A Week in Crafting my Life

It’s New Year’s Eve. This means that Crafting my Life starts in a couple of weeks – I’m excited! I’m hard at work, putting on the finishing touches. This also means that tomorrow is the last day for early bird registration, which saves you $30 off the full course price. Visit the Sign Up! page to get in on that.

Now, on to the topic at hand. Crafting my Life is an online course, but what does that really mean? What does an online course look like, anyway? I’m not sure that I can provide a definitive answer for every online course, but I can certainly tell you more about my online course.

First, though, I need to say that how you do Crafting my Life is up to you. That’s sort of the point of the course – it provides you with the flexibility to tailor it to your life, because otherwise it would be missing the point. All the same, I’m anticipating that for most of us, spending hours every day on a class isn’t possible. One or two hours a week is probably what it will look like for most people. So, what fills those one or two hours?

  • Every week you’ll get an email with an introduction and outline of the week’s topic, and some thoughts and ideas to get you started thinking.
  • A couple of days later you’ll receive a video or an audio interview, expanding on the topic. The interviews will be around 20 minutes, and the videos will be around 5 minutes.
  • You’ll get a sheet every week to help you flesh out your own thoughts and ideas on the week’s topic. It has some ideas to get you started, and encourages you to think about how you would implement this in your own life.
  • Each week you’ll do a mission, and how you do it will be up to you. You can spend 10 minutes or 10 hours on it, although I expect most people will clock in closer to 10 minutes than 10 hours.
  • You’ll have access to the online community, which you can decide how much time you’d like to spend on. I hope you’ll spend however long it takes to find the support you need.

My basic vision is that people will spend about 20 minutes a day on the course, a few days a week. Although you could absolutely do it all at once, or do it in smaller chunks of time around your life. As I said, this is about fitting the course into your life in a way that works for you, and gives you the maximum benefit.

If you would like to know anything else about Crafting my Life, drop me a line or visit my Questions? page. I’m happy to help you find an answer!

Now, let me take this chance to wish you all a very, very happy New Year. I hope that 2011 holds great things for you. In fact, I kind of have a feeling that it does!

Letting Go of Obligation

I am going to indulge myself and let loose with a little woo woo here. Because some situations just call for woo woo.

I have been working hard on Crafting my Life. I’m really pleased with how it’s shaping up. But it should come as no surprise that creating a 12 week course from scratch is a lot of work. It’s not always the things that I expect to be hard that are hard, either. I was terrified of the interviews, but so far those have been really a lot of fun. And other than the fact that Skype fell apart and one of them had to be re-scheduled, they’ve been pretty smooth. But setting up the money stuff and the online community and tweaking website copy have taken much longer than I anticipated.

So, life has a way of not working out the way we expect it to. That’s … er … life. I get it, and I accept it. But throw in Christmas and sick kids and all the rest of my regular goings-on and I have felt sort of overloaded. Which is also life, but not really the fun part.

Now here is where I get my woo woo on (in case you couldn’t tell).

In the middle of feeling like I will never get to sleep before midnight again, I’ve come across all of this stuff that has spoken to me. As I read it, I feel like it was written for me. Call it fate. Call it God. Call it the Universe. Call it a coincidence that my superstitious mind is reading too much into. No matter how you slice it, though, I’ve gotten the message I needed at just the right time.

I am in love with this book

  • I received a fabulous book for Christmas, called The Not so Big Life. I am in love. Here is something that really caught my attention today:

    If you can’t get something done then, it wasn’t supposed to happen … There may be people here or there who get frustrated because something … doesn’t happen on schedule, but that frustration is their life experience …

  • I was reading the fabulous Havi, and came across The Flow Chart of Spaciousness. It basically says to not do things that aren’t restful and supportive (or can’t be made restful and supportive). Plus – flow chart! Flow charts make my engineer’s soul sing.
  • I read Seth Godin’s post on the difference between busy-ness and business. I have talked about busy-ness myself before, too. I know that we often busy ourselves with things that don’t really matter, for a whole lot of reasons. Could this be part of my problem?

I’m still wrestling with the concept of giving myself room and space and time, and letting go of my sense of obligation. There are a lot of tasks I’ve taken on that aren’t getting done. Many of them are things that I really legitimately dislike doing. Does this really mean that I shouldn’t do them? I’m not sure I can totally buy into that. But I can see that a lot of my feeling of being overwhelmed comes from thinking about the stuff I don’t want to do, and putting my energy into avoiding it and feeling guilty about it and telling myself how awful I am for not doing it sooner. What a waste!

I don’t have all the answers to this one, yet. But I feel like maybe, at least, I’m starting to ask the right questions. I think that’s something.

What about you? Do you think that there are things that we’re just not meant to do, or that aren’t meant to happen? I’d love to hear your thoughts! And I’d also love it if you watched this super-cool Crafting my Life video that Jon made for me. He’s such a rock star.

Don’t Seek Dating Advice from a Married Woman

I met my husband in high school, and we started dating four days before I turned 15. This May we will celebrate 20 years together, and 10 years of marriage.

I’m not telling you this as some kind of testament to the awesomeness of my marriage. I’m telling you this because it displays my lack of relationship experience. Jon is the first boy I ever really kissed. I didn’t plan for it to work out this way, but it did, and now I’m in my mid-30s and I’ve never really dated anyone. In my life so far, I have learned a lot about what it means to be in a relationship. I haven’t learned anything about what it takes to find someone, though.

I’ve run into a similar situation as I craft my life. Many people, myself included, can feel like we have little to offer since we don’t have obvious success. We see the endings and the bad relationships and feel jealous of those who didn’t experience that. I admit that I feel this way when I look at someone who has early success in an area where I’m still struggling. It’s natural to wish that it came easily to us, too.

As appealing as easy success is, it does not hold all the answers. In experimenting and struggling, we gain a lot that people who don’t face the same struggles never do. If someone has few dragons, they never learn how to slay them. If someone happens upon success, they don’t learn how to persist through setbacks. If someone meets their partner when they’re a teenager, they don’t learn the same things about finding love.

Life lessons can be hard, and not a lot of fun. But they are the kind of lessons that make us who we are, and leave us stronger. They are the kind of lessons that let us know exactly what we can do. And I firmly believe that we can all do much more than we think.

There are two sides to crafting a life. There is the part where we create and build and take risks. Then there is the part where we know when to walk away from something, or acknowledge an ending, or give up an idea. Both sides of life-crafting are equally important. They both help us to advance on the path that we’re walking. They both have a part to play in the mosaic of our life.

Endings can be hard, but they are not a sign that we never should have started in the first place. They are also not a sign that we have failed. They are a sign that we tried something, and that it ran its course – whatever that course looked like. Nothing lasts forever. While that can be sad, it can also be liberating. It means that we do not have to be perfect, or always know the right answer. Because, really, there are no right answers.

As the year draws to a close, we find ourselves in a time of natural endings. This feels like a good time to say that we should embrace our experiences, including the endings. We should take pride in the fact that we ventured in the first place. Because venturing, I think, is the secret of life.

Reaching Out

I recently published the names of the people who have agreed to be interviewed as part of Crafting my Life. As I type this I have finished three of these audio interviews, which are each around 20 minutes long. So far I’ve spoken to Gina, Teresa and Annie. They were all awesome, in their very own way.

I really stepped outside my comfort zone by asking to interview these women, and the three others who I will be speaking to soon. I was worried that I was imposing on them. I was worried that they would be far too busy at this time of year. I was worried that once I got on the line with them I would have no idea of what I should say. What if it all went horribly wrong?

Ever since I was a little kid, calling people on the phone has been a dragon of mine. A big, roaring, fire-breathing dragon. The dragon tells me that I won’t know what to say, and the person on the other end of the phone will think bad things about me. It’s not rational, but dragons never are. It’s what makes them so tricky.

Dragons may be hard, but they also stand between us and some pretty great experiences. I knew that I wanted to have some input from other people as part of Crafting my Life. Outside perspectives are Good. People who aren’t me can offer experiences and insight and ideas that I can’t. So I decided to ignore my dragon, and sent off a bunch of emails, asking people to take part.

To my surprise, pretty much everyone was very happy to participate. We set up times. I figured out how to record a Skype call. I confined the dragon to its cave, and I did it. And it was awesome.

It’s hard to create a new path for yourself. The good news is that you’re probably not the first person to walk that path. Whether you want to learn to play the piano, or market your art, or become a successful photographer, there are others out there who can offer you insight and experience. They have been in your shoes, and they have learned a few things in the process. And even better, many of them want to share their insight and experience.

Nobody gets where they’re going on their own. If someone is successful, you can bet that other people have helped them along the way. Generally, people are more than happy to pass that help along. Helping other people makes us feel useful and important and smart. It gives us the benefit of passing along goodwill and knowledge. Would you be flattered if someone sent you an email saying they look up to you and they’d like to ask you a few questions? I would, and there’s a good shot your role model would, too.

Through the process of interviewing people who I look up to, I have learned that reaching out to others is both easier than I expected, and also far more rewarding. It’s worth facing a dragon or two, for sure.

If there’s someone that you admire, or who has information that could help you, I encourage you to make the connection. Be honest. Be genuine. Let them know what they have meant to you. And then soak up every little thing you can. It will be worth the risk.

Have you ever reached out to somebody you admire? What was that like for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Interviewees

Tomorrow advanced registration for the Crafting my Life online course on living with intention begins! If you want in on that, sign up for my email list over there on the right. I would love to have you along for the ride.

Right now, I’m still hard at work on making this ride happen. One of the things I’m doing is setting up audio interviews with some cool people. Let me tell you more about that. These are the people who have agreed to be interviewed:

1. Gina from The Feminist Breeder – Gina will be talking to me about finding your blisss. She is soon to be a mother of three, and she’s been a musician, doula, aspiring law student and Cesarean awareness advocate.
2. Teresa Pitman – Teresa is one of my personal role models. She has written or co-authored 14 published books, including the latest edition of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. She is a former Executive Director of La Leche League Canada and mother of four.
3. Alison from Bluebird Mama – Alison will be talking to me about dealing with negativity – what I call dragons. Alison has lived an unconventional life in a few ways, including spending years living in a converted bus. I admire her a lot, and I can’t wait to speak with her.
4. Sierra from ChildWild – I will be talking to Sierra about money. In addition to writing at ChildWild, Sierra contributes to the extremely popular finance blog Get Rich Slowly. She writes about frugality and sustainability, and I can’t wait to pick her brain on the practical side of life-crafting.
5. Annie from PhD in Parenting – Annie will be talking to me about using your voice. Annie is not afraid to tackle controversial subjects, speak her truth, and tell others about it. She’s one of my blogging role models.
6. Amanda, aka pomo mama – I will be talking to Amanda about exploring our creative side as we re-invent our lives. Amanda creates hand-crafted jewelry, and she’s about to have her first solo exhibition. She has a background in veterinary medicine, and she’s my personal friend.

Edited: Since I first published this post, we have added two more fabulous interviews. Robin, perhaps better known as the super-cool woowoo mama, shares her thoughts on sustaining change as we move forwards. And singer/songwriter and artist Joyelle Brandt talks to us about making her art, and slaying her dragons, all while wearing fairy wings.

I am all a-twitter at the prospect of talking to these ladies, and hearing some of their thoughts on living with intention. I hope you’re excited, too!

So, now you know what I’ve been up to. What have you been up to? I’d love to hear all about it!

Is Balance Possible?

I’ve been thinking about balance lately. I’m going to be talking about balance at the next meeting of the Vancouver Attachment Parenting International group this Saturday. And so I’ve been clarifying my thoughts on what balance is, how you seek it, and how you know if you’ve found it.

I’ve heard the sentiment that balance isn’t possible, especially for a mother of young children. I understand why someone would say that. There is always something that needs our attention, there is never enough time or emotional energy, and just when we think we’ve got things figured out, they change. When you have kids, you’re subject to a constant stream of curve balls. I often feel that I’m spending my days running to catch up, and never quite getting there.

But. But. I don’t think this means that we should just throw our hands up in the air and give up on any idea of balance. Although I do think we should have a better word than balance. Balance has become a little too loaded, a little too clichĂ©. Perhaps equilibrium would be better. Or even manageability. I am seeking manageability. That sounds like something I could almost find!

Whatever you call it, I think that there are three things you need to achieve balance / equilibrium / manageability:

  • Timing. There are certain times when your life is going to be out of balance. When you have a newborn. When your partner experiences a serious health concern. When you move halfway across the country. When you start a new business. You’ll find it again, but when you’re in the midst of a big life change, you can cut yourself some slack if your life is unmanageable, knowing that it won’t last forever.
  • Priorities. When you have little kids, you don’t have much (or maybe even any) free time. There are lots of things constantly clamouring for your attention. So knowing what matters most to you is key when you’re seeking equilibrium. It helps you to decide how to use your very precious resources, so that you can live with intention and do the things that matter most to you, whether that’s taking your kids to the park, writing your novel or just taking a shower.
  • Support. No one can do it all, and certainly not all at once. Finding a supportive community can be a big help to anyone, but I feel it’s especially true when you have little kids. That community can come in the form of your partner, your family, your friends, your neighbours, or even the people you hire to help you out. Whether you need someone else to hold the baby for 10 minutes so that you can shower, or you just need a friendly ear, having people in your corner makes life much more manageable.

I certainly don’t have all the answers. Like everyone else, I have days when I can’t even find the time to eat a hot meal. But I persist in my quest for manageability. Because this is my life that I’m living here, and I deserve to play a part in it.

What about you? What is your definition of balance? And do you like the word balance? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

PS – If you’re on my email list you can register for the course starting this Saturday, December 18 for $97, which is $20 less than the already-discounted early bird price! So, if you haven’t already, sign up for the list up there on the right.

Course Outline

I am creating a 12 week e-course for moms about living with intention. Hopefully, if you’re on this site, that much is clear. If it’s not, check out the new Welcome page that I made, which should give you the skinny on my vision.

It’s important to have a vision. That’s why I have one. But it’s also important to focus on the practical. You may be wondering what this vision will actually look like when it’s put into practice in the course, and that’s totally fair. So let me tell you something about that.

Each week we’ll focus on a different aspect of living with intention. The topics are meant to build on each other, so that what we talk about in the first week feeds into what we talk about in the second week, and so on. And this is what my current course outline looks like:

Week 1: Taking stock – Figure out what you love about your life, and what you’d like to change.
Week 2: Role models – Sometimes we need someone to look up to.
Week 3: Making space – Creating a space, figuratively and literally, for yourself.
Week 4: Arting and Crafting my Life – Tapping into your creative side to help you find your dreams.
Week 5: Finding your bliss – Some of us need a refresher in letting loose with our dreams.
Week 6: Life map – Figure out where you’re going.

Mid-way through the class, we take a rest week. Lovely!

Week 7: Dragons – We all have them.
Week 8: Slaying the dragons – You get to use a sword. This part is cool.
Week 9: Money – It matters.
Week 10: Relationships – No mama is an island.
Week 11: Finding your Voice – We all deserve to be heard.
Week 12: Carrying it forward – How to keep going in the chaos of life.

Throughout the course there will be emails that give you lots to think about, as well as missions to accomplish. I am creating videos, and I’m working on some audio interviews with some fabulous and inspiring people. There will be help to get you going and an online community where you can find support.

If this sounds like your cup of tea, be sure to subscribe to my email list using the snazzy form on the right. Not only will you be among the first to find out who I’m interviewing for the course, but you’ll also be eligible for advance registration and special pricing. It’s all very VIP, yo.

So, now that I’ve told you what I’ve been planning, tell me what you’ve been planning. What are you dreaming and doing right now? I’d love to know!

Pricing and Registration and Taglines, Oh My!

In November I asked for your help in finding a tagline for the Crafting my Life website and online course. And you did help! I ran a poll here on this site. Here are the choices I gave you, and the results that I got:

  1. Motherhood, redefined – 50%
  2. Slaying dragons and building dreams – 25%
  3. Because passion matters – 21%
  4. What’s next? – 4%

I also asked for other suggestions. I received two, in particular, that helped me reach my final decision. The first was from my friend Sue, who suggested “Motherhood, re-engineered” as a play on my engineering background. The second was from my friend Karen, who suggested that I play off of the word “crafting”, with something like “Motherhood in the making”. I liked both of these. I thought about what engineering and crafting have in common, and I realized they both involve design. So, I tweaked the winning result from the poll and I settled on “Motherhood, redesigned”.

Decision? Made. Thank you so much for your help!

Also, if you subscribe to my email list, on Saturday you received information about course registration and pricing. This was a big, scary email for me to send, I’ll be honest. Money is a big dragon for me. It’s hard and stirs up lots of emotions and provides a barrier. But I faced that dragon, and I sent the email. Now I’m facing it again, and writing this post. Here I go.

  • December 18 – Registration opens for email subscribers. The cost will be $97, or 3 monthly payments of $35.
  • December 26 – Early bird registration opens. The cost will be $117, or 3 monthly payments of $42.
  • January 2 – Regular registration opens. The cost will be $147, or 3 monthly payments of $53.

All prices are in US dollars.

If you don’t subscribe to the email list already, but you would like to be eligible for the early registration and special pricing, subscribe by entering your info where it says “Subscribe” on the right.

I hope that by providing payment plans, you will find a choice that works for you. I also understand if this is just too steep for you, and you can’t swing it. We can still be friends, no matter what.

Deep breath out. I did it, and I’m still OK. Whew.

Now you know what I’ve been up to this week. I’m facing dragons and making decisions, man. But what about you? What are you up to? Tell me all about it!

Just Me

I am a 34-year-old suburban mom of two. I drive a 10-year-old car. I’m not very good at accessorizing. I have a tendency to interrupt people when they’re talking. I am not well-traveled, or really all that well-read. I am afraid of making phone calls. I often feel like I have no idea what I’m doing.

I have some things going for me. I was born into a middle-class Canadian family. I have an education and an excellent memory and access to technology. My husband is a pretty great guy. I can do long division in my head. I am not afraid of public speaking. I picked up knitting very easily.

We all have our own strengths and weaknesses. This isn’t exactly news. While my strengths and weaknesses are different yours, that doesn’t mean that I’m better or worse than you. I don’t believe there is really such a thing as better or worse when it comes to people. We’re all worthy human beings, and we’re all just doing the best with the hand that is dealt to us. The fact that those hands vary doesn’t really mean anything.

OK, that’s not true. The fact that those hands vary means that some of us may want nothing more than to be a nurse, and some of us could not imagine a fate worse than being a nurse. It does make sense to play to your unique strengths as much as you can. It also makes sense to try to follow your own bliss, and dream your own dreams. It’s true that we’re all worthy no matter what (law-abiding things) we do, but that doesn’t mean we all have to do the same thing. Vive la diffĂ©rence, and all that jazz.

I’m making a lot of qualifications here, and not making a lot of points. So now I’ll try to change that.

Like I said, we’re all worthwhile human beings with unique abilities. This means that we’re all equally deserving of a good life. Some people have a leg up, through a twist of fate or a chance of birth. If you’re reading this post then you have access to the internet, which only about 29% of the world’s population has. You may not have everything going for you, but at least you have that. And having that, within your own abilities and interests, there is no reason that you can’t do the same sorts of things that other people can do.

I often think that I’m nothing special. And I’m not. But I’m also everything special, just as you are also everything special and Joe Schmoe in line at the convenience store is everything special. So don’t use being “nothing special” as an excuse. It’s hard to reach outside of your comfort zone. It’s hard to make a leap of faith. It’s hard to talk to your dragons when they’re telling you that you will probably fail anyway so you shouldn’t even try. It’s all stinking hard. But hard isn’t the same thing as impossible. In fact, hard isn’t even the same thing as unlikely.

Just as we are, we can do a whole lot more than we think. I’ve seen it. I bet you have, too. You’ve seen it in yourself, when you rise to the occasion in a way you didn’t think possible. You’ve seen it in your neighbour, who may not be much to look at but managed to create something fabulous. You’ve seen it in that guy in the paper, who got a zany idea on his 47th birthday and acted on it. Being “nothing special” doesn’t mean we can’t do great things.

I hope that the Crafting my Life course will be a great thing. I think it will be. And I am definitely putting in the hard work. I will be sending an email tomorrow morning (which is Saturday, December 4) with the big reveal of my tagline. It will also contain information about pricing and availability for the course. I am going to be talking about money, and that is sort of hard. But I am doing it, and I am learning, and building and growing. If you haven’t signed up for my email list yet, you can do that by entering your email address where it says “Subscribe” on the top right, and you’ll get the email and see me slaying my own dragons firsthand.

Now, tell me what you’re up to. What have you done lately that’s hard? What dragons have you slayed? I’d love to hear all about it! And if you’d like to know what one mom is doing that’s hard in crafting her own life, check out this great post by Amanda called Crafting my (Future) Life.