My Own Made-Up Mantra

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning. -T.S. Eliot

I was recently in a discussion with a friend about a group of women she admires. She shared with me how they all have full-time jobs outside their homes. They play on their own sports teams. They run marathons. They put on the school auctions, run various school committees, attend all of their children’s sporting events, and while I don’t know most of these women my friend was referring to, the one I do know is always cheery. I took a deep breath and asked my friend, “How? How do they do it?”

I can’t even seem to take a walk to clear my mind let alone play on a sports team.

I shared earlier in January my word for the yearcourage. Well, I also like to give myself a little mantra to keep myself focused throughout the year. A few weeks ago, I pulled out my typed up goals from last year – 4 single-spaced pages – and was reminded of last year’s mantra: A goal without a plan is just a dream. I certainly had a plan – 4-pages worth – a bit over the top but, I must say, I was able to check off quite a few of my goals. I loved that feeling.

After reviewing the goals from 2011, I pulled up a fresh clean page, titled it 2012 Goals and typed my word and my mantra at the top. After that I went through and typed up 3 specific goals in all of the areas of importance in my life: Writing, Photography, Marriage, Kids, Financial, House, Health, Etc., Etc.. Instead of four pages, I ended up with two. Sometimes I found it difficult to choose only three specific things but I forced myself to choose. What can I really do with the finite time I have available in any given day, week, month, year? And what do I deeply want to get done in that time? What is the most important to me? I find that with each passing year, I am better able to judge. Instead of saying I’m going to give the entire house a face lift this year, I now know that if I can get a cushion made for my bench, replace the weather stripping on my deck doors, and get the broken garage windows fixed from errant lacrosse balls, then I will consider that a success. My three goals for my house will have been met. But, my house is not the priority it once was.

Before we leave this first month of 2012, I thought I’d share my made-up mantra for 2012.


Be present, trust the process – your own process, and keep moving forward.


And that’s the key really. Knowing what we can each do…individually. We are all given the same amount of time. How we end up using it is up to each one of us. We have to trust our own process. Our own way of doing things. And, keep moving forward.

My first grader likes to tell me as soon as I pick him up from school, how many recesses he had. “Well, we had a lunch recess and in the morning my teacher gave us a brain break and then, we got extra recess before it was time to go home.”

One of the beauties of working from home is that when I go outside, I can hear the kids out at recess. I always smile when I think that perhaps one of the voices in that chatter coming over the trees is my little guy.

I don’t know why I didn’t think of it on my own, but yesterday, I gave myself a brain break. Just a quick ten minutes outside. A walk down the trail to the bridge to watch the water fall and back again. I could hear the sounds of children playing from the school and I hoped that one of those happy voices was my little buddy. The ten minutes of fresh air felt so good.

I won’t be playing on any sports teams or running any marathons anytime soon but right now, in my life, I can take a ten minute walk each morning to clear my mind. That’s how I’m choosing to spend ten minutes of my day. That’s my own process. I can’t agonize over the way other people choose to spend their time – which can certainly seem at times much more efficient than my methods – but, I have to trust myself. I have to trust my own priorities and my own way of doing things because really, what else can one do?


Does anybody have a mantra they are posting on the fridge for the year? Would love to know…..if you want to share.


Thank you for choosing to spend a little bit of your time here. I’m off to take my brain break. xoxo

P.S. Hope you enjoyed the photos from our one snow day…..

What I’m Loving Right Now:

Justin’s Chocolate Almond Butter on toasted whole grain bread. Like Nutella…only, better.


Coming Next:
I have a backlog of recipes that I’m dying to share with you. You can expect one involving chocolate later this week and one for a comforting pot of soup the week after. Cheers, my friends!





  1. Love the mantra . . . now you’re making me think!

    • Think, think, think, and get back to me. 🙂

    • Oh Carrie….you nailed it. Your mantra helps me to feel better about my own spazzed-out life. The pieces of my life are complicated, but that’s not unique to me, I’m sure. When I start heading down a negative road I tell myself that certainly there must be something about today worth celebrating! I don’t have a mantra (yet) but I started a list a few weeks ago of words (hanging on my office bulletin board) that reflect my goals and values. So far they are: Courage, commitment, compassion and persistence. It’s a work in progress, like me :-).

      • Oh, Jill, love your words, my friend. And I’m right there with you….a work in progress. Progress being the key word…or as I like to say, “Keep moving forward.” 🙂

  2. The brain break idea is really smart, Carrie. I’ve got to get out there and take one, too!
    It’s amazing you’ve managed to check off so many of your goals from last year. Three under each category for this year sounds like a marvellous plan. My list isn’t so organized, but this year was a bit of a renaissance in terms of having them! You’re brave to put your mantra on your fridge, too. I will have to think of one. Thanks for this post!

    • Shalini, Last year was my “renaissance” in terms of having specific goals, and I am so pleased with how it turned out and how it keeps me moving forward, that I had to do it again, only more streamlined, so I say you are off to a great start just writing them down….organized or not. 🙂 Now, go take your brain break.

  3. Love your photos. Postcard beautiful. I can imagine the quiet that the snow blankets over the world when it comes.

  4. Papa Bear says:

    Many years ago my “Brain Brake” was when I got home from work; I would sit in my easy chair or lay down on the couch and listen to you and your sister play/practice the piano. It didn’t matter if you were just learning a new song or an expert, it was wonderful music to my ears.

  5. Carrie, thanks for an inspiring post. I haven’t really summarised my yearly goals in a mantra, although I have written them down. I suppose this year as I am trying to make some transformation in my life in terms of career direction (a 180 from dietitian to publishing!) I am trying to focus on the choices I am making everyday to get me to where I want to be in the long run, and yet not getting run over by how far I have to go.
    One step at a time, is the way to climb a mountain.

  6. Amity Swank says:

    Let go of the guilt….and simplify along the way. I had to smile when I read your line about us all having the same amount of time in a day because it’s my standard answer whenever anyone asks me how i “do it” with five kids…We all have the same 24 hours in the day whether we have 5 kids or 1 child. Whether my kids will appreciate me letting go of the guilt when they are adults remains to be seen 🙂

    • Motherhood is loaded with guilt, isn’t it? That’s why I always say I have so much guilt I should have been born Catholic. 🙂 I can only imagine that feeling with five.

  7. Betty Cook says:

    I love the “brain break” idea. Wouldn’t you know the 6 year old would learn about it long before the rest of us. Thanks for having the courage to share with us, Carrie. Love and Blessings.

  8. Jennifer S says:

    Carrie – all so well said. Your posts always seems so well timed to how I’m feeling or how I’m trying to navigate my everyday life….thank you…

  9. I just found your blog today through Celiac Teen’s Link Love page, and am I ever glad I did! I love your style of writing and photography, and will definitely return.

    My mantra for this year is a little off-the-wall, harkening back to knock-knock jokes. It’s “Orange you glad … ?” As I go through the year, I want to have as many excuses as possible to say to myself, “Orange you glad you took that class?” or “Orange you glad you tried that recipe?” And things along those lines. Because, whether it feels at the time like a negative or positive experience, you always take something away from it …

    • Victoria, I love that “Orange you got…” Perfect because you are so right, we learn from every experience we take on. Thank you for stopping by!

  10. I am reading this on Feb 15, 2012. It inspires me. It makes me stronger and it guves me hopes to understand my own process. I guess God speaks in many ways and I sm so happy I read your post today.
    One day at a time, that’s my mantra now. Accept what I have to, and hope for better days.
    Thank you.

    • Oh, Simone, I’m glad my little mantra could be of inspiration to you. I love how we all can help each other out at different times. Cheers, to “one day at a time”!