Dear 2017,

My word this year is ‘Push’.  You will hear this single word when you try to slow me down.  I will push back if you try to trip me up.  I will push to stand up if you try to knock down.  I will push a little harder if I feel I am out of fight.

I.  Will.  Push.

I’ve worked hard the last two years.  2015 was my doorway.  2016 brought me beauty.  I have put so many things in place.  2017 will be when I will push to cross off the big items from my list.  It will be the year I push the boundaries.  It will be the year I push myself to overcome challenges.  It will be my year to push.


Motivation: activation, persistence, intensity

Its come to the end of January, and my theme of resolutions is also coming to an end.

This past weekend, I had off from pretty much everything.  No work, no studio: just my kids, a To Do list and a few hours of volunteering.
And yet, besides volunteering and going ice skating, I didn’t really accomplish anything.  In fact, the slothness seemed to spill over the rest of the week, because I haven’t accomplished much other than the basics all week.  This caused me to wonder why motivation wanes and dips periodically.  My goals haven’t changed, but my motivation did this week.
The definition of motivation is the reason why we act or our desire to do things a certain way.  I wasn’t acting the way I wanted to in order to meet my goals this week, and so I’ve been thinking a lot of why that is.  There is a myriad of stressors in my life, and while they haven’t changed over the past year, they did seem to be rather intense this week, both because I’ve been making progress towards alleviating them, but also because that same progress seems to be acting like sandpaper and grating on many aspects of my life.
So, was my lack of motivation this week my brain’s way of saying ‘You’re going to blow a gasket.  Here’s a kit kat.’?
I asked others what motivates them, and I got a couple of very different answers.  One friend told me her kids motivate her.  She can’t back down because they count on her.  This is true for all parents I think.  I know that I push myself to be the best version of me for the sake of my kids more so than for my own desire.
Someone else told me he’s motivated because he feels he needs to catch up.  He led a life that took him down an undesired path, and now that he’s rejoined the rest of society, he feels he has to not just catch up, but share the lessons he’s learned and give back to the world that gave him a second chance.
I think my own motivation comes from many aspects; my children, my desire to be happy, and the need to be something creative.
About.com explains that motivation comes in three components, activation, persistence and intensity.  Activation is the decision to change or act a certain way.  persistance is the continued effort towards the goal.  Intensity is the concentration and vigor one puts forth toward the goals.  Given that, maybe it wasn’t a lack of motivation this week, but just a lack of intensity?
What motivates you?  What do you do to restore your motivation or intensity when it seems to have lost its luster?

How To Create a Great Development Plan

Continuing with yesterday’s topic development plans, I did a bit of research on how to make them a more useful and successful tool.

Lifehacker has a great article on how to write a personal development plan.  Read it here and here

Great Leaders by Dan McCarthy has an article on writing one, even if you don’t plan on moving up the ladder just yet.  Check it out here.

And if you aren’t feeling that motivated, Tiny Buddha has an article on how to get there.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I actually finished this book last month, but it has stuck with me and inspired me till this day, that I feel I need to honour it with its own review.

I fell upon this book through the Todoist blog and borrowed it from my local library that night.

At first, I’m not going to lie, I thought it was fluff and a silly self-help book.  Gretchen is a full-time writer, has more time, resources, and it would seem money, to throw at her project than I would, but it is still none the less inspiring.  I will not be going full-scale like she did, but I did write my own 10 Commandments list, and feel this book lead to my epiphany to do what I want, and write.   The lesson she learned on earning gold stars is something I myself am working on and can see in others more now.  I will reread again to gain another dose of inspiration and happiness injection and recommend this book to those who feel like they’ve lost something, but can’t quite put their finger on it.

To The 2016 Me.

2015 was a tough year, but progressive, which makes it better.  There were many changes this year and while change is good, it’s rarely easy.  The excitement you put into your own life was contagious and managed to infect others.
January brought about its cold, stiff, harsh winds in an attempt to rub your nose in last years mess, but you stayed strong and kept moving forward.  So much planning and research were done but a direction to head was finally found after so many years of stagnant drifting.  A little bit of effort yielded a fair bit of progress on your blog, which was just the right amount of a jump-start you needed to know you were on the right path.
February brought with it a new class to hone in on our direction and a need to buckle down and finish the planning to reach our goals.   The cold weather gave more opportunities to ice skate with the girls, do crafts and play guitar.  A couple of new tattoos are in there too.
In March we finished our course and get to put all of our learning to the test.  Spring is around the corner and you could smell it in the air when the wind blew just right, bringing rebirth and renewal; it was time to really put our planning is put to the test.
In April we saw more achievements for our efforts, having reached the halfway mark with 50 followers and 1500 views on our blog, and some short stories completed with just a few more sweeps of editing before publishing it.
May found you Europe bound, with a pit stop on your second home before hopping over to Spain.  It was an amazing first trip with Squeakers, and as always your trusted travel partner, Davey.  Every trip holds special lessons, and this one was no different.
Still on a high from our trip, we returned home, eager to share our adventures as well as what we’ve learned with our families, friends and readers.  Preparations were needed to exceed our success with last years summer programs through work,
July started with high energy with the anticipation of summer. The girls headed back to summer camps and with sunlight lasting till 9pm, many evenings were spent in the backyard, enjoying the fruits of our labour.
When the high heats started to mellow out in August, bike rides on the weekends and some walks through the forests with the girls were on the agenda.  Organization was in demand as all the up coming events started to take shape.
September was back to school for both the girls and mom, wanting to provide an example if constant learning.  You made the most of your time off, because the next four months were going to be very hectic.
October is when your event planning skills came into play, with both the girls annual open house and another Scare in the Square event, not to mention next years budget,Christmas planning as well as a NYE party planning.   Each one bigger and badder than last year.
November you spent both wrapping gifts as well as loose ends.  Reports on events were needed, as well as detail finalization for both up coming events and pending publishing.
December means the publication of your first ebook, and the exceeding of the initial goals your made for your blog, proving your all your blundering made a difference.  The holidays were kept simple which meant there was more time to enjoy the season.
It was a tough year, but more successful than the ones the proceeding it.  And now the joy of an all new set of goals and adventures comes…

Thankful Journals

One thing I did last year to help keep me sane was to write a ThankfulI Journal.  I started the year off by writing everyday, but I started to actually resent writing that much gratitude, and changed to writing whenever the mood struck me.  Here are my ‘gratitudes’ from 2014
  • I am thankful for a daughter who likes craft as I do and is willing to learn from me.
  • I am thankful I have never known true poverty and have the mindset to avoid it.
  • Today I am thankful I have my own family that I, not only enjoy, but look forward to spending time with.
  • Today I am thankful for being self-motivated and avoided the TV traps.  I like that I always challenge myself.
  • Today I am thakful that I have found small creative outlets to keep my brain active.
  • Today I’m grateful for days that I am woken up by the sun shining through the window.
  • I am thankful that I have the opportunity to pursuit my interest in music.
  • I’m thankful I live in a place where I can get fresh fuits and veggies anytime of the year.
  • I’m thankful I have a logical mind and can work out most things on my own.  Being able to figure things out on my own is one of strengths I think.
  • I am thankful I have such calm and well adjusted girls who see eachother as not only sisters but as best friends as well.  I’m so thankful I enjoy, and not dread, spending time with them.
  • I’m thankful I was born in Canada and have been given all the opportunites that affords me.  I watched a documentary last night about prostitution in different countries.  In some places its a trade handed down from mother to daughter.
  • I’m thankful for all the services that Canada offers.
  • I am thankful for all the services that Canada offers to keep families fed and away from living on the streets.  I should remember that I don’t know everyones back story and eventhough I feel people are taking advantage, I may not have all the details.
  • I am thankful for my good health.  I have not had any major illnesses or surgeries.  Knock on wood that it stays that way, and if it doesn’t I will be thankful I live in Canada where we have decent health care.
  • I am thankful for interst rates and that Canda wasn’t as effected by the recession as the US was.  I’m thankful I didn’t loose all of my investments
  • I’m thankful for my mind and my intelligfence. Even when I have my doubts, I have to remember that I am intelligent, creative and resourcful.
  • I am thankful for technology.  Everyday I can keep in contact with my best friend in England with whom I never would have met if it weren’t for technoligy.  I owe many adventures to ICQ.
  • I am thankful I found veganism and all the changes it made to my life.  I know despite the challenges, it has made me, my family, and my enviroment healthier.
  • I’m thankful for having a handful of high quality friends who I know I can depend on even if its just for a glass of wine and a chat.
  • I’m thankful for the technoogy we have today and how easily it is to become knowledgable on any subject within a few short minutes.
  • I’m thankful my daughters have found a best friend in eachother.  I love watching them play together.
  • I am thankful for my kids Grandparents and how supportive they have been to the growth of my family.  It was tense at first but well worth the effort from both sides.  I’m not sure we would have gotten this far without them.
  • I’m thankful I have found assertiveness and got over my fear of speaking up.  It feels like I found it later in life, but if I found it any earlier, I might have missed out on all the observing I did and might have a different perspective on things.
  • I have a job with Liberty Tax and another coming up with Michaels.  I need to be grateful for that.  Its just work and is a means to an end.  It does not define me.
  • Today I’m having a hard time thinking of something new to be thanful for, so I will say that I’m thankful for being able to think of  things I am thankful for.  How’s that for a cop-out?
  • I am thankful my family has found activities we all enjoy and have fun doing it.
  • I’m thankful I’ve been able to encourage a love of reading in my daughters.  Squishie is reading so well.
  • I am thankful for having found two jobs and will not complain about being tired since I was so frustrated at not being able to find one for three months.  Its only till May.  I can do it.
  • I am thankful for this job and will do my best to become indespencable and valuable.  I will not let someone push me out.
  • I am thankful for found money just when things are tight.  Now I need to get some free groceries in there.
  • I am thankful for the opportunity I have been afforded through Michaels.  I am happy to feel a sense of pride in my workplace.
  • I am thankful for the good health both mentally and physically my family has been blessed with.
  • I’m thankful they thought I had the skills needed to do my job and eventhough I feel overwhelmed right now, my skills for the job have been recognized by others.
  • I am thankful for my job.  It is not a career, just a means to an end at this point, but none-the-less I am thankful.
  • I’m thankful Adam isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and be a parent.
  • I’m thankful for the hardships I’ve dealth with in my life.  It has allowed me the ability to foresee a short ways into the firture and prepare.  Let’s hope I’ve faced the hardest stuff already.  I’ve made a bold move, for me anyways.
  • I’m thankful for living in a country where I can trust the banks.
  • Some people wish for super strenght.  Sometimes I wish I could give mine away.  Sometimes I just don’t want to be the strong one.
  • I feel very selfish, thinking of my own mortality when my mother is facing her own.
  • What am I thankful for?  I don’t know.  I’m sure its meaningful and thoughtful or maybe even epic.  But I’m mad right now and can’t see passed it.
  • Blender died.  Watch died.  Over charged on my credit card.  Seems like Karma is trying to trip me up.  I’m frustrated.  Annoyed.  Down on myself for failing upwards.  Its going to work out.  I just have to wait it out and stop looking for something like karma to blame.
  • I’m thankful for the media that is available at any given time to me.  I can listen, read or watch anything I desire at any given time.  It makes me wonder what my children’s children will be like.  So much info at any given time; why go to school?
  • I’m thankful for summer and for the winter that makes me appreciate it that much more.
  • I’m thankful for my friend Dave and for the social media that brings us together. I can’t imagine my life without him.
  • I am thankful for the opportunities I have received, eventhough I don’t like them sometimes.
  • I’m glad the girls had a good summer at camp.  I’m glad work was found.  I’m glad the summer is coming to an end and everyone returns to their schedules and I can get the house organzied and cleaned.
  • Nectar List: I remember watching a meteor shower on the beaches of Long Point with my mom and brother.
  • I’m thankful I’ve been able to teach my girls how much more important it is to be with friends instead of getting gifts from friends.  The hand drawn pics the girls got yesterday were awesome!
  • I’m thankful I recognized my need for retail therapy and discovered minimalism and am working to get better at it.
  • ‘Mom, can I cuddle with you?’
I was tempted to edit my entries more than I did.  I changed some names, and ommited a few overly personal ones.  But as I was typing them out, I felt the need to add a parenthsis full of my trade mark snark and sarcasm, as if too much gratitude in one place was detrimental to my health and needed to squash some of it.  You can tell the middle of the year was really frustrating, just based solely on the lack of gratitude in them.  It also points out how much I enjoy watching my girls and how dependant on technology I am.
My BFF out east is making a jar to something similar this year, and I think I going to work on a nectar list this year, where I write down great memories as they come to me.  You can see I added one entry up above.
I’m intersted to hear how others observe gratitude and thankfulness.  Is it something that is an “in the moment” kind of thing?  Do others keep journals?  How do you turn that frown upside down?

My Resolution on Goals

I’ve been taking a poll of people I see regularly and asking about New Years Resolutions.  Quite a few times I’ve received an answer that started off like “Well, I didn’t make any resolutions but I have set a few goals for the year.”  This makes me wonder what the difference is and why people would make the distinction between the two.  Easily a resolution could be turned into a goal, and a goal into a resolution.
I then posed the question as to what people thought the difference were between goals and resolutions were. Oddly, answers varied. One friend told me goals were something you strive towards, and resolutions are changes. Another told me that resolutions were about making peace with something, and goals are something you physically do. A friend out East told me that goals are quantified, resolutions are qualified.

Back in 2013, I made the resolution to be fun.  And I stuck with it.  That year I signed up for music lessons, I took off to Europe for a trip with my daughter, I befriended someone at work who quickly became my partner in crime and someone I cherish.  I met a lot of new people, and made sure I kept close bonds with my dear friends, and re-established a social life.  I watched my youngest daughter for clues on how to be silly and put them into my own repertoire of tricks.  I learned so much about myself and that I was different from how I felt the world around me perceived me.

Last year I made the same resolution to be fun, but got different results.  It was a rough year, and my resolve to be fun was my saving grace.  ‘Be fun’ kept me sane.

Now I’m entering 2015 and still thinking of a new resolution.  I’m tempted to stick with ‘Be Fun’ simply because it has worked twice already.  But this year feels different.  ‘Be fun’ isn’t going to cut it this year. I have a good friend, who is, as she says, intuitive. She’s tuned into the world in a much different way than I am, and has been telling me for a bit now that a change is coming my way.
So I waited but no changes ocurred. Looked for them, but saw no changes.

But I woke up one day last week and felt something different. Call it clarity, an ‘aha’ moment, a light at the end of the tunnel, or simply too much vodka, but I woke up that day and saw what change I was going to make. I saw the motivation I thought I had lost. I saw things different. I saw that the change wasn’t coming to me, I had to make it.
Thinking of the wording of my resolution, I came across another blogger who also wrote on the same subject. Lily writes about using just one word as a resolution. Just one word to sum up how you want to be better, instead of a list of items. One word to sum up what I want, need, strive for, make peace with and qualify my goals.
The word ‘January’ is derived from name Janus, the God of beginnings and transitions; and in Latin, Janus means door or doorway. A rather fitting name for the beginning of the year I think.
And with that little tidbit of random knowledge I discovered my word.
To stop looking at the doorway, and just walk through it.
To know that there’s always a doorway to pass through, I just need to look.
To remember in order to move forward, I must pass through a doorway.
An easy mantra when things get tough or frustrating or lackluster.
I think is going to work well for me this year.

Any other thoughts on resolutions or goals? I’m always interested to hear how people work to make themselves the best versions of themselves.