Creating Space #3: Your Core Values

This time of year feels so bittersweet to me. There is so much pulling and pushing on our lives. Do you feel the push of August? 20180318_110329.jpgThe push to cram in last bits of fun, to get all the school prep done, to harvest all we planted in the first bit of summer; the push is there, we can’t ignore it. The pull is there, too. The pull toward things of fall is unmistakable. I often find my mind wandering to solo hikes on trails with multicolor leaves to delight my spirit, a morning routine of books and hot coffee on a cool porch, and picking up kids home from school with tired smiles ready for mama’s snuggles. August pushes and pulls me back and forth between making summer last and rushing toward fall.

Kendra Adachi of The Lazy Genius Podcast (one of my must-listen podcasts) urged her listeners this week (episode #70) not to live in fall yet. The calendar still says we are in summer. School may have started up again for some, either homeschool or brick-and-mortar school, but August 16th is still summer. She pointed out that our bodies live in one season while our minds live in another and that can rob us of joy. She encouraged us to let August be a gentle transition from the looser schedule of summer into the firmer structure of fall by building our fall routine gently one item at a time and even doing all of our school shopping and prep done in a day or two…and then leaving it tucked away until it is needed. We can do this without sacrificing our last weeks of summer, soaking in every drop of goodness with our children, with the sunshine, and with the lake and beach.  “Get everything bought and packed and washed and done, and then rest. Look around. Still have fun. Slowly transition, and you’ll be able to say goodbye to summer and say hello to the school year with balance and presence. No desperation. No kicking kids out of the house. No looking back at how you missed out on the pace of summer because you looked into fall too quickly. Go slow. Go slow.”

That is tough to do, isn’t it? Go slow. I’m not so good at it. I move swiftly, always have. I pick up new skills pretty quickly, make new friends in an afternoon, move from task to task in my home at lightening speed, and I talk fast—I speak so swiftly that I often have to repeat myself, which I LOVE (sarcasming pretty hard with that one).Screenshot_20180421-145415_Instagram.jpg

I am so glad that I made it a priority to learn how to go slow. It was a challenge, but one that has been worth every bit of intentionality and effort. By going slow I’ve been able to let go of not-so-healthy habits and behaviors, add in some healthy ones, and get to know people in my world in deeper, more meaningful ways. I’m now a huge fan of slow.

This process we’ve been working on the past few weeks is a slow process. If you don’t have it all figured out by the end of the “Creating Space” series, don’t worry. You don’t have to rush this process. You can take your time. Getting to know ourselves is an important and often slow journey that really is the catalyst for health in all other relationships in our world.

Okay, our next step requires another sheet of paper. Maybe we should have just grabbed a notebook. Maybe you already did. You are smart. Thanks for being great.

This week we get to figure out our core values!!! Yaaaayyyyyyy!!!! This is one of my favorites because you will come ALIVE when you start to acknowledge what is in your soul. Plus, generally speaking, thinking about our self is fun.

All of us (most likely) have different values and they are ALL good. My top values are adventure, belonging and love. Those 3 values pretty much inform most of my thought processes and decisions. That means that values are motivators for all of my thoughts and decisions. If something is adventurous, makes me or someone else feel like we belong, or if love is the basis of something then it gets included in my life. Or at least it gets first consideration for things vying for my attention. You may not give a hoot about those values and that is just fine. You do you!

So, here is a comprehensive list of core values.


You may be able to find a more comprehensive list out there, but this one is still pretty great. We are going to narrow this huge list down in small steps. Ready? Let’s do it!!!

First Step: Read thru the list. If you don’t know the meaning of any of the words in  context, then look up the definition. Here’s a link to a dictionary.

Second Step: Cross out any words that you could care less about. Don’t judge yourself. Like, don’t say you are a crappy person because you don’t care about “Generosity” or “Truth Seeking”. You aren’t. There are other people in this world who have those values and they live them so well. We need you to live YOUR core values as only you can.

Third Step: Now you have a long list of values that have at least some importance to you. Probably feels good but maybe you still are scratching your head. This list is too long to provide any sort of focus in your life. You are right. Let’s cut it down some more; get to your top 20 core values. Important to note that some values may fit in other values for you. Like I find that curiosity fits inside adventure, as does creativity. Figure out what fits in what in order to narrow down your list to 20.

Forth Step: We are making more cuts…let’s get that list down to 10. You might know a few right away. Maybe one or two have surprised you but feel like they don’t fit with how you live your life right now. Give them space and I am sure you won’t want to let them go. If you are going back-and-forth between a few maybe take a few days to try out different values as leaders in your life to see if they really fit.

Fifth Step: Okay, even tougher now…we need to narrow down our list to 3. That is our magic number. If we landed with only 1 core value, then our lives would be run by a dictator of rigidity. That’s no good. Two can and often do work together well. Not all of my decisions fit in all three of my values simultaneously. But my decisions often are made with 2 of my values ruling the roost. 3. You can do it.

Sixth and Final Step: So, for your final step I want you to tell someone your top 3 values. WHAAAAAAAT?!?!?! Don’t be afraid.  I bet your best friend won’t hate you. Tell your spouse, your mom, a trusted co-worker, your counselor or therapist, your priest or pastor, a chat room/fb group, a sibling. Let your values both take up space and be seen. If that seems like too huge a step for you, then just say your core values out loud to yourself (or your cat). The bravery of staying things out loud and the physical act of hearing them spoken is pretty powerful.

Congratulations! How do you feel? When I went through this process I felt free and alive in a way I hadn’t experienced before. Really, it felt like I was no longer unimportant and constantly failing. I felt that way because I had been living in the values of OTHER PEOPLE. Remember how I said that you can live your values as only you can? It is so true! When you try to live the values imposed upon you or values that you think you should have (ugh, there is that rotten word from last week) you will never live up to expectations, or if you do, you will be exhausted and drained. You know you have your right values by how alive you feel when you think or say each word. Confirmation comes when you start to live out those values and life feels happier, easier and fuller.

When you come back next week we will use our values to eliminate some shoulds from your life and set yourself up to take care of your unmet needs identified in week one of this series.

I’d love to hear how this is working for you. What are your top values? How is knowing them affecting change in your life? You are important to me and I want to hear about your journey.

See you next week, Brave Hearts! As always…

Be curious. Be brave. Be connected.

Creating Space #2: Don’t should all over yourself!

This summer has been challenging in my world and creating space has been more difficult than I imagined it would be. I didn’t go into summer blind. This is my 15th summer as a mom and generally I know what is coming. I did my prep homework, listened to podcasts about helping make summer more “manageable” (THIS is my go-to podcast; episodes #62-65 are all about summer), I readied the house, I made my calendar, I opened my heart. Buuuuuuuut, life sometimes throws us curves that knock down all our nicely lined up little boxes.



A mental health crisis with one of my kids and my own medical “crisis” (2 surgeries…no fair) in the early weeks of summer sent us straight into emotional and physical disequilibrium. It has been a bit rough. I’m not really struggling, but the extreme lack of summer fun left a damper on our whole household. Summer brings challenges with all the extra bodies around, increase in amount and duration of noise and words, more planning, more cooking, for some reason more laundry (can’t they all just live in their swim suits and “bathe” in the sprinkler?). Add to that the unexpected challenges we had to manage, and I felt like all my space is used up.

So, while this summer has been anything but typical, life is already starting to self-correct. I am healed from my stuff and my child has their care established and rolling forward (huuuuge relief); I am quite hopeful that in the last 27 days of summer will see margins reestablished and fun/connection flowing freely again.

How have you felt this summer? Do you feel too rushed or your world too loud? Are you feeling like yourself or do you feel like a manager of tiny humans without the connection and fun piece? Do you feel drained? Does the idea of more space in your days sound too sweet to pass up?

Creating space isn’t an easy task, but certainly well worth it. It requires honesty and bravery. You will have to tell some people NO, you will need to quit some committees or groups, you will need to lower your standards in some areas of your life. Those thoughts might terrify you. When we let go of our involvement, our systems, all the things that take up space, we lose a fair amount of control in our lives. At least we think we do. That’s a post for another day.FB_IMG_1529191484731.jpg

By saying no and quitting activities you might worry that you will lose friendships in the process. (I just want to point out any “friend” that ditches you based on the removal of a service to them is NOT a friend.)  You might worry about losing career momentum or social status or cutting back financially. All of these are legit worries and it is best to know up front that you could have some mourning to do in the future. But let’s not jump ahead of ourselves.

In my last post we took a look at our hierarchy of needs thanks to Maslow and his wonderful pyramid. (I’m so grateful that God made so many smart people throughout history.) I challenged you to create your own pyramid to see where you might have some neglected needs. We can’t move on to “bigger and better” until we have a solid base to our pyramid. How did that go? Did you learn some things about unmet needs? Do you see how those lower unmet needs are keeping you from moving on to other social and self-actualization needs? I’d love to hear how the exercise worked for you.

This week we are going to need another 8×11” piece of paper and a pen—bonus points for a purple pen, of course. I am super visual and love to compartmentalize the areas of my life. If this doesn’t work for you, think about how you can examine your needs, your responsibilities, and your room for margin without the visual aid.

Before we know what can be let go, we need to know what IS. Today’s exercise is all about discovering all that occupies space in our life either as an actual thing or a thought of a thing, a pressure to be more, do more, produce more.

So, grab your paper and pen and start writing out everything you think you SHOULD do. This list will contain a mix of things that are necessary, like sleeping well and eating vegetables and going to work, and those things we think we need to do because someone in our world tells us we should. The people who tell us what we should do could be people we’ve invited into our lives—”gurus” like self-help, nutrition, movement, relationship experts or even religious leaders and teachers, and also friends or social groups; or people who MUST be in our lives–teachers, spouses, parents, children, employers, the government…you get the picture. The list may take up the front and back side of your 8×11” paper.  Keep this paper out where you can see it and add to it any time you feel that “should” push in your mind.

shoulds list

Here is my list, written just now. I wrote everything that filled my mind right away. I am sure my list will be longer next week.

Your list might frustrate you. Once you see all the shoulds listed out in written form you may feel like laughing, crying, or screaming. You might feel overwhelmed, but take heart! You don’t have to do everything on this list. We can’t keep “shoulding” on ourselves. Should is a bad word from here on out, okay? We don’t ever need to live by shoulds.

So, this week, keep writing your list. Write out everything, no matter how tiny. Do you feel that you should use recycled paper toilet paper? Do you feel you should be happier? Write it down. Fill up as many papers as you need and bring it with you for the next post.

Next week we are going to look at our values and what we want to fit into our 8×11” life. This is getting interesting!!

As always, be curious, be brave, and be connected!!