How to feel in control

When my kids were little, I spent a lot of time in the Land of Crazy. It felt like the quality of my days was completely in the hands of my child. Would I get to have any “me time”? Depends on the nap. Would we get to run errands? Depends on her mood. Would I have a good day or bad day? It depends on how happy and cooperative my children are. I felt like I had so little control over how I spent my time. It was exhausting and robbed me of my ability to enjoy myself throughout the day.organized play room

I thought I was the only one who struggled with this until I was giving a talk to a room full of pre-school Moms and I showed them a photo of an organized play room. There was an audible sigh throughout the room as Moms fantasized about a beautifully designed toy room with organized bins. (Hmm…interesting I thought to myself. There is a Universal feeling all these Moms are longing for, what is the feeling they yearn for that they think a clean and organized playroom will give them?)

Control.

Control gets a bad rap. No Mom wants to be labeled a “control freak” or a “micromanager” but you also don’t want to be “out of control” or “always in control”.  However, striving for control isn’t a bad idea. Having control over one’s life is a key indicator for happiness and helps blur the lines between work and play. The problem is, many of us try to control things we have no control over:

1. We argue with reality.

My house shouldn’t be so messy.

I am done with this cold weather.

You should get better grades than this!

2. We try to control other people:

The kids at school need to be nicer to my daughter.

The coach needs to give my son more play time.

My kids need to stop bickering.

My husband shouldn’t watch so much TV.

2. We try to change the past.

You should not have said that.

My Dad shouldn’t have left when I was a kid.

I should not have eaten that entire bag of potato chips.

3. We try to control the future:

People need to realize what an idiot Donald Trump is.

I wish my dog would stop peeing on the carpet.   

I don’t want anything bad to happen to my children.

If you are trying to control something you have no control over, you’ll know it because it doesn’t feel good. You get frustrated, angry or annoyed because you are giving away your power. Overtime this leads to a pervasive feeling of helplessness and powerlessness. A big yuck for the human psyche.

The good news is that “gaining control” isn’t as hard as you think. Go to a room in your house that bugs you (my teenage son’s room comes to my mind, yikes!) and pick ONE THING you can take action on. Instead of waiting for someone else to straighten up the shoes, change the lightbulb or hang up the wet towels, make this yours, to own. Don’t take responsibility for the whole house, just create calm by taking responsability for one small. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, go look at your beautiful sock drawer and admire your handiwork. Build on your success by moving to another small area, preferably one that is small but really bugs you. 

One thing we always have control over is our MIND. Notice how it feels to think the thoughts above, even if they are true, they create negative emotions in you. Increase your happiness and personal sovereignty by making peace with reality.

“I trust my teenage son to be messy.” “Kids are supposed to leave their shoes everywhere, that’s what kids do.” “I give Donald Trump permission to be an idiot.” “I can teach the dog where to pee.” “I’m pretty reliable when it comes to bingeing on potato chips.” “Girls sometimes are mean, and sometimes are nice.”  “People say dumb things sometimes and that’s okay.” “It’s impossible to never be late.”

You can avoid The Land of Crazy by taking control of your actions, your emotions and your mind. Don’t dismiss control because it has a bad reputation. Controlling something you actually have power over feels, well, empowering!

Five things to think about before you set a New Year’s Resolution

I love a fresh start. I love the potential and possibilities that January 1st brings. Before you set your new year’s resolutions for 2016, think about these five things to set yourself up for sustainable success that lasts past February.

  1. Reflect on 2015. Nobody likes doing this but it’s a valuable first step. Take a look back at and ask yourself what worked. Before you think about what you want to change and improve on, you’ll want to get yourself in the mindset of success. Take stock of your victories, your successes, the areas of your life where you feel confident and satisfied. Appreciate what you have created. These are going to take a back seat while you focus your energy on your new resolution.
  2. Despite what corporate america will tell you, you can only have one priority at a time. It’s the definition of priority. If you want to make your resolution successful, this will require focus, energy, and determination. If you have a competing priority like “making children happy” and they cry and cling when it’s time to go to the gym, you won’t go. Check for competing priorities and make sure you are willing to prioritize the new one.
  3. Your success is determined on your willingness to be uncomfortable. Change will create discomfort. Expect and plan for it, but remember you are choosing JOY over pleasure. Pleasure is immediate gratification, comfort, sameness.  Joy is growth, challenge, play, novelty. Joy is a proud and satisfied feeling that comes from purposefully living the life we are meant to live. Are you prepared joy over pleasure?
  4. Check your motivation. The only reason anyone does anything is because they want to feel a certain way, or they are trying to avoid a certain feeling. When you imagine accomplishing your new resolution, what is the feeling you imagine you would feel? What thoughts can you think NOW that will create that feeling for you?  When you motivate yourself with negative thoughts and emotions, “I’m so fat and ugly I need to diet so I’ll be thinner and then I’ll be happier” It is never sustainable. You can do it for a little while, but eventually you will rebel against your inner mean girl. Or you will lose the weight and realize you still aren’t happy because you’ve beat yourself into submission. Focus on the feeling you want to feel and start finding ways to feel it now, today, separate from your goal.
  5. Creating change involves growing a different side of yourself. When growth is your goal, you cannot fail. Prepare for obstacles and plan how you will overcome them. Remember to praise yourself for your learning and victories. We aren’t meant to stay the same. We are meant to learn and challenge ourselves to grow, all throughout our lives. When you can focus your attention, prioritize growth, feel positive emotions, then the action is it’s own reward.

Do you get the “Christmas Crazies”?

I just assumed that all Moms go crazy at Christmastime. That OVERWHELM is the default mental state if you are raising children in December. It never dawned on me that it was an OPTION.
I was out walking my dog, trying to regain sanity while my brain popped like popcorn: “gift for teacher”, “toy for toy drive”, “red shirt for Christmas play”, “marshmallows for class party”, “bake for cookie exchange”, “photos for calendar”, “wrap secret santa gift”, and on and on and on…… I go for a walk to try and calm my brain down enough to figure out how to celebrate my husbands December birthday (can I get a shout out for everyone who has a b’day in their family this month!?!). As I’m walking, I see my neighbor. She is one of those Moms whose house is always clean, who never raises her voice to her kids, never gets frazzled and is the nicest person you will ever meet. But still it’s December, surely she must be challenged this time of year. She asks how am I and I tell the truth, that I am “coo-coo in la cabeza” trying to keep track of all the extra stuff that shows up this time of year. I ask her, “You must be going nuts! You have FIVE kids, three who are homeschooled, you keep a busy social calendar, aren’t you overwhelmed by all the details?” She looked at me quizzically and sweetly said, “Well……I have a lot of lists.”

I started asking around and would you believe, that there are Moms out there who DON’T feel overwhelmed with Christmas craziness?  If you are intrigued by this phenomena like I am, keep reading to hack your Christmas and learn their secrets for staying calm and organized in December.

But first, you’ll want to figure out what thoughts were causing the overwhelm to start with. Before you can bring in a new way of doing things, you’ve got to take a look at the old, because that’s what kept you there in the first place. The thoughts that were keeping me stuck in The Land of Crazy were: 1. “This is a crazy time of year.” 2.”I don’t want to make a big deal out of Christmas.” 3. “I want to relax.” and 4. “I do all the work and nobody appreciates it.”

What I learned from talking with these organized, calm Supermoms is:  1. Crazy is optional.  2. Christmas IS a big deal when you are a Mom and pretending it isn’t causes me to procrastinate and create last minute stress.  3. Wanting to relax while my to-do list has tripled, is like trying to relax your way into the world series of motherhood. It’s not a match. I need to save relaxation for the 26th of December and connect to other values like excitement and accomplishment. 4. This “I do all the work and no one appreciates it” was really interesting for me. I realized that my kids excitement and appreciation had been my motivation in the past. Now that they were older and less enthusiastic, I wasn’t getting the same rewards but I was still doing all the work. It didn’t dawn on me to change Christmas to make it more fun for ME, it had always been about the kids.

If you have discovered the beliefs that have kept you in The Land of Crazy, and you feel ready to make a change, take a look at what keeps these Moms organized and calm throughout the holiday and see if anything inspires you.

They plan ahead –

“We take a family vacation every August so during that trip, I make sure to get a good photo to use for Christmas cards. Before I even unpack from the trip, I’ve ordered those Christmas cards, and any other photo related gifts, calendars, etc. The cards are addressed before my kids are back in school.”

“The day after Halloween, I take out my calendar and make a schedule for Nov-Dec. I decide when I’m going to decorate the house, buy the tree, shop for gifts, bake, wrap, host our party, etc. It’s all planned out ahead of time so I know I will get it all done and there is no need to stress.”

“We use our cash back rewards program to fund our extra spending in December. We know we’ll be spending more that month, so we save it up during the year knowing it’s there to pay for our extras.”

“I shop for people all through the year. Whenever I see something, I buy it and put in my Christmas box. That way the money gets spread out through the year as well as the time.”

They write it down –

“I have a spreadsheet with all the people I’m buying gifts for and I fill it in as I shop: the gift, the amount, when & where I buy it, etc. I keep it, and all gift receipts, together in a file and use it for reference the next year.”

“I have my kids go on Amazon and make wish lists. When family members ask me for ideas, I just send them a link. I write down what I’ve ordered, what I’ve delegated to others, and when things should arrive, so I can follow up if shipments are running late.”

They do what works for them –

“I found it works better if we leave town for Christmas. I buy all the presents online and ship them to my Mom’s house where we will be on Christmas Day. She wraps everything for me so it’s all set to go when we arrive there.”

“We go to mass on Christmas Eve, then go out for Chinese food dinner. Not cooking or doing dishes is my favorite gift.”

“We stay in our pajamas all day on Christmas. We invite our family over with the expectation that bathrobes and slippers are the dress code. They haven’t joined in yet, but they have adjusted to our casual attire.”

Got more tips for staying sane in the land of crazy at Christmas time?  I’d love to hear them! Type below or post on my facebook page.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Are you diversified?

Normally it’s financial planners who are telling us to “diversify our portfolios” but it’s also a good idea when it comes to maintaining sanity as a parent. It’s risky to put all your money in one investment, just in case it doesn’t do well. We diversify our investments to ensure our financial success. If we want success in other areas of our life, it makes sense to diversify them, too.

Let’s say 99% of your life’s joy and purpose comes from being a Mom. You love it. You devote your time and your mental and emotional energy to your kids. It’s your identity and your social life. Then they move out. You are left with a big empty hole. You weren’t diversified.

Take Sally, a busy mother of twins. Her self care took a back seat when her two premature angels showed up. She was lucky if she snuck in a shower. But at the end of the very hard and tiring day, she would collapse on the couch and reward herself with a brownie, or two, or ten. She was very deserving of self care, nurturing, and a reward for her hard work, but she wasn’t diversified. Chocolate brownies was the only way she cared for and acknowledged how much she was doing. Six years later, that reward has turned into a punishment because she is unhappy with how she looks and feels. She doesn’t want to eliminate her only source of self care, because she doesn’t have any other way to replace it. 

When we don’t diversify our joy, our self care, our purpose or our social life, we get this nagging voice in the back of our head. It whispers to us that “this could backfire someday” or “I need more”.

It’s easy to spot in others. Remember that girl in college who completely loses herself in her boyfriend? Or that friend who is so addicted to work they don’t have time for anyone or anything else? They weren’t diversified.

You’ll know you are not diversified if you lose your mind when someone tries to take away your ONE source. I remember throwing a huge fit because SOMEONE MESSED UP MY SCHEDULED RECORDING OF SURVIVOR!  It was one of those times where your whole family stares at your with mouths open because clearly this was your problem and not theirs. My reaction was so disproportionate to the severity of the infraction but at the time, to me, it felt completely justified. Last week Survivor did not record and I barely reacted at all.  Because my joy and self care are now diversified, I’m able to shrug my shoulders and say “oh well”.

How can you diversify your joy?  Your sense of purpose? Your social life and self care?  It’s easier than you think. Here’s some ideas I’ve gotten from my brilliant clients that I love.

“Running errands without kids is MY TIME. I put on my favorite music and sing out loud without anyone telling me to stop. I listen to audio books or blogs and revel in MOM time.”

“I love trying out new recipes. I decided to cook for ME instead of the kids. I let go attachment to what they chose to eat or not and just focus on cooking what I love, for me.”

“Whenever I walk the dog, I pay attention to what’s around me. Leaves changing colors, the wind against my skin, the sounds I hear. I deliberately try not think about anything but just notice what I see, smell, hear, and feel. I always come back feeling recharged.”

“My girlfriends are my top priority. I live with a husband and three school age sons. Between sports, school, and my house and my job, I NEED my girlfriend time. I plan it. I carve out the time for it. I prioritize getting together.”

“I found work that allows me to have lots of creative time by myself. Someday, my needs may change and I’ll want work that is more social or aspirational, but for now, while my house is chaotic and full of activity, it’s a great balance.”

“I love shopping and I love Christmas so the month of December is awesome for me. It’s summertime with the kids home where I really need to pay attention to my self care. I want to be a good Mom so I do the things that help me be successful at that: I make time for scrapbooking, get massages, and schedule life coaching sessions with Torie.”

How can you diversify your joy?  Your self care? Your social life or sense of purpose? Are you ready to try life coaching and see how it can help you? Sign up for a free discovery session here.

Are you busy, but bored?

Dear Torie,

I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I love my life. I have everything I always wanted but I feel like something is missing. Sure, more money would be nice or a cleaner house, but I know deep down that’s not the problem. The things I used to enjoy just aren’t doing it for me anymore. I’m busy, but kinda bored. I feel like there’s a voice inside me that wants to come out and say something, but I don’t know what. Everything is fine, but I feel dissatisfied. Can you help?

This is one of my FAVORITE things to coach Moms on. This feeling of being busy, but bored. Happy, but dissatisfied. Your dream of becoming a Mom has been fulfilled and your life has stabilized, but there are more dreams waiting to be born. Our culture supports Moms having a creative outlet IF it ties in with a job or family life. Love to cook? great.  Enjoy interior decorating, beautiful. But if a Mom feels compelled to write a novel that takes time away from the family and doesn’t produce income, it’s hard for her. Want to spend time in your ceramics studio? Sure, just bring the kids with you. Love horses? Better make money doing it.

We think “following our passion” will feel good but the first step to it, is feeling discomfort of NOT following our passion. When we aren’t being who we are meant to be and doing what we love, we get an uncomfortable feeling that grows bigger and yuckier, the more we ignore it. It’s this discomfort that motivates us to take action. If you know this feeling of general dissatisfaction, without being able to put your finger on what is bugging you, it may be your soul trying to get your attention.

There is an idea that wants to be born. A piece of art, a book, a new career, a new invention, some kind of creative expression, and inspiration is asking YOU to bring it forward into the world. When we allow this inner voice to speak and get the idea out into the world, it alleviates the tension. The problem is when “this voice” tries to speak, fear gets in the way:

Fear of embarrassment. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of upsetting the status quo. Fear of taking time away from your children. Fear of financial loss. Fear of financial gain. Fear of what people will think. You name it, we fear it. So we block ourselves from even KNOWING what this voice is trying to say. Here’s a typical coaching conversation:

Me: What is that little voice telling you it wants?

Client: I have no idea.

Me: Well if you did know, what might it be saying.

Client: It would say it’s time to open a gallery with other artists and sell and cross promote each others work and create an online village where people share and build community with other artists.

I have never met a client who truly did not know what the voice was saying. If you’ve got something inside of you that wants to come out, and you are tired of feeling bored & dissatisfied, try this.

  1. When is inspiration is most likely to strike? Do you get your best ideas in the shower? while exercising? middle of the night? Keep a pad & paper handy during those activities and write down every weird idea (keep it private).
  2. Notice who you feel jealous of? Who do you envy and admire? Why? Write it down.
  3. Pretend like you are going to take action on one of those wacky ideas you wrote down and listen to what the fear has to say. Create an image in your mind of what this fear looks like: A turtle who says, “it’s safer to hide” a mean girl who says “Who do you think you are, loser” or Debbie Downer from SNL “Bad things will happen if you do that.” Solidify this mental image in your mind. Picture it sitting in the car with you, then imagine moving it out of the drivers seat and into the back.
  4. Write down every fearful, scary, nasty thought your fear has to say. Say to it, “Thank you for trying to keep me safe, your opinion is noted.” Tell it you won’t take any action, it is safe and all is well. Then you will have access to your logical brain. Read through your list and question these fearful thoughts, even though they feel true, are they? “Is it true that EVERYONE will hate me if I do this?” “What exactly does it mean to fail anyway?” “Do I really have control over other people’s opinions?”Big Magic Elizabeth Gilbert

Don’t start with taking action. Start with removing the fear-based blocks you have to receiving the ideas, wisdom, creativity, and voice you have inside that wants to come out. I just finished a WONDERFUL book about creative living by Elizabeth Gilbert called BIG MAGIC. If you know what it feels like to be inspired to create, or if you’ve got a nagging voice that won’t leave you alone, you will love this book. The discomfort will continue until you stop hiding and distracting yourself, and get on the path you are meant to live. It’s time to get rid of the fear and remember it’s not about money or success, failure or humiliation, it’s just about allowing the ideas out, that inspiration has asked you to deliver.