This Season of Life

Yesterday in church the pastor mentioned that he was in a full, happy, loud and crazy season of his life, raising four boys between the ages of 3-10 with his wife. This got me to thinking about the season of life that I am currently in, just having moved out of state with my husband of 2.5 years for a big adventure.
Those who know me well, know that I have always been a girl with a lot going on. Starting all the way back in elementary school and continuing to increase to a peak in high school, I was involved in multiple extra curricular activities at once. 
 Dance, girl scouts, cheerleading, youth group, gymnastics, soccer, tennis, competitive cheerleading, national honors society, student council, etc.

(Here I am in high school with some fellow Varsity Cheer Team members. I still keep in touch w/Julie, to the left of me, and consider her a very good friend!)

Being the little over-achiever that I was, burn out was inevitable. When I started college at KU, I joined a sorority & participated in intramural sports, but that was about it. The rest of my time was spent w/my friends & occasionally studying/going to class.  

(My freshman dorms roommate, Jayde & I at a football game. Still one of my best friends to this day, distance & all!)

When I transferred to Wichita State, I worked and went to school. Nothing more. Nothing less. I went through a stage where I didn’t put much effort into anything that I cared about, except for hanging out with my friends.

(Out for my 21st birthday w/Chelsey & Kate, friends from high school that I still adore.)

So post-college, I was eager to jump back in. And jump back in, I did. I jumped into anything & everything that peaked my interest or would help me further myself as a professional. The adult version of me sought balance for my life (instead of going through another burn out, like the college version of me did).

My recent move gave me an opportunity to step back and evaluate what is truly important to me. 

For me, busy is now a bad word. Is my life full? Yes, it is so full. Full of many things including new experiences, being active, cooking, spending time with my husband & puppies, my career, reading and blogging. It’s full of getting in touch w/myself, my goals & dreams. And of course my life is full of exploring my city that I love more & more each day.

But I have room too. Room to grow, room to meet new people & discover new activities. I’ve become protective of who I let in my life & have been even more protective of my time.

(In Denver last week after checking out a wine bar called Cru.)

One of these days Cory & I will have some little babies and life will get loud and crazy again. And while we both look forward to that time, we are also cherishing the slowness & sweetness of the life that we’re making for ourselves here in Fort Collins.

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Balance – Progress & Tips

If you’ve been reading my blog this year, you know that my “word of the year” – aka, 2012’s version of a New Year’s resolution – is balance.
And so that is what I have spent the year striving for & always keeping in the back of my mind.

This month we’re doing a “Strike a Balance” challenge at work through our wellness program, so I thought it would be a good time to share a couple of rules I’ve come up with this year to try to abide by in an effort to live a more balanced life:

1. Weekend Commitments.

I like to have one afternoon & one evening free of plans each weekend. I love to be social & am happy with a busy, full life, but I find when I’ve packed my entire weekend top to bottom, I feel exhausted on Monday. Therefore, I try to carve out Saturday evening & Sunday afternoon or vis-versa with nothing on the calendar.

This means I can spend those times doing whatever it is I feel like doing that moment. Whether it be catching up on my current read, taking a nap, getting a pedi or massage, zoning out to the TV, calling up my mom, sister & cousin to hang out or making last minute plans with a girlfriend – whatever! The point is that I can see how I’m feeling at that particular time & do anything I want.

2.  Enact a 24 Hour Rule.

This one is simple. Before I commit to anything, I try to think on it for 24 hours before I make a decision. This is easier said than done.

3. Backing Out Isn’t The Worst Thing You Could Do.

 If #2 fails & you commit to something that you’re less than enthused about, it’s not the worst thing in the world to back out.

Something can certainly be said for relentlessly sticking to commitments that you’ve made, but when this comes at the expense of running yourself ragged, just to accomplish something you said you would do, I’m in the camp for just moving on.

Sometimes we’re holding on to commitments that mattered a lot a year ago, but we have since changed & are not as passionate about that commitment. It’s time to give it up.

4. Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

I used to be a strict 8 hourer, but in the past couple of years have found that getting 7 hours of sleep on week nights is the perfect fit for me.

5. Take good care of yourself.

This may look different to different people. For me, taking care of myself means:

Physical Health
– Exercising 4-6 times a week
– Eating healthy
– Getting a monthly massage
– Being proactive on my health care appointments

Mental Health
– Having at least one evening a week to stay in & spend time with no one but my husband
– Walking my dogs at least three times a week
– Spending time with my family & best friend at least once a week
– Blogging on a regular basis (@ once a week)
– And writing everything down so that I don’t overlook an important date or appointment!

If you’re interested in jotting down your own list of must-haves for balance in your life, here are more good suggestions:

I took a look back on the post I wrote in March & was happy to see that I had completed almost all of the goals that I set for myself. I’ve evaluated the groups I’m a part of and have a plan going for going forward in Colorado, I’ve substantially cut back on my DVR time and I’ve tried to focus on the quality in my friendships as opposed to the quantity of friendships that I have, hence, less “group outings”.

 I’m still working on the early morning exercise one – but, hey, all in time, right? : )

After focusing on this word for a year, I truly feel like a more balanced person today than I was when I started.

I think balance is something that we all struggle with & strive for. I also think you’ll have it at times & not at others and that it looks different for everyone. And I hope that my search for balance has inspired you to find yours.

Life Lately

Is it just me or is 2012 flying by? How is it that I’m writing a March post?
Upon our return from Hawaii at the beginning of the year, we gained our second nephew, lost our first dog baby as a couple, I traveled for three crazy weeks in a row for work, began training for the Warrior Dash in May, planned or attended numerous work events, we decided to put our house on the market, got a new puppy…and all of this in the first 10 weeks of 2012.
 Cory & I at the Kansas Girl Scouts 100th Year Celebration called Cocktails & Cookies, where my company sponsored a table:
I’m going to take this time to take a big, deep breath.
Needless to say, I am 100% struggling w/my commitment to live a more balanced life this year. I honestly don’t feel like I’ve had a moment to catch my breath. Fail. How did a year that started out so relaxing, turn into such a tornado?
 I haven’t even posted a blog in two weeks because I haven’t been inspired by anything. Which is just sad.
So from this day forward, I am renewing my 2012 committment to live a life more balanced!
Instead of just trying to keep balance in mind when making my decisions (which I actually have been doing for the past couple months, just not making good choices, apparently), I’m going to actually make a game plan. And I must give credit to my best friend, Alex, for suggesting this.
Step One: Make a list of all extra activities I’m currently involved in, including both personal & work (internal & external).
Step Two: Deteremine how much of my time goes to each activity. For instance, I’m involved in both the Junior League of Wichita and Public Relations Society of America. JLW requires a hefty amount of my time, while my involvement with PRSA is mainly a monthly luncheon.
Step Three: Decide which of these groups & activities I can really keep in my life. As much as I want to do it all (and the Lord knows I do), it’s not fair to myself, my family & friends OR the organizations I’m involved in, if I can’t give anyone or anything 100%.
So that will get me started. A couple other things I plan to do to help me lead a more balanced life:
– Continue to make my 5:30 a.m. work outs a priority. This has been hard over the past month, because it means getting to bed by 10:30.
– Cut back on the TV shows I DVR. Does anyone else feel like watching your DVRed shows is one more thing to check off of the To Do lists? Good Bye Real Housewives!
– Not initiate as many outings w/friends. Sometimes Cory & I only get one night a week alone together. I love our friends, but a girl needs some QT!
Ahhh…I feel more peaceful & balanced already. : )


Moving Forward: 2012

New Year’s Resolutions. You either love them or hate them. I happen to love them. Too much. In fact, I look forward to making multiple NYRs every year. About the time October sets in I start thinking about what I was to put on my list for the upcoming year. You can see how this kind of thinking is flawed.
Here’s what normally happens: I have my list of NYRs & limit myself to one resolution per category in my life (for example, one phyiscal NYR & one social NYR & one professional NYR…). I finalize my list & get excited about it in the weeks leading up to New Years Eve. When the clock strikes midnight I make my vow to change my life in the new year and….then about two-three weeks into it I get overwhelmed because I’ve made too many resolutions & it’s too hard to keep track of them all.
So this year, I’ve taken a different approach. I was at a marketing conference in Chicago this summer when I heard a motivational speaker talk about a family tradition he had created. Instead of NYRs, they each picked a word of the year and vowed to live out that word as best they could, applying it to all the situations they faced that year. So for instance, if the word he picked for the year was “love”, he would do everything in the spirit of love, if his son picked the word “focus”, he committed to being more focused on whatever task was at hand.
So my word for 2012 is…(drumroll) – Balance. In 2011 I found it hard to balance my work & home life, friends & family, health & relaxation, among other things. This year I’ve made a vow to not over-commit, to eat a more balanced diet, to create balance in all areas of my life. I really don’t have a solid plan of how to do this, I just plan to keep the word “balance” in mind when making all of my decisions.
So far I feel that I’ve done a decent job of implimenting this. January & the beginning of Febrauary has been an insane time for us: Hawaii, Briggs, Coco, three weeks straight of work travels. So in response to the crazyness I:
– Turned down several invitations to events, groups & outings
– Spent quality time with the people I value most in my life as opposed to trying to cram in a little bit of time w/every friend I have
– Spent some nights just relaxing with my husband as well as going out on a couple of dates together 
– Got back to my steady workout routine (which means getting to work at 8:30 instead of 7:30 or 8, but also staying later or factoring my events & travel into consideration)
My sister & I hanging out with our neice, Madalynn at Family Game Night last weekend.
Balance is key for me this year. So far, so good.
PS – I must admit that I do have ONE, just ONE NYR for 2012. That is to write more. So far, so good!