2018: Flow

This is my sixth time choosing a word to guide my year, and it has become one of my favourite practices for setting intentions and practicing mindfulness. Having a one-word theme really helps me make decisions, choose what to focus on, and find new ways to stretch myself in areas that might need more love or attention.

I first heard of the idea of choosing a yearly word from Elise Cripe and Ali Edwards, but it’s been fun to see how this practice has caught on more widely over the years – so much so that this year at work my boss encouraged the management team to choose a word and share it! I love hearing what my friends’ words are too, it’s such a nice way to connect with them, send them little reminders when I think of it, or help them make progress with their intentions. Choosing a word is such a fun thing to do, but it becomes more meaningful the more it’s practiced.

2018: Flow >> Life In Limbo

My word for 2018 is flow. Flowy flow flow. Like all my favourite words, this one has multiple meanings and ways I hope to apply it to my life over the next 12 months. Here are some of my favourites:

Go with the flow: Similar to last year’s “embrace the situation” intention, I want (need) to continue practicing intentional letting go of my desire to control situations or outcomes, especially when I have strong opinions on how things should play out. On the rare occasions that I am successful at this and remember to mentally release the vice grip on my desired outcome, my experience (and that of the people around me, no doubt!) is infinitely better. I feel calmer. I remember that there’s no “playbook” for how life is supposed to go. I figuratively and literally sit back in my chair a bit and remember that things will usually unfold the way they’re meant to unfold. I am not the tour guide. I am not responsible for everybody else having an optimal experience, no matter how much it feels that way sometimes.

Follow the flow: This year I also what to pay attention to what is flowing into my life easily and without much fuss, versus what seems like climbing a mountain to accomplish. As much as I can, I want to drop the things that aren’t flowing and turn towards what seems easy and light and fun in each moment. I love Jess Lively’s description of life being like a river that has a strong current. We can either let our boats be caught in the flow of the river, or we can turn around and try to paddle upstream. I often catch myself trying to force something to work when it’s clearly not working, instead of revisiting it later. Most of the time when I come back to a problem or a task, either it’s already resolved itself, I’m in a better frame of mind to handle it, or I’ve encountered new information I needed to make it work. This also means having less judgment of myself for not working “hard enough” some days or “too hard” on others. Following the flow means listening to my intuition’s messages about what comes next, without resistance. In 2018: less forcing it, more flow.

Choose flow activities: One of my book clubs recently read the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, so I got a more in-depth look at the phenomenon of psychological flow. Flow is described as the experience of losing track of time while doing something challenging but also enriching, and the author believes it’s our most enjoyable human experience. A comparison is made between flow activities which bring true enjoyment, and non-flow activities, which bring pleasure (at a kind of neurological level), but don’t help you develop skills, strengthen your sense of self, or make you feel very connected to the world. As much as possible this year, I want to choose flow activities, which for me are reading, writing, knitting, having meaningful conversations, playing instruments, dancing, and taking photos.

2018: Flow >> Life In Limbo

Embody more flow: There are so many definitions of flow that I love, but am not sure yet how to apply to my life for 2018. One is “to hang loosely in an easy and graceful manner.”Another is a scientific term that means “to deform continuously under stress without cracking or melting.” Another is “to abound, to be available in copious quantities”. Another is “to rise and advance, as the tide.” Another is “to proceed or be produced smoothly, continuously, and effortlessly.” All of these make my heart so happy and I can think of ways they can apply to my attitude, my beliefs, my work process, my emotions, my soul. The intention here is to remember all of these beautiful definitions of flow and bring them into my world as much as I can.

Spend more time with things that flow: You guessed it, more time near – and in – the water in 2018! As I write this, Toronto is hitting record-breaking low temperatures, so the idea of being in the water is just about the last thing on my mind. But I’m such a water baby and I know how happy it makes me to go swimming, or even just watch the waves come in down by the lake. I love hot tubs and have been meaning to go to Scandinave, and how cool would it be to try a float tank this year? So fun.

I’m beyond excited for 2018. Last year was better than I ever could have imagined it to be, and I know that this year will have so much magic and abundance and light in store for me too. And flow: lots and lots of flow. Happy 2018!

PS. I would love love love to hear what your word for the year is in the comments below.

You can read more about my words from the last few years below:

2013: Reach | 2014: Abundance | 2015: Grace | 2016: Light | 2017: Embrace

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.

My Work Manifesto

When people find out I’m self-employed, they usually respond one of three ways:

  • “Don’t you get bored?”
  • “Don’t you get lonely?”
  • “I could never do that.”

These responses don’t really bother me, mostly because I’m usually too busy not being bored, not being lonely, and doing things I love, to notice. I know that my lifestyle is probably not right for everyone, but it’s just right for me.

My Work Manifesto >> Life In Limbo

The walls of my home office. Lettering by Laura Fraser!

While yes, of course, I have boring days, and lonely ones (doesn’t everyone?), for me the freedom of structuring my days and the giddy joy of getting to work on projects I find interesting makes it 100% worth it for me. Most of the time, I remember this and feel incredibly grateful for the quirky career I’m building for myself.

Sometimes though, I forget this and feel sluggish, or stir-crazy, or even – yes! – bored. The afternoons are usually the worst for this, especially if I haven’t been careful with shielding myself from notifications and getting focused work done.

Today I feel amazing (a book I’ve been helping to launch is officially published tomorrow!) so I thought I’d take advantage of my great mood and write my work manifesto, to read whenever I forget, that will help me embrace my work-life:

Don’t treat a gift like a burden

It’s a fun job and I enjoy it

If not this, then an exact replica

Go play hooky

Resist the expectation of an immediate response

The work always gets done

If overwhelmed, dim the noise

Don’t work with your email (or Slack or phone) open

Hold firm on your boundaries

Not for every day, but for some days

Throw your problems in a pile

I am not a robot

What helps you reframe your work? What mantras help you stay focused and grateful?

Wake Up to the Light

I just got home from a blissful twenty-four hours off the grid. No cell phone reception, no wifi, no phone, no social media. 24 hours without alerts or pings or messages. 24 hours of peace & quiet, literally. 24 hours of space, physically, spiritually and emotionally. Turns out that 24 hours of real space and deep quiet is quite enough to leave you feeling refreshed and rested. (That said, I could have easily stayed for a week.)

Wake Up to the Light >> Life In Limbo

One unexpected delight of all this extra space was rediscovering the feeling of not knowing the time. It was such a joy to lose track of time while doing “nothing” with a small group of people, or by myself. We went for a long walk in the snow and watched the light fade from the sky. We watched the fire and tended it when it got low. We made snacks and dinner when we needed them. We drank water when we needed it. We had long conversations when we needed them. We read books when we wanted to. We journaled. We lingered.

And this morning, I woke up to the light coming in the window. It had snowed overnight, and the view from our bunk bed was like a postcard. Every single tiny branch had a little layer of snow: pristine and picturesque and perfect. What a treat, to let my body have the sleep it needed, and to let the light wake me up without an alarm.

I’m home now, and trying to hold on to the calm and quiet I felt while we were away. Maybe I won’t wake up to a postcard view every single day, but I think I can make things quieter, do things that help me lose track of time, and find ways – literally and metaphorically – to wake up to the light.