Thursday, August 21, 2014

One Step at a Time: Moving Forward, Positive Focus, and Trust

Something new we are starting on our family wall.  

Yesterday was one of those end of summer days where I felt overwhelmed with stuff.  Everything I did or thought felt heavy.  Cloudy.  Scattered.  I couldn't focus on anything without feeling like something else was calling my attention.  It was one of those moments where I realized I'm trying to do a whole lot of everything PERFECT and because of that, I wasn't able to do much of anything at all.  I could see so many loose strings, started projects, and things that felt out of my control. So far from perfect.   That's just it, trying so hard for perfect control ends up leading to a mess of crazy.

Let something go Amanda.
You can't control everything.
One step at a time.
You're too hard on yourself.

Yes, I knew all the things I should be saying to myself but nothing seemed to be working to drag me out of this swirling overwhelming place of STUCK.  I tried writing things down and letting them go.  I tried some yoga.  Still, a head full of words, lists, questions, what-ifs, and all the things I should be doing better.

I know this place.  The end of summer.  My kids are fighting like crazy.  The house is a mess with the general rush of little people that come with this house being the place where all the kids play.  My running mileage and endorphins are way lower than the winter and spring months when I'm training for something.  It's a place I find myself every year where I crave structure and routine and have very little of it!  I desperately want to focus on a few projects I'm working on but I rarely find a long enough stretch of ME time to devote to it. And as with most parents, I've got lists coming out my ears with things to do for school registration, supply lists, registration for sports, things we need for the new house, conversations I need to have with my kids once the dust settles and on and on and on.  Add to this the fact that we just moved across the country and are still getting adjusted to a new house and getting settled in a new community. Oh, and that my husband signed us up to run the Hood to Coast relay this weekend.  This is fun and exciting but still feels a little nuts.  It will be interesting trying to run 20ish miles in a matter of 24 hours when 20 miles has been my top weekly mileage for the last months.  It will hurt oh so good.  Or bad.

After making a list of all the things I want to accomplish over the next week or two, I sat there in my living room wondering where to start.  In lieu of a run (my usual way to clear my head), I grabbed my dusty journal and some pens and took the whole gaggle of  kids (neighbors, friends, my own...)  to the park.  In the midst of playground noise and a constant chorus of "Mom, watch this!"  I flipped through the pages of my notes to myself and I let everything out in writing.  I wrote on all the things I was feeling heavy about first. That seemed to help me get to the things I was feeling good about.  Why hadn't I done this earlier?!  It always works.

My mind went back to words I'd read earlier in an article by Kristen Armstrong (always love her writing when I remember to read it) that helped me continue climbing out of my stuck mode:

There is a vast difference between giving up and letting go.

Yes! Letting go of things. Letting go of control.  Letting go of outcomes when I'm at a point where I really can't do too much more (other than pointless worry).   I'm definitely at a place (again) where I need to just let go and TRUST. Trust that things will work out.  Trust that I'm making the right decisions about the schools I'm choosing for my kids. Trust that if I just remember to take small steps and start where I am with some big dreams, I will move closer to where I want to be.

Letting go and Trust.  Two big things for me.  I wrote on this on and off between pushing swings, breaking up a few sibling spats, and stopping to notice a few bar tricks.  What I wrote for my intentions is nothing I haven't written on before but surely messages I still need to hear.  I keep coming back to these  things:

Focus on what I'm doing WELL.  It's so easy for me to get wrapped up in all the things I'm not feeling in control about.  There are so many things I want to be better at.  I'm constantly seeing things I'm letting slip or that I'm not able to get to right away.  As a mother, this can be especially overwhelming.  It's a downward spiral if I start looking too closely at the things I'm not doing instead of focusing on the things I am doing.  There is so much that I'm doing well right now even if there's a long list of things I feel like I'm failing at.  Focusing on the positive things is surely more powerful and energizing than focusing on the things I'm struggling with.  And when I do focus on the things I'm doing well, those things tend to happen MORE and MORE and everything else starts falling into place.

After I was done writing in my journal, this note-to-self (from many weeks ago) fell out onto the ground.  I'm sure I'll come back to this one again and again.  

Positive attitude. I set the stage for my family with my attitude.  When I have a positive attitude and bring attention to the positive things, everyone else starts focusing on more of the positive too!  This is especially true with my kids' behavior.  Noticing the things they are doing well works so much better for a positive environment than griping all day about the things I don't like.

Let Go and Trust.  There are so many things right now that I just need to let go of and trust that things will work out the way they should.  This is especially true with decisions I'm making for my kids in regards to school, sports, classes, etc.  I've done what I can, researched programs, and made my decisions.  Now I have to stop worrying and second guessing and let them go...let it go....TRUST.

Small Steps.  It is typical for me to get super inspired about something and start off with these huge leaps.  I run fast towards my visions and get so excited but then when things get blurry with details, I can get too overwhelmed with trying to see all the way to the end.  I forget that all I need to do is take one step at a time and keep moving forward.  We don't always have to see the end results or know exactly how we will get there in order to keep going.  I'm not turning back now.  I'm determined to take one step at a time.

Start Where I AM.  There's always a starting point with any goal.  Starting where we are allows us to do just that...START!  So often I think we see these things we want to do but think we need to have so many other things all sorted out before we can start.  Not true.  Start.  Starting where we are (right now) means that we start and starting means we are moving forward.  Dear Amanda: Stop waiting on perfect and simply move forward.  Sometimes we start with "Good Enough" and that's better than never starting at all because we were stopped by the trap of perfection.  The following was from my journal many weeks ago when I started on something I'd been thinking about for some time:

Here's to making this a great weekend, enjoying the last stretch of summer, and doing what I can with what I have RIGHT NOW!  Ah, what a difference it makes to shift our perspective from "how much more I want to do" to "how much I AM doing well right now!"


  1. I know that you have so many things you do well!!!
    Have a great time running this weekend - fun that you will be with your husband for the relay.
    I love that part about taking the first step, keeping with both feet and letting go of perfection!!!

    1. Thank you Kim! Perfection will never happen so I don't know why I keep chasing it. So much happens when we just start today with what we have. Good to hear from you!

  2. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown- have you read it? My wife loved it! Brene Brown is an amazing person to read and listen to (I haven't read her yet, but have heard/ seen podcasts- check her out!!).

    We have a similar wall where we painted with water colors- quotes, power words, things we love- in our kitchen. It's spreading into my classroom, and my wife is turning it into a creatives 'finding you' retreat :)