My personal struggle with shiny object syndrome and four simple exercises I use to stay focused

My personal struggle with shiny object syndrome and four simple exercises I use to stay focused

Have you ever heard of shiny object syndrome?  It’s a term I only recently discovered, which is surprising considering I have been suffering from it my entire adult life.

Shiny object syndrome is the curse of the Entrepreneur, it also frequently infects individuals with ADD.  Being an entrepreneur with ADD, I have been thrown off course by the shininess of things on multiple occasions.  It has led me to dip my toes in multiple lakes without ever making it across a single one.  I have explored the waters of a registered hypnotherapist, reiki healer, new media specialist, hairstylist, computer coder, holistic nutritionist, novelist and aspiring fashion designer and have yet not achieved great success with any of the above.  The struggle is real.

The rise of the internet has brought with it so much opportunity, almost any dream has become achievable, and yet so many people seem to be so lost.

I blame all the shiny objects. 

Shiny objects are opportunities that look so bright and shiny you are willing to throw out whatever projects you are already working on to chase them.  They are the get rich quick schemes or the new trends that trigger major FOMO and send us jumping feet first into uncharted waters.   

It’s important to be willing to switch course if the universe is nudging you in a different direction, but if you find yourself switching course on an annual basis you probably have come down with a case of SOS.

Having shiny object syndrome is like deciding to climb a mountain, getting half way up and realizing you’d rather climb that other mountain over there.  You will always be climbing without the satisfaction of reaching the summit.  So exhausting.

So how do we utilize the vast opportunity created by modern technology without getting distracted by shiny objects along the way?  I believe there are some simple adjustments anyone can make to stop the exhausting cycle of SOS.  I’ve used them in my own life with great results and you can too.

Step into your zone of genius

This is the most important place to start.  Not truly knowing what your life mission is, is a sure fire way to get sucked into shiny object syndrome.   Really getting still and focusing in on your purpose is the first and most important step to realising it. 

Some ways to identify your thing is to lean into those things that make you feel amazing.  Maybe you won’t become a tennis pro at 40, but if Tennis makes you feel better than anything else, you could start teaching private lessons or open a tennis shop. 

Your zone of genius is the place you shine.  You are your best self here.  Time moves differently here.  You could stay here forever and be happy.  Once you step into your zone of genius you can better plot a path forward without getting distracted by all the shiny things because you are on your path.  Wouldn’t it be so much easier to stick to a diet of food you enjoy than food you hate?   

If you have a few things and just can’t decide on ‘the one’ ask yourself…. all money and glory aside, what is ‘the thing’ you would regret not having gone for at the end of your life.  Be honest with yourself and don’t sell yourself short.  There’s nothing like our own impending mortality to make us realize that not chasing our dreams is actually way crazier than chasing them.

 Learn to still your mind and practice positive self talk

When my mind is not still I can get swept up in the chaos of wanting to achieve a million things simultaneously or wanting to drop everything for something that seems brighter and shiner.  More than once I have found myself with a cluttered mind looking up nursing programs or checking out the prerequisites for law school.  ‘Just get a real job already’ I’ve been prone to tell myself, ‘your odds of having a successful clothing line are slim to none.’ 

But then I get still with my thoughts and I remember being a little girl making clothes for her barbies. I realize how good it makes me feel to create things with my hands.  This sets me back on course and every other shiny little thing falls away. 

Spending time in meditation is vital for those of us with SOS.  Every time those negative thoughts creep into my mind I crush them with a mantra ‘I have a successful clothing company.’ Once you have identified your ultimate goal, create a mantra for yourself that you will repeat when you feel self doubt or are tempted by shiny objects.  The mantra will help reset your focus and will remind the entire universe that you are here on a mission and you are going to achieve it.

Set concrete goals

Goal setting is everything. Writing down goals gives them even more merit.  I find it incredibly helpful to set a five year goal and then back engineer it by writing out what I will need to achieve every year to hit my five year objective.

My goal were set in January for this year. They were to design my collection, pick my fabrics and begin selling pieces so I can receive feedback on fit.  It’s just over the half way mark of the year and I have smashed this goal. 

Having my goal for the year has allowed me to focus more deeply than I usually am able to and has (mostly) kept my SOS at bay.

Write lists

I have become the queen of list writing.  My husband makes fun of me for all the notebooks filled with lists that I leave everywhere. 

I think I might also have shiny notebook syndrome.   

But writing lists truly is the ultimate SOS remedy, especially for anyone struggling with ADD or general cluttered thinking.

I do a very generalized list the first for the month, a more specific list on Sunday nights for the week, and usually jot down at least three things I need to accomplish every day before bed.  When I wake up in the morning I don’t have any time to scheme about shiny objects because there is a list to get through. 

I have been known to overestimate what I can do in a day and underestimate what I can do in a month.  If this is you, don’t worry about it just slide those unfinished tasks over to the next day.  As long as you continue with the process you will be blown away when the month comes to an end and you can assess everything you have been able to accomplish.

If you or someone you know is suffering from SOS I hope you will find this list as helpful as I have.  I know how frustrating the shiny object curse can be. Having dreams is a big part of what makes life beautiful, but achieving those dreams is what makes life worth living.

Stop giving others the permission to make you feel shitty

Stop giving others the permission to make you feel shitty

One of my girlfriends recently came over for a hang out and as she was leaving, her son asked if they could come back again soon. 

“Of course, I have nothing going on right now and Elle definitely has nothing going on right now,” she said. It was an innocent response. Just some words coming out of someone’s mouth with no meaning aside from the meaning I chose to give them, but of course I allowed those words to make me feel like poo. I spent the rest of the day in a funk feeling like loser of the year.

In that comment I convinced myself that the whole world perceives me as someone who ‘doesn’t have much going on.’  (Because I’m so important the whole world even thinks of me at all right? lol.) I started picking apart everything I was working towards and telling myself I have accomplished nothing of value.

Even though I have an eccomerce shop, it’s just an Etsy shop and not even a very great one.  Even though I’m in school, its only an online diploma.  Even though I write for this blog, it’s nothing more than a hobby.  Even though I work outside of the home, it’s only twenty hours a week.  Even though I’m a mom, I’m not even a mom who keeps up with homeschooling.

And in that moment, everything I had accomplished in my entire life amounted to nothing more than a big pile of doo doo. 

Later that day as I was feeling thoroughly sorry for myself, I headed out to walk the dog with my favorite podcast downloaded.  As the rain started to sprinkle, I pulled a hood over my head and hit play. I don’t know how she does it, but Cathy Heller from the ‘Don’t Keep Your Day Job Podcast’ always has what I need when I need it, and I highly recommend her to every creative mompreneur I know. 

Almost immediately I received the message I needed to hear;

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Eleanor Roosevelt

I snapped right out of my funk.  My friend had simply said some words, it was me who gave those words the permission to ruin my day.  Obviously, we can’t change the way others perceive us, so why worry about it.  There are always going to be people who judge us, or who just don’t get it, but at the end of the day, who really cares?! In reality, no one is actually spending much time thinking about us at all.  Everyone is far too worried about their own lives.  The fleeting judgments others do have only matter if we choose to let them.

There is no way for anyone else to understand our personal experience.  No one else is with us walking in our shoes. Nobody is watching us grind daily, waking up early, staying up late, barely having a moment to catch our breath and still only feeling like we’ve reached some imaginary halfway point. So our opinion of ourselves is the only one that matters. People will think what they want, but allowing those thoughts to affect us in any way… that’s on us.  

And so rather than feeling like loser of the year, I chose to round out that day feeling proud of myself… as we all should. Every. Single. Day. We are exactly where we are supposed to be in our personal journey, so let’s stop wasting time worrying about other peoples opinion and start feeling good about how far we have already come.

We have to stop giving others the permission to make us feel shitty, because we have way too much going on and aint nobody got time for that.

How is home schooling going? Don’t ask. Plus 30 non – school ideas to have fun with your kids.

How is home schooling going? Don’t ask. Plus 30 non – school ideas to have fun with your kids.

I never regret having kids. Never.  My kids are the lights of my life, they have given me purpose in ways I could only imagine in pre-kid days.  We go on adventures together.  We build giant forts and dance like nobody is watching. We laugh so hard sharts happen.  But I’ve had my moments on this mothering journey where I’ve briefly imagined a childless life, and honestly, in my imagination it didn’t seem entirely terrible.  Never has this been more evident than during the covid lockdown. 

Being a mom during covid times has been HARD. My childless friends talk blissfully about the joys of working from home, while learning a new language and taking up ceramics on the side while I’m here picking up my 50th nerf dart off the floor – it’s 9 am. 

A child free girlfriend recently asked me what I’ve been doing with all my free time and I wanted to punch her through the phone.  What free time?  Between running the shop, feeding the kids, cleaning endless messes, enjoying time with my children, doing yard work, walking the dog, and doing my own school work there is no free time.  8 am – 10 pm every day is packed to the brim and there’s rarely a moment to sit on a computer and force my kids against their will to learn. School is officially a wash over here. Yep we gave up on school back in May.  Feel free to go ahead and judge me, you wouldn’t be the first.

When I tell people we essentially stopped doing school they look at me horrified. How could I be such a monster? Surely I should know my kids eventual success in life dangles dangerously in the balance and is in direct correlation with their productivity in grades three and four. Right?

Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m not that concerned. I know there are other moms like me who just couldn’t do it. I want you to know you’re not alone.

When I talk to mom friends about how school is going I get answers from, “it’s going great” to “their reading has improved tremendously” to “we sit down and do school work from 10-3 every day” but I haven’t yet heard anyone say; “homeschooling sucks, I hate it. I got sick of fighting with my kids every day about it and I don’t have the time to sit there for hours while they pretend they’ve forgotten how to turn on a computer or use a mouse and we’re done.” So I will be the one to say it.  I’m that mom.

At the end of the day all of our experiences as moms are different.  Some of us have a partner home full time with us to help share the load.  Some of us only have one kid and one curriculum to teach.  Some of us have kids who really like online learning.  Some moms only have their kids every second week.  Some moms don’t work or do school from home.  And some moms just simply care more about school and make it their first priority. These are all ok, and so are moms who just-cant-anymore.

Me and my boys have been doing lots of other non-school things to keep them busy and the rest of the time I generally kick them outside to play in the yard.  Even though they are not killing it with school work, they are limiting their daily screen time and are learning things in other ways.  Here are a few things that we’ve enjoyed doing during lock down.  Whether you’re a home school superstar or a home school slacker like me, these are some fun things that can take the pressure off the work of motherhood and help you form lasting memories with your kids.

  1. Build a giant box fort.  Grab some duct tape and boxes from a hardware store and let them have at er.
  2. Buy an easy bake oven and let them “experiment” with baking small batches that wont burn through huge amounts of ingredients.
  3. Make puppets out of single socks.   
  4. Grow a gigantic vegetable garden.
  5. Play soccer, basketball or street hockey.
  6. Go on long bike rides.
  7. Get a foraging app and learn about your local wild edibles.
  8. Make slime.
  9. Build a firepit in the backyard and have a campout.
  10. Buy a cheap old tent trailer and fix it up together.
  11. Paint each others portraits and hang them on the wall.
  12. Order stacks of books and build them a reading corner in their rooms.
  13. Go fishing.
  14. Make sushi together.
  15. Give each other ‘makeovers’
  16. Build some mini ramps and hit some jumps on bikes, scooters or skateboards.
  17. Dance party.
  18. Freestyle rap battle.
  19. Build a simple shelter in a local wooded area out of fallen trees.
  20. Host your own ‘nailed it’ baking challenge.
  21. Make your own bath bombs
  22. See who can build the tallest lego structure
  23. Remake a home version of your favorite movie or music videos.
  24. Have a movie night…every night.
  25. Pick wildflowers and make dried arrangements.
  26. Write and illustrate your own novels.
  27. Call grandparents who might be lonely.
  28. Make sculptures with air dry clay.
  29. Do yoga or a guided mediation
  30. Nerf war

There’s more to life than school, especially if your kids are at an age where they will have no trouble picking it back up in the fall.  If you, like me, are not a home schooling superstar don’t beat yourself up about it and don’t let others make you feel guilty.  If you are a home schooling super star, try not to judge other moms who may be struggling with it all.  We are all just doing the best that we can. 

If you have any fun ideas to add to the list, I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

There’s a reason horses race with blinders.

There’s a reason horses race with blinders.

I listen to a lot of podcasts.  Like a L-A-W-T.  They are my favorite form of content.  Easy to consume while I’m walking my doggo, packing up orders, working in the kitchen, or developing new patterns for the shop. 

And I’m not ashamed to admit a huge portion of those podcasts are self helpers.  With everything going on in the world, having that 30- 60 minute injection of positivity into my day is wonderfully therapeutic. 

I have had so many aha moments while I’m on a walk scooping up dog poo, or elbows deep in a kitchen sink that I have lost count, but one quote got stuck so deep in my heart that I wrote it on a piece of paper and posted it up next to my desk. 

“There is a reason horses race with blinders.” Jimmy Lovine

Seriously this one gave me goosebumps because I so needed it.  We all do.   

Why do horses race with blinders? Because, if they worry about what the other horses are doing instead of being focused on their own race, they will lose step, get tripped up and ultimately lose.  As someone who has always been guilty of measuring her own success against the barometers set by other people, this was the aha moments of all aha moments for me.

When I was younger, I would often get dolled up for the night and leave my house feeling super cute and confident. Then inevitably, I would end up on the subway next to some drop dead model looking girl and arrive at my destination feeling like a troll who crawled out from under the bridge. 

When I got a little older and less image obsessed, my insecurities changed.  I remember having dinner at the home of a super corporate girlfriend and feeling deep shame telling the execs in attendance about my etsy shop.  I wouldn’t feel ashamed telling my grandma what I do, or my unemployed cousin, or a hobo down at the bus stop.  So why did I feel so unworthy among this circle of conventionally successful babes? It is the curse of comparisonitis.  I wasn’t wearing my blinders.

Now I remind myself of this on a daily basis. When I struggle to grow an IG following, or see a shop that has nailed down there aesthetic and is killing it. I don’t know the steps they’ve taken to get where they are or if they are even happy in that place so why should I for a single minute let their success slow me down or make me doubt my own journey.  

If life is a horse race it’s the most rigged race in the word.  None of us have the exact same starting point and none of us will have the exact same finish.  We all come into this world with unique opportunities, challenges, and end goals.  There is literally no sense measuring our own success against people who are running a completely different race.

It doesn’t matter if Deb has more followers than you or if Brenda has a bigger bank balance.  It just doesn’t matter. 

Ask yourself these three questions…. 

Are you growing?

Are you learning?

Are you a better person than you were last year?

If you answered yes, then you are winning your race. Don’t let yourself, let anyone else, make you feel otherwise.  Put those blinders and get running!   

What GMO’s actually are how to avoid the 7 most common genetically modified crops

agriculture beans corn food
Photo by mali maeder on Pexels.com

It seems to be a common belief that genetic modification is a necessary and harmless part of farming that has been used to produce a heartier and more bountiful harvest for centuries. In truth, modern genetic modification is very new technology that hasn’t been around long enough to establish it’s safety. The first genetically modified crop (a tomato) appeared on the scene in 1994 and it is now estimated that up to 65% of North American foods contain some genetically modified ingredient(s).

The world health organization defines GMO’s as ‘organisms in which the DNA has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally.’ This is actually pretty terrifying when we really think about it. Far from selective breeding that IS safely used by organic farmers, and has led to the evolution of certain modern crops that are now more hearty and robust than they were in the past, genetic modification happens in a lab, and is far from natural.

Genetic modification (also referred to as biotechnology or gene technology) allows genes to be transferred from one species to another. Gm seeds are commonly modified to be resistant to high doses of herbicides, high doses of pesticides, pest resistance or a combination.

Plants modified for herbicide resistance are able to withstand super high levels of toxic weed killers which end up on the foods we eat and can lead to congenital problems, hormone imbalances and cancer. Plants modified for pest resistance (ie: Monsanto’s BT Toxin) have insecticide built into their seeds on a cellular level so when pests eat the crops, their stomachs are broken open and they die. Just think of what this is doing to the stomach lining of humans who eat the crops in large amounts?! Could GMO crops be at least partially responsible for the huge modern rise in digestive issues and leaky gut?

Scarier yet, the modern prevalence of GMO’s also threatens pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Could it be coincidental that bee populations have recently dwindled to alarmingly low numbers?

And GMO crops can also mean bad news for organic farmers as cross pollination could in theory eventually make truly organic foods a thing of the past. Crazier still, GMO crops are protected under restricted use patents so organic farmers can actually be sued by the corporations if it is discovered that their organic crops were inadvertently cross pollinated with GMOS!

Much like cellular technology, GMO’s have not been around for long enough for their long term safety to be established. The best thing we can do to protect ourselves, our families and our planet is to look for foods labeled Non GMO project verified or certified organic, especially when consuming the most commonly genetic modified crops.

The most common GMO crops are:

Soybeans: 93% genetically modified particularly for herbicide resistance, commonly hidden in processed foods and vegetarian meat options.

Canola/rapeseed: 90-95% genetically modified particularly for pests and pesticide spray, used in fried and processed foods.

Corn: 88% genetically modified particularly for pests and pesticides. Found in corn starch, corn syrup, and processed foods.

Cotton: 94% genetically modified for both herb and pest resistance. Common in fast fashion retailers, wash new clothes prior to wearing.

Hawaiian Papaya: 50% genetically modified for ringspot virus.

Potatoes: 10% genetically modified for pest resistance, also one of the dirty dozen.

Sugar beets: 95% genetically modified for pests and pesticides, always choose organic.

In the past week I have had to explain to explain on three separate occasions that genetic modification as we know it today is not normal and has not been practiced by farmers for centuries. Sometimes I take for granted that everyone in the world is as interested in nutrition as I am and I wrongly assume this is all common knowledge.  In working with clients and speaking with friends and family I am constantly reminded about how much misinformation is out there regarding nutrition and in particular GMO’s and realise it’s so important to spread the word about the dangers of these frankenfoods.

Dropping genetically modified foods from our diets is an essential first step towards better health and one we should all take to protect ourselves and our planet.