Hobbies and goals

Level 10 Life

About a year ago, I discovered this goal-setting technique called the “Level 10 Life,” and have fallen madly in love with it. It originally comes from Hal Elrod’s book, “The Miracle Morning,” (which is still on my reading list!) and I was first introduced to it through my bullet journaling community. When I was first introduced to the Level 10 Life, the person introducing me called it the “Ten Level Life,” and so I often say it that way as well. But it means the same thing, and it has been revolutionary in my goal-setting practices!

Up until the past couple of years, I have always had trouble with execution. Or, in other words, I would set goals but never get them done. I try to create a Level 10 Life list every four months in order to help me stay focused on what I am wanting to accomplish, and it has been a wonderful tool.

Aren’t you just dying to know more?

 

 

The Level 10 life has 10 categories – Marriage/Romance, Family/Friends, Health/Fitness, Fun/Recreation, Finances, Physical Environment, Personal Development, Spirituality, Giving, and Career.

In each of these categories, I like to create a “big picture” goal. My “big picture” goal for Fun/Recreation is to explore more and have more small adventures. I don’t have the ability to do any large scale traveling right now, and so I want to commit to finding adventure and novelty right where I am. For each category, you can create 10 action steps that can help you to reach the bigger picture.

If I want to find adventure and novelty in my own surroundings, I can plan a hiking trip. I can explore a nearby city to which I have never been. I can head to the beach and go horseback riding on the water. I create lists like this for each category of the Level 10 Life chart. These action steps don’t always need to be big things, but they do need to push me in the direction that I am trying to go.

When I am creating my Level 10 Life list, I try to ensure that I am creating goals that are specific, concrete, and have a time limit. For example, under the spirituality column, I wouldn’t put something like “read the Bible more,” a goal like that can’t be measured and most likely – at least for me – won’t end up being accomplished. Instead, I can write in that I want to have read the Book of Psalms by the end of the month. In this way, I can measure my progress and actually be able to cross off a specific goal at the end of the allotted time frame. After listing 10 action items for each of the 10 life categories, you will have listed 100 action steps that you can take toward reaching your goals and living a more fulfilled and accomplished life.

Another thing I love about the Level 10 Life charts is that they are incredibly visually appealing. You don’t have to be a great artist to create one, but there are plenty of artists out there that are doing these intricate, beautiful charts. Even just color coding a simple chart makes it beautiful. When you complete all of your goals, you not only get to feel accomplished, but your chart will begin to fill with color as you complete each action item.

If you’re interested in living your own “Level 10 Life,” but don’t know how to get started or need a bit of help narrowing down your goals – let me know! I’d love to help support and encourage you toward success. And share some of your lists with me, I would love to know what types of things others are working on!

Advertisements
Family, Parenthood

The Transition To Staying Home

PhotoGrid_1523386128146.jpg

Before my husband and I got married, we were both pretty clear on the fact that we wanted me to be able to stay home once we had children. After marriage, but before our son, we talked a lot about our goal of finding jobs that were flexible and/or had the potential to be worked remotely. And if you know me in real life, you know that I agonized for months over the decision to stay home with our son – even though it was what I’d wanted to do since before our son was ever in the picture. This past February, after buying a home and deciding to live in our (relatively) new city long term, I finally found the courage to make the transition from working mom to stay at home mom.

I am often asked how things are going – probably because I talked about it so much in the months leading up to this transition – and honestly, I love being home. This was definitely the right decision and I’m glad that I took the leap. But there are some things that have made this transition rough at times! I wanted to share some of the things you might end up needing to re-assess if you’re thinking about making the switch from working to staying home.

Finances

Even with good planning, the loss of one full-time income doesn’t really hit you until it hits you. It’s important to be careful to pay attention to how you’re spending, because whatever spending habits you had when you were both working might not make the most financial sense when you lose one income.  In our case, we’ve had to really get out of the mindset of just habitually buying certain items (for example, purchasing a coffee every morning instead of making it yourself at home). We’ve also changed where we shop for groceries because the prices are cheaper at one place than they are at another. And where our weekends used to be a “whatever comes up,” kind of thing where we might spend money unexpectedly, we are now planning where our money is going to go. That may seem to make life a bit dull, but it teaches discipline and it’s important to experience delayed gratification every once in awhile. We were never “wealthy” by any stretch of the imagination and we’ve always stuck to a fairly tight budget, but even still, when I look back I can definitely see times where we’ve had a surplus of money and didn’t spend it as wisely as we could have. My staying home is giving us an opportunity to be better stewards over what we earn.

Time Management 

Aside from wanting to spend more time with my son, one of the other reasons I decided to stay home is because I am not the type of person who does very well with constraints on my time. As I am getting older, I am realizing how much time freedom means to me. I need to have enough time in my day to create, write, wonder, explore, and read. If I don’t get to do these things in adequate doses, it negatively affects me both physically and mentally.  But although I don’t like to be on a schedule, I don’t like to waste time either. I enjoy being productive and feeling as though I am contributing in some way. I used to think that I was good at time management, but that’s because all of my time was managed for me (going to work at a certain time, getting home at a certain time, doing chores), and really I didn’t have much time to myself to begin with. Now that I am staying home, I’m questioning whether I am really as good at time management as I previously thought? And I’m working to fine-tune a schedule that fits my needs, the needs of my son, and allows for the maximum amount of productivity possible.

Mom Guilt

Now that I have been both a working and a stay at home mom, I have come to believe that you just can’t escape mom guilt. It’s just there. When I worked, I felt so badly about my son being in school for between 9 and 10 hours a day. I hated the fact that I had such limited time to spend with him at night and that my weekends always felt so rushed because there was so much to do before the work week began. I felt badly about the fact that my house was usually a mess, laundry went undone for days, dishes piled up, you know how it goes. I was never able to perfect the art of balancing work life and home life.

As a stay at home mom there is a different type of mom guilt. I’m not contributing as much (financially) as I used to. Is my son now spending too little time at school with friends? On those days when I have a lot to get done, do I let him watch too much television? And if, at the end of the day, I didn’t complete everything I thought I would – I feel badly because I was home all day and have no excuse for not having gotten it done.

Mom guilt is real and won’t necessarily go away. But if you know you’re doing the right thing for your family, push past it and keep doing what you’re doing. If you feel that you’re not doing the right thing for your family, then make the appropriate changes!

The decision to stay home was definitely the right one for our family set-up, (and also for my sanity). I plan to keep this going for as long as I can, and I think that my life as an individual and our life together as a family will be fuller and more productive because I stay home.

What works best for your family? And why?

 

 

 

 

 

Physical Fitness

Lessons From Yoga!

IMG_20180107_184426_425.jpg

A few weeks ago, one of my long-distance buddies contacted me about a yoga program that she was interested in. After chatting about it for a bit, we decided to team up and complete the program together as virtual workout partners. Each day we completed the day’s workout and checked in with one another. The accountability was amazing and really helped me to stay on track, and it was a great way to get back in touch with someone that I’d not spoken to in a while.

I’ve been interested in yoga for a few years and have taken yoga classes before, but for some reason I never felt like I had a grasp on yoga. I always left classes feeling as though I didn’t really understand it or connect with it. This program, however, has completely changed my outlook on yoga.

The instructors were all so good at explaining each posture, not only how to replicate it, but what each posture meant and what it did for the body. Despite being a program that I completed in my living room, it felt like each instructor was right there with me. I definitely have a new appreciation for yoga.

Here are some of my top take-aways!

Breathing into the Space

Every single yoga instructor I’ve ever come across always talks about “breathing into the space,” of things. I hear it so much that honestly it just seems to be something trendy that yoga teachers say because it sounds cool and relaxing. But this phrase has both literal and metaphoric meaning. Yoga requires you to stretch into some postures that may be challenging, and you use your breath to gently go deeper into these challenging poses, awakening your body, and building strength, stamina, and flexibility. In the same way, life often has a way of putting us in challenging situations. If we learn to lean in and gently “breathe into” those challenging spaces in life – with kindness, love, and patience –  we will find ourselves building strength, stamina, and flexibility to our character.

Savasana

Savasana (pronounced “shaVAsana”) is something of a corpse pose. You basically lay there and play dead. One of the instructors recalled learning about savasana for the first time and thinking it to be too morbid for her tastes. Then, she realized that this pose is about letting old things fall away and being re-awakened into the new. As a believer in Christ, I immediately connected this with the call for believers to die to ourselves. In the Bible, there is a verse that says, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation.” Whenever I went into the savasana pose, I asked God to continue to show me ways in which I could die to myself and become more like Christ.

It’s Not About How You Look

There was one class in which we did a downward dog split, a pose I’m not particularly good at. For this pose, you start in downward dog position, and then you bring up one of your legs into the air behind you. I can get my leg about three-fourths of the way up to where it is supposed to be. All the while, my plumber crack is showing and my t-shirt falls down over my head, and the extra flab from having been pregnant two years ago drops down and swings around. Its not sexy, and I don’t look anything like the instructor on my TV screen.

But it’s not about how you look, it’s about the subtle growth.

Although I have not yet reached the level of the instructors, I definitely felt strong during this program! There was a time that I would not have been able to do any of this. I’d been hospitalized, I was out of shape, I could barely walk without having trouble breathing – much less be working out every day. If we get caught up in our appearance (or the appearance of our situations) and allow what we see to discourage us – we will never win. We have to keep showing up, every day, and bring all of that un-sexy with us.

It’s in the mess that the transformation happens.

I used to do the side-eye when people took pictures of themselves doing yoga and would caption their picture with some life lesson or semi profound nugget of wisdom. But I am beginning to see how the physical lessons in yoga can transfer over into our every day lives.

If you’re into yoga, what are your biggest takeaways from your yoga practice?

If you need help getting started on a fitness journey, I would love to partner with you to make sure that you have the support you need to achieve your goals! You can contact me @wholeheartblog on Instagram or find me on Whole Heart Blog on Facebook!

It’s amazing what a little love and accountability can do!

 

Religion and Spirituality

Lent Is Here!

PhotoGrid_1518553877529.jpg

I grew up in a tradition that didn’t practice Lent, and to my recollection never even mentioned it. But I’ve always been an avid student of world religion, so I discovered Lent on my own and immediately fell in love with the practice. For a few years during my pre-teen and teen years, I was a practicing Muslim. I always loved the month of Ramadan, because it was such an amazing time of spiritual renewal both individually and for the community. The Muslim faith brought so much balance to my life, and at that time I (wrongly) resented the fact that the faith I was born into – Christianity – did not have any tangible spiritual practices like Salat and Ramadan. At the time that I discovered Lent, I was not a Christian, but my respect for the Christian faith grew upon learning that something like Ramadan existed in Christendom. When I eventually returned to faith in Christ, I knew Lent was going to be something that I would want to make part of my spiritual life.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am a bit of a spiritual eclectic. Okay, I am a lot of a spiritual eclectic. Sometimes I half-jokingly refer to myself as “multi-faith.” I can’t deny the profound impact that other faith traditions have had on my spiritual growth. And I can’t deny the fact that I have heard and do hear God speak to me through the framework of other religions. Still, I want Jesus to be the head of my spiritual life. I want Him to come first.

One of the things that I am guilty of is getting carried away in spending time with other faith traditions and forget to put as much energy into spending time with Christ. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that religious literacy is essential, and since God cannot be placed in these boxes that we make for Him, I think we should be able to be open to hearing from Him in all sorts of places and situations, but I also think that if I want to keep Christ first – I have to keep Christ first.

I don’t push Jesus aside on purpose, but I think sometimes that since I connect with Him in a variety of ways, I don’t always make it a priority to read the Bible or spend direct, intentional time with Him.

I know that for Lent, the idea is to make a sacrifice by giving up something that is important to you and filling the void created with more spiritually beneficial activities. But I can’t think of anything that I am so attached to that it would be hard for me to give up – or would create a void in my life. So, instead of giving something up, I’m going to commit to doing a better job at spending more time with Christ. It’s been a very busy few years – moving from one state to another, and then moving 3 times within the new state, having a baby, being in the hospital with blood clot issues, trying to make new friends, being a working mom – and it’s been a while since I’ve had enough time to commit to any of the things (outside of my family) that are important to me.

Now that I’m going to be staying home, intentional time with God is one of the things that I hope to be able to reclaim. I guess, in a sense, it’s giving up the time I would be spending doing something else, and making sure I spend that time with God instead.

What are you giving up for Lent? If you’re unsure of what to give up for Lent this year, think about joining me in committing to doing something that you should be doing more of – but just aren’t. In any case, I hope you have an amazing Lenten season, if you’re into that sort of thing.

 

Thoughts

Happy Thanksgiving! 

When certain holidays come around, I struggle with teaching my students about them in a way that honors those who experienced great pain while not trashing those who were victorious in their efforts to conquer. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, but I can’t help but think of all the people who’ve been pushed aside and displaced as a result of the appearance of colonists. 

In my classroom, I spent a lot of time this month teaching my kids about various Native American tribes. We looked at maps of tribal territories, read stories from the Lakota and Blackfoot tribes, talked about (and built) various types of tipis, played “memory,” with home made Native American symbol cards, talked about foods that Native Americans ate (and sorted them into food groups), and learned a few words from different tribes. I wanted to honor Native Americans for who they are as people, outside of and apart from their relations with colonists. I wanted my students to learn about Native American cultures without making the native Americans into some sort of cliche art project. 

My friend Shannon at The After Crafter enjoys crafting with her toddler, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving and honoring all things Native American, I asked if she could share her totem pole crafts here on Whole Heart. I really love that she researched both the meaning of totem poles and the symbolism of the various animals used in her totem pole as part of creating her project. Here is some of what she learned:

“I️ have always had a fascination with totem poles. They look so mystic, like they are patiently waiting to reveal a library of stories to anyone willing to listen. When my friend spoke to me about doing a craft commemorating Native Americans, I knew immediately this is what I would make. Here are some neat things I found out:

🍗Totem poles are sculptures carved into large trees by only SIX tribes of indigenous peoples of the Northwest coast of North America.

🍖The poles are carved and painted with figures or animals that represent families or clans, and are believed to have spiritual significance as a guardian or helper.

🥐 Every color used on the poles have meanings, as do the figures carved on the poles. The Symbols for every animal or spirit carved on the pole also have meaning and when combined on the pole, in sequence, constitute a story, legend or myth.

While planning my pole I decided to let my daughter choose the four animals we would make. Just for fun I looked up the meaning of each animal totem to see what our story would be.

🐇: Pour your energy into creative pursuits

Those with a rabbit totem are spontaneous and unpredictable. They have fast reflexes, and good coordination. They are gentle and nurturing yet also clever and quick witted.

🦉: Listen to your inner voice and watch for signs that will guide you forward. Use wisdom.

🐻: It’s only when you can say a clear no that you can say a clear yes. Both are just as important in defining what your boundaries are. Those with a bear totem have great confidence and are seen as an authority figure.

🐘: You already have all the tools you need to accomplish what you desire, just go for it. Elephant totems are highly intelligent. Family and loyalty are important.

Making our totem pole was really fun and a great learning experience. Make sure to comment below and tell us your totem experiences!”

Check her out! https://m.facebook.com/thehealthycrafter/

As a teacher, I love learning and teaching about various cultures and finding ways to honor them without voiding the authenticity and meaning behind the art form. I am grateful for the various Native cultures and I hope to continue learning about them, not just during the Thanksgiving season! 

Have a happy and safe holiday! 

Hobbies and goals

Publishing a Book!

In 2010, I took a class on curriculum development and instruction for the young child. As part of the course, I wrote a cute little rhyme to help teach children lunch time manners in a classroom setting. At the time, my professor suggested that I get the story published, but I sort of eye-rolled at the thought of ever doing anything with it.

I’ve always been a writer. Aside from blogging, I have journals full of stories, poems, con-languages, con-worlds, and random thoughts about life and spirituality. I’ve found that, when it comes to my writing, I’m often too much of a perfectionist to think about getting published. I once wrote a 27 chapter novel and deleted the entire thing simply because I didn’t like a few details (I regret that, by the way, and won’t ever do that again)! So, when my professor suggested I get something published, I pushed the idea out of my mind and barely gave it another thought.

Fast forward seven years, and “Lunchtime,” the story I wrote for class, is scheduled to be released on December 5th! I’ve been working with Mascot Books, and they have been really helpful in walking me through the publishing process.

Since I announced the publishing of this story, a lot of people have told me that they have always wanted to publish something. Often, what holds them back is finding the time to complete a manuscript. And then, I imagine, the cost of publishing might be a bit of an obstacle.

In regards to completing a manuscript, I know that can be difficult. There are so many things I want to write, but finding the time is incredibly hard. I am still learning to manage my time appropriately, because there are so many things that I want to do in life that I “don’t have time” for. The thing is, though, we all get the same 24 hours in a day. And any accomplishment you achieve in life will not come without sacrifice.

In regards to the costs of publishing, for our family it wasn’t cheap. My husband has been amazing in supporting me through this without complaining about the cost. One night, I apologized to him about what I was spending for this book, and he simply responded with – “But what will it cost us if you don’t publish?”

If you have something valuable to give to the world, what does it cost you to keep it to yourself? And, perhaps more importantly, what will it cost the world?

I love seeing people reach their goals, and it is exciting to be able to cross one of my goals off the list. I want to encourage you, whatever it is you’re wanting to achieve, to buckle down and follow through with it!

In the meantime, if you’re interested in a copy of “Lunchtime,” let me know via email at wholeheartblog@gmail.com or on Facebook at Whole Heart Blog. While you’re at it, let me know what your goals are, and how I can support and be praying for you!

Thanks for reading!

Diet and Nutrition, Physical Fitness

On Becoming a Vegetarian

My husband and I recently decided to become vegetarians. For years, I’d been considering this change, but felt gun-shy because I didn’t think it was a choice that I would be able to actually follow through with. It’s only been a month since we made this decision, and it hasn’t been without its challenges, but it’s been a lot easier to follow through with than I thought it’d be! I wanted to share the reasons I made this choice, some of the challenges it brings, and some of the things I am learning as a result of doing this.

I’ve always found it interesting that, at least according to the Biblical account of creation, God originally only gave humans and animals permission to eat things that grow out of the ground (Genesis 1:29-30). We weren’t permitted by God to consume animals until after the flood (perhaps all the vegetation had been drowned out?). The fact that, in God’s original design of the human body, we only needed fruit and vegetables for sustenance speaks volumes to me about why we are not currently thriving in terms of the state of our collective health. Disease is rampant, and yet often times preventable simply through diet. I know we can’t control most of the things that happen to us in life, but if I can do my best to take care of this body that God gave me, to be around longer and to be healthy enough to do whatever it is that God might have me to do, I’d like to get on board with that!

Another concept that I’ve felt personally convicted of over the years is the concept of Ahimsa – or non-injury – to all sentient beings. This concept is adhered to in the Jain, Hindu, and Buddhist traditions. The basic idea is that we (humans, animals, and insects/bugs) are all in this together. These traditions go beyond showing love to your fellow man, but also showing love and care to anything that lives. I love the compassion in that, and I think it echoes what God intended when he told us that we were to be stewards over the earth (Genesis 1:28). Full disclosure, I am still working on letting bugs live when I find them in my house or my classroom– but I’m getting there!

Finally, it just isn’t healthy to eat the meat that is mass produced here in the United States. Our animals aren’t raised humanely, are fed products that are inconsistent with what’s healthiest for them, and then killed in (often times) tortuous fashion, and brought right to our dinner tables. I often wonder what is happening to our bodies when we are eating sick, traumatized, and depressed animals?

The challenge for us, in being vegetarians, is that it can be hard to plan and execute good meals. I work full time, we are both involved in activities outside of work, and we have a lot of things currently happening in the life of our family. In the past, when we were too tired to cook or plan dinner – we’d just go out and grab something quick and easy. That’s a lot harder to do when you are a vegetarian! Though I haven’t craved meat, I do suspect that abstaining from seafood will be a bit of a challenge for me. I love my lobster and crab legs in the summer! But I’ll just take it one day at a time and cross that bridge when I get there.

One of the things I am learning is how to cook differently, making vegetables as the main portion of the meal as opposed to them being a side dish. I am also learning to detach from food. A friend of mine who went paleo mentioned that she was learning this, too. And I have a better understanding of what she meant now, than I did when she first said it. Not that it’s bad to enjoy the food we eat, but I am learning that food is primarily for sustenance. In the past, the enjoyment of food (for me) took precedence over whether or not a particular food item was beneficial for my body. This realization surprised me, because I am not a foodie by any strtch of the imagination! But, by refocusing my purpose for eating (sustenance and not enjoyment), I am finding that I am not as attached to food as I previously had been. Which, I think, is a good thing!

A final thing that I am learning has to do with the difference between saying, “I’m a vegetarian,” and actually eating a plant based diet. Just because a person is a vegetarian doesn’t mean they are eating healthily! There was one day where all I ate was cheese pizza, popcorn, fruit snacks, and a Dr. Pepper. Those things are all technically “vegetarian” in the sense that I didn’t have any meat – but none of it is plant based! (And, I felt horrible at the end of that day).

Ultimately, I think being a vegetarian is the healthiest dietary choice for my body, and I want to do whatever will allow me to experience my body to its fullest potential!

Have you ever significantly changed your diet? And if you’re a vegetarian, send me your recipes!

Thanks for reading!