Wednesday, March 26, 2014

prioritizing the things that matter…





Accept No One’s Definition

Of Your Life;

Define Yourself.


-dale partridge



(IPhone pics)

The other evening we had cocktails in this beautiful home on the water.


Afterwards, the hosts treated us to a slow, peaceful tour in their boat which was docked outside their home, and as we made our way to the restaurant the driver graciously pointed out the various landmarks to us. 


But I was quickly lost, unable to get my bearings in the water. And it occurred to me how common this feeling of being lost and disoriented is these days. In fact, it’s a daily occurrence for me.

The other day Mr. M even joked, “Les, whatever way you think you should turn, just go the opposite way.”  And honestly, it’s actually worked a few times. The thing is, I don’t remember being so bad about directions but heck, I just left a city that I was born and raised in which means that I was rarely challenged.

But drifting along in this boat and taking in the beauty of our surroundings reminded me once again of the value of leaving our comfort zone.

Getting lost daily is making me open my eyes. Feel more present and alert. Sort of the way you would if you were sight-seeing on vacation.

And plopping ourselves in the middle of a new city has rekindled this old, hazy feeling from years ago. A sensation of starting over, of having exhilarating possibilities suddenly opened up on the horizon and of a sepia colored memory of myself as a twenty-something girl living in Los Angeles, determined to carve out a career for herself.

defining yourself

The truth is… I loved my work. I once wrote that when I was a grad student working in the Eating Disorder Unit and in the throes of my own personal therapy it felt like being on the top of a soaring cliff with the winds pummeling me from behind. It was a time in my life that was both exhilarating and terrifying but honestly, everyone should feel so alive.

But then motherhood happened. And from the moment I held my baby in my arms, I was transformed. I put my career on the back burner and it’s a decision I have no regrets about. Not one speck.

And I wish the same for you because if there’s one thing being a therapist taught me, it’s that we’re all doing the best we can with who we are at the moment. And hopefully we know ourselves well enough to keep prioritizing the things that will matter in the end. 

Although I’ve learned that knowing ourselves and living a purposeful life doesn’t just magically happen.

I think it’s crucial-especially for women--that we carve out quiet time to reconnect with the person we are, when we’re not being Mom and Wife and Daughter and Sister and Grand-daughter and  Co-worker and Committee Chair and Field Trip Driver and all the other emotionally, entangled roles that rotate our world.

Because it’s scary how easy it is to be swallowed up by our care-taking, to become so Other-Focused that we lose touch with our deeper selves, our feelings and our own personal dreams, and those things that inspire us and make us feel alive and energized. And depending on what stage of life we’re currently in-whether our kids are young or our parents are elderly--it can be natural to feel depleted. Even confused about the things that replenish us.


Here’s a true story.

I was once standing at the door of my son’s little preschool house talking to several mothers. This was a parent participation preschool which means that even though it was led by a teacher, it was the parents who put on their green aprons to work their weekly shifts at the school; unfortunately, these required participation hours caused a silent wedge between some of the mothers who worked outside the home and the mothers who stayed home (and worked).

I had just finished passing out Halloween invitations to this group of Moms when this particular woman who worked full-time at a stressful job, looked at the home-made invitation in her hand and remarked,

“Oh my god. Who has time for this?”

And I just smiled and silently thought, “Not me. But I make the time, because boy I love creating fun, artistic things out of paper.” 

It was also worth noting that this same mother always had her nails done. And whenever I would see her beautiful, French-manicured hands and hear about her crazy schedule, I would think the same thing she thought about my invitations. “Who has time to sit and get their nails done?”

Isn’t that funny?

So you see? We are always finding ways to do what we want. And even when we feel harried and other-focused, we can still learn about our passions if we observe what we are drawn to, what kinds of things we make time for in our busy lives. 

Because our priorities tell us what is important to us.



Are you finding time to do what is important to you?

Because I just saw this wonderful 30 day challenge that I’m starting. If you’re wanting to jump-start an old goal or dream of yours… you might find it motivating. Because it’s never too late to change the direction of your life.

Never. Ever.

Click here to hear more:


Matt Cutts on Ted Talks
Try Something New for 30 Days



As always, I thank you for being here.

And I would love to know what you think.

Can you relate to this post?





I’m linking up here:









Unknown said...

Oh, boy can I relate to this post always your writing is so thought husband and I like yourselves are going through huge changes in our lives and it takes a little adjusting, eh?
I love your true story isn't it funny how some people only see things from their perspective? I took to my mat today the first time in a few days...action expresses priorities...I always feel better after my yoga practice.
Thanks for dropping by Leslie, lovely to hear from you...enjoy finding your bearings...many happy times ahead I'm sure xx

Pam Kessler said...

That is so true. We make room fro what we have to have in our lives. I know some in my family think I'm nuts for spending time on decorating my house, but it's just something I have always loved and it's a part of who I am. BTW, I follow Matt Cutts on G+ because he's a Google guy. I'll have to check out that challenge.

Art and Sand said...

Oh, I don't have the time right now to watch the video, but I will watch tonight.

I smile when I see Gwen Moss at the top of my blog roll because it means I get to read your words and laugh or be inspired.

I am having fun trying to do things that are new to me. I took an Aqua Zumba class the other day. I thought it would be a breeze, but my muscles ached afterwards even though the water made it feel like I wasn't doing much.

I am volunteering at Craftcation next week because by volunteering I get to attend classes free at the great conference. I am signed up for a class with Kaari Meng who owns French General and about 10 other classes. I will be meeting people from all over the country and am looking forward to a lot of "me" time.

Kim said...

Yes, I can definitely relate to this post!! And I LOVE that first quote by Partridge! I'm definitely keeping that one. It's funny. I have memories of standing outside the preschool with the other moms too. I was a "stay at home mom" who got up to run at 5:30 every morning, who was a full time student with three kids who were on three different schedules and whose husband worked 12 hour days. After dropping off my older sons at their schools, I would rush my preschooler to his class before rushing off to the university at the other end of town. I remember one morning another stay at home mom asked me, "Why don't you just get up 15 minutes earlier?" I considered trying to describe my schedule to her, but realized it was none of her business. One of my very favorite quotes is by Eleanor Roosevelt. "Do what you feel in your heart to be right for you'll be criticized anyway." I watched the 30 Day Challenge video. Thanks for posting it. I'm inspired!

Susan said...

A 30-day challenge is just what I need. This was a great video - short & sweet. I am trying to find my way around, too, and I have lived here for 37 years :) There are s couple of major changes happening in my life and mixing things up a bit may help me make sense of it all.

Carla from The River said...

I love your true story. :-)
I enjoyed the video. I am up for a 30 day challenge.

Calypso In The Country said...

Absolutely, on so many levels! I had to laugh about the story of the "manicure lady" because as a stay-at-home-mom, I have encountered a few of those! We really do make time for the things that are important to us. Right now, my top priority is my kids. I am trying my best to stay in the moment for every single event in their lives. Sometimes it can be exhausting but when you look back at the years that have already gone by, you realize how fast childhood goes. I want to soak up everything I can so I can look back with no regrets. Thanks for another great reminder of what is important in life! Your posts are always a pleasure to read!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Dear Gwen,

I think it takes a life-time, or at least 50 years, to learn this! That is the beauty of living ALIVE. Being aware that our lives can be richer if we prioritize and rejoice in our choices. Lovely post and a great reminder! Happy evening to you, Anita

Unknown said...

Oh the water, the water....certainly one new perk of your Southern California lifestyle. I'm so glad to hear you are getting settled. I loved your story and the 30 days so resonates with me. I recently started a 30 day yoga challenge and realize that the 30 day piece is what makes it all work.
Here's to finding your way around your new town my dear.
xx, H

Lori said...

You always make me think and I love that about your posts. We all have different opinions and ideas of what is important ~ that's what makes life so interesting isn't it? Although I cannot relate on the mothering parts I can about getting lost in a new city and being taken out of the known and dropped into the unknown ~ it sucked but we make it work. Will check out that 30 day challenge ~ I adore your links. xo

Lou said...

Hello there...I was really interested to read this as it's something I have looked at from both sides. I completely empathise with that concept that we are all make time for what is important. What is that quote: we all have the same number of hours in the day as Beyonce?!! You story about the working mother whose nails were always done really resonated with me. I have been that mother and I have said those words 'who has the time?' about pursuits that I had considered unnecessary or were folly. I am still on the fence about this; I suppose the point is there is no right or wrong. Different things make people happy I guess. Really interesting though, Lou x

Leslie Harris said...

Hi Lou.
Yes. It is true there is no right or wrong. I see life has one continual journey towards becoming the person we’re meant to be. But the hope is that we are living out the values that we care most about; I think that was my underlying thought. It’s easy to make choices that feel gratifying in the short term, but I think if we stay aware of our deeper values we’ll end up in a wiser place. My example of getting one’s nails done feels replenishing. But when the choice is between seeing our child play a soccer game or having a fresh manicure what we choose in the moment speaks to our value system, at least at that place in time. I once saw a movie in which the character said, “we are always doing what we want. And once we accept that, we can choose differently.” I found that so fascinating as someone who feels I don’t have enough hours in the day to tackle some of my personal dreams. Of course we have time. It’s what we’re choosing to do with it that defines us.
It’s been a helpful little mantra that keeps me honest about myself and my values.

Thanks for the comment.

Dayle ~ A Collection of Days said...

Sounds like a great challenge. Good luck and hope you live the life you love in your new place.

The pics look so much like Fort Lauderdale. I'm sorry I can't recall if it is or not. :( Too much going on in this brain of mine.

Leslie said...

Such a great post Leslie and one that resonates with many of us. Life is not a cake walk and I believe resilience, perseverance, and acceptance are essential tools in navigating these waters;)

You talk to women in mid life and we all have commonalities. We are strong and can lean on our years of wisdom and experience to get us through.

Such an interesting story about the full-time working mom. I have a similar story to tell as I (like you) started with the career and nanny and realized I needed to PRIORITIZE my family.

Hang in there! We are finishing our move and will hopefully close next week. Our home construction is still in the permit stage lots of anxiety and trying times await me. I need to heed my own advice! xxL

Donna@anangloinquébec said...

Well, let me see...nope, I am not really doing what I truly want to be doing. Certainly I do think about that. I mean part of what I am doing is pushing me towards what I would like to be doing. Geez Leslie, you've got me in a funk.:) A good one. I made a big change in my working life about 8 years ago and another change about 3 years ago. Each one was a jump away from the other and in the direction that I ultimately want to go. My significant other is leaving his job to live his dream of being a writer. So, right now it is his time.
I think that it is important to look at the whole picture of your life. What makes you happy now, what doesn't... what do you ultimately want. Somebody very close to me always reminds me that if you truly want something then start looking for it and you will see it. It may not be in the form you imagined, it may only be a part of the whole but when you focus on what you want in your life you suddenly start to see that it's there. You just had to open your eyes and notice.

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

This post is very inspiring, Leslie! I am in a little bit of a depleted time, with more stress than usual...I am definitely needing to prioritize in life and be open to change. We are contemplating real changes in our life as we approach retirement, too. The video shared a great way of making little changes in life...thanks for sharing!

Vannessa@Luxuria said...

Such a brilliant post Leslie. I am not a mother but am now caring for an elderly parent (which sometimes feels the same ;-) But I DO make sure I carve out time for both myself and with my husband. I am off to check out the 30 day challenge now xx

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