The Busy and The Quiet


There are very few times in my life that I am alone any more.  Especially, times where I am alone and not connected to someone or something via my phone.  This is one of those times (don’t be bothered by the being connected to my blog….that is a part of the relief).  The kids are off to a movie with Jon and I am due to a friends house in about an hour.  But, for these 45 minutes, I am alone.  No sounds around me in the house other than my fingers typing, and the hum of our house as the dishwasher runs and the laundry is in action.  

I realize in this moment how I have almost forgotten how to sit silently.  The things I should be doing race through my mind:  should I prep the food for dinner; is the laundry ready to fold; maybe I should squeeze a quick workout in; I haven’t called my best friends from high school/college in a long time and should take this minute to make that happen; I have been meaning to get back to the book I got half way through on vacation and now is the time; what could I start on to make this week go more smoothly.  So, I force myself to keep writing as a way to not relinquish this time to the constant to do list in my mind.  

When did this happen?  Was it the onset of kids that took all my quiet moments and turned them into times filled with things?  Was it my job progressing to the point where I don’t have time during the day to take a deep breath?  Did this set the precedent for “no deep breaths, ever”?  Maybe it is because our world is on at all times (email, text, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, etc.).  Maybe it is because Jon and I are productive people….and don’t want to let a minute not help us to progress something forward.  

In reflection, it is a choice.  I like to squeeze a lot into my life.  I enjoy the things with my family, and my job, and socializing as a part of our community.  I enjoy my friends, and the outdoors where we live and staying connected to friends from prior times in my life via phone, text, email.  I enjoy the busy.  

But, I also like the quiet.  The slight dripping I hear from the kitchen sink, the idea of a nap, being bored.  A weekend with no plans, the time to take a spur of the moment road trip.  The ability to answer my phone when my mom calls versus texting her I am in the middle of something.  The free brain space to dream about things that make me happy, without making a plan about them….simply imagining what could be.  

To live my life to the fullest, it takes the ability to do both of these things.  Not letting either the busy or the quiet dominate my time.  Being comfortable telling myself to redirect if I get too heavy on one side of the scale.  This is one of those moments.  I have been running too hard the last few months.  Not enough quiet, not enough writing, not enough open space.  It shows up in my health (sitting here with a cold), my kids (they show me my stress as if they are a mirror) and my temperament.  Time to redirect.  

How to disconnect?

How do I find time to disconnect?  In todays  busy world of two kids, two jobs in our family, a fair amount of work travel, and  building and now moving into our new house this seems to be the thing I have the hardest time with.  There is the literal disconnecting, from either work or technology.  I have gotten better at the work physicial disconnect over time.  I am there at 8:30 and I leave by 5:30 almost without fail.  The mental and technology disconnects have been much harder for me.  In fact, the more I have time to think at work, the more time my brain stays engaged outside of my desk hours.  And technology, ugh, no good at this.

My technology diconnect used to be via reading a book headed to bed. Lately that hasn’t worked.  My book is on my iPad which is the source of most of my connections in the world (my work calendar, my email, the internet, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and this blog).  I find myself instead of taking  30 minutes to read my book that I get started reading and then remember the ten things that I had meant to do that day and I begin to tackle a few on the spot.  Is it just that the device is associated with productivity?  Anyone else have this problem?

I am considering starting to read real books again.  Honest-to-god printed books.  So, 2000’s of me.  My other solution is banning the iPad from my bedroom.  That seems not practical though.  It serves as my music, my alarm, my source of book, and a way to catch up on the news.  Maybe I am rationalizing, but this doesn’t seem practical.

The only solution that I have had recently is the gym.  Being there has helped to mentally disconnect. I go there and I am only focused on the physicial activity.  This is giving me at least one hour, three days a week of separation from my to-do list.  Not enough, but a start.

Please give me some advice if you are reading this.  All of us have this challenge in some way, especially with technology, and I am wondering how you all are tackling it out there.

Commitments: Drive (Live) at a Safe and Healthy Speed

Life moves at a constant 80 mph in my world.  Occasionally, I ramp to 110 mph for a two to three day period (like the last week).  Sometimes, if I am lucky, there is a deceleration to 65, but it is for certain a temporary slowing just to get around an obstacle.  As soon as I clear the obstacle, back on the accelerator to get up to driving 80 in a 65 mph speed limit zone.

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I am always keeping tabs on just how much faster I can go than the speed limit before I get a speeding ticket.  In my almost 39 years of life, and 23 years of driving it seems like 10 mph over the limit is an easy “no ticket”, I think of it as a safe 75 mph.  When I drive by a sitting police officer on the highway at 80 mph, I am wondering, “will he pull out and ticket me” or “did I make it through this time.”

As I sit here today, after running at about 90-110 mph all week with work and life both on overdrive, I think of the irony of this analogy.  Maybe instead of worrying about whether I am going to get a speeding ticket, I should be thinking about what speed to drive (live) and not as much about whether “I made it through this time.”

Deep thoughts always lead to a commitment post.  Today, I am committing to choosing a more healthy speed for my life and not just letting life keep pushing the accelerator down for me.

Summer Vacation

So for those of you who have noticed, I am on summer vacation from the blog.  I figured one of the best things to help me sustain writing this in the future was a little break.  Interestingly enough, I find myself missing writing.  Good sign I guess!

Four more weeks left of summer vacation.  We will see if I can hold out.

#everybodyneedsabreak

Confessions of a “To-Do” List-aholic

We are in the middle of a relaxing beach vacation with our kids for the very first time.  Sunday was both of the kids first time playing at the beach.  Katharine was beyond excited.  As she played in the surf, giggles, an occasional squeal and moments of “this is amazing,” were what filled the air.  What a moment this was for her!  Her happiness filled our faces with joy just being around her.

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I sit here while the kids are napping after another fun filled morning thinking about my list of things to do both back at home and at work.  How in the world did my to-do list begin to creep back in my head?  Instead of heading upstairs to relax, or reading a book, I pull out my computer and begin down a path of checking email…almost out of habit.  Has my busy lifestyle made me incapable of just relaxing?  What the hell am I doing.

Today, I am confessing.  In hopes to not make this my path for the afternoon, I am writing this blog instead of doing my work email (oh damn- the notification of another email just popped up….hold strong).  I am choosing that a “to-do” list shouldn’t run my life, despite how busy I am.  I am choosing that by confessing, I am taking back control.  Working too much is not a forgone conclusion.  I refuse to accept that my email and my work list can control my life.  It starts today.

My commitment for this week is to get back on vacation, and stay there;  to start squealing with my kids on the beach when the surf touches my toes; to a margarita (or two) for lunch; and to a nap snuggling with my beautiful little kids.  I will be back next week!

I Want Peace

“I just wanna make you laugh.  I just wanna see that smile.  Babe, we’re only here, oh, for a little while.  I just wanna hold you till we fall asleep.  I want love, I want us, I want you, I want me, I want peace.” – O.A.R.

We have been fighting sickness in our house for what feels like the entire winter.  One of us gets sick, then the other, then Mom which takes everything down.  On this late-April weekend in Park City, rain and snow have graced us with their presence waking up to a 3-4″ layer of white on everything, including our spring tulips.  We decided to take it as a weekend just to hunker down in our house and be at “peace.”  No commitments to anyone, no plans, just each other.

This morning as I prepared some bacon and eggs for breakfast, Matthew was building a whole scene in the living room – Dusty Crophopper was being rescued by the Fire and Rescue helicopter while Katharine was preparing for class at her art table.  She was a 13 year old that can drive to school, and is practicing her cursive writing.  In this land of pretend, O.A.R’s song “Peace” came on our stereo and both kids starting belting out the above lyrics almost subconsciously.

What a good memory to capture on my blog.  I am grateful to have the life that I have.  Today it isn’t marketing meets motherhood, it is must motherhood and being at peace.

Commitments: Make The Next Half Even Better (and Longer)

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I am 38 years old with two adorable kids and a wonderful husband.  2 working parents with travel schedules, building a new house, trying to be involved in our community, and trying to be great parents.  Living life in a place I love, with the people that I love.  Pretty much the luckiest woman around.  You could also read this as overly busy but trying to have it all.

For the last few weeks, as I have been working on planning for my husbands 40th birthday which is coming this fall, I have been coming to grips with how short life seems.  I know that this may sound melodramatic.  What hit me in talking with Jon about turning 40, is that mathmatically, given the average life expectancy, we are about half way through our life (or a little past that).  This can either scare me or make me celebrate what lies ahead.  What it actually has caused me to do, as I start thinking about it, is to wonder if it is true.  We have a number of family friends or relatives that are dealing with serious cancer, and I have a coworker who is 48 who has recently been diagnosed with Stage 2 ovarian cancer.  All of it is shocking, and sad.  In particular those who are so young, and haven’t lived the life that they have claimed to have wanted.  It is a morbid thought, but my worry-meter has been rising.  This worry was capped off this week when I attended the “Go Red for Women” luncheon hosted by the American Heart Association.  One of the speakers was a 38 year old mother of two boys who had a major heart incident at the age of 31.  Yikes!  A little too close to home.

But, the worst thing I can do is to worry.  Worry fills my head and my time with ideas and thoughts that have no fruit. So yesterday, as I sat writing this at the salon while getting my nails done during “girls day out” with my lovely Katharine, I have a renewed commitment to enjoying the moments of my life (even the stressful and busy ones).  A commitment to making choices in my life and our families life (our food, our exercise, our habits) that create a long healthy life together.  And, a commitment to make what I hope is a longer second half of my life even better than the first.

The Art of Prioritization: One Small Choice At A Time

On the quest to find time for brain space at work, I have been ridiculously focused on prioritization. And, practice makes perfect….or at least makes things better. There is no easy way to become great at this overnight, but I am commited to continuously improving my skills.

The attempt this week is visualization.  As a former gymnast, one of the techniques that I would use prior to competing in a meet, literally right before I would be up for my routine, was visualization.  This is a simple step…closing my eyes, and picturing myself completing the perfect routine.  As a teenager, I thought this was a stupid task.  My coaches would insist on it, and half the time, I would close my eyes and start thinking about what I was going to do the next Saturday night.  Now, looking back on this training activity, it was a brilliant way to calm my mind and to focus on the outcome that I wanted to achieve.  Maybe if I would have realized this then, my gymnastics career woudn’t have been so average!  Nevermind on that, most of the average came from my athletic capability…nothing a visualization could change.

So, over the last week or so, I have been visualizing the things that I will dedicate my time and brain space to on my way to work.  A simple five minutes of quiet time in my car (don’t worry, no eyes closed), provides me a window to visualize what I want to accomplish with my day.  I find myself sorting through priorities, thinking about the problems I am trying to solve, and focusing on what I want to accomplish.  So far so good as I feel not only more relaxed as I head into the day, but also more focused on the tasks at hand, and willing to focus my calendar time towards the most important things for the day.

Is it sustainable?  We shall see.  Let’s hope it works better than it did for my gymnastics career.

Taking the Downside Out of Determination

Never give up

The other day when Katharine was working on a puzzle she leaned over to me and said, “Mom, this is a hard one.” She continued to stay determined to accomplish the puzzle as a good Stock/Snavely would. A few minutes later…”Mom, we never give up do we?”  Proud mommy moment.  She knew it was hard, but was willing to put the effort in to learn and accomplish what she set out to do.  Jon and I pride ourselves in building a life based on working hard and not giving up on our goals.  This moment of hearing her echo our behavior in her words helped me to appreciate how early we either learn or don’t learn this in our lives.

Then, I start to freak out.  Am I being too ambitious as a parent?  All I want to do is to teach our kids that they are in control of their lives.  I hope for their ability to be determined, positive and committed to what they want in their lives.  I hope that they can solve the problems that they encounter.  I also want them to know that trying is all we ask of them, not necessarily succeeding and delivering a perfect outcome.

As I reflect on what made me a “never give up” person, I do worry about the downside of being determined.  Much of my determination came from a desire to be perfect.  This desire to be perfect, whether it was because I wanted to please others or just for myself, often times turned my determination into stress.  Today, this drive for perfection has diminished a great deal – mostly due to the fact that I know it isn’t possible.  That said, the perfectionist behavior rears its ugly head frequently.  When it does, I generally try to turn the perfectionist behavior into the problem and work to channel my “never give up” skills into solving that problem.

So, although I am proud of what Katharine (and Matthew) are learning, I certainly hope their journey as determined kiddos and ultimately adults is also met with an acceptance and enjoyment of the moments in which they live.  For them to learn this, Jon and I have to show them it is possible.  Whether it be taking a random afternoon nap, having an evening dance party together, playing hooky from school every so often, or just reading a book on a snowy weekend morning, I am going to teach them through how I live how having the determination to meet your goals and living in the moment are not opposites of each other.

Having it All: Learning to Build My Energy Level

It has been a rough week.  I counted today the number of meetings on my calendar in the last three days and it was enough to scare anyone.  Answer:  20 in three work days.  I have another 18 left to accomplish in the next two days.  Add onto to this, my little two year old has a double ear infection which led to one night of about 4 hours of sleep.  This is also week two of my new workout regimen of CrossFit which is a bit intimidating just by itself.

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This is what it means to have it all!  Actually, I think it is more like a test of my ability to maintain my energy level.  I have always prided myself in having high energy, and dedicating it to whatever I am doing.  That said, the last few years have tested me beyond anything I have ever experienced.  I have won some weeks and lost some weeks.  This week definitely feels like it is stacking up to one that I have lost, so I thought maybe sitting down and writing down a few things that have worked in the past to rebuild my energy would maybe help me to make it a little better.

Energy Builders:

  • Sleep at least 7 hours a night.
  • Workout 3-4 times per week, even if it is for 20 minutes.
  • Close my office door and take a deep breath at least a few times a day.
  • Make a short list each morning (maximum of 1-2 things) in my head on my drive down the canyon of the things I am going to accomplish today and get them done!
  • Play with my kids as much as possible and let their endless energy empower me.
  • Try to learn something new every day.
  • Keep at least 90 minutes of free time on my work calendar.
  • Say no to involving myself in at least one things each day.

There is no secret sauce in this, but what I can tell you is that this week I am on track for only about two of these things.  Maybe that is why feel like I am holding on for dear life.  Let’s use this as my moment of learning for today!