Here's the interesting thing, to me, about any form of blogging, journaling or writing. Often times I show up to do it and think I've got nothing to say. The day was just normal, or mundane, or I don't have any "big" news. Or I don't have anything that unique to voice.
And then a couple months go by, and I wish I had written more about the small things, because as Gretchen Rubin puts it, "The days are long but the years are short." It's already June, I hear people saying! The previous six months of this year feel like they happened in a snap, but without capturing thoughts, observations, reflections through some form of writing, it is easy for me to kind of "forget" the nuances of my life. That's why I write: to remember the days, even if for myself.
So! This whole monthly intentions thing did not fall off, at least in my brain and heart. Here's where I'm at.
As a reminder, this year, I did a values exercise that led me to these five words: honesty, passion, growth, humor and solitude.
HONESTY: Being kind to my body.
No joke: I have thrown out my back more times in the past year than I have my entire life. Moms, you know what I'm talking about. Hoisting a 20-pound weight in literally all directions has taken a huge toll, not to mention the fact that I'm frequently holding my son on my hip. If it isn't my son, it is my overpacked purse, or groceries, or gym bag, or something else, all usually on the same side of my body.
Per yoga and a massage therapist, the solution is three-fold: work on deep core strength (the postpartum kind, even though I'm a year and a half out), be mindful about using my legs and back when carrying E, and holding items on the right side of my body for equal balance (instead of the left, which I pretty much always do because I'm right-handed and like having that arm free).
What does this have to do with kindness, you ask? Well, these three exercises feel annoying most of the time. I'm a busy working mother. When I find the time to exercise, I don't always want to go the gentle route; I want to get a good sweat session in, and push myself, and build strength. When my kid is crying to be picked up, my focus is on him, not bending from my knees. And when I'm rushing to-from the office, it feels awkward to hold my purse on my right shoulder.
BUT. Injuries, major or minor, have a way of reminding us to be kind to our bodies, because we only get one. Hurting my back repeatedly, though it is frustrating, teaches me to slow the F down. Be intentional about how I move. Take more rest days. Care for myself, because I can only care for others with a strong, healthy body, mind and spirit.
I say all of this after tweaking my back AGAIN last night. *eye roll* So even though I had plans of getting to yoga and taking long walks most days this week, it's going to look more like nursing my movements, getting more sleep and gentle stretching. Such is life.
PASSION: Investing in friendships.
I've read a lot of articles about people who lament the loss of their friends who become parents. But I see fewer stories about new mothers and fathers who miss their friends. Cultivating friendship is beyond challenging in this stage of life, and I don't mind finding new pals. I mean finding time to literally call and text the people I've known for years and love most. I struggle with balance, and though I'm doing my best, I miss my friends.
A harsh reality of parenthood: your kids take up more time and space and energy than anything else, as they should. This is a blessing, trust me. Family does come first; that's what my parents taught me and what I believe. But there's also a cost to other relationships, and it sucks. I went to coffee with a girlfriend I hadn't seen in MONTHS, and cried on the way there because I had rescheduled with her about ten times (all due to my own last minute issues, usually kid-related) and I was 20 minutes late. I kept thinking about how I was a terrible friend. She, of course, was gracious and lovely like always and reminded me the people in my life who really care about me will understand and find new ways to show up. They'll also be there when I come up for air from parenting.
I'm also thinking about the times I say, "Let's get together!" to someone without meaning it. Can we stop doing this? It's a fake social custom, and I don't understand it. Why are we promising to make time without meaning it? I don't think people say this maliciously, but it always throws me off, especially when I hear it straight from the lips of someone I know is not going to make the effort to schedule anything. If you want to get together, give me a freaking date and time, ha.
The good news! I had an impromptu girls night at my house (like, texted people two days before and said bring wine and your kids, come for five minutes or an hour, and I did not even clean before they arrived) and sooo many wonderful friends showed up, old and new. It was delightful and I plan on doing it a few times a year.
Friends with kids, I know you understand, and I'm thankful for you. Friends without kids, thank you for showing up for me when possible, and for being there even when I forget to text you back. Friends who've moved on, I totally get it because new parent friends are challenging.
GROWTH: Writing the kind of stories I want and need to tell.
In April, I picked up a new freelance client, which has been awesome. I now have two regular clients, which keeps me at 10-15 pieces a month, plus the ongoing pitching of side articles and stories more on the personal side. All of which has got me thinking about the type of writing I want and need to do. I would not say what I'm currently writing, in terms of freelancing, always falls in that category, but the cool thing about writing is that you never know where it'll lead or what you'll learn. I've written on topics ranging from female investors to elliptical machines to leadership models to small talk to meditation. I really like the creative variety, most of the time, and the extra paycheck has been sweet for decimating some debt and adding to our travel and house project funds.
Yet. If I'm not careful, this is also the type of work that could continually distract me from writing bigger and better pieces. My hope is that it guides me in this direction instead, but I know myself: I am good at being busy. Hell, I work full-time in addition to freelancing. It will forever be hard to find time to write, and if I fill up those pockets with listicles and "X ways to ABC" (which can be fun to write, don't get me wrong), I may never, you know, finish my book proposal.
At this junction, I don't know if I'll ever be the type to go full-time freelance and try to make a living with writing. I like the structure of a 9-5, particularly the one I have right now. And I like that having a full-time job means I can be picky about what I write, when and for who. But finding the balance of picking up gigs because I can versus pushing for what I want is tricky.
One last thought about freelancing: PITCHING IS SO EXHAUSTING GAHHHH. I admire those of you who do it 24/7. #hustlers
HUMOR: Laughing more at work.
Between a major speech deadline for our CEO, a massive leadership event and a big move for our whole team to a new office, I spent the past two months in werk-werk-werk mode. It all went very well; however, I'm ready to have a little more fun at work versus constant process/execution mode. Harder than it sounds, particularly when you're managing a small team. (Somebody always has to be the "boss," right?) I'm hoping summer ushers in productivity and lightheartedness.
SOLITUDE: Waking up earlier.
My husband has a love/hate relationship with my alarm system . . . because I set my alarm for 5 a.m. almost every day and right now my record is maaaaaybe 1/5 per week? I completely understand his annoyance. Waking up early is so hard for me. It is also the most optimal quiet time. We've set a joint intention to do 5 a.m. reading/writing mornings a few times a week, so we'll see how that goes. (It happened today, and so did this blog post, so yay!) If you've got great waking up early tips, especially as a parent, lemme know!