Book Club, Essays, Life Hacks, Lifestyle, Lifestyle Design, Organization, time management, Working Mom

How to Manage Your Time as a Working Mom – What My iCal Looks Like

Hello everyone!  At work this week I’ve been running a ton of presentations and doing a heck of a lot of coaching around time management, now that we are in the exciting month of September.

For many, this month marks a shift into a different pace and rhythm, especially those of you parents who have kiddos continuing (or starting!) school.  Doubly true for those of you who simultaneously work in industries that ramp up in the fall and winter!

As a higher education professional, that certainly applies to me!

First point, I want to say, is be gentle with yourself!  As you get into the rhythm of a new season, it’s going to take some adjustment over the month.  You’ll do too much, then you’ll go the other way and not enough and then you’ll find that “just right” rhythm. There’s a Scandinavian quote I love, “not too little, not too much, just enough.”  I believe you can’t find “just enough” until you try the other ends of the spectrum and your boundaries.   One person’s too much is another person’s just right.… right?

Personally, in my own time management life, I’m trying to figure out how to fit meal prep and a more effective morning routine into my life, but my ical and outlook schedules are pretty dialed in.  I’m also back at work after maternity leave and having to trust that my husband has the home front and home iCal under control while I am in sessions or workshops.  The hand off of child schedules during the daytime has been a wild (but awesome) adjustment for both of us, and we just keep the lines of communication open around our own personal strengths and weaknesses and where the other needs support.

Second point I want to make, is that we are all constantly working on time management, and then adjusting our schedules and rhythms as each new element comes in.  I am a time management expert and I have to work at it every day!

We NEVER discover a perfect system and then install it… we are ALWAYS adjusting and constantly responding to changes…  I’ll talk about this in the video.

On IGTV (Instagram TV) today I shared a behind the scenes video of how I manage my schedule as a working mother with a career, a few side hustles and 3 kids. I show you my iCal and my outlook, and the systems I use to stay on top of things.

I’ve also posted the video below, which is also saved to my channel on Youtube.  

 

FYI, I share lots of coaching, tips and insights on my Instagram account, so if you don’t already follow along, do check it out at https://www.instagram.com/great_maternity_leave_yyc/

I find it incredibly helpful to “see” what other peoples’ lives are like, and people’s work / home schedules are fascinating to me. I love studying them, but it’s often not something that people open up about and show (or even talk about in conversation.)  It’s kind of like finances in a way, so, that is exactly why I am sharing my own.

Let’s have these conversations!  They help us elevate our lives and manage the full days of parenthood.  Where do you excel? Where do you struggle? What has helped you?

If you are a working mother and are very curious about balancing multiple roles, I strongly recommend the book “I Know How She Does It” by Laura Vanderkam which has lots of ‘sample’ schedules of real working women she interviewed.  The paperback is $22 and the Kindle edition (I personally read this on Kindle so I can save and review the notes) is $16.

I Know How She Does it by Laura Vanderkam
One of my favourite books on maternity leave, it helped me with time management for working moms

Time management really is a passion of mine, I love how fluid it is and how it is an ever-shifting thing.  I have an entire category of the blog dedicated to it, so here are some additional articles that may be of interest.  I’ll also make a note to share my own notes on this book above!

EXTRA READING:  Other Time Management Articles on the GML

Why we should stop saying OMG I AM SO BUSY

Add This Approach to Your Time Management Practices

My Thoughts on the Whole “Too Busy / Too Overwhelmed” Dialogue In Society

 

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Free Life Coaching Guides, Happiness, health coaching, Learning, Life Hacks, Lifestyle Design, Mental health, Personal Development, Spirituality, Working Mom

What Does a Life Coach Actually Do? Ask Me Anything about Life Coaching.

www.trajectorycoaching.org
Carina Huggins

Carina Huggins

BA, MSS, ACC, MBTI®

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I was chatting with someone the other day about being a professional coach, and they said to me, “so basically you listen to people’s problems and give advice?”

I stopped and thought about that for a moment. The answer that I gave?

“No, actually I don’t do either of those.” Hardly the reply my acquaintance was expecting.

We were having coffee, so there was time to explain.

I wanted to share this question tonight, because it was an opportunity to both clarify the art and science of coaching and address a common misperception. Two birds with one stone.

There are so many definitions of ‘coaching’ out there. Yes, there are some out there who solve problems, give advice and act in a consultant model (which are certainly excellent models) but what is it like with a professionally certified ICF coach?

Let me tell you, because it is an interesting distinction.

I don’t ‘listen’ to my client’s problems.

In fact, the actual problem doesn’t sweep me up the way it does for a client. Though I listen with my ears, as a coach, it is not serving you if I dive right in with you to the story and resonate with it, body mind and soul. When a client is working with a problem, they are swimming in it. I like the analogy of choppy water on a lake – A client is paddling, working hard, staying afloat, solving the problem, coming up for a gasp, and then another problem arises… from the same exact lake.

It’s not easy swimming in choppy water. A client’s problem can easily take up an entire coaching hour, and it is up to the coach to respect the client’s needs and goals for a session, have them know we truly hear them, but also know when it is time to gently guide them out of the water, and have them wade onto the shore. From the shore, together a coach and client can examine the entire lake from an outside perspective.

Coaching is like finally deciding to clamber out and sit on the shore after battling the waves. I always tell potential clients that they must be able and willing to step into the mode of “a human simply being” and approach things with curiosity and an open mind. To be with themselves and be with the coaching process. Be willing to put some things into practice and be willing to stay accountable. If they stay in “human busily doing” mode with a strong desire for benchmarks, outcomes, a fixation on the goals, they are basically out there still swimming in the lake, just harder and faster. They won’t trust me enough to come sit on the shore beside me. They won’t develop trust in the relationship or go dive deep in session.

But back to the lake…

I am not listening to my client’s problem. I am listening with my ears to a client and their problem, yes but I am listening on several other levels, as well. I am watching the subtle shifts in body language, eye contact, gestures and posture. I am quite literally feeling the energetic shifts in a conversation and the associated moods and emotions. A client doesn’t have to tell me when they move into sadness or happiness in a story, the change in the air and energy of a room is palpable. I may offer this as a gentle observation to deepen awareness and context of the discussion, particularly if we are working not just on a conversation and logic level, but an emotional and intuitive level.

As I listen to a client, I am not listening to their problem. I am listening to the person behind the problem. The helpful beliefs, the harmful beliefs, the statements that shut down future possibility, the statements that open it up. The vast background of emotions, moods, experiences, and beliefs that have made this neutral event in this person’s life a problem for them that is keeping them from where they want to be.

And giving advice? Nope. Definitely not that either.

I don’t give advice in a coaching session.

After 3000 coaching sessions, I know for a fact, that the only true expert, the only content matter expert in that specific client’s life is themselves. Only they know precisely where they truly want to be, and only they truly know why their ‘right now’ is not doing it for them. I don’t have to wake up with them every day. They have to wake up with themselves every day for the rest of their lives. I think about this all of the time, because I really appreciate how profound that statement is.

It is a catalyst for ownership, responsibility and accountability in clients. Try it yourself. Write on a post-it note, “I will wake up with you tomorrow, and every morning for the rest of my life. Love, me.”

Giving advice doesn’t result in someone crossing the bridge from where they are to where they want to be. It simply gives them a brief glimpse of the other side, described by someone else. They don’t see how amazing it is.

What makes someone walk over to the other side of the bridge and truly step into their new life, finally take action and get results? Well, I can tell you it is not advice giving.

I cannot walk that bridge for them and shout out from the other side “It is amazing over here you should join me! Just start walking!” (by the way, a lot of coaches do this.)

However, I can walk alongside a client over that bridge. As we step over the cobble stones together we co-create what the other side looks like. We partner in helping the client gain perspective, awareness, clarity and choice. And when they get halfway over the bridge and slow down or perhaps move backward, we can deepen practices, accountability and move deeper to remove final blocks that have held them back all these years. When you are moving forward, you develop ways to move forward, but you also develop ways to fight the urge to move backward, to where you came from. To safety. Security. Familiarity.

This is another important piece of coaching; the call of safety, security, familiarity is strong. It is literally wired into the brain. As a client moves into new possibilities for their life and new opportunities, the brain will use its best tools to convince a client to return to where they were. Coaching is a dynamic process and this bump in the road shows up in different ways depending on the client. Recommitment to the original problem and way of thinking, with even more passion, rescheduling a session or a lot of “I don’t know”s in a session. These to me are not obstacles but opportunities. It’s an exciting indicator they are moving well along the bridge and the best work is about to happen.

I don’t give advice.

In fact, you are giving me advice on your life, where you want to be and how it is going to happen, and why you need help. I’m asking you LOTS of questions precisely so that you are in that place of giving me advice on you. I’m simply a highly invested partner on this journey of YOU believes you’ll get there and sees how that is possible (even if you don’t yet.)

The moment you step out of yourself and take that outside observer approach you’ll find yourself stopping mid-sentence and realizing what you’ve just said – then, you’ll realize the incongruency of what you just said with what your future life is supposed to be.

And then you’ll look away, perhaps sip at your coffee and I’ll thoroughly enjoy that moment, because it is a magical one. When it comes to a client having a true moment of insight, or an “ah hah moment” I know at that moment, whatever has been seen in your inner perspective cannot be unseen.

I am here as a confidential, supportive, professional partner in your journey. I’m here to have the conversations that you don’t get to have with anyone else, that dive deep inside to who you are as a human being. Unlike therapeutic or clinical approaches (healing, recovery, issue resolution) my time is spent focusing on your elevation, enhancement and growth.

Coaching is an evolutionary, forward facing process. We have all of the information in the world to get us to where we want to go, but we don’t, do we? And that is what coaching focuses on. It gets us there, and then acts as a catalyst for flashes of insight which will ensure you’ll never see anything the same way again and you won’t go back to old patterning or beliefs.

On a personal note, I think that at this time in our lives, we are all in deep need of deeper conversation, deeper connection and more engagement with who we really are. In the 2018 world of humans doing, we all desperately want to be recognized and engaged with as humans being. We are deep. We are growing, and evolving and going through massive shifts. We want someone to bear witness, to support, and be a partner in this process. We should have someone who can be that. It is tragic to experience this rich evolution in this lifetime and not share it with anyone, collaborate with anyone or use our experiences in turn to serve others.

Maternity leave for me has been the CRAZIEST personal growth, evolution, awakening.  Truly on body, mind, intellect, soul, spirit, love – on all of those levels I was cracked wide open, rebuilt and vastly different (in a good way.) Early parenthood is an accelerated growth incubator and it is a gift in that ALL of the above is revealed to you.  It is a wild ride, and I engaged with a coach during it, because I wanted to make sure I was clear on my dreams, the life I wanted for my fam, and wanted to let a few self limiting beliefs go.  I also worked with a psychologist to heal some old wounds, and endeavoured to undertake a variety of “great maternity leave projects” to keep my focus forward facing and fun!

Amidst the surface level day-to-day life of humans doing, we are all hopping online to have deep conversations, listen to podcasts, read books and learn. Have you noticed the explosion in podcasts, following shortly on the explosion of blogs? We are all humans being – yet we do it silently, and alone.

In my gratitude practices (5 minute journal format) I often note down the internet – I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to write and share and express my own deep internal worlds.  Motherhood can be lonely, I have a 3 hour window where all of my three kids are happy and awake (9-12) and then they turn into pumpkins and it’s go home for nap time.  Did I mention I work full time? So there’s very little time (and sacred space) to dive deep into these conversations.  I don’t think it’s our fault that we mothers are left scraping the surface of connection with surface level conversations.  We don’t have the time and space to go there, yet.  But, when in just a few years, that place will open up again we will have SO MUCH TO TALK ABOUT.

But in the meantime, I think it’s really, really important to talk now, endeavor to grow, enjoy the journey and have a partner in the process.

For a long time, I didn’t want to because of my own limiting beliefs and reference points, which I worked through and overcame with a coach. I can feel my old mind saying “Carina, this is a really long post and it’s way too personal” but my new mind says, you have a choice in whether to believe that or not, and you no longer do. You know the way to move forward is to share your deepest thoughts and insights and help people understand the profession.

I am here writing precisely because I decided to collaborate with a coach to dive into my deeper internal worlds and clarify where I wanted to go. I am eternally thankful for the rapid evolution and elevation it set me on.

I hope you enjoyed this deeper dive into the coaching profession. I write these from a totally authentic viewpoint of someone who was unsure what it was, went through being coached, and then became an Associate Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation.

I enjoy writing these because I enjoy sharing human stories and help people understand we are all connected and growing together.

To become a coach isn’t to figure it all out instantly, in fact, most coaches are on their own *fun* ( because it’s what they love to do) evolutionary paths. Every day they work through the same thing their clients do. Gaining some tools and insights, reframing, shifting their perceptions, priming their state, practicing awareness and choice. Even the greats like Tony Robbins or Oprah Winfrey do this. Every day.

If you are interested in gaining the tools, shifting your axis and a partner to work with the big shifts and evolution in your life, you are most welcome to shoot me a message.

And do leave a comment if this lands with you – or even better if you have an additional insight to offer that this sparked for you! Reading articles and engaging with others in the comments, let me tell you, has been (and still is) a fundamental part of my own growth path. My mission is to now serve others in their own growth.

Grounding, Happiness, Life Hacks, Mental health

How to Reset Your Mood, How to Reset Your Energy, How to Reset when You Return Home from Work to your Family

Our family is growing. (1)

You know that time… at the end of the day, when you are totally tapped out with your kids. Or, perhaps, when you are coming home from work a bit drained, and feeling entirely unprepared to step into “Mom?” with little people full of sparkles and light and energy, when that’s hardly what you are full of?   Yeah, me too.

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It’s always hard resetting our energy, our body language, our mindset and attitude.  Collectively we can call these our “disposition.” You can see dispositions in your partner too.  When they come home from work, are they still in work mode? Do they step right into family mode?  or somewhere in between?  The shift is hard, and it takes a lot of awareness.   At work I am paid to come up with ideas, be creative and be deep in thought and research whilst sitting still (mind body and emotional states are different).

At home, I am most effective as a fully present, playful, yet grounded mother.

I’m a scientific person and I like evidence, so when I heard about breathing exercises, I liked the scientific evidence that it downregulates our nervous system and rushing mind, but it didn’t quite land.  What I need is to connect the dots in my own life. I need to practice something myself and see for myself the benefits.

Years ago, I discovered a very quick and easy technique that I do literally every time I step into different roles or environments.  I’m a visual person so I like rich visuals – so once again I have engaged with my terrible water colour painting skills to help “paint” a visual of this exercise.

I originally learnt this exercise from a Navy SEAL Commander, Mark Divine and to make it connect for me, I adapted the application and visual how my brain works.

You may think at first that that world is very different from the maternity leave world, but it is not at all. For example, we are all humans, we are all working with 60,000 thoughts a day, how to not engage with all of them and stay focused on the clear priorities, values and results we want.  Some of the most useful things I have acquired from people like Mark, are super relevant in my own life.  I absolutely loved his book The Way of the Seal and most of the practices from that book, I have adapted to my own Commander Mom life, haha.

book

So, I present to you, a very quick adaptation of Commander Divine’s Box Breathing Method that is very, very useful and relevant to our life as mothers.

A Tool to Help you At the End of Your Day After a Shift, or A Day With The Kids

Essays, Happiness, Learning, Life Hacks, Lifestyle Design, Mental health, Personal Development

Mental Health on Maternity Leave – How to Know if You are Doing Okay

Over the last few years I have been diving deep into mental health, resilience and grit. When I was completing my Masters Degree at the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies here in Calgary, I had the opportunity to do some research into these topics, and that fascination has continued to this day – both inside and outside of work.

I have researched and done professional training (I highly recommend taking the Working Mind course if your employer offers it) and have studied and practiced many of techniques.  One I still use regularly is a box breathing technique taught by, and for, Navy SEALS that regulates the autonomic nervous system.

I believe that any coach worth their salt, should endeavour to put their own tools into practice and really understand what they are talking about on a somatic, emotional and mental level. I believe they should stay on top of research into human psychology and mindset, and I believe they should use their knowledge to translate advanced ontological tools into easy to understand techniques that a client can apply daily to their lives and take forward into their futures.  Coaching isn’t teaching – it is empowering a client to cut through their own fog, uncover deeper self-awareness, reconstruct their mindset, re-pattern habits and reach their potential through intentional practice.  Sometimes I may introduce a client to a model, research, or information that helps them have a shift in mindset, knowledge or awareness such as a technique or research study if that helps them and fits with their goals for coaching.

I have studied mental resilience, mental toughness, grit, persistence, whatever you would like to call it and have read through many resources put out by the United States Marine Corps, the Department of National Defence as well as research journals. In fact, rather than paying someone else to teach you, the best, best way you’ll ever learn in life is by seeking out the information yourself, teaching yourself and practicing it. This is the foundation of a powerful learning technique called Inquiry-Based Learning.  My pet peeve is getting into fancy inacessible langauge, so for our purposes, let’s just call it google-based learning with the assumption the places you are going to for information are a bit more legit.

Paying for courses is simply a way to speed up the packaging and delivery of information and researching stage and it saves you a few hours. I strogly believe in reading books.  First, you can take them at your own pace, second you can write all over them, and third, you immerse yourself inside the author’s mind and get a true feel for the content.  I think of it like steeping my brain in (name author here) tea.   When I am frazzled, I’ll crack open a book by Thich Nhat Hanh and come out thinking like him (because I have been while I read his work.)

Depending on your time and of course, budget, courses are a valid route. When budget allows, I enjoy taking them, and you’ll come out with great information.  But remember, you don’t have to have a big budget and access. To deeply immerse yourself and get that information locked deep in your mind, hunt down for it yourself and start practicing.

I highly recommend any material by Mark Divine through his mental training program, Unbeatable Mind.  Start with the book.  The Kindle edition (you can read on your phone or laptop) is less than coffee.  $2.50 (!)

Note:  Affiliate link to Amazon – by using this link to hop over to Amazon, you are directly supporting my blog, so I thank you in advance if you decide to go there via this button.  
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I wanted to share one of the models that is employed quite extensively across the military and that is the Mental Health Continuum Model.  When I first was introduced to this model I figured, hell, if they use this on battle-hardened soldiers, this is definitely going to be good for Mums.  By the way, I will fully state here that I think Mums are the toughest people around.   Right now. Hands down.  Tough as any soldier.

We need this kind of information and training, but in all honesty, sometimes we are intimidated by this stuff. I remember walking into my first Crossfit Gym in 2010 for example and it was all five finger death punch and tattoos and ripped guys and it was terrifying for me, then I realized once I got to know everyone how wicked, approachable and normal they all were and that “intimidating” was just a story my head had made up. In fact, they have come to me for advice over the years, too!

So the model… bear with me… you may roll your eyes and think “here we go, another check list of things you should do for mental health, uggghhhh I already do those.”  (trust me, I find that frustrating too) but this model is different.

It made me think in a different way about my mental health.

I don’t think about how I am doing on a “good to bad” scale anymore.  I no longer think about mental health in a linear sort of way either. Hell, I don’t even rank it anymore.  I think about mental state movement.

I’ve learnt that ‘mental health’ is complicated as fuck.  You can be great in one area, not so great in another.  You can think you are doing awful, but then you are doing wonderful in another area . This leaves you confused.  You’re left wondering whether you’re just looking at things wrong, and it’s a matter of perspective, or if things are bad and this is some kind of weird response wherein you ignore what’s going wrong. It is so confusing.  Mental health is incredibly complex and a model is woefully inadequate to describe our inner worlds with five bazillion layers and complexities.

The mental health continuum model is about which direction you are moving in and that is an important concept.  A USEFUL concept.

If you asked me, “Carina, what the secret is to happiness, life elevation, fulfillment, whatever you want to call it but that which we are all working towards”   I would tell you that it is about accessing and maintaining this magical type of energy that infuses your whole being.  It’s not actually happiness, happiness is a side product of it.

This is where it gets tough for me because it’s hard describing this correctly in the English language.  The energy we want, is one of engagement and expansion.  It’s a really difficult energy to describe, but when you have it, you know you are in the right place.  You are interested in things, engaged, enthusiastic – yes you are being challenged and there’s some shitty times- but it’s got an upward “feel” to it.  It makes you want to be alive.  It’s when you are working toward a goal.  It’s when you are learning and growing and changing, it’s when you are looking forward to something.  Those are times you are in this energy space.  Even when you experience a setback and you’re picking yourself up and dusting yourself and the tears off, that’s where you want to be.

Think back through your life, do remember a time when you fell in love with a new hobby or activity and you couldn’t get enough? Even though you were awkward, and learning, and it was up days and down days, and days you wanted to quit, you knew intrinsically that you were moving forward in life and you were really quite excited and engaged?  There was something that lit your soul up, wasn’t there?

That’s that energy that I doing a terrible job at putting words around.

You see, mental health isn’t where you are on a scale.  It’s about whether you are moving forward or backward and which energy you are holding.

Forward energy:  Engagement + expansion  + fulfilment.  Green.  

Backward energy.  Disengagement + contraction + emptiness.  Red.

Mental Health Continuum Model - University of Calgary

Image credit:  The University of Calgary SU Wellness Centre.

The model is presented on a scale, but really try to focus your attention on what it means to move toward green or away from it. Energy.

There are so many ways that we understand what it means to be mentally healthy.  The key is understanding our baseline and whether you are moving forward or backward.

For example, one small facet of mental health is social life.  Some people have a small, close set of friends and are more introverted.  Their baseline looks different from a life of the party extravert with a wide range of acquaintances.  The key is to be aware of your movements within your benchmark… to what extent are you moving toward green or red?

Can you see how this diagram describes that energy I was trying to put words around?

It’s tough because the model above uses the words “healthy” and “ill” which gets clinical and makes us think it is a cut and dried thing.  I learnt over the last few months that raking your health is a terrible idea. For a while I was of the mind that my body was completely broken after babies.  That did NOT work let me tell you.  It made ALL of my symptoms worse and I had a pity party.  I choose to be of the mind that I am going green. I am improving my health, moving forward and upward.  I’m going to the green.  

Green is reaching out, expansion, elevation, growth, upward and forward.

Red is isolation, contraction, deflation, regression, downward and backward.  It just makes you feel, well, kind of ick. 

Another thing I like about the fluidity of this model, is that it normalizes fluctuation.  Our mental state changes ten times a day!   It ebbs and flows over a week, a month, a year.

The amount of mental health information we have access to is amazing these days, and the normalization of mental health has been a gift.  However, we have to be super duper careful in these times to not get into a fixed mindset, label ourselves and get a bit “stuck.”

It’s also hard to manage the information overwhelm because nowadays you can read stories about anxiety or ppd, and you are left thinking wow, so much of this is my story.  Does that mean I have it too?  At what level do I get help? does it go away? Etc.

(I’ve written extensively on post partum depression by the way, so feel free to read those if you are in that place and not sure whether to see a professional.)

It is super important to outline that we dont all live and stay in green, nor should we.  We shouldn’t be all great, all the time.  We need to be ill sometimes, we need to be injured sometimes and that goes for mental health as well as physical health.

Nature goes through seasons.  The bright lush greens of summer give way to contraction, withdrawal and less vibrance in autumn, and dormancy in winter.  EVERYTHING in nature goes through oscillations or wave patterns.  Forward and backward, upward and downward.  We are are part of the natural world.  In. out.  Expand. Contract. Breath in. Breath out.

This model shows you that there is optimal state and reacting state –  and it is okay to be moving between those and constantly correcting.  The key is being aware of that movement.  Which way am I going? 

I myself went through a BIG funk January through to May and I finally really got my groove back in May / June as I started trail running and getting out in nature again (it really is a key to my mental health.)

In May I found myself returning to this model, genuinely worried I was experiencing post-partum depression again and wanted to look at the indicators of moving into the “injured” zone of mental health.  I started looking at which parts of this model indicated I was regressing, and which ones I could correct.

Most of my changes centered around physical activity. I made some corrections to physical activity and physical health (I’m working on a laundry list of injuries and pain sources) and can confidently say I’m moving forward in the green direction.  I don’t “rank” myself along this continuum though, I just ask myself, “am I doing things that move me toward green, and away from red.”

This model empowers you to self-assess how you are doing.  Resist the urge to assign yourself a place on this model, because we all move back and forth.  Remember, we are part of nature and oscillate.  The key is to ask yourself, which direction am I going?  Which energy am I experiencing and in which areas of my life?

Having this model also encourages you to evaluate the tricker parts.  If you are in orange and going toward the red zone it’s a great chance to reach out.

If you do a google search of “wellness model” or “wellness diagram” you can get some ideas of areas of your life to think about when you look at this model.

Personally, I like the 8 dimensions of wellness from the Mental Health Association of Portland below. In my own work with clients, I’ve developed my own.

Think about the key components of wellness in your life.  For me, this model is missing “creativity” it’s a barometer of how I am doing.  I also like to get more specific, so I’d break down emotional into “family” “marriage” and “friendships” – all three of those areas are very important to me – and I like to think about whether I am progressing or regressing in those areas.

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Image Credit: Mental Health Association of Portland

When I went through my springtime slump I withdrew very much from my social life, felt disembodied when I was out with friends, and felt myself being distant with my family.   Feeling that negative, slumping energy on all three domains was a big red flag for me that I needed to course correct.  I started working with a psychologist, ramped up my health efforts and got the hell outside.  All biggies for me.

A fun activity that you could even do is draw a bunch of circles, much like the above and label them with the key components of your life.  Inside each, draw a green arrow point up and a red arrow pointing down to represent forward momentum or backward momentum.  I do this with my students all the time and it’s a very enlightening thing to do.

Even though it’s common sense and fairly obvious to do activities like that, there’s something to be said about putting pen or pencil to paper and really reflecting.

So until next blog,

Keep moving forward.

 

xo

Carina

Book Club, Happiness, Life Hacks, Nutrition, Sleep

Bulletproof Coffee for Moms – How to Manage New Parent Sleep Deprivation and Brain Fog.

Bulletproof coffee has revolutionized mornings for this tired mama of three.  But what on earth is it? It sounds rather rugged and hardcore, doesn’t it?  Don’t be intimidated.

It is quite simply a way of preparing your coffee with a few extra products and a blender.  It has changed my morning game completely.  I am also finding it a wonderful tool as I follow weight watchers and shed the weight from my babies, particularly on days where I intermittently fast (12-16 hours between dinner and breakfast.)

Here on my third maternity leave in 4 years, I am well acquainted with the trenches of sleep deprivation and rough nights. I hear you mama!  Currently I have a 4, 2 and six month old in the house.

With each successive baby, the odds have become increasingly low that I will get a full night sleep, or even go into the restorative deep cycles of sleep, because my senses are on full alert for any sniffle the baby makes.

I’ve always loved coffee but after reading the books Bulletproof and Headstrong by Dave Asprey, a successful tech entrepreneur who then went on a years-long quest to optimize his energy, focus and cognitive ability (as well as lose weight and gain vitality.) He is the ultimate example of self-experimentation and because of this, his book is full of candid anecdotes, the latest research and little gems of information to optimize ones energy.

These are the books on Amazon where you can choose paperback (or) kindle.

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One of the biggest things I took from his books was upgrading my morning coffee, to a Bulletproof Coffee and I absolutely mean it, this has completely changed my morning game as a busy mama of little crazy ones.

Preparing my coffee as a bulletproof coffee solves the following problems:

  • Remove the caffeine jitters and anxiety that comes with (lots) of cups
  • Prolong the sweet, sweet feeling of energy and feeling alert / awake
  • Rebuild my connective tissue and heal my gut
  • Provide the ability to intermittent fast with maximum results
  • Removes the need to have breakfast (linked with the above bullet)
  • Maximize ketones in the blood for fat burning

It is no secret that coffee is a bit of a crutch in this temporary exhausting stage of life, but the best part is that, like wine, coffee is one of the great pleasures of life and zero fucks are given when you are in the midst of it with little ones.

We are really lucky in our household, that my husband micro-roasts organic coffee (if you are curious, his website is Five’21 Roasters) so we always have it on hand.

I first heard about Bulletproof coffee in the CrossFit community, but I didn’t have a clear understanding of it, and thought it was a passing trend 5 years ago – until relatively recently when I finally downloaded Headstrong to my Kindle.  I read the book after getting sick (and tired) after childbirth and was really getting frustrated with my post partum brain fog.

Following the protocols in the book has helped me a ton in the areas it promises to.

So anyways, read it, it’s a solid read.   Highly recommended.

So now, let’s get into Bulletproof coffees.

What is a bulletproof coffee?  There are two answers which is why it is confusing at first glance on the interwebs.

1.) It is a way of preparing your regular cup of coffee that releases the maximum benefits of coffee and adds a few “super powers” to it (see bullets above.)

2.) It is also the name of a brand, started by Dave Asprey, who wrote the book “Bulletproof” that espoused the benefits of a Bulletproof coffee.  I use these products and love them.

Personally, I prepare my coffee in the bulletproof way, but also use the bulletproof products.  

What goes into a Bulletproof coffee?
1.)  Coffee
2.) Grass-fed Butter OR Ghee OR if like me you prefer non-dairy, I use a chunk of Cocoa Butter – I like the Bulletproof one best.
*I put upgraded collagen protein in as well, but this is optional additional product.
Budget note:  It is expensive to buy all of these products (they last ages though) so if you have to get one thing, just get the brain octane oil and then grassfed butter from your local grocery store!
How do you make a Bulletproof Coffee?
Put it ALL into a blender. That’s it!  You’ll get a creamy, frothy, satisfying coffee.
We use a Vitamix, but any blender works great.  As a side note though, Vitamix next to my coffee machine and instapot is one of the best things we ever, ever spent money on.
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Where do you buy Bulletproof Products? 
Here in Calgary, I first found  (and bought) them at Community Natural Foods, and some cafes do them now, my favourite being the Bulletproof at Wild + Raw Superfood and Juice Bar in Kensington, but the best prices for these products is definitely on Amazon.
Here are the products on Amazon, if you happen to purchase them through these links, I earn a small commission that goes directly to this blog 🙂
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Brain Octane (MCT Oil)
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 Cacao Butter (non dairy)
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Upgraded Collagen
 + Any grassfed high quality butter from your grocery store.
 SUMMARY OF THIS POST:  
Your regular ‘ol cup of coffee does this:
  • Wakes you the f*ck up

Basically, a bulletproof coffee does this:

  • Wakes you the f*ck up
  • Helps fix the gut lining (butyrate in butter)
  • Maximize antioxidants (coffee is a rich source of polyphenols) 
  • Prolongs the caffeine alertness & prevents fatigue (Brain octane oil)
  • Helps energy & vitality ( Brain octane oil is a fantastic fuel for your brain & the mitochondria)
  • Helps feed the cells lining the gut and the cells that make up your connective tissues (collagen)
  • Staves off hunger (protein in the collagen and fat in the butter / cocoabutter / brain octane) 
  • May help fat loss (if used as part of an intermittent fasting protocol, the MCT oil in the bulletproof can help release more ketones into your blood, promoting fat burning as an energy source.)
 I borrowed an infographic from my husband’s coffee store that explains the benefits of bulletproof really well and breaks down what each ingredient does.

 

Happiness, Life Hacks

Do This Before Bed Instead of Going on Your I-Phone

If you are looking to kick your iPhone habit before bed, I have a very very passionate recommendation that will solve this issue for you in an enjoyable way.  If you are wondering why the hell I have a picture of grass here, read on.  This question will be solved for you pretty quickly here.

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When we try to change our habits and enact behavioural change, you cannot simply say “no, I am not going to do that” or take the deprivation mindset.  True habit change has to involve a reward mindset and the only way you can do that, is by replacing the habit with something that gives you the same type of reward.

This idea is beautifully laid out by Charles Duhigg in his book, the Power of Habit (one of my favourite all time reads and it has changed my life immeasurablyy)

 

but here is the gist of it in one simple image.

5 habit loop

Willpower doesn’t break a habit.

If you are simply saying to yourself “no, I won’t go on my iPhone tonight” you are simply using sheer willpower to try not to go into your habit loop (which is so entrenched in your brain that it is subconscious to some degree and difficult to consciously control.)

If you are facing off with willpower against a bad habit, willpower will always lose. 

Willpower occurs in a different and newer part of the brain. It is weaker than habit, which takes place in the older part of the brain which is much more powerful and subconscious.

The key to breaking a “bad habit” is creating a new “good habit” in its place, that activates the same powerful cue-routine-reward loop.

By installing a new “good habit” in your old, unconscious brain, it will make room for it and kick the old “bad habit” out.  

 

True habit change can also only take place if we feel like the new habit is appealing, and trust me, this one tool I am going to tell you about below IS.

 

While I was traveling, I came upon a tiny book store on the Canadian west coast island of Salt Spring.  As I searched among the shelves for something that would catch my attention, I came across a hardcover journal with beautiful watercolour lettering, quotes and images.

As a journalling fan (I tend to free journal – no rhyme or reason to my entries) I was enraptured with this one particular journal, produced by Studio Oh.

This journal that you see below, is filled with introspective questions and prompts.  Each evening during my second maternity leave, instead of going on my iPhone, I would flip to a page at random and answer the questions or fill out whatever section appeared.

The questions and prompts are wide-ranging and powerful, and you learn so much about yourself in the process of doing these entries.  Instead of surfing the web or feeling anxious looking at social media, I was soon reflecting upon happy moments from my life, the rewards that particular friendships gave me, or favourite places.

The key to happiness is having a true appreciation for what you have right now. 

I fully believe that one of the harder things for us humans to do, is realize how good we have it now, and that happiness is here, right now.  We always tend to think that happiness is just over the horizon once we do x, or complete y.

There is incredible research on the practice of gratitude, journalling and consciously (and intentionally) reflecting on different facets of your life in a positive way.

At the end of this journal I can truly say that my inner landscape was deeper and richer for it.

We go to the gym to spend one hour cultivating the landscape of our bodies… well, with this journal, it’s the same thing. By spending 10 minutes or an hour responding to the questions or prompts, you are cultivating your inner world.  The benefits of this journal happen when you are not journalling, because it strengthens the positivity muscle.  You find yourself spending your days seeing the good in things and feeling happy with right now, rather than focusing on what is missing.

That, friends, is happiness.

Especially on maternity leave.  How many times do you hear mothers say “I wish I could go back and really enjoy what I had.”

 

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When my mum passed away, I inherited her journals, but sadly, they are simply date keeping records.  There are a thousand questions I want to ask her now about my own childhood, and her own process of becoming a mother and how she was so incredibly happy and in love with life.

With this journal, my daughter will be able to take a peek into my inner world, and those things that I hold most dear to my heart and see that this practice is exactly how you get to happiness, but realizing it is right here, right now.

I truly cannot recommend these enough. If I was well off, I would honestly keep a shelf of these on hand and give them to every single one of my friends (I don’t feel that way about any other book.)

My memories are richer and my sense of self and purpose is clarified after undertaking this journal, answering one or two pages in the evening before retiring to bed.

Completing this journal on my second maternity leave will be one of my fondest memories, and I can tell you that my sleep as a result of doing this journal has greatly improved, and my outlook on life is better than ever.  I don’t ever say “I wish I could go back” because with the practice of this journal, I was able to truly relish the moments I was in, as time flew by in those beautiful baby days.

Probably one of the best $20 purchases I have ever made.

Building a Business, Essays, Life Hacks, Lifestyle, Productivity, time management

Why you should reject the “OMG I AM SO BUSY” Busy Mom Mindset

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In my professional job at a Canadian University, I design and give seminars on a variety of topics that help students be successful at University.  It’s one one my favourite parts of the job and it has some selfish benefits – I get to learn and experiment with these principles in my own life before I share with clients.  I get to read books and research and then teach principles to others, that help me, too.

At this year’s class of 2020 induction the University brought in NYT best selling author, Psychologist & TED Talker extraordinaire Kelly McGonical speak to the class of 2020 on her new book, The Upside of Stress.

At its core, this amazing book is really about how to reframe stress and use the power of our own perspective and our own mindset, to reframe stress into a good thing. Chock-full of anecdotes and research, The Upside of Stress demonstrates the power of mind over body – and mind over life.

Those Books that Make a Difference

Often, the books that resonate with us the most, are the books that simply frame in English language, some kind of principle we’ve understood or known all along, but couldn’t fully frame. I think that’s why the book did so well.  The Upside of Stress hit home in so many ways. I only wish I had read it when I was in undergraduate studies myself.  It would have saved me so much self-imposed “I’m soooo busy!” drama.

I didn’t figure out my stress stuff until the age of 30, when I experienced really heavy stress.

In the spirit of this book, and the approach McGonigal takes on reframing stress, I wanted to talk about how we can re-interpret stress & the cult of “busy” in the journey of motherhood. We can’t change events or circumstances, but we can work on how we viewtalk about and decide to interpret things.

 

Mom 1 to Mom 2:  Hey…are you a member of the cult?

Mom 1:  wtf?

Mom 2:  The cult of busy of course! WE ARE SOOOO BUSY! (takes off chasing toddler)

 

Whenever I mention to people that I have two small children (toddler and 1.5 year old) the first thing they do is shake their heads and say “oh, that’s busy.”  I often don’t even mention that I have children because I don’t want to induce such worry!

Sometimes I get “oh my god, you must be so busy” with a shake of the head, other times, slightly more worringly, it is with genuine concern / resignation.  I catch myself thinking  “oh?” and sort of start to doubt myself, like I should be more stressed than I am.  Maybe I’m not working hard enough?  Am I not doing something right as a parent?  Because I feel actually ok? Am I being a horrible parent because I’m obviously taking time out of parenthood to work on some business goals and people don’t do that?  Oh yes, they creep in.  As much as I keep them out, they creep in when someone looks at me with an alarmed look on their face with the mention of two children under three.

The problem is, I kind of don’t want their perspective.

If bought into this whole “my life is so horribly busy and I work so hard and I am exhausted and omg” it would be a bit of a disaster.  I would have immersed myself in the cult of busy. I’d probably be on a really high SSRI dosage.  I’d be in counselling.  I’d be struggling to deal with the left curve balls that sometimes get thrown my way.

It’s a devious cult, this cult of “busy” and it is hard to emerge from because it takes over the way you see things.  It’s a mindset.

If my mindset is like this:  MY LIFE IS MAXED OUT, I AM SO BUSY AS A MOM HOLY SHIT, I definitely would not be giving myself the mental space for anything else to happen, ever.  Because I’d be red-lining on everything, all the time. I wouldn’t have done any of the things I’d done on mat leave, or started any businesses or projects.

It led me to wonder, how come everybody says “you must be so busy.”

Why?  There’s tons of influences. In coaching we call it societal discourse.  It’s the hum of conversation around a topic that seems to be widespread.

First, it might be a cultural thing.  There’s a sort of pride, achievement in saying how busy you are.  If you are busy you must be super productive and successful.  I must be super productive and successful.  Therefore I must be busy. That’s the underlying assumption that occurs out there in the world when you have a lot on the go.  The ego likes that.  Then it doubles down when you are a Mom, because we have this weird guilt thing where we feel like we have to justify our very existence with double the hard work, right?

Some people are genuinely maxed out with life, and that’s totally cool.  I’m not judging.  But I write this post to help others who want to “catch” themselves in the mindset and take the edge off of it, because I think a lot of opportunity opens up with just a shift in mindset.

Where else does this whole busy mom thing come from?

There’s movies about the harried, flustered Mum.  Commercials that want you to think you are busy because then you’ll need their product.  Capitalist society wants you to be busy and stressed, because then they have solutions for you for only $10.99.

Moms are always portrayed as stressed and frazzled, aren’t they?  Everywhere we go, everything we see.  And it’s kind of our fault.  We don’t look up from our phones to pay attention to a mom calmly playing with their kids in the park – we only notice the exceptions.  They’re more interesting.  The 5 minutes in the day where the kid has gone bat shit crazy, and is about to take down a shelf at the grocery aisle, with Mum valiantly trying to save the kid from himself.  But we don’t notice the quiet moments – not the other 1440 minutes where they are doing well and things are calm.

The exceptions become the norm, then media and society immerses us in that norm.

 

Because of reading books like McGonical’s – books from different people with different mindsets, who all experience the same things we do yet see them in a different way –  I discovered that there is more to it.  There are people out there who achieve amazing things as parents, and they think differently.

The key is if we want to be something, or do something, we need to study those who are successful at it, and look at their mindsets.  

We are not resigned to this fate of busy, harried, stressed out moms.  We can be busy, yes but we can be in control and cooly, calmly and pleasantly say no if we need to, or yes if it’s a priority. We can choose yes or no and make our lives as busy, or quiet, as we want to.

The luxury of choice also extends to our own minds.  We have the luxury of making a choice of whether to believe we are busy or not.  With two under three, I decided that I was not busy; I still had time.  And with that time, I could pursue goals and dreams and projects and priorities.

Sure, free time was compressed from 3 hours (luxurious evenings pre-children) to 1 hour (while children or napping, or while I am on lunch break at work.)  but I still had an hour free time each day in some form or another.  Free time is free time.  I sat down and looked at my week, and where the gaps of free time happened (6-7am, lunchtime at work, and 8-9:30pm) and decided what my most deeply held goals and values / priorities were. A crystal clear priority plan I still have on my iPhone notes when I need to remind myself what I want to say “YES” to, and as a source of strength when I have to say “NO” to things.

In this or that hour of free time, there went the goals and projects.  Writing a childrens’ book.  Running an Etsy store.  Reading and learning.  Finishing my coach training and launching a coaching business.  But they weren’t OMG JUST MORE SHIT TO DO.

These were all consciously chosen and pursued dreams and goals that I looked at as my idea of fun on free time.  I wanted to do these.  That’s just me. That’s what I define as enjoyable and rewarding.  Others may be Netflix or catching up on laundry, that’s okay too!  But do you tell yourself “AAAAGH!” or “COOL, IT WILL BE NICE TO SWITCH IT UP AND DO THIS INSTEAD.”

Is your approach an “ I HAVE TO” approach or a “I WANT TO” approach?

I don’t mean to be a jerk but I do mean to give a cold hard dose of reality with this post –  if you came back and said to me NO SERIOUSLY I HAVE NO FREE TIME I would debate that. I would want to see a week’s breakdown of your life, and I would ask you about your mindset.  I would ask you about what you said yes to, what you said no to. I’d ask you to put “yes and no” in the box according to what you said when that opportunity came up.

What qualifies in your life as free time?  What activities are you designating as “I have to” and  as “I want to.”

Let’s take this external event, I’ll show you an “I have to” and “I want to” mindset.

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Deciding to take the kids to the library.  Two different experiences.

Mum 1:  Agh I have to get them out of the house and this is my to do today.  It’s just one more thing on this massive list of things I am supposed to get done today. Work work work! Busy busy busy! I have to get this done!

Mum 2:  Ah awesome, with this hour I’m going to decide to take the kiddos over to the library, that’s a treat for us, a fun excursion and a break from the day’s routines. I want to do this !

SAME external life event for both moms.  Two TOTALLY different ways of perceiving it. No wonder when you come across people in the library everyone is in a totally different state of mind; look at how different their beliefs can be.

Mum 1 is living in the  “holy shit I’m so busy / stressed” narrative. Mum 1 feels that everything is outside of her external control and she’s just dragging herself along.  Mum 2 is living in a more in-control narrative that doesn’t see everything as obligations and duties.  Mum 2 is operating by choice.  They may both have busy lives and the same schedules, but they have different mindsets and ways of perceiving the situation.

What do you think Mum 1 and Mum 2’s lifestyles look like?  Do their thoughts serve them well?  Do their mindsets move them closer to goals they have?

 

 

When you wake up in the morning and you have a particularly big day of activities coming up – whether you work or stay at home, do you feel that anxious energy and think “I JUST WANT TO STAY IN BED OMG LIFE IS SO OVERWHELMING AND THIS IS JUST CRAZY”  Or do you feel that anxious energy and think “cool, this is a little tingle of excitement and anticipation getting me ready to execute a big day!”

The brain quite literally  changes its wiring and neural pathways to accommodate your thinking patterns.  Each time  you choose to think a certain way, you are either reinforcing the pathways present – or helping the brain to reshape itself and habitually think a different way.

If you start reading books by all of these cool women who have kids and have achieved awesome things, youll notice that most them tend to go through the exact same scenarios that we moms do – but they frame it differently.  They make the choice to think things, and form their brains in ways that will help them toward their goals. You as a mama know how quickly time passes, so think about what you want to achieve.  Whether you use it or not, time will pass.  You already know this better than anyone, as you sit with your baby and think “where did the time go?!”

If you want to join the cult of busy and the stress narrative, that’s your choice but ask if it serves you and gets you towards your goals.  There’s an alternative that will help you take on new things and grow.  You just have to choose it.

xo

 

Carinad.jpg

 

Extra reading *and viewing

 

Amazon link:  https://www.amazon.ca/Upside-Stress-Why-Good-You/dp/1583335617

McGonical’s online course through Stanford University http://online.stanford.edu/course/upside-stress

Kelly’s personal website http://kellymcgonigal.com/

 

Building a Business, Creativity, Etsy, Life Hacks, side hustles, Technology, The Projects

Is It Possible to Start an Online Business With a Baby? YES! 15 Truths for Online Entrepreneur Success – With a Baby in Your Arms.

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I’ve taken online courses, I’ve studied online entrepreneurs, I’ve read books and listened to more than 200 hours of podcasts. Most importantly, I’ve started acting on these lessons and am entering the world of online business in 2016.

The foundation was slowly built over maternity leave, and continues to be developed.  But the revenue is beginning to trickle in.  The potential is there, and now I am going from building mode to testing and refining mode.  I’ve tested a few models and it’s time to sit down and clarify the goals, and intensify my focus.

Most online entrepreneurship classes hammer home the whole niche thing.  As a multi-passionate I really, really struggled with this question.  I did not find my niche.  I just started putting a few ideas and business products out there, to see a.) what I enjoyed and b.) what gained traction.  I actually think this is the best way.  Most entrepreneurs get stuck at the start line because they feel like they have to have this entire formula figured out. What is your niche? What problem are you solving? What are you going to charge to solve it?  And so it goes. 

The sweet spot is developing a product that catches hold with your audience, and catches hold with you.  A and B above.

A few products that I developed started returning a revenue.  But I realized in working on some of them, that I wasn’t passionate enough to invest most of my time and focus in that one area. So I redirected my focus to the few that made me come alive – where I had a deeper well to draw from.  The thing is, you won’t know this answer (and cannot possibly know this) till you try it out.

So jump into online business with the intent to discover one type of product you like, and one type of product you don’t like.  I mean it.  Your goal is to have one success and one failure, at least!  There really is nothing to lose other than the time you put into it.

1.) Building an online business is a lot of small tasks.  They can drive you crazy unless you think about them as steps that get you closer to your goal.  One day is going to be about getting mail chimp set up.  Another day is just sorting out some nice typography for your instagram.  One day is going to be setting up / learning about Facebook ads.  Another day may be organizing receipts in your inbox.  Another day may be buying more storage in iCloud.  Acknowledge and learn to enjoy the satisfaction in completing these tasks, even if they are overwhelming and there’s a steep learning curve.  There’s a lot of them, so get over it.  It’s quite satisfying crossing them off in a journal or on your note taking app.

2.) Remember, anything you do, is one step closer to your goal.  While others are quitting at 3 months in, you are just taking one step at a time and being strategic.  The tortoise wins the race.  Most successful online entrepreneurs will tell you they were working at it a while before things took off.  I’m a big fan of the blunt truth talker Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You To Be Rich – check out the infographic in his post showing his product development over six years!

You’ve got at least 40 years left on this earth. Don’t worry about it. Do it because you love it.  Don’t compare yourself to the entrepreneurs who have 70 hours a week, or even 20 to work on their projects and launches.  You are working very hard on a few precious hours per week.  Things will happen for you, but they will happen on your schedule.

4.) Ignorance is bliss, and it contributes to action.  Find some amazing people who are doing what you what to do.  Study how they do it, their webpage, their brand and learn from them.  But be cautious.  I do think that some over-confidence / ignorance is bliss.  Study others just enough to know how to do things well, but not too much.  As soon as you see how many people are doing what you are doi ng, you will become intimidated and discouraged.  When I started my successful Kickstarter campaign, I found two other campaigns I loved and made notes on their models. I focused only on a few successful ones and did not look at just how many children’s books are on Kickstarter.  I wouldn’t have started had I known how saturated Kickstarter is and how much better everyone else’s campaigns looked.  I’m so glad I ran a basic campaign (with much room to improve) and learnt from it, rather than never doing it because I was blocked by intimidation and the desire to do it perfectly. Block out the external noise and focus on what you need to do.

5.) Have a clear idea of what lifestyle you are working towards.  I use Pinterest to do some vision boarding. I have a board called “My goals // my life in progress” (yes, that’s my board right there!) and it is images of the lifestyle and rewards I want for myself and my family. Even as simple as pictures of someone standing in the window, sipping coffee – or a family photo of parents playing in the snow with the kids. I am constantly adding images to this board and it builds a powerful desire – deep within – to keep plugging away.

6.)  Make sure you enjoy your entrepreneurial journey and the project itself, as much as you’d enjoy the lifestyle that comes with it. Your project should be a “Hell yeah” project.  Actually, anything you do should be a “hell yeah or no” situation, as put forth by the fabulous writer Derek Sivers.  You cannot be an influencer in something you are not passionate about. People see straight through that. That’s why there is so much talk about #authenticity on the internet these days.

7.) You don’t necessarily have to take an online course. Most online entrepreneurs’ courses are simply repackaged and re-branded versions of content they have previously published. It is extra work to commit and dig through old content, but it is doable.  So really, we are talking about time vs. money.  If you want to spend less money, there’s more of a time investment on hunting down the information.  If you want to spend more money, you’ll cut some corners and avoid some mistakes other entrepreneurs made.  Eventually, both routes end up at the same destination.

8.)  That being said, the action of financially investing in a course and being part of a community is powerful.  Connecting with other students is a great framework if you are concerned about follow through and prefer team environments.  I also believe online courses are very helpful for those of us who are not skilled in the technical aspects of online business.  I’ve made wonderful connections in some entrepreneurs’ communities that I gained access through, as part of the course. The Smart Passive Income community, Kimra Luna’s #Freedomhackers and others.

9.)  Attend conferences and work outside of the house. Just get out there.  In the business world, networking, friendships, potential deals and closed deals happen outside of the office.  They don’t happen when you are sitting alone on a laptop in a room.  Get out there.  Attend a conference.  Yes, it’s $500 – $1000 to do, but trust me, that investment will pay itself off in a few years down the road with business that is generated as a result of the relationships you made at that conference, or as a result of the business improvements or renewed motivation you received from that event.  This one I have not done yet, and I have this conference on my bucket list.  I cannot wait to do this!  I’ve also added this one – Lewis Howes’ Summit of Greatness – to my pinterest board.

10.) Start saving receipts with the Wave app and creating a “receipts” category in your Gmail now.  There’s so many random little expenses with starting up online.  Cloud storage, random apps, Skype credits, Domain registration, etc.  It’s easy to forget about all of those expenses.

11.)  Don’t ever put too much weight on your total Instagram likes or comments.  80% of your Instagram activity will be hustlers.  Focus on the 5 or less people who you authentically connect on there.  And get unique with your hashtags.  What hashtags would you look for?  Don’t use the “most popular” hashtags.  It’s like dangling bait in the water – the sharks will come circling in.  I onced used #fitfam and #fitspiration and #postpartumweightloss – The Beach Body coaches that came running…..

12.)  Have your product researched and developed before you launch it.  If you arrive in the online business arena with a developed product, you will give less of a shit when the haters or non-supporters rear their ugly heads.  I had a hater a few weeks ago on Kickstarter.  A really unpleasant message that felt like a kick to the gut, initially.

If my children’s book wasn’t 90% complete, I would have taken his comments to heart.  The completion gave me immunity and the ability to pen back a professional letter addressing his trolling.  He wound up apologizing and pledging to the campaign.

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13.)  Be mindful of phone time. If you want a great check in, have your partner take a photo of you holding the phone up in front of your face.  Look at that picture.  This is what your kids may see.  It’s really hard, I know, especially when you are excited about your work and are desparate to work on it!  I’ve realized that I have to be in a separate room or working during the kids’ sleep hours.  They don’t need or deserve the back of my phone in front of their face.

14.)  You are going to get up early or stay up late to work on your business.  My formula has been:  Nap when the baby and toddler nap at mid day, and then wake up super early a few days a week.  A great day is a 5-5:30 start so that I have 1.5 hours to get stuff done with a nice cup of coffee.  It sounds insane but I love what I do enough that it’s not hard to get up.  Wait.  That’s a great question!  Do you like it enough to get up at 5:30 am (or stay up until 2am) working on it?  It is shocking how much you can get done with 1.5 hours, trust me.

15.)  Filter all social media and read selectively.  Follow inspirational or helpful feeds.  Your time is precious as an entrepreneur.  If you are going to take a precious 30 minutes for an iPhone break, fill it with good things that inspire.  Also, stop reading all of those pages, blog posts, social media posts that talk about motherhood and “being too busy” “losing balance” blabllablablabla. You can get stuck in the travails of early motherhood and circle around in that loop, or you can climb above it.   Those are all legit opinions, and motherhood IS hard –  but will they serve your goals if you decide to take those opinions on and make them your own?  Or spend your time steeping in those messages?

Probably not.  Start hunting out and reading about success stories.

Happiness, Learning, Life Hacks, Lifestyle, Personal Development, Physical Wellness, Productivity, Sleep, The Projects

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

Happiness, Learning, Life Hacks, Personal Development, The Projects

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 😉
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