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.

From Bucket List Wish to Legacy: A Review of the new book The Art of Work

ArtofWorkRecently I had the opportunity to read an early copy of a new book by Jeff Goins called The Art of Work (coming out next week, March 24th). I have followed Goins’s writing for the past few years, but what impressed me about this book was how well it dovetails with the concepts in my book, Bucket List Living For Moms. For any mom looking to reshape her work life or find a new career, The Art of Work makes the perfect companion to Bucket List Living For Moms.

In it, Goins emphasizes the need to listen to your life for cues about your purpose and calling, a process familiar to readers of Bucket List Living. “The trick is to find your vocation hidden in your life,” Goins says. He goes on to outline the stages involved in finding and fulfilling that vocation, with examples from the stories of how others worked through these stages in identifying their callings.

What readers will find most helpful about The Art of Work are the chapters about how to progress toward turning your aspirations into a lifelong legacy. As Goins notes, “A calling is not merely a moment; it’s a lifestyle, a constant progression of submitting to a larger purpose.”

Use the questions from Bucket List Living For Moms to explore your personal calling and create your unique bucket list of dreams. Then read The Art of Work for a road map to turning some of your bucket list goals and longings into a purposeful work life and meaningful legacy.

Right now Jeff Goins is offering a free paperback copy of The Art of Work. Simply subscribe to his email list and pay $6.99 shipping. You will receive the book, along with a pdf copy, video mini-course and more. Learn about his offer here (note: this is a limited time offer and will probably disappear once the book officially releases on March 24th).

Because of its value in helping chart a fulfilling work life, where vocation and bucket list converge, I have also added The Art of Work to my list of Books & Magazine for Bucket List Living. Check it out for other great works to inspire you in making your bucket list dreams a reality.

Adventurers in Training

Living out a bucket list is not as much about the items on the list as it as about being open to – and inviting – adventure. It is about being transformed into an adventurer.

AdventurersinTrainingOur family suffered two losses this past week.

On Wednesday, my husband’s grandmother died. A spunky Brit with a quick tongue, she lived 99 full years. Grandma Billie, as we called her, came to the U.S. many decades ago as a war bride and young mother, yet still spoke with a British accent to her last day. She had two long marriages, travelled extensively, and took care of herself and Grandpa with minimal help until only a few years ago. She made us laugh often and made it her objective to teach my three girls how to brew a proper pot of tea, taking infinite care to show them each step and making a show of setting out her fine bone china to serve it in.

On Sunday, my 66-year-old aunt died from a progressive palsy. And while she didn’t get to have Grandma Billie’s longevity, her life was full too. She had a career in corporate America before raising my two cousins. When my cousins studied German in high school, Aunt Sandy opened their home to a German exchange student. In turn, this fostered an interest in Germany and its culture and led her and my uncle to traveling there to visit their exchange student. I also watched my aunt dive into a second career as a school librarian, where she truly thrived. She carried this love for books and reading with her everywhere, giving my girls books as gifts and inviting them on her lap to be read to.

Can two lives be summarized in two paragraphs? Hardly. But as I look at two buckets tipped over, pouring out the precious contents of memories, I see that our adventures here are simply training for adventures to come.

We can choose to live safely, going about our everyday lives – working, eating, playing. We can follow the patterns drummed out by the dominant culture that call us to stay busy, be productive, offer our kids an infinite variety of options for attainment and entertainment. Or we can dare to be adventurers. We can listen to the call to risk and be different. To try something new that issues forth from our heart’s longings. We can heed the Voice that whispers of who we were created to be. Here. And after.

Because I do believe there is more and that what awaits for those who choose to heed the voice of the One who made them is adventure upon adventure. From what I’ve been told, both Grandma Billie and Aunt Sandy were ready to go. And I like to believe that their lives came to a close in a manner like that in The Last Battle, the final book in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. Peter, Edmund, Lucy and the others are led out of the old Narnia and into the new, real Narnia, climbing mountain after mountain with the urgent cry of “Further up! Further in!” The promise to them, and I believe to us, is truer, deeper adventure than they had ever known, but for which life heretofore was always preparing them.

Which makes us all, if we choose it, adventurers in training.



 Photo credit: Devils Head Fire Tower Lookout by Casey Reynolds on Flickr via CC License.

 

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!

The House is Empty. Now what?

It was the start of first grade for my youngest child. I remember standing among the other camera-wielding ‘mamarazzi’ waving to our children as their stubby legs, barely visible below bulging backpacks, stumped their way in a line behind their new teacher into school. We all lingered there, suspended for a few minutes. The swoosh of the closing door had seemingly sucked the energy from the air around us.

Then, bit by bit we moms bade our farewells to each other, grasping for something to define what would come next.

“Off to get laundry going!”

“Gotta run to the grocery store, once I figure out what we’re having for dinner!”Empty Room

Stepping into a silent house myself after the short walk from school felt anti-climatic in the wake of the morning’s hubbub. After 10-plus years of parenting nearly 24/7, I now would have six hours each day to myself. Six glorious hours. Why didn’t I feel more like celebrating?

Looking back, four years later, I understand was happening with me: I was coping with an identity shift.  I had been envisioning what this day would be like, but when it arrived I wasn’t sure. Would the dream I’d held onto of how I would use those six hours become reality? Could I forge a writing career out of six-hour days, while still being a good mother?

Every year hundreds of moms face that same moment when the door of the school closes on their youngest child entering full-day education. Not all of them face the uncertainty of furthering a career dream like I did. Many already have lined up a list of chores and projects that will fill the coming days and weeks. They have their calendars marked with volunteer hours at their children’s schools or in their churches. They plan meet-ups with other moms, the next iteration in mommy gatherings once playdates are no longer a necessary excuse for socializing.

But in between the cleaning and the get-togethers comes that silent house. That space where, if we pause long enough, we’re forced to ask ourselves, “now what?” Now, without children to bathe and feed and entertain, what will I do? Who am I when I am not being a mom? If you haven’t been alone in your own home for six, ten, or even more years, the silence and the question can seem scary.

If right now you’re in that place of entering a house empty of children for a few hours and wondering “now what,” be courageous enough to face the question head on. Don’t bury it under endless mind-numbing activities. Honor yourself enough to consider what you might want your children’s school years to look like for you. Is it  time for you to go back to school yourself? To seek certification in a certain area? To choose a new setting for volunteering? Or dabble in a hobby you’ve been considering?

Go ahead. Ask yourself, “now what?” See what answers surface. You might surprise yourself.

For now, I’m enjoying the writing life. But I’m also continually reviewing my goals and dreams. Because I know all too soon the next transition in my children’s livee will come. And I want to be prepared with a more certain answer for the next “now what?”

**Editor’s Note: Cortney Fries’ article in Chicago Parent gives some great examples of parents who found an answer to the “now what?” in a career change. I hope you’ll check it out! **

Photo credit: img_1213 by reclaimedhome on Flickr via CC License