I know that you’ve got some amazing things to accomplish this year. As a true Freedom Junkie, your plans for the upcoming year are bound to have some elements of expanding your comfort zone, going on adventures, expanding love and passion in your life, growing in your career (or changing to a new one!), and feeling yummy in your body, mind, and spirit.
I also know that many of us Freedom Junkies have a hard time fitting in everything we want to do – especially in a way that leaves us feeling centered! I recently wrote a post about how I got seduced away from balance while on a three-month adventure in Africa, and how I brought myself back to center again. The key thing is to try and prevent that in the first place. While I have been known to say Balance is Bullshit, I am more speaking to what balance means for YOU, and what happens when you feel you are moving away from what you know works for you.
I want to share with you an analogy that I think works really well for helping to understand how to make it all work when you’ve got a lot to juggle. One of my health and nutrition teachers, Joshua Rosenthal of Integrative Nutrition, does a demonstration he calls Big Rocks:
That’s Joshua up there. He’s standing by some hazelnuts and some oranges and a glass jar. Here’s what they represent:
The hazelnuts are the tasks and duties we have to do in life. The “stuff.” The small stuff that takes up HUGE chunks of time unless you’re careful.
The oranges are the things in life that are of utmost importance to us – our major goals, our most important values that we want to honor.
The glass jar is the time and energy we have available to do all those yummy things we want to do, like our dreams and goals.
Oftentimes, what we end up doing is picking one “orange” – like the new project we want to launch in our business this year, for example – and focus on that for a bit. Then little by little (or sometimes in a flood!) we pour in a bunch of “hazelnuts,” like mowing the lawn, checking email, perusing Facebook, helping a friend edit an article, watching a movie…get it?
Then we remember another orange, like, “Oh shizzle! I told myself I was going to spend more time with my family and friends this year!” So we do that for awhile. The we add more hazelnuts like starting that other project that is shiny and new instead of finishing the one we wanted to finish, or doing loads and loads of laundry, or carting around that friend of ours who refuses to buy a car because it isn’t “environmental,” or drinking too much and being hung over the next day.
Then we remember yet another orange, but there is VERY LITTLE SPACE LEFT. In fact, before we know it, the hazelnuts of to-dos have taken up most of the space, and we have some lonely – and important – oranges sitting outside of our life. There isn’t enough room
And that is exactly how it feels, because there ISN’T enough time when that’s how you do things.
The good news is there is a different way of doing it: put ALL your oranges in FIRST. Pick the top three to six things that you want to get done, and before you do anything else, get those things done or focus on getting them done, no matter what. Get really clear about what “getting them done” or accomplishing them looks and FEELS like.
When you put the oranges in FIRST, and let the other stuff work around your most important values and goals, there is plenty of room for what is important to you. Even the hazelnuts fit (well, most of them!). And it feels much better to not have a few hazelnuts fit than some of your oranges.
So there ya go! This year, practice this technique. You can even do it for each month, each week, each DAY!
“What is most important for me to do today?”
Another tip: ask yourself, “What is the next most IMPORTANT thing to do?”
It’s my hope that as a result of this, you’ll spend more time doing things that are truly valuable to you, that help you grow, that help you feel and taste success, and help you make 2013 your best year yet;)
Note: Ana Verzone is a personal life and health coach, mentor and the original Freedom Junkie™ She helps passionate women awaken their lives of freedom, adventure and purpose, from their cells to their spirit. Her monthly Ziji Up!™ eZine goes out to thousands of subscribers. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs, schedule a free life assessment, and download her FREE Clarity + Courage ecourse by visiting www.anaverzone.com.
The way other people respond to you tells you way more about what it is like to be them, about what it is like to be living their life – and has very little to do with you.
This Christmas I was preparing to toast the love of my life at dinner. I started out first toasting my mother, followed by my future father-in-law, then our close friend, and was rather enjoying our dinner, for which I had roasted two ducks and placed juicy slices with crispy skins onto butternut squash ravioli, which was on top of savory shredded brussel sprouts. Yummm, right?!
I turn to my love and say, “And now I’d like to toast the love of my life,” and my mom interrupts and tries to make a joke of sorts by saying, “Oh, this is the second half of their fight! Ha ha ha!” She was referencing a disagreement I had earlier that day with my sweetie, which ended and kisses and was WAY left behind by us. But apparently it was fodder for some intimate-moment sarcasm.
Poor timing to say the least. But not the worst thing to say
Still, I stopped mid-toast, looked at her, and with a totally fake smile said, “Mom, could you please try not to talk right now, because this is when you tend to ruin everything.”
Yup. I said that out loud. In front of everyone. I didn’t even try to kick her under the table or something just as juvenile but at least more subtle.
Since when did I go from Simply Sassy to Queen Bitch? I mean, my mom has often put her foot in her mouth, and I’ve been able to let it go, because I’ve learned that I usually notice such things far more than anyone else in the room.
Fortunately it was an intimate dinner with only super close family and friends, so I felt a little less awkward. They called me out on my shit in as funny a way as possible. One friend even managed to turn what I had said into a nice statement about how hearing harsh things sometimes is “the price you pay when hanging with people who get things done, because that’s how things get done”…or something like that. It was a nice but unsuccessful attempt to make my bitchiness seem to have softer edges. We changed the subject to opening presents
Thank God for wine.
To be fair, my mom was experimenting with sarcasm. Since English is her second language, and this is a new thing for her, indeed many comments were somewhat inappropriate. But there were more moments like this.
Like when Thai, my fiancée, who had proposed to me in 15 countries, chose to do so once more because both of our parents were together in once place (a rarity), my mom laughs and starts shouting, “Say, ‘No’ this time! Say no! Ha ha ha!”
I crowded out her voice. I know Thai didn’t even hear her because he didn’t know what I was talking about when I mentioned it later. I didn’t say anything then because even though it annoyed the hell out of me, I still respected and valued the sacredness of the moment, which couldn’t be contaminated by anything someone else was shouting. And I whispered, “Yes,” as he held me close.
Then I steamed about it for days. I brought it up to her once, hoping she would see it was inappropriate to be sarcastic in intimate moments. “I was just joking!” she argued back.
Did I mention I hate sarcasm? I tried to tell her this sarcasm thing wasn’t something I was so into. I don’t think she got what sarcastic meant. How ironic.
While I could blame this all on sarcasm, I know that it wasn’t the only reason I was being triggered. These rude outbursts of mine weren’t just happening with my mom. I also snapped at Thai when he said things that I would have normally let slide. And I got super-irritated when a man at the grocery store said, “Wow, you’re a midwife? So, like, how long does it take before the baby is ready to come out?”
That is a totally appropriate question, yet I wanted to shout out, “9 freakin’ months dude! Don’t you watch the Discovery Channel?!” I didn’t shout that out, and since I can apparently maintain professionalism while feeling bitchy, it all went smoothly. Still…
Not my most glowing moment.
So, again, when did I go from Simply Sassy to Queen Bitch? I am usually uber-tolerant, patient, and chillaxed, especially after a nice long vacation. But here is what I realized that turned everything around:
I was unhealthy.
It was hard to admit. I – who has identified myself with terms such as climbing guide, yoga instructor, massage therapist, holistic healthcare practitioner, meditator, Buddhist – had become unhealthy.
It snuck up on me, really.
It started with a crappy diet in Africa because vegetables were hard to find, and we didn’t have a kitchen. I was eating lots of bread which I hardly eat at home, fried food, and salt, with minimal veggies and clean water. I even brought green veggie powder and multivitamins, which probably saved me from complete lunacy…but it still wasn’t enough.
I also had beer or wine almost every night, because it felt sooooo good after traveling in the heat, and after all, I was on vacation! I had to sit on trains and busses and the back of pickup trucks for 8-13 hours a day, many days in a row. I didn’t run because it would be between 90-120 degrees out on many days. I did yoga some mornings, but not most.
I was taking one antibiotic tablet a day to prevent malaria and I had taken de-worming medications after working at the refugee camp, so I am sure my body was thrown by all that too (but less so than it would have been with worms! Yuck!).
I hadn’t slept well for many nights because of the heat and the early bus/train schedules. I had to unpack and re-pack every day. We stayed in one place for more than one night four times in almost three months. Then when we got back, it was the Holidays, and my jet lag was waking me up at 2 or 3am bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with nowhere to go.
My soul was having a hard time catching up to me. And that’s an understatement.
The more I coach and the more I work in healthcare (over 14+ years now!), I realize how mood is affected by how healthy we are. We can blame feeling pissy on so many things, like “lame people” or “the government” or the elusive, “they.” Yet I have found that when we are healthy, we make better choices (which leads to happier results), and can flow much more readily and steadily with life’s bumps without getting rocked so hard. And getting bitchy.
I immediately booked a massage with my favorite therapist the day after Christmas. I went to yoga everyday during lunch. I listened to meditation sessions on my iPhone. I tried to sleep more every night, although jet lag was working hard against me on that one. I reluctantly unscheduled some visits with people I cared about.
I did these things even though it meant I was missing out on time with my family and friends. I’d rather be pleasant when I WAS around them than not do what it takes to feel balanced and have all this free time to be a bitch with them.
I signed up AHEAD OF TIME for two weeks of yoga classes in Alaska to start the day after we got back. I didn’t schedule anything for two weeks so I could focus on my Freedom Sessions Mastermind group that I am going to launch the second week of January (stay tuned!). I asked my partner to make sure I refrained from processed foods and meat, and that if I did eat meat, I wanted it to be wild game or organic. He agreed.
I launched into a cleanse too, eliminating alcohol, caffeine, sugar, gluten, meat, processed foods, unfermented soy and adding IN more fresh veggies, green juices, and other foods bursting with energy. Making these nutritional changes made the quickest difference of all the above. We are what we eat!
I moved back towards my center, I started feeling more balanced way faster than the time it took to get this unbalanced in the first place, and I was able to hug my mom when she “should-ed” all over me, because that’s what moms are for;)
I felt SPACE, I felt less anxiety, I felt relaxed, patient, kind, generous. All from coming back to center, honoring my needs, and leading a healthier lifestyle.
So you see, it wasn’t my mom’s fault at all. She was being herself, and whether it bothered me or not, I was reacting a certain way because of where I was at.
I learned that I floated a little away from what I always tell my clients: pick your top 3-6 things that you want to prioritize. Everything else fits AROUND those things.
In the end, this comes down to self-love. When we practice self-love, we have more to give to others.
What are your top three to six non-negotiables when it comes to nurturing and loving on yourself? Mine (for now) are:
1) regular exercise (for me that is a combination of some kind of cardio in the outdoors, and yoga)
2) good sleep (7-8 hours a night)
3) healthy food and drink
4) quality time with my close friends and family
5) quality alone time for myself (at least a half-day a week) – meditation falls under this
6) time to create for Freedom Junkie
I am open to that list changing, and I may even create one with more concrete details for each week or month (like making sure I get in three yoga sessions, ski two days, launch Freedom Sessions, etc…). It is so easy to get overwhelmed, and I find knowing your priorities will help with sifting through the shizzle.
PS: If you are interested in creating a healthier and more balanced YOU in 2013, stay tuned for Life Aligned – an upcoming 6-month health and wellness program where we will get your body – and life – aligned with your dreams!
Note: Ana Neff is a personal life and health coach, guide and Freedom Junkie™ She helps passionate people awaken their lives of freedom, adventure and purpose. Her monthly Ziji Up!™ eZine goes out to hundreds of subscribers. Her “Full-On 365” blog posts stem from her commitment to living full-on, every day, for 365 days in a row. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can learn more about her coaching programs and download her FREE Getting Clear Guide by visiting FreedomJunkie.com