Why did I take LWIO?

(From Life With Intention Online course, Feb. 2015)

Hi all,

Amazing people here, looking forward to learning more about all of you.

I am struggling with getting into the course, even posting my intro is proving to be a challenge.  I have some post-partum depression and anxiety issues that I am just starting to own.  Me stating that just put some people off, I’m sure.  I am not really digging the announcing of it, either, but I also have start to “speak” it so that I don’t berate myself for what I’m NOT doing.  The ego is really at work there.

So in the interest of accomplishing it, the intro will be short.  :)  (Hey, I just re-read it, once I got rolling I did ok.  :) )

Basics: 36 y/o, work in education, live in St. Paul, MN with hubs, son (9 m) and pup Gus.  I signed up for this course before the PPD started to really get its claws in me and at that time – and still – I am really looking for tools to help me enjoy the present moment more as I have traditionally been an Olympic level futuretripper.  I always thought this was a virtue but it’s never made me any happier.

I also want to be more clear on my values so that I can live them wherever I am, particularly in my professional life.  For a long time I was pursuing this self-employment goal, but had a realization that this was just the next shiny penny on the list, or what I have long called “shoulds.”  I have a well-compensated job, but many days I struggle to see the greater meaning or connection to my values.  It’s also a relatively new job, I’ve been there just this school year – so when I’m mired in trying to understand the organizational culture (spoken and unspoken) and hang in there implementing a new and controversial program – well, it’s easy to lose sight of those values.

So that’s why I’m here.

Shiny Penny Timeline

Also posted in the Life With Intention Online Course last winter (Feb 2015).

Here goes.  Writing this in real time.  It might be a bit stream-of-consciousness.  I am also struggling with openness here because on a different forum I frequent I was invited to meet a forum friend IRL and we discovered that I work at her children’s school.  Then I was feeling a bit of an idiot because I had disclosed things on the forum that I NEEEEEEVER would have confided in a parent at my workplace!!!  But it was done and the world is still spinning, and she is still perfectly lovely.  So I have to remind myself that I am here to learn and grow and that lightning won’t strike twice, right?

Shiny pennies.  I have railed against the “shoulds” of life for a long time.  You know, when someone says to the 18 year old woman, “oh, that’s good that you are going to go to college, so you can (insert traditionally women’s work here).”  Or to the 22 year old, “yes, it’s a good idea to travel now, before you are married.”  I battled these statements!  Resisted them!  Was going to live my life the way I wanted!!  And guess what happened . . . . . . . . . . . . . . well, you’ll read my timeline.  My shiny pennies were to do things differently, sometimes just for the sake of it.  And in the end it wasn’t very “different” at all.

  • High school/College: Attend college while in high school.  Graduate with no debt.  Graduate early.  Become fluent in Spanish.  (Graduated 4 years after HS with $20K in debt.  Not sure what to “do” with a Spanish major so do an education major for good measure – just in case.).
  • Post college:  travel!  Live abroad!  Be a free soul in the world!  (Did this, lived in Mexico for two years, met people from all over the world.  I had an unfortunate realization years later about this experience – I hardly remembered anyone of the people I’d met.  It was almost more like I was “collecting” people – so I could say I’d met people from #x of countries – rather than really knowing or remembering those individuals.  Like meeting a lot of people from all over the world was a shiny penny in and of itself.  I sound like a jerk to say that but it was very important of me to realize that so that in the future I could treat people like people and not tally marks on some weird goal I had.)


  • Post living-abroad:
    • Do NOT move back to my city of origin.
    • Do NOT become a teacher.
    • Become an interpreter.  Do certificate, then I’ll be prepared.  Do training program, then I’ll be prepared.  Never got a job doing this, despite my hard work . . .
    • Moved back to my parents’ house.  Had a full time teaching job less than a year later.
  • Teaching career.  If I was gonna do it, I was gonna do it all the way!
    • Be on every building committee.  Continually refine instructional practices/lessons/ways of interacting with the kids.  Start clubs.  Speak up about issues I saw.  Work hard to rectify them.  Burn out after 7 years of this.
    • Move up the salary schedule (get a Master’s, do lots of grad credits) (did that)
    • Keep my job safe by adding a license and getting tenure and building seniority (hasn’t mattered)
    • (four years ago to current) Move into a teacher leadership job, hang onto it.  DON’T go back into the classroom because that would be giving up some kind of status.  Plus the classroom is the hardest ass place to be!!!!!!!!  It’s such hard work – but the most rewarding work . . . and I have been fantasizing about it for the last two years.  My current job came out of me applying for a classroom job.  I took a step toward going back into the classroom and then was diverted into my current teacher leadership job because of prior experience.  It has been less than rewarding, but for many reasons.
    • (current) DON’T become an administrator!  There’s the inverse shiny penny again.  Weird.
  • Marriage/personal life
    • About 10 years ago:  DON’T date!  Done with all that crap!!!  (then my husband came along)
    • Date him, be in love, move in, get engaged, get married (but don’t do it like everyone else – plan a unique and frugal wedding)
    • 8 years ago:  Live in a teeny house.  We can do it.  We’re awesome urban frugalistas.  We don’t need more!  (did this . . read on . . )
    • 5 years ago:  House is feeling tight.  What if we maybe want a kid?  We’d need a bigger house.  The market’s low right now, we’d better act . . . Shiny penny:  Find a bigger historic home but only at a kickass price.  Done.  Renovate it ourselves.  Done – well, continuing . . .(Has sucked at least an additional $100K in repairs).  Hang onto home at all costs, because we worked so hard to renovate it and we could never afford to buy another in this area now that the market has come back.
    • Throughout last 10 years:  Embody a simple and active persona:  Pay off all debt.  Live frugally.  Don’t watch TV or be suckered into consumeristic pursuits like recreational shopping.  Organic/grow own food/make things from scratch/sew stuff/do without/reuse/all that.  Travel.  Camp.  Now that all of this is so overwhelming with the baby, it really makes me question what of it comes from a deeply held value and what was all a facade/mask/character?
    • (Last 2 years – present): self-employment.  Make my own schedule!  Work at home in a charming home office!  Be able to spend time with my kid!  No office BS or bosses to report to!  The issue?  It’s again focused on what I DON’T want – what I fear – what I’m running from: all the icky parts of working full time outside the home.  I haven’t stopped to think of – ahem – the most important thing:  what would I even want to do?  Well, I do have a million ideas there, have started a few up, abandoned them . . . but none that are currently drawing me.  I’m feeling pushed toward this shiny penny, not drawn to it.
    • Very purposefully do NOT declare an intention to have/not have children.  Then I wouldn’t have to figure it out, first of all, and if it did happen, fine, and if it didn’t, well, I never did say I wanted any anyway, did I? I wouldn’t have to be like those ladies who can’t get pregnant and do all the fertility stuff – I’d never have to “fail” at it.  (No judgment on anyone’s approach to fertility, BTW – just where my thought process was at for myself).  And it did happen.  So now it’s not to declare any way of wanting to raise him or be as a mother.  So if none of it ever happens, no one can be disappointed.
    • Right now:  declutter.  Get rid of all the crap in my house that we don’t use.  Maybe then the weight on me, the overwhelm I feel from just sitting on the couch and looking around – will feel like it’s gone. (I suspect it won’t.)
    • Right now:  work part-time.  The self-employment voice “justifies” this by saying it can be a day that I use to work on developing my thing!  Truly, though?  I just need a day I can count on to do all the detritus of life.  And if I had an hour or two to read a book, well, that wouldn’t be so bad, either.

I am not sure if I did this right.  How can it be that so much of my life has been shaped by fear and by only knowing what I did NOT want to be?  Sad.

Values Based Intentions

I took a course last winter called Life With Intention Online.  We explored our personal values and how to apply them to live a fulfilling life right now.  That concept has come crashing back to Earth with some of the more recent work I just posted about.  Such a journey!

So I realized that while I spent six weeks immersed in developing values-based intentions, I never did write down much of what I did.  So I managed to log back in and find my personal values-based intentions from February 2015.  It is amazing to see how six months later I continue to wrestle with exactly these intentions, and they all still feel like they fit.  And none talk about having a business.  🙂


  • Seek enough.
  • Focus on quality items that spark joy.

Personal habits:

  • Mindfully nourish my body.
  • Move at the pleasure of my soul.
  • Indulge curiosity and seek adventure.


  • Be real: Let the cracks show and say what I need others to know.
  • Show care and appreciation through thoughtful actions.
  • Listen.


  • Improve the greater good with creativity and connection.
  • Seek freedom to schedule and direct my own work.


So when people say, “What should I do with my life?” or “What is my life purpose?” what they’re actually asking is: “What can I do with my time that is important?” – Mark Manson

Dandelion seeds in warm breeze

Photo: Mark Bitzenhofer on Flickr.

Warning:  post ahead may be nonsensical to you, dear reader (ha, there are all of one of you, maybe two? And you know I appreciate you!) but it’s completely sensical to me!  LOL, this blog is turning into a big ol’ Dear Diary session.  🙂

Two main happenings lately in my self-exploration, both as a result (one directly, one indirectly) of the coaching I’ve been doing for three sessions now.  I am starting to make more and more connections the deeper into the coaching we get.  As I wrote in my last post, we did some exploration around a metaphorical statement of my life’s purpose.  After a week and half or so of mulling, revisiting the visualizations we did, and doing a bit of wordsmithing (not too much, but soooo tempting to spin wheels here), I’ve hit on a phrase that I’m not ready to share with the world but is feeling like it is right – for now.  (The quote at the top of the post illustrates why it’s ok that the “right now” caveat is there.)  I’ve been rolling the statement around in my head and love it.  I need to do some hand-writing in my journal about it before I am ready to unveil (might be never!), but wanted to get some things out here first since I typically prefer typing because the thoughts can come out so much faster.  That’s the first part.

The second part is that my coach also sent me this article about life purpose, which led me down the rabbit hole to – it turns out – this far more important-for-me-right-now post.  (Trigger warning: rape/graphic sexual language.)  When I read the second one in particular, it was an aha:  the reason I haven’t started up a business is because I don’t really want to.  I don’t really want to do all the accounting.  I don’t really want to rely on myself for only-just-good-enough (aka shitty) benefits, mainly health insurance.  What attracts me to having my own business is the scheduling and creative freedom.  So how can I have that in my current life?  And with this realization, I think this year of working .5 in my outside employment is a great start.  And I’m proud that I’ll be doing that, and scared, but excited.

This aha felt peaceful, felt right.  Jess Lively talks about the intuition as a cool well, we can dip into it for refreshing water/wisdom, the information it gives us is not fearful or damaging.  That’s how this moment felt.  Suddenly I did not feel like a failure for not getting something off the ground.  This realization, along with the work on my life purpose statement, has me feeling so much better about life – like I now have “permission” (from myself) to work on the projects that really draw my attention, regardless of the money they might make us – like that it’s ok to continue to want to live frugally because that will give us the financial freedom not to be tied to full-time work that crushes the life purpose sometimes.  I find myself looking at other aspects of my life through the lens of the purpose statement: how can I listen better to others?  Be more present?  Abdicate some of my obsession with technology?  Tap the wisdom of others to improve problems that are real here and now?  And none of this will necessarily make me any money, but it will all make me happier.

So, some further interesting observations/thoughts.  When I started the life coaching, I declared pretty strongly that THE main thing I wanted to get out of the experience was to focus down onto ONE business idea.  Now that does not feel true!  Not at all!  And part of me is like, shit, I am paying a LOT of money for this coaching and I’m not gonna have something to “show” for it at the end?  Not going to have the start of a business?  Because, like, my inner peace, confidence, and happiness is worth nothing?  Huh.

On the Path

photo courtesy Jonas Ginter on Flickr

photo courtesy Jonas Ginter on Flickr

Paths – so many metaphors with paths.  I am on a path to the future (I suppose we all are), I am working on new neural pathways to establish more productive thoughts and habits (this keeps coming up lately in all kinds of places).

Today:  yoga, coaching call and biking.  Feels so good to have done all this.  It’s easy when it’s 75 and sunny, but I am nervous for when it is an 8 hour day of sunlight and below zero.  However, as my coach Christina said, I need to give myself kudos for what I HAVE done, which was bike and go to yoga – especially because my initial plan for yoga fell through and I had to look for a different class at the last second.  But I found one and enjoyed it – hard, but great.  It was even free since I’d never been to the studio before.  🙂

On the coaching call we did three visualizations to help arrive at a metaphor statement for my life’s purpose.  I know, huge.  That seems impossible to even do, but it gives me hope for perspective and direction.

So in the first visualization (which I looooove) I had to picture a billboard and on it was my message to the world.  Where was it located?  What did it look like?  What did it say?  Who was looking at it?  How were those individuals reacting?  That one felt a bit forced, a bit too much from the conscious mind.  (I had picked a terrible spot to have the coaching call.  There were so many trucks that it was really hard to focus.  Lesson learned).  My billboard was in a cornfield, with a Mexican-type floral motif and it said “Be Brave.”  And some young women were looking at it, but I didn’t really notice their reaction.  I think the “Be Brave” thing wasn’t really coming from my intuition since I have been thinking a lot about that phrase lately.

In the second, the thing to visualize was that I stepped out of bed and had a superpower.  What was it?  Then, take a walk with the new superpower.  Who did I meet along the way?  I could share my superpower with them.  What did it look like?  This middle visualization was the best one, the one from deepest in me, and the most “right” feeling.  I could float – not really fly, though kind of.  Maybe more like a slow-mo flying, and only a few feet off the ground.  I took a walk in the neighborhood on our regular dogwalking route, and encountered a friendly neighbor.  I took her hand and then together we could float higher, and with more control, and faster.  Like the power was enhanced once we banded together.  It was cool.

For the third, I was on a stage.  I pictured the stage and who was in the audience.  Then, I could say whatever I needed to say to them.  This one was really hard.  It was kind of negative.  I only pictured three people in the audience.  One I knew and two I did not know.  I had nothing to say, and it was really awkward.  I just wanted it to end.

I am not sure what these mean yet but wanted to document them.

Mystery solved!

Turned out to be Lyme disease, or so the labs say.  Symptoms match up.  Yuck!!  On antibiotics and feeling much better but must remember to be gentle with myself as I’m still not quite back to 100%.  My tired stretches (common with a 1 year old) are especially tired, almost exhausted.  So while I’m frustrated that I lost 2-3 weeks of my summer to this ick, I can’t make up for it all in one swoop.  With focus I can make a little progress every day.  Like, we finally mounted a baby gate at the top of the stairs, and that took several days of small efforts every day, but now it is done (not a moment too soon.  That babe is fearless.).

Jumble of emotions!

I have not been well lately.  And that’s bumming me out.  I have a newfound energy (you’ll see why below) and then just when I think I’m on the upswing, I slide back again and have to languish in bed.  It’s hard to continue to be sick with a mystery illness and not really know what to do about it – and somehow this kind of thing always happens in our house on a holiday weekend.  Hoping to get in to my regular clinic ASAP on Monday.  Fingers crossed.

More than anything, though, I’m excited – I am going to start working with a coach.  Well, I already have.  She is delightful, and I expect to make some changes in my life on account of working with her.  I’m scared shitless, as I unabashedly told her.  But after reading back over this journal, and seeing all the themes of being stuck, being hopeless, being depressed, being idle, overthinking, perfectionism, etc., I am hoping to focus and take some real actions.

First action is to attend a workshop on the Art of Hosting next week.  I do not know if this is the initial focus I will take in freelancing/self-employment/service/etc., but I will know more soon.  I am so glad I was brave enough to sign up for this workshop.  I wasn’t sure I should.  It had a $500 sticker, and I am going part time next school year and had JUST expressed some misgivings about money to my husband.  But I felt compelled to sign up, and decided to go for it.  I think it helped that I was “applying,” not registering.  That gave me a bit of a buffer to say, “oh well, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it, no harm in applying.”  Once I was offered a spot, I simply inquired if the organizer knew of any grants or scholarships to help offset the cost.  She did not.  About a week later I got a message from her saying that they’d had so many participants pay the full cost of the workshop that the budget had enough room to offer a few participants to enroll for just the cost of the food and photocopies – $75!  Kismet!  If I’d never thrown my name in the ring, that wouldn’t have happened – so very glad I did.

So my coach already assisted me in finding an intention to take with me into the workshop – to make connections both to people and to material.  I found several images online, and need to text her one.  Then I’ll put the image on my computer for the time of the workshop.  The one below is one that keeps popping into my mind from my searching.  I resisted it because it doesn’t represent humans, though that’s what’s in my mind – while I want to seek the connections with the other participants as well as with the material, the main focus will be on the people.  However, this graphic more closely represents human networks/interactions more than many of the stock photos Google turns up (ahem, youthful white business people holding light bulbs?)  At least this graphic has a variety of sizes, thicknesses, intensities . . . some connections functioning in the foreground and some in the background.  And complex!  Beautiful.


Rich connections come from all kinds of experiences, interests, knowledge, backgrounds

This one’s just pretty.  🙂  Nah, I was drawn to many nature-based photos as well.  This one is just so unique, but it didn’t pop to mind as the first image like the top one did.