The Biggest Lesson of My 36th Year

The biggest lesson of my 36th year

I started this article by making a list of 36 of my favorite things, most of which stepped into my life only in this past year, but when I started editing, it didn’t feel right. And I wanted to go a bit deeper than just some surface highlights.
With each passing year, I envision my life like an onion. Every time a layer gets discovered, it only goes deeper towards a more authentic essence.

A massive one has been peeled this past year as I embraced SIMPLICITY.

Even though abundance is one of my core desired feelings, I found, surprisingly, that I feel most abundant when simplicity rules my household, diet, to-do list, relationships, and emotional health.

I will walk you through the changes that I’ve made recently that profoundly increased my well-being and joy.

Household

Inspired by Marie Kondo’s book and Allie Casazza’s course, I set in motion the clean-up of the century. I started with the toys and decided to keep only the ones that transported my kids into the magical world of imaginative play. We now have a dollhouse with various little occupants and furniture, lego, duplo, matchbox cars and stuffed animals.
I got rid of all battery operated toys and all the toys I didn’t even know how they got into my house. I kept only 4-5 stuffed animals per customer, the ones they were very attached to.
I still have educational toys, wooden sorting trays, math beads, puzzles and some games, but they are stored and used intentionally.
Having a clean playroom was the catalyst for what came next.
I swiped through my kitchen cabinets and got rid of unused china, pots, pans, trays, and Tupperware without lids.
We went through the clothes and only kept what we are regularly using and what is still in good condition.
I threw away unused makeup I kept for years (gross) and went through my entire stock of bath salts.
I used what I needed instead of accumulating clutter.
And even though I had less, simpler stuff, my home and life felt more abundant.

Diet

I’ve been an on-off vegetarian for more than five years now. I’ve worried about extra weight after my pregnancies and plunged into the “need more protein” pool, neglecting to stop and reconsider how that made me feel (not good btw).
I believe we are all different and we have varying food preferences or entire food groups we can either thrive on or suffer.
It took me many years, subscribing to many diet trends and feeling bloated, stuffy and heavy just to embrace that perhaps I am not wired for such choices.
I feel good when I eat a whole foods, mostly plant-based, high fat, occasional eggs and butter (I crave these), never gluten (it makes me depressed and crampy), never sugar (addictive personality, can’t have one piece, I gotta finish the entire cake) menu.
It doesn’t look like any “diet” that is popular.
But I know that when I eat this way, I feel like Wonder Woman. My skin is clear, my tummy is flat(ish), I don’t have pain, and my mood is stable.
When I don’t, it’s not just me that feels horrible, it affects my kids, my partner and everyone else around me.
So it’s public service you see?

To-do list

I’ve been using the Desire Map Planner for three years. I love Danielle Laporte’s combination of spirituality, freedom and kick-ass productivity.
But now I truly embraced focusing on achieving three primary goals per week broken into not more than three tasks per day.
My to-do list decreased, but once again, surprisingly, my productivity increased.
My vision, as well, spanned for the long term, rather than just daily overwhelm.

Relationships

I realized some time ago that to feel truly connected to someone, I need to be able to get to know them outside of a group setting. I need one-on-one encounters.
My kids, who consistently fought for “more mama, my mama, go away, my lap, my hand, my embrace, my, mine, go away, JUST ME!” reminded me of the dangers of not attending to the connection. I quickly got overwhelmed and helpless and stopped enjoying my time with them because all they were doing was fight and demand that I divide my already challenged attention span between all of them, in the same time.
So I decided to schedule alone time with each one of them. My oldest daughter gets Monday after school, one full hour of mama-K time. Anything she wants to do is acceptable.
Tuesday, it’s my youngest daughter. She also gets a full hour with me, out of the house, doing an activity of her choice. Meanwhile, the other two have a chance to connect in a one-on-one setting.
Wednesday is my son’s time.
What’s interesting is that I got to rediscover my kids. They have a different dynamic when they are all together, and that can be misleading for us, parents. We start judging them by how they relate to their siblings and the rest of the family, instead of how they truly are when they are alone.
It’s been a blessing to be able to do this.
My husband is also on the schedule for the “special time” on Friday.
And guess what’s on Thursday?
Scheduled on the calendar, I have alone time. The kids know that for us to have the resources to give to others, we must give to ourselves first. So Thursday afternoon, I get a full hour of “mama only time.” They were the one who suggested it as we were writing down the calendar.
Saturday and Sunday is family love day. We are all together, and we plan adventures or just lazy days.
It’s predictable, repetitive, and the simplicity of this approach to relationships made me feel love more abundantly.

Emotional balance

This has been an essential part of embracing simplicity. In the past, I’ve been so focused on my kids, my career and outside markers of success, that taking care of my own needs was the last thing on my list. And we all know that the last thing is very unlikely to get done.
Now, every single day, I make a small deposit of self-care, first thing in the morning.
I wake up early and start my day in silence. I drink my tea, meditate, write and only then start with everything else that requires my attention.
And when the shift is finally made towards taking care of yourself first, everything will stir to accommodate the life in which you can truly enjoy your children.

So here is to my birthday reminder:

To feel more abundant, simplify.
To tackle complex issues, always go back to first principles.

And because I believe that feeling abundant also comes from giving, 50 % of all sales of Manual for Motherhood for the remainder of November will go to charity: water, a cause dear to my heart.

 

Yes! I need a Manual for Motherhood!

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