Checking in: The Year of Living Intentionally Steps 1-4

Note: This is part of a recurring series of posts I’m calling The Year of Living Intentionally. (Unofficially, I’m calling it That Time Leah Decided to Get Her Shit Together.) You’ll be able to access all the posts here. I hope you’ll join me on the adventure.

Well, we’re almost two months into The Year of Living Intentionally project. Let me give you an update on how it’s going on my end.

(Spoiler alert: It’s not. Well, it is, but like anything I do, it’s been a slow, bumpy start.)

  1. Step One: Stop the Loop. Oh, you guys, I don’t know. I think I’ve gotten better at this, though I’m surprised to say it. Often times without even thinking about what I’m doing now I can shut that mental window on the bad thoughts hamster wheel (mixing up my analogies just a bit here), so I can tell that the practice is becoming a habit. But it’s harder when the day’s been bad, or I haven’t gotten as much sleep, or I realize I missed something I should’ve done. So, it happens a lot. But not as often as it used to occur, so we’re getting there. Baby steps, like I said. I’m okay with that, especially since it’s kind of cool to know that I’m starting to out-smart my weird brain bully. 
  2. Step Two: Back Away from the Internet. On the flip side, I’m straight up bombing this one. I’m not so much abstaining from social media as I am taking it to Mardi Gras. My instinct is to still check the news on my phone before I’m even out of bed in the morning. Like, the alarm goes off, I hit snooze, I start scrolling. I’ll still zone out at different times during the day–especially when I get tired–just sitting there with my phone in hand, scrollingscrollingscrolling, even with a child right beside me, asking for attention. If the writing gets tough, I’m all, “Oh, look! Another video on Facebook!” My addiction to the internet is pathetic, really (oops. Step One, people. STEP ONE.): in fact, I’m no better at this than I was the day I first posted. I have about as much self-control with social media as I do with chocolate, and you guys: there are three full Easter baskets sitting on my kitchen counter right now, chock-full of the good stuff. You can guess how bad it is. It’s time to take Step 2 a bit more seriously.
  3. Step Three: Just Trust. This is a tough one, too. Am I getting better at living day-to-day? I think so. But I will tell you that trying to do this has led me to the conclusion that I think I need to do something that gets me out in the world more. I know that sounds weird to say, but the amount of time I spend alone–writing, caring for kids, and now instead of joining a gym, which would force me to hang out with groups of people on a regular basis, I started running again, which can be about as solitary as it gets–is getting to me. Actually, I think it’s been getting to me for a while now. For the past year or so, I’ve been feeling an awful lot how I did in the six months after I had Saoirse–hormones were wacky, I was by myself a lot and getting really down–and then when I started joining playgroups and classes and gathering a group of new friends together, it all changed. The problem is that I like being by myself–give me a book and a quiet space and I’m a happy girl. If you give me the choice between going to a party and staying home, I’ll choose home almost every time (I am only social because a] people still like me enough to invite me to places, and b] I’m married to a person who knows that I actually like seeing the people who invite me to places). But that routine of getting ready for the day, and dressing up, and walking into a place that’s in actual society and not my dog-hair covered office–I think I need it. And I think it would help an awful lot with Steps 1, 2 AND 3 if I were, well, more “in the world” and less in my head. That’s something to think about. But I’ll trust (get it? I said “trust!” How on-theme was THAT?) that I’ll figure it out. I feel a little embarrassed saying all that, because there are plenty of you who are reading this who live that routine naturally, on a daily basis. But the SAHM life can be isolating enough if you let it. Add in a fledgling writing career, and you’re basically creating a hermit who’s thisclose to showing up at school pick-up wearing a bathrobe and muttering to herself. I need to break out of my bubble.
  4. Step Four: Get Up Early. It’s only been a week, but I’m doing it. Please hold your applause, though, because I’m tired and it’s loud. In all honesty, it was probably not the best idea to start this grand schedule shift the same week I started working out again, because everything hurts. Truly, I can’t tell if I’m exhausted because I got up while the sun was still over England or because my quad muscles haven’t seen this much action (that sounds dirty) since Cian was in diapers. But a) I’m peppy by the time the kids get up for school, so that’s something, and b) I’m actually back to writing on a steady schedule, every day, so that’s REALLY saying something. I know it’ll get easier. Like my friend Sarah says, getting up well before she has to like an insane person (I may have added that last part) is one of the best things she’s ever done for herself. My sister-in-law echoed that, and she’s super productive and happy, so I can’t say it’s not working for her. The sun is just starting to rise now as I type this. The birds have begun talking outside the window, and the rain is gently falling against the house. I can hear the traffic on the highway a few miles away, but inside this room, it’s still calm. I’m also pinned down by the cat at the moment so I’m kind of held hostage, but it’s nice, in a way. Calm is better than throwing myself out of bed in a frenzy because I’m already behind.

I have a few goals lined up to tackle next, but I think I’m going to go back and revisit these four steps for a little while longer before I do. I remember when I used to teach and used the tried-and-true method of scaffolding: I worked with the students to teach a lesson, then eventually backed away as they grew able to do it themselves. I’m still in the hands-on, “HELP ME” stage of this process. But give me a moment. I knew this would take a year. It’s still early days.

I’ve got some work to do.

Question: How is it going for you? Have you decided to tackle the steps? Are you succeeding?