Let’s Not Do All the Things

I delegate to avoid over stress and it starts with asking questions. When I was growing up there was a wonderful couple that our family befriended at church. They exercised Elizabeth Ann Seton’s philosophy, “To live simply so that others might simply live.” Taking this credo so much to heart that that they purchased some land in the Pennsylvania mountains and lived off of the land – no electricity, no running water. The Amish in the surrounding communities used to bring their children to visit the O’Hagan’s small farm to show them what “roughing it,” was like. And while this couple lived in a small cabin in the woods, that they had built with their own hands, they still found time to welcome friends and share their experiences with others. 

As a young woman I would write them letters with whatever challenge I was facing. I relied on them and their advice to guide me to the best choices. One challenge that I found particularly difficult was that of feeling overwhelmed. I felt conflicted and challenged by family obligations, work expectations, and school. I was working full time, earning my Master’s degree, and attempting to make my own path in a new city. Writing to Daniel and Marcia I asked, “How do I do all of these things all at once? What am I missing?” Their advice, like their lifestyle, was quite simple. There were three touchpoints to their guidance. 

  1. What things are necessary? 
  2. What things are necessary but can be done by someone else?
  3. What things are necessary but only you can do? 

These three simple questions not only helped put all of my to-do items into perspective. It also very quickly put them into order. Because that which is not necessary very quickly falls away. This immediately makes the scope of work smaller.

Second, that which you can delegate must be given away. We often don’t want to let go of control. We believe ourselves to be the best and only person for every job. However, if you can let someone else do it then you must. If only because you are unable to move forward if you are holding on to everyone else’s responsibilities. You are limiting yourself and the people in your life by not trusting them. Delegating allows others the opportunity to rise to the occasion. Let go of the things that other people can do so that you have the space, time, and energy to do the work that is necessary and only you are capable of doing.

And finally third, that which only you can do is on your list. After following steps one and two you’ll find this list is incredibly short. It’s surprising to consider only the things that you yourself are able to do. The things that rise to the top of the list are much more important than anything on lists one and two anyway. They are things like – love your family, show up for your friends birthday party, and have the difficult but necessary conversation with a loved one. 

These big tasks quickly fall to the bottom when we are bogged down by tasks that are not ours to handle. Once we let go of the unnecessary we suddenly have time for the things that really matter – our relationships, our selves, and life. Only I can live my life and only you can live yours. Let’s not do all the things. Instead let’s focus on what important things are ours to do and what we can forget or delegate

Cold Hands Warm Heart

Tips for Making Every Day Routines Sacred

When I was little my aunt used to tell us, “Cold hands warm heart,” whenever we put our icy hands in hers. She would come in from outside, we knew we were getting gentle and cold fingers on our necks and big hugs. It was such a part of our winter routine that now I say the same thing to my kiddos, “cold hands warm heart,” and bury them in my arms. It is a ritual and a memory, a simple way to make common occurrences sacred. 

This winter I am striving to create more meaning in my daily practices. My showers, skin-care routine, the way I go to sleep and the way I wake up. These are daily events that I often rush through. Time lost in the past or in the future – Did I put the clothes in the dryer? I need to pick up milk. The saddest part is that this happens every day. By focusing on our anxieties or worries we loose opportunities to create nourishing rituals.

Tips to make small moments brighter.

  1. I purchased a small box of mindfulness cards that I open each morning to give me a mantra, intention, or reflection that I can use to intentionally begin my day.
  2. Adding sweet smelling soaps and lotions to my showers and skincare routines. They add delight to the experience and remind me to slow down.
  3. Cookies! After my meditations I am savoring chocolate shortbread cookies with strawberry icing. These sweet treats being a little taste of summer into my chilly winter afternoons.

None of these shifts is monumental or expensive. Yet they are excellent tools for making my everyday routines sacred. I am feeling hot water raining down on my skin, smelling coconut and remembering summer, beaches, and fun. The biggest revelation is the practice of staying in the moment. I am not just going through the motions. Beginning my day engaged and delighting shifts my perspective and improves my mood.

The simple act of enhancing my daily practices makes my life richer. It is wonderful to be able to brighten my own day and surprise myself. It is the little things that make life nice and remind us of the many joys of being alive. We don’t always have to remodel the kitchen or take off on vacation to feel special. Sometimes all it takes is a cozy reminder – cold hands warm heart, have a hug, we’re so loved. 

What little gifts can you give to yourself that would make life more lovely? How do you make your daily routines special? What scents bring joy to your heart or what loving sayings did you grow up with in your home?

The Rule of Thirds

Whenever we are pursuing an important goal it is important to remember the rule of thirds. Olympians and their coaches use this measure to align their training schedule. The goal is to be sure we are applying enough pressure to succeed while avoiding injury and overwhelm. The key is to rest so that elite athletes may carry on rather than give up. The rule of thirds is is a growth strategy and progress check. It is not just for Olympians or athletes. The rule is this – as you pursue a goal, your path will typically follow this formula.

1/3 will be wonderful. You’re going to stick your landings and feel terrific. 

1/3 will be terrible. You’re going to make mistakes and feel like you’re not doing things properly.

1/3 will be fine. You’re moving ahead but don’t feel strongly either way.

What’s important is that you pay attention to how you’re feeling. If it feels great all the time maybe you’re not pushing yourself hard enough. Perhaps things are too easy and you’re not progressing. Maybe you’ve plateaued and you’re not pushing hard enough. 

If you feel terrible for more than a third of the time, maybe you’re pushing too hard. Maybe you need to rest or consider a different approach. Maybe there are several small steps you can take instead of the giant leap you are fixated on at that moment. Taking a break for recovery is a necessary and important component to long term success and goal attainment. 

Trust your experience and the rule of thirds to inform your decisions. If you feel terrible all the time or even just more than a third of the time, maybe you don’t want to be doing this. Is there another path that is calling to you to try? Maybe you love the sport but would be happier coaching. Maybe you love the field but want to try another area of expertise.

The final third will be relatively uneventful days. You feel good but not great and like you could do better but you’re not at your worst. These are good days too. The same applies as the other two thirds, if it’s too easy add some challenges and if it’s too challenging relieve some of that pressure. If you’re consistently moving forward there’s no reason why you should be swaying in any one direction for more than a third of the time. 

So take a deep breath and remember that the feeling is temporary. If you swing too far in any one direction it might be time for a change. Paying attention to how you feel helps you to know you’re on the right path. We all want to attain our goals and we pursue them doggedly. Just make sure that your labor is one of love. We do this work because we love it. Because it brings us joy, and because it connects us to our higher purpose. When you’re chasing a dream and aligned with your purpose the rule of thirds is a great tool that helps keep the balance. 

5 Steps to Generate Momentum in Your Creativity

As I clear out space and complete tasks that have long been on my list it sometimes feels like trying to drink from a firehose. There are so many projects that I have long awaited making progress on that I am now feeling as if a dam has burst and it flowing fast and furiously. As I feel myself taking steps toward accomplishing my goals I am also trying not to get ahead of myself or rush. 

It’s a balancing act to both pursue my goals but also to take my time. I remind myself not to expect everything to be finished right away. Lunch and showers and the regular activities of life still need to happen every day. Therefore, instead of feeling disappointed that I have not done, “more,” I am going to stay in the joyful space of gratitude. I am grateful to myself for all I have done over the last several days. Rather than feel disappointed that I did not do more I am going to feel grateful for my patience and will hold myself in gratitude as I continue to move forward. 

Humility + Gratitude

Life has a way of humbling us when we rush too quickly or stay still. Staying in gratitude is one way to counteract the arrogance that can arise when we feel particularly proud of ourselves. Gratitude also prevents us from standing still. When we have so much to be grateful for we want to share that gift.

When I am not in gratitude I freeze – unsure of what to do next. I feel frustrated when I can’t decide where to begin. I “strategize,” which is another way of saying overthinking my every move. It has been incredibly freeing to simply take small steps forward. Lately I have been able to do just that. It is elevating my mood and my disposition. It’s an interesting shift from the obstructive and frozen place I was in before this watershed moment.

Small Steps Create Momentum

As I make gentle progress I am also striving to stay grounded. I know that I can do many things but I cannot do all things. I will move ahead but I will never be, “done.” I may step forward and then need to recalibrate to decide what comes next and that is all ok. Patience is appropriate and necessary to my progress and my growth. 


When I am shifting away from overthinking it helps to state some clear affirmations. These reminders help me to focus and realign. Here are some of the mantras I use to ground myself: I am doing the work I was put upon this planet to complete. I am following my intuition and being attentive to my own desires, wants and needs. I am sitting in the sun rather than watching it trace a  path across the floor. I am showing up for myself and for my own life. I am doing what I was destined and designed to do. I am allowing the Creator to express their creativity through me. I am making myself an instrument for even greater creativity and to allow the energy that inspires me to flow through me and my work so that someone else may feel and experience the sensations I am feeling right now. 

Sharing to Complete the Cycle

It is uplifting and humbling at the same time to know that my showing up and allowing myself to follow my path is only part of my work’s journey. I am creating art, organizing words, and allowing this sacred and universal energy to flow through me. And this energy will move through me and my work to inspire others – like you dear reader. 

This is just the beginning, or perhaps even the middle, as I have been inspired by countless artists and visionaries. It’s hard to say where this creative force began. Perhaps it is more like a circle, it never begins or ends but keeps going. Creativity is a self-fulfilling journey of shared and complicit co-creation throughout the universe and throughout all time. How wonderful to be a tiny piece of this universal journey. It is a gift to be a piece of the ever changing landscape of creativity. It feels so simple and simultaneously transformative. It is an incredible honor to be fulfilling my purpose in this way. 

Have you ever felt so deeply connected to universal energy and to what your true purpose is in life? Isn’t it awesome? I am humbled and deeply touched to be a part of this creative cycle. This cyclone of creation and creativity. Thank you for reading and for sharing this creative journey with me.

Making a Home

This week I am honoring my family and our home by investing my time and energy into making this space more sacred and beautiful. I am doing this by taking the time to strategize and plan, I am shopping online and not aimlessly for items we could never afford or might never use. I am searching intentionally for those pieces that will better serve our story and make our home more comfortable and lovely. I am happy with myself and my family for making comfort and connection our priorities.

We are creating space in the children’s playroom for slumber parties and a comfortable seating nook where they may read and relax in their own space. We are hanging artwork where our family gathers, these pieces may be small but they make our home feel more cozy, lived in and loved. These small steps, adding layers of fabrics, textures, and colors to our rooms make this home more hygge and make us all feel more at ease and able to unwind and relax.

Yesterday I felt my tether getting a little short. I felt overwhelmed by a weekend of events and not enough time to be alone and at peace. I was go-go-going and by dinner time on Sunday I could feel my patience slipping. I took a break, I went and meditated and instead of writing, I took my fresh self to my family. I invited my daughter to make dinner together – an idea she had suggested earlier in the day. I collaborated with her and she helped immensely by planning the meal, putting away dishes, and setting the table. She made our little life so lovely and I felt so pleased and proud of her. I also felt gratitude to myself. Instead of pushing through my boundary in order to be a martyr and “please,” others, I took a break. I left to recharge. And we had the most wonderful conversation over dinner. We all ate and were happy and it was so good. It could not have been such a joyful night if I had pushed myself beyond my breaking point. I needed to take care of myself before I could healthfully take care of anyone else. I am so glad I walked away and came back refreshed, rather than pushing myself beyond my limits.

My small and intentional act of choosing comfort is what I hope to create for my family in this house. As I search online and via Pinterest for my, “personal design style,” I am seeking images that feel comfortable and easy. I don’t want my home to look like a museum or a funeral home. I want people to feel at ease and safe. I want this home to hold our family and our guests in a cocoon of health and warmth. I want this space to feel welcoming and happy. I want there to be room for growth and beauty but more than these auspicious grecian ideals, I want a home where people come to feel both held and free. 

I have no interest in acquiring furniture that cannot be sat upon or pieces that may only be observed, never touched. I want to be proud of my home but I also want others to feel welcomed, like they are walking into a hug. I want this space to be where my children and their friends gather to play and rest. I want this to be the home where confidences are shared and everyone is their best selves, including me.

How do you make space for comfort in your home? What pieces in your collection bring you the most joy? How do you create hygge? 

Doing Less to Do More

Today I had so much I wanted to accomplish. I had a full schedule and a full plate of all of the things that needed to be done. Since we are re-entering society and school is starting soon, I feel like August has become somewhat like the first lap of the long race through the school year. Birthday parties begin again, school supplies must be purchased, and add that on top of moving and needing to either find or make due with those everyday artifacts that make life nice and I am in a pretzel of movement, energy, and to do items. On top of all of this it is Monday and the regular work of the office needs to be done, dinner needs to be made, and the children need all of the daily things that children require. 

Usually all of this information puts me in a tizzy – the “Michigas,” of it all. I just learned Michigas is a Yiddish derivative of meshugana and I am enjoying wrapping my mind and my mouth around this new term. The general chaos can be overwhelming. Today instead of letting the angst and stress of these things take over my day I took a beat. That’s not true, I took several. 

The breaks included: I started the morning by looking out the window at the trees while I drank my breakfast smoothie. Then while my partner was on a call I folded laundry in the children’s rooms rather than being irritated or marching through his office – which is the only way to get to my office – I just did some small tasks to make life nicer for all of us. I put dinner in the crock pot. I meditated. I let go of control and my partner put the target order in for school supplies. I fed the kiddos and when the dog decided to make a break for it and tour the neighborhood at lunch, I not only got the chance to catch up with my neighbor but I also had the opportunity to walk outside on a gorgeous day. 

I didn’t get everything done because there is only enough time for that which truly needs to happen. There are more tasks for tomorrow but that is what tomorrow is for. I am sure tomorrow will have enough time for these things and others but not all of them and that’s ok. 

The priorities that made the short list today will also make the short list tomorrow – mediating, taking deep breaths, and just enjoying the day and it’s many splendid moments. It was not perfect but you know what, I don’t feel bad about it. In fact, I feel great. I feel like I took care of myself and I focused on my priorities. I feel like I showed up with what I had to give and I did my best. 

I will do better in some areas tomorrow but not all areas because every day is a balancing act and I don’t get better at balancing by berating myself or rushing or yelling at everyone in my life to do better or help more. I do better at balancing when I:

  • Breathe deep,
  • Focus and calm myself with meditation,
  • Eat well, 
  • Get outside, and
  • Connect with friends. 

I am grateful to myself for taking the necessary breaks so that I could move forward with comfort and ease rather than with rage and frustration. By giving myself the space to be imperfect and let others help I actually did less but got just as much, if not more, done than if I had hustled and stressed and rushed. 

I feel more contented with the quality of my work and with the progress I made today. My work is not done, and I suspect in this American capitalist society it never will be. But the work I am going to accomplish today is done and I am much pleased. I feel good about showing up in the world authentically, exactly as the person I want to be in the world. Rather than regretting things I said or ways I behaved because I was so focused on performance and results that I was rude or hurtful. And because of that I got to enjoy the journey and the small cumulative tasks and cooperation it takes to build a life to together with other people. A mutually supportive dance only works when we let others lead sometimes. And even though it is out of my comfort zone, I have to admit doing less in order to do more feels pretty good. 

Have you ever tried doing less to do more? What steps do you take? How do you conserve energy and resources in order to finish the marathon rather than drop out after the initial sprint?

Modern Day Grace

I have felt so benevolently full of grace lately. Full of grace for myself, my family, and the world. I have held this grace honestly and openly, feeling benevolent, patient, generous, and kind. I have walked in euphoria for days on end – blissed out on the beauty of the natural world, the people in it, and how blessed my life has been. And then I took a writing class, insert discordant record scratch here.

The class was good, deliciously good. It was deep and raw and had all of us unearthing trauma and processing it so that we could turn that vulnerability, shame, and fear into gold. Write it out and hopefully find the true essence or nugget of universality in our pain. Mold that darkness into something useful and create art. 

The exercises were effective but now having scratched open our scabs the course is done. We are left bleeding out in the world. The life we return to, the normal every day world, is what we were hoping to protect these pains from – exposure.

We were ready in the class to feel and dive deep but now that the class is over we need closure, a little second skin to cover what we have opened up inside of ourselves. Those dark and crusty things that we fear and feel more deeply than anything daily life has ever handed us. 

This is where we are all dark and dangerous. It is terrifying and as you’d expect painful to be so open to the world. But here’s the trade off, I couldn’t feel the glory of sunshine with the sensation of holiness blessing my very core if I didn’t embrace this vulnerability too. This conflicted feeling of being so wide open and almost unwisely exposed to the elements of relationships and life. Because life is both that shining light of afternoon sun that warms some of our rooms like a sauna and it is the dark and scary loneliness of confronting our deepest and darkest fears. If I don’t look inward and stop staring at my phone to distract myself from these hard and real sensations I won’t feel that sun as brightly. The sun will still shine on my face but I won’t feel it in my soul. It won’t warm my heart to the same depths because my heart will have been walled off, protected from the deep darkness and also the blinding light that just might help my heart to heal. The sheltered pieces of myself might never see that perhaps I need not be so walled off, so sterile, so trapped in solitude. I might learn that perhaps the world is bright and lovely on some days. Other days it’s hard and cold but if I do not open the drapes to let in the sun it is never completely dark and it will never been completely day.

I’m mixing metaphors but you get the idea, to be that grace filled generous soul who sees the hurt in other people and takes the time to reach out and connect I must also be the angry wounded animal that nurses her wounds and occasionally lashes out to protect herself because she hasn’t finished the work she is doing to heal. Oh, being alive is such a dangerous thing. To survive we need only coast on the surface but to live, to really live, we have to feel all the pain, the dark and twisty elements, and then we get to really enjoy the light.

And all of it takes bravery. We get to embrace the beauty only if we embrace the pain and know that it exists to show us where we have work to do, something to heal, tenderly and gently. What a gift to be so alive and feel all of it so brutally and beautifully.