Tag Archives: writing

Ideas for Renewal

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A Year of Mindfulness: 52 Weeks of Focus – Week 18

This week’s focus is RENEWAL.
The root of renewal (renew) is defined by Merriam-Webster as:

  • (1) to make like new: restore to freshness, vigor or perfection
  • (2) to make new spiritually
  • (3) to begin again

So often in our culture we go – go – go without taking the time to slow down enough to look inside and see what is really going on. We work hard, play hard, overeat, over-exercise, indulge, imbibe and repeat. Taking time for renewal regularly is one way of allowing ourselves to listen from within and to restore to maximum efficiency. Renewal can take many forms, depending on your temperament and likes. Consider these:

  • Spiritually – spending time in devotion or prayer, reading, conscious breathing, mat time, attending church services, connecting deeply with friends and family, writing, journaling, spending time in nature
  • Mentally – meditation, journaling, mat time, reading, writing, conscious breathing, praying, sleep, yoga nidra, restorative yoga
  • Physically – yoga, running, hiking, kayaking, playing with children, playing a sport, biking, swimming, working out at the gym, sleeping

My idea of renewal: A writing, meditation, or yoga retreat (I’ve never done this), a birding road trip to Malheur Wildlife Refuge, a day-long hike in a new place, or somewhere I haven’t been for a long time, taking up a new sport, floating the river (for some reason, this intimidates me, although we did it all the time as a family growing up—maybe it’s because somebody manages to die on the river every year), learning a new art (like mosaics, which I did a few summers ago). Learning drawing, painting,or crafting techniques.

What I really need right now, though, is a professional renewal. This has been a rough year in that respect. I need some time to renew, re-craft, and decide what comes next. Time, time, time. Something has to change, something has to give. Some days I’m confident that something fantastic is going to happen. Many other days I feel defeated and hopeless. My only comfort is knowing that I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Breathe Deep

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So I finally have some time to slow down, and now I’m feeling under the weather. So typicalwhen I stress myself out for an extended period of time and don’t give myself proper breaks, I get sick after things slow down. I’m sure I’m not the only one this happens to.

Fortunately, and due in no small part to my vegan lifestyle, my overall health is great. However, after getting bronchitis yearly in my early 20s, my lungs are somewhat weak, and I did get bronchitis/pneumonia in the winter over the past few years. This is the first winter that I didn’t suffer from a “lung thing,” but I can feel something lingering there now. I hope I can make it through the rest of spring by taking it very easy. I’d like to incorporate writing and yoga back into my regular schedule, and maybe visit the nice acupuncturist I saw last year, who was helping me to work on keeping my lungs strong (now where are those exercises he gave me?). And on the allopathic side, I have a leftover inhaler for backup. I can tell when I get that funny little cough that my lungs are not able to expel what they need to. I really dislike being dependent on inhalers, and use them as infrequently as possible, but they got me through a couple of rough times during the pneumonia bouts and “illness induced asthma” when it was very difficult to breathe, so it seems they will occasionally be necessary.

Blogging every day—is it still worth it?

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Ugh. I don’t know about continuing to blog every day. I haven’t missed a day since November 1, 2010 (except for an intentional missed day for Blogger’s Day of Silence).

But:

  • Work has been super stressful and busy for a few weeks now {stressful for longer than that},
  • I have a Vegan Outreach house guest coming to stay the night tomorrow {for a good cause, and only one night} and the house could be cleaner,
  • I have tax prep looming over my head {and two weekends of that to look forward to} when I can hardly keep up with just paying the bills,
  • My step-kids are coming this weekend even though I told them and my husband that I wouldn’t be much company {see above},
  • We agreed to do a LIVE show during the pledge drive at the station on April 14 {what were we thinking?}, which we are not yet prepared for, and my friend and co-host’s elderly father is very sick and might not make it through the week {not to mention that she’s been dealing with her dog having intermittent and unexplainable seizures},
  • VegNet events like Earth Day need to be planned and organized,
  • I’d really like to get some starts going indoors and the ground prepped for my garden {and also order a CSA box if there are any spots left anywhere and I can scrape up the $}, but I don’t have time to do either at the moment {maybe the kids will come this summer and help with the garden—that would be fun!},
  • AND I’ve felt like I’ve had the flu for a few days now. I was just congratulating myself on making it through the winter without getting sick, especially not getting bronchitis or pneumonia like I got the last two Februarys. That’s what I get for gloating, even to myself.

… And that’s only what I choose to share with you.

So, I don’t know. Maybe the time would be better spent journaling a little at the beginning of every day to quiet my mind. I’m so exhausted by the end of the day lately that the quality of my posts suffer, or I stay up way too late writing them. We’ll see. Looking forward to the end of April!

Stretching is good… until you snap

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A Year of Mindfulness: 52 Weeks of Focus  – Week 8 9

This week’s topic in our Year of Mindfulness is stretching. “Yogis say what? . . . Duh!” Yogis know there are numerous benefits of asana practice and stretching is certainly a huge one. Here are some well-known facts about stretching:

  • Posture is enhanced with stretching as it improves muscles balance around a joint
  • Stretching reduces the chance of injury when playing a sport, and in everyday activities
  • Stretching increases blood and nutrient supply to muscles and cartilage which reduces muscles soreness after training

But stretching is just one aspect of yoga, and is only that when not coordinated with breath and mindfulness. …

But let’s take stretching one step further. When is the last time you stretched outside of yourself? When did you last take a risk? What are you holding back? How can you give more, be more, put yourself out there more? This is stretching too. Life is to be lived. Could you stretch further to see where that stretch takes you? I’m guessing you’ll not regret the things you do as much as the things you don’t.

I haven’t been very mindful of my #mindful52 prompts in the last few weeks (the stretching prompt was posted February 26). I haven’t responded to it previously because I was unsure of what to write. I wrote a lot about the new things I had done to stretch myself  over the last few years and what I’d like to work on this year, when I was blogging during November and December 2010, and even into January 2011 – writing, the radio show, public speakingmountain biking, etc. I’m frankly a little tired of rehashing the same things. And maybe you’re tired of hearing about them?

Last month I took a risk and got quite unexpectedly burned, and my confidence took a nose dive for a few weeks. I’m a little scared to put anything out there again, but nonetheless I’m still trying scary things. I pick up the phone weekly to call strangers for interviews on my radio show, or interview them in the studio (I can’t imagine doing that without major anxiety a few years ago), but my heart still skips a beat when a new challenge comes along, like the prospect of doing a live radio show during a pledge drive (so far we’ve been doing it all prerecorded). What else? I’m always on the lookout for new authors to stretch my reading brain.

But there’s only so much of me to go around, and it seems like the more that I stretch in one area, the more that other areas of my life seem to be stretched too thin. That is something I’m still trying to figure out. I suspect that I’m not alone.

Mindful creativity for the not so artistically inclined?

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A Year of Mindfulness: 52 Weeks of Focus – Week 5

This week’s topic is creativity.

I haven’t been very disciplined in my weekly mindfulness posts. Somehow I did better with daily prompts. As I’m nearing the end of my third month of posting daily, I’m also feeling a little burnt out. This could be due to the sheer amount of time I’m in front of the laptop, between work and my volunteer hours researching radio topics and creating and maintaining websites and social media. But it’s also because I can very rarely bring myself to blog early in the day, so I’m often writing this at the last minute when I should be in bed.

My main creative outlet at the moment is my advocacy work, and in particular, my radio show. However, like namaste*heather, I don’t feel naturally creative and one of my goals this year is to explore alternate forms of personal imaginative expression. In addition to improving my storytelling (through writing and out loud), I would really like to learn to draw and paint. I don’t have a natural talent in those areas, so I’m not sure where to begin. I like strong geometric designs and patterns, and in the past have enjoyed copying native american designs and celtic knots, but I don’t feel that those things help me to learn to create from scratch. Also, I feel like my design work has always been hindered by the fact that I have to crib from others; I can’t just draw what I want to see, so I have to find it elsewhere, then tweak it. When I imagine drawing and painting I imagine vibrant, evocative colors. I will be on the lookout for learning opportunities.

We all have reasons for moving

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First, goal progress: In bed by 1:00 a.m. Jan 19, Up at 8:45 a.m. Jan 19. (I’ve been working on the second All Things Vegan radio show every night since Sunday, so it’s hard to get to bed early this week.)

~

In spite of having a Writing and Literature degree, I’m not a big poetry fan, but tonight, I leave you with my favorite poem from college, by Mark Strand:

Keeping Things Whole

In a field

I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

Mark Strand, “Keeping Things Whole” from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1979, 1980 by Mark Strand.

Point of convergence 2011

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I hardly know what to do with myself. For the first time in two months, I got up today not having a daily writing or blogging challenge to fulfill. In November, I participated in NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo. As November was drawing to a close, I discovered #reverb10, so I chose it for December. All of these challenges kept me motivated daily, were a great way to kickstart my writing habit again, and were a great inspiration for self-reflection.

Now I’m sort of hooked, so I was on the lookout for a writing challenge for January. Instead, I found #mindful52: Year of Mindfulness * 52 Weeks of FOCUS. This challenge is with a much smaller group of people and will concentrate on both journaling and blogging around a weekly thought*concept*practice. Focus is exactly what I need this year, and I’m excited about having a continual reminder to work on my mindfulness. I think I’ll still try to blog every day, however I’ll also make sure that I’m writing outside of the blog as well.

This week, #mindful52 encourages us to work with the concept of new beginnings occurring all the time. As you remain hopeful contemplating the year ahead – make lists and think about what you’d like to achieve.

I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions, since I’m naturally adverse to anything that seems cheesy, false, or forced. Normally, I’m resistant to structure and discipline and in favor of winging it and spontaneity. But something is different this year. I’ve begun to realize that some things are never going to change if I don’t make some goals and structure my life so that I’m making daily progress towards small, achievable things.

I have outlined some general goals on this blog over the last month and have privately been crafting and sketching out some more. Here’s my progress so far.

As I outlined in an earlier blogpost prompted by #reverb10, I made a short list of my most important daily commitments (one of the suggestions in The Power of Less, see below).

  • Family (hubby and animal family)
  • Vegan advocacy
  • Reading, writing and other creative pursuits
  • Fitness

What do I do each day that doesn’t contribute to one of the above — and can I eliminate it?

  • Day Job: No
  • Piss around reading various social media threads: Yes
  • Worry: Yes, in theory
  • Multi-task: Yes
  • Stay up too late blogging, sleep in too late the next day: Yes

New habits that I’d like to establish in 2011. (I’d like to think of some great rewards for myself for sticking to these):

  • Be 15 minutes early for everything for an entire month. This means leaving 1/2 hour early to anything around town.
  • Go to bed by 10 p.m., get up by 6:30 a.m. every weekday for a month. No more late night blogging. This one is a big challenge for me. I’m naturally a night owl and for the most part I make my own consulting schedule. Additionally, I hit my stride mid-afternoon and on into the evening as far as productivity goes. Also, I have a really hard time getting up in the dark during the winter. And yet, there are certain advantages to conforming to a “normal” workday schedule. Also, I’d like to exercise and write on a regular basis before other distractions and commitments take hold, and since these are on my short list, I need to make them a priority. I’m curious to see if I can stick with this for a month. At that point, if I feel that my productivity has taken a hit, I will reconsider. Part of me is really rebelling against this because of all the self-righteous “morning people” who have created this cultural myth that you’re a bad person if you’re not an early riser. But it’s not like I’m trying to get up at 4:30 a.m or anything crazy like that, so it should be doable.
  • Write every day for ½ hour, not including blogging.
  • Blog early in the day. Not sure how this is going to fit in yet.
  • Start over with Flylady’s baby steps to keep my house clean and decluttered.

2011 Goals (I need to break these down into small steps):

  • Learn to tell better stories—out loud and through my writing.
  • Write a story worthy of Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine.
  • Learn to make people laugh (besides myself).
  • Laugh more daily. Things that make me laugh out loud: Bizarro & Awkward Family Photos.
  • Create some art outside of the computer—painting, drawing, more mosaics? (Where do I start?)
  • Go birding & hiking again (miss this).
  • Expand my front yard gardening knowledge.
  • Grow my career in a creative and satisfying way.
  • Interview some people who intimidate me.
  • Take more photos: of myself (because there are very few), and of my hubby and animal family (because the days are short).
  • Open myself up to making new friends. Maintain current friendships.
  • Plan and take a road trip with my husband.
  • Start a regular yoga practice again.

Things my life doesn’t need in 2001 and how I’ll work on eliminating them:

  1. Mental clutter—write more, multitask less.
  2. Things clutter—keep purging, keep flying.
  3. Fear & worry—write daily, keep choosing to do new scary things, express and explore through writing and art.
  4. Indecision—write, and hope that things become clear.
  5. Guilt—don’t set myself up for it.
  6. Stress—create structure, leave more time between appointments.
  7. Envy & jealousy—working on 3-6 will help.
  8. Grief—impossible to eliminate, but here’s hoping for a year without more loss— if grief, then write.
  9. Pneumonia and/or bronchitis—closely tied to grief: express myself through writing, keep fit, do yoga, meditate, get acupuncture.
  10. Cynicism (but keep critical thinking).
  11. Negative people—avoid when possible, counteract with compassion.
  12. Money issues—closely manage, but let go of 3, 5, 6, & 7.

Ideas for theme months:

  • I’d like to have one month where I create something every day (not writing and preferably not on the computer). This could be part of learning to draw or paint or craft, or to pick up mosaics again, etc. If anybody knows of a group of people who are doing this as a challenge, let me know.
  • February will be my Light Box month. It’s typically a hard month for me because it’s the month my mom died, and as of 2010, the month my old friend Connecticut died. Usually, I let it sneak up on me and end up getting physically ill. This year I’m determined to face it head on by reading, writing, and blogging about grief, illness, and mortality.

That’s about it for my lists; a work in progress. Please let me know if you have ideas and suggestions for helping me to focus.

Some books & resources that have helped me to start thinking about goals this year: