Move Ahead With Grace.

Well, it’s January 9th.

Are you a changed person yet? Have you overhauled your life and completely changed the direction of your sails? I haven’t. In fact, I’m still floating in the ocean trying to decide which course to take.  I’m studying the paths that lay ahead, charting where I want to end up, and the storms that may lay inbetween.

The New Year is an odd time for me. I feel motivated but also discouraged. I feel laden with expectation to reinvent myself and become anew. But, January 1st for all intents and purposes is a manmade day on the calendar. It’s not magical and, to be honest, neither are you. You can’t wake up a new person, you can’t wake up 10 pounds thinner, or more organized. But, you can wake up more present, and more intentional in how you treat yourself. So, this year instead of racing to a January 1st laundry list of resolutions I’m giving myself the gift of time. Time to plot my course, make amends with myself for unresolved resolutions, and to be ok with the journey into self-love and discovery.

This past weekend I set off on a mission to indulge myself with a little time to reflect. My husband gave me a trip to Lake Austin Spa for Christmas which felt more like a cosmic gift than a Christmas gift. It seemed to be written in the stars for me to step away from everything and invest in myself. It was time for me to be alone and reset.

IMG_9561It is safe to say I receive my loudest messages from the universe when I internalize and unplug. As I let myself become entranced with the calm, uninterrupted flow of the water in the lake I kept hearing the word GRACE. Water is the most graceful element to me-the way it rolls in and out, flows with ease and moves in tandem with the elements around it. Sure it surges and breaks along the shore because nothing is perfect, but the energy of water is calm and understanding.

This inspired me to reset my way of thinking about resolutions. Instead of setting bullet point resolutions, I chose to use the word GRACE as an acronym for a softer approach to traditional resolutions.

 

GRACE

Be patient and kind with yourself. Ultimately, making effective behavioral changes results from a change in how we think about ourselves. Everything begins with the self, so be kind. Don’t let resolutions be an excuse for negative self-talk.

There are plenty of times where I have witnessed my negative self-talk taking over my daily life. I had to bring awareness to this bad habit and squash it. You become what you think, and telling yourself you aren’t good enough leads to a downward spiral of insecurity and coping behaviors that don’t behoove us.  No matter what space you are in, in life, you are enough. You are powerful and full of purpose.

 

REFLECTION

I know there is so much talk out there about not living in the past, and as much as I believe this to be true, I do, however, find it helpful to reflect on the past year as I start a new one. I like to look back on my year and think about what I want to bring with me and what I want to release.

A healthy amount of reflection leads to more awareness and understanding of oneself and where we want to go. It’s also a good time to take stock and get curious about bad behaviors or habits that have formed, or unhealthy dynamics that have crept into our relationships. Don’t live in reflection- just visit, take notes and leave. Be accountable for yourself- you can only grow by doing the self work. Making peace with it all, including making peace with not being at peace, will bring out the best in you.

 

ACCEPTANCE

This is a hard one. Accepting WHAT IS- not what should be or what could be is a lifelong journey.  As humans we are wired to want more -to want new -to want what the other has, but honestly, that’s all an illusion. For example, I found myself on Pinterest the other day skimming images of Joanna Gaines’ latest renovation project saying to myself.. ‘I think I want her life. She has the perfect hair, perfect family and perfect kitchen’. But then I reminded myself that I have no idea what’s she’s up against, or what the true realities of her life are. I’m only seeing the curated Joanna.

After I came out of my Joanna haze, I slowly got out of bed and walked into my living room to find that my adorable dog had taken a value sized dump under our Christmas tree (that I have yet to take down). As I was picking up the mess, my daughter runs downstairs without a shirt on- she is in a “I want to be naked all the time” phase which is posing to be an issue that I am currently refusing to deal with. In an attempt to remain calm and rational, I nicely ask her to put a shirt on. She walked right past me and very bluntly said, “NO!” I then walked into our TV room to find half a dozen Whataburger wrappers strewn across my floor. You see, my son has a very common teenage disorder- it’s called ‘I cannot pick up after myself,’ which inhibits the use of all limbs and common sense. It’s very a serious condition but not life threatening…yet.

I very quickly went from a fantasy vision to being slapped in the face with my own reality- but I reminded myself that this is only a moment in time, not a forever. And, I’m going to guess that with 4 kids (going on 5) Joanna has a few of these days herself.  Being okay and loving exactly where you are IS what ultimately gets you closer to your resolution goals or something better.

 

CAREFUL EDITING

As I mentioned, I think it is just as important to assign what needs to go as it is what needs to stay. It’s healthy to shed old ways of thinking or doing that no longer serve you. Letting go of unrealistic expectations can propel you forward.

I did a little editing in 2017 when I pulled back on my yoga practice. I love yoga and it has helped me find that peace and equanimity that I so desire. However, I started to notice that I was putting pressure on myself to do more and be more in my yoga sessions, which started to take the joy out of it for me. I came to the awareness that the pressure I was putting on myself to be better at yoga was in exact contradiction to why I started doing yoga in the first place. I also had the realization that I was falling into this type of thinking and behavior in other areas of my life-  primarily my career. I am only one human being, and only capable of so much so I had to force myself to release unrealistic expectations and only commit to what is reasonable so that I can give it my whole heart. I am not an advanced yogini or a pantsuit business tycoon- I am a peaceful warrior in all aspects of my life.  Release the pressure to perform- we are our best selves when we are free. 

 

EMBRACE WHAT’S WORKING

I like to think of the final step as a way to simply embrace what’s already working and begin building on those things moving forward. So after you given yourself GraceReflected on where you were and where you want to be, Accepted your present reality, and Carefully edited what no longer serves you, you can now fully Embrace what’s working and build on it.  Acknowledging the good that you have already done this past year and exploring where that can take you- rather than pressuring yourself to become a completely new person- feels more doable, harmonious and hopeful.  Embrace the ‘you’ that you have worked so hard to become. Life is a series of rebirths and every ‘you’ is worth celebrating. 

 

I truly believe this year will be full of triumph and magic for all of us. If we give ourselves grace, boundaries, and time we will learn to gently go with the flow. We may crash along the shore, but we will make waves of peace and harmony as we journey through a new year with self-love and respect.

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Wishing you a year of grace,

Elaine

Let’s Talk Helicoptering

Guys-
I was sent this video about six months ago, and with the topic of motherhood and parenting this month on the blog, I thought it appropriate to bring it out into the conversation. It features Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of the book How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success who was in town speaking at St. John’s School here in Houston.

And, wow.

Lythcott-Haims is a former Dean of Freshman at Stanford University. You will not believe the stories she tells involving the level of involvement some college parents invest in their kid’s lives. She shares a very unique perspective in that she was witness to the evolution of “helicoptering” which she says began early to mid 1990s, when she and her colleagues were highly amused and perplexed by, for example, parents selecting their kids’ college course load. Fast forward to today and this overparenting is the norm. Additionally, as a parent she’s squarely in it and admits to succumbing to it.

Here she is giving a Tedx talk to an audience of high school students, an abbreviated version of the link above which is tailored to parents.

Listening to Lythcott-Haims speak is eye-opening to say the least. As I listened, I kept finding myself thinking about my own childhood. What happened to the days when your mother said things like “Be home before dark.”  and “If you are bored, go play outside with the garden hose or use your imagination.”  OR “Please wear shoes today.”

Ah, the gift of simpler times. Now, mind you — I grew up in a sprawling suburbia outside of Houston, Texas in the 70s and 80s. It was an emerging mecca of half dirt roads and half civilization. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I guess the reasons are so vast and complicated as to how we, as parents,  have gotten to be where we are today, but one thing is for sure — our kids have lost their ability to just be kids. And this, more than anything else, makes me sad.

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