Minimal Monday

Just as we feel better when we clean up our outer environment, so too do we feel good when we clean up shop in our bodies. I am not typically one to follow a very specific diet or a fad, but I have fallen in love with intermittent fasting. Even without COVID-19 restrictions, I write from home, I spend a lot of time at home, and having 24-7 access to my kitchen can lead to an unstructured, cluttered eating routine (hello grazing!) Intermittent fasting provides some welcomed structure to my daily eating without unnecessary complication or rigidity.

Intermittent fasting is not a diet at all, but rather an eating style that involves alternating between periods of eating and fasting. There is plenty of information on the benefits of intermittent fasting and I encourage you to do your own research if you are interested, or consult your doctor if you have any medical concerns, but in a nutshell, IF has amazing health benefits, especially brain health which of course is connected to overall health. If you follow a reasonably healthy, whole-foods eating plan of your choice while also practicing intermittent fasting, you are likely to start feeling the benefits pretty quickly.

We all fast at night while we sleep, and the time-restricted intermittent fasting I now follow is simply a matter of lengthening the fasting window and shortening the eating window. I follow the 16:8 window (fasting for sixteen hours & eating for eight) because I am able to consistently maintain this without feeling like I am suffering, while still gaining the benefits of feeling lighter, clearer, and just overall good.

On a typical day I have a nutritious brunch at ten o’clock in the morning, a decent sized snack mid-day (usually a healthy smoothie or fruit and nuts), and a filling supper by six o’clock in the evening. Then I close my kitchen for the night and repeat the same thing the next day, eating sixteen hours later. I am an early to bed kind of person, but people who stay up late and like to eat a later dinner, could follow the 16:8 window by having their last meal around eight o’clock in the evening and eat their first meal at noon the next day. If 16:8 feels too restrictive, you could try 14:10. Some people are able to do a 18:6 window, and they may benefit greatly, but I don’t think I could stick to that. 16:8 seems to be my sweet spot.

This was just a minimal amount of information on intermittent fasting, and I will likely continue the conversation on another Minimal Monday as I continue to learn and experience this eating lifestyle.

Happy Monday!

Minimal Monday

Somewhere in Germany, a young man named Rahul Yadav, from India, is pursuing his PhD in engineering while his heart is also very much in the social sciences. His new podcast, Q-T.A.L.K.S, is his own project and unique contribution to society. Q-T.A.L.K.S stands for Quest for The Adventure of Learning and Knowing through Stories. I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Rahul on the topic of my book, The Uncluttered Mother.

Here is the episode: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1898681/10124657-episode-08-diving-into-parenting-with-an-intuitive-mom.js?container_id=buzzsprout-player-10124657&player=small

Happy Monday!

Minimal Monday

Several years ago, I worked at a college as an academic coach. My students needed assistance with organizing their workload, breaking down large assignments into logical small steps, making lists and recording important dates in their academic agendas. Sometimes I would help them with assignments such as writing papers, but mostly my job was to help them with executive functioning skills and meeting goals.

Their parents were paying the college a premium price for this coaching, and for some of them it worked very well. But for many others, there was a glaring problem that was getting in the way of their success.

The goals weren’t theirs.

One particular student comes to mind (though there were several). He had wanted to go to a film school in California with his best friend.  He was a kid who did not make friends easily and this friendship was important to him. They shared a passion and he lit up when talking about his dream. His friend went off alone to this California school and my student talked about it with a  mix of excitement, longing, and resignation. His parents wanted him to go the more practical route of this traditional school and so here he was. Unmotivated. Sad. Bored.  No matter how detailed we made his agenda, no matter how much encouragement and perfect to-do lists I gave him, he would return to our next session with very little crossed off his list. He would make the least amount of progress towards “his goals”, and carry the same sad look in his eyes. There was no joy, no energy, no flow. The most alive I had seen him was the day we talked about what he really wanted to be doing.

Isn’t it true for all of us that working toward someone else’s goal is like swimming upstream? A goal we think we should go after, rather than the thing that our heart is calling us to try may lead to some success, but at what cost? And more importantly than what we are doing, is who we are becoming while doing that. Are we meeting challenges with optimism and courage, growing and changing, or are we on automatic pilot to attain the goals that we don’t even recall truly having a longing for in the first place?

My student’s parents were well intentioned and I certainly understand the fear and desires of a parent. It is scary to let go of control and honor our own or our child’s heart desires. But we have a finite amount of time on this earth, and our desires, curiosities, and interests are seeds planted within us like precious breadcrumbs leading us along our journey. How many of us jumped on a path that was never our own?

The more we can silence the fears, the distractions, and the doubts, the clearer the path becomes.

Minimal Monday

 I struggle with digital clutter.  Every now and then I get a handle on it by deleting all remaining emails and unsubscribing to a few things. I spend a lot of my writing time at the computer and when I am finished, I don’t want to spend more time on digital decluttering tasks. But I know that part of the answer lies in keeping up with it; in not letting my digital life get out of control to begin with.

 I am embarrassed to say how many emails I currently have in my inbox.  The sheer volume is simply because I have not prioritized keeping my online quarters clean and manageable.  In short, I’ve been a digital slob.

There is a lot of good content online these days and I’ve fallen into the trap of thinking I can keep up with a lot of it. But in reality, like most of us, I have limited time each day to read, listen to, or engage in others’ online work, no matter how enticing.   

The good news that I keep returning to again and again is this: The most important voice we will ever listen to is our own. A thousand subscriptions to newsletters, email updates or any other fabulous content will never, ever be enough if we can’t hear our own voice. Too many distractions, too much input, will crowd out our own intuition. Clutter – even the good kind- will dilute our own knowingness until it fades far into the background of all the other people’s voices and words and suggestions and opinions that we have hoarded.

Minimal Monday

One area of simplifying and decluttering that I think has a big payoff is food and kitchen, so I will definitely visit this topic more than once and in many different ways.

What we eat and how we manage meal planning has such an effect on our energy! Better energy equals more creativity, wellness, peace and abundance. I’ll take more of that, please.

Today I went going through all of my cookbooks, choosing which ones to keep, and donating a few others. The ones I hung on to tell some sort of story, or were gifts, or simply have content that I love. For instance, The Cancer Fighting Kitchen was a gift from a thoughtful aunt when my husband was going through cancer treatments. Simply in Season, Buddha Bowls and Oh She Glows Every Day are some other favorites.

The next step I took is going to sound tedious, and I am sure it is not for everyone, but I decided that this effort today will simplify things a bit in the kitchen forevermore.

I browsed through my chosen cookbooks, jotting down the titles of several appealing recipes along with the book and page numbers of where to find them. This has brought my attention to several recipes I had overlooked in the past and now want to try. I will file this “master list” in a small binder to be kept in my pantry.

***

One more idea. This one is for when you need to use up a few ingredients in your kitchen and aren’t sure what to cook. I simply google the ingredients I want to use, followed by the word “recipe” and voila. Good ole Google gives me some options.

Minimal Monday

Happy 2022!  I am late to the party, I know. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want this year and it just comes back to this:  I want to keep simplifying my life in ways that support living according to my top priorities. I think we all want this to some extent, don’t we?

My top priorities continue to be health, family and writing. It was never difficult for me to narrow down what I value most to just three areas, but these three encompass a lot. For instance, “health” includes physical, mental, and spiritual wellness. “Family” includes strong relationships with multiple VIP members. And “writing” is code for completing my memoir, continuing to share my nonfiction title, The Uncluttered Mother, and seeking out various speaking opportunities. In addition, my writing life includes a lot of reading, some of which I will share in my blog posts.

I am so happy that you are along for the ride with me in 2022. I know that you have your own top priorities as well as your own challenges in honoring them.  I really think this is a universal desire – to do more of what we value and less of what we don’t – because in doing so, we feel more like our unique, creative selves. While living life on our own terms, we have more to offer the world that is authentically generous.

All of this is to say that in 2022 my blog posts will be called “Minimal Monday” and each week I will share one thing that I am doing to increase creativity, energy, and peace. Like The Uncluttered Mother‘s subtitle, I will finding more ways to Free Up Your Space, Mind & Heart.  In keeping with the minimal theme, I will keep my posts to a minimum – nothing too lengthy – just one simple idea at a time to nudge us into manifesting the lives we desire.

Are you in?

I will see you next Monday.

Life is complex, but you are simply divine.

December News

Happy December! I hope this season fills you with far more peace than stress, more healing than chaos, more open spaces for dreaming, breathing, being.

An excerpt from my book The Uncluttered Mother is available in the December 2021 issue of BaystateParent Magazine. If you are looking to simplify your holidays, you will enjoy “Have Yourself a Mediocre Holiday”. You can also read it here: https://www.baystateparent.com/story/lifestyle/family/2021/12/02/have-yourself-mediocre-holiday/8572493002/

If you want the whole book, The Uncluttered Mother is available as an apple ebook and ibook:

https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-uncluttered-mother/id1593686311?ls=1

And of course, on Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/0875169163/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_NF90YHKDCJ2K3WSGB0VF

If you enjoy this book, please consider leaving me a review! It would be greatly appreciated. I want to share my book with hardworking, overwhelmed moms, far and wide. Reviews are an important part of making this happen. Thank you!

Review here: http://www.amazon.com/review/create-review?&asin=0875169163

The Uncluttered Mother

I can hardly wait to share my new book with you! It is being released by Devorss & Company in September, and is available now for preorder almost everywhere books are sold.

A few fall author event dates to share, mostly outdoors:

*9/25/21 @10:30 am Douglas MA Orchard & Farm at the pavilion

*9/26/21 @1-3pm Westboro, MA Tatnuck Bookseller

* 9/29/21 @2-6pm Grafton Farmer’s Market Providence Rd.

*10/10/21 @2pm Hardwick, MA Vineyard & Winery

Relevance

In the midst of a pandemic I get my first book contract and let the cognitive dissonance settle in.  I am elated!  It is meaningless! By the time the book is published, will the words I’ve written even matter?  In a world full of sickness and chaos, is art even relevant?

My husband and I go away to celebrate our 33rd anniversary.  He is reluctant in these times, but I’ve found us a private spot on Cape Cod, we pack a bag, some food, and we go.  On the drive down I am describing the adorable guest house I have secured for us. I am happy to escape the everydayness of our lives, the news, the impertinence of my writing.  It is called the Sweetest Little Suite, I tell him.

It has probably been renamed The Covid Cabin, he quips.

Don’t make me laugh, I say. There is nowhere to pee.

I know the state of the country, the world for God’s sake, is not funny right now.  It is dark and uncertain, but we need to laugh when we can because the crying will come too, if not for ourselves, for others.

It is freakishly warm for the middle of November, but we don’t see anyone else at the seashore except for maybe a few people sitting so far down the beach they are like large grains of sand, their movement almost imperceptible.

It starts off as a dare, me tempting my husband to jump into the crashing waves, and it ends with both of us running into the ocean, going under.  He disappears first and when he pops up he is shouting for me to hurry before the next wave drags me violently across the sand.  Shrieking, I dive in, my timing more a reflex of panic than any kind of strategy.

When you’ve been married this long, there aren’t many firsts you haven’t met; first home, first child, first move, job loss, illness. We’ve had them all.  But this- today- swimming in the ocean  in the middle of fall- for our November anniversary- this is a new first.

I emerge from the cold, invigorated. The sun warms my skin as it creates glitter across the water.  The reflection is spectacular; there is so much light.  I am insignificant, but at the same time connected to the brilliance of God’s creativity.

Fully present, mind and body in harmony, I take it all in. I see and feel the ocean, the world, as the most amazing work of art.

In this moment, the art is everything.

Writing Through Insomnia

 Another night like this, suddenly wide awake. I don’t exactly feel panicked, my heart is not racing, but I am on high alert. What I am waiting for, I am not sure.

I’ve done all the things: no coffee after 10am. No wine. No electronics in the bedroom.  Exercise. Mediation even. Yet most nights it is the same lately. I can predict before opening my eyes that the clock will read 1:30a.m.  Sometimes 1:20.

My husband reaches out and touches my leg.  He is letting me know he is awake now too. Was I tossing and turning? A middle of the night rendezvous; I resist the urge to speak. He will fall back asleep and there is nothing specific to say, to be anxious about. Well there is, actually. I mean the whole world is anxious now. Shouldn’t it be? I run through my list.  Who shall I focus on this night? Family? The country? Humanity?

I do my yogic breathing. I decide not to waste this time on trying to assign a subject to my insomnia.  Instead, I grab a pillow and notebook and go downstairs to settle on the couch. I may as well write something. Nothing will interrupt me at this hour, nothing outside my own head. The world is asleep, even as it is falling apart.

Not even my to-do list is calling me now. Phone calls to make, writing deadlines, laundry to do. Those are the affairs of daylight and I won’t engage such thoughts. I’ve been invited, against my wishes, but I’m here nonetheless, to do whatever I want in this dark hour. I figure something will happen if I put pen to paper, something to loosen this grip around my heart that is alerting me to I’m -not- sure- what.  I am ready, so ready for whatever is going to happen, even if it is only on the page.

The windows are shut down here and I’m too tired to get up and open them, too busy writing. I am hot as hell now. My hair is getting long – I am not yet ready to venture into a hair salon, even with all the precautions in place. I’ve been snipping the ends of my unruly hair, one curl at a time, with the professional scissors I bought online.  I pull it up on top of my head with the elastic around my wrist.

I’m so hot and so tired, I’m starting to feel nauseous. Tomorrow- which is today, technically- I will see what I’ve written, and if there’s anything worth saving.

I hear my husband upstairs, stirring. He is in the cool air-conditioned room and all of it is suddenly calling me now- the cool room, the soft bed, the husband.

I put down my pen and notebook and leave them on the couch next to the pillow.  I will be back tomorrow night, same time, same place.

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This essay was originally published on Brevity’s nonfiction blog: via Writing Through Insomnia