Celebrate the Small Wins

Today is the last day of National Blog Post Writing Month, and it also happens to be the longest work day I’ve had in a very long time, at 11 hours and counting. I’m tired, and I still want to work on my newsletter and Inspiration links before I get to bed, so it seems like as good a time as any to celebrate the small wins.

Celebrate the Small Wins >> Life In Limbo

I wrote a blog post for every day in November after I committed to the challenge (from the 3rd onwards)!

Despite the long work day, I still got to Inbox Zero.

I got to talk to one of my favourite people on my commute home.

I don’t normally have to commute home.

I work with (mostly) extremely understanding and supportive people.

Tomorrow is Friday.

My cat didn’t puke anywhere in my apartment while I was out.

I drove a car around Toronto today and didn’t hit anything and managed to park on busy streets and not freak out too badly.

There was a bottle of wine waiting for me when I got home. (Monkey covering eyes emoji.)

My stepmom sent me a cute picture of their dog today.

I fixed one small piece of what’s wrong with the website for one of my clients.

It’s the beginning of a fresh new month tomorrow.

Thanks for hanging out for NaBloPoMo this year! This will be the end of my daily blogging, at least for the next little while, but I hope to write more frequently in general in the future. I appreciate all your comments and support! You are all huge wins for me.

What I’ve Learned From NaBloPoMo

My month of daily blogging is coming to an end! Only one day to go. It’s been a wonderful month for so many reasons, but having an ‘excuse’ to reflect daily has been such a blessing. As we move into the busy holiday season, I don’t feel ready to commit to continuing this pace of writing, but I’m so happy to have done it for the month. It’s been a great experience, not as hard as I expected, and I’m so excited to write more, going forward. This challenge also taught me a lot about myself and where I’m at, and I’m coming away with a lot more insight into myself and my life. Here’s what I’ve learned over the past month of daily writing!

NaBloPoMo >> Life In Limbo

Write to Think

This was the title of my first blog post in the series, and it carried me through the month. Whenever I’d feel blocked, I’d remember this mantra and it always delivered. The truth is that sometimes I don’t know what I’m going to say until I start saying it! The other big piece of this is that girl, I need to write. Having a place to flesh out my ideas and ponder big themes and wonder about my life was so helpful that it made me wonder why I don’t do it more often.

Note to self: Use the page as an extension of your brain.

Keep It Quiet

This is not a new idea to me (it’s been on my mind for much of this year), but my reflections this month reminded me just how important it is to stay in control of my technologies instead of letting them be in control of me. Dimming the noise, going off the grid, turning off notifications: these are some of the best tools I have to be more present, mindful and reflective.

Note to self: Put your phone in a different room. Turn on Do Not Disturb. Do not be disturbed.

Trust Yourself

Something that came through loud and clear for me this month was just how important it is that I trust my still, strong, inner voice over the loud, chaotic external voices of others and of society. I want to measure what matters to me, I want to do what’s right for me, I want to trust and value my own intuition. It is bafflingly easy to become attached to dreams that aren’t yours and goals that don’t match your life. It’s so easy to constantly monitor how you stack up against others in areas that aren’t even personally important to you. I have to remember to return, again and again and again, to what is authentically meaningful to me.

Note to self: Go for a long walk by yourself. By the end, you’ll have remembered what’s important to you. If you haven’t yet, keep walking.

The Simple Things are Everything

And on that note, this month of writing was a reaffirmation of an idea I already knew to be true: that to me, the small, everyday things are what matter to me, and what I want to put the bulk of my time and energy towards. Things like presence, conversation, kindness, love, community, joy, humility, groundedness. If I’m pointing my compass towards those life forces, I’m good. Everything’s good.

Note to self: Cook a meal, phone a loved one, read a book.

I’ll definitely be participating in NaBloPoMo next November! Would you ever try it?

Thoughts On Enlightenment

One of my favourite concepts that I learned at yoga school is that yoga (and life) is about finding a balance between your internal and external worlds, not just shutting down the external world. Our yoga teachers taught us that it’s very easy to be enlightened when you’re meditating alone in a cave in the mountains somewhere, but it is not so easy to be enlightened as you move through a chaotic, busy marketplace full of people. Yet those who can stay mindful, present and peaceful in the marketplaces of life are those that are truly enlightened.

On Enlightenment >> Life In Limbo

David Foster Wallace says (in my favourite piece of writing of all time),

“If you’ve really learned how to think, how to pay attention, then it will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, loud, slow, consumer hell-type situation as not only meaningful but sacred, on fire with the same force that lit the stars – compassion, love, the unity of all things.”

I get choked up just reading those sentences, because the blindingly beautiful truth of them reminds me of what it means to be human. On my very best days, I can get glimpses of this: I have smiled like an idiot on a seriously hellish streetcar ride, truly feeling so connected and grateful for the experience and the souls I’m sharing it with. Don’t get me wrong though, on many days, I’m just anxious to get to my stop and mentally rolling my eyes at “how repulsive most of them are and how stupid and cow-like they seem”. But I have experienced the former, and the truth and beauty of those experiences is life, is love, is what it means to be human.

On a funnier (but no less true) note, Ram Dass says, “If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.” And isn’t it always the case? Go home for even a day, and stories and thoughts and annoyances from your childhood appear and you revert back to your high-school aged self. Buttons are pushed, triggers are triggered, etc, etc, etc.

But. Life doesn’t happen in the cave, it happens in the market. Love doesn’t happen in the cave, it happens in the market. Same goes for connection, harmony, and collective joy, not to mention many forms of personal and spiritual growth that can only happen in relationship with others.

I sometimes think that if I could just get my life set up to exclude anything I consider negative or bad, then I’d be happy and life would be perfect. Essentially, I imagine that one day I’ll build myself the perfect cave full of perfect things and live happily ever after. But of course, life happens in the real world, with real people who are maddening and beautiful. The market is where a million things are happening that are outside of your control, things you don’t like and would never have chosen if you’d been given the choice. But the market is also where the magic happens.

On Setting Goals

I’ve always been a person who set a lot of goals. Birthday list goals, financial goals, reading goals, travel goals. I would set goals at the end of each year for the coming year, and on my birthday, and each month, and most weeks. I’ve tried a lot of approaches to goal setting, including The Desire Map method, the Day Zero project, and creating lots of bucket lists. I have goal tracker sheets taped to my wall as we speak, to track my daily meditation, reading, and exercise habits.

On Setting Goals >> Life In Limbo

But just as I’m starting to be more mindful of what I’m measuring, I’m also starting to be more mindful of my goal-setting process and whether it’s serving me.

Over the past few years, my process around setting yearly goals has shifted considerably. When I was living abroad, I usually didn’t know on January 1st where I’d be living or what I’d be doing for work for the next 12 consecutive months, so the idea of setting goals made a lot less sense. In my yearly goal-setting, I started to shift instead toward setting intentions for the year and creating daily habits.

I continued to make birthday lists of things I wanted to try or do before my next birthday, but those began to feel stale too. I realized that as I was creating the lists, I was actively searching for things that sounded sort of interesting, or that I thought might be fun. Some things on the list would be exciting no-brainers, but others, much less so. By the time my birthday rolled around, I would never have done everything on the list (and would feel bad about that), but it was usually because as the year passed, I never felt motivated to do the things that felt kind of arbitrary. This year, despite my deep love of repeating traditions every year, I didn’t create a birthday list.

A couple months ago, I sat down to create a list of things I thought would be fun or interesting to have achieved or accomplished within the next five years. But just like the birthday lists, it didn’t really resonate with me: everything felt kind of arbitrary, forced, like what I “should” be working towards or creating for myself. Nothing was pulling me towards those particular outcomes – or I should say, nothing within myself – except lots of external voices and ideas.

I was chatting about these ideas with my friend Bridget tonight, and she wondered if maybe this shift was because this year I’ve really established the habit of a daily meditation practice. I’ve never thought of it before, but I think she might be on to something there. It’s true that this year, I definitely feel more present in my daily life, more grateful, and more connected to my community and family than ever before. The idea of setting goals to get me to “somewhere better” doesn’t resonate with me as strongly, because I’m pretty happy with where I am right now. I feel engaged and motivated every day, but I don’t feel that constant urge to strive, reach, or leap. I feel that I’m growing and learning all the time, but am happy with where I am and with what I’m moving towards at the pace that feels tailor-made for me.

I also feel like this year has sharpened my intuition, which is now quicker than ever at helping me find things, people, and experiences that I feel aligned with and connected to. This means that I’m spending a lot more time being in the right place at the right time, and moving away from anything that doesn’t serve me. But listening to my intuition is a moment-by-moment process, so the idea of setting goals now when I can’t know yet how I’ll feel a month or a week or a day from now isn’t feeling as appealing to me.

And the last thing is: I don’t want to block myself from experiencing abundance and flow. Life unfolds in magical and mysterious ways, and I’ve found that trusting that process can bring about better things than I could ever have forced to happen on my own, had I been moving blindly towards an arbitrary goal. One year ago, I never could have predicted where I’d be now, the friends I’d have, or the work situation that I’m currently in. I could never have predicted how amazing my life would be today. Had I set a bunch of random goals and efforted my way to them, who knows if I’d have ended up at such a great place! Trusting that unfolding is not always easy, but more and more it feels like the way to more expansion and joy.

Who knows? I might change my mind about goal-setting yet again a few months from now, but for now, I’m consciously taking a break from it. How do you feel about goal-setting? How do you set goals in a way that works for you? Tell me!

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