Updated: May 13, 2018
Last weekend I stayed here:
And it was on Saturday morning, on a glorious beach walk all by myself, feeling completely inspired by life in general, that I jotted down a list of the things that seemed to have led me to this great flow of energy.
Before I share the ingredients, here’s the background leading up to the weekend…
As I mentioned in my last post, I recently completed a Refresh nutrition program, led by the fabulous Katie Hammill. Katie partnered with Jacksonville Stroller Strength to deliver the nutritional component of an 8-week fitness challenge. I’ve mentioned my love for JSS on my blog in the past- it’s a boot camp style workout for Moms in a local park where you can bring your little people- whether they are actually in strollers or running around on playgrounds. I started working out with this group of ladies 8 weeks after Oliver was born. I had a wedding dress to fit into two months later and really needed a strong workout regimen.
And two months later, I was 100% back to pre-pregnancy weight and feeling strong, largely thanks to these great workouts and the support and inspiration from the other mommas. Nearly a year and a half later, I still look to this group for support in so many ways.
I especially love the challenges we have each spring and fall. We recently completed our Spring 2018 Challenge. This is how it works: They divide us into teams. We kick it off with an initial testing day, where we are tested on 4 different exercises as well as a timed mile. We weigh-in and collect measurements. We then set individual goals for the challenge- nutritional, physical and personal. And we receive a 2-month calendar which has designated team challenge days and other activities, such as fitness or nutrition-related talks, outdoor family activities, and group runs. You get points for attending classes and activities. Additionally, we log all of our food and had the option to participate in the Refresh program. Each team receives a shared logging spreadsheet, where we can share meal ideas, comment and encourage each other. At the end of the 8 weeks, we have a final testing day, where we repeat all of the exercises, run our mile and weigh in and measure again. All results are recorded. As a life coach, you know I just love this type of thing and I think it's a great forum for jump starting new habits.
The program culminates in a big finale party, complete with an awards ceremony for all of the challenge winners and MVPs. We partner with local businesses who donate fabulous prizes, which is a great way to stay connected to our community. The spring challenge also includes an optional beach getaway weekend. Participants can either choose to just come to the champagne brunch finale party at the beach house, or stay the whole weekend.
When the group initially posted about the beach house, my automatic assumption was that it would be too much to go. A lot to ask of Max. And lots of other little excuses. But one day, someone re-posted the photo above, reminding us there was still space at the house. And I realized I needed to go. Max said yes to Oliver-duty without hesitation, insisting I go, and I signed up.
So, last weekend, I went. And it was great. As a former event planner, I am always impressed when things are well organized. And this weekend was set up to make everything seamless for us. The house was right on the ocean, with expansive views. All meals were catered by a local catering group. Such a treat. We had 15 women spend the night. And 30 attended the festive brunch finale party on Saturday. Everyone dressed up – which only happens occasionally in most of our daily lives at this stage. Afterwards, there were 3 massage therapists who set up their tables on the upstairs balcony overlooking the ocean and we could each sign up for a massage.
Sunday, a yoga instructor showed up for morning beach yoga. And there was even a sign-up sheet for drinks, snacks, etc so the house was well stocked throughout. All for a completely reasonable price. Attending something like this that was already structured and where all details had already been attended to was so refreshing and enjoyable.
On Saturday morning, I grabbed my phone and earbuds and ventured out for a solo walk. Conditions couldn’t have been better. Sunshine, but with a cool breeze. Clear blue skies. Plenty of space for walking along the beach. Uncrowded, with just a few other walkers coming and going. I took a deep breath- and just walked. With nowhere to be, nothing to rush off to next and the entire day of pleasure laid out ahead of me, I felt this sense of contentment. It opened up space for inspiration and I started to think about life, future, ideas, etc. but all cradled in a feeling of gratitude.
I was also listening to one of my favorite new podcasts (Bookish by Sonya Walger; I recommend it for other book lovers like me!) It was an episode where Sonya interviews actress Felicity Huffman about the 5 books that changed her life. And one of the things Felicity said in the interview jumped out at me. She said one of the books taught her to, “Look forward with delight.” So simple. Yet, I realized that I tend to look forward with anxiety, worry or fear. It was a message that hit me at the right time and inspired me.
I returned from the walk feeling lighter than I had in a while. Why was it so powerful, I wondered to myself. And I realized that, while the walk itself was delightful, there was actually a series of things leading up to the morning that had been catalysts for this experience. So I captured them in my notes and thought I’d share with the “recipe for inspiration” I came up with and see if perhaps it might be applicable to other experiences.
My Recipe for Inspiration:
1. Listen to what your body tells you that you need
I’m glad I followed my instincts in going away for the weekend. To have two days away is rare right now, so my tendency is to over-analyze and consider endless options for how to use this time. But I intuitively knew I needed something easy that didn’t require a lot of planning, was not too far away, was very relaxing, ideally beach-related and where I could find camaraderie with others that is often missing in my current work-from-home lifestyle.
So how do we know what we need? As I often tell my clients, move towards things that feel peaceful and question things that bring resistance. If, when you think about whether or not to do something- whether it’s going on a trip, taking a new job, making a big move or just what to do this weekend, consider how an option makes you feel. Do you sort of feel a sensation of calm or relief? Or does it immediately make you feel tense, even if you’re not certain why? Gravitate towards the things that make you just feel like you are exhaling or that feel comforting, even if you’re surprised by it. And, if you’re feeling resistance, get curious about it and ask yourself what about it is feeling heavy. This is just another way to trust our intuition over our egos. Or rather to let the truest, wisest part of ourselves call the shots.
2. Clarify where you’re growth is coming from at the moment
One of my very favorite quotes is “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” by Zora Neale Hurston. We can’t expect to always be growing in the same areas, at the same rate or in the same way as we did in the past. Yet, as humans, we are always seeking some type of momentum in order to feel fulfillment. Once we identify what we are feeling drawn to by following the step above, we can determine what growth looks like right now.
For me, while I’ve had plenty of questions answered in the past few years that are related to monumental life milestones, there are new ones that have popped up- in both personal and professional endeavors. And when I really listened to myself a few months ago, I realized that at this particular moment I wanted to grow in health & wellness, to feel better physically, to better understand how to fuel and treat my body as I get a little bit older and what it needs to thrive. Ultimately, I knew this growth would make me feel good in a way that creates positive outcomes in other areas of my life. Once I accepted that what I needed most right now was to feel healthy, have more energy and feel stronger physically, I followed opportunities – like the nutrition program and fitness challenge – that aligned with those needs. I didn’t disregard all of the other things, but gave myself permission to donate time and energy to this part of self that felt a bit on empty. Maybe you’re in a similar place or maybe you feel more drawn to just some quiet space to think. Or perhaps it’s the opposite- you feel the need for increased socialization to draw your energy from others. Or a shift in what you are doing at work or at home. If you think about it right now, what comes up on ‘low’?
3. Find your people in this season
I made a huge career shift and moved to a new city not long before becoming a new parent. And I miss my friends from my past lives so much. Now scattered all over the world, I wish I could just gather them all up into one cute little village, where we could go about our lives as happy neighbors. But one of the beautiful things about life is the varying paths we take, the choices, the change and the evolution. People come into our lives, sometimes only for a season, sometimes for longer, but we flow with the friendships as we flow with life. Ironically, when I woke up on Saturday, I had a message from one of my best friends. She sent a photo of her and another best friend of mine from the night before (whom I had introduced her to), out together in NYC. My first feeling was utter FOMO. But then I course-corrected. My season of life right now is not living in a cool apartment in New York, meeting up with girlfriends all the time. Some days that makes me wistful. But I love so many things about this season too.
Mom groups used to feel like a foreign country to me, something I only saw close up in movies and TV shows. It has taken me a while to not feel like an imposter in the land of strollers and toddlers. But I think I am finally feeling like a member. And I can connect with other women in my season who just get it. We can talk about the new foreign language I’ve acquired around things like how to be productive around nap times, how to deal with physical changes that come with childbirth, the best VPK options and every other experience, recommendation or insight that needs sharing at the moment. It’s interesting to me how Moms can be such different types of people and have completely different experiences leading up to parenthood, but suddenly we seem to have everything in the world in common. And I've been in awe of how Moms are the fiercest supporters of one another. It’s actually a pretty lovely club.
4. Create an experience that fills you up
I’m a huge fan of spending money on experiences over things. I’ve always felt a bit restless when the months ahead look like blank canvases and don’t include any remarkable points of interest. Becoming a work-from-home Mom has made it all the more important for me to create structure and plan ahead for things that are fun, fulfilling and replenishing. Every couple of months I find the need to plan something that feels significant, whatever that may be for me at the moment. It doesn't have to be a big trip or something expensive, but just something that feels special and out of the ordinary.
5. Anticipate the experience as it approaches
Half of the fun of an experience is looking forward to it. The countdown. The sense that something is happening in the future. For this trip, the girls created a Facebook group with photos of the beach house, the sign up list, planning info and a space where we could all comment leading up to the trip. Every time I saw photos of the view, I pictured myself there and felt an instant boost, even though it may have been days or weeks away.
6. Then relish it
I used to spend a large part of my time away being bummed that an experience would soon be over or wishing for more or thinking about what’s next. I’ve recently learned how to just enjoy something and let it be what it is, to fully be in the moment and allow myself to experience pleasure. Savoring moments instead of wishing they were longer is a key part of this recipe.
We are always changing and evolving, even if sometimes it’s more subtle change than others. Being in tune to even the subtleties and maybe going through this little checklist from time to time can help you stay aligned and even inspired. And perhaps it will motivate you to collect experiences that help you stay inspired as you go. Next up for me- planning a weekend up to NYC, to visit those friends for a night on the town and to soak in the culture and energy one of my favorite cities. That feels like the next right thing. And I look forward with delight.
In summary, this recipe is part acceptance of where you are in this season, part intuitive understanding of what currently lights you up and part intentional creation and enjoyment of experiences.
Knowing seasons change and that you will likely find yourself in a different era in the future- perhaps when you least expect it – makes life exciting. Keep flowing with the currents instead of paddling upstream and see where it leads you.
I will leave you with these excerpts from Tara Mohr’s writing on motherhood. I loved it when I first read it as I was just entering motherhood because it gave me a certain sense of comfort for what was ahead and, now that I am closer in my life to where she was when she wrote these words, I feel a sense of understanding. I hope those of you who are in similar places enjoy. And, if you’re not, maybe the concept of being reorganized by a life transition still resonates with you somehow.
"On the one hand, I am still being rewoven, reorganized by motherhood. On the other hand, something has settled. The feeling of turmoil around that reorganization has quieted. The feeling of the old me being pulled and kneaded into something new has diminished. The weather in my emotional and mental sky feels less foggy, more serene and consistent. And WE ARE ALL SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT now. Hallelujah….
…It was a few years of crossing a long bridge to get here, but now I’m here, on the other side: a mother. A parent. One who has in some strange way been removed from the center of the circle, to become one who nourishes the circle, who stands shoulder to shoulder with others, along the perimeter, to give life to what is now being grown in the center.
Still me but a different me…
…I could still cry at some of what has been lost. Even in this moment of gratitude for what is, I could cry about it. Not sadness exactly, just change, just emotion, just the intensity of life.
But mostly I feel like watching, watching all the beauty that is here before me now."
- Tara Mohr, author of Playing Big