Mastering Mental Fitness in The Messy Middle

Have you ever heard the term mental fitness? I hadn’t until recently, but now that I have, I’ve realized it’s a beautiful description for the work that I’ve been doing.

I am currently in the midst of some major hustle for my business ventures, taking on new clients, promoting the work I do to support women in figuring out what they truly want and bringing it to life, writing a book, and taking a couple of great courses. I am really busy!

At the same time, I’m taking more time off than I have in a long time. We’ve celebrated our anniversary, my birthday, Ross’ half birthday (yup!), PEI Pride Week, and next we’ll be spending some time with family.

So right now, I am pulling out every trick in the book to work as efficiently and effectively as possible. And in part, that means relying on mental fitness.

Thanks to the program I’m working on getting certified in, I’ve got lots of tools in my toolbox. I’m doing a daily walking meditation as I start my day, but I’m also integrating quick breaks to help me to get focused and make sure I’m in the best headspace possible to address challenges and make decisions.

The painful reality of being in the messy middle of building my business is that most days don’t get wrapped up with a pretty bow, and I rarely complete my to-do list (though I am getting better and better and completing my daily priorities list). Mental fitness is what keeps me in a state of wisdom, gratitude, hope, and making progress. It’s what helps to keep me eager to jump out of bed in the morning and eager to go to sleep at night (and rinse and repeat tomorrow).

What tools are you using to navigate life right now? Do you find yourself getting sabotaged by anxiety or negative voices in your head? Let’s share what we’re doing to keep going.

Mastering your mental health is a muscle. We need to practice flexing those muscles just like we might go for a swim, take a walk, or do a pushup.

Take care, friends. Especially in light of the world. Focus on what’s yours to do today, and tomorrow will get clearer too.

Weird vibes

So, I’ve been honest here about my recent struggles with anxiety and overwhelm and the work I’ve been doing on myself through the Enneagram, other forms of personal development, therapy, and self-care.

I wanted these past few weeks to be me getting back into the swing of things with my business after a delightful week of fun with my mom here on Prince Edward Island.

I wanted to be focused and on top of it.

And, while I think I’ve done a decent job of meeting my obligations and haven’t (I hope) missed any deadlines, I’ve been giving off vibes.

Weird vibes.

Vibes that confuse the heck out of people.

Can you possibly relate to this, or am I alone? Am I the only person who, in a state of anxiety, finds themselves making their friends and family think they’re getting the death stare when they’re actually getting the deer in headlights/confused as all heck look by someone who’s struggling to keep up?

It’s contributed to some communication challenges recently, for sure. And it’s given me plenty of fodder for therapy sessions.

But I am grateful. I’m grateful for family and friends who’ve done the work alongside me to communicate what they’re feeling, tell me when I’m bothering them, and taking care of themselves in the process.

I’m grateful for a cat who insists on all of the snuggles when I’m in a funk.

I’m grateful for a new therapist who seems like a great fit for me.

And I’m so excited for this season of concerts and my new pilot Enneagram program.

I imagine these weird vibes have something to do with my Enneagram type (I’m a 1) and something to do with all of the stress it can be really hard to avoid putting on myself.

I may not have my anxiety completely under control yet. I may have some weird vibes ahead of me. But I’m thankful for this life I’ve crafted and that you’re a part of it too.

Take care, friends.

P.S. I’m still writing a book. Any interest in getting on my email list in exchange for some previews from it? If so, please comment or reach out.

Five Things The Enneagram Taught Me About Myself

As I coordinate schedules in hopes of getting my pilot Enneagram group going soon, I’m thinking about how much I’ve learned about the Enneagram since I began studying it about two years back.

The Enneagram is an ancient tool for learning more about yourself and how you relate to other people. Unlike astrology or Human Design, someone doesn’t tell you your type, based on particular facts about yourself, like when you were born. Instead, you study the nine types (traditionally, this is done as an oral tradition, and our group will be watching videos to learn our type), and from that study and through engaging with other people to learn more about it, you can discern which type you are. Knowing your type gives you a path to follow toward a more whole and healthy life. In my case, it’s also made a major difference in my marriage, and it’s helped me to understand my family and friends better too.

Here are the top five things the Enneagram taught me about myself!

I Get Frustrated

Okay, so maybe that seems obvious to you if you know me personally. Or maybe you’re reading this and thinking, don’t we all get frustrated sometimes? But the Enneagram taught me that most of the time, when I don’t know how to put what I’m feeling into words, or when I feel angry, or a lot of other negative emotions, what’s honestly at the root of it all is frustration. And while that frustration is often directed at other people, more often than not, at least if I dig deeper, I will find out that I’m most frustrated with myself.

I Am My Own Worst Critic

Again, this might be obvious to some of you, and to some of you, you may assume everyone is their own worst critic. But as a 1 on the Enneagram, I’ve got a fun little voice in my head that likes to spend all of its time pointing out flaws in the world, but most especially my own flaws. Recognizing and identifying that voice is the first step in some major acceptance of who I am. It’s also helped me to recognize why it is that I get so critical about little things when I am tired or under stress. It’s also given my husband more compassion for me, rather than simply feeling angry or hurt, when I default to wanting things clean or fixed or put away on my schedule (rather than on OUR schedule).

I Verbally Process Things

Before studying the Enneagram, I knew I sometimes verbally processed (thought things through out loud, in conversation). What I hadn’t realized is that verbal processing is the way I like to process everything! One of my favorite tips from podcaster, author, and Enneagram expert Suzanne Stabile has been that I should end each day verbally processing what’s happened with my husband (or a friend, roommate, or even a journal or cat might work in a pinch). It’s something that I’d generally done with my husband, but studying the Enneagram made me aware of how healthy and important this is for me and my mental health.

People Tend To be Past, Present, or Future-Oriented

Before studying the Enneagram, I knew I was very aware of the present moment. I knew that some of my clients and friends struggled with looking ahead to the future or resisted spending time talking about the past, even wanting to put up a wall and avoid revisiting tough experiences.

I now know that each of us either past, present, or future-oriented. I happen to be oriented to the present, and for me, that means I have no problem supporting someone right now, but I can get easily distracted by a present task (or email or question) and lose sight of the bigger picture ahead of me.

I’ve also learned that some people (including a very close family member) are oriented toward the past, which can help explain why it’s tough for them to create goal and find motivation toward the future. Likewise, my more future-minded family members are constantly thinking about what’s next, so much so that it can be hard for them to enjoy the present moment. Of course, there are practices to help with all of this. In our ideal worlds, we’d all find balance between all three, so we can take steps to get there.

Just knowing this is a normal distinction and pattern has really helped me to understand why other people do what they do.

You Aren’t As Special, Or As Normal, As You Think You Are

What do I mean by that, exactly? There are so many pieces of the puzzle when it comes to who we are. In addition to the circumstances I experienced growing up, I am an Enneagram 1, a highly sensitive person (HSP), and an introvert. I’m also the oldest of four children, a white cisgender woman without any children, I grew up fairly well off in the Northeastern United States….

I could go on and on, of course, but the point is, there are tons of factors that come together and make us unique.

At the same time, I can find community, finding a LOT in common, in any of those groups. I might bond with one person who grew up visiting the White Mountains of New Hampshire, find traits in common with fellow introverts or with oldest siblings, or find people who sound an AWFUL lot like me who also identify as Enneagram 1s.

Some of my “weirdest” quirks I have in common with a lot of other people. And knowing that feels vulnerable and also super cool.

If you want to figure out your own Enneagram type, or if you know it, but you’d like to learn more about it and get to know people of other types as well as your own, please reach out to me and join our pilot.

And as always, if you’re looking for support in finding out what you truly want in life, and then figuring out how to make it happen, I’m your woman!

______________________________

Supporting Our Blog

We are so thankful for your support of our blog and our careers! You can help further by doing any or all of the following:

  • Purchase one of Ross’ albums! 
  • Take Ross’ online ukulele course!
  • Become a patron of our work!
  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links. There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds can support our travels. Begin your Amazon search here.
  • Make other purchases using our affiliate links. Signing up with Dosh is a great way for everyone with a smartphone to support us, and we also have options for aspiring virtual assistants as well as occasional and full-time RVers to save money.
  • Subscribe to our blog, as well as perhaps InSearchOfAScoop.com, and recommend our work to your friends and family.
  • Take music or theater lessons (group or private) from us, either in person or via Skype at TinyVillageMusic.com. 

The Only Cure I’ve Found For A Never-Ending To-Do List

Two gray pencils on corner of a yellow rectangle

Have you ever woken up overwhelmed, realizing that your to-do list is so long that you have no hope of accomplishing your goals for today?

I definitely have. It’s a chronic problem for many of us, and if that’s you too, it’s really worth doing the work to change your habits now so that you don’t continue to sabotage your mindset and hope of a great day before it’s begun.

When I read the book The One Thing, I was stunned by the deceptively simple premise. Ask yourself “what’s the one thing I can do today that will move me forward toward _”?

To answer it, you’ll need to know your top goal right now. And for me, I’ve got goals in a variety of areas, so there’s still some juggling involved. But for instance, if my taxes are due soon and they aren’t done yet, that might be the most important goal for me right now, which means the one thing I simply MUST accomplish today to be most effective might be gathering all the paperwork I’ll need to get my taxes done this month.

Over time, I’ve learned to allow myself to set 2 or 3 goals for the day sometimes. And that works. But always, I also make sure I know the #1 thing, and honestly, it’s most effective for most people to do that one thing first. But however you do it, get clear on your priorities for each day, and set those 1-3 goals. If you accomplish them, then know that You. Are. Done. You do not need to do ANYTHING ELSE. You are successful today. Well done.

And if just getting started feels daunting, it’s great to commit to taking 5 minutes (or however long) just to assess the entire task ahead of you. Read the instructions/read the emails you were sent. You don’t have to do the whole project – that counts as accomplishing something for today.

This technique works best when you also do some work articulating the one thing that would move the needle for you this week, and this month, and this year – and maybe even this lifetime!

The answers will vary, of course, over time, but these regular check-ins keep you honest with yourself, keep you from doing busywork or other work that just doesn’t mean as much or just isn’t as important right now.

Have you tried this technique? How does it work for you? And if this isn’t the technique for you, what’s worked better in your own life?

______________________________

Supporting Our Blog

We are so thankful for your support of our blog and our careers! You can help further by doing any or all of the following:

  • Purchase one of Ross’ albums! 
  • Take Ross’ online ukulele course!
  • Become a patron of our work!
  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links. There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds can support our travels. Begin your Amazon search here.
  • Make other purchases using our affiliate links. Signing up with Dosh is a great way for everyone with a smartphone to support us, and we also have options for aspiring virtual assistants as well as occasional and full-time RVers to save money.
  • Subscribe to our blog, as well as perhaps InSearchOfAScoop.com, and recommend our work to your friends and family.
  • Take music or theater lessons (group or private) from us, either in person or via Skype at TinyVillageMusic.com. 

Signs of Spring

Beach out an old window in winter - Ross and Jamie Adventure

I write this in mid-March. I’m looking out my window at a clear blue sky, trees with leaves bare, birds flying from branch to branch. I’m thinking about the fact that while my walk to the farmer’s market was really cold today, I stayed warm enough. That sun really helped. And though it’s only March, and it’s still winter as I’m writing this, I’m starting to see and feel signs of spring around me.

Of course, intellectually, I know spring isn’t here yet. But listening to the birds as they call to each other outside, I’m focusing instead on that sun, picturing the beach days to come, the sunsets on the ocean, the flowers, the berries…

I love spring. It’s my favorite season, always has been. The promise of what is to come, the new life, the eternal optimism of spring – I don’t think we can beat it. Sure, I love the summer days too, and fall leaves changing is so special…but when spring is in the air, it makes my heart happy.

As I navigate stress and a variety of challenges in many areas, I keep coming back to this hope, this promise. I sing about it. I dance it. I breathe it in.

Nothing is promised, but we’re still here. I’m still here. You’re still here. And whatever we’re facing right now, spring is still coming.

And that, I think, is something to celebrate today.

Here’s to spring, to new beginnings, and to tomorrow.

Take care, friend, and if you’ve had some good news you’d like me to celebrate with you, please leave a comment and share it with me!

______________________________

Supporting Our Blog

We are so thankful for your support of our blog and our careers! You can help further by doing any or all of the following:

  • Purchase one of Ross’ albums! 
  • Take Ross’ online ukulele course!
  • Become a patron of our work!
  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links. There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds can support our travels. Begin your Amazon search here.
  • Make other purchases using our affiliate links. Signing up with Dosh is a great way for everyone with a smartphone to support us, and we also have options for aspiring virtual assistants as well as occasional and full-time RVers to save money.
  • Subscribe to our blog, as well as perhaps InSearchOfAScoop.com, and recommend our work to your friends and family.
  • Take music or theater lessons (group or private) from us, either in person or via Skype at TinyVillageMusic.com. 

Top Tips For Facing Your Fear

What a wild time to be alive, friends! I hope you’re prioritizing your own health and well-being. There’s so much stress and vitriol in the world, and if we let it consume us, it really will.

I read this quote this week and it really resonated with me. It can be really helpful to stop and articulate, with words (out loud or in writing, or even with imagery) how we’re feeling and what we’re fearing. Putting a name to it can make it easier to face. 

Here are some of the things I’m fearing right now: 

  • I won’t build my business to the level I dream about
  • I won’t be able to visit family and friends for a long time
  • I won’t be able to attend my friend’s wedding
  • I won’t be able to safely share my views & background and be my authentic self under our next administration
  • I’m not doing enough to help the causes I care about
  • My BIPOC and LGBTQIAA+ friends and those with disabilities (basically anyone that isn’t a white male, TBH) won’t be safe in the near future

Putting it down makes it clear that that’s a lot to navigate! No wonder I feel stressed sometimes, despite my healthy habits. 

Here are some of the things I’m pursuing to clear my fears: 

  • Daily work on my business & accountability checks with my mastermind & mentors
  • Weekly calls and video calls with friends and family, plus emails and text check-ins
  • Daily and weekly work to encourage voting, educate those around me and assist anyone with questions
  • Supporting the causes I care about, financially and with my time and energy

It’s so, so important to not only articulate what’s on our minds, but, when we’re in the right headspace, make a plan with concrete steps to feel better. If we’re feeling scared of the unknown, what’s one thing that’s within our control that we can make progress on? If we’re frightened that x might happen, what’s one step we can take that will listen the blow if it comes true? 

For instance, if we’re afraid that a wildfire could burn our house down, we should pack an emergency bag & create a plan. 

If we’re afraid of the outcome of an election, we should vote and encourage our friends to do the same, and lend our support to the causes and people we care about if we’re able to do so. 

We can’t eliminate the possibility of the things we fear, in many cases, but we can eliminate the fear by tackling it head on with the pursuit of new things, as Susie Moore says. Taking concrete steps feels good, mentally, physically, and emotionally. 

Can you relate to any of these? What is one thing you can do today to face your fear?

Using Frustration as Fuel for the Future

I’ve been dealing with some challenging situations in my work lately. One of my clients has been particularly disorganized, and for the first time in a long time I’m finding it hard not to carry their own stress into my life.

It’s not the scenario I hoped for when I took on this client, but it’s a scenario that many aspiring adventurers know well.

Do you find yourself carrying the stress of your 9 to 5 into your nights and weekends?

Do you find it tough to turn off the worry when you turn off the laptop?

Is it hard for you to devote time to working on your goals and dreams because you’re too stressed about the here and now?

I can certainly relate, and my best piece of advice is this: use your frustration as fuel for the future.

When you catch yourself dwelling on anger or frustration, reframe the situation by saying (out loud, in a journal or in your head) “I’m so thankful for work that allows me to pay my bills. I’m so thankful for work that allows me to save for my future goals. This situation is helping me to build my future dream life.”

Remember that this frustration is fueling your future in multiple ways:

  • Financially – this money supports you while you dream and scheme and plan, and it may let you save enough for funding future too.
  • Emotionally – this experience is giving you visceral lessons that will stick with you moving forward. You’ll remember this feeling and when you lose momentum or focus on the work of dream life creation, remembering how much you don’t want to experience this again will get you that fire under your butt that’s needed for change.

Rewriting our stories is truly important for growth. It’s essential that I keep rewriting my frustration so that instead of a thing that’s happening to me, I put myself in a position of power.

I choose to do this job to support my future life.

I do this work to feed my family.

I’m learning lessons that will help me in the future.

Choose a story of empowerment. Choose to use your frustration as future fuel.

Have you been in this situation?

How did you handle it?

How are you rewriting your story today?

______________________________

Supporting Our Blog

We are so thankful for your support of our blog and our careers! You can help by doing any or all of the following:

  • Purchase one of Ross’ albums!
  • Become a patron of our work!
  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links. There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds can support our travels. Begin your Amazon search here.
  • Make other purchases using our affiliate links. Capital One 360 is one everyone can take advantage of to save money! Signing up with Dosh is a great way for everyone with a smartphone to support us, and we also have options for aspiring virtual assistants as well as occasional and full-time RVers to save money.
  • Listen to, subscribe and review our theater comedy podcast, Finishing The Season!
  • Subscribe to our blog, as well as perhaps InSearchOfAScoop.com, and recommend our work to your friends and family.
  • Take music or theater lessons (group or private) from us, either in person or via Skype at TinyVillageMusic.com

Our First Blowout – And How We Prepared

Well, we’ve lived in our RV for four years, traveling for almost four, and it finally happened – we had a blowout!

Ross was about forty minutes away from our destination (staying at a winery, where I was already waiting for him) when he felt an immediate change while driving, realizing there was a ton of resistance. He immediately pulled over to the side of the highway. Turns out he’d blown two tires.

It was scary, of course, but thankfully it happened during daylight on a clear day, Good Sam got there before dark and while the cost wasn’t cheap, we had plenty of space on our credit card for it. Not to mention that Ross, Squeak (our cat) and our house/RV were all okay!

It’s been interesting traveling during COVID-19. Where normally we’d be getting coffee or ice cream along the way, instead there’s a much more serious cost/benefit analysis happening before we consider takeout of any kind, and we certainly aren’t dining in anywhere! Getting out of Florida means less virus exposure, but we’re also traveling through areas that don’t have mask mandates or even potentially norms around mask-wearing, so we are treading carefully. We also don’t want to potentially infect the people that we bump into!

I think the big lesson learned for us was that doing the work pays off when you hit a time of crisis. If I hadn’t been so well-read on tires, I wouldn’t have known to tell Ross to get all four of the back tires replaced when two of them went, and financially getting them all replaced turned out to be the best decision (they only added another $100 when they added 2 tires to our order!) by far.

For Ross, all of his prior work learning to drive the RV like a pro with great care meant he knew exactly what to do, and trusted his gut, when the tires blew out.

How are you doing the work now to set yourself up for success later?

______________________________

Supporting Our Blog

We are so thankful for your support of our blog and our careers! You can help by doing any or all of the following:

  • Purchase one of Ross’ albums!
  • Become a patron of our work!
  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links. There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds can support our travels. Begin your Amazon search here.
  • Make other purchases using our affiliate links. Capital One 360 is one everyone can take advantage of to save money! Signing up with Dosh is a great way for everyone with a smartphone to support us, and we also have options for aspiring virtual assistants as well as occasional and full-time RVers to save money.
  • Listen to, subscribe and review our theater comedy podcast, Finishing The Season!
  • Subscribe to our blog, as well as perhaps InSearchOfAScoop.com, and recommend our work to your friends and family.
  • Take music or theater lessons (group or private) from us, either in person or via Skype at TinyVillageMusic.com. 

Four Years Of Thanks

It’s been more than four years of being full-time RVers (with vacations along the way, but always returning to our home), and with all of the uncertainty in the world, I’m feeling especially grateful that we followed our dreams and made this adventure happen.

There were so many things that we didn’t know when we started out. If I’d known then that we’d burn through our savings, that we’d have to spend so much money on repairs, that we’d clean toilets or nasty equipment or even experience a few truly horrendous things along the journey, would we have done it?

But, of course, if I knew the bad stuff that would come, then I’d likely know the good stuff, and how could I have passed that up? Getting to meet extraordinary people, visiting gardens and museums and animals and the ocean….eating extraordinary gluten-free food, amazing ice cream, the freshest Mexican and New Mexican cuisine and meeting up with family and friends (some we hadn’t seen in ages) along the way.

(Just a few photos from the past year or so below!)

We’ve worked full-time and part-time jobs, built businesses, checked off bucket list items and built new dreams. We’ve found communities that feel like home and places we look forward to returning to, and we’ve gotten clarity on what is and isn’t important in our lives.

And when I created the tagline for this website (Making The Lives We Want: A Practice In Living), I didn’t have any idea just how much we’d be leaning into it. I’m so glad we have.

I hope that whatever you’re going through, you’re okay. And if you can, take one small step today to make the life you want. Even if it’s just taking time for a cup of tea or a short walk. You deserve it.

Take care, and be well. Thanks for reading.

______________________________

Supporting Our Blog

We are so thankful for your support of our blog and our careers! You can help by doing any or all of the following:

  • Purchase one of Ross’ albums!
  • Become a patron of our work!
  • Make purchases via our Amazon website links. There is no additional cost to you, and a portion of the proceeds can support our travels. Begin your Amazon search here.
  • Make other purchases using our affiliate links. Capital One 360 is one everyone can take advantage of to save money! Signing up with Dosh is a great way for everyone with a smartphone to support us, and we also have options for aspiring virtual assistants as well as occasional and full-time RVers to save money.
  • Listen to, subscribe and review our theater comedy podcast, Finishing The Season!
  • Subscribe to our blog, as well as perhaps InSearchOfAScoop.com, and recommend our work to your friends and family.
  • Take music or theater lessons (group or private) from us, either in person or via Skype at TinyVillageMusic.com.