Minimal Monday

I want to pivot back to the kitchen today and express my love for a clean and organized refrigerator. I know it may sound trivial to some, but if it is true that “how we do one thing is how we do everything”, then I declare our kitchen habits are important.

A simple way to stay on top of refrigerator hygiene is to get in the habit of checking it before every grocery day. The thought of adding more food to a fridge that may have expired items, sticky shelves, or condiment chaos, is unappealing. On the other hand, emptying groceries into a clean and well organized fridge is a pleasure.

If we have tidy fridge habits, we will likely also have tidy pantry habits and organized shopping lists, and sensible meal planning patterns. One small area can have ripple effects in other areas, on peace of mind, time, energy, and health.

Happy Monday!

Minimal Monday

I invite you to try on this belief: Your best, most authentic life and Self are lurking just beneath the clutter and baggage.

If that is true, what is one thing you could do today to excavate what is buried? It could be something big or small; give something away, delegate a task, clear out a closet, throw out the junk food, face the old wound, have the conversation.

What would you do tomorrow and the next day to keep the momentum going? It’s okay if you don’t know what you might find. Sometimes we have to get through some sludge before we feel lighter. Just stay curious and allow the treasure to reveal itself.

Happy Monday!

Minimal Monday

It is amazing to me how our attitude about time can actually change our experience of time.

In his book The Big Leap, psychologist and author Gay Hendricks writes that “Time feels like an ever-present entity, hovering in the background of our lives.”  But to expand time, he explains, we simply need to bring our full consciousness into the present moment.  In this way, we can make time.

Part of what I love about simplifying life is that it leaves more time for what matters most to me. But I had never fully grasped what Hendricks describes as “Einstein time” until I consciously set my mind to it.  One day, while starting to fret about the seeming lack of time for everything that I wanted to get done, I stopped.  I shifted to a belief that I had all the time that I needed.  Then I set about doing one thing, then the next and the next, mindfully.

I was present and relaxed that whole day and everything that I wanted done got done.  My shift in attitude had made a remarkable difference.

Minimal Monday

I think that as humans we are more willing to change something when it becomes too uncomfortable not to. This could be a habit, a relationship, an occupation; anything we have accepted as ‘good enough’ in the past.

Signs will have been there, perhaps for a long time, that something is amiss, inauthentic, or just plain not right for us. But it seems to me that it will often require reaching a painful threshold before we take action, speak up, change, set new goals or let go.

Life is so much simpler if we pay attention to the signs. We act sooner, waste less time and feel more in alignment to our true selves. Yet is takes courage too.

Minimal Monday

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about creating structure in my life around certain goals and habits. If you missed that post, you can read it here: https://danalaquidara.com/2022/04/18/minimal-monday-10/

As of yesterday, I added some much-needed structure around finishing up my memoir. I am in the editing stages of my memoir, but have gotten stuck there for so long, I had to do something different.

I suspect the only one to take longer than me to finish writing a book is Joy Imboden Overstreet. I learned through the #amwriting podcast that she ended forty years of procrastination when she finally published her book, The Cherry Pie Paradox last year.   Yes, you read that right; forty years! Joy is in her eighties and described the great sense of relief she felt once she did it. Can you imagine? I can.

So to try and end my own procrastination, I joined a May Day Facebook group in which we authors will check in with each other every Monday for the month of May. It won’t be as motivating as hiring a book coach like Joy did, but it will help.

So, with the loose but added structure of my May Day accountability group, my task at hand for the month of May is to make progress every single weekday, whether I feel like it or not.  Clear and simple, day by day, I am committed to moving forward. I just know I meant to have my memoir out into the world before I am eighty.

Minimal Monday

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by the lovely Peggie Kirkland of Momma’s Motivational Messages podcast. You can learn a bit about Peggie’s podcast here: https://www.mommasmotivationalmessages.com/about/

And here is a link to listen to the episode I was part of, in which we discussed spring cleaning our environment and our lives: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1411078/10462466-how-clutter-is-preventing-you-from-living-your-best-life-with-dana-laquidara.mp3?download=true

Happy Monday!

Minimal Monday

This is the day of the Boston Marathon, a race that takes place every year on Patriots Day in Massachusetts.  I grew up just down the street from the start of the race, so it was tradition to see the runners off every third Monday of April. In later years, both of my sisters ran the race, along with an uncle, a niece and a handful of other people I know.

A half marathon is definitely my limit for running, and when I ran The Old Port Half Marathon in Portland, Maine last fall, I gained valuable insight. When my youngest daughter enthusiastically suggested I join her in the race, I went with my very first instinct which was to grab the opportunity. Had I paused long enough to consider the likelihood of failure, or the dread of running on days when I really didn’t feel like it, I would’ve said hell no.

Once I committed, I knew I did not stand a chance of finishing the race without a structured plan to train. I had rarely run more than three miles at a time, so this was new territory. I found a beginner’s training plan online and simply followed it like a recipe. And on race day, I met my goal of finishing.

I don’t necessarily see any more half marathons in my future, but because I had been following “the recipe” for months prior to the race, I kept Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays as my cardio days. The habit was in place.

The experience highlighted my need for structure in facing any challenge, or creating any habit that is important to me. Without it, I set myself up for failure. I believe this insight is what led to my intermittent fasting which I wrote about here: https://danalaquidara.com/2022/03/07/minimal-monday-4/

It is also why I recently joined an accountability writing group in which we check in each week to demonstrate our individual progress.

Left to my own devices, I can be unfocused and unproductive. Alternately, creating structure around my goals – imposing some deadline, accountability, or “recipe” to follow – I stand a chance of succeeding.

I think this is a common human trait.

Do you agree? What structure serves you well?

Minimal Monday

I love the momentum that takes place while decluttering. Clearing off my writing space by putting some books back in a bookshelf led to me organizing the whole bookshelf. A few books got donated and the rest are now properly categorized. I no longer feel the need to keep my desk cluttered with writing books because if I need one, I know exactly where to find it now. Simplifying one area often leads to a desire to simplify another area. Best of all, as tolerance for clutter decreases, clarity and inspiration increases.

Happy Monday!

***

I am so very grateful for the 5-star review I received on Amazon yesterday for The Uncluttered Mother! I appreciate each and every reader, and I hope my book continues to inspire moms of all ages and stages.

My publisher has entered my book in the 2022 COVR awards and I am including the voter’s guide here: https://covr.org/2022-covr-visionary-awards-voters-guide/. Voting will begin next Monday, April 4th and I will include a voting link then.

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

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.