Hawaii honeymoon

Look to the Sky

I left work late tonight, as is often the case these days. But I guess the days are indeed getting longer, because instead of being dark the sky was full of brilliant tiger stripes of colour – pink and red and orange and wisps of blue. The city skyline was a barely lit silhouette, and at the end of the wash of colour was the outline of the mountains and a brilliant, golden glare as the sun started to sink behind the horizon. It was incredible. Stop-to-take-a-picture incredible. (But of course no picture I could take would ever do it justice.)

I breathe deeply when I see sunsets like that (even if I’m in my car). And in doing so I pause, sometimes just figuratively and often just for a moment, and think about something other than what I have to do next.

brick wall

Your comments on my post about missing inspiration were interesting. Good interesting, even though I don’t agree with many of you, including my mother. (Sorry, mom.)

Here’s the thing: I like that wide open space of a new year. I love the anything-is-possible feeling. I thrive on change and possibility and new. Day-to-day life gets boring pretty fast, and if I don’t have something to jolt me into a new perspective I will blink and 20 years will have gone by and my small boys will be big and all I will remember is how much laundry I did.

That is not how I wish to live my life.

I realized, upon reading (and railing against) some of those comments on that last post, that I don’t necessarily want some huge, gigantic goal and I’m not really looking for change. But I also don’t want to let life just happen. I prefer living with intention.

That’s why I’ve chosen one word as a guide post for the last few years. It’s why I have a life list and why I breathe in sunsets.

Northern lights in night sky

So where does that leave me? I’m not sure yet. I will probably start by committing to my one word for 2014 (and sharing it here). I’m going to make some changes to my day-to-day focus and schedule. I’m going to move away from feeling stuck in the everydayness of wake/feed children/commute/work/commute/feed children/put children to bed/walk dog/do dishes/fold laundry/repeat.

I’m going to look to the sky. And see where it takes me.

20 Minutes of Intention

horseshoe-on-fence

This horseshoe is on a fence in my neighbourhood. I assume it’s a symbol of the farms that used to be on this land, but I’d never noticed it until I was paying attention one night.

About halfway through my 30 days straight challenge, high off the energy of working towards something and doing something that was good for me, I started thinking about what’s next. Something different, but equally challenging and equally good for me. I didn’t have any ideas at first — I did think about 30 days of green smoothies but I’m basically doing that anyway (because, yum!) and it’s not really much of a challenge — so I put the idea to bed for a bit. And then this morning I got an email.

A while ago I joined Go Mighty, which is about making a life list for people who want to “connect and collaborate to do something good for themselves and others.” Just the sort of thing I love. I have played around a bit in there and would actually like to get more active with it. I think it’s a great way to focus on your goals. In any case, this morning’s email was about their February challenge: 20 Minutes of Intention. The idea is to take 20 minutes a day to show yourself and your goals a little love.

“Savor every bite of a delicious meal. Write a poem. Memorize phrases from a language you aspire to learn. Go for a jog. Make something with your hands. That thing that brings you joy? Do that for 20 minutes every day and share it with the Go Mighty community…”

Easy, right? Well, yes and no. Easy in that the 20 minutes doesn’t have to be a good-for-you-but-not-really-fun sort of thing. Difficult in that finding 20 minutes to focus, even on something that brings us joy, can be tough. But if my 30 days straight challenge taught me anything… Well, actually, it taught me two things that relate to this:

  1. If I am deliberate and mindful and intentional about it, I can fit 30 minutes of something into my day. Every day.
  2. Even when I don’t feel like doing something I know is good for me, I always feel better afterwards and that makes it worth it.

I knew that second one already, of course, but it’s good to be reminded of it.

If you’re interested, check out the info about the #20minutes project. Just like I did with my 30 days straight challenge, I’ll share some thoughts and pictures from this one here on the blog, as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Instragram.

So…who’s with me? I’m looking forward to February already.

 

Explore: Life in Pictures, Vol. 1

I wrote a post just about exactly one year ago about all the things I wanted to do in 2012. It was part of wanting to live in a vibrant way and I was totally excited. And then about a week later I got pregnant. And I spent about, oh, 8 1/2 months feeling like crap. So we didn’t do all the things I wanted to do, which was okay because we did some of them and the rest are there waiting.

Some people might think we’re crazy for moving to a place with the fabled Canadian winter, but I love it. I love snow, and we get a lot of sun, and it’s not as cold as you might think and when it is we just dress for it.

It’s exhilarating.

Lately we’ve been driving around doing things and I keep thinking, “I’m so glad we moved here. I belong here.” And I feel so lucky and grateful.

This year I want to revisit that list of things I want to do. I want to EXPLORE.

We’ve started already.

One day it was a visit to a tower that I’ve had a fondness for since I was a child.

Calgary-tower

Looking up.

 

We looked way out past the buildings, past the river, past the houses to the mountains. And we looked down. Way down.

 

Looking through tower's glass floor

Looking down.

 

I’m going strong on my latest life list quest — exercising for 30 days straight — and have been treated to some wonderous things in the process.

 

winter-sunset

Winter sunset

 

And we’ve ventured a little farther from home as well. To the mountains, of course.

 

Rockies_frozen_river

In Banff

 

Just out of the frame on the left were some elk. Big ones, with big antlers (just far away enough that I couldn’t get a decent picture with my iPhone). And my husband smiled at me and said, “I love that you get so excited about seeing stuff like this.”

I do get excited about things like this and I’m not afraid to admit it. Choosing to get excited about seeing elk at the side of a frozen river is just one of the things that makes life interesting, don’t you think?

But sometimes the things I get excited about are right there on my very own couch, and I feel so lucky and grateful for that too.

 

baby_with_Grandpa

Ethan and my dad

 

 

Linked up with:

Essence of Now
 

GFunkified

 

30 Days Straight

Today is January 2nd (for a little while yet, anyway), which means yesterday was January 1st and therefore the 2nd anniversary of this blog. I didn’t have a post about that yesterday because, frankly, I always feel that if I write something on the first of the year it should be profound. And yesterday I wasn’t feeling very profound. So instead I’ll now say the usual things, like I can’t believe it’s been two years. And I‘m grateful to have this space and the people I have encountered through it. Truly – I thank all of you who read and comment and share. My life is undoubtedly richer because of you.

How’s that for a cursory celebration? I do like to acknowledge these things, but right now I’d rather just get on with living life instead of writing about how I write about living life.

The living I’m doing right now relates to my post about taking on a challenge to exercise for 30 days straight. When my friend Melissa first challenged me to tackle that item on my life list I started to regret having put that silly idea on there. But as Christmas crept past and the food kept coming and the couch kept calling I decided it was a good thing someone was willing to push me. So I began to psych myself up for it and figure out what variety of things I wanted to do over the 30 days, both so I could manage it after being less than active for the last while and so I wouldn’t get bored after a week.

And then the day came.

And I started!

I started the 30 days by going for a run yesterday. It was beautiful – I went later in the day than I had intended (entirely due to small people’s needs and not at all because of lack of motivation) but in doing so I caught the sunset. And I looked out over the roofs of the houses in our community and was treated to a gorgeous glimpse of the Rockies, which fill up my soul every day.

mountain-sunset

I ran alone, with no agenda other than completing 30 minutes. I zigged through our neighbourhood and zagged down trails just to see where they went. I passed people sledding as the sun went down and the lights in the houses behind them came on. I encountered two other solo runners with whom I exchanged The Look. The one that says, “We’re alive and we’re out here and isn’t it beautiful?

sledding

I kept running, knowing I was taking myself father than a 30-minute out-and-back required. I turned onto one street because I hadn’t been down it before and chose another because it had pretty Christmas lights. And when my 30 minutes was up I stopped.

I ended up a little way from home, which was ultimately sort of deliberate because I figured I could use the cool down, but I so enjoyed the alone time. It was cold enough that I could feel every breath deep in my lungs, and early enough in the lateness of the day that the sky glowed.

mountain-sunset2

And that’s why I put this item on my life list in the first place. Because when I get out there it’s good for me and I notice things and I feel happy.

That’s why I wanted to do it, so I’ll keep doing it. For 28 more days. And probably more.

 

I’m using the hash tag #30daysstraight on Twitter and Instagram if you want to follow along. As well, another friend has joined in starting today, and if you want to try this too I would love to hear about it. 

No Rest for the Wicked

When I put “get some form of exercise for 30 days straight” on my life list I didn’t expect anyone to call me on it. I guess that’s what happens when you post something like that on the Internet.

I originally put this on my list because I thought it would be a fun challenge, not necessarily because I needed the push. I was pretty active – I ran regularly for several years and, even after thinking I’d die doing my first 10K, actually completed three half-marathons.

I was active during my first pregnancy and after I had my first baby too. And then less so when I went back to work after my year of maternity leave. Then last January I got pregnant with my second, did two workouts after which I was unbelievably sick, and barely got my heart going again for nine months.

That second baby is now almost three months old, and it’s almost January. What that really means is that it’s the season of baking and chocolate and indulgence, and my mid-section is feeling it. So I signed myself up for a couple of classes in January and figured I’d do my best to get active again.

retro exercise album

And then I got a text from a friend. “Number 52! You and me and January!!”

I had no idea what she was talking about, and she wouldn’t tell. “You’re smart – you’ll figure it out,” was her response to my “huh?” reply.

I did figure it out. Number 52: get some form of exercise for 30 days straight. So we’re on. And she’s already sending me ideas and questions like, “What do you think is most likely to derail you?” and “Do you want to create an exercise plan or do you want to wing it?” Apparently I’m going to have to be accountable for this…

Just a few more days to get psyched up for this. Wish me luck.