shape. Those deep thoughts in maternity leave are just as tricky.

Over the months I began to research, study and listen to others. I came across a common theme among “the greats” of various disciplines. They all talked about flow.

And I began to play with it.

And that was when it all made sense.  You know those moments of realization where your entire world has shifted a bit?  Like when you were a kid and finally solved a math equation and understood how to do it?  Ah-hah.

Most often, the magical, deep thoughts would appear immediately after times of flow.

What is Flow?

Flow is a state of being where time disappears, where the thoughts cease to whir, where you lose yourself in the task at hand.  It is a fascinating frontier of human psychology and research.  Almost every incredible great philosopher, thinker, inventor, creative, entrepreneur.  Every.Single.One of them talks about using the flow state to unlock the power of their specific talents.  Here is a wonderful TED talk on the state.

Guess what?  Maternity leave is very, very special because you’ve been given the gift of flow. by that sweet baby you have.  Maybe you don’t even know it… .  

Think about the last time you rocked your baby to sleep but got completely lost in their eyes, looking at the beautiful little rivers of light and starbust shapes in their retina, thinking that there is an entire universe in there.

Or do you remember their first days on earth? When they had that strange, oily film over those deep, dark newborn eyes?

Each time, you had beautiful deep thoughts as you got lost in those eyes and rocked that baby.  You have the opportunity to go into flow every.single.day with these babies.

What a gift.

Other forms of flow:

My other flow state is also trail running. I am so with the present moment that my mind shuts down.  I am just existing; just breathing in a rhythm going along with feet crunching in the soft snow. Totally unaware of everything and anyone.   Runners call it the “zone” – it’s just another word for the flow state.

After each run, as I slow my pace down to a walk and enjoy the last 500m back to my house at a leisurely pace, it’s like a tap starts flowing.  All sorts of ideas for projects, all sorts of topics I want to blog about, all sorts of creative ideas.  The tricky part is these thoughts fade away as quickly as they arrive.

When your mind is “flowing” it’s like waking up from a dream.

The moment you get out of bed, those dreams fade away.  Just like a snowflake you try to grasp them, and remember them.  But alas.

I think there’s some magic in there.  

These awe inspiring ideas and thoughts we have, that start flowing out of the deep recesses of our brain after being in the flow state. These thoughts we have that don’t even exist physically in any form… yet have the ability to change our physical life.

Enter the Journal

So I started capturing them.  The thoughts, the images, the ideas, realizations. I carry a paperblank journal wherever I go, in my handbag with a pen that I love to use.

The ink flowing on the paper is deeply cathartic as I release that idea into the world by acknowledging it, and placing it in a journal for safekeeping.

What have been some of the things I captured after flow state?

~The first idea to become a fully certified ontological coach. It forever altered the way I live my life and fast tracked me to happiness.

~Ideas about how to launch my coaching business & the name for it

~The idea to start The Great Maternity Leave

~The entire mission statement for the Great Maternity Leave

~Every.Single.Blog.Post.

~The rich imagery for a childrens’ book I am writing at the moment.  After my flow state I record each now “idea” that come for the next page in the book.

~New jewellery designs for my Etsy store

~Inventions

 

The list goes on, and on.  

I’ll confess, I’m addicted to journalling in itself.  I love the process of buying beautiful journals, whose archival quality paper are a dream to write on.

Make it a Beautiful Ritual

Every time I start a new journal, I assign myself an evening once the kids are down and go to chapters or a stationary store. I get a hot drink and leisurely look through all of the journals and pens, and pick one of each.   It takes me back to the thrill of stationary shopping at back-to-school time.  Do you remember how much you loved doing that?

It’s important to remember to infuse enjoyable little things into our lives. Sometimes we don’t have much time to spare, or money to spare.  This activity costs less than $25 and takes less than an hour.  It is such a perfect treat on mat leave and is so enjoyable.

 

But What if Flow State is Too Much for Me to Take On Right Now?

Of course, flow is easier said than done. Because you’re not in flow if you’re thinking about it.

Sometimes you don’t have time to go into flow state for profound insight.

In this case, I say, get into the flow state during journalling.

On maternity leave, the baby fog is tricky, and that is why I am such a big fan of a particular journal made by Studio Oh!  Called “Be Yourself; Everybody Else is Already Taken.” 

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This journal is a guided introspective journal.  

It’s like having someone sitting there, asking you fascinating questions; about your life, your childhood, your philosophies, what makes you happiest – things that you never sit down and think about in day to day life.

In fact, in our selfless service to our babies and family, do you ever think, “I wish somebody would just ask me about my philosophies or ideas about x, I have so much to offer on this topic.”  

I’ve often caught myself at dinners, dancing in surface level conversation about my maternity leave days, feeling a bit resentful, thinking “why aren’t you asking me deep questions?  I do more than just look after these babies!”  You see the crazy stuff I write about on this blog.  It’s like a glimpse, a teeny tiny preview of my mind on a minute to minute basis.

It’s a pleasure to work through this particular journal. Finally! Being asked to think deeply, about our lives, our imaginations, the silly little things through out our lives that have made us happiest, our favourite childhood memories.   Every page is beautifully illustrated as it asks a new question.  Though it is a conversation had in silence, the craving to honour and dance with our own depth is fulfilled.

It sits beside my bed with a beautiful pen.  And once in a while, I dig it out and turn to a page randomly.  In the quiet hours before sleep, I dig into memories, peel back the layers and make connections between my childhood and who I’ve become today.  What a beautiful activity as I create and shape my own childrens’ lives, as I decide what my gift to them will be in this earthly life.

In these days of selfless duty, service to others, and outward living, it is all the more important to have the opportunity to recharge; to turn inward, and fulfill our inherent need to go beyond the surface and access our own deep intelligence, creativity and problem solving.

Try it out sometime.