The end of 2011 was kind of a mess for me.
It was filled with great things yet I sensed in my heart I was teetering on the edge.
I felt thisclose to being someone who gave lip-service to what was important in her life & lived otherwise.
I felt thisclose to being the blogger who, while writing a post about the fabulousnessment of family time & family exercise!, snapped at her child “you need to WAIT. I’ll play later. Mamas working!”
I did not like how being even *close* to reacting like that person felt.
As a result I spent lots of time formulating my 2012 mantra.
I needed something which wasnt only about or for me (Id grown a little too mememe by the end of 2011) and words which would constantly remind me of who I aspired to be.
I chose the phrase living my priorities. It felt fitting and, only 27 days into the year, has already challenged me in ways I couldnt have predicted.
Ive been reminded how difficult it is to say NO.
I have a hard & fast rule about never saying YES! in the moment. I always sit with an opportunity/make certain something is a fit before answering in the affirmative. I do this with fun things, I do it with volunteer-stuffs, and I do it with work.
Many of the things Ive NO’ed to in the past 27 days looked *very* alluring at first glance, but when mashed up against my mantra were easily declined because they didnt ‘match up.’
Ive been reminded I still have a bad case of Freshman Year Syndrome.
When I was an undergrad I went out a lot. Like every.single.night a lot for a while.
It wasnt so much I craved socializing & late nights and more the fact, at age 18, I feared something *amazing* might happen and I wouldnt be there.
Ive NO’ed to stuff in the past 27 days where Ive paused and thought “…but what if theres some great! connection! to be made and Im not there?!”
But when Ive mashed the opportunity up against my3-word mantra Im reminded it’s ok. I know all I need —truly need—I already have.
Ive been reminded how easy it can be to slip into fear-based living.
Ive let go of & said NO to opportunities which could have been amazing…for me.
Opportunities when mashed up against my mantra clearly fell outside the realm of living priorities *outside* of myself.
I felt the fear. I felt the panic of “what if I say no now and no one wants me later?” I almost caved. Frequently.
Yet when I mashed the ‘stuffs’ up against living what’s important to me I felt the fear, reminded myself of life’s abundance & NO’ed with faith.
Ive been reminded how my life is not all that unique.
Im writing this post not to preach or be ‘recognized’ for doing what I feel is a basic responsibility to those things we love & are important to us (be they people, passions, or causes).
Im writing it in response to so many of you who have reached out and asked how things are going now that we’re 5 months into the Garten of the Kinder.
Im writing in response to your collective responses of “I had to step back and decide what was important to me and only focus on that. It all is too much if you dont.”
Im 27 days in.
It’s more challenging than Id thought.
Im stilling living my priorities—one long no-filled, boundary drawing day at a time.
Pictures by twentyfivetwentysix studios.
KymberlyFunFit saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 2:06 am
Every day we are tempted to make decisions based on what our children can tolerate, not what is best for them. Such a difference. Your daughter is lucky to have you present for her! I cherish every moment of my daughter’s life. She flew back across the country today to head back to college. Time flew faster than this flight!
Tara saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 2:20 am
Carla, it’s very late here (or very early depending on your perspective). I can’t sleep much tonight because my brain won’t give me the few minutes of peace I need to fall into a nice slumber. I am where you are. That freshmen. I feel on the verge of “something” and not able to put my thumb on anything solid. I feel pulled in so many different directions with this idea of “who am I, what is my brand, what am I trying to do in this little world of mind”
I’m learning to understand that I can’t be that kind of person that must be doing and saying what everyone else is doing and saying. Thy my words (emotions, thoughts,processes) are so not like the masses. That I would prefer to hug and high five one individual than be in a faceless crowd of many shaking the proverbial “YES” fist pump to a large conglomerate (or a company mass selling to a group of us).
I love you.
This is a heart felt I love you. Not a hey great post, or way to kick ass today. Just a simple I love you as a person, a mother to tornado, a friend to me and anyone else who loves the ways of The Miz.
Thank you for a glimpse into your priorities. At 4a it slows my brain down enough to relax.
Meredith saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 4:41 am
This is amazing.
Izzy saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 4:49 am
I can relate to the fear based living.
It’s hard not to slip back into old habits and let go and have faith.
click here saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 4:58 am
important info 😉
Runner Girl saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 4:59 am
I am years out of college and still have that syndrome 🙂
It is exhausting, but I can’t seem to lose the sense of what if I miss something?
How did you move past that?
Helen saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 5:09 am
Best tip ever about never saying no in the moment, Carla.
Lynn Haraldson saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 5:12 am
I never thought one word could be so freeing. While “no” doesn’t come out of my mouth as frequently as I’d like, I’ve learned, as you so wisely have, too, to pause and give thought to what’s being asked of me before responding. That space has made all the difference. That and knowing that what might be missing if I said no is much needed time alone or time with the people who mean the most to me.
I have no doubt there are many opportunities in the world knocking for your attention, but you rock on with your no self, CB!!
Nicole saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 5:15 am
ah, i love this. even without a child this rings so true for me. it’s a constant battle to remove myself from the world of social media and remind myself i need time every night to spend just with my husband….and not twitter/facebook/pinterest/etc. I have to admit I’m not that good at it on most nights, but I’m trying to get better. Thanks for being honest and not saying it’s a piece of cake. I love your mantra and love that you are committing and recommitting to it everyday. <3
Healthy Mama saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 5:24 am
This is lovely, Miz.
I try to live this way and end up giving yeses to things which really are not important.
I need a more narrow mantra.
Cate saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 5:28 am
What intrigued me the most here, Miz, is you say you are not unique as if it is a good thing.
I’m not married yet and only a few years out of college and still find myself trying a little too hard to be different or unique.
I hadn’t considered the inherent comfort in being “alike.”
Laurie saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 5:44 am
Thanks for being authentic with us.
I do see what you mention frequently.
Superwomen (moms and non) who seem to do everything and be everywhere when the home-front is falling apart and relationships suffer.
To be candid I see this a great deal in the mom blogging community as well.
I can’t understand how so many of these amazing women maintain strong families while attending every event possible.
In a way I read your post as it can not be done and I like that message.
Christy@My Dirt Road Anthem saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 6:06 am
Love this post, so true and I love all the pictures with your daughter.
Andrew saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 6:06 am
What a wonderful post! And amazing photos too! You continue to inspire us!
Tara Burner saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 6:08 am
LOVE your mantra, love you!
You totally rock and wish I had had a mom like you (though you’re younger than me so not sure how that’d work lol)
I catch myself making my daughter wait sometimes and feel bad then try to justify it saying to myself that I’m sole provider so if I don’t get this job done that means no $, which means she can’t get what she needs/wants…vicious cycle but I still drive her to and from school every day, spend time and then just get up at wee dark o clock hours and stay up into the darkness to get work done so during ‘normal’ waking hours I’m here for her…it’s about her…not me… thanks for the reminder 🙂
Blogger saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 6:10 am
Miz, I have been that blogger. The number of times I have told my boys to SHHH or go away because I was writing a giveaway for an item I didn’t even like or want is embarrassing.
Barbara saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 6:32 am
LOVE THIS. In building my site traffic, I’ve spent more time online than I used to and the kids don’t like it. On one hand, they are old enough to play a bit here and there without me. On the other hand, my real job is being home with them. There’s room for both but the scales always need to tip in their direction. I know I won’t be on my deathbed someday wishing I’d spent more time on Twitter.
Miz saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 6:41 am
More after the Tornado is happily on the bus but I remember reading somewhere long before I was a mom a quote which essentially said ‘our house was always immaculate and yet all I longed for was my mom to LEAVE the mess and be with me’
That concept is applicable to so many facets of our lives…
Erica saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 7:11 am
Those pictures are fabulous!! Great post… I need to remind myself to do more of this
Vonnie saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 7:13 am
Good job Mama.
The slide photograph is all children want.
Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 7:35 am
Saying No is very hard. I feel like I’m missing out every time I have to turn something down, even if I already have something else (possibly even something more fun) planned. Good for you with stepping back from it all.
Dr. J saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 7:38 am
I suppose navigating that line between doing for others and for ourselves is often a challenge! Definitely not always easy for me as I can meander like a river 🙂
Bari saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 7:41 am
Carla, this was a beautiful post. There is definitely a challenge to finding a balance and it’s hard for me.
Also-beautiful family, girl. Love.
Kyle @ Getting Better and Better saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 7:46 am
I like this…muy mucho!
I had a therapist tell me once, that I had the “Disease of Please” in that I always felt I needed to please everyone and that usually took the form of putting everyone else’s needs ahead of mine as well as taking a heavy toll when I feel that I was a disappointment…and that was a self imposed judgement as well.
It isn’t easy saying no…it isn’t easy putting yourself first…and live your priorities!
Annie saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 7:47 am
LOL at Freshman Year Syndrome.
I’m in my 30s and still have that too.
Wifey saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 7:50 am
Thank you for this, my friend. And, for being such an inspiration. This was right on time today.
Oh, and your family pics are GORGEOUS!
Winks & Smiles,
Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 7:57 am
I love that you keep it “real” =)
Trish @I_am_Succeeding saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 7:58 am
I LOVE the black and white photo of you and the tornado!!
Loving the Bike saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 8:12 am
Great post and fantastic pictures, Carla. I’ve often found that by really knowing yourself and understanding what your top 5 (or more) core set of priorities are….you’re able to focus your life on making decisions and moving in the direction that keeps those core priorities in line. Good job on focusing on your priorities.
Katy Widrick saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 8:15 am
I love love LOVE seeing the beautiful pictures of your family — you all look so happy!
Marion saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 8:19 am
Hi Miz! Your daughter is just adorable! I have found that saying “no” to one thing is the flip side of the coin of saying “yes” to a less obvious decision. As an example, when a parent says “no” to a day of volunteering, she might be saying “yes” to spending time just listening to a child tell them about school friends for a few hours. Nobody has time for those less obvious decisions unless “nos” are said often.
Madeline@FoodFitnessFamily saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 9:07 am
This is a pretty amazing post and one that I think everyone should read. Life gets in the way sometimes and it is important to reflect occasionally on what really matters and reevaluate what we are doing. Thank you for sharing!
Renee saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 9:13 am
Oh Miz. I relate to all of this. Thank you.
messymimi saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 9:18 am
And in saying no to some things, i’ve realized that there are always more opportunities.
Rachel @RunningRachel saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 10:07 am
LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! this post!! I also LOVE your mantra! I too have found that I am too ‘distracted’ by other ‘stuff’ … ‘stuff’ that isn’t as important as my children, husband, family, real life friends. Yet this ‘stuff’ always seems to ‘get in the way’ of my priorities. I too need to take a step back, slow down… say NO! … and LIVE my priorities! 🙂
Thank you for the reminder and example 🙂
Alysa (InspiredRD) saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 10:18 am
I feel like I came to a similar realization just before the end of the year…and then I’ve caved too often. I need to live my priorities. Thank you for the reminder!
Tamara saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 10:28 am
Last week I heard a success coach speak. She said
“Everytime you say YES to something that doesn’t excite you or fit with your priorities you are saying NO to yourself”
I’ve had to remind myself of this a lot lately.
Thanks for a great post (yet again!)
MizFit saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 10:30 am
INTERESTING. and almost kindasorta funny as I was saying yes to myself (I do NOT struggle with the selfcare, Sister :)) too often and unknowingly (le sigh) saying NO to my family.
Tina saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 10:28 am
I have such a hard time saying no but it gets easier after a little practice. I feel like I’m letting people down if I don’t go out mid-week for drinks or go to someones house for dinner I don’t really like all that much. Trying to take care of me more and that means saying no. Somehow it’s a comfort that even the infallible (in my eyes!) Miz Fit struggles with it.
MizFit saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 10:31 am
Trying to take care of me more and that means saying no.
it is so trite in todays society but so so so true. if you do not put on your oxygen mask first—you are no use to ANYONE in your life.
By taking care of you you ARE taking care of others.
workout mommy saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 10:31 am
this I struggle with daily! I feel as if I was a much better mom and wife before my blog…before the iphone, etc.
Thank you for the reminder of what is important!! 🙂
Jill saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 10:43 am
This post, the pics, it’s all beautiful.
I’m reading a book right now on simplifying and the first thing she does is have you create a family purpose – what do we want our purpose to be as a family? And then live your life around that purpose. It’s very much what you are doing now.
I love your mantra – and when I think about my priorities in relation to how I live…it’s pretty obvious that my priorities are somewhat skewed. Gonna have to rethink some things!
Thanks so much for opening up and sharing this. I love posts that make me think! 🙂
mousearoo saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 11:00 am
A no to others means a yes to what matters the most sometimes.
Steph @fitmomtraining saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 11:10 am
Big. Puffy. Hearts.
Karen@WaistingTime saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 11:25 am
Love this! I was just telling my over-stressed over-extended over-volunteering SIL the other day that it is okay to say no. I don’t think she believed me:)
heather @ Not a DIY Life saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 11:47 am
Awesome. Thank you for being true to your family and (maybe without realizing it) encouraging others (me) to do the same. 🙂
Ann saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 11:47 am
Love this post. I think this is something we all need to strive for.
Jasmine saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 12:22 pm
You have found something so important and shared it in such a meaningful way. It is simple and true, yet so hard to actually achieve.
I am fortunate to have had to cut back due to my husbands career needs. I secretly love that this happened as I am not the type of person to be able to do it myself. My husband loves me for my go, see, do attitude and we have finally found a balance. After all, I couldn’t be the little girl who fell asleep under coffee tables at parties because I was afraid of missing something forever!
Cynthia (It All Changes) saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 12:50 pm
It’s so easy to want to be a Superwoman. It’s a struggle day to day wanting to “do it all.”
I struggle with it everyday. Thank you for the reminder it’s a struggle for everyone.
Roz@weightingfor50 saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 1:22 pm
LOVE this. I have a tough time saying “no”, but I’m getting better at it. I’ve spent many years being a bit of a “pleaser” and tend to put other people’s requests ahead of what I need for me. Its something I’m working hard to “fix”. I have to say, these photos of you and your family are “awwww”-worthy! Have a wonderful Friday.
Rita saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 1:26 pm
I often think of how you say people don’t talk about maintaining weight loss because it’s not sexy 🙂
This post is the same way to me.
Not “sexy” and yet very, very important.
Jody - Fit at 54 saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 1:33 pm
I am late – I had to read before I did what I told you I had to do – the tittle called to me… you know I so understand this & I respect you beyond words for living your priorities! I have learned the hard way too many times when I said that & went back to working & the things that I thought “had to be done” and lost people around me, lost the moments around me.
Carla – carry this post with you in case you are ever lured..
And yes, like you, I never say YES right away & say NO more often than I used to but not not enough…
LOVE THIS POST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
lindsay saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 1:44 pm
you read my mind today and thank you for that. I needed to know that NO is not missing out. WIse words woman! and you are doing what is right for You and Your family.
Cat @Breakfast to Bed saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 1:51 pm
so hard to not get wrapped up in everything and to just appreciate the day to day. great reminder.
Shannon saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 2:24 pm
So beautiful! Love it, love it, love it!
Lori saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 2:55 pm
There is always that initial cringe of saying no, but I find the enormous feeling of relief later on that night really outweighs that big time!
Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 3:01 pm
Such an amazing post Miz! We all could take a cue and really learn to live our priorities- I think we would all be a lot happier 🙂
Kimberly saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 5:09 pm
I could have written this article myself. really.
of course, not as well as you.
Deborah (Schmiet) saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 9:26 pm
Will it sound selfish and terrible if I say it’s kinda nice(ish) to know that you struggle as well, given that you seem to have it all SO together?
I don’t have a family of my own, but understand what you mean by not living by your priorities (or authentically, if it’s not too much of a cliche!). Good on you for picking up on it and doing something about it!
Rita saysJanuary 28, 2012 at 7:02 pm
I always think no one struggles except for me.
quix saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 9:28 pm
“It wasnt so much I craved socializing & late nights and more the fact, at age 18, I feared something *amazing* might happen and I wouldnt be there.”
That was me too for a very long time. I’ve gotten over it just very recently because my athletic pursuits don’t let me go out as much. It really helps that now my Zliten is also on board.
I just make sure I say YES *JUST* enough that people still ask. 🙂
quix saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 9:30 pm
Argh, that wasn’t very clear. I meant to say that now that I have some higher pursuit that it’s my choice, and something I’m working toward, it’s easier not to feel sad about missing out. Because I’d be missing out on something I want to do. It’s now about priorities.
(ugh my brain is FRIED!!!)
Jess @ Blonde Ponytail saysJanuary 27, 2012 at 11:34 pm
Such a relate-able post for so many of us. I found myself nodding with your “freshman” analogy. I’m so worried about missing out too and I don’t have a fraction of the opps you do!
thanks for the reminder to sit, think and THEN decide! Hugs!
Kennedi, Face & Fitness saysJanuary 28, 2012 at 5:44 pm
Saying “no” is SO difficult!! I feel guilty when I can’t do it all.
I always was afraid I was missing out on something (like you did when you were in college), and letting go of that “what if” is hard.
dingdongday saysJanuary 28, 2012 at 6:54 pm
what is WRONG with everyone that they need permission from a blogger to just live your life? It’s 2012 ladies! Just do what you were meant to do! NOW!
Rita saysJanuary 28, 2012 at 6:56 pm
Life can feel lonely. I appreciate the comfort, company & validation.
KCLAnderson (Karen) saysJanuary 28, 2012 at 7:03 pm
Most excellent…you’re practicing 🙂 Advance and retreat…advance and retreat.
I felt somewhat similar while I was at Green Mountain At Fox Run…I didn’t have time to “keep up” in the way that I like to “keep up” and I wondered…what will I miss? Will they miss me? Will I become obsolete…but no. Running myself into the ground isn’t practicing…it’s preaching.
charlotte saysJanuary 28, 2012 at 11:31 pm
I can’t stop crying over this.
Beautiful and brave.
Cindie Nary saysJanuary 29, 2012 at 4:17 am
Thanks so much for this.
joy saysJanuary 29, 2012 at 11:36 am
I feel like there’s so much for me to do. I’m running the race, but I’m caught in a hamster’s wheel not getting anywhere. I have to stop myself frequently and remind myself that this is not a race and I’m on the right path!! Just focus on the goal and keep pushing toward it. All things will come at…just the right time. Me rushing it will not help!
Gena saysJanuary 29, 2012 at 8:51 pm
Such a wonderful and timely post, Miz. I have been thinking so much lately about my need to FOCUS, to PRIORITIZE and to make sure that my fucos/priorities are best for myself and my family. It can be so tough sometimes to want to please everyone, but that’s when I wind up stressed out, unhappy, and eating all the food I can get my hands on!
Jenna@EverydayHealthLetter saysJanuary 30, 2012 at 11:13 am
As a current college student I can identify with the “not wanting to miss out if something amazing happens.” My own freshman year I would go out often just so that I was included in on the stories but now I know that I don’t have to always participate and that I can’t be included in on every activities…and that is oaky! I have priorities as a student and I’ll continue to have priorities after I graduate. My friends and students (I’m a TA) constantly ask for my help in their own work, I hated letting them down so would always assist but it took time from my own work and began affecting how my studies went. This post is very inspiring, and I will be doing my best to live for my priorities. Its okay to say NO, whether its going out with friends or saying you have to do your own work before helping others. Thanks for the helpful words!
Lori saysJanuary 30, 2012 at 10:36 pm
Very inspiring! I know exactly what you mean about not wanting to miss something– it keeps my daughter up past her bed time!
E. Jane saysJanuary 31, 2012 at 12:50 am
Great post! It is OK to say NO. There are too many demands on people in today’s world, and some of them are based on technology. Ahh–I remember when the world was Facebook, Twitter, and Blogo-free. It had its advantages, but I think one can moderate their lives to allow technology make it more interesting.