Chopra quote about intentionLast week, I tried something new–setting an intention for the day. I pulled out my “positivity notebook” and on a clean sheet of paper, I wrote “What is my purpose today?” I did this two days in a row.

I scribbled the first few things that came to my mind. Starting my days in this way changed something in my mindset, which changed my entire morning. I admit, I’ve been known to start my mornings in a frenzied, negative state of mind, where the littlest thing that goes wrong can set off a bomb in my brain. But not that day, and not the next day either.

What is an intention? According to this article in Yoga Journal, it is:

…not oriented toward a future outcome. Instead, it is a path or practice that is focused on how you are ‘being’ in the present moment. Your attention is on the ever-present ‘now’ in the constantly changing flow of life. You set your intentions based on understanding what matters most to you and make a commitment to align your worldly actions with your inner values.

I flipped back to my intentions once or twice to remind myself of them before setting about doing the things I had planned for my day. The short list helped me focus on the present moment. I asked myself throughout the day, am I honoring my intentions right now?

Even a single moment spent intentionally can reset a downward spiral into emotional mind. I struggle with my emotions–I let them control me–all the time. I’m working on it, believe me. Intention setting is a new tool for me. It helped me go about my day a bit more mindfully.

I googled “setting intentions” before I sat down to write this post. Huffington Post, of course, had many posts related to this topic. According to this one:

Starting your day with an intention will leave you willing and available to say ‘no’ to what is not serving you in your life.

As a people pleaser and a yes woman, this idea intrigues and calls to me. I understand that I need to say no to more in order to feel less stressed and more relaxed, and to have more time to explore the things that make me feel good (to say yes to more).

Do you set intentions each morning? If so, how does it affect your day?

 

He looks like a fixer. Arms crossed tightly, closed off to the story and probably already planning the action!

He looks like a fixer. Arms crossed tightly, closed off to the story and probably already planning the action!

I am a fixer. Until recently, I said those words proudly when someone came to me with a problem. I saw this as a sign of strength, compassion, ambition, and love. In my mind, wanting to fix someone’s problem meant I love them and want them to be happy.

But now? Now I say it in a completely different tone of voice, apologetic even. Now I see it altogether differently.

I’m enrolled in a 12-week balance skills (focusing on mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness) group, and I’m learning a lot there. I’ve learned at least 4 breathing techniques to help me dial down my emotions (particularly anxiety), and I’ve fallen in love with 4-7-8 breathing. I’ve learned the difference between willingness and willfulness. I’ve become more mindful in my everyday life. I’ve learned so much more, but the biggest lesson so far is that sometimes the Universe actually DOES give me what I need exactly when I need it. And this week, I finally realized that trying to fix people’s situations (ok, and my own) is actually problematic for a number of reasons! It’s like the Universe taught me this lesson many times over the past few days, and now I’m writing it down to hold myself accountable.

First, fixing is willful. It’s crossing your arms tightly in front of you and not accepting reality. An important piece to acceptance is giving up the fight. Not fighting a situation helps us to tolerate it (the distress) better. According to Marsha Linehan, “Freedom from suffering requires ACCEPTANCE from deep within of what is. Let yourself go competely with what is.” Fixing is stubborn, unyielding.

Fixing is saying “You are not good enough as you currently are.” In another moment of synchronicity this week, my friend Story shared a Momastery blog post with me, Our Sacred Scared- Day One. I practiced pausing and listening, and then I clicked through to the message. I’m new to Momastery, but immediately after reading this post, I subscribed to the blog and I’m looking forward to reading more about Our Sacred Scared. Here is the piece of that post that resonated most with me on my new journey to stop fixing, but I encourage you to head over there and read the example that follows this:

When someone lets you into her Sacred Scared – she is showing you her messy insides NOT because she wants you to fix it, but because she trusts you enough to let you know the real, true her.

Sometimes, fixing is not listening with our full effort and best intention. What do people generally want? We want to be seen and heard. Sometimes all we want is a “me too.” As a fixer, it sometimes is hard for me to pause and listen because my brain is going, going, going, devising a plan to solve the problem (sometimes even while the other person is still talking!), make the unpleasant situation go away, and generate happiness for my loved one.

Fixing is also frustrating–it can be for both the fixer and the fixee. The fixer may become upset that the fixee isn’t receptive (enough) to the plan for action or seems to choose to wallow, and the fixee may be offended by the attempt at fixing when maybe all he or she really needed in this moment was to be understood.

Going forward with the things I’ve learned about acceptance, I’m going to practice not fixing but listening, understanding, and accepting. Will you join me?

photo by: Forest Runner

This morning, I spent the entire hour between waking up and leaving the house on myself (other than packing lunches) because Jax slept in (amazing!). Just as the clock turned to 7:45–the time I have to leave the house in order to make it to work on time–I realized today is the Thanksgiving feast at pre-K. This meant that I needed to send Jax to school dressed like either a Pilgrim or an Indian, per his teacher’s instructions. Rifling through his dresser, I couldn’t find anything that fit the description (in my head), so I had the bright idea to craft him a Pilgrim’s hat out of construction paper & whatever other supplies I could gather in under 5 minutes.

I struggled for a second between which of my two hats I needed to put on more: on-time professional Editor with a workload that needs all my attention versus crafty mom who doesn’t want her kid to be the only kid at school not dressed like a Pilgrim…

Mom wins. Always.

Here’s what I created when I should have been commuting:

pilgrim hatNot terrible, right? Except for the pieces of tape showing…

But when he woke up, I couldn’t get him to put it on! Can you guess why? Guess what he told me!

His teacher already made each child a Pilgrim hat or Indian headdress! Apparently, SHE had even measured their heads!

So…what do I do with my super cute Pilgrim hat? I’m thinking I make one for each of us and show up to Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ house wearing them.  :)

Do you think I made the right choice in going into work late so I could craft this hat, despite the outcome?

I did manage to sneak in a photo of Jax trying it on…

pilgrim hat modelAnd by the way, I managed to get to work only 9 minutes late! Not bad!

 

Earlier this year, I wrote about one of my biggest pregnancy regrets–foregoing the opportunity to bank placenta blood cells, cord blood cells, and tissue because I thought we couldn’t afford it. Since my pregnancy 4+ years ago, the cost and application of this innovative technology has improved. And things will only get better going forward.

The ability of stem cells to save lives via cord blood banking has already proven successful for replacing abnormal or diseased cells, and treating life-threatening blood disorders such as leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma. In fact, since 1988, stem cell transplants have been used to treat some 80 diseases.

Through cord blood banking, you can collect and preserve potentially lifesaving stem cells, and doing so could one day save the life of your child or a blood relative. You can bank even more stem cells by collecting them from 2 usable sources of stem cell-rich blood: the umbilical cord and the placenta. This service is called Placental and Cord Blood Banking, and it’s available only from LifebankUSA. Whether you choose Placental and Cord Blood Banking or Cord Blood Banking alone, there are many important reasons to choose LifebankUSA.

When you bank with LifebankUSA, tissue banking (tissue from the placenta) is included for free.* Placental tissue contains mesenchymal cells (MSCs) and MSC-like cells. While stem cells found in cord blood and placenta blood have been used to successfully treat patients, there are currently no approved uses for stem cells derived from the umbilical cord or placenta tissue. Possible therapeutic applications are in early research stages and LifebankUSA’s parent company is actively involved in their development.

LifebankUSA will store the placenta tissue for you as part of its complete banking package using their cryogenic tanks for long-term preservation. In the event your baby’s tissue cells are ever needed for future therapies, the tissue may then be processed and cultured using available technology at that time.†  Tissue banking is just one more layer of protection and peace of mind offered by LifebankUSA.

I will always regret not finding the means to take advantage of this service when I could. I urge those of you who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant to research more about LifebankUSA.

LifebankUSA is having another awesome contest on their Facebook page. They’re giving away three top-rated and highly desirable Britax Marathon 70-G3 Convertible Car Seats (value $260 each) in a random drawing from entrants in the Facebook contest. You can learn more about & enter the contest here.

FB-image-post-for-contest

*Storage fees apply after the first year
†Clients will be responsible for the cost of shipping the tissue and any culturing or expansion of the cells.

Being a music lover (actually, what’s a word stronger than lover?), I have many anthems, each one necessary for a specific situation requiring a specific mood or action.

The other night, my therapist handed me a book about assertiveness. I started skimming through it the very next day, and soon after that, I started applying some of the advice I’d been reading. Fortunately, I must have done it right (if there is a “right” and a “wrong” way to be assertive, and I guess there could be), because I saw a major payoff at work when I craftfully asserted myself about one aspect of my workload that was stressing me out, bigtime.

With that victory still fresh in my mind, on this morning’s commute into the office, my iPod shuffled to a song that I discovered during the formative years of my adolescence in the 90s: “Double Dare Ya” by Bikini Kill.

I don’t have the space, time, or energy to veer into a tangent on why the 80s/90s Riot Grrrl movement was so important to women like me, who were growing up and figuring out life back then. I’m sure there is plenty already written–and it’s got to be better writing than I could ever provide here during my 5-minute writing break–so if you’re curious, maybe start with something simple, like the Wikipedia entry for Riot Grrrl.

“Double Dare Ya” is a song that you have to scream-sing. It’s not good, so if you listen to it, don’t come back here and yell at me or discredit my taste in music (which I promise is pretty awesome). It isn’t good, but it is inspiring and powerful and volatile and emotional (which makes it GOOD), and it sparked so many women to achieve what they didn’t feel they could because they were being held back, whether by themselves or others. It is an anthem of female empowerment, and it has helped me trudge through many days when my self-confidence was at its lowest–it was my anthem for those days.

Today, I’m carrying the song’s message with me. Today I’m writing. I’m putting myself out there, even though I want to shut myself out of the world and hide lately. Today I feel strong. I’m proud of who I am. (And, I admit, I just deleted the word mostly from the end of that sentence, but see? Progress.)

For those who are into words like I am, I present to you the (seriously crude but powerful and inspiring) lyrics to “Double Dare Ya” by Bikini Kill and urge you to watch the video as you read, because you have to hear Kathleen Hanna scream-sing in order to feel the intended impact. Consider it your (feminist) history lesson for the day.

If you have an anthem (or several), I’d love to know what it is! Please share in the comments!

 

We’re Bikini Kill and we want revolution
Girl-style now!!!

Hey girlfriend
I got a proposition goes something like this:
Dare ya to do what you want
Dare ya to be who you will
Dare ya to cry right outloud
“You get so emotional baby”

Double dare ya, double dare ya, double dare ya
Girl-fuckin-friend yeah
Double dare ya
Double dare ya
Double dare ya
Girl

Don’t you talk out of line
Don’t go speaking out of your turn
Gotta listen to what the Man says
Time to make his stomach burn
Burn, burn, burn, burn

Double dare ya, double dare ya, double dare ya
Girl-fuckin-friend yeah
Double dare ya, double dare ya, double dare ya
Girl

You’re a big girl now
You’ve got no reason not to fight
You’ve got to know what they are
‘fore you can stand up for your rights
Rights, rights?
You DO have rights!

Double dare ya, double dare ya
Double triple-fuckin-dare ya girlfriend
Double dare ya, double dare ya, double dare ya
Girl