Episode 97: Reflect, Reframe, Refocus
Welcome to Live Free Creative, the podcast that provides inspiration and ideas for living a creative, adventurous, and intentional lifestyle. I’m your host Miranda Anderson. And I hope that each time you listen, you feel a little bit more free to live your life. Exactly the way you want to live it.
Hello friends. Welcome to the show. You are listening to episode 97 of Live Free Creative podcast. I’m your host Miranda Anderson. I’m coming to you live from my upstairs bedroom.
During screen time, the kids are all downstairs. I’ve got one on an iPad, one on the Nintendo switch and one on the TV playing Minecraft. And I snuck upstairs to record this episode real quick. Before I run, you know, get dinner started and head on with the rest of the day.
I’m super excited about today’s episode. The topic of which is reflect, reframe and refocus.
The reason that I decided to create this episode today is I realized in the last week that we are almost to halfway point in 2020, it does not seem bizarre. Uh, we’re almost to halfway between January and January and that combined with the summer solstice, the beginning of the summertime, it was a big week.
Last week we had plums half birthday. We had father’s day. We had my son’s ninth birthday, and we had the summer solstice. We had Juneteenth. All of these things combined. I felt like it was a really big, fun and a little bit busy and celebratory.
Let me try that word celebratory. Is that the right word? Celebrate celebratory sounds weird celebratory week, and I took a little bit of time to just let it sink in that this year is half over.
It has been the weirdest, the wildest, the most unexpected, the most unprecedented, I feel like that’s the word that we’ve been using right for 2020 it’s unprecedented. And I think because of all of that, the combination of a million little things, a switch flipped for me this last weekend, and I feel more like myself than I have since March.
And I’m so grateful for that. I’m so happy to have in some ways, just kind of gotten a little bit of myself back, despite the circumstances of my life, being very similar to what they have been for the last several weeks and months.
My mental state, my emotional state, my ability to see a little more clearly what is in my control has all sort of come back into focus. And so I wanted to just share three quick, hopefully inspiring ideas for you as we head into the second half of 2020.
Before I dive into all of that, I want to share a quick, magical adventure moment. It’s been a little while since I do one of these, and I shared this particular moment with Dave the other night and wanted to share it with you too.
Segment: Magical Adventure Moment
I was 19 years old on a study abroad in Costa Rica. My younger brother, and a couple of his high school friends had come along. And although we were all living in different homes with different families, we spent the weekends together exploring the country, traveling to different beaches and going on hikes and trying our hand at surfing and generally adventuring throughout the country.
One night, one of my little brother’s friends, Jordan, and I decided to go on a hike up from the beach that we had spent the day at surfing. We decided to climb up to where it looked like there was a little bit of a cliff and an overlook. The pathway was more like an off road vehicle, sort of overgrown old road.
On the way up, we noted how we were sort of cutting through the jungle. This road went straight back and forth up this Hill all the way until we reached what was a little bit of a plateau and almost like a mini meadow up above the canopy of the trees.
The cliff had climbed above and we were able to watch the sunset over the ocean with the waves pounding below on the beach and just the beauty of this really remote, incredible space.
Now that moment feels magical, but the magical adventure moment began as we started to hike down. The dusk had fallen. The sun had set and all around us. Fireflies started to light up.
As we walked down this dusty overgrown trail, there were lights blinking. These tiny insect lights blinking in the thousands all over. They were in the trees. They were lighting on the tall grasses beside the road. They were fluttering in and out of our vision right in front of us on the road itself.
We had to pause and just absorb the 360 degree magic that surrounded us. I don’t know if I had ever seen fireflies in real life before that moment. And here we were in a swarm of them in the middle of the jungle after the incredible sunset.
It was one of those moments where we commented to each other. This is something we will never forget. It feels like we were in the middle of a fairytale. It was so beautiful and so incredible and made me think about how many of these magical spaces and moments and mysteries exist all the world over with no one there to witness them.
All of those insects would have been out lighting up this pathway. Even if we had chosen to go back to the hotel or to just stay on the beach. There truly is magic happening all around us. And if we want to go out and open our eyes and explore, we have a high chance of bumping into some along the way.
Main Topic: Reflect, Reframe, Refocus
Let’s begin with number one, which is reflect.
I know we do a lot of this at the beginning of the year. We do it at the end of the year. We do it sometimes at the end of a school year, sometimes on a birthday. I don’t know that I’ve ever thought to stop and reflect at the midpoint of the year.
What has happened so far that went really well for you in 2020 really well, better than expected. I’m sure that there are some things they might not be what’s been top of mind for the last couple months, but I’m sure there’s some things that have been incredible and amazing and noteworthy that maybe have been swept aside by all of the unexpected sort of chaos that came into our lives.
I want you to take a minute and just think about that reflect what has gone really well. What are you proud of? What has been on track in a way that you never expected?
I know for me, I’ve had some big wins in 2020. I had one of the most fun and successful launches of my whole business experience in January, the first week of January, where for the very first time in my online career, I decided to host an online course.
It was so incredible to have a flood of people join me to learn about some of the principles of minimalism that have been really pivotal in my life over the last several years. And to trust me as a leader in guiding them through having some of those experiences in their own lives.
This year has also been the first year in a long time–I don’t know, three or four years–that we have lived in the same house for the whole year so far.
Now, at some point it has felt a little bit crazy to be home all the time in this house, but it has also been a huge blessing because last year we spent half of our year living in an Airbnb and a hotel.
And the year before that, we spent half of the year in renovation and another third of the year in an Airbnb. And the year before that we spent most of our year, uh, living in a rental, we have felt settled and grounded in our home this year in a way that I really treasure.
It’s kind of funny now that we really, really have been settled in our home this year. And also so much of that as I reflect on the year has been a huge blessing and something that our family really needed. Of course, as we reflect, we can reflect on the whole picture as well.
You can think about what are some of the things that haven’t gone the way that you expected. I’m sure that we all have a really long list of those things. Things that didn’t go as expected at home, or in our jobs or our businesses, in our cities, in our kids’ schooling, with our own expectations for travel.
And, you know, there’s a lot of things that it’s really interesting actually, how universal the idea is this year that so many people have gone through such similar experiences to each other, almost as an entire global community. We can recognize some similar experiences so far in 2020. I think it’s been maybe a while since that happened, where we could really understand and connect to each other on a similar sort of topic or idea or a similar experience.
I know that there’s a lot of different viewpoints about all of the things that are going on, both with the pandemic and with the black lives matter movement and racial inequality. And yet, so many of those things have been an experience, whichever side you find yourself on that we have all been paying attention to in some ways.
So you can even reflect on that. How do you feel about some of the things that, that have been going on? Are you giving some attention to other things, to other pieces of life that require some care?
I think it’s been interesting for me to reflect on how I have responded. And as I’m just in that moment of reflection I can consider the way that I’ve responded to all of the changes in 2020, what I would have hoped for myself.
Am I responding in a way that I like, and if not, how can I develop the tolerance level or the coping skills necessary to be able to maybe be a little bit more adaptable and flexible moving forward?
What are some things that I want to be able to let go of within myself so that in the future, when unexpected things happen as they will, because they always do, how can I better prepare myself for that?
These are all reflection questions that I don’t want to wait until the end of the year to do, even though some things are really similar to last week or the week before, or even a month or two ago, I don’t want to wait until everything changes or gets worse or gets better. I think now, right in the middle of it is sometimes as a great time to reflect and to really make sure that we give some space to think and to feel what we need to.
I want to move on to number two, which is to reframe.
Have you heard of reframing? I think I first learned about this term when I was reading one of my favorite books, The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan. She talks about how with gratitude, you can change your past.
You can look back and change the things that have happened to you with your mind, so that you frame them into a story that actually makes you feel better about what happened or, or you can change yourself from a victim to a hero simply using your mind.
And this kind of goes hand in hand with something that I understood really just in the last few years, as I was learning from Brooke Castillo on her podcast The Life Coach School and also Eckhart Tolle in his book, The Power of Now, this concept that memories are not something that was bottled up and like stored in a shelf in our brain like we might think of.
I think that it’s often in media and movies depicted this way, like a memory, something that is swirling around and you stop it up in a little bottle and it goes on a shelf somewhere. And then when you want to experience it again, you go find it and you take it out. And it’s like, it was captured in the past.
But that’s not the way that memories work. Memories are thoughts that you’re having right now in this present moment about experiences that happened in the past. Your thoughts may or may not be true to exactly what happened.
And you can always choose new thoughts. You can choose a new thought right now about that experience in the past. This is what reframing looks like.
It’s choosing today what you want to think about something, a circumstance, that happened in the past, stripping away, all of that positive or negative and choosing right now, what you want that to mean, what you want the value or the impact of that past circumstance or story to be on your present life. Does that make sense?
People often imply that we see things more clearly when we look back on them, like hindsight is 2020 is one idiom that comes to mind. It doesn’t mean that we see things as they exactly were. It means that usually when we come out of an experience, we can look back and add some meaning to it.
We can choose at the end of an experience, how we want to have learned from it. Or we can see the lessons that are there for us. Now we can do this about anything in our lives, any hard thing, anything we think of as good thing, any experience can be reframed to mean whatever we choose.
Here’s the thing. Sometimes we want things to mean negative things. We want to have negative impact or negative lessons because it supports some other part of our story about why we are the way we are, why we act the way we act.
We want to support our own definition of self. And we will do that sometimes at our own detriment by saying things like, “Well, I’m just not like that.” Or because this happened to me, then this is what has to happen going forward.
I love just considering that I have the power to reframe any experience that I have had into something that will benefit me moving forward. And you might not always want to do that. But I really want to believe that that all of my experiences are happening for me, for my benefit, for my good, even the things that feel terrible or that feel hard or that feel unexpected, unprecedented, even things that I don’t like in the moment.
I want to believe that I can choose to like the outcome, even if I didn’t love the experience and reframing allows me to do that.
So I want to invite you to just play with this one, to look back on something that has felt really hard for you lately really hard in the last couple of weeks, the last couple months, maybe things that got canceled or things that have gone wrong in your family or relationships that have been tricky.
And I want to invite you to use this tool of reframing. See if you can create new thoughts, thoughts that you’re thinking right now today about a circumstance or an experience that has already happened, or is currently kind of happening in your life, create new thoughts, that reframe that situation into something that is for your benefit, that allows you to feel good about what’s going on, even if you wouldn’t choose it.
And here’s the thing about those things that are outside of our control, like so much has felt lately. You can’t do anything about it, but you can think differently about it. And there is power in that.
There’s so much power in choosing how we think about things in reframing them for our benefit. That once you sort of understand this….
I mean, I am going to fully admit that I have not been great at this. I’ve had a really, really tough few months, tougher than I actually care to admit. I mean, I feel like I like to think that I’ve got so much together and that I have sort of passed through so many things emotionally and that I work really hard at managing my mind.
I look back and I wish that I had felt differently or that my coping skills had been better that I could just say, Oh yeah, everything’s fine. You know, this is all gonna work out in the end, you know.
I do really true at my core, I truly believe that it does work out, but sometimes it’s been really hard to figure out what to do next or how to move forward when so much has felt unexpected.
And yet, if I just pause and do a little bit more work, a little bit of reframing, just choose one thing that I don’t feel great about and that I want to feel great about and play with it, turn it around in my mind, think different thoughts, consider different thoughts that I could think until I land on one that feels honest and also feels like it will serve me. That’s a really great place to land.
Number three is to refocus.
I talk a lot about focus and I have done a whole podcast episode on focusing. The ability to pay attention to something despite other distractions trying to creep in and take you away from this one thing or that you want to pay attention to.
I look back as I’m reflecting and reframing, and I noticed that something that has been one of the things that has contributed to the last few months, feeling really difficult for me is that I lost my focus because I got kind of shoved off course.
I had multiple speaking gigs canceled. I had to cancel some of my own events that I had been preparing for for a long time. I had a lot of things within my business that I was hoping for and working on that I couldn’t move forward with because they were in-person types of events.
And then my kids were home. And so I felt like my time got encroached upon in a way that I hadn’t expected. I didn’t just pick everything back up and choose something new.
I think part of what was tricky–and maybe you’ll relate to this–is that at the beginning of coronavirus, you know, the, the second week of March, when it felt like from one day to the next, so much changed, we didn’t have any idea how long any of the changes would last, right?
We were really lucky here in Virginia because our governor canceled school from the beginning. So from March 15th, I knew that my kids were going to go back to school for the school year. So many friends and family members all over the country thought they would go back in two weeks and then another two weeks, and then another two weeks.
And what that did was make it really hard to adjust your expectation and plan for anything, because you always kind of kept thinking you were going to flip back to normal. And here’s where hindsight is 2020, right?
If in March, I had known that my kids would not go back to school and not only that, but that all of the events would be canceled. I actually didn’t cancel my May event until April because I retained hope, but I thought for sure, by my event in July, things would be settled.
Doesn’t that kind of make you laugh now because you look back and you’re like, no way. And it’s funny because depending on where you live in the country, things might feel a little more normal where you live.
But I couldn’t responsibly continue to sell tickets for an event in July that I wouldn’t be able to hold or didn’t know if I would be able to hold, but in March I thought for sure I would be able to hold that event in July.
We didn’t know how long we would need to adjust course. And so it made it tricky to nail down a focus, to know what we should be working on. At least for me, I didn’t know how far my pivot needed to go.
And so I tried to come up with some little sort of stop gaps and things that I could work on that felt fun and engaging and also responsible. And that I could do from home in my limited work hours. And it’s been really fun.
Actually, my online Shibori workshop has been one of my favorite things. I don’t know if you, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it on the podcast, but if you have been following along on Instagram, I released an online workshop of the Shibori Indigo dying class that I’ve done for years in person. And it has been so fun.
I’ve sent out hundreds of supply kits. I’ve had people take it all over the world and even in some other countries, because it’s all online so they can. That was not something that I expected to do this year.
It was nowhere on the radar, but it also wasn’t like part of a longterm strategy. It was something that I did for fun out of sort of creativity and just like to have something really engaging to work on because I needed a focus. And I didn’t. I didn’t have one. A refocusing on something that we can do for a while.
I guess we could also say reprioritizing, but choosing a focus and then choosing a focus that is within your control, that will be unaffected by changes in circumstance, other people’s policies, travel restrictions and guidelines, choosing a focus well within your level of comfort can be so powerful because you can kind of let go of other things.
If you have something that you’re working on and engaged in, that can be a home project, it can be a personal project. It can be developing a hobby. It can be reading a bunch of books, you know, getting through your stack, having something that when other things aren’t working out, you say, well, it’s okay because I have this other thing that I want to do. I have some way to spend some free time that won’t be impacted by other people’s decisions.
Refocusing has been really important for me lately. Actually this weekend, I went on my first real date with Dave. I mean, I shouldn’t qualify that. We’ve done so many home dates over the 12, 13 years that we’ve been married. Home dates are real dates. Car dates are real dates, free dates are real dates.
But we went on a date last weekend where we were able to sit on a patio. We wore our masks until the food came and we sat outside and ordered food to the table and it felt so good. It was so funny, just like how much you appreciate things that felt so normal a few months ago.
And we just will never take that for granted to just be able to sit outside at a restaurant, which we love. We normally go out to eat every single date night and it was really fun. And as we sat there, our conversation also felt like it took on a new lightness and we were able to talk about things that we, for whatever reason haven’t talked about in our, you know, take out dates. It just, I don’t know, it just felt really wonderful.
And we were sitting chatting and I told Dave that I am ready to start writing my next book. And this is something that I’ve been thinking about. I’ve been brainstorming. I’ve actually had a basic outline for my next book since more than enough released almost a year ago.
And for whatever reason, I had all these other focuses in my business and in my life that I, that I wanted to work on and play with. And I have felt so empowered by just the decision of I’m ready to write my next book. And I know what it is. And I am excited to just dig in and I loved writing More Than Enough.
I think if you’ve listened to those podcast episodes where I talk about my experience writing my book it’s it was so lovely for me. It was so wonderful. I felt so engaged in so empowered and so creative. And I know that’s not the experience for a lot of authors. A lot of writers say that they sort of slog through the writing piece. But I actually just loved the writing piece.
And so I’m really looking forward to diving in and to getting and to having a focus, just refocusing on something that matters to me that will, that won’t be affected by changes outside of myself in the world, in politics and policy. I can write on my own timeline. I can write in the morning or at night or in the middle of the day, I can write on my computer or I can write on the back of a receipt or a napkin.
If I get an idea when I’m out doing something, it just feels really good to have something to focus on. That feels well within what I can and want to be doing right now.
And you can do that too. You don’t have to want to write a book, but do you wake up every day feeling like you know what you’re working on in your life? Do you have a goal that feels reasonable?
And something that I don’t want you to focus on is something that you feel like you can’t do. That’s totally opposite of what I’m saying. I want to encourage you to find something, to focus on, to refocus on that you want to do and that you can do, because I feel like we’ve spent a lot of time focusing on things that we can’t do.
For whatever reason, we come up with all of the reasons why we can’t do the things we want to do. Okay. Well, what can you do? Retrain your attention on what is within your control, what you have wanted to do or want to do.
It was really actually interesting and sort of powerful for me to flip to the beginning of my planner, where at the beginning of the year, I always use a full page to write down my big goals for the year.
So I have my planner. I have this page where I wrote about 10 big goals, big dreams for 2020. And you know, I’ve already accomplished about half of them. I mean, some of them are little things. Some of them are big things, but about half of them were covered.
And one of them is to write my next book. And because I have been so swept away by all of these other things that I couldn’t do, I forgot that that is something that I’ve wanted to do. And it’s something I can do.
So when I invite you to reflect, to reframe and then to refocus on what you can do that you want to do and use that motivation and enthusiasm and power to recognize that although life isn’t exactly the way that we thought it would be, that it is wonderful and it can be better than we had imagined.
My Challenge To You
Okay. I want to challenge you to let me know what you are refocusing on.
You can either leave it in a review on iTunes, go to iTunes and find the podcast and scroll down and give a written review or share this episode on social media and tag me and let me know, what are you refocusing on this year.
I would love to hear, and I’ll pick a couple of people who share your new focus for 2020 and send you as a little surprise package in the mail, just to say thank you for listening and thank you for using your enthusiasm to focus on something that’s going to make you happier and trickle that out to your family and your community and to all of us.
Okay, friends. That is the episode. I am shocked that I was only interrupted one time by my children. And I was able to tell him that I’ll be down in a few minutes and take care of it.
And I mean, pretty good, right? For three kids downstairs. While I take care of this.
I am so happy to have this podcast and have a chance to chat with you all every week. It has really been a light in my life over the last couple of years, we’re coming up on 100 episodes, coming up on almost two years of Live Free Creative.
And I’m so grateful for you for listening and sharing and leaving reviews and letting me know how much the podcast means to you. I really appreciate that. And I’m so happy that you’re here.
Before I sign off for the day, I just want to let you know about my fall Live Free Creative Camp that’s happening in Outer Banks, North Carolina. It is from November 4th through November 8th.
This camp is an intimate writing and work retreat for women who have something, a project, they want to work on that you really just need some time and some space and some team members to help you get motivated and to get the work done over this four day retreat.
It is all inclusive of lodging, all of your food and all of the peer reviews that inspiration daily meditation and yoga.
It’s an incredible event. You will have many hours of focused work time where you can dig into that thing that you want to do. For me, it’s going to be a new manuscript. The last camp that I attended, that I hosted, I wrote an online course that released to this year.
Maybe you want to launch a new online shop and you need to get set up. Maybe you want to start a blog or get ahead on your blog. In these four days, I guarantee that you will get more creative and innovative work done because we’re just digging in deep than you could if you were home, or than you could if you were by yourself somewhere.
There is power in the teamwork and there’s power in the numbers of gathering as a community of creative women, all who are looking to get some real incredible things created during creative camp.
If you’re interested in joining us, there are a few seats left in fall Live Free Creative Camp. Again, it’s November 4th through November 8th in Outer Banks, North Carolina.
It is a 16 bedroom home on the beach and the retreat is limited to 10 people. So even with the travel restrictions, with all of the pandemic precautions, I feel comfortable safely and responsibly holding this retreat.
Everyone has a private room. There is ample space within the indoor setting to maintain social distancing. We have access to the beach, to the hot tub, to multiple decks and patios, and it is going to be an incredible and intimate gathering of creative women. And I would love to see you there.
You can check the show notes for the link for all of the information, and if you’re interested in a scholarship and you are a woman of color or any other marginalized group, make sure that you email me because there is a half off scholarship available for two women of color or marginalized groups. And you can email me for more information if you’re interested in that.
Okay, I’m signing off for this week. I hope you have a wonderful one. And I hope that this episode about reflecting, reframing and refocusing has been helpful for you to just give you a little bump of love and support and encouragement to get back to living the life that you want, regardless of things that are getting in your way.
Okay. Talk to you later, friends. Bye. Bye