Answer the Call

This morning my husband and I were talking about the choices we made to consciously work to live, rather than live to work. He remembered telling a friend when he was just out of high school, "If you don't like your life, change it. You don't have to be stuck in something you hate forever."

This is the choice he and I have made over and over again, independently and together. But making a better life isn't always easy. It comes with a fair amount of risk, it requires more courage than is comfortable and feels safer when faith comes along for the ride.

I had a friend, a single mom, who felt a strong call to move from Washington state to Atlanta, GA. She had some friends there and *almost* made the move years prior. It was calling her again, but it didn't make sense to her. Why leave a job she loved? Why uproot her daughter like that? Why risk everything you know for the unknown?

She and I had long conversations about this calling to move to Atlanta. She talked. I listened. I've certainly heard calls like that before, and I've learned to trust them. Yes, it's hard. Yes, it's scary. Yes, there's a lot of unknowns. But when something calls you like that, it's best to answer.

My friend wanted to take the leap and I encouraged her to do so. Not because that's what I wanted, but because that's what she wanted. It was the calling on her life, not mine. Sometimes we need help to answer those calls. 

My friend ended up moving to Atlanta and, after a few bumps in the road, settled into her new life. She's getting married next month to the man of her dreams. She said to me, "I didn't know why I wanted to move, other than I wanted a change. Now I know why."
You can't make this stuff up, folks.

We don't always understand until after we pick up the phone, until after we make the leap. Creating Boundaries for the Holidays was one of those calls. It woke me up (literally) and asked to be created. I took a leap. I didn't know how I was going to do it. I leaned on friends and mentorship, especially from the great Jen McFarland.

This work stirred up more in me than I could have ever anticipated. Fear reared its head more often than I care to admit. But I'm still answering the call.
I don't know what waits on the other side, but I know I'll soon find out.
Class begins tomorrow.

Today is the last day to sign up for this cohort. I'm offering it for 10% off.  

If this is calling to you, now's the time to answer.

Mental Load & the Holidays

This month, on my video blog Living & Learning, I'm talking about the mental and emotional loads we carry in life, and especially during the holidays. If you don't know what mental load is, you should check out this really cool graphic description.

This weekend I picked up the shoes at the bottom of the stairs, the legos on the floor and gathered the dishes that were scattered around the house. I threw a couple of loads into the laundry, hung up a bunch of jackets and replaced the hand towel in the bathroom. No one else thought to do any of these tasks until I assigned them the opportunity to take care of it. This is mental load in action. It's not to say no one will help, but I have to be the one to ask for that help.

While I clearly hold the mental load of cleaning the house, my husband holds the mental load of cooking. This means I rarely have to think about grocery shopping or timing of meals. When it's dinnertime, the food is there. I have not considered how to cook a chicken or what kind of grain or veggie should be served. A lot of women are impressed when they find out my husband does all the cooking. Besides the amazing meals, I think they are mostly impressed that someone helps carry that mental load. They often hold the loads of both cooking and cleaning, if not more.

Other daily mental loads include yard work, finances and child wrangling, including feeding, napping, transporting and clothing said child. The holidays up the ante on what (typically) women carry. Buying presents, meal planning, taking pictures, meal shopping, holiday cards, event planning, decorating and baking adds to the list of mental loads.

And we haven't even begun to talk about emotional loads.

Emotional loads are when one carries the burden of making sure everyone in the family is happy, peaceful and harmonious: children, spouses, in-laws, friends, parents. But that's another story.

Carrying these loads tend to happen unconsciously. We may be holding a lot and not even realize it. No wonder we get so stressed and burned out around the holidays. If you're working a full-time job on top of managing the mental and emotional "projects" at home, it's easy to get overwhelmed. Add on existing family tension and a general lack of knowhow around boundaries, and it is no surprise why so many Thanksgiving-themed movies are around dysfunctional families exploding into chaos.

If your family prefers to stuff their feelings with the turkey and gravy instead of letting it all hang out, that doesn't mean it makes things any better. Yes, emotions can be delicious, but a life with healthy boundaries is truly la dolce vita.

There's seven days left to sign up for Boundaries for the Holidays. If you struggle with carrying all of the mental and emotional loads for the household or if your family drives you nuts, there's a better way.

Love & Boundaries

Boundaries and Love
I used to think that if I cared for someone, I showed that care by flexing and bending to what they liked and not getting too attached to my opinions. Sharing my opinions seemed selfish, damaging and overly dramatic. As a result I had a hard time sharing my voice, even over the simplest questions.

"What do you want to eat for dinner tonight?"
"Oh, I don't care."

While my approach was conflict-avoidant, my inner world was rife with conflict. I grew resentful, wondering why everyone else seemed to get what they want but not me. I beat myself up for not being more assertive. I would set a boundary with someone, only to have it crossed days later. I said nothing.

I looked around and all I could see was the selfishness of others. I couldn't see how I was contributing to this dynamic.

Fast forward to last week. My friend, Tony, told me the best definition of boundaries he'd ever heard: "My love for you is unconditional, but the terms of our relationship are not."

This sentence took my breath away.

Our love may be unconditional and unwavering and yet the way we behave in that relationship are not written in stone. We get to decide the terms of how we engage with one another in that relationship

Our love can remain intact as we negotiate the terms of our relationship. When we do, we genuinely let go of resentment and we step into joy and deeper connection.

Boundaries are not about building walls. Boundaries are about negotiating the terms of the relationship so that connection is deepened.

This is why I created the Boundaries for the Holidays webinar course. It's for you no matter where you live. It's six weeks long. It starts October 14th. It's $250. It's totally worth it. Are you in?