Category Archives: mindful52

Where are my writing prompts this fall?!


I’m sort of at a writing loss this fall. First, I fell behind on mindful52. Recently, I’d been trying to catch up, but noticed that the organizer lost some steam as well and posts and responses have become fewer and far between and maybe even stopped completely in October. Then, I gave up on NaNoWriMo (although I’ve kept up with NaBloPoMo).

I was really looking forward to Reverb, which last year took place during December. But today I received an email from the main organizer who has decided not to host it this year. She encouraged everyone to write our own Reverb prompts and then comment on them throughout the month, possibly inviting others to respond to our prompts. I can tell the community feels a little abandoned and irritated that she waited until the last minute to let everyone know, and I certainly feel this myself. It’s just not the same as being given a new prompt each day, with several thousand other people responding to the same prompts on the same day in a sort of collective group meditation. And tomorrow is already December 1—not a lot of time to come up with our own list. However,  there are a few people seeing this as a challenge: brainstorming ideas and posting them on twitter. Maybe I’ll end up following one of those, or come up with a list tomorrow morning…

Although it’s disappointing, I can’t really blame the organizers for petering out on mindful52 or reverb. They put a huge amount of time, energy, and resources into creating and maintaining these challenges, and who knows what is happening in their personal lives?

If not for December, I like the idea  of writing the prompts ahead of time for my February light box month.

Kindle Fire tech-geek crack, and accepting where I am


A Year of Mindfulness: 52 Weeks of Focus – Week 29

Acceptance. It’s a big one this week, ACCEPTANCE. I am hopeful I’m not the only one who has this issue come up often. … But acceptance sure is a hard pill to swallow when you want and expect things to be a certain way. … Acceptance. I practice it each time I go to my mat. I can do this pose. I cannot do that at all. I wish I could go further in this pose. I wish I could relax more. Breathe. Choose to accept, to BE exactly as I am. I am accepting this situation as well. Perhaps life is giving me exactly what I need. Perhaps. What about you? How has the lesson of ACCEPTANCE been presented to you lately, and how well are you dealing with it?

I have been sucked into the black hole of the Kindle Fire, which is like tech-geek crack. The thing has not left my side or my sight the entire day, as I keep exploring and tweaking, and occasionally actually consuming content. (The Netflix app is fantastic: I watched the documentary, Blood into Wine, and I love that I can now load library books in a few clicks, and that I was able to use Calibre to port over my existing non-Amazon collection, and I’ve even downloaded my free library book of the month from Amazon—Bonk by Mary Roach, a science writer who makes me laugh out loud, also author of Packing for Mars). The Fire is also ADD inducing: As soon as I explore one thing, I remember something else that I wanted to look up, install, or configure, and I’m off doing that. I’m sure I’ll have some pros and cons to list soon, because it’s certainly not perfect, especially in the web browsing / Android apps / Google apps area, but there’s plenty of time for that.

This work laptop seemed old before—and now it really seems dated—hot, clunky, and buggy. And yet, I’m returning to it to post my blog, because I can still type way faster this way. Maybe there’s a more qwerty type keyboard that I can install on the Fire that will allow me to come up to speed, so to speak. Or, a foldable external keyboard for long posts, much like I used to have eons ago for my Palm Pilot. I loved that little keyboard! If I can find a way to type at a reasonable pace on the Fire, I’ll be able to use it way more frequently than my laptop for non work, and even some for work.

As far as acceptance goes: I’ve had zero desire to blog about our Thanksgiving recipes and post the photos, for some reason. I think that’s OK. I’ve accepted that things often don’t go the way that I’ve planned or desired, but we are all here together for the holidays, unlike last year, so that is what is important. And I’ve also accepted that I’m not going to finish NaNoWriMo this year. I really haven’t felt motivated to do it since about day one, and I kept trying to guilt myself into it for the first couple of weeks, but eventually I stopped beating myself up. Because the whole reason for doing it is for fun, and for personal growth, and I chose to make many other things a priority this month. Plus, I did it last year, so I know it’s possible, and I know I’ll probably do it again, so it didn’t seem like quite as much of a challenge this year. It would have been good for personal reflection, but so would a regular writing habit. Daily blog posts are what I’ve been able to stick to in 2011, and I accept that.

What do I know about Constancy?


A Year of Mindfulness: 52 Weeks of Focus – Week 28

Constancy. Constancy is defined as:

  1. the quality of having a resolute mind, purpose, or affection; steadfastness
  2. freedom from change or variation; stability
  3. steadfastness, as in purpose or affection; faithfulness

When I think of constancy, I think of those things that make me feel grounded. I think in terms of the larger cycles of life: the ebb and flow of the tides (see more beautiful ocean views below), the changing of the seasons, the passing of each new day – followed by the beginning of another, the life cycle of plants and animals. Each are absolute wonders of our natural world.

What do I know about Constancy? I suppose I do appreciate the ebb and flow of each day with the dark and the light, and changes of the moon each month, and the seasons that bleed softly (sometimes harshly) into one another. Steadfastness, faithfulness, yes, I hope a know a little of those. But freedom from change or variation? That sounds boring. Frankly, I think I’m afraid to stick to routine because it might be unexciting, or be perceived as uninspired.

Nevermore seems almost back to her old self today. Still clearly not 100%, but we did not have to make a vet appointment, yet.

In the meantime, outside stray calico kitty is back and has been receiving regular supplementation under the porch, where I think she stays most nights. I don’t know what she does when it’s bitter cold. She was sunbathing on our defunct car in the driveway today, so hubby took her out an extra snack. She’s still very skittish and ran away, but came back to eat every bit within minutes once the human went back inside. He said she looked pretty skinny. We’re trying to make friends with her enough to see if we can verify that she’s homeless, but she’s so wary.

Kids got here today. I think tomorrow we may have to start some preliminary vegan cooking for Thursday. Maybe make bread crumbs for stuffing, and pie…

The wider the grin, the sharper the blade


A Year of Mindfulness: 52 Weeks of Focus – Week 27

Optimism. Mindfulness is all about the present moment, yet we often live our lives in the past and future. Since we cannot change the past nor predict the future, remaining hopeful seems the best course of action each time we are taken out of the present moment. For this reason, I spend time observing my thoughts. My outlook and attitude depends upon it. When we think negatively about things, more negativity occurs. When we think positively however, more positivity follows. Like increases like. This week’s theme is optimism. Optimism is all about our thoughts – having a bright outlook.

I’m all for being mindful—definitely something I’m constantly working towards. But don’t even get me started on optimism. A natural skeptic, I’m not convinced that it’s healthy or helpful to constantly try to think “positively.” In fact, it can be detrimental at times (think: cancer patients feeling guilty that they’ve made themselves sick or are not getting better because they have not been “ positive” enough).

Have you ever met a person who smiles all the time? Who you can describe as constantly cheerful? Don’t trust them. Don’t trust them to be honest with themselves—or with you. They’ll be the first one to have a mental breakdown—or to stab you in the back. Someone I was once close to used to say, “The wider the grin, the sharper the blade,” and for the most part, I’ve found that to be true. I did not realize at the time that he was essentially quoting one of the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition: “The bigger the smile, the sharper the knife,” but it makes sense because he was a big Star Trek fan. (For the record, I’m an appreciator of Star Trek, but not sure I’d consider myself a fan, namely because I do not watch the movies and episodes over and over again, memorizing the dialog. Also, I’m sure the origin of the idiom goes further back than Star Trek.)

This does not mean that we all need to be full of gloom and doom, nor does it give us an excuse to be assholes to each other. Nor does it mean that I don’t appreciate that rare individual who has faith in humanity but has not lost their critical thinking skills or sense of humor. It does not even mean that I’m not sometimes hopeful. If I didn’t have a glimmer of hope to latch on to at times, I wouldn’t be here.

Breathe, breathe, breathe


A Year of Mindfulness: 52 Weeks of Focus – Week 26

This week’s topic is FLOW. Life inherently has its own rhythm and flow. Think of the ocean, the balance of the seasons, the constancy of day and night. We as humans attempt to control so much of our lives when truthfully, “going with the flow” is the best way to carry on and CARRY OM! … As always, use this week to be mindful of easy flow in your life – and lack thereof! Physically notice in quiet moments those places that feel constricted and stuck – where the breath won’t flow freely as it should.

This is a hard one for me. I struggle constantly to control the flow of my life, and grow anxious when I feel that I can’t. I get frustrated when things happen too fast, or too slow, or in the “wrong” order. And I really have a hard time breathing. What I mean by this is that I often find myself holding my breath—for instance, hunched over the laptop, while driving, or while eating—I have to remind myself all of the time to take deeper breaths. And sometimes I can’t.

This makes me feel like I’m not relaxed—as if I’m in a constant state of unrest. And I can get by with it now. But once asthma hits in the winter, it will be seriously detrimental. I’d like to somehow get into a better habit. Breathe, breathe, breathe.

It’s Time


A Year of Mindfulness: 52 Weeks of Focus – Week 25

Time. Time is an interesting concept. It is real in the sense that events happen before and after one another. We can look back in time to a certain age or a certain thing that happened. But in many ways time is relative to our concept of it, which may differ from person to person. … When I think of time, I get aggravated at the time I waste. I have so many things I have to do and want to do that I always want to make the best use of my time – but when it’s wasted, I attach to the anger I feel around that and that’s something I’m constantly working on. … The phrase, “time heals all wounds” comes to mind, but I wonder how much truth there is to it. I’m not sure I believe it. Time doesn’t heal all wounds – it only passes, and time is a construct that we’ve made in our own minds anyway. It doesn’t physically exist. What matters most is what we do with our minds. Perhaps a more useful quote is this . . .“Time heals what reason cannot.”  ~Unknown

I’m not sure that I believe time heals all wounds either. I think time just makes pain more bearable by scabbing and scarring over the wound. It may become less visible, even less painful. But the wound is still there, underneath, ready to be exposed; raw, vulnerable to further damage.

I wonder, often, how it is that we are able to endure the things we endure. It takes a certain amount of denial to get through every day. A turning off of empathy, of memory, of emotion. Otherwise, we’d all be crumpled up on the floor, overwhelmed, unable to function.

But time—it does fly—I’ll give you that one. Faster and faster. My perception can’t keep up with the reality of our clocks. I’m perpetually surprised at the chunks of time that just disappear. This seems to happen more and more as I age. We all feel this happening, right?

Radio lab has done some interesting shows about time.

Not feeling so hopeful this year


A Year of Mindfulness: 52 Weeks of Focus – Week 24

Growth. In every single thing we experience in life, we can choose to grow or stay stuck. Most of it depends on our thoughts – and our reaction to those thoughts. If we are mindful we can roll with whatever life throws at us, and in the end we grow and become more accepting (hopefully) open-minded people. … Be open. Let life happen. Roll with the punches and laugh at adversity. Grow. You can’t change what another person will or will not do. You can only control and change yourself. I’m not perfect and I’m not saying I didn’t fight it – or still don’t try to do so from time to time. Yoga and meditation are the tools I use to stop, breathe, reconnect with myself and to learn to see things as they really are. What about you?

I don’t know what to think about growth. Is it possible for me anymore? Last fall, I had more hope—this year, I feel stagnant. I tried several new things last year that I had some success with, from mountain biking to starting a radio show. This year, I tried some new things, only to have them fail miserably. After some negative career-related events earlier this year, a couple of which were extremely crushing to my confidence, I had no idea how I would recover. I of course, did recover, mostly, because you either recover and go on—or you don’t. {Although it certainly was tempting to curl up into a ball in the closet for a few weeks.} For the most part, I’ve been able to analyze these things and then let them go. {Or at least cram them down very far inside where they can fester and explode some day.}

A big reason that I’ve been able to retain any belief in my abilities this year is due to the radio show, and my other non-profit activities. Those things seem to be going quite well, so I’m not a total fuck-up, right? {That’s a rhetorical question.}