Summer Challenge Series - Part 1 #inhale,exhale,repeat

It happens to the best of us . . . summer is here, and the panic sets in.  These thoughts might sound familiar:  "Did I actually PLAN anything this summer?  Do I have camp forms filled out, summer carpools arranged, babysitters lined up?  Do I actually have any PLANS?  Why is social media telling me everyone is going out for ice cream right now?  

As an energetic person (let's be honest - a bit "tightly wound", according to my family), I have practiced deep breathing the last several years.  It has a calming effect that is unwavering.  My mom recently taught me a new breathing trick mid-flight to California.  As you can imagine, I was panicked about the turbulence (I'm certain we were going down), and she had suggestions to help (she's one of those "yogis").  She had me do these three things: 

1.  Inhale slowly - counting to 8 or 10.

2.  Exhale slowly, letting all breath release.  Allow your stomach to push out as you exhale.

3.  Hold the end of the exhale for several moments.  Repeat all of the above.

It helped tremendously, and allowed distraction AND concentration all at once.  SO, for all of my lovely folks out there who are feeling like summer came too soon, there is hope for you yet.   Keep reading.

Oh So Clean

With the guidance of a good friend, I adopted the "Life Calendar" a few years ago. It helped by tackling those feelings of overwhelm, feeling behind the 8-ball, and appearing disorganized.  Even the most methodical, well-intended human is bound to forget important details now and again.  While I love planning far in advance, I admit that I will forget it - unless I write it down.

So here is my recommendation:  Take a deep breath.  And write that stuff down.

A life calendar can be very simple (a piece of paper and a pencil), or very complex (Excel spreadsheet).  I tend to opt for paper and pencil, and then I start writing.

So here I sit, I have just finalized my life calendar for September 2017 through January, 2018 and beyond - which is a VERY busy time for our family.  Not only is it back to school time, but also a busy time in the world of cleaning and entrepreneurship.  Not to mention the beginning of flu season, which inhabits my husband's line of work for months on end.

The only way I keep everything straight is a life calendar.  It reels me in when summer hits - when my brain seems to go on vacation right along with the summer breeze.  Each month has its own page.  I keep a master list including everything that I need to do for the year, month-by-month.  Once I have my yearly plan of goals, dreams, and big to-dos, I review this plan on a monthly basis, assessing the next three months.  And you better believe it is up on my bulletin board for daily review.

Here is my September 2017 list, along with my planner of important dates.  As with everything in life, things come up - which is why there is plenty of room on my calendar for additional engagements.  It's not hard or complicated, and it certainly isn't rocket science, but it works.

Oh So Clean


Later this month, I will review August, September, and October 2017 plans, and it continues from there.  The overall plan is a constant work in progress, but when I dedicate a small amount of time to my goals on a monthly basis, they are more manageable.  I tackle more, and carry less worry and panic alongside me.  I feel well prepared.

My favorite part about this simple system is that I am already easing myself into that crazy fall time - I know when I am going school shopping with the kids.  I know when I will book our fall yard cleanup, and I know I will need to order two sets of choir and band outfits (if I never encounter high-waters pants the day of a choir concert for the rest of time, I'm good).  I know that our chimney sweep company books far in advance, so I will not forget to book them (like years past).  I know I will need to make time for homecoming shopping for two teenagers, and I know my husband and I need to take time for ourselves at our anniversary.

With life going at full speed, having a plan allows me to gracefully accept things that are unplanned.  I no longer say "I am so busy!"  The truth is, I simply am not.  I am no busier than anyone else.  I know now that when I would say "I'm so busy", it was really code for "I am so disorganized, I have no plan!"

So go ahead.  Take this busy month of July, and plan ahead - you deserve that gift to yourself.  Take a deep breath, and understand that we are all in this together.  I challenge you to plan ahead with even the most simple tasks.  Allow your body, your mind, and your conscience the ability to let go of worry.  Let go of feeling so busy.  Let go of feeling overwhelmed.  You can then enjoy summer to its fullest. 

Oh So Clean