JournalJourney

Birthdays, Powerball and Bell Biv Devo - Journal Entry: Jan 11, 2016

I Suck at Commemorating Birthdays
Today is my boyfriend's birthday. I posted "Happy Birthday" on his Facebook wall and said, "Happy Birthday" in person. Beyond that, I was pretty neglectful. I worked on work stuff for a handful of hours, I got Powerball tix with my friend and my sister, I shuttled kids to and fro. I did not celebrate a birthday with one of the most important people in my life. We have plans to do some stuff this coming weekend which I keep telling myself has been the plan and is enough, but I still feel pretty crappy about not being very celebratory on the actual day. Just throwing it out there. I'm no good at this holiday and birthday business.

Standing in Line for Powerball Was Fun
I think this is one of those "eye of the beholder" sorts of experiences. Standing in a long line for a long time, in not super awesome weather to spend money on some slips of paper is not what I'd call my cup of tea. Don't go pointing out the "1 in 297 million" odds now, either. That would be like being the person at the magic show spoiling all the magician's tricks. Of course, I don't expect to win and I've never bought a Powerball ticket before in my life, but like b'zillions of others, I was lured by the mystique. I had to experience "the craze" for myself. Joined by my sister Kimberlee and my longtime friend Sunshine, sometimes it's all about who you're with. It was completely memorable and I loved it. Even when I couldn't feel my frozen toes.

 

Bell Biv Devoe: LIVE IN CONCERT (Who Knew?)
Whilst in line for Powerball tix, we saw a sign that Bell Biv Devoe will be performing on Jan 16 at Primm Valley Resorts. AMAZING. I had no idea.




Realizations of the Day: Jan 10, 2016

 

Fun Rules the World
Zia had her first-ever sleepover at our house last night. It was fun. We made Mickey Mouse waffles for breakfast and the girls played with Play-Doh, and a rocket science kit, and they made “science potions” in the kitchen with food coloring and various edible mixtures. Watching Zia (age 6) and Gigi (age 7) hang out together is an amazing thing. Their laughter and wide-eyed excitement over everything is inspiring and delightful. Watching them play, what they choose to play with, the things they make, how their minds work, their curiosity and how much they know (and think they know.) Hearing their laughter and singing and stories - no matter how fun I work to keep in my life, observing these two was magical and I feel really lucky that I got to be a part of it.

Asking for Help
I finally asked for help working through this personal project. I wasn’t sure how to do that but a situation presented itself, I recognized it immediately and I jumped on it. I definitely plan to share more, but I need to buckle down and focus for a bit. For now, I think I’m on the right path to pushing through some personal boundaries I’ve been stuck on for a while. 

Listening to My Body
I’ve been out of my regular groove with waking and going to bed times. For a good while now, I’ve been an early riser, and an early-to-bed(er). A few weeks back I was in a slump and even though I woke at my normal early time, I just stayed in bed for way longer than normal. Now I feel all out of whack, but today for the first time in about three weeks, I feel that electricity inside again. I’ll see what that means and how it plays out. I’m not one to force too much of a schedule on myself (for better or worse), while I do have a good amount of routine, I really thrive on flexibility and rolling with how things feel as much as possible. What’s good is I can feel that excited burn in my guts again. I missed it! 

If a Cat Gets Stuck in Pants...
It's pretty impossible to have a bad day if you witness a cat stuck in the leg of pants. I do not encourage creating this situation, this all happened by chance, but it does make for a good deal of both concern and laughter. We were able to help him out after several minutes. He is fine and seems in no way to be carrying trauma that would discourage him from exploring pants or other potentially hazardous containment vessels. 

It was a really good day. I’m excited to see what tomorrow brings!

<3

Realizations of the Day: Jan 09, 2016

Today was awesome. I made progress. I also did all sorts of action-packed mom stuff. I feel super energized!

Today was way more than normal running about with kid activities and such, I don't normally design my schedule to keep me running all over the place, but it happens that way from time to time. It all worked out. I feel like a big leap forward happened today and I think it was just the burst of adrenaline I needed. 

Realizations of the Day:

When You Feel Like You've Got Nothing Left, Keep Going
I know this already. I do that entire talk about coming back from burnout. But I'll be damned if sometimes feeling like you've got nothing left happens anyway. And sometimes it isn't from burnout at all. Sometimes it's just because you lose focus. Sometimes we need to be reminded of things we already know. It's OK to allow yourself time to simply exist and regroup. It's OK to feel the gravity of the downs for a bit. Don't get stuck there.
Today was like a firm but friendly elbow-jab to the ribs. Time to keep going. Not stopping. Going!

Listen to Your Body, Listen to Your Heart
My big fat head thinks it knows a lot. It doesn't. When I stop overthinking, I can hear. I can feel. And I know what I'm supposed to be doing.

I Think "Realizations of the Day" May Be The Way To Finish January

Excited to see what tomorrow brings. <3  

Realizations of the Day: Jan 08, 2016

Today was good. I made some progress. I think yesterday was a lot of beating myself up, but knowing deep down all I really have to do is make the decision to DO. That’s it.

Excuses are almost funny, except when they prevail. Not so funny when I let the excuse win. 

Realizations of the day:

THE TIME I CHOOSE TO DO MY “ME” WORK:
I’ve been saving my daily journal post until the end of the day, usually right before bed, but I really don’t enjoy writing this late. I think this is a noteworthy realization. My brain feels tired, more like I’m squeezing it to make words instead of how it feels when I write in the morning.

In the morning, it’s just a different flow. I’m waking up, it’s like my brain is unfolding more and more as I type. This is something I need to listen to.

I REALLY LOVE MY WORK:
I’ve been working from home since 2011. And independently since 2013. I love my work. I have a really hard time explaining what I do when asked. I do a lot of different things, but I don’t design mobile apps or websites anymore. I help teams that do those things. And I write, I podcast, I experiment and sometimes those experiments become paid work. I coach companies and individuals. I help clients with stuff they need help with. I have a design background and everything I’ve ever done informs what I do. I suck at describing what I do, because I feel like the expectation is that there’s a simple word or two for it. There’s not. If I had to simplify it, I’d say, “I help people.” More and more, I’m coming to grips with not being able to describe what I do. I just keep doing things and occasionally the examples of things I love doing make sense to someone who wants to pay me to do those things with/for them. Somehow it’s working out really well. I feel like I should keep rolling with it until the wheels fall off. 

That’s it for today. I may shift my journaling schedule a bit for the duration of January, lumping everything into my favorite morning hours instead of staying up past my bedtime to do it. We’ll see! Thanks for reading, and extra thanks for those who’ve sent notes/comments/tips/encouragement. I appreciate every single word!

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This is day 08 of my #tinychallenges daily journal.

Have you listened to #tinychallenges — the show yet?
Season 1 — Episode 1 is only 16 minutes long, give it a listen on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/tinychallenges/id1071581340
or check out our website at tinychallenges.com

When You Give Yourself an Excuse Path, You’ll Probably Take It

I made no forward movement on the personal project today. I’m arriving at a couple conclusions with all this. By “all this” I mean my #tinychallenges. 

  • #tinychallenges No.1: 3 words (the one we’re doing on the podcast)
  • #tinychallenges No.2: 5 minutes of personal project work per day
  • #tinychallenges No.3: Daily journal of personal project status

See what I did there?

I over-complicated it. I couldn’t do just ONE tiny challenge. I got hungry to do more, and push myself more and I complicated it. Somehow, my daily journal seems to have created a safety net in my brain for it being OK if I miss a day of personal project writing even though the personal project work is only asking for 5 minutes of my time. Knowing I can talk here, later about whether I did or did not do the work gives me an option. I'm starting to feel like that has defeated the purpose of the personal project. I also think it's partially because I don't like working on things I don't feel like I can share or talk about. I like sharing what I'm doing. I learn from it openly and there's this great bonus of when you folks who actually read these - READ and share your thoughts and feedback - it's awesome! So I’m feeling a bit like I need to keep stuff right out in the open and DO. Ups, downs, fails, wins, whatever. Keep doing and sharing. This journal is sort-of that, but it’s a layer removed from the actual THING. And that’s causing an oddity in my rhythm. It feels off.

Here’s what’s good, though: I’m writing every day. Here, if not also elsewhere. I LOVE that. When I started doing my #tinychallenges initially, I picked a thing that I was excited to leaarn/try/do/share. The daily journals feel a little unfocused, and perhaps where this entire post comes from. I’m frustrated that I’m not staying more focused on my little personal project, but I am enjoying the journaling even when I feel like I don’t have much to talk about. There’s a learning experience here. For me, anyway. It’s OK to realize you bit off more than you can chew. I may need to find another path to completion, but I will keep on going.  

A lot of thinking out loud here. Curious - Did you set out on any paths, goals, resolutions or anything like that when January started? Anyone ever run into stuff like this? How is it all going? 

Great Days in Different Ways

The past couple days have been really, really good days. Productivity always feels great but my productivity is often centered around time with people who add great value to my life. Catching up over coffee or lunch with friends. A phone or video call with someone who's far away. I try to make a point of doing this a few times per month. Some friends I see more frequently than others, and some I don't see nearly enough. Making time for people who matter to me has moved way, way up on the priority list. (Jim and Dee, if you are reading this I'm coming to get you soon!)

I have a lot of people I'd like to catch up with sooner than later. I'm chipping away nicely at that list in no particular order. It makes me giggle a little bit when people start their sentence with, "I know you're busy but..." I'm busy, yes. But never too busy for sincere, human exchange. That is the core of productivity for me. 

Did I work on my #tinychallenges today? Yep. Got it knocked out first thing this morning. 30 minutes down on the personal project today. A little bit jammed up on some stuff, but I'll get through it. ;)

Learning How to be Proud of Progress

Life changes are not an instant 180-degree moment of decision and POOF! Amazing life! For me, life changes have been about waking up over and over again and deciding that TODAY, I will take that step toward what I want. Sometimes it is only one, single step. Other times I get a step and a skip. Maybe two or three steps when things are going super awesome. Sometimes I slip on a banana peel and just lay there for a minute. So to speak.

I’m in my 14th consecutive month of one-month challenges. Attempting a new challenge every month means believing in myself harder than I've ever believed in myself before, which continues to be my biggest struggle. I beat myself up about that a lot. I’m also learning how to be proud of my progress.

#tinychallenges was born out of the effort to make progress every single day. Today’s progress was tiny, indeed, but it was progress. I can be proud of that.

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Have you listened to #tinychallenges — the show yet?
Season 1 — Episode 1 is only 16 minutes long, give it a listen on iTunes:https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/tinychallenges/id1071581340
or check out our website at tinychallenges.com

This is day 05 of my #tinychallenges daily journal.

It's Moving So Fast Already!

My #tinychallenge this month is a funny bundle, so I'm still trying to find the right rhythm. I'm doing the 3 words challenge along with our podcast show, I'm doing my personal project #1, and I'm doing this daily journal on how it's all going.

If I'm being honest, today felt a little bonkers despite being pretty organized.

It started a little rough and concerning, but almost immediately got really interesting and... I suppose the best word I can find to describe it is inspiring. 

I DID get about 20 minutes worth of work done on Personal Project #1. I woke at 5am, actually got out of bed around 5:15 and I got crackin'. That felt great. Of course I wanted to do more but since I set out to do at least 5 minutes, I can feel accomplished that I was able to do a whopping 20.

Got the kids out the door to school, which after two weeks of no school can occasionally be a bit of a stressy rush, but they did really well today. I'm very grateful for mornings like today on the kids-to-school front.

The rest of the day was a very broad variety of phone calls (and a couple emails.) Some not great news, some great news, some interesting prospects and extra bonus fun: Daniel and I recorded episode 2 of the tinychallenges show, which will go live on January 14. \o/

Ken and I fit a grocery run in, glad we did because if much more of the day had escaped it wouldn't have happened. Kid pickup was at 3:45, homework, dinner, drive Sophia to/from music practice, home, catch up on work emails, write this post... it wasn't really THAT bad when I write it out, but I'm totally done for today. My pillow is going to feel so awesome when my head greets it. It all went by SO quickly. Can you believe it's already January FOURTH of 2016? 

Insane! But also, I'm feeling really good about the direction it's taking. 

 

Back on Track

Last day of holiday break. Kids had a stay-up late night so they slept reasonably late this morning. I slept until 6:30 am again, I hope I didn't mess up my 4:30 a.m waking abilities by doing this so frequently through the holiday, we'll see how tomorrow feels.

Today was great on the personal project. I set out to spend a minimum of 5 minutes on it. I sat down and dug in. First I decided to think about how I was approaching the project. I know from a lot of experience that breaking things down tends to make most things all the more approachable. So I broke my project down in two ways. First, I broke it into ten pieces and labeled my chunks in a way that made sense to me given what I'm doing (I know the 00-09 may seem weird just looking at it, but it makes sense behind the scenes.) Then I clumped batches into weekly sprints - I have no idea if this is realistic but I'm going to see how it plays out. Initially, I imagined the whole project running from January through March, if I can move faster on it, I want to. It feels like the right approach. I'm sticking with it.

It took me about 30 minutes to figure out how to break everything out, then another 30 minutes setting up some structural foundation so that moving forward all I have to do is sit down, pop open a document and start typing.

Once I set up my little foundation, my house was still super quiet, so I dug in. Before I knew it three hours had flown by and I had checked 00 and 01 off my list. HOLY MACARONI, that is some really exciting progress!

I should note that I have generated a lot of content for this project already — one of those things I started last year but never finished. I’d say I’m at about 60% complete right now, and the remaining 40% got shelved because it felt incredibly daunting. After breaking it down I feel more excited to finish. I hope I can ride the enthusiasm wave for a while!

Tomorrow will bring with it the day-to-day norms of work, getting kids to/from school and after school activities, recording episode 2 of our new #tinychallenges podcast, an interview with someone who's interested in having me write an article for them, some work on a new conference talk, and the day 04 installment of this here #tinychallenges daily journal. I will keep my target for the personal project tiny (5 minutes or less), because that is what #tinychallenges is all about. If more happens, I'll take it. 

See you tomorrow!

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Have you listened to #tinychallenges - the show yet?
Season 1 - Episode 1 is only 16 minutes long, give it a listen on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/tinychallenges/id1071581340
or check out our website at tinychallenges.com

When I Don't Start My Day With A List...

I’m a big fan of list making. I’ve done a few posts on it over the past year, including a couple YouTube videos on my process of having a master list, and extracting three priorities from that list each day for my sticky-note list. With the holidays I made the very conscious decision to let go of my schedule a bit and just see what happens. While I’ve found it to be relaxing and liberating, I’m starting to wonder if my personal project journaling is basically going to become a procrastinator’s log book. I’m still convinced that documenting things will help me look back and learn something valuable, though. So I’ll keep the journaling up! While today was all-in-all rather productive, the personal project that sits highest on my priority list saw none of my time again today. We’re 2 for 2. 

Here’s a funny thing. This is what happens to my day when I don’t start it with my sticky-note list. I HAVE to suspect other people operate this way but have to ask: do you ever start a task, then you realize you could knock out another task, and as you knock out this other ask you happen onto yet another sub-task, and before you know it you’re several levels deep into sub-tasks before you make your way back to the original task you started with. Does this happen to anyone else? 

I knew today would be a challenge to fit my personal project in when I made the decision to sleep past 5:30am. I woke at 6:30, fed the cats, and went to make coffee. My favorite mug wasn’t in the cabinet so I put away the clean dishes from the dishwasher. One of the cups had some dishwasher water cradled in the bottom of it which spilled onto the floor when I picked it up, so I went for a paper towel, but we had run out of paper towel. I went to the garage to grab a few rolls and since the toilet paper is right there, I grabbed a couple 4-packs while I was at it because I remembered the master bathroom and the kids bathroom were both running a little low. I passed the dryer on the way back in with my armload of paper goods, and remembered I washed/dried the bathroom rug because the cat had thrown up on it, so I could take that back to the bathroom and drop off the toilet paper. I set the paper towel down while I completed that task, and while I was putting the bathroom rug down I realized we had a whole load of laundry that needed to be done, so I went into the closet to collect the dirties and saw that I had a whole basket of cleans that needed to be put away so I started putting those away when I realized how much I really loved how clean my second drawer was from the clean-out I’d done last week, so I started cleaning out my third drawer to create that nice feeling I’d just experienced from second drawer. In order to finish my clean-out I needed a trash bag from the kitchen which reminded me I could take the dirties I’d collected back to the laundry room, start the load, and replenishing the paper towel supplies in the kitchen and finally return to my original task of making some coffee.  

The whole day played out like this, one thing leading into another, then another. It was a really good day and many things that needed to get done, got done. Yet I can’t help but feel like I failed a lot today because I didn’t spend that ONE HOUR on my personal project. If I learned anything from #tinychallenges, it's that sometimes we fail because we’re trying to take on more than we can reasonably handle given how much our day-to-day lives tend to require of us. SO. I’m going take a step back and stick to the #tinychallenges approach with my personal project tomorrow. I'm shifting the goal of working on my personal project for only 5 minutes tomorrow, first thing upon waking up. I’ll let you know how it plays out in tomorrow’s post.

See you then!

Journaling Through Personal Struggle: Jan 01, 2016

In November, I attempted and completed my very first NaNoWriMo challenge. While I worked on my 50,000-word novel behind the scenes, I publicly journaled my way through the first-time experience. I genuinely expected to fall short of the 50k words in 30 days objective and wanted a full documentation of my ups and downs so I could learn from them and do better the next time around. What ended up happening was that I had all this excitement about participating in a challenge that I really rose to the occasion. I finished in 21 days! 

About a year-and-a-half ago, I made all sorts of excuses not to start things. No time, parenting this or that, financial this or that. On that front, I’ve made a great deal of progress. #tinychallenges have helped me move through those excuses and conquer nearly all the things I felt stopped me from writing more, trying YouTube, experimenting and playing. After thirteen months of back-to-back monthly challenges designed to help me push my own boundaries, I’ve accomplished a lot of neat stuff! These #tinychallenges have also led me down a path toward uncovering the next thing I need to work on in order to get out of my own way: FINISHING. I’m such a pain in my own arse, sometimes. 

I’ve figured out I do this thing… if I don’t have something to hold me accountable with personal projects once they reach a near-completion point, I lose my focus and spread my attention all over the place, start new ideas and these open projects sit at about 75% complete. Sometimes I come back to them, sometimes I don’t ever touch them again. Today, for example, instead of working on my personal project for an hour as I’d planned, I decided to do my 2015 taxes. It was a very productive day, but I put off my 75% complete side project that I would really like to see through to the end. I think if there’s a positive to this strange pattern of reaching 75% then getting sidetracked, it’s that I can see it now. And with a little bit of accountability, I tend to rise to the occasion. I’m ready to push through this.

On episode one of tinychallenges - the show, Daniel and I talk with Chris Brogan about his "My 3 Words" list, and pose to our listeners the challenge of using January to finding your own 3 Words. Chris Brogan has done his 3 words list for eleven years now, and this practice ties in so well with the #tinychallenges mission. I see the Chris Brogan 3 Words as the focus of the year, and #tinychallenges are incremental steps to support that focus. 

I have decided that one of my words for 2016 is: FINISH.
The #tinychallenges I choose will align to support the finishing of some exciting ideas, explorations and side-projects that started in 2015. While most of these projects need to happen behind the scenes, I will be daily-journaling my status, struggles and triumphs as I work through the personal struggle of finishing things. I’m excited to dig in. I know I may hit a lot of bumps in the road, but I will document it all along the way in hopes I can see rhythms and patterns in where I fall short, I can correct those things and get stronger bit-by-bit.

I hope you’ll join me for the journey!

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Check out: 
tinychallenges.com/show (Episode 1, 16 minutes)

Chris Brogan's "My 3 Words" for 2016