Use It or Lose It

Listen to this blog: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Use-It-or-Lose-It-erd8if

Who doesn’t have a box of ‘maybes’ shoved into the back of their closet? Or better yet, an entire drawer of ‘ehh, they’re ok but I have nowhere to wear these’?

While well-intentioned, perhaps you’ve lost a little bit of reality. Are you ever going to need these items? Are they absolutely irreplaceable? What are you saving them for?

Now more than ever, we are intimate with our home…and our precious space within those 4 walls. And the last thing we need is for the items in our home to rule us or add to any chaos.

As coined by tidying guru Marie Kondo, does the item “spark joy?” Though intensified through her book, Netflix show, and overall pop culture impact, this simple phrase holds a lot of power.

Is the item something that makes you feel good? Is it sentimental? Is there any point in the future where you’d miss it if it were gone?

If you’re still on the fence, I urge you to ask yourself one more question:

Would it bring joy to someone else?

If the answer undoubtedly becomes “yes”, put a box in plain sight and start filling for donations.

The amount of joy in paying it forward will far outweigh that box of forgotten t-shirts and barely worn skirts.

No Longer a Fit

Listen to this blog: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/No-Longer-a-Fit-erd8fr

Growing up, it seemed like you were inseparable. Every crush, every outing, every piece of gossip was shared. You spent the weekends at her cousin’s house, she spent countless nights sleeping in your parent’s basement on a not-so-comfortable sofa bed. You told each other stories, secrets, and most importantly, your life goals. Or, at least you thought you did.

But then somewhere around your early 20’s, you noticed your paths diverging. You became super serious about your education, while she was tied up with her latest fling. You were eager to invest money in a house, while she jumped from job to job attempting to make ends meet. You still reached out consistently, but when she stopped reciprocating and worse, stopped listening when you did get her on the phone, it became clear.

The bond that was strong in your formative teenage years was no longer there.

It takes many a painstaking month to realize that you no longer have anything in common. You can’t confide in her, and her reliance on you to pick up the pieces can no longer exist. The mutual understanding is gone. The friendship is dwindling. And you start to question if it really ever existed in the first place? What did you ever have in common?

Many years later, you’ve come to terms with the lost relationship, and more importantly, the lost time. Sure, it hurt at first. You were actually a little angry to have invested so much of yourself during critical stages of life – and for what? Empty promises? Missed milestones? Her to never really ask you anything substantive? Was it all a big waste?

But instead of making things worse, you take the high road. You wish her the best during all of her milestones, you wish her well on the journey, you sincerely hope she finds what she’s looking for. And you come to terms with knowing that she’s no longer a fit.

What once seemed like an unbreakable connection all those years ago was certainly history. There is no erasing the past. However, there is only acceptance and progression forward. Making new friends, forming new relationships, surrounding myself with people who understand and sincerely care. If she pops up in my future, maybe I’ll let her in.

But until then, I’m enough without her.

Friendships come and go. Don’t place blame. Understand that you can move on.

Just Ask

Listen to this blog: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Just-Ask-erd89i

Perhaps it all started when 2 career homes became the norm? Or maybe when families no longer lived together as a community and instead, relied on a car to get from house to house?

Help.

A word that carries so much weight. A word that for some reason, we don’t like to utter. A word that immediately seems to paint us into a diagnosis: “What’s wrong with you?”, “Maybe you should quit doing XX?”, “Why can’t you handle it?”.

Needing help, no matter what the reason, is absolutely normal. We shouldn’t let fear of stigmas or judgement hold us back from asking.

Think about your job. Most likely, you’ve been asked to help someone – your manager, a co-worker, or a customer. For some reason, when we’re being paid to do it, we don’t question the asker.

However, when it comes to our personal life – domestic tasks, kids, family/marital issues, schooling, goals, and general overall happiness – it’s a huge hurdle to inquire. Maybe we feel like we don’t want to burden someone else with our problems; but more often than not, we feel guilty. Guilty that we can’t do it all ourselves.

As a working mom, I can especially relate to this feeling. We’re supposed to be able to do it all. We put on the cape in the morning and don’t take it off until the kids are tucked in, the dishes are washed, and maybe our hair is shampooed. But the burnout quickly follows. Attempting to do it all can cause stress, strain, and a resentful feeling towards folks that seemingly do have it all together (refrain from Instagram comparisons during these times!).

But life is hard. The everyday tasks can pile up if we’re having a rough time. And as much as stress management can certainly help, there’s still only 24 hours in a day. Set a conscious decision to take life more like a child would – by asking for help when needed. Ask a friend, ask a family member, ask a neighbor.

It certainly takes a village.

Normalize help.

Do Good, Feel Good

Listen to this blog: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Do-Good–Feel-Good-erd87d

In the time of social distancing, it seems hard to make a connection – whether it’s with a tried and true friend, a long-distance relative, or with literal touch (I don’t know how many times I’ve had to hold back from shaking hands or hugging someone).

Despite these challenges, there are many ways to feed connection without being in the same physical location. They all center around the concept of doing good, feeling good:

  • Drop a line – the power of a written letter should not be overlooked. If you have a grandparent that is living in isolation, a friend on the other side of the world, or someone down the block that you used to see frequently, send them a short note. Written on a piece of paper. Via snail mail. I know it seems like an antiquated concept, but think about how much joy the receiver will get from a surprise in their mailbox. You could also send mail to a elderly penpal, women’s shelter, or children’s hospital – just make sure you read their current acceptance policies.
  • Give a gift – any range or style or cost. Sending a gift to someone you care about could be simply a thoughtful gesture or hold additional meaning – maybe they’ve had a rough few weeks, maybe they’re celebrating an important milestone, maybe you were inspired by something you saw. And gifts don’t have to be extravagant or even bought. Cooking a meal, crafting from scratch, writing a poem, picking a bunch of wildflowers, or simply offering your services to a friend in need (grocery pickup anyone?) are amazing, unexpected gifts.
  • Donate/volunteer – help a local, national, or international organization by volunteering your time & energy or contributing monetarily. Spreading the word about the organization to friends and family is also a huge way to do good for the community. Find an organization you’re passionate about and see how best you can donate, even if it’s only once a month.

One simple act could not only make another person feel that much better, but it can also boost your own spirits. Try it and let me know if it works for you.

A Body in Motion Stays in Motion

Listen to this blog: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/A-Body-in-Motion-Stays-in-Motion-erd851

Day in and day out. Slugging behind a computer desk, especially in the primarily virtual world. Posture failing, legs cramping, eyes drying. Sitting certainly lends to more sitting.

But we know the risks. With the promotion of X-minute breaks per hour, FitBits and other step trackers, and plethora of reports on the negative health effects of a sedentary lifestyle, why is it still such a struggle to get moving?

As Newton described, a body at rest stays at rest.

We are creatures of habit. If we continually remain in a seated position, it is harder and harder to get the body moving for a number of physical and mental reasons.

On the physical side, the body becomes weak. Muscles start to wither, blood flow to the brain is decreased, and the lungs compress, making it harder to breathe in enough oxygen.

On the mental side, lack of blood flow to the brain certainly adds to the sluggish, fatigued feelings. However, there has also been research noting the effects of inactivity and possible risks of anxiety and depression. Sitting for >6 hours a day is especially provoking.

When we are focused, or at least trying to focus, on work for >6 hours per day in a seated position, our concentration starts to wane, our stress levels increase, and the notions of isolation may also be enhanced. All of these factor into feelings of anxiety. Furthermore, with sedentary lifestyles, sleeping becomes a challenge. And lack of sleep certainly fans the flames of depression.

On the contrary, it is not recommended to put insurmountable goals on your plate. Don’t promise that you’ll run for 30 minutes 5 days a week, especially after being primarily sedentary for months, if not years. The likelihood that you will make this change overnight is slim, and disappointment in yourself is not a good motivating tool.

Instead, as Dr. Rangan Chatterjee suggests, take the 5-minute change approach. Tell yourself that you’ll exercise for 5 minutes per day, ideally during your workday. This can be a short walk around the block, a few lunges, a couple of yoga poses, a set of reps with hand weights, or some jumping-jacks for a burst of cardio. You can even bundle this exercise with something work-related (if you must), such as taking a call or listening to that training video you’ve been putting off. And with time, you may be able to increase the duration. But if not, 5 minutes still counts…and is certainly better than nothing!

Adopting this method may not only help curb your workday sitting habits, but it could also be a nice boost for your days off. When you find yourself sitting and not doing work, try 5 minutes of movement. I have a feeling you may want to keep going once the body is in motion.

Need someone to help you out of the slump? Let’s chat about being an Accountability Buddy.

Strategically Placed Razors

Listen to this blog: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Strategically-Placed-Razors-erd82a

Managing kids, work, a home, and side hustles is taxing yet invigorating. The joy I get from each lights the fire to keep going and to do it all well…however, there are certainly pieces that fall through the cracks.

For example, I most definitely have ignored an email, or 10. My LinkedIn notifications are overflowing, I have yet to sign up for autopay on several accounts, and I never seem to be able to delete and organize my Inbox. However, if I deem it high priority or personally important, I respond – the convenience of having a phone attached at all times with email accessibility.

Similarly, my drawers/cupboards/closets/etc are neat but certainly not organized. They also could use a good purge. But as long as I can find what I need, it’s just a slab of wood from an outsider’s perspective.

Regarding the kiddos, I am typically scrambling to get their bags ready for school. There are days when they eat breakfast in the car. I also tend to be lax on brushing their hair, ironing their clothes, or keeping precise drop-off times. And that calendar of daily events for school? I sometimes glance and prep. Nevertheless, they are fed, clean, and for the most part, generally happy. And keeping some baby wipes and changes of clothes in the car never hurts.

And when it comes to my self-care, I may have dropped the ball once or twice…and learned my lesson for it. No longer do I rely on remembering to actually shave my legs. Considering the antiquated task is dull, relentless, and takes a long time, I tend to avoid it. Until summer. Then, I feel overly cautious about forgetting. To remedy this cognitive lapse, I strategically place shaving razors in purses, in the middle console of my car, and most likely in a few coat pockets over the years. While water (or a bathroom) may not always be accessible, the on-the-go drive shave has saved me many an embarrassing moment in shorts.

So next time I get a comment from a friend about how they can’t believe I’m able to juggle it all…well, I’m not, really. I take shortcuts to get it done. And keep supplies on demand for when I do forget.

My grandfather always left his medication, breakfast, and other important items on the kitchen counter, instead of utilizing the drawers. Now I know why and will never criticize for it.

Be Still

Listen to this blog: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Be-Still-erd7sq

Meditation, mindfulness. These words are commonly used in contemporary media, but are often surrounded by an aura of unknown. What exactly does it mean? Do I have to buy into expensive products or classes? Will I be able to do it? Can I really benefit?

While meditation in and of itself ranges in practice, frequency, and intensity, the foundation – mindfulness – can be incorporated in every thing you do, every day.

As defined by Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens.

Being present. Being still. Not letting the mind wander but instead, focusing on all of our sensations while we are doing something.

For example, when is the last time you actually ate a meal? I mean, really tasted the flavors on your tongue, listened to the chewing, smelled the aroma, looked at the colors on your plate, perhaps touched the items? If you’re a multi-tasker or easily distracted (like me), your mind is probably on to the next item on the agenda whilst scarfing down dinner.

Mindfulness can not only help us to slow down the chaos, but it can most definitely bring an awareness and appreciation of the little things around us – The little things we often take for granted or don’t even realize are crucial to our everyday.

And this practice can easily translate across actions, with little to no cost. It’s a matter of paying attention and being fully engaged in what we’re doing.

Perhaps a hard sell for the technologically-driven world we live in, but certainly one worth at least trying.

Take a moment to fully be in the moment.

Hang In There

Listen to this blog: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Hang-In-There-erd7ig

We are nearing 6 months. Six months since our lives were uprooted from ‘normal’ and pushed into the unknown. It’s still hard to fathom, it’s still hard to wrap my head around what this will mean for the months/years to come. I am hopeful, yet a part of me is also feeling guilty – 6 months is nothing compared to the devastation of war, cancer, the Great Depression.

But still…

For the vast majority of us, this enormous change came out of nowhere. We were blindsided and continue to be with each passing week. While we can certainly still live with mitigation in place, I think we all need to grieve in order to persevere.

According to David Kessler, we are experiencing many forms of grief due to the pandemic, especially anticipatory grief – uncertainty about the future. The best we can do right now is go through the grieving stages: denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance.

Acceptance is likely going to be the hardest step. Loss of jobs, connections, school, activities, etc, is difficult to accept. As a staunch type A, the loss of control is certainly the hardest for me.

That being said…

Acceptance can be THE control. Allowing ourselves the time to go through the grieving process and then coming to a state of affirmation is not defeat or surrendering. It is taking back control.

While we can absolutely miss the past and wish for life as we knew it, I think in order to push forward, we need to consider this our new beginning. Our baseline.

Let’s grow from here.

Need someone to talk to? Contact me about my Accountability Buddy program!

Separate In-Home Destinations

Listen to this blog: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Separate-In-Home-Destinations-erd788

Getting tired of your own 4 walls? Is the feeling of staying home unmotivating?

It’s time to look at your home with a fresh perspective.

You likely already do different tasks in each room – the kitchen for cooking, the bedroom for sleeping, the living room for watching TV. But now that we are in the home more often than not, does your work space sometimes spill over into the kitchen? What about places for you to unwind? Are those also taken over by the chaos of the week? Or have you never really thought about it before, since you were able to leave the home to decompress?

The fix: separate destinations. Nooks, if you will, within your own home. Places where you’ll only do XX. Purposeful and more importantly, visually tricking the brain into believing you are somewhere else outside of the home.

For example, I love to read. A simple corner of a room will suffice. Comfy chair, perhaps a small table for a drink, and you’ve created your reading destination.

The same applies for fitness. Maybe the thought of working out at home is less than appealing. Create a separate destination. A yoga mat, some free weights, and a place to put your phone (for music or streaming) are all you need. Instant gym.

How about a place to make or just relax? Throw a few pillows on the floor near a window. Add a small vase of flowers for extra comfort. Now knit, meditate, or do whatever will make you feel good.

Simple and affordable ways to take time “away” from home.

And now the trickiest part to the idea of separate destinations….(drum roll, please)…

Don’t mix.

If possible, keep your work space separate from your home gym space. Keep your reading nook separate from your bed. Distinct destinations will make your home feel more organized and provide little escapes in a time where travel is frowned upon.

However, I realize that’s not always so easy…

…but don’t give up.

Think outside, a small spot in your garage, a small slab in your basement, hell – even the bathtub! Make a space for just you.

Divine Dissatisfaction

Martha Graham
Copyright: © Barbara Morgan – http://www.agefotostock.com

Listen to this blog: https://anchor.fm/meghan-greenwood/episodes/Divine-Dissatisfaction-erd74o

How is your celebration of small victories going? Have you had a chance to live in the present and/or reflect on everything you have accomplished? I hope you have attempted this practice and found it fruitful.

For all right-sided brains, some additional advice to get you through.

As a creative person, you’re probably used to reflecting on your products. Whether it be a book, a song, a craft, a dance, a sculpture, or a painting, you likely have looked at it and thought, ehhh – this could have been better.

Instead of putting yourself down for these moments of negative savoring, it’s important to realize that this inherent. True artists are wrought with criticism (mostly constructive), because this is how we grow and continue to create.

For example, can you imagine what would have happened if after Steven Spielberg finished “Jaws” he thought to himself, “This is my best”? We would have never been graced with “ET”, “Schindler’s List”, “Saving Private Ryan”, or countless other cinematic masterpieces. This is not to say that every creation needs to be your worst, or have a multi-million dollar return, or that Spielberg actually criticized any of his aforementioned movies; but the idea persists.

Martha Graham, an awe-inspiring dancer, choreographer, and visionary, said it best. “No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than others.”

Never fulfilled is thus put into a beautiful context. Unrest is not to be seen as a detriment, but instead, an important part of the process. The driving force behind making. The reason for doing what you love to do.

Therefore, small victories for the right-sided brains boils down to separation of product from fulfillment. Artists should still strive to celebrate the products they’ve created, but remember that it will likely only push you to do more.

So, no, you’re not mad…just hungry. Make sure you get a few bites here and there.