Monthly review – gratitude and reflection

When I write up my monthly reviews, the first thing I do is complete the table below. That then sets the tone for the rest of the post and most times I will pick out one theme from my notes and focus on that for the post.

If you were to look at the table below alone, it would appear that August was a fairly average month. But I knew that while I missed some habits in August, there were some fantastic moments to reflect on and be grateful for, like:

  • Attending my first champagne tasting evening with friends.
  • Visiting the gorgeous pop up art gallery by the 9 year old’s year level at school.
  • Seeing my friend’s daughter in a short film at the Melbourne International Film Festival.
  • A weekend away to Noosa with two gorgeous girlfriends.
  • Sitting in on a Book Week Workshop at the kids’ school with Leigh Hobbs.

I have written about the 5 Minute Journal before which I still use and love. Scrolling back over my entries for August, there were those bigger moments listed above, but there were also these smaller moments that brought me joy as well:

  • Blossoms have starting blooming!
  • The chats I had with the 17 year old on a visit to a Uni Open Day.
  • A vibrant philosophical discussion at dinner time with the older kids.
  • I found my car key that I lost on my run (I went back hours later and retraced my steps!).
  • My daughter made the younger boys lunches for Monday (without being asked!) when I came back late Sunday night from my weekend away.

So as you reflect on the month passed, I encourage you to also take time to acknowledge all the wonderful little things that happened. It takes a short time to do this and it can have a big impact on your life – a fact which can be backed up by science!

Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have done much of the research on gratitude. In one study, they asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics.

One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation. {Source}

How was your August?

HabitConnection to goal - Detach from the old and embrace the new to nurture a family spirit of adventure.Poem quoteAugust Review
Practice detachment dailyMy attachment comes from the right place in terms of wanting the best for my family and myself, but it can be founded on beliefs that I hold that are not necessarily true or helpful. Letting go of this belief and creating a new one requires me to detach.

Detaching doesn't mean I stop caring or give up but it means I acknowledge it, explore it, process it, take action to move on and let it go.

Letting go of old or untrue beliefs will mean I can focus on being more supporting and encouraging to the kids.
"For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business."
~ T.S. Eliot
This is one of those habits that once you see the huge upside it brings, it provides its own motivation to keep going at it.

There are certain stages in children's lives that they need you to be there to support them, but not attempting to make decisions for them or tell them what to do. I am getting better at this through practicing detachment and it means less periods of disharmony which is great.
Develop the practice of mindful listeningSometimes listening can be hard. I think I know what the kids or others are going to say, I have things on my mind, I have something I want to say or I have things I would rather be doing than listening then and there.

Mindfully listening to others shows that you value them and it empowers them to share exactly how they are feeling. I want my kids to tell me about their dreams, their hopes, their fears and their crazy ideas. This won’t happen if I am not really listening.

“We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”
~ E.E. Cummings
Last month I noted that I was working on setting up my environment better so I could listen mindfully in the home.

This has made a big difference. I keep most of my podcast listening when the kids are not around, I keep the radio off in the car (unless the kids really insist it go on) and I keep my phone away from me. All these small moves actually signal to the kids that I have the time and space to listen to them and I think we have been talking more because of it.
Do something new each month with the familyI love routine and being organised and sometimes I will take the option to spend time on these activities and not leave enough time for exploring something new.

This year I want to try some big and little adventures with the family.
"Dust if you must, but there’s not much time,
With rivers to swim, and mountains to climb;
Music to hear, and books to read;
Friends to cherish, and life to lead."
~Rose Milligan
We didn't try anything new this month 🙁 . A combination of a final ramp up of winter sports and family events took priority, but I have chatted already to the kids about what we can try next month and we are creating some plans!
Use deliberate daily practice to learn something new each monthK. Anders Ericsson, a professor of Psychology at Florida State University, is a pioneer in researching deliberate practice. One of his core findings is that becoming an expert at a skill has more to do with how you practice rather than with just performing the skill many times.

To really embrace a new skill I need to intentionally practice, not just do the skill to tick the box to say I have done it. This is a practice I really want to develop and role model for my kids.
"Submit to a daily practice.
Your loyalty to that is a ring on the door.
Keep knocking, and the joy inside
will eventually open a window
and look out to see who’s there."
I am currently using deliberate practice with some new skills for my business. I am taking a very process oriented approach to these tasks and the results are then falling into line, which has been exciting.
Develop a monthly decluttering habitOur house is relatively uncluttered but we really do have too much stuff.

All this extra stuff takes up space, time and energy - all of which I can reclaim and redirect when I declutter.
"The open space surrounding me
Clears my lungs
Makes me breath
I feel light
Vividly bright and empty
A room to dance in happily"
~Anna Elise
I missed doing anything this month, which is disappointing. I think part of the issue was that I didn't state last month what my target would be for the next month. So in September I will declutter our bedroom which at times can become a holding ground for items that don't have a home and work with my husband to declutter the outside areas.