Week 36: Shades of Progress

This year, I set myself 22 little goals to pursue throughout the year. I call them the 22 in 22. Once a week (or there abouts), I take a few minutes to check my progress on a few of my goals.

#4 Complete and update our home binder info

Although this is far from being complete, tiny shades of progress have been made.

I’m depending on the indulgent husband for some of this info, and am trying not to push…but I’ve done what I can and that’s progress.

#12 Set aside “unplugged” hours of the day

I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before, but I’m guessing maybe I just wasn’t ready to make this kind of radical decision.

I decided, during the approximately 80 minutes that my boys are home for lunch on school days, that I would turn off my devices.

I decided to call this “Cinderella Time”, meaning, I turn off the devices, put on an apron, and become Cinderella for 80 minutes each day. No podcasts to distract me, no notifications, no Twitter.

My first full week of Cinderella Time had one exquisite consequence: by the time we left to go back to school, after which I went to the university library to work, all the dishes were washed and put away, the laundry was folded and put away, and freshly washed laundry was hung out to dry.

Before walking out the door, I made sure everyone put their toys away, inciting one of our famous “five minute pickups” during which my boys pretend to be my robots and take things where they belong. (And…FYI…the robot thing was their idea.)

The effect of this was that when the three of us stumbled back in the door at 4:30 after school, everything was tidy, like when you arrive back in a hotel room after room service has passed. It felt amazing (for the five seconds before little boys got everything out again.)

It meant that I could play a board game or two with a little boy after school, because there was space on the floor or on the table. Or get out the poster paints and let the littlest go nuts on a canvas.

So the unexpected consequence of turning off my devices for 80 minutes at lunchtime was feeling closer to my kids and like a better mom after school.

Do you hear that sound? It’s the sound of pigs flying.

#16 Improve my posture

Hahahahahaha! Ha hahahahahaha!

This is back on the forefront because since I have been taking refuge at the university library again in the afternoons, my back has been aching like the dickens. It reminds me of when the indulgent husband was in law school, and he got terrible headaches those first few weeks of school from leaning over his text books.

I’m pretty sure my back hurts because I am taking fifty pounds of books and notebooks and electronic devices with me and there is an uphill 10 minute walk to get to the library. This is the price of having a “mobile office.”

So yes, I just need to suck it up and get used to it. Also, I need to pack better. Also, I need to improve my posture.

I switched from an over the shoulder computer bag to a backpack, thinking that I would more evenly distribute the weight (brilliant idea because it does help for that), but the backpack is super uncomfortable and I feel like I am leaning forward like a hiker.

In any case, this made me all the more aware, as I sat in a meeting last night, of how I sit and hold myself. I don’t want to be that person who can’t act normal and sit like a normal person. But I also don’t want to be that person who complains about back pain.

‘Cause those are my choices right now. Be the stuck-up looking person who is actually doing something about her back pain, or be a person who complains about having back pain. I see no middle ground here.

Episode 32: Environment and Ecology Sing With Your Feet

Talking Points: “Not on my Green Parenting Bingo Card,” LiElla is back!; Geeking out and going out green. Episode 32 is part of our series on the Ideal Life Categories, this week's theme being "Environment and Ecology." The series began back in Episode 15: The One About Our Bodies, in case you want to get caught up! Links: Learn more about LiElla Kelly, Death Doula, on her website and blog, Leaving Well…The Blog. or on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/leaving.well.death.doula/ or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=leaving%20well%20end-of-life%20planning You can contact Lily by email: lily@lilyfieldschallenge.com, or find her other work here: https://linktr.ee/lilyfieldschallenge
  1. Episode 32: Environment and Ecology
  2. Episode 31: Mental Health
  3. Episode 30: Contentment
  4. Episode 29: Commitments
  5. Episode 28: Lucidly Ever After

Transcript Episode 29: Commitments

Introduction

Welcome to Sing With Your Feet, the podcast in which we ask a lot of questions about interesting topics, and even if we don’t find the answers, we learn about ourselves along the way.

The podcast in which we get down to the nuts and bolts of building a satisfying life, and offer doable steps to assembling that life. Kind of like Ikea, only with prettier clothes.

The podcast in which we set aside guilt and duty for a little bit, in order to get down to the heart of why we do what we do.

And most importantly, the podcast in which we seek out joy as the impetus for our actions.

This is Episode 28 of Sing With Your Feet. If you are just joining us, well…welcome! We are so glad you are here. I may say a few things along the way that might require a bit of background, and if I do that, I’ll try to send you back to the appropriate podcast episodes to help fill in the details. But even if you don’t do that, because listening to 28 episodes, that is, about 14 hours of your fairy godmother and your wicked stepsister talk, is quite a commitment, I promise that, even short of investing that much time, there will be something for you in this week’s episode, too.

Speaking of Commitments, that is what we are here to talk about this week. 

Before I get lost on a tangent about fairy dust and magic wands, let’s get started!

Getting Started: 

What is a Commitment? 

Now Lily, don’t be obtuse. 

Oh, that? That’s you, Cinderella. You’ve got your floaty Southern Belle hoopskirt on…A little lace parasol in your hand. You’re absolutely precious. 

We all know what a Commitment is. It’s a pledge. A vow. An oath. A promise.

Yes…that’s true. But the word Commitment is one that tends to get our attention more than…say, Promise does. 

As I see it, a Commitment engages more than just our word, the way a pledge or a vow does. A Commitment engages part of who we are.

If this is true, then what part of us are we putting on the line when we make a Commitment?

To answer that, let’s turn back to something we talked about in depth in Episode 3, called “On Heaven and Dinosaur Poop”, we talked about it a lot then, but it has been one of the most important themes from the early days of the podcast. 

So, to return to our question: what part of our lives are we engaging when we make a commitment? We are engaging one of three categories of resources that we have to offer in this world. 

Each of us has three distinct categories of resources that we bring with us throughout our lives, in varying measures. They are what we have to invest in life: 

  1. Our talents, that is, what we know how to do, 
  2. our treasure, that is our financial resources and 
  3. our time, which is, I have previously argued, the most valuable of all our resources because we don’t have an unlimited supply of it, and we never know exactly how much of it we will have.

So, we could, for purposes of our discussion today, define a commitment as a pledge, vow, oath or promise of our time, talent or treasure.

I mean, we don’t generally say, “I made an oath to go to the movies with my kids.“ However, I might say, “I promised to take my kids to the movies.“ A Commitment doesn’t have to be something life-changing. It just has to be something in which you engage part of your resources by an express decision.

And that bolded text you heard in my voice is what I would like to humbly suggest is what sets an oath or a pledge or a promise apart from a Commitment.

So to be very specific, I would like to define a Commitment as a decision to pledge, vow or promise our time, talent or treasure.

Does it sound like I am being nit-picky here? Well, I am. 

A commitment is a decision. A commitment is a decision to use or engage our principle resources of time, talent or treasure.

In Episode 23, we talked about making wise decisions. I know this is not a particularly popular topic, but I brought it up because I think that decision making is an underrated subject. 

Many of us are blindsided by decisions when they present themselves, and we can really tie ourselves in knots sometimes over them. Examples like, “should I talk to my neighbor about how the noise they make keeps my children from sleeping or do we just live with it?“ Or “who do I want making decisions for me if I become incapacitated?“ these are quality of life considerations that sometimes require us to do the hard thing. 

Practicing decision making skills in non-urgent situations can make this kind of decision making easier. So, yeah, while it’s not popular, I think learning to make decisions is an undervalued skill.

But what I find fascinating is that many of us engage our time, our talent or our treasure without ever making an active, positive decision—we engage our resources without ever committing.

We spend money without thinking it through, then end up unhappy because we’re broke or in debt. We agree to time-consuming activities then end up exhausted and burned out. We invest our know-how and talent into projects and end up feeling resentful and used.

So we end up in situations where we are unhappy with the direction our lives have taken, and yet we never saw ourselves get off course. 

So today, I want to take some time in my hallowed function as your fairy godmother to give you an outline of considerations for when you are faced with a commitment of your three precious resources.

Part One: The Ideal Life

Socially functional, but introverted. (Check)

People pleaser. (Check)

Unable to say “no”. (Check)

These three elements are a recipe for disaster.

For years before I had babies, these three worked together to give me a vibrant, if exhausting, social and professional life. Whether among friends and the activities we did together, or at work, I felt an obligation to always agree to whatever was offered.

This feeling of obligation came from a deeply rooted sense that I didn’t deserve anyone’s kindness, therefore I should vacuum whatever crumbs of attention I could get. Therefore, I let other people arrange my calendar for me. I didn’t know how to say, “I would rather not have five nights of activities in a week…” so I ended up exhausted, overextended and resentful. I would tell myself, “this is just for a season…” but those seasons would extend for months and months and years and I was tired and grumpy all the time.

For some reason, this grumpiness was preferable to learning how to set limits and boundaries and taking control back over my own calendar (that is, taking back ownership of my most valuable resource: my time. ) I felt inexplicably guilty, as if I owed everyone else my time.

We talked about setting healthy boundaries in episode 26, but just to recap, we said that there is a difference between doing something out of guilt and doing something out of duty, but that acting out of guilt is never a good reason to act.

We also said, and I’m sure it will be much to your surprise, that setting healthy boundaries is about the Golden Rule: doing for others what you would want them to do for you and loving your neighbor as yourself.

If you want others to have healthy boundaries, you need to have healthy boundaries yourself.

So the first most important point about Commitments is this: your resources are YOURS. You do not owe them to anyone else. No one has the right to use guilt to extract your resources from you.

Once you accept this, and once you take responsibility for your resources, it then becomes your responsibility to decide how to use them. 

This is where the Ideal Life exercise comes in handy. The first part of the Ideal Life Exercise is to complete this sentence: In my Ideal Life, I am a person who…who what? 

If you haven’t gotten around to answering that prompt in a global way, it would really behoove you to sit down with a paper and pen for a few minutes and start writing out answers. (It would be even better if you were to take ten to fifteen minutes in the morning before anyone else in your home was awake, so that you could be truly alone and can concentrate, but I will make that argument again another day…)

In any case, take some time to think about your Ideal Life and how you interact with Commitments of your time, talent and your treasure.

Here are a few of my thoughts on the subject:

In My Ideal Life

I am a person who…

  • only commits to things that make her feel alive
  • knows how to say no
  • doesn’t oblige someone else’s folly
  • steps back from responsibility at the right time
  • Understands the seasonality of commitments
  • Knows that she is not a failure, even if she can’t keep to her end of a bargain
  • Is careful with her time and doesn’t over-promise
  • Is generous with her talent and her treasure.
  • doesn’t dread social engagements
  • has her priorities straight
  • Underestimates the commitments of others so that she doesn’t end up disappointed.

Part Two: Why Don’t Commitments Stick?

I have a one word answer to that question: enthusiasm.

I would absolutely love to say that I have some grandiose scientific reason for why commitments are so tough to keep to, but the number one reason that my own life has ended up over-committed and under-delivering, is enthusiasm.

Don’t get me wrong. Enthusiasm is a wonderful thing. It’s refreshing and is at the heart of a lot of good things.

But enthusiasm is illlusory. It’s a flame which, if it only catches on the surface, will burn out immediately at the first wind. Or worse…it’s a flame that can catch a whole dry forest and consume it, leaving huge swaths of destruction in its wake.

That initial flame, if it can ignite purpose, as in, it touches one of the many circles in someone’s Ideal Life, and resonates with their available resources, then there is potential for a commitment that sticks and lasts, and we’ll be talking about this in the third part of today’s episode. 

But for a moment, I want to take the example of what happened to me when I finally was able to drop the commitments I had made purely out of guilt or misplaced enthusiasm, and how that changed my life for the better.

Enter babies

When I had my first baby my mother-in-law asked me if I was bored. What she meant, of course, was that I had always been so active that suddenly being stuck with a baby must have been boring (it was, but not in the way she imagined!)

I wished I could have told her, “oh yes, I am so bored.“ (because, you know, I am a people pleaser who likes to affirm everyone’s assumptions about everything) But the truth was that I was very happy to have a permanent excuse as to why I could not go out every night. I was very happy to not be working where I had been, because at work I didn’t know how to stand up for myself or stop taking on other people’s often unrealistic, borderline abusive, expectations as my own.

Babies were like an escape hatch for me. Babies were how I could, without fear of judgment, step back from responsibilities. Sure…they were their own special kind of commitment. But they also were a very convenient excuse to get out of things I didn’t want to do, and in many cases, never had wanted to do.

Nipping it in the bud

Of course, they didn’t stay tiny babies who needed their mama forever. So it started happening…ever so slowly, that I found myself handing over the reins of my calendar to other people again. I found myself agreeing to go places with my babies because I felt guilty for saying no, all while dreading this, because they were tornados in little boys’ clothing. (Side note, this is still somewhat true.)

And then, miracle of miracles, the great lockdown of 2020.

I was so relieved to not have anywhere to go or anything to do. I was so relieved, you cannot imagine. Because I did not have to go anywhere, I was able to start studying that relief. I realized that there were responsibilities and activities that I was doing that filled me with so much resentment and anger…and yet I would do them simply because I had agreed to do them and was afraid to disappoint others.

I stepped back from my responsibilities. It was hard. But it was such a relief. I put a moratorium on adding any new commitments to my calendar. I started learning to negotiate times and places so as to lessen my apprehension about taking the scalawags anywhere.

As I’ve said before, I have a hard time with boundaries and knowing where I end and other people begin. Learning that if someone loves me, they will be willing to hear me say no, has been one of the greatest, most empowering lessons of my life. Learning to negotiate is scary, but well worth the discomfort.

Healthy skepticism

As a natural enthusiast, it is very hard to want to step back from what ignites a little flame of excitement in my heart. Being somewhat naïve opens me, and others like me, to manipulation. Manipulation can lead to us invest our resources in ways that we don’t want to.

If you are like me, and if you are listening to this podcast because you need a fairy godmother to help you make some magic in your life, then I can only assume that you are, then you need to start developing some healthy skepticism. Maybe even start being a touch cynical. 

All while keeping your magic and your fairy dust intact, start questioning what you do and why you do it. If you are serious about this, you might just want to take your calendar out and start looking at all the items on it. Answer the question: Who am I doing this for? How long have I been doing this? Why did I start?

In this first step to developing healthy skepticism, you aren’t going to change anything. You are simply allowing yourself to be curious. And as we will see later in the season, curiosity is the spice of life.

Part Three: Making Considered Commitments

So, as we saw in part two, there are commitments that we have already made. We have already engaged our resources in them. Let’s, for the sake of today’s episode, leave those in place. We’ll talk about getting out of commitments another time…but we need to put a few other elements in place before we can do that.

For today, let’s talk about how to make a considered commitment.

First, we need to start that healthy skepticism we talked about.

Asking ourselves these three questions about a new commitment will help us see through the veneer of enthusiasm: 1. WHO am I committing to? 2. WHO am I committing FOR? 3. Why?

This should be a rather easy set of questions.

If, for example, you are asked by a teacher to accompany a field trip to the circus for your kid’s class, the answer to the first question, who are you committing to is the teacher. 

The second question, logically, should be “for my kid.“ Or maybe even, “For me.” 

And the why? Because they need someone to accompany the class. Or, even better, “because I want to go to the circus.” 

However, there can be a million little details that alter our answer to that last question.

Let’s say, for example, you don’t really have the bandwidth or the availability to take time off for a field trip, but other parents have been doing it and you feel guilty because you haven’t gotten around to it yet.

So your answer as to why is going to be uncomfortable. And in that case, you need to consider that perhaps, even though on the surface, this seems like an easy commitment, your reasoning is not healthy. Guilt is never a reason to do something. It will build resentment. 

If you find that guilt is driving your decision, then start searching around for other, more sustainable and joy-bringing reasons. I find that snooping on my kids is a very good reason to agree to this kind of thing, but that is just me!

This example is just a short-term, one-off commitment. 

But what about something that is long term, or is going to require significant output of resources for your?

First, I want to suggest that you look very carefully at which of your three resources is being asked of you: your time, your talent or your treasure, or maybe a bit of all three.

It’s important to not just listen to the enthusiasm that is swelling in crescendo around you…Here’s a recent example from my own life: “Can you come direct this choir at the senior center? It will only be an hour a week!”

Sure…it sounds great. But you and I both know that it isn’t just an hour a week. It’s about choosing repertoire, about making photocopies, organizing a recital and transportation.

Here, it is both my talent and time that is being requested. It’s an honorable endeavor. But I can honestly say that it is not one I am willing to invest…most importantly, my time into right now.

Any guilt I feel about saying no is because I like the idea of seniors having an opportunity to sing, because I hope that when I get old, someone will provide me an opportunity to sing. And here, I’m a bit in conflict with the Golden Rule, which tells me I should do for others what I want others to do for me.

This is where we need to look at the second element: Which circles of the Venn Diagram of my Ideal Life (also known as, which of the 19 Ideal Life Themes, like, Marriage, parenting, body positivity and health, passions, commitments, spiritual life…) does this potential commitment impact, and how does this commitment get me closer to my Ideal Life in that area.

Ideally, a well-thought out commitment will be at the juncture of multiple circles on the Venn Diagram of your Ideal Life. In my “being a chaperone to the circus” example, there were three circles overlapping: Parenting (my relationship with my kids), Relationships, (that is with other parents and the teacher, with whom developing an open, comfortable line of communication is critically important to me), and Passions (that is, my inexplicable love of all things circus and acrobatics.) 

When it comes to volunteering to take on the choir at the local retirement home, the only circle it really impacts is my passion for vocal music. This might be different if it were my mother singing in the choir. Or if I were taking it on with a friend and we took it on together. 

What is for darn sure is that when only one circle of our Venn Diagram is engaged in a commitment, then when we start to get tired, or start to doubt, we don’t have any other impetus to fall back on. We can quickly come to dread the commitment, because it isn’t making resonance between multiple parts of our ideal life.

Dread is a feeling that often accompanies Commitment. I would like to argue that dread is a result of making ill-considered engagements, and engagements that do not involve multiple circles of our Ideal Lives. Not to say that physical fatigue and being socially awkward don’t play into the feeling of dread. But when multiple parts of our lives are being activated in a decision, and there is some joy to be found in the overlap, then dread becomes easier to overcome.

This is a lot of work, I’ll grant you that. But not feeling dread every time you look at your calendar, or hear your phone ring or check your emails is its own kind of reward.

Did that make sense? I hope it did. We’ll come back to all this in future episodes, when we talk about how to gracefully end a commitment and the seasonality of commitments. But we have to talk about curiosity first, and that’s coming up in a few months.

If I were to condense all of these suggestions into one little blue pill to take to make your life better, it would be, please, please, please, think before you agree to anything. Just take some time before you say yes.

The Ideal Life Exercise

All right, so as always, I like to ask myself four easy questions about the different theme we are covering. It’s an exercise I do every morning, about just one topic each day. So, this week, we are going to ask those four questions about Commitments.

  1. What is working? Although it sounds so small, the answer could simply be, ‘I said no when asked to do something I didn’t want to do…” Or, “I just wasn’t feeling it, so I cancelled my plans.” Or, “I didn’t say yes right away, but gave myself some time to think about it.” Or, it could be something bigger. I carefully committed to an 18 month training program after considering how I was going to keep myself motivated.
  1. What isn’t working? This, for much of my life, was the dread I inevitably felt leading up to a social engagement. It could even be with a person I love to spend time with…the minute something is on my calendar I started dreading it. I am getting better at discerning if this is because I am just being an introverted looney, or if there is something more sinister at work. But yeah. Dread typically means something isn’t working. Or..coming back to that idea of “seasonality of commitments…” have you been doing something for years and years and you are sensing that it is time to bow out? This deserves your attention.
  1. What do I need to think about? This question leads us to examine what is working and what isn’t working, and to dig in a little bit. It’s also a worthwhile time to think about those commitments you’ve been putting off making.
  1. What can I do today to get me closer to my ideal life? This is just one tiny little thing. One phone call you can make. One letter you need to send. One SMS declining an invitation. Just do one tiny little thing.

Conclusion

You have so much to offer this world. That’s why I like you so much. You have all these little silvery threads, woven together in an unimaginably beautiful pattern that is uniquely yours: those silvery threads are your time, your talent, your treasures. They are all the weird, random things that bring you joy and geek you out.

When you commit to anything without carefully considering it, you are putting that treasure at risk. You might be misusing your time, or letting a talent tarnish. 

The more you align the way you use your time, talent and treasure with what brings you joy, the greater the impact you will have. You were born for a purpose, you exist for a reason, and as your fairy godmother, I might be the only person who believes this for you, but I do. I believe it with all my heart. 

So please. Think before you commit. Find your reasons how your commitment fits into your Ideal Life. Let nothing go to waste.

Let me just remind you, around here, as long as I have breath in my lungs as your fairy godmother, Joy is our Fairy Dust. I want you to live a life full of joy.

 Closing

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe on your podcatcher, and please, if you enjoy something you’ve heard here please share it with someone you think could use a fairy godmother, too!

 A great big thank you to Seven Productions here in Mulhouse France for the use of the song La Joie (which, by the way, is French for the “Joy” ) as the Intro and Outtro to the show. Also, thanks to Matt Kugler who sang it and Claude Ekwe who wrote it.

 Show Notes

Talking Points: Enthusiasm and healthy skepticism as tools for making commitments that stick; breaking down the commitment making progress so that you won’t dread them in the future.

Episode 29: is part of our series on the Ideal Life Categories, this week’s theme being “Commitments.” The series began back in Episode 15: The One About Our Bodies, in case you want to get caught up!

Links:

As promised in the episode, here is a link to Lily’s YouTube channel. Sharing podcast episodes can be complicated, but you all are pretty good at sharing videos. So if someone you know and love could use a fairy godmother, you can share the podcast via YouTube, too!

You can contact Lily by email: lily@lilyfieldschallenge.com, or find her other work here: https://linktr.ee/lilyfieldschallenge

Episode 32: Environment and Ecology Sing With Your Feet

Talking Points: “Not on my Green Parenting Bingo Card,” LiElla is back!; Geeking out and going out green. Episode 32 is part of our series on the Ideal Life Categories, this week's theme being "Environment and Ecology." The series began back in Episode 15: The One About Our Bodies, in case you want to get caught up! Links: Learn more about LiElla Kelly, Death Doula, on her website and blog, Leaving Well…The Blog. or on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/leaving.well.death.doula/ or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=leaving%20well%20end-of-life%20planning You can contact Lily by email: lily@lilyfieldschallenge.com, or find her other work here: https://linktr.ee/lilyfieldschallenge
  1. Episode 32: Environment and Ecology
  2. Episode 31: Mental Health
  3. Episode 30: Contentment
  4. Episode 29: Commitments
  5. Episode 28: Lucidly Ever After

Episode 29: Commitments

Show Notes

Talking Points: Enthusiasm and healthy skepticism as tools for making commitments that stick; breaking down the commitment making progress so that you won’t dread them in the future.

Episode 29: is part of our series on the Ideal Life Categories, this week’s theme being “Commitments.” The series began back in Episode 15: The One About Our Bodies, in case you want to get caught up!

Links:

As promised in the episode, here is a link to Lily’s YouTube channel. Sharing podcast episodes can be complicated, but you all are pretty good at sharing videos. So if someone you know and love could use a fairy godmother, you can share the podcast via YouTube, too!

You can contact Lily by email: lily@lilyfieldschallenge.com, or find her other work here: https://linktr.ee/lilyfieldschallenge

A great big thank you to Seven Productions, https://7prod.fr/,  here in Mulhouse France for the use of the song La Joie for the Intro and Outtro to the show. Also, thanks to Matt Kugler who sang it and Claude Ekwe who wrote it.

Episode 32: Environment and Ecology Sing With Your Feet

Talking Points: “Not on my Green Parenting Bingo Card,” LiElla is back!; Geeking out and going out green. Episode 32 is part of our series on the Ideal Life Categories, this week's theme being "Environment and Ecology." The series began back in Episode 15: The One About Our Bodies, in case you want to get caught up! Links: Learn more about LiElla Kelly, Death Doula, on her website and blog, Leaving Well…The Blog. or on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/leaving.well.death.doula/ or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=leaving%20well%20end-of-life%20planning You can contact Lily by email: lily@lilyfieldschallenge.com, or find her other work here: https://linktr.ee/lilyfieldschallenge
  1. Episode 32: Environment and Ecology
  2. Episode 31: Mental Health
  3. Episode 30: Contentment
  4. Episode 29: Commitments
  5. Episode 28: Lucidly Ever After

How’s that ambivalence coming along?

I entered parenthood with a great deal of ambivalence. I never was a fan of babies, and I had a love/hate relationship with children.

The love part was that I know they are the future: teach them well and bla-bla-bla.

The hate part was the irrationality, the ungratefulness, the noise…

My only real experience with children over the years was as a Sunday School teacher… Is it awful of me to say that one of the reasons I never wanted children of my own was one hundred percent because of interactions I had with kids in church?

So when it came down to having my own children, I had a lot of figuring things out to do. I had a lot of fear that I might never be able to love my own children if they were going to be irrational, ungrateful or noisy.

Well. We have certainly had the opportunity to test that out, now haven’t we?

Ambivalence Tested

I am now seven years into my test. Yes, my eldest turned seven two weeks ago. I have heard that seven is the age of reason…the age at which we can hope to see an end to the irrationality.

I have been telling myself for seven years, ”hold on. Just keep holding on. Just a little while longer.”

So. How is that going exactly? Does something magical happen at seven years old that brings a child reasonableness?

Here are two anecdotes:

1. It was two days before school started in the early morning hours…Let’s say five thirty AM. I heard my eldest, my freshly minted seven year old, in his room. It sounded like he was coughing. ”Great,” I thought to myself. ”Two days before school starts and he has to go get sick?”

Then, it didn’t sound like coughing anymore. It sounded like vomiting. And naturally, I launched into panicked parent mode. ”Save the rug!”

But he wasn’t vomiting. He was sobbing. For a solid five minutes, he sobbed and I worried. I tried to get him to breathe, to hold him, to at least blow his nose. Nothing doing.

He was trying to say something between crying jags, but it was so chopped up I couldn’t make sense of it.

Finally, I understood six words. ”I. Want. To. Stay. With. You.”

He wanted to stay with me. 

As in, like in two days, when school started, the thing he had been looking forward to all summer, he wanted to stay with me instead.

Me? I looked around the room to see if perhaps he was talking about someone else. Maybe his father was in the room, and this was a plural you?

Nope. It was just the two of us.

”We had fun this summer, didn’t we?” I said, lying down next to him in his bed. I didn’t want to cajole him out of what he was saying, or negate it. He was feeling what he was feeling, and maybe he just needed to say it. 

He hugged me super tight, something he doesn’t do very often.

”You’re the best Mama in the world,” he said through tears, which, at first I didn’t understand so I had to ask him to repeat.

I am not a very good mother and have no illusions on the subject. What I am, is the only Mama this child has in the whole world, and therefore, the best that he can get. 

His innocent little tearful admission of innocence really rubbed my ambivalence the wrong way. How dare he say something so blatantly untrue about something I never wanted to be in the first place?

I was feeling defensive because of a wayward childish compliment about a career path that I stumbled into. Why was this so confusing? I didn’t like those words he said, because they meant I was a mother. I didn’t like those words because they reduced me to a greeting card.

I didn’t like those words because how they made me feel meant that maybe I wasn’t so ambivalent after all.

2. The same seven year old had spent a goodly few hours building a free form LEGO truck. It got damaged when I went to put things away, drawing his ire.

His indulgent father spent a very long time trying to put it back together, and when he was done, that ungrateful seven year old bellowed in anger that the truck was not good. 

Yes, he was livid that his father tried to put something back together that he had been mad about having been broken in the first place. And someone dared say that seven was the age of reason?

It’s bed time. I bend over to kiss the top of his head and he says, ”How is everything in your heart?” 

Now, this is a normal question in our house. It’s something we picked up from Andy Stanley. It’s a bed time question, and it can mean anything anyone wants it to. It’s a way to clear out the junk that we need to get off our chests before we go to bed. But typically, it’s me who asks the question. 

When he asks the question, it means that he has something in his heart and he knows it and he doesn’t want me to forget to ask.

”Mine’s good. How about yours?” I reply.

”Dad asked me to forgive him for fixing my truck,” tears tears tears tears sobbing sobbing sobbing sobbing, ”and I’m sad because I didn’t forgive him.”

”Do you want me to go get him so that you can?” 

I execute. Forgiveness is extended and received. Everyone goes to bed with a clean heart.

But that’s not the end of it. The next morning, when he came bounding out of his bedroom, he said to his father, ”Thank you for trying to fix my truck and I’m sorry I got mad.”

Stunned. Awed.

Is this what the elusive age of reason creates? Self-awareness and self-reflection? The ability to question our motivations and our bad actions?

Again, the ambivalence gets triggered, because it was in part about the unreasonableness of children. It had been comforted the night before with all the truck drama. But here it didn’t know what to think anymore.

So how’s it coming along?

Yeah, my ambivalence has taken a bit of a hit lately. I’ve never been ambivalent about the child himself, mind you. I’ve only been ambivalent about being his parent.

I have to admit that right now, I’m not sure I’m ambivalent about that anymore, either. I almost—almost—am proud to be the parent of that little man.

Episode 32: Environment and Ecology Sing With Your Feet

Talking Points: “Not on my Green Parenting Bingo Card,” LiElla is back!; Geeking out and going out green. Episode 32 is part of our series on the Ideal Life Categories, this week's theme being "Environment and Ecology." The series began back in Episode 15: The One About Our Bodies, in case you want to get caught up! Links: Learn more about LiElla Kelly, Death Doula, on her website and blog, Leaving Well…The Blog. or on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/leaving.well.death.doula/ or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=leaving%20well%20end-of-life%20planning You can contact Lily by email: lily@lilyfieldschallenge.com, or find her other work here: https://linktr.ee/lilyfieldschallenge
  1. Episode 32: Environment and Ecology
  2. Episode 31: Mental Health
  3. Episode 30: Contentment
  4. Episode 29: Commitments
  5. Episode 28: Lucidly Ever After

Week 35: Back to Basics

This year, I set myself 22 little goals to pursue throughout the year. I call them the 22 in 22. Once a week (or there abouts), I take a few minutes to check my progress on a few of my goals.

#15 1€ or less CPW for each individual item in my closet, less than 0.20€ per item globally

Last time we spoke, I was at 0.21€ per wear globally in my closet. Well. Guess what!? We just crossed that line to 0.20€! This little part of my goal, as long as I don’t add anything new, has been achieved.

The 1€ or less for each individual item is going to prove more complicated to achieve, but I’m going to work on it.

#12 Set aside “unplugged” hours of the day

So this is an interesting little conundrum. My computer, my faithful companion, is on its last legs. The fan is broken, so to keep it from overheating, I have to use it while it is precariously mounted on ice packs. I only turn it in now to record or edit the podcast, hoping that I can make it last a little bit longer.

This is in part why I haven’t been writing my weekly updates…I just don’t dare turn my computer on! However, I just learned that WordPress (which I use to write here) has an app which I can use on my tablet. It’s not ideal, because typing on a tablet stinks, and the app doesn’t have all the functionality that I have on my actual computer.

But it’s a temporary solution while I wait for my birthday/Christmas to roll around when I can hopefully get a new computer.

Okay. So what does this have to do with unplugged hours of the day? Well, using my tablet for fun stuff like writing on my blog: does that count as “unplugged?” I can’t decide.

In any case. Pray my computer holds out another few months. I would hate to have to go on another unforced hiatus!

#1 Connect better with the scalawags, according to their Love Languages

It’s the end of summer, the scalawags are back to school. But I noticed something fascinating that happened naturally with them in the two weeks before school started.

Whereas all summer, they eagerly went on adventures, couldn’t be bothered to play with their toys…starting last Monday (two weeks ago) they suddenly staunchly refused to leave the house and wanted to stay home playing Legos and Playmobil and little cars.

It was like their mental calendars turned a page and it was transition time.

We still had plans for them…going to pools, going out on adventures…but they could not be moved.

I understood that loving them according to who they are was to honor this transition that they needed to make. And aside from one teary-eyed moment two days before school started (which I will detail another time, because it was the kind of parenting moment I never ever thought I would have!), the boys returned to school without cajoling or I incident.

And last night, as we had dinner, we had a conversation that will stay burned in my memory as one of the funniest, most amazing conversations we four have ever had…hopefully the first of many. It was about a Transformers Extended Universe, invented by them.

I’m just guessing…because I have no idea here…but is that why people get into the parenting racket? For moments spent laughing around a dinner table with young people we kind of even are starting to like and respect?

Getting to this point hasn’t been easy. But the reward is very very sweet.

Episode 32: Environment and Ecology Sing With Your Feet

Talking Points: “Not on my Green Parenting Bingo Card,” LiElla is back!; Geeking out and going out green. Episode 32 is part of our series on the Ideal Life Categories, this week's theme being "Environment and Ecology." The series began back in Episode 15: The One About Our Bodies, in case you want to get caught up! Links: Learn more about LiElla Kelly, Death Doula, on her website and blog, Leaving Well…The Blog. or on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/leaving.well.death.doula/ or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=leaving%20well%20end-of-life%20planning You can contact Lily by email: lily@lilyfieldschallenge.com, or find her other work here: https://linktr.ee/lilyfieldschallenge
  1. Episode 32: Environment and Ecology
  2. Episode 31: Mental Health
  3. Episode 30: Contentment
  4. Episode 29: Commitments
  5. Episode 28: Lucidly Ever After

Transcript Episode 28 : Lucidly Ever After

Introduction

Welcome to Sing With Your Feet, the podcast in which we take joy very, very seriously.

The podcast in which we re-discover what brings us joy and make space for it in our lives.

The podcast in which we try to think a little bit differently about happiness so that it becomes something attainable.

My name is Lily Fields, and I am going to be your Fairy Godmother for the next half hour or so.

First and foremost! Welcome back for the second part of our first season. Yup, I took the summer off, and spent it with my scalawags and my indulgent husband. Priorities, priorities, right? 

What? You think that Fairy Godmothers don’t get time off? Well, let me ask you this? After Cinderella heads home from the ball and gets there at the stroke of midnight, you never noticed that her Fairy Godmother is suspiciously absent? That’s because our job is to get the ball rolling. Then our charges must start doing some of the magic for themselves!

So…I hope you had a great summer, that you stayed healthy and made some great memories. Who knows? Maybe you even made some progress towards your Ideal Life?

A little? 

When we left off at the end of June, we were in the middle of a series about something I affectionately call the “Ideal Life Exercise.” This is a quick list of questions intended to be asked about a different area of our lives each day. They are the same four questions each day, and serve as a little trampoline to get us thinking about how we are doing and the progress we are making, stagnation that we might be facing, or any conscious or unconscious backsliding. 

As a refresher, here are those four questions: What is working? What isn’t working? What do I need to think about? What can I do today to make progress in this area?

Importantly, though, we don’t ask these four questions in a blanket way for our lives as a whole–no, that would be too overwhelming. What we do is we look at our lives as if they were a Venn Diagram, with 19 different circles that overlap in complex ways that make up the blueprint of our life. So each day, we ask those four questions for just one circle of the Venn Diagram. And then, after a few weeks, we start over again.

So, coming back full circle, when we parted ways at the stroke of midnight on June 30, we were in the middle of a series about those different circles of the Venn Diagram. I was defining them, hopefully in ways that got you thinking how very intertwined the seemingly disparate parts of our lives are, and how just a little bit of progress in one area can be consequential in others, too. 

Being systematic, disciplined and hopeful is a cocktail whose most dangerous side effect is progress. And progress towards what we hope for can feel a heckuva lot like joy.

So that is why I am taking the time to go in-depth about each of these themes. Defining, seeking, finding, luxuriating in, and sharing joy is, as far as I can tell, the most satisfying way to live. That’s why, even though throughout the first part of our first season, you kept complaining that you didn’t have any fairy dust, and I kept telling you that it wasn’t a problem because I had enough hope for both of us?

Well, my most sincere hope in this second part of our first season is that you are going to start trusting your instinct about joy and you are going to get serious about pursuing it.

All right. So, there we have it. 

Once this series of episodes where we take the Ideal Life Themes apart and put them back together again is over, we are going to move on to a slightly different topic: the topic of Curiosity. So you see, we’ve got plenty of work to do, Cinderella.

This week, our topic is one I feel simultaneously extremely unprepared to talk about, but also, not without a certain amount of credibility. 

Our topic is, as is fitting for any talk of fairytales and Prince Charmings and Fairygodmothers, Marriage.

One disclaimer before we get started: You know your relationship better than I ever could. But you know where you started from and where you are now. I am not over here recommending that anyone stay in a dangerous or abusive relationship. If you are in one of those, then get out, by any means necessary.

I am talking today to people who find themselves in ho-hum relationships, who still love their spouse, but are simply dissatisfied with how things have turned out. Please believe me when I tell you, it is entirely possible to be married to someone wonderful, whom you deeply love and still be dissatisfied in your marriage, because I have been there. 

On that note, let us begin with :  

Part One: My Favorite Funeral

“Now now now, Lily Fields, didn’t you just say that your topic this week is marriage?” OH! That? That’s you. You, Cinderella, sound like a country bumpkin. It’s just how I imagine you talking, and I find you perfectly adorable that way. “Yet the first part is called  “My Favorite Funeral?” 

Yes. Yes I did say that our topic is marriage. And yes, this first part is called My Favorite Funeral.

I heard a quote the other day that said this: If you think that marriage is about being happy, then you have it all wrong. Marriage is about making someone else happy.

This summer, my indulgent husband and I celebrated our 23 wedding anniversary. Twenty three years, in the scheme of things, is a rather average amount of time to be married, don’t you think? There is nothing spectacular or memorable about 23 years, other than, I assure, 23 years of being married is both a feat of the will and the exact amount of time at which you start to wonder “but where did the time go?”

Twenty three is a paradox. It’s an eternity and nothing at all. It’s been two years that I have been tipping the “been married longer than I haven’t” scales, and that feels just so very odd. 

What I know for sure is that I certainly have, not even a drop in the bucket of those 23 years, been thinking that marriage was about making someone besides myself happy.

And in this regard, I am quite humbled and a little bit embarrassed. I’ll get to that at the end of the episode. But let’s talk about my favorite funeral for a moment.

Early this summer, I attended the funeral of a gentleman who had just celebrated his seventy-eighth wedding anniversary.

Me, fresh from feeling like I had done the impossible by staying married for twenty three years, listened to the elegies to this man, wondering how in the world someone stays married for seventy eight years.

How did their marriage start out, and did they have rough patches? Did they ever wonder if they wouldn’t make it? Did either he or his wife ever drive the other crazy with bad or annoying habits? Or, in a seventy eight year marriage, are the people in the couple genuinely different from people like me, who consider hearing my husband complain about the weather to be an unquestionable martyrdom?

I’m telling you, I had all these thoughts at what has become my favorite funeral.

I was touched by all the stories, especially those told by the grandchildren of the gentleman who died, who were all about my age. I didn’t know him particularly well, and didn’t expect this, of all the funerals I attend in a year, to be the one at which I would cry.

However, when the grandchildren stood to take the casket back down the aisle, I happened to be looking at the 90 something year old widow, who had just lost her life partner of 78 years. And I watched her cry. Something in me broke at that moment.

Me, I’m all “I’ve been married longer than I haven’t,” and she’s like, “I’ve been married longer than many people actually live.”

Yeah, so I cried. I cried realizing that no matter how we experience the amount of time we are married, being in a healthy marriage fundamentally changes who we are, no matter how long we are married. 

Ups and downs, disagreements and happy moments…living them with the same person over any period of time works to fit us more and more together like puzzle pieces. Maybe by the time a couple has been married for seventy some odd years, they are more like an intarsia than a simple puzzle piece. By then, the pieces have become so intertwined and overlaid and woven together that you can’t remove one without damaging the other. 

All I can say is this: If, after a funeral I tend to sit in my car wondering what my loved ones will say about me at  my funeral, this one was no exception, and specifically, I was wondering what parts of my husband and myself have become so intertwined and overlaid.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I prefer a funeral to a wedding any day of the week. But marriages are inevitable in a society that values stability and family. So…let’s talk a little bit about marriage.

Part Two: Mating in Captivity

Quite obviously, the circles of Sexuality and Marriage overlap significantly in our Venn Diagrams. 

Some years ago, I started listening to a podcast hosted by a sex advice columnist named Dan Savage. Full disclosure, 5% of what I know about sex came from a very poorly taught Health Class I had to take in high school where just about every gender stereotype was reinforced and I learned that “some people might find sex pleasurable,” with the unspoken part being, “But not you, because you are a girl and girls shouldn’t like sex.” This 5% was all I had when I went into my marriage, and it was all I had for a very very very long time.

Twenty percent of what I know about sex came from friends who have been willing to be extremely personal and talk through the details and mechanics of sex with me when I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, about 15 or so years into my marriage. 

The remaining 75%, which I have picked up in the last 8 years or so, has come from Dan Savage, his column Savage Love and his podcast.

I honestly don’t know where I stand on the “organized Sex Education” bandwagon, but I’ve said this before, and it bears repeating: Sure, talking to kids about sex is uncomfortable, but I don’t want my children to learn about sex from porn, because what they will learn there is not based in reality. It would be like trying to learn about physics from watching Star Trek. 

At the same time, I don’t want to delegate the responsibility of talking about sex to other adults, even teachers whose job it is to talk about sex, because I know that what I learned in “Health” class was an incredibly damaging tornado of mythology, fearmongering and stereotypes.

I’ve seen how this played out in my own life, and the incredibly damaging consequences of it. 

Because talking about sex is so uncomfortable, most people just don’t do it. There is a kind of thought that being interested in sexuality means that there is something wrong with us. And yet in many many ways, our sexual and reproductive systems are just another part of our bodies, like our digestive tracts and our nervous systems.

What I know is this: by educating myself on issues of sexuality and human biology, even when it comes to kinds of sex that I don’t necessarily ever plan on having, I feel unafraid and maybe even somewhat equipped to handle the broad swath of questions and curious interrogations my children can throw at me.

Being an informed human being about human sexuality has not turned me into a sex-crazed monster, which is what, for a good solid three-quarters of my life I believed would happen. What it has done has made me less afraid of talking about sex with my children, less judgmental about other lifestyles and, most importantly, happier in my marriage.

One of the things that I love about my husband is that he is open-minded enough to not shut off  conversations about sex, even though there are a lot of things that still make him squirm when it comes to sex-positive parenting. 

This was a long introduction to what I really wanted to talk about, which was the book Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel.

It was on the Savage Love podcast that, over time, I heard many many references to Esther Perel, who is a Belgian-born couples therapist who practices in New York.

I had been married almost 20 years by the time I read this book, but it made a huge difference in the way I saw my marriage. She is very thoughtful in her approach to relationships, and rich from her experience as a therapist, puts into words the experiences of a woman like me who had been rather successfully married for a long time, but had also, for a long time, started to feel like she no longer existed as a woman in her marriage, but as a roommate.

I don’t have the time to unpack all of her insights here, but she shares research that communicates how, about four years into a marriage, women can begin to feel like they’ve been duped and become dissatisfied. This can be explained because the behaviors men use to pursue and woo a woman end once the man feels satisfied that he is now settled and is married.

To oversimplify, in many instances, a woman gets into a marriage because she likes how he makes her feel. The man likes making her feel that way, sure. But once the deal is done, he doesn’t see the need to expend the effort anymore.

So, actually, according to research, it is women who experience the first pangs of dissatisfaction in a marriage, and this occurs often around year 4 of a marriage. It is, again, according to research, women who experience the first desires for infidelity in a marriage. You know. Almost as if they wanted someone to love them and desire them or something…

But this is where I might start saying things that will shock or surprise, so put on your seatbelts:

I don’t think it is wrong to want to be loved or desired. I also don’t think that is completely abnormal that after a few years, a husband become lulled into a sense of security, no matter how it came about—whether through laziness or evolutionary science.

What I do think is wrong is that either party hold unrealistic expectations of the other. 

I think that a wife who expects her husband of 20 years to adore her and worship the ground she walks on is just as foolish as the man who expects that a woman be satisfied with the crumbs of attention he manages to give her when, once every three months or so he decides he wants to have sex.

And this is where I am going to start sounding like a broken record: marriage is about the Golden Rule. Loving others as we love ourselves. Doing for others what we would want done for us.

But we cannot love each other until we learn to love ourselves. We cannot do for others until we know what we want done for us. And we cannot expect attention from others that we are not willing to give ourselves.

The curiosity required of us to learn to love ourselves is not negligible and non-negotiable. If we want a satisfying marriage, we need to know what we expect, what we want, what we like. And the really really really good news is that it is never too late to start figuring this out. 

Part Three: Being in Love…with ourselves 

Now, as you know, one of the love languages I speak fluently is words of affirmation. I like to think of myself as a verbal cheerleader. I absolutely love giving compliments and making people feel sincerely good about themselves.

Have you ever had a friend, or someone you love, who struggles with self-esteem issues? I’m talking about the kind of person to whom you can give authentic, genuine praise until you are blue in the face, but that person you love is going to find a way to deflect anything positive you have to say about them.

I experience real frustration when a person I love deflects, changes the subject or presents counterarguments. I wish they could just hear what I’m saying and know that it’s true, or else I wouldn’t be saying it.

This is simply an observation from a person who loves to make people feel good about themselves: many people with low self-esteem are people who don’t know how to love themselves. Now, you may say to me,

“But Lily, the Philosopher Princess says that Humility is a virtue!” And that is true. Humility, that is, having a lucid esteem of our capacities, talents, abilities or character, is a virtue.

But a person who systematically, perhaps even reflexively, deflects praise is not being humble. They are performatively demonstrating how little affection they have for themselves. It’s like the opposite of PDA. And I’ll be honest with you? I find it just as annoying as PDA.

I’m not here to criticize these people, if anything, I wish with all my heart that encouragement and kind words from me could help them. But here’s what I know to be true: self-esteem cannot come from a source outside of ourselves. Self-esteem, self-love comes from a lucid examination of ourselves. And many people just don’t want to, or don’t know how to do that work.

If you have ever been in a relationship with someone who does not love or respect themselves, you’ll know what I’m talking about here. You can pour everything you have into that person and there will come a time when you get tired of pouring. I don’t have any life-changing relationship advice for this. Relationships like that are exhausting. Stepping back emotionally and consciously deciding to no longer take personal responsibility for your partner’s happiness is sometimes the only thing you can do.

This doesn’t always mean you are abandoning the relationship. It just means you need to let your partner wallow for a bit.

Someone who is so delighted with who she is, who has self-respect affection for herself is someone who is easy to love. Be like that. 

If you want to be a good partner in your long-term relationship, you need to begin by loving who you are, knowing your strengths and weaknesses and talents and failings. You need to start by being curious about yourself, in the same way that you would be with a partner. Know what makes you tick. 

THE EXERCISE

Let’s take a few minutes to answer the four questions we answer for each of our Ideal Life Themes, for this, the theme of Marriage

1: What is working? Even if right now you want to scream, “nothing is working in this area, Lily Fields!”  I want you to try. Can you name one moment of connection you and your partner have shared in the last few weeks? Try really hard to think of something. A moment of eye contact? A smile? 

2. What isn’t working? If the list of things that aren’t working is longer than the one that is, don’t despair. You need to start somewhere. 

3. What do I need to consider? When it comes to things you need to think about, it helps to look at your list of what is working and see what it was about that moment that made you feel good about it. Equally important is to consider that list of what isn’t working and see how much of it, if any of it, is our own doing. I know that, while there may be a dozen things on my “What isn’t working” list, many of them are there because I simply refuse to forgive or get over what I perceive to be a slight. Once I can address those parts that are my problem, it makes it easier to see clearly to the real heart of the issue.

4. Lastly, what can I do today to get me closer to my Ideal Life in this area? If you were able to pinpoint what about that good moment made you enjoy it, try to do one thing today that can try to replicate it. Just try. Also, you might need to have an unpleasant conversation at some point. Maybe today is the day.

Conclusion

A satisfying long-term relationship is a rather basic human desire. It’s not for everyone, I recognize that. But for a goodly proportion of humanity, it’s at the very least, something we hope for, if not seek out actively.

I’ll be honest, though, it’s a lot more work than I ever expected it to be. In all the ways I wish I could “change my partner,” I have to remember that the only person on the face of this earth  I can ever hope to change is me. The most effective work that I can put into my marriage is the work that makes me less judgmental, less picky, more patient and easier to love.

This work is done by taking the time to ask myself lots and lots of questions about what I like, what I don’t like and why. Learning to love myself is what will make me a better partner. 

And to come full circle, I mentioned that quote earlier that said “marriage isn’t about being happy. It’s about making someone else happy.” I truly believe that loving myself has the effect of making me more in tune to someone else’s happiness, because when I love myself, I am not sitting around nit-picking and expecting someone else to fulfill my needs. This opens me up to invest in someone else’s happiness. I truly believe that this is the secret to a happy, long-lasting relationship.

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast. A great big thank you to Seven Production here in Mulhouse, France, for the use of the song La Joie for the intro and outtro to the show, to Claude Ekwe who wrote it and Matt Kugler who sang it.

Links:

You can contact Lily by email: lily@lilyfieldschallenge.com, or find her other work here: https://linktr.ee/lilyfieldschallenge

A great big thank you to Seven Productions, https://7prod.fr/,  here in Mulhouse France for the use of the song La Joie for the Intro and Outtro to the show. Also, thanks to Matt Kugler who sang it and Claude Ekwe who wrote it.

You can contact Lily by email: lily@lilyfieldschallenge.com, or find her other work here: https://linktr.ee/lilyfieldschallenge

A great big thank you to Seven Productions, https://7prod.fr/,  here in Mulhouse France for the use of the song La Joie for the Intro and Outtro to the show. Also, thanks to Matt Kugler who sang it and Claude Ekwe who wrote it.


Episode 32: Environment and Ecology Sing With Your Feet

Talking Points: “Not on my Green Parenting Bingo Card,” LiElla is back!; Geeking out and going out green. Episode 32 is part of our series on the Ideal Life Categories, this week's theme being "Environment and Ecology." The series began back in Episode 15: The One About Our Bodies, in case you want to get caught up! Links: Learn more about LiElla Kelly, Death Doula, on her website and blog, Leaving Well…The Blog. or on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/leaving.well.death.doula/ or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=leaving%20well%20end-of-life%20planning You can contact Lily by email: lily@lilyfieldschallenge.com, or find her other work here: https://linktr.ee/lilyfieldschallenge
  1. Episode 32: Environment and Ecology
  2. Episode 31: Mental Health
  3. Episode 30: Contentment
  4. Episode 29: Commitments
  5. Episode 28: Lucidly Ever After

Episode 28: Lucidly Ever After

Show Notes

Talking Points: Are long-term married people fundamentally different from the rest of us?; My Favorite Funeral; Sex Ed: not just for giggling teenagers.

Episode 28: Lucidly Ever After is part of our series on the Ideal Life Categories, this week’s theme being “Marriage.” The series began back in Episode 15: The One About Our Bodies, in case you want to get caught up!

Links:

Learn more about LiElla Kelly, Death Doula, on her website and blog, Leaving Well…The Blog. or on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/leaving.well.death.doula/ or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=leaving%20well%20end-of-life%20planning

You can contact Lily by email: lily@lilyfieldschallenge.com, or find her other work here: https://linktr.ee/lilyfieldschallengeA great big thank you to Seven Productions, https://7prod.fr/,  here in Mulhouse France for the use of the song La Joie for the Intro and Outtro to the show. Also, thanks to Matt Kugler who sang it and Claude Ekwe who wrote it.

Episode 32: Environment and Ecology Sing With Your Feet

Talking Points: “Not on my Green Parenting Bingo Card,” LiElla is back!; Geeking out and going out green. Episode 32 is part of our series on the Ideal Life Categories, this week's theme being "Environment and Ecology." The series began back in Episode 15: The One About Our Bodies, in case you want to get caught up! Links: Learn more about LiElla Kelly, Death Doula, on her website and blog, Leaving Well…The Blog. or on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/leaving.well.death.doula/ or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=leaving%20well%20end-of-life%20planning You can contact Lily by email: lily@lilyfieldschallenge.com, or find her other work here: https://linktr.ee/lilyfieldschallenge
  1. Episode 32: Environment and Ecology
  2. Episode 31: Mental Health
  3. Episode 30: Contentment
  4. Episode 29: Commitments
  5. Episode 28: Lucidly Ever After

It’s been a summer

School starts today. Yesterday, I took my boys for one last “hoorah” to our favorite little theme park, amid a million other little errands. I got them a frozen treat (a blue slushy is for one, strawberry ice cream cone for the other).

I asked, “So what was the highlight of your summer?” And in very quick succession I heard: “Going to Mamy and Papy’s, having Aunt Poppy visit and having Popeye and Grandma Daisy visit.”

Yes, this was the best possible cluster of answers, I know. My little heart shivered from the sweetness, which was even sweeter than a blue slushy.

Then they asked me the same question.

I overthought my answer, sure, but that’s my job in this family.

The highlight of my summer was a five minute window just when we arrived at a little mountain inn we had booked to stay at when we went to a little amusement park about 2 hours away. There was a big old dog named Lucky who welcomed us.

We checked in. We headed up to our room, and noticed a library. The boys were bouncing off the walls, as they are wont to do. After we got settled in our room, I said, somewhat desperate to calm them down, “let’s go see if there are any kids’ books.”

We got to the library, and that’s about when my favorite five minutes started. In the library was a basket of toys. Really, really cool toys. Like, the kind with batteries and buttons. And they all worked.

My boys were….how can I say this? So happy. Everything one pulled out of the basket of toys had them calling to his brother, “Look at this!” Like…like they were at a toy store where they could play with everything on the shelf.

And that’s also when one of them found a lightsaber. And found one also for his brother.

Right then…in that moment of both of my boys radiating with the unexpected delight of holding their lightsabers in hand…that is the highlight of my summer.

The highlight of my summer was having my expectations surpassed. The highlight of my summer was that for once in my life, the reality of things was better than I could ever have hoped for.

It was a summer.

The podcast is today! Give it a listen.

Episode 32: Environment and Ecology Sing With Your Feet

Talking Points: “Not on my Green Parenting Bingo Card,” LiElla is back!; Geeking out and going out green. Episode 32 is part of our series on the Ideal Life Categories, this week's theme being "Environment and Ecology." The series began back in Episode 15: The One About Our Bodies, in case you want to get caught up! Links: Learn more about LiElla Kelly, Death Doula, on her website and blog, Leaving Well…The Blog. or on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/leaving.well.death.doula/ or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=leaving%20well%20end-of-life%20planning You can contact Lily by email: lily@lilyfieldschallenge.com, or find her other work here: https://linktr.ee/lilyfieldschallenge
  1. Episode 32: Environment and Ecology
  2. Episode 31: Mental Health
  3. Episode 30: Contentment
  4. Episode 29: Commitments
  5. Episode 28: Lucidly Ever After

Lady Sunflower’s Boudoir

A few weeks ago, I told the story of how, on the occasion our twenty-third anniversary, my indulgent husband had the great idea to get new sheets.

I’m going to be honest, they are almost a little too cutesy for me, but the sales lady did a great job of convincing me that they were “classic” and “timeless” and even “British country estate chic” (as if that had ever been a style I was interested in?)

You would think that after I’d dropped a fortune on brand new “classic British country estate chic” sheets that, given their price should have come with a title (Lady Sunflower, perhaps?) I would be happy.

Ahhh, but no. Because once I got them home (a flat sheet, a fitted sheet and two pillow cases) and onto my bed, it was obvious that my comfort pillows…that is, the wild array of round and travel pillows I use to actually sleep at night, would look completely out of place.

Fast forward to a trip to Ikea to replace some broken bowls and a brief wander through their bedding section to bemoan the fortune I spent on sheets and how unfinished the bed looked with my ugly round and sausage pillows. Then, I got this idea that maybe I should cover them.

So I bought an Ikea sheet in a silvery gray color and set about putting the finishing touches on her ladyship’s boudoir. The sunflower sheets had come with matching fabric strips as part of the packaging, which I used to add bows to my pillow covers.

Cute, or cute?

So then….why did it take so long to show off my project to you? Oh, because literally the very night I finished my project, my sheets had a run in with a creature and had to be washed. And since we had to change the sheets, my husband seemed to have a rather judgmental opinion on me immediately changing back to our new sheets (as if new sheets wasn’t his idea???)

I let about a week pass by before I silently and without warning changed the sheets and turned my bedroom into Lady Sunflower’s Boudoir. (Fingers crossed, we have narrowly so far avoided an incident with the cat.)

Week 31: Pantheon and Genre Thoughts

This year, I set myself 22 little goals to pursue throughout the year. I call them the 22 in 22. Once a week, I take a few minutes to check my progress on a few of my goals.

#15 1€ or less CPW for each individual item, less than 0.20€ per item globally

It’s been a long time since the last time I talked about my closet. The Pantheon. My Boudoir. I suppose that this is in part because last year was a year dedicated to thinking about my Boudoir, whereas this year I am just wearing clothes when I need to and trying to keep an eye on how often I wear those clothes.

Last summer in particular was heavy in the Cost Per Wear department, since my summer wardrobe consisted of five dresses I was determined to get down to a cost of 1€ per wear, more or less successfully. This summer, for that reason only, seems a little more boring than last.

However, I did notice that I have been, in this ungodly hot weather, been wearing the same three or four dresses on repeat entirely accidentally, because they work and don’t make me sweat. It’s not getting me much traction on my CPW efforts, since one of them was a gift and one of them was already well-worn.

Nonetheless, I am looking at a 0.21€ global CPW for the entirety of the Pantheon as of today, and as long as I can refrain from adding anything new to it, and as long as I continue to wear clothes, I should see this number continue to drop.

The exciting thing is that, as opposed to last year, I don’t see any gaping holes in my wardrobe that will have me obsessively thinking about and plotting how to obtain the perfect answer to the gaping hole.

Honestly, I know this one isn’t the most interesting of updates, but when I sat down the other day and realized that my mind was empty enough and that I was unstressed enough that I could think about my wardrobe, it felt like a win for the entire human race.

Take that, stress. I’m back to thinking about my closet for a few days.

#7 “Don’t Look Down”: Keep chipping away at finding a literary agent who shares my vision.

Don’t get excited. I haven’t found, nor have I even been looking lately, for an agent.

However, I have done some under-the-surface and behind-the-scenes grappling with genre. The chances of finding the agent who shares my vision is zilch if I keep querying agents who represent the wrong genre. But I think there is a part of me who was unwilling to be realistic about the genre.

I had this idea that I had created a sweeping world (I have, but hear me out) the likes of Tolkien and Rowling. Now, as I parenthesized, I have created a sweeping world full of intriguing peoples and traditions and history. But the books are about people, first and foremost. They are about very specific people and how they and their families negotiate this sweeping world in which they live. And part of that story exists in courtly romance.

Not all of it!!!! Much of it is about family and geopolitical ambitions and murder and otherworldy canines who are always there at the right time… But the fact that I was unwilling to admit that there was a courtly romance element at all to the series was cutting off an entire (relatively successful in the marketplace) genre. And courtly romance there is.

The epiphany came when I was reading an article about Bridgerton, and I was like, “Dude, I want someone to make a successful show like that out of my books.” So then I read more and I was like, “Wait a second, that could be my books–only mine are vastly more exciting because, well, mystery, thievery and murder.”

Of course, then I got distracted writing about forty pages of the next book before I could come back to thinking about finding an agent in this genre, but that is par for the course in this arena right now.

Episode 32: Environment and Ecology Sing With Your Feet

Talking Points: “Not on my Green Parenting Bingo Card,” LiElla is back!; Geeking out and going out green. Episode 32 is part of our series on the Ideal Life Categories, this week's theme being "Environment and Ecology." The series began back in Episode 15: The One About Our Bodies, in case you want to get caught up! Links: Learn more about LiElla Kelly, Death Doula, on her website and blog, Leaving Well…The Blog. or on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/leaving.well.death.doula/ or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=leaving%20well%20end-of-life%20planning You can contact Lily by email: lily@lilyfieldschallenge.com, or find her other work here: https://linktr.ee/lilyfieldschallenge
  1. Episode 32: Environment and Ecology
  2. Episode 31: Mental Health
  3. Episode 30: Contentment
  4. Episode 29: Commitments
  5. Episode 28: Lucidly Ever After