There is serious POWER when moms gather to discuss the profession they hold dear and strengthen each other. I LOVED getting to know the amazing mothers who gathered in New Hampshire a couple weeks ago for our Power of Moms Retreat. And apparently they loved it to - their evaluations were full of words like "empowering," "life-changing," "revolutionary," "comforting and motivating at the same time," and "exceptional." Nice to hear. Very nice to hear!
On a personal level, I got lots of great new ideas from other moms on our main Retreat topics (building strong and positive family systems in a deliberate manner, taking care of the person inside the mom, organizing my time better...). But following are my personal biggest "ah-ha" moments from the weekend:
1. I need margins in my life. My sister Saydi (so fun to have her as a co-trainer at this Retreat!) talked about how it's important to not only have boundaries (something I've been working on) but also to have margins - to build in extra space in our lives so that we have time to not only accomplish the most important things but to actually ENJOY our lives. It's often in the margins that some of the most precious parts of life can take place. Sometimes we can't have much by way of margins (like right now when I'm moving and have a few pressing projects for Power of Moms), but margin-less living should be the exception, not the rule.
2. Choices are stressful and they can and should be controlled and pared down. We live in a world where we have literally 100's of choices about how to spend our time, what to buy, what to eat, what to wear, etc. In past generations, there were fewer choices. Studies have been done that indicate that people who have enough to eat and have good health but who have very limited choices in their lives (like the people in the little village in Africa where Jared and I did a service project years ago) are generally happier and more satisfied with their lives than those with tons of choices. We can eliminate or pare down many of our choices and that can really reduce stress.
We can decide to spend only 1/2 hour shopping for a new lamp on line, find the best one we can during that time period and then block out any further thought about that choice. We can come up with a regular menu for our meals and mostly stick with that so that we're not having to make as many choices at the grocery store or make choices about dinner during the time our kids are needing help with their homework. We can decide on a time that we'll get up every morning and stick with it (I re-evaluate almost every night what time I REALLY need to get up the next morning and it's so dumb). We can offer our children many chances to make decisions but keep the list of options involved in each decision short. We can decide what we're NOT going to to in general and then when an opportunity or request comes up, we can refer to our already-made decision on that overall issue (We don't do sleepovers with the kids - we don't have to evaluate and make a decision each time on that. I don't do crafty things like bulletin boards and cute gifts for teachers - I don't have to make a decision each time when something like that comes up...).
This lesson really helped me when it came to deciding on a new house in Ogden. We could have looked for months and analyzed every possible house on the market - and I sort of started off in that mode, spending chunks of time on line looking at houses and rentals and blocking out time whenever we were visiting Jared to house hunt. But a couple of weeks ago, we decided we'd done enough research and needed to stop being distracted by other options. The options were to buy the one house we'd found and that had "spoken" to us from the moment we saw it, forget buying and just rent in Ogden, or stay here in St George.
I spent a few hours researching rentals, Jared visited what looked like the best options and nothing felt right and there were precious few options in homes with more than 3 bedrooms. Plus renting would feel like we were simply prolonging the choice of where we really wanted to life, keeping that larger choice hanging over our heads. We decided to put that option aside.
We looked at the scenario of Jared working from home a week then at his office a week and extending what we're doing further. Not right for us. We need to be together and have a more normal family life quite soon.
So we just focused on buying this house. But even after we agreed on a price, there were still plenty of stressful choices involved - especially after the home inspector's report showed quite a long list of "little things" and a few biggish things that needed to be fixed. We made choices about what we'd accept and what we needed to make things move forward - and that was stressful. But doing one small choice at a time made it feel more manageable. And now we feel really at peace about this house and about making things happen as quickly as possible.
Anyway - that was a tangent - but I'm learning how to pare down my choices and I think that will really help to reduce the stress in my head.
To check out photos and other points of view on the Retreat - plus some great blogs - you can visit these blog posts by some of our Retreat participants:
Just FYI, in response to many requests, we're planning a large day-long Retreat this Spring in the Salt Lake City area. We'll announce dates and details as soon as we can. In the mean time, if you want to organize a Retreat for your area, let us know. We've got wonderful trainers in many parts of the country who can help make your Retreat dreams come true.