The In’s and Out’s of Setting Goals

It’s the start of a new year, and I really wanted to write a post about goal setting, because I love goal setting…and goal getting…and goal planning and…pretty much all of it. But I couldn’t write the post.

Believe me, I tried. I started. I stopped. I wrote and rewrote…but I could.not.write.the.damn.post.

And I think it’s because it’s not really resonating with me this year, because as much as I love goal setting, and as I already mentioned, I especially love goal-getting, it’s not what I’m going for this year. I’ve got so much on my plate, and so much to care for and nurture already, that all I really want to do is focus on what I’ve got going on right now. In this moment.

Because I really believe that it’s about going in; not out.

Goals are always so far out there for me. And it’s fun to go after them; to chase after the dream and maybe even catch up to one once in a while. But I wonder what’s happening right here while I’ve got my sights set on something out there? I think sometimes I might be missing out on all the good stuff happening right under my nose.

So that’s what it’s all about for me this year. It’s about sinking into the stuff I’ve got going on right in this moment. These words. And next, it might be about savoring the glass of wine that’s sitting next to me. And then it might be about bath time with my sweet baby boy. And then next, then next, then next….who knows? But I can tell you one thing: I want to be there. All the way there. Not just half-assed with my head in the clouds thinking about tomorrow’s plans or yesterday’s conversation, or all the big goals I’m lining up for the future.

My goal this year is to see how far I can sink into NOW.

I guess I could say it’s about depth not breadth; dropping in, not out; experiencing the big things and the little things and the every thing’s in between. It’s about living in the only space that’s real.

Of course, I’ll keep a little bit of the dream cast out around me, and as I hold my awareness steady right here in this moment, maybe, just maybe, that dream will rise up from inside of it. Because there’s one thing I’m sure of: the only way any goal is achieved or any dream realized, is right through the middle of NOW; so that’s where I’ll be waiting.

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Do What You Love and the World Will Love You Back

A few years ago, my husband and I joined some friends for a ski weekend at a resort nestled in a small community. At the end of the day, we gathered in the lodge for good food, good beer and live music. The mood was mellow as we enjoyed the satisfying fatigue that comes after a full day of skiing. The band consisted of a few local folks who likely traded their time playing music for dinner and a beer. It was an eclectic group of middle-aged men dressed in flannel shirts and work boots, and one unassuming woman. (Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name…) As they took their place in the corner of the room, guests continued to talk among themselves.

As the band began to play, the energy of the room shifted. The tiny clusters of conversation that scattered around the room all stopped to listen. As the members synced up with one another, their energy enveloped the entire room and we couldn’t help but be drawn in.

And then this incredible, powerful, woman stepped up to the mic. This woman, who moments before could have disappeared into the shadows, stood with so much presence that even the pause of silence before she cleared her voice demanded full attention.

She began to sing.

Raw. Radiant. Robust.

I was hooked.

The energy of this woman and this band continued to light up the room, and every person was dancing, moving, grooving, and enjoying the power that comes from a group of people who share what they love to do with others.

And that is the key. They were in love with what they were doing. In love with the music. In love with the performance. In love with each other and each of us. That kind of passion and joy is what draws people in. As an audience, we couldn’t help but be in love with them, too. It doesn’t matter if you’re sharing your gifts with 3 people or 30,000 people…It’s about going all in with whatever lights you up, and not being afraid to show your enthusiasm for it.

Whatever you ache for, excites you, brings you pleasure, lights you up, and opens your heart is your thing. That’s your gift; it’s the thing that you are here to express and share with the rest of us. It doesn’t matter if it makes sense or fits in with the norms of society. If you love it, that’s the only sign you need.

And what if you’ve never discovered passion like that?

Keep searching, because it’s there.

Sometimes we deny ourselves pleasure for so long that it begins to atrophy, and we’re not even sure what we want or enjoy anymore. If that’s the case, you’ve just got to start working out those pleasure centers of your body—just like building a muscle, you can build up your relationship to pleasure. Start by indulging in the little things that bring you joy. What would you like to do now? Do whatever small thing is possible at the moment. Maybe you want to eat ice cream for breakfast, or go for a drive just because it feels good to get away. Maybe you want to watch a cheesy movie, or doodle on a scratch pad. Whatever it is; do it like it’s the most important thing in the world—because when you meet it in the moment—it is.

Place pleasure at the center of your day. It doesn’t mean you have to skip out on all of your obligations, just shift your perspective to recognize that your joy and pleasure is critical. It is what leads you to the gifts you have to bring to the world.

And once you’ve found something you love; go all in.

Step through all the fear, all the doubt, all the insecurity and excuses and reasons why it doesn’t make any sense…and share it with the world, because that is when you draw people in and give them the gift of you.

Step into what you love.

Share what you love.

Be what you love.

And the world will love you back.

mandala2This beautiful Sun Lotus Mandala is a wood carving created by my talented friend, Mike Langenheim. Check out more of his work at www.michaellangenheim.com

How to Balance Work and Life and Everything In Between

A few years ago, I found myself without a sitter for my two sons, who were about five and seven at the time. I was scheduled to teach my Yoga class at Utah State University, and I figured I could set them up with a movie in the back of the gym while I taught.

About 35 minutes into a 50 minute class, they began to get a little restless and started to wander around a bit. They didn’t leave the room and they remained silent, so I figured all was well.

A few minutes later, the fire alarm went off.

I immediately scanned the periphery of the space and found my two kiddos, standing stone cold and beet red next to the little red box on the wall. One of my students rushed to the main office to inform them of the false alarm, but it was too late; if there is an alarm, the fire department is required to respond. The building we occupied was huge. Numerous gyms, two swimming pools, locker rooms, offices, classrooms…everyone had to be evacuated, fully dressed or not.

In the end, everything was fine and my boys learned what that little red box was all about.

I learned that sometimes the work-life balance can be….messy.

Messy, but do-able.

It doesn’t matter if you work from home, away from home, or if your primary work is being a stay-home parent. It takes balance to make it all work, and balance is never at a still point. Balance is about shifting, moving and compromising; it’s about the give and take; the picking up and letting go. It’s about knowing how to care for your work and care for others; but also care for yourself.

Here are a few ideas that might help make it easier to juggle it all:

Trust. This is a big one. You’ve got to cultivate the trust that, as a family, you’ll be there for each other. You’ll hold each other up and fill in where there’s a need. Trust that life will support you and things will work out every.single.time. …even if it’s not exactly the way you had imagined or hoped it would. Trust that the work will get done, the house will get clean, your children will be loved, and at the end of the day, you will rest and be ready for another one.

Be Present. In order to maintain some small amount of order in the chaos, practice being present. Whoever or whatever is in front of you deserves your undivided attention; and your attention might bounce from one thing to the next as rapid as a ping pong ball, but each moment deserves your unbroken focus and awareness. If your mind is scattered between twenty things at once, you might end up feeling fragmented and broken, and whatever or whoever is on the receiving end of sparsely scattered attention will only be partially fulfilled. Give all of you to whatever is in front of you, even if it’s only for three seconds, and both you and the receiver will be felt, heard, seen and appreciated.

Fill up. Another key element to juggling the work-life balance is to fill your own cup. That means you must do whatever you need to do for yourself to feel replenished. The moment you feel drained or depleted, that’s your sign that it’s time to refill. For some, that might mean taking the entire weekend away from it all; for others it might mean taking a few minutes to be alone or going out for an evening with friends. Figure out what it is for you, and do that thing. It’s not selfish, it’s essential.

Forgive. Do I practice all of these tips, all the time? No. That’s why one of the most important things to remember as you juggle work and life and everything in between is forgiveness. Forgive yourself daily, because you won’t always get it right, and you can’t expect anyone else too, either. Forgive yourself and forgive others, because ultimately, we’re all in this together, and you’re doing the very best you can.

Add joy and pleasure. Add joy and pleasure to your life like it’s your job. Seriously, it is as important (if not more) than anything else you do. This one is hard, because there’s this idea floating around that pleasure and joy only come after the work gets done. If that rings true for you, untangle yourself from that belief system. You don’t have to go crazy or do anything elaborate; just do one tiny little thing each day that brings you pleasure—don’t wait until you feel like you’ve ‘deserved’ it, because guess what? You’re alive, and you got up this morning, so you already deserve it. Go do something wonderful for yourself. Right now is  a perfect time for that.

At the end of the day, balancing life can be messy, but it’s also a fun and crazy ride full of twists and turns, ups and downs, growth, surprises, and moments of pure magic. The never-ending mystery of it all is worth every second. Enjoy the ride.

…and for a quick glimpse of my magical, messy life as I prepare to teach my yoga classes, take a look at my latest Instagram post. You can check it out right here.

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Photo: Unbrelievable