Simplicity: What Is Your One Thing?

What is your one thing? The goal, experience, skill or what have you that you would love to throw yourself into accomplishing? Or the theme around which you could imagine centering your pursuits?

Nov18SimplicityI ask this because one of the dangers we all face in writing our bucket lists is getting so bogged down in experiencing as much as we can – and in the case of our family bucket lists, exposing our kids to as many experiences as we can – that we miss out on the underlying goal: to live life. To enjoy being alive and being ourselves as deeply and freely as possible. And to enjoy those we walk through life with as deeply and freely as we can.

Today I’m sharing with you a video I’ve wanted to share for a while. What I love about Matt Bray’s 100 Places of Dance (beyond the fact that at least half of those places are right here in our fair city of Naperville) is that he chose to focus on one thing – his crazy cool dance. And he simply inserted it into a bunch of locations. Take a look:

Now Matt has a lot of other things on his bucket list that he is accomplishing and documenting through his Project One Life, but this video and his previous 100 Days of Dance have probably gotten him the most attention. And I think it comes down to that focus. Because there is an excellence and an appeal in the simplicity of what he does. One dance. 100 places.

As we approach the time of year that can cause us the most stress because of all the directions we end up being pulled, I think it’s a good time to stop and think about that one thing. Even if it is just to ask yourself, “what is my one thing I want for myself or my family for the holiday season this year?” And once you’ve tried it with your holiday plans, ask it about other aspects of your life and your bucket list and your family’s bucket list from time to time. I think you’ll find depth, joy and peace in the simplicity.

I can’t wait to try it myself.

 

Photo credit: Bad Pyrmont, Deutschland by Sebastian Unrau on Unsplash via CC License

Ever Felt Overwhelmed By Life? Me Too!

Me too!Yesterday I expected to have time to run out for groceries after I arrived home from work (I work several days each week in a church office). Except that there was the dentist appointment an hour later that I had forgotten about. Dinner ended up being “”baked potatoes & toppings bar” since I was relying on that grocery run for my original dinner plan. And then there were kids needing to be driven to the library and school issues to be worked out. Ultimately I had to leave my family to clean up after dinner to dash to my home office to meet a magazine article deadline. It was a stressful evening, to say the least.

Can you relate? Modern motherhood is a feat of multi-tasking unrivaled by any other calling. Talking with my friends, I find I’m not alone in feeling harried, hurried and pulled in dozens of directions. And as my stressful evening shows, it requires serious organizational skills.

Part of my problem last night (other than my own tendency to overcommit myself) was that I hadn’t updated my weekly planner. I have a Google calendar, which I love. My whole family shares it and we can see our schedules anytime anywhere. But that doesn’t always mean that we/I look at it all the time. I also have the Paprika app on my phone and iPad for menu planning and recipes. I can’t say enough about how it has revolutionized cooking and meal planning for me. But I don’t look at it every day until it’s time to cook.

What I do look at every morning and throughout the day, is my weekly planner. Because it’s a two-page 8.5” x 11” spread, I can write down my daily appointments and schedule, I copy my menu plan for each day from Paprika, and I track all of my to do lists, deadlines and responsibilities. When my family asks me to buy something, be somewhere or do something for them, I always ask “did you write it down for me?” Because if it’s not in writing (which I can copy or post in my planner), it probably won’t happen.

I can also attribute a large percentage of the bucket list goals I have reached to my weekly planner. I tell people often that it’s a proven fact that writing down your goals increases the odds you’ll reach them. Not only that, but breaking them into smaller steps, which I do regularly, is HUGE when it comes to tackling big (often important) life goals and dreams.

I love my weekly planner and benefit from it so much, I thought other moms could use it too. I launched the 2015 edition last fall. Now this year I’m making a newer, even better edition available.

2016DandilionCoversmallHere’s how the Bucket List Moms Weekly Organizer can help you not only stay on top of busy family life, but also get more done (seriously!) and reach one life goal after another:

  • Get the big picture of what’s coming for you and your family, while you’re sitting down having your morning coffee and can think straight (two-page monthly calendar spread).
  • Remember to set monthly goals for doing the things that matter most and that you enjoy: “date night,” family time and personal goals for yourself.
  • Cut down the overwhelm by focusing on just the upcoming week – and not just your schedule, but also your meal plan, the tasks you need to do as a volunteer or professional, those odd household chores or errands that you’d otherwise forget about. Each with their own slot by day, to further reduce the stress that comes from seeing them all as one mass of stuff to do (trust me, it helps).
  • Find inspiration to care for yourself and the things that set your insides buzzing, through weekly inspirational quotes, bucket list prompts, and space for jotting down your thoughts, dreams and ideas. Keeping them somewhere that you can see them will make you more likely to turn them into reality.
  • Get a sneak peek at upcoming Bucket List Life Dares from now through 2016. Each month you’ll find the dare noted at the start of the month so you can be part of taking the challenge and reaching even more of your bucket list goals.

For the next three weeks I am offering the Bucket List Moms 16-Month Weekly Organizer for a special launch savings of $10 (that’s 37% off the list price of $26.99 for the 15-month planner paperback planner). Plus subscribers to my newsletter will be receiving an exclusive discount code for another 25% off (so sign up now).

Not sure the format will work for you? Download the seven-week sample copy and start using it now. See the difference it makes for you and your family.

Life Dreams, Work & Discovering Your Calling: An Interview with Jeff Goins

Last week I had the privilege of interviewing Jeff Goins, author of the new book The Art of Work, about work, calling and bucket lists. I have followed Jeff since his first e-book The Writer’s Manifesto in which he sets forth the mindset for embracing the calling of being a writer. His other (awesome) books are Wrecked, The In-Between, and You Are a Writer.

jeffgoins

Here’s what Jeff had to say:

How did you come to focus on this idea of “calling” that you emphasize in The Art of Work?

Through personal experience. At 28 I felt like I should know more. I kept asking, “Is this as good as it gets?” Why weren’t my job and marriage good enough? I kept thinking I was missing out on something.

And then I began to take writing more seriously. I wrote a blog. I published books. And finally I moved to writing full time and supporting my family with my writing two years ago.

You say in the book, “Most people waste the best years of their life waiting for an adventure to come to them instead of going out and finding one.” That sounds risky. What do you say to parents who live in the tension of wanting safety and security for their family, but knowing finding and following their calling involves risk?

Be honest with yourself. There is risk in jumping out and doing something. But there is also risk in staying comfortable. Ask yourself, “What will happen if I don’t do this?” Maybe nothing.

The greater question is: what creates discomfort for you? Doing and failing? Or not trying?

I love how you talk about “listening to your life” when it comes to discovering your calling. What do you think makes this process so powerful?

We are unaware of our own lives. Awareness is a practice. We deepen that practice through paying attention.

We tend to look at our lives not as stories, but as scenes. We think, how do I get through this week, this day, etc. We look from scene to scene or moment to moment. And we miss the big picture story our lives are telling.

But if my life is a story, then I can ask, what genre is it? What is the conflict in my life’s story? Who are the characters?

The concept of a “portfolio mindset” in The Art of Work sounds like a great format for parents who want to be “present” for their kids, yet fulfill their own life purpose. How does that work?

It’s messy. You have to be careful. Don’t assume your calling is just work. A calling is deeper than that. The fact that I’m a dad colors and gives context to my calling.

Some things won’t get done. But a calling is more complementary to life than competitive.

So what is on your bucket list?

To go to South America. Skydive. Write a novel.

And I would love to take my son to Europe for a few weeks to expose him to the culture there – before he is in middle school.

I have travelled by myself and with people. It’s easier by yourself, but at the end of the journey there is an emptiness. You did cool stuff, but there is nobody to share that with.

There’s nothing like walking over a bridge in Venice and getting to share that with my wife. The same is true for your calling.

For more great advice from Jeff Goins about finding and living your calling, check out his blog at: goinswriter.com.

Holiday Helps for Harried Moms

It’s the most exhausting time of year! For moms the duties of kid schlepping, meal cooking, and overall household management, are joined by holiday baking, gift buying, card sending, and party coordinating. Put it all together and you end up with many mothers who are barely surviving. I’m right there with them!

1412SanDiegoFamWhy does it end up this way for so many of us so often? I believe it’s because in the midst of all the chaos there is also much joy and satisfaction to be had. Even just checking off tasks accomplished from our lists can be fulfilling because we know we’re playing an important role in our families.

But in case satisfaction is proving elusive for you this year, here are some hints and tips from my articles published in regional parenting magazines to help you navigate challenges like gift wrapping and sickness, as well as some encouragement for your new year.

Good-Looking Gifts That Are Good For the Planet

My new article, “Earth-Friendly Gift Wrap Alternatives,” offers ideas on how to make use of bags, tins, and other materials you have around the house to disguise your gifts this Christmas, along with some history behind gift-wrapping traditions. Check it out in the December issue of San Diego Family.

Sickness Plus a Holiday Can Still Equal Celebration

None of us plans to be sick during the holidays, but it happens more often than we like. The good news is that  sickness of any kind doesn’t have to derail the festivities entirely. In this month’s issue of Connecticut Parent I share insight from experts and moms who’ve been there on how you can adapt the celebration around a sickness – whether it be a garden-variety flu, a hospitalization, or a life-threatening condition.

Plan for a Bright 20151412AugustaFam

Forget the New Year’s resolutions. There’s a reason many people don’t like them: they don’t work. Instead, why not count down to 2015 with a list of things you can look forward to, or that can make life better, in the new year. Plan out 10 date nights, list 9 friends you will get together with, and so on. My article in this month’s issue of Augusta Family, “A New Year’s Countdown That Will Have You Looking Up,” offers 10 idea-starters for listing out what you want 2015 to look like. After all, it’s not too soon to be mapping out the next twelve months of your family’s bucket list aspirations!

Back to School Tips & Inspiration

The August parenting magazines are out. You’ll find lots of tips and inspiration for starting the school year off well. Here are some of the articles I  contributed to this month’s issues:

1408ParentingPlusBecome School Supply Savvy, Orlando Family
By now you’ve probably gotten your kids’ backpacks pretty well stocked. But in case you’re still on the hunt for that last item, you might want to read this. I share some uncommon sources for hard-to-find supplies (tell me: why is it that teachers/schools insist on specific brands and sizes that aren’t on any nearby store shelves?).

School Then & Now, Family Time
Things sure have changed since we moms and dads were in school. But exactly how have they changed? I list a number of tools and practices that are different in our children’s educational lives from when we last sat at a school desk.1408FamilyTimesFLCover

21 Questions to Jump-Start Conversation With Your Kids – Neapolitan Family
If you’re tired of hearing your kids answer “fine” when you ask how their school day went, then you might want to try a different angle. With twenty-one questions to select from, you have plenty of chances to get the dinner conversation humming. Just don’t forget to share your answers too.

Dinner By Design, Family Times
There’s nothing like needing to have dinner on the table while trying to keep the family taxi running on schedule. In this article I offer a method for putting together your own ongoing monthly meal planner.

1408PBParentingFirsthand Savings on Secondhand Goods, PB Parenting
Back to school expenses are among the highest of any outlays for families, so it helps to shop smart. And sometimes that means buying secondhand. I spoke with moms and experts to find out just what makes sense to buy used – and what to look out for when shopping for previously owned items.

Chores Make the GradeWashington Family
Plenty of moms skip having their kids help with housework, thinking it’s more important for them to just focus on schoolwork. But if that’s you, you may be missing out on opportunities to actually improve your child’s academic performance. I share expert insight on how doing chores can help with their scholastic skills. So get ready to hand over the mop and broom, mom!