What is "Balance"?

What is "Balance"?

I once heard a podcaster call balance the “unicorn” of life…unattainable, unreachable, unrealistic. I disagree. Here’s why…Once upon a time when I was 22, I had my Oola life…then I turned 25…and it all shattered…and now, at age 27-going on-28, I still don’t have my Oola life back…and it’s because I ignored my need for balance. Read more.

One Way to Not Only REACH but SUSTAIN Your Goals: Oola + The Miracle Morning

I loved the Oola Guru’s live Facebook video last week on Goal Setting 301.

He said there’re the people who just write down a goal (the 101-ers), the people who know how to set a goal and break it down into one of the 7 areas of life (the 201, intermediate folks), and then the 301 students who not only break down their goals but know how to set SMART goals (the A revised to mean Accountable) that they will actually achieve.

I’ve been a 101, 201, and 301 student of life at various points in my Oola journey—and in various areas of my life. I’ve even been so good at certain time about building up to the 301 stage only to let it slide all the way back to 101.

This is especially evident in my weight management...or rather mismanagement. I lost 40lbs in college, and if you read my blogs, you know I gained it all back...and you know one of my goals is to lose weight and finally be at a healthy, sustainable weight...so what happened?

How did I do so well and execute my goal (301 status PASS!) only to gain all the weight back again (back to 101 I go)?

As I listened to Dr. Troy talk about this 301 goal status today while I ran to nowhere on the treadmill at the gym, avoiding the rain, I thought about the answer to that question.

What happened? ... or more importantly,

“How can I avoid doing that AGAIN?”

I’m on my way to my goal right now. I’m running, lifting, doing yoga, eating healthy, cutting sugar more and more, and gaining control of my body again. I’m working up from 201 to 301 in my goal setting. I’m two months and 24lbs away from that goal.

But for me, the issue is in the “post-graduation.” After I pass the 301 stage and reach my goals, how do I sustain them?

It always comes back to sustainability in my life. Always. (You’ll catch that theme and ride that sustainability wave if you hang out online with me ;))

When I lost 40lbs the first time, I did it in an unsustainable way. I was running more than my schedule could realistically allow. I was allowing food to separate me from my friends and family. I let food and fitness control me. I never enjoyed being fit and thin because I lost so much balance in the process. I threw everything out of balance for the sake of my thin body.

This time HAS to be different, otherwise I’ll be writing another blog in 3 years about my new “weight loss plan.”

So how do you not only set SMART goals, but SUSTAIN those goals and those results in the long term?

 

I just yesterday finished reading The Miracle Morning by Hal Eldon, and I think Hal’s ideas are right in line with what Oola teaches. Hal talks about how your purpose in life can change over time and that each one of us is constantly wanting and seeking self-improvement. He is clear that wanting to improve doesn’t mean that where we are now is necessarily bad but that it is human nature to want to do better. You can always challenge yourself more. You can always do better.

So from The Miracle Morning, the message I get in seeking sustainable results in my weight loss or in any other area of my life is to constantly reevaluate my purpose, my drive, and my goals and to never settle for where I am. Reach my Level 10 life but then dream a little bigger.

Hal, like Oola, emphasizes gratitude and talks about the power of self-improvement. I even adopted what he said his life purpose a few years ago was: to become the person I need to be to create the success, freedom, and quality of life I truly want.

Hal uses a wheel similar to the Oola wheel to help you visualize where you are now and then think about what your Level 10 life in each area would look like, but the categories are a little messier than the 7 F’s Oola preaches.

What I think Oola adds to Hal’s message is an emphasis on balance between more clearly labeled and categorized key areas of life. While simply reading The Miracle Morning without my Oola background would likely have caused someone like me (who tends to get a little tunnel vision, focusing in on one goal at a time) to zero in on my weight loss goal while the rest of my life fell by the wayside, Oola’s heavy emphasis on balance between the 7 key areas of life help me keep myself in check.

And what I think The Miracle Morning SAVERS adds to Oola’s balance and 7 F’s is a step-by-step way into the Oola Path that pulls from the 7 F’s and emphasizes some of the Oola Accelerators. I also think Hal emphasizes more heavily the importance of self-improvement for improving any situation you may find yourself in. Work on you first and your situation will improve too.

Hal lays out how to use the SAVERS—Silence (which is meditation in my practice), Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, and Scribing (journaling)—to start you on the path to clarity, focus, and self-improvement every morning. I’m waking up an hour earlier every morning for the next 30 straight to go through my Miracle Morning, and I already have more energy, clarity, drive, and motivation to reach my goals than ever before.

With the Miracle Morning, I’m doing the things I need to do—cultivating the habits I need to have and improving myself in the areas I need to improve—to reach the goals I set for my Oola life. The Miracle Morning helps me address my limiting beliefs and cultivate positivity. My meditation practice (Silence) is a step into my Faith, an area of my life that is often tested. One of my biggest goals is in Fitness, and starting the day with Exercise gets me and keeps me moving throughout the day and gives me the energy to do more activity and lose more weight faster. I’m working on myself first so that I can achieve the goals I have for my Oola life.

And I bring Oola into every part of my Miracle Morning practice as well. I use the Oola affirmations in the Affirmations practice and I’ve also writen a few of my own to read aloud beside them. When I Visualize my “Level 10 Life,” I visualize my Oola and what that Oola looks like in each of the 7 F’s of Oola—Fitness, Finance, Field, Faith, Family, Friends, and Fun.

My Miracle Morning practice is acting as the catalyst to my Oola Path. The Oola guys talk about how you have to learn to trust yourself again after failing to follow through so many times; the Miracle Morning is already (after only 1 day) helping me learn to trust myself and my ability to follow through again.

Between Oola (the 7 F’s and the emphasis on Balance) and The Miracle Morning (the SAVERS—the practical, repeatable steps—and the emphasis on self-improvement as a prerequisite for improving your situation), I am able to see a way forward beyond simply checking off goals upon completion.

The Oola, Miracle Morning combination offers a consistent, actionable path toward balance and sustainability.

How to March to the Cadence of your Oola Affirmations

I felt like a grumpy middle schooler, shuffling my feet and slinging curses under my breath as I plodded up the hill on my run.

I used to be a runner, I thought.

I haven’t really been a “runner” for over 5 years. I used to run half marathons in less than 2 hours. I did sprints, distance runs, the occasional fartlek (the name still makes me giggle)...

I was in the best shape of my life.

But when I was a runner, I was in a failing marriage and a financial hole. I pulled away from my friends so they wouldn’t find out how bad everything else in my life was. I wasn’t working in my field of expertise or following my passion. When I was a runner, I blamed God for letting me disconnect from everything else in the world. Running was the only thing I was good at.

When I was a runner, I didn’t have a plan for my Oola life. I only had my training schedule.

Nowadays, I have a few of those other things in a more Oola place.

I’m divorced, but I’m in a thriving, healthy relationship. I’m following a budget and following a debt payoff plan. I’m following my passions and getting paid to do it. I feel more connected.

In the process of finding Oola in the 6 other F’s, I lost my running legs. For three months now, I’ve tried to get them back in shape, but every run feels harder.

And on every run, I have a tagalong (more like “drag”-along): Self-Sabotage.

She’s great at knocking the wind out of me. You’re fat. Just walk. You’ll never make it all the way back home at this pace. You let yourself get out of shape. You’re worthless. 

For three months, I believed her.

I was on the drumline in high school marching band. I was center snare, which means I rapped out the marching cadence for the entire band: Bang (Left, Right) Bang (Left, Right) Bang (Left, Right, Left, Right). The repetition was simultaneously soothing and motivating.

After reading Oola for Women, I started to see the Oola affirmations as cadences to help keep me marching along in my 7 F’s.

The Fitness affirmation, “I am Fit, Healthy, Disciplined, and Strong,” has an easy-to-follow cadence.

That day on my run (ironically, on the hill in front of the local middle school), I had Self-Sabotage on my shoulder smacking me in the gut with her “degradation stick” at every step.

But every time she said, You’re fat, I marched along to the cadence: I am fit, healthy, disciplined, and strong.

You’ll never be a runner. I am fit, healthy, disciplined, and strong.

You can’t make it up this hill. I am fit, healthy, disciplined, and strong.

Quit now! You’re not worth the work! I am fit, healthy, disciplined, and strong.

I noticed her statements growing in anxiety as I made it up that hill and the next, keeping pace with the cadence of, “I am fit, healthy, disciplined, and strong.”

I kept marching, picking up speed. “I am fit, healthy, disciplined, and strong.”

And before long, a different voice started rapping the cadence for me: Discipline.

Run it out! You are fit, healthy, disciplined, and strong! 

Don’t give up! You are fit, healthy, disciplined, and strong!  

I smiled and repeated aloud the last quarter mile, “I am fit, healthy, disciplined, and strong!”

 

In our journey to our Oola lives, blockers do their best to make our hard work seem worthless...they make us feel worthless.

But even when we anticipate blockers, it can be difficult to fight them with accelerators.

That’s where the affirmations come in.

Use the Oola affirmations to bridge the gap between blockers and accelerators. Speak them aloud, and you’ll speak them into existence.

Keep marching along—following the cadence of your Oola affirmations.

Oola Part 2: Setting Goals with a Grateful Mindset

Hey, Goal Setters and Balance Seekers!

Give yourself a pat on the back. You did some hard work in Part 1 of the Oola Process evaluating where you are right now.

In Part 2 of the Oola Process, we get to do a little more dreaming and planning. Let’s talk about Setting Goals for your Oola Life—your Oola Plan.

When I started this step, I tried to limit my goals to 7 in each category, 21 overall. That’s what the Oola Guys recommend, and the repetition of 7 was easy to follow and felt perfectly planned.

I like organization. I like planning. I like knowing where I’m going and what I’m doing. I like being prepared.

But I’ve been so unprepared, and being unprepared coupled with a fear of having to adapt has crippled me for years. I wasn’t prepared for freelance life. I wasn’t prepared for a half-way-across-the-country move. I wasn’t prepared for divorce.

When major life events sprang up suddenly, or when I had no idea what to expect, my 7 F’s were so easily thrown out of balance. I entered many of the changes in my life with an attitude of anxiety rather than gratitude.

I didn’t even know what the 7 F’s of life were until 2017, but looking back, I see how much I was yearning for balance in my life.

Before I moved to North Carolina in 2013, I felt like I was upright up on the balance beam. I was fit, healthy, and active. I was close to my family and friends. I had been married for a couple years already, so I assumed a lack of intimacy and romance was a common occurrence for married couples. I was just graduating college and felt like the world was mine for the taking and that I would make it big in my career before I hit 30—an age that seemed so far away. I had yet to experience real-world, real-adult financial situations. I didn’t yet have student loan payments, my parents paid for my health insurance and my car, and I worked full-time in retail.

But with the move, my entire world was thrown up like dice and it landed in pieces scattered all over the North Carolina dirt.

I lost my fitness level because I didn’t feel safe running alone on the streets of Durham. I was hundreds of miles away from my family and friends, and I spent hours on the phone with people back home instead of finding new friends. I was growing steadily disconnected from my husband and isolated in the apartment we shared. I worked from home and found my love of editing and writing, but road block after road block made me feel like I was failing and starting from scratch more than I was actually treating the world as my oyster. I started paying student loan payments and went into survival mode with my finances, guarding my hard-earned money with a vengeance.

By 2014, I would have scored every area of my life at a 2 or less on the Oola wheel. I lost sight of what I wanted for my life entirely. I had only one thing on my mind, one thing I knew I wanted, or needed: moving back home. I needed to move back home to Iowa. I counted down the months, weeks, and days that last year until the day I would get to move home.

I remember going to outrageous lengths in my life planning in attempt to accommodate my need to move home to Iowa and my husband’s desire to get a PhD. I planned every month out. Then every week. Then every day for the next 5 years. We would live apart—with him attending school abroad. I would get a second job (we were a one-income household, and I thought if I had two jobs we could be considered a 2-income household...) to hold down the fort and pay both our living expenses. I would rent a house in Iowa on the same street as my parents where I’d keep our cats and start doing yoga and lose the weight I’d gained since living in Durham. I would travel abroad to see him every few months and he’d come home on breaks.

Whenever I hit a bump in planning—like the fact that I was barely holding us together financially without help—I would rip out that page and start a new plan. There had to be a way to make it all work...there had to be a way to plan for every contingency.

And then the tipping point came—the point when we realized our dreams didn’t match up and neither was willing to compromise. And it came over a month before the date I had marked on my calendar.

On April 10, 2016 I packed up to move home again, simultaneously relieved and heartbroken.

All my careful planning was shredded to bits again. Literally. I shredded the notebooks and sheets and burned them in a fire pit.

I’m almost 2 years removed from that day, and I can honestly say I’m in a much more Oola place now that I was even in 2013 when I thought I was balancing it out fairly easily...

But until December 2017, when I read Oola for Women, I was just winging it and “winging it” caused me so much anxiety. I have so many notebooks with task lists, goal lists, dream lists, daily to-do lists, weekly to-do lists, monthly to-do lists, schedules of events, hourly schedules, etc. You’d think I was some sort of planning professional.

Except none of my lists, schedules, or to-do lists ever worked for me. I wasn’t able to follow any of the plans I set out. I wasn’t able to achieve any of the goals I set for myself.

And as each big change came—getting legally divorced, moving to a new apartment in a new town, living with my boyfriend, starting a new freelance business, etc.—I was continually in a state of anxiety, fear, and self-sabotage. Every change was terrifying, and everything in me fought against every change. And even when I set goals, I didn’t believe I could accomplish them because of the emotional state I was drowning in.

I was constantly fighting against myself and the world around me...including those closest to me.

No amount of planning or preparation worked...

Until I found Oola.

The task in Step 2 of the Oola process is to write down dreams you have for your Oola life (whatever will make your life the most Oola) and set goals as stepping stones for going from where you are now (where you set your number in each of the 7 areas in Step 1) to your Oola Life.

Set 7 goals in each of the 7 key areas of your life for a total of 21. This will be your list to start out with.

Now, I didn’t get exactly 7 goals in each of the 7 areas of my life for a nice, neat 21, but I set 21 goals that I truly wanted to accomplish in 2018, which meant more in Fitness, Finance, and Field, and fewer in the rest of the 7 areas.

With each area of my life so intimately connected to the others, my 21 goals are cross-category goals, and with each step I take toward my Oola life in one category, I can see how my whole Oola life is growing more complete.

Here are my Oola goals for 2018:

1.     Eat small, healthy meals 6 times a day and work up to running a half marathon again by November 3, 2018--And sign up for the Hillbilly Hike Race! (Fitness)

2.     Pay off all debt except student loans by December 2018. (Finance)

3.     Start doing Yoga weekly, working up to daily. (Fitness/Faith)

4.     Get a part-time job and put all money toward debt, saving 10% for Fun. (Field/Finance/ Fun)--I did this and now I have enough editing business to fill my time, so I don't need this anymore! :) 

5.     Land more writing and editing gigs, building to 30 hours per week of consistent work by December 2018. (Field/Finance)

6.     Limit sugar and processed foods and meal plan weekly. (Fitness/Finance)

7.     Learn to use Social Media effectively for my business. (Field)

8.  Blog weekly or more on HungryHomesteaders.com to build a following, increase page views, and be able to utilize affiliate marketing and sponsored post opportunities for online income. (Field/Finance)

9.  Set and follow a budget for expenses that are variable (food, gas, entertainment, etc.). (Finance)

10.  Go on a camping trip in the Fall. (Fun/Fitness/Finance)

11.  Do the Slique in 60 Challenge with Young Living—both 60-day challenges. (Fitness/Field)--Done!

12.  Learn about Chakras and Chakra Massage. (Faith/Fitness)

13.  Have 20 seconds of courage to contact the Oola Guys about writing for the OolaLife Blog. (Field)--Done!

14.  Go to YL Convention 2019. (Field)

15.  Publish my editing book. (Field)

16.  Go completely chemical free. (Fitness)

17.  Build my homestead. (Faith/Fun/Field)

With the Oola process in mind—having identified the Oola blockers (Fear, Guilt, Anger, Self-Sabotage, Laziness, Envy, and Lack of Focus) and made a plan to use the Oola accelerators (Gratitude, Love, Discipline, Integrity, Passion, Humility, and Wisdom) to combat them in my life—my goals don’t cause me anxiety.

I know I’ve failed in the past to accomplish my goals. I know I have every reason to doubt myself.

I have every reason to rot in my anxiety pit with the Oola Blockers: to Fear failure; to feel Guilty for my past failures; to be Angry about the ways in which my past experiences negatively affected my life; to sink into Self-Sabotage and tell myself I can’t do it; to allow myself to be Lazy and blame my divorce or my time in North Carolina for my lack of success; to Envy those who have experienced more success than I have; and to Lack the Focus necessary to accomplish any of my goals and feel like I’m drowning in failed plans again.

But the posture of Gratitude that I’ve donned since encountering Oola doesn’t allow for any of those blockers to cripple me long term.

The Oola Guys recommend you narrow your goals down to 7 so you can focus more on fewer goals and be more likely to accomplish them. They also recommend you put a date on your goals so that they are “time” driven. Do that, and you'll be amazed at how quickly you'll see success. 

They also recommend breaking it down even further to your Oola 1. Ask yourself, what is the ONE goal that if you accomplished it this year (or this week/month, depending on how far out you're planning), but accomplished nothing else, you'd still be well on your way to your Oola Life? 

After years of crippling fear, anxiety, and self-sabotage, I’ve already accomplished more goals in one half of one month (1/24th of a year) than I had in most other years entirely.

And the Oola Path (Step 3) is where the rubber hit the road and where the real work of accomplishing my goals happened.

--

Ready to set your own Oola Life Goals?

What are you Oola 21-7?

What is your 2018 Oola 1?

Write down your goals, and share some of them with me in the comments! I’d love to help inspire and equip you to reach your 2018 Oola goals!

We’ll talk in more detail about setting SMART goals the Oola way in a future blog, but for now, let’s talk about Step 3 in the Oola Process.

The Oola Path is where your Plan starts turning to Action. Stay tuned for Step 3: Oola Path.

Oola Part 1: How to Set Resolutions That Actually Stick

Hi, I’m Kathrin, and I’m a resolutions junkie.

The start of a new year is always an exciting time for me as I look forward to the next things I want to accomplish or see or be.

I make big, BIG plans. And I don’t always (read “don’t usually”) follow through.

But after reading Oola for Women this year, I realized a few things about my resolutions addiction:

1.     I rarely accomplish any of my goals or keep any of my resolutions because I don’t set SMART goals.

2.     No matter how many times I say I’m content and happy in my current state, I am often looking for the next thing rather than being grateful for what I have.

3.     I look forward more than I look back, but I’m rarely grateful for my past...regret is the feeling I most often have toward my past experiences.

So this year, I used the Oola process (1. Evaluate where you are now. 2. Set goals for your Oola life. 3. Make a plan to achieve your Oola Life.) to set SMART goals and have been meditating on Oola’s core mantra: “Be Grateful, Have Faith, and Live Oola.”

Only 6 days into the new year, I’m already accomplishing and crossing goals off my list (which is an incredibly liberating feeling!), and I have a clear, and easy-to-evaluate, plan for the year for how I’m going to reach the goals I set.

How did I do it exactly?

What goals did I set and what are my plans?

How can you use the Oola process to make 2018 YOUR most successful—freest and most sustainable—year ever?

Read on, compadre.

In the next three blog posts, we’re going to explore my process through the 3 steps of Oola so you can learn how to set resolutions for 2018 that will actually stick.

First thing’s first: Evaluate where you are right now.

Be honest with yourself and rate yourself in the 7 key areas of life (Fitness, Finance, Field, Faith, Family, Friends, and Fun). Visit Oola Life.com and fill out your wheel. Get your numbers and see what areas of your life are lacking freedom and sustainability.

My wheel at the start of 2018 looks like this:

Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 11.27.32 AM.png

 

Family is my big area of “success” right now. My romantic relationship is thriving and I can answer 9-10 for every question on the Family Oola wheel questionnaire section.

But the three areas of my life that are seriously low are Fitness, Finance, & Field.

And I noticed something about the other areas—friends, faith and fun—as they relate to my lowest areas: Because my Fitness is so low, my friendships suffer. I’m not confident and I tend to compare myself to my friends and slip down the envy slip & slide. Because I’m not very healthy right now, I find it hard to believe I deserve to be stress free, so my Faith journey suffers. I feel disconnected; I feel guilty about practicing self-care because I think, “I should be doing something to make money instead!”

Because Finance is so low, my ability to have Fun suffers. I don’t feel like I can spend money on Fun things, and if I do, I feel enormously guilty and like I’m drowning in debt.

Because I’m low in my Field score, I feel like a failure, which has an effect on my Faith, Fun, Friends, Family...everything.

My lowest scoring areas affect my highest scoring areas of life.

So just from the simple act of filling out my wheel, I recognize that I need to make some changes. NOW.

Rather than jumping in and setting goals in those three areas immediately, I did some inner searching to find out what happened in those areas so I can face my current situation head on.

I started with Fitness...it is the one I obsess over most often: I had to be brutally honest with myself about why I had gained weight over the last few years. I realized quickly that I still had a lot of pain and body shame from my loss of intimacy and eventual divorce in my previous romantic relationship. I had pushed that pain and shame to the side. I thought that my current romantic relationship—in all its amazingness and 10-scoring traits—would eventually blur out the pain of my divorce. Time heals all things, right? Well, that isn’t always the case...at least not for me.

I realized I have been attempting to practice self-love but I wasn’t allowing myself to see eating healthy food and exercises as self-love in action.

Because my life has been so unsettled, I continually sought some kind of sustainable fitness routine, but instability made sustainability in Fitness impossible. The second a routine got a little difficult to keep up, I quit and claimed it just wasn’t sustainable.

Then I evaluated my Finances: I had to be brutally honest with myself about why I was digging a financial hole and feeling anxious and overwhelmed with money. I also realized that I held nothing but contempt for my time spent at Duke Divinity School... I hadn’t really recognized any reason I could possibly be grateful for my three years living in North Carolina. I found no reason to be thankful for my master’s degree because it left me drowning in debt. I needed my master’s degree so I could teach at my alma mater...but making only $600 a month teaching didn’t make up for the financial hole my degree left me in.

I hoarded any money I made out of fear that something would happen and I’d need that money. I was stingy, and I rarely gave money or spent money on anything but bills. I was treading water in survival mode, and my legs were getting tired.

And as I evaluated my Field, I had to be brutally honest with myself about how I was going about running my business(es) and why I wasn’t making progress. I want my websites and social media platforms to grow my businesses so I can make passive (even residual) income from them in addition to my time-for-money income, but until last week, I wasn’t posting on social media or blogging regularly.

And I realized I had ignored any reason for being grateful for my time in North Carolina even though it had connected me with some of my favorite clients and given me 3 years of professional editing experience that I continually fall back on as my base every time my plans and ideas are smashed to bits by the freelance wrecking ball.

And in relation to all three—Fitness, Finance, and Field—I realized that I was in a holding pattern because when I moved back home to Iowa, I had to wait a year to be legally divorced. I had to wait more than a year until I could change my name back to my maiden name and change all of my identifying information.

And in that year I didn’t allow myself to feel comfortable working to grow my business, establish my fitness routine, or put any money toward paying down debt faster because I was terrified something else would happen and I would be broke again or gain weight again or fail in my business. I refused to allow myself to be grateful for my time away from my beloved state of Iowa because I had to do so much just to reestablish myself when I moved back.

How could I be thankful for something that caused me so much pain for so long?

And that lack of gratitude and that holding pattern lasted from April 2016 (my breaking point, when I left my husband and moved back in with my parents) until now, January 2018.

I was stuck, and even after going through the Oola process I still feel myself pulled back like a shoe to concrete with super sticky gum into that pattern and lack of gratitude...Two steps forward, one step back.

I accomplish one of my goals, and Fear settles in.

I allow myself to give freely, and Guilt steps up.

I make real plans to make my businesses great, and Self-Sabotage shoves me in the back.

I reconnect with an old friend, and Anger about past pain knocks on my door.

I lay out a plan of financial and field success, and Laziness bites me in the ass.

I work out consistently for a week, and Envy whispers, You’re not good enough, in my ear until I feel defeated.

I write out my goals for each area, and Lack of Focus steps in to blur my vision and confuse my plans.

But those blockers—Fear, Guilt, Self-Sabotage, Anger, Laziness, Envy, and Lack of Focus—can be destroyed with 7 accelerators: Gratitude, Love, Discipline, Integrity, Passion, Humility, and Wisdom.

The Oola guys talk a lot about Gratitude—the first Oola accelerator—and it’s the first part of their main mantra: “Be Grateful, Have Faith, Live Oola.”

So as I evaluated my life at the end of 2017, I knew Gratitude had to be my practice in the new year. The first thing I decided to do to move me toward my Oola life of balance and sustainability (read “freedom”) was to start keeping a gratitude journal.

Every day, I write “Gratitude” and the date at the top of a page in my notebook and “I’m grateful for...” I write down anything I can think of. The last few weeks in the negative degree weather here in Iowa, I’ve written, “I’m grateful for my warm apartment and cozy blankets” multiple times.

I write as much as I can. I write down every single thing I can think of to be grateful for that day...no matter how difficult it is.

Once I got into the “Gratitude” habit—where I was listing the things I am currently grateful for—I wrote out a list of all the things I was grateful to have learned or done or seen or experienced in 2017.

Things like “I’m grateful that I met Sue and decided to build my Young Living business in 2017,” “I’m grateful for the female friendships with Katie, Karen, Sue, and Morgan that I found in 2017 that have enriched my life so much already,” and “I’m grateful that Michael and I moved into our apartment in Ames and found a sense of stability for the first time in years in 2017,” made the 2017 gratitude list.

Then, I went back even further, to 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011...I read back through blogs and short essays I had written during those years when I was married and separated but not yet divorced. I cried reading the words I remember being so filled with pain...but I noticed that they were still somehow outlined with hope.

I’ve come so far in my emotional journey since then, but reading my thoughts now makes me thankful that I didn’t lose all hope even then. Comparing 2016 me to January 2018 me gives me more gratitude and hope for my present and future.

If I could get from where I was then to where I am now without Oola, without a plan, without friends, without Michael, without Young Living Essential Oils and emotional healing and yoga and chakra massage...without stability or any clue as to how to get through what I was going through, maybe, just maybe, I could actually realize my dreams in all 7 areas of my life in 2018.

I smile often out of immense gratitude for the woman I was age 20-26.

She went through some shit.

She conquered some shit.

She suffered some shit.

She rocked some shit.

She was married at 20. Divorced at 26. Drowning in deep, depressing negativity from 23-25. Hit rock bottom at age 25. Found love again at 25. Stuck in a holding pattern from age 25-26.

But in 2018, age 27, She’s on her way to living her Oola life.

I’m thankful for who I was. I’m thankful for who I am. I’m thankful for who I will become.

And when I finally entered that place where gratitude began to replace regret for the difficulties of my past life, I began to understand what “Be Grateful, Have Faith, and Live Oola” really means and how it can affect how I live every day for the rest of my life.

If you’re struggling like I was, do the hard work now to evaluate where you are.

Fill out your Oola wheel. Be honest with yourself about where you are and how you got there. Brutally honest...terrifyingly honest.

You don’t need to blame yourself for it, but you must face it.

Face the fear, the guilt, the shame...and write it down if you have to just to get it out of your head. Figure out where you are so you can start making plans for where you want to go and how you’re going to get there.

Then, start implementing the Oola accelerators and anticipate those nasty Blockers. Start and end every single day with Gratitude. Keep a Gratitude journal. Start as small as you need to—being grateful for the food on your plate, the hair on your head, or the shoes on your feet.

Before long, you’ll find you are grateful for things you thought had no goodness in them.

My Gratitude practice has given me the Freedom to be grateful for my marriage, my divorce, my three years separated from my family and friends, and even my expensive master’s degree.

From this place of Gratitude, I’m moving into the second phase of the Oola process: Setting Goals for my Oola Life.

Get started on your own Oola life journey with Step 1: Evaluate where you are now.

Head over to Oolalife.com and fill out your wheel.

Then, answer these questions to get you thinking and to get you ready for Step 2:

1.     What areas of your life are the lowest scoring, and why are they the lowest scoring?

2.     How do your low scoring areas affect your high scoring areas of life?

3.     What times of or experiences in your life are you currently unable to be grateful for?

4.     What can you be grateful for in this moment?

Keep your Gratitude journal. I promise you’ll find peace and freedom in it.

Do you have your own experience with Oola Life or want to share your own story of Gratitude? Or do you just need to share your experience with someone?

Comment below or Message me on Facebook on my Hungry Homesteaders page.