Listening to Life: Spring 2019

It only feels right to participate in Emily P. Freeman’s seasonal What We Learned post.

I first fell in love with Emily’s words when I found her podcast, The Next Right Thing. The episodes always follow through on her promise to provide “a little space for your soul to breathe, so you can do your next right thing in love”. I’ve been encouraged by truth, equipped with tools, and inspired to try new practices - like the 5 minute reset I talked about in my post about getting in the mindset for a productive work session. (One day I’ll figure out which episode that one was from.)

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In this season, I’ve been especially helped by her in the area she talks about a lot – decision making. Decisions have come up that I didn’t see coming and, whaaaat, I had already preordered her newest book, The Next Right Thing, and received her course, Discern and Decide, so they were available to me exactly when I needed them. Both have been so incredibly helpful to give me tools and words and truth to navigate decisions, big and small.

I always seem to have a person who’s work is really speaking to me and I go down the obsession rabbit hole and read everything they’ve ever written. Clearly, Emily’s work is the obsession of the season and hers has seemed to stick even longer than the usual.

 

things I’m learning –

big and small,
silly and serious,

as I take time to pause
and listen to my life

 

01. 20% of people are Highly Sensitive and June is in the club.

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We’ve always known that June is very uh… particular, has a lot of feelings, and dislikes a lot of foods… and scents, and noises, and bright lights, and on and on. We’ve also noticed that she has an incredible memory, attention to detail, and awareness of other people’s feelings. It wasn’t until a friend posted about a book she was reading, The Highly Sensitive Child, and I immediately reserved it at the library and started reading, that I found out all of these things are very related. I learned that June experiences basically everything with higher sensitivity that others, including me. This can lead to her being very easily overwhelmed and frustrated.
I’m so grateful to now know about this and be learning how I can help her through it. I’m only half way done with the book so I haven’t quiet learned the how-to-help part. Stay tuned.

 
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02. I’m not good at good gifts, yet.

A pattern I noticed this season is that when a good gift is presented to me, I don’t handle it well.
When I have precious time alone, I actually stress about how to spend it and use it well. When I notice a way in which I am privileged, I feel guilty and worry instead of enjoying the gift or opportunity, being thankful for it and graciously giving to others from that place. A silly example… I’m totally a gift card hoarder. And notebook hoarder, but I’m not sure that applies.
I’m very much still in the learning here… but I think it’s important to recognize and as EPF would say, name it.

 

03. Paprika is magical.

I’ve started adding a generous sprinkle to almost everything I cook and it’s… well, magic.

 

04. Caffeine has real power over me.

I finally decided to break my mean coffee addiction. The withdraw was oh so real and I didn’t even cut caffeine completely! I just scaled back from a cup of coffee in the morning and after lunch to a black tea or half cup of coffee in the morning, and I’ll admit… some dark chocolate in the afternoon. The first few days were dark. But I’m happy to be headache and fog-free now! It’s actually sad how proud I am that I did this. I mean, it made the list.

 

05. Everything has a season, a cycle, a rhythm.

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I know I will forget some of the places in which cycles, seasons and rhythms came up but this was a huge pattern as I looked back at what I learned this season. It has given me a lot of hope to understand the cycles of my own body better (and how amazing that is instead of completely annoying) via a free email course I did from Groove, an app I started using (and have really loved) to track my cycle, and a book I’ve started reading called Do Less by Kate Northrup which has me rethinking the way I structure my work and my schedule altogether.
Crafting a Rhythm of Life (or Rule of Life) came up in multiple places, but mainly in the Discern and Decide course mentioned earlier by EPF. I’m slowly working on crafting my own Rhythm of Life, or tweaking the one I already had, really. Instead of it being about productivity, or even self care, it’s about walking with God.

 

06. I’m very motivated to do what I’m not supposed to do.

So there’s this thing about us Enneagram nines… we’re really good at procrastinating. For me, and it sounds like for most, it’s a very sneaky type of procrastination that can even fool me. It’s not that I’m chilling on the couch for hours as the most important things go undone; it’s doing something that feels important right now - or just something I want to do - instead of doing that thing that really needs doing. This wasn’t exactly new information, but I was reminded of this as I listened to several podcast interviews with fellow nines.
Looking back at how I spent the Spring, the work I got most excited about totally felt like I was playing hooky from the most responsible thing I could be doing. Instead of working on custom design projects I’d already been paid for, I spent a lot of time building an online shop hoping and praying that my people needed the branding products I was making as much as I thought. This example turned out really well, so it has me thinking about how I could use this to my advantage.
Annnnd also worried that the other creative ventures I’m really loving right now might be less captivating to me if they ever become the thing I “should” be doing. Like this space. And writing in general. I’m glad to at least be aware of this!
Sort of a side note since this point isn’t really about writing, but this quote grabbed me as an answer to my question: why is writing, this thing I’ve never felt good at or even liked, feeling like it’s making me come alive?

[Writing is] an act that helps you, preserves you, energizes you, in the very doing of it.

- Naomi Shihab Nye

Captured from an On Being podcast episode.

 

07. Stopping the scrolling is right, for now.

Maybe this one has a lot to do with the point above, now that I think about it…
It was time to take a break from Instagram. After thinking about it for a couple weeks, and thinking about how much I was thinking about it, I signed off my personal account for the Summer. Since it’s something I feel like I need to do to connect with my audience at The Business Bar, it’s really hard for me to separate this pressured feeling from my own account. When something in my real life happens, I literally think about if and how I will post about it. That is not how I want to experience my life and honestly, how ridiculous!? It was time.
It has been a week and I so far I’ve learned: this is a good, good thing.

 
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08. My 3 year old’s words melt me.

Favorite quote of the season:

”Mom, hold my hands. 
Remember that you are the best mom.
And you are brave and super strong.
And you can melt monsters.”

- June Capri

It must be noted that this interaction happened while she was sitting on the toilet and I was sitting in the bathroom with her, on the floor. This is where a lot of our deep conversations happen. It’s weird and I’m starting to love it in all its weirdness.

 

Okay Summer, we’re ready for you. Fog and cold and all.

Monthly Journal: February 2019

Getting back into routines after vacation; getting to the ‘tired’ phase of routines that aren’t new anymore; reflection and reseting; rain and rain and rain; reading and learning and thinking and writing; lots of work and lots of cuddles.
This was February.

 
 
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Feb
2019

 
 

June was not “June” for most of February. Really most of this year so far. She’s been a baby, Elsa, a cat, a ducky, a bunny… and she’s very committed to her characters. It’s mostly cute but there are days when I feel like I cannot handle another “meow”. Ha!

She’s been absolutely loving her class – getting more comfortable and confident every day. It makes me really excited for her to (hopefully - fingers crossed) start pre-school in the Fall.

 
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There has been a crazy amount of rain in San Francisco so we’ve been spending a lot of time inside. Luckily June is very into crafting and building and pretending right now.

These magnet building tiles were a Black Friday purchase/Christmas gift and they have been the best toy ever. I’ve been amazed at the things June has come up with and honestly, they’re really fun for us too.

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Somewhere in all of the painting and drawing, something clicked and she suddenly started drawing figures! It was like overnight she figured out how to make the things in her imagination appear on the paper!

This is just one of the milestones I didn’t expect to feel so much about. It’s just the coolest thing to actually see what she dreams up… it feels like we know her more because of it.

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Hustle, cuddle, repeat.

Chris’ company is in the middle of fundraising so he’s putting in some insane hours – waking up crazy early to go in and get work done so he could still get home and spend time with June before bedtime most nights.

He plays guitar and signs to June every night when we put her to bed so one night when he couldn’t make it home, June wanted to FaceTime him and play him songs on the paper guitar she made at school. Ahhhhhh the sweetness.

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working on –

I’ve also been in hustle mode!
Any extra minutes I could find, I worked on creating all of the products we’re going to have in our new shop at The Business Bar. After all of the products were created, Sarah and I busted it to create graphics, product descriptions, tutorial videos… all the details that go into launching a shop online!

There were definitely days at the very end of the month that I worked while June was playing/watching TV on top of the usual work sessions while she naps. The last couple of days before we launched to a couple of VIP “taste testers”, I got up hours before her to get it all done. We did it!! And then totally crashed.

There is still a lot to do before we launch to the public, but I’m so proud of what we’ve done so far.

 

PLANS/GOALS/HOPES FOR march

  • June and I are traveling almost the entire month! I’m going to Austin to see my best friend and go to the Create & Cultivate conference, and then June and I are going back to Florida to visit!

  • We want to officially launch The Test Kitchen shop at The Business Bar in March! (AHHHHHHH!)


 
The Nap-time Hustle

For a little over a year now, my work day has been squished into the afternoon nap time slot.
Going from goldfish, blocks and boogers to fully focusing on branding a business is sometimes really difficult. I’m usually somewhere in between wanting to just sit on the couch in silence for the foreseeable future and feeling super stressed and overwhelmed with the amount of work I need to make happen that afternoon.

There are a few things that help me transition into a super productive work session and get the most out of the little time I have. When I remember to do them and remember that they are totally worth taking a few minutes away from just jumping straight in to work, they are always worth the time investment.

 
 
 
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TL;DR

Things I do to get in work mode during nap time

  1. Quick clean

  2. Mental reset (meditation)

  3. Coffee + water refill

  4. Set the space

  5. 15 minute daily writing practice

 
 

Helpful habits

  1. No email/limited social

  2. Goals + ‘ONE thing’

  3. Time block + track time

 

Quick clean up

As soon as I shut the door after putting June down for a nap, I do a quick clean up of the house. Our 800 sq. ft. can cause some major overwhelm if there are toys and dishes out everywhere… but because it’s small it can also be tidied pretty quickly. If I can push past the desire to just sit down “for a minute” and go ahead and pick up our main living spaces, I never regret it. 

Somewhere in between the cleaning and the calming for the next step, I have a few amazing squares of dark chocolate. I cannot overstate how much this moment is enjoyed. (Sometimes I sneak some before June goes down for a nap and you know I hide in the kitchen and keep it all to myself.)



Mental reset/meditation

Next I pop in my headphones, sit on the couch (like sit up on the each of the couch, not lounge… that’s too dangerous.) in the clean, calm space and do a 5-10 minute meditation on the Headspace app. This time used to be spent just sitting or stretching - eyes closed, not doing anything else - with a timer set for 5 minutes. I would pray or think or just listen to the silence. (That 5 minute reset was inspired by something Emily P. Freeman talked about on her podcast… sorry, I don’t remember the exact episode!) Either way, I never regret taking this 5 minutes to be still and (re)set my mind. This is the thing I skip most often because I’m itching to just get to work, but when I do take the time I always come away clearer - knowing exactly what I need to work on. I often remember things I had forgotten or come up with a great idea that saves me time later. Worth it.



Coffee, water, set the space

Then I make a cup of coffee, refill my water and head to my desk. Sometimes I literally bring my water pitcher in so I can keep working when I need more water.

My desk sits in the corner of our bedroom. This year I’ve finally made the grown up habit of making my bed and (usually) cleaning my room and, surprise surprise, it makes a huge difference in my focus while I’m working. And when I stay on top of it instead of letting things get messy, I can actually just get to work instead of having to add a ‘clean up room/desk’ step to this routine.


15 minutes of writing

The newest addition to my ‘get to work’ routine, and maybe my favorite, is my daily writing practice.

As soon as I sit down and open my laptop, I open a new note, (just in the Notes app, nothing fancy) set a timer for 15 minutes, and write. I write whatever comes out. It’s usually a mix of stream-of-consciousness style journaling, a thought download, list making, working out a problem, honest heart work, drafting emails or writing thoughts and ideas for posts. I’m actually writing this post right now during my daily writing practice. Meta.

This started because I realized that writing was something I’ve always told myself that I’m just not good at. It’s the thing that holds me up and causes a lot of self-doubt whether it’s writing an email, some marketing content, or a personal blog post. I finally decided to stop complaining to myself that I’m not good at it, and work on getting good at it.

It has been amazing. Not only does it help me get clutter out of my head before jumping into focused work, it kickstarts my creativity and I can immediately jump into creative work because I’m “warmed up”. I have also come up with great ideas and content because… well, I’m not trying. It feels like a safe space where I can be very imperfect. It turns out - that’s where magic can happen.

Then I actually get to work…

 
 

helpful habits –
to get more done with less time

 
 

Goals + ‘one thing’

The first thing I do is make sure I know what my “one thing” is for the day. The one thing that has to happen to move me closer to my big goals. A lot of the time this is the only thing that gets done so this is an important step. Sometimes I will take a minute to reorganize the other tasks on Asana in the order that I need to do them/on what day.

Here’s the rabbit trail of where this ‘one thing’ came from, if you’re interested:
First, I read listened to an interview with author of Essentialism on Allie Casazza’s podcast and then bought the book; loved it so much - it changed the way I will think about prioritizing my time forever. Then, I listened to an interview with one of the authors of The ONE Thing on Amy Porterfield’s podcast and knew I’d found the next step I was looking for. They talked about practical steps to figure out the one thing you should do next that will be the best thing you can do with that time. I’m working on reading that book now, but the worksheets they have on their website are amazingly helpful. This resource, “My Purpose”, was incredible.


No email/limited social

Then I check my email. Like all of these things, I’m not perfect at keeping my own rule, but I try to make this the first time I check email all day. It’s really the first time I’m able to send a clear and well thought out response back anyway. When I check it earlier in the day, it usually just causes unnecessary stress and takes my attention away from my time with June.

For social media… ugh.
This is kind of a side-note but I’ve yet to find a great system/solution for this but here’s where I’m at right now.
There are a lot of things I love about it. I love feeling connected to the friends and family we live so far away from; I love finding new people/brands; I love creating content and sharing June’s cuteness.
But, I rarely leave a scrolling session feeling more inspired/energized/clear. I usually snap out of it after going into a zombie trance and realize that June has been asking me something and I didn’t even hear her, or 20 minutes have gone by that felt like 2. And 20 minutes is a lot of time when you only have a few hours to get important work done!
For months I’ve been trying to figure out a good time to dedicate to social media and then commit to only spend that time, but I’ve honestly not found a time that couldn’t be better spent doing something else. So for now, I just don’t get on social media that much. (When I say social media, I really mean Instagram.) I use scheduling tools to plan posts outside of the app (I use both of the apps Planoly and Later) and have a limit set for 30 minutes and my phone locks the Instagram app after I’ve spent that amount of time in the app. (Here’s how to set that up on your iPhone!)

Time block/track time

The last thing that is hugely helpful to me for getting things done with a small amount of time, and cut down on that feeling of total overwhelm when a huge amount of work is looming, is planning out blocks of time and tracking how I’m spending my time.
The plan time blocks, I open my Google Calendar and literally create events for the blocks of time I know I’ll be able to work during the week and fill them with the most important task that I need to get done during that time. Being able to visualize how my work is in fact going to get done eases a lot of stress.
Then, when I’m actually working, I use Toggl to track my time! This adds a level of focus and accountability so I’m aware of what I’m doing instead of going down an internet rabbit trail and snapping out of it when June wakes up and work time is over! It is also helpful for the obvious reason of being able to know how long projects take so I can more accurately price my work in the future. Right now we’re using it to track the time we (Sarah + I) spend in ‘the test kitchen’ for The Business Bar creating all of the Brand and Website Mixes for our new online shop so we can make sure we’re splitting up the work evenly, and so we can make decisions about pricing and whether or not the test was successful and we should make it an official part of our business!

Those no nap days

June is 3 1/2 years old and still takes naps pretty consistently which I’m incredibly grateful for. On the days she doesn’t fall asleep or wakes up really early and I really need to get some work done, I try to get her to play by herself for a while. I pull out an activity box (just a box of toys) for her to play with, set her up with some art supplies, or turn on a tv show. I am not above letting the screen babysit for a little while when needed… which let’s be honest, is often. Ha!

 
working while the kid naps
 

I hope something in my routine inspires you and helps you get more important work done in a short time!
You’re a total boss and you’ve got this.

JB