I recently had the pleasure of attending an inspirational talk in Madrid by Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post and author of the wonderful book ‘Thrive’.
The subject of her talk was one very close to my heart: Balance & Mindfulness.
When she asked if anyone had any questions, my hand shot up. Before I knew what was happening, a microphone was thrust into my hand and I was told to stand up and introduce myself.
I’m a huge admirer of Arianna, so my face burned and heart raced, but I believe it went something like:
Hi Arianna, I’m Kelly Pietrangeli of Project Me for Busy Mothers and I help women find a happier balance between the kids – and everything else. (Whew! All of those months of memorising my ‘cocktail line’ paid off!)
My busy mother readers and clients all say the same thing:
‘My to-do list is never ending! There are never enough hours in the day to get it all done.’
They go to bed feeling exhausted and guilty for everything they haven’t managed to get done.
Arianna, what would you say to the mother with the never-ending to-do list?
There’s always going to be your to-do list. But you also need a gratitude list. Every single day, write at least three things you’re feeling grateful for.
The more gratitude you have for all of the people and things you have in your life, the more grace you’ll extend yourself for not ‘getting it all done’. Focus on what you achieved each night before bed, not on what you didn’t manage to do.
Of course, this made my heart sing, and if you’ve been following Project Me for any length of time you’ll know that I’m always banging on about gratitude as a daily practice.
How often do you sit down with a pen and paper, do a little assessment of the different areas of your life and see what needs some planning or figuring out?
Maybe you need a strategy for organising your home, getting into a fitness routine, having more fun with your partner or friends, or doing more things just for you? Family life may flow easier if you spend a little time creating some written rules or charts so you can stop the nagging. Perhaps you have a business idea swirling around in your head, but you never take the time to explore it properly?
When you’re constantly caught up in the day to day whirlwind of life, you fall into bed every night without any chance for planning or reflection. Then the next morning you start the whole crazy routine all over again! That’s why this date with yourself is so important.
It’s too easy to spend your downtime getting sucked into social media or mindlessly surfing the web. Having a monthly Project Me Date With Yourself will help you feel more organised and on top of life. You’ll become a pro problem solver and the expert of you and your family.
Once you get on top of the day to day stuff, you’ll have more headspace to dig deeper into your goals, dreams and future plans. You’ll get to know yourself better and understand what brings out your best version of you.
So, when’s that first date with yourself going to be?
In the comments below share your take-aways from this post. When are you going to schedule it in that first hot date with yourself?
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If you could choose one word to sum up what you’d like out of your year ahead, what would it be?
Maybe it’s a word that describes how you want to feel? Or something you wish to accomplish?
I’ve been choosing an annual theme word for the past few years. I usually just go with my gut instinct – whatever seems to be calling me.
Then I write it down and hang it somewhere visible, as a steady reminder. I also write it in my journal and put it on a sticky note next to my computer. I’ve sometimes made a bookmark featuring my word of the year which I transfer across to whatever I’m reading each month.
And you know what? I really think it makes a difference! Here are some examples.[more]
When my cousin and I were teenagers, we were hanging out at my grandparents farm in Minnesota, dreaming about how great our future lives were going to be.
My big plan involved living in California with an ocean view, driving a convertible and working in Hollywood.
I’d never even been on an airplane in my life, much less visited California…
He was going to start a business, be his own boss, and design and build his dream house with his own two hands.
Our uncle overheard us from the other room and came in with a suggestion. Why didn’t we write our dream predictions down so we could see later if they turned out? He then taped our predictions to the back of the picture hanging above the kitchen table where we were sitting.
Fast forward several years. I’m in my early 20’s and I’ve just arrived home from work. Sorting through a pile of mail, I find a letter from my grandmother in Minnesota.
She writes to tell me that while the farmhouse kitchen was being repainted, they discovered the notes my cousin and I had written.
I looked up from her letter and gazed out my living room window. An enormous orange sunset was dipping into the Pacific Ocean.
I’d just driven home from work in my Volkswagen Golf convertible. My job? Working as Johnny Depp’s press assistant in Hollywood.
Meanwhile, my cousin had started his own successful heating and refrigeration business and had just designed and built his dream house.
This woke me up to the amazing power of having a dream and writing it down like it’s really gonna happen!
The second pivotal moment in my goal setting journey came along soon after that.
Johnny Depp decided to leave the TV show that had turned him into a teen heartthrob sensation. I thought he was nuts [more]
Have you heard of Tapping yet? It’s also known as EFT: Emotional Freedom Technique.
You lightly tap certain points on your face and body to watch fears and anxiety disappear.
Sounds kind of woo-woo wacky, right? Read on…
I first heard about tapping when I watched a video about it by my business mentor Marie Forleo.
I found it fascinating but at the time I wasn’t experiencing any fears or anxiety, so I put it in my back pocket for another time.
Then a lovely Project Me follower, Diana Tower, got in touch to offer me a free Tapping for Mothers session via Skype. Diana specialises in helping overwhelmed, stressed out mamas clear their minds, get out of their own way and feel happier and calm. What I found particularly interesting is her ability to help mothers with fears and anxieties.
The timing was perfect. I had our annual family ski trip coming up and I knew I needed a strategy to help me cope.
Weirdly, my anxiety was getting worse every year and I risked passing on my fears to my kids as they witnessed me freeze up (and dissolve into tears) on the slopes.
We had our next ski trip to Switzerland in two weeks time and I suddenly decided NOW was the time to try this tapping thing!
And just one session was all I needed. It was some kind of small miracle.
After completing a pre-session survey, Diana had the information she needed to get started.
She advised me to have a box of tissues handy for when my emotions let loose, but nothing prepared me for [more]
When I was a child, the concept of gratitude was simply about going through the motions of saying ‘thank you’ (and ‘please’) and writing thank you letters for gifts.
It was more about showing good manners than cultivating an inner feeling of gratitude. It’s only now that I understand its true power.
Gratitude is much more than saying the words ‘thank you’. It’s a feeling deep inside.
If you practice gratitude a little, your life will change a bit. If you practice gratitude a lot, your life will change dramatically. (click to tweet)
My awakening to this life-changing concept came in the form of a book called ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne. With over 21 million copies sold, translated into 47 languages, you may have heard of it or read it yourself by now.
Love it or hate it (there seem to be two camps), I’m firmly on the ‘love it’ side. I first heard about the book in 2007 when it was about to be launched in the UK. I read a cutting review calling the book ‘very American’ and accusing it of being ‘full of nonsense about the power of positivity’.
I thought…. Hey, that’s my kind of book!
I’ve read it several times and can open it to any page and find something to immediately apply to my day.
It’s very much about attracting good things into your life by having a positive outlook. I’ve bought countless copies for friends and family. (It’s no wonder it remains a bestseller.) It’s short and sweet and a great introduction for people who don’t normally read this kind of thing.
I woke up this morning excited to start my day. You’d be too if you had a date with Deepak.
I was first introduced to Deepak Chopra 15 years ago in a dusty, used book shop in London. ‘The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success for Parents‘ seemed to jumped off the shelf and into my hands.
My first son was just a tiny baby and Deepak’s words had a profound effect on how I decided to raise my kids. I wanted them to learn from a young age that anything is possible with pure desire and intention. The book gave me a tool to help explain these concepts to my children – and to better understand them myself.
Every parent wants their child to achieve success in life, yet most are teaching them that in order to succeed they must persist against disappointments, obstacles and setbacks. They must compete to be the best, survive against inevitable struggles and behave in order to earn approval.
Success achieved by struggle may bring good things to us, but the inner fulfilment we seek from those things will be lacking.
I went on to read more of his books, starting with the original ‘Seven Spiritual Laws of Success’, then ‘Synchro Destiny’ and ‘Ageless Mind, Ageless Body’. When the scientific evidence got way too deep for me, I just skimmed those parts and took in the message behind the science. Deepak taught me to open my mind to unlimited potential.
For a few years we drifted apart. I never completely forgot him, but new teachers came into my life to reinforce and refine my views.
I’m back together with Deepak now. A friend reintroduced us two years ago.
I’ve always thought of introverts as being wallflowers. Shy, quiet and preferring their own company.
I’m certainly no wallflower. I’ve got plenty of friends, have a very loud voice and have been known to dance on tables after a few tequilas.
But I’ve got introverted tendencies that have taken me years to understand.[more]
I decided to create a Toolbox of Calm. Something I could quickly access when I felt a full-blown Mama Meltdown coming on.
I filled a cardboard box with emergency supplies:
CDs of feel-good music, meditations, card decks containing words of wisdom and mantras for mothers, a candle, crystals and stones that felt soothing in my hands. (Even though I know nothing about crystals and stones!)
Plus my essential bottle of Bach Rescue Remedy. (They don’t call it Yoga in a Bottle for nothing. If you haven’t got any, good grief – get your hands on some now!)
I kept my Toolbox of Calm under my bed.
When I felt myself spiralling out of control, I’d give myself a Mama Time-Out.[more]
Do any of these sound familiar?
If the words above resonated with you, you’re not alone.
My online business buddy Peggy Freeh printed this on her website and it made me sit up straight and listen to what she has to say.
I’m one of those mamas who wants to be more mindful and self-aware. I crave personal growth and know that when I give this part of my life the attention it deserves I’m a much more peaceful and loving mother.
When my soul is being fed, I can begin to see life beyond the laundry pile. I feel less hard-done-by. I’m also a better wife, friend – human being. I eat better, I take care of myself. I’m fun! I have more to give and I feel so much happier.
I used to buy all of the inspirational books and I genuinely wanted to put all of the great things I read into my daily life, but then things would get hectic and I’d slip back into my old ways. I knew what I was capable of if I’d only stay focused on the positive! It wasn’t easy.
One area I knew I needed to work on was my mornings. I was a B.I.T.C.H. of a mother in the early hours and my poor kids bore the brunt of it. I’d wake up and immediately begin barking at them to get up, get dressed and have breakfast so I could get them to school on time.
I remember dropping them off at the school gates, then putting my head on the steering wheel and crying. I wanted to be patient and kind, but there was something about being on mama duty from the moment I opened my bleary eyes that made it so damn hard for me to be nice.
My saving grace was [more]
Are you a calm creature in your yoga class, then get home and yell at your kids?
Do you ever read an inspirational book or blog and think, “Yes! That makes total sense, and I’m going to start doing that!” Then life gets busy and it never quite happens?
Do you ever feel like you’re two different people living in the same body? Saying one thing, doing another?
I wrote about this in a guest blog on Tiny Buddha last week titled ‘How to Be Your Best Version of You a Lot More Often’.
It received a huge response from women all over the world. It seems I’m not the only one who suffers from this Jekyll and Hyde affliction.
Thankfully I’ve discovered a way to become more even keeled. It involves figuring out what brings out my best and worst qualities so I can bring more (or less) triggers into (or out of) my life.
Of course, as the Queen of Getting It Out of Your Head and Onto Paper, I’ve created a printable Action Sheet to help you brainstorm what brings out your best and worst so you can hatch a simple plan to be your Best Self more often.
Grab the Best Version of Me Action Sheet here!
A greater sense of self-awareness is always the key to unlocking more happiness and fullfillment. Once you understand what makes you tick (and what ticks you off!) you can be your Best Self more consistently.
I know that my Best Version of Me is kind, loving, patient, calm, positive, playful and fun! But it’s hard to be any of those things when I’m overwhelmed, rushed, running late, tired or don’t have enough ME time.[more]
How can we help our children when they are angry, frustrated, disappointed, or sad?
The key is to start by staying calm. We don’t need to argue, defend, or join them in their emotional upheaval. Instead, it’s important we just breathe, relax, and stay grounded.
It’s not easy, I know.
Feeling frustrated or angry with our children is often the reaction we have when we’re on autopilot. Accessing our inner calm takes awareness and practice. We need to create the space to choose a more helpful response. How can we do this?
Call it whatever you want—meditation, quiet time, nothingness, breathing, relaxation, sitting in stillness. It isn’t the term that matters, but actually taking the time to practice what the term points to.
You don’t have to take a class or buy a bunch of books before you can practice becoming quiet. Not that I’m against either classes or books. It’s just that they aren’t essential. I’ve studied many different types of formal meditation, and I know many who swear by a certain teacher or practice. But for me, trying to follow specific guidelines turned out to be a distraction.
Now, I simply [more]