Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Feb 23: Get Inspired

This was the  I slept in, I wrote, I walked downtown and just browsed in little shops for a few hours, and then I went through tons of photos from the past few months and remembered how blessed I am to do so many fun things with people I love.  My theme today is on getting inspired.  With all the new opportunities I've had come up lately, I am seeking more than ever for new ideas and inspiration.  My time downtown was just what I needed.  I felt so alive as I walked along the windy bayfront.  I listened to street musicians, bought a delicious chicken wrap from "Mary's Harbor View Cafe," found the cutest new shops, looked at art, and got to know my city again.  It's easy to know what inspires us (traveling, reading, music, movies), but it's hard to make sure we do those things on a regular basis.  Here in St. Augustine, there is so much at our fingertips that it can be overwhelming.  Some of us have lived here so long that we take it for granted.  But when life is wearing us down or we are feeling lost, dreary, or uninspired, we can turn to those things that lift us up.  The places that take our breath away, the people who love and encourage us, the experiences that remind us to enjoy the simple things, those are the things that make life worth living.
     I researched ways to get inspired and found these interesting tips: 1.) go for a walk, 2.) write a letter or call someone, 3.) indulge your senses (eat something yummy, light some candles, listen to music, take a warm bath)  4.) meditate (sometimes calming your mind clears space for new ideas to grow)  5.)  study the work of other people whose creativity or talent you admire.  PLEASE comment if you try these suggestions and let me know what came of it.  I'm very curious, and I believe sharing in and of itself is inspiring.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Feb 22: Be More Social

Work was long today, and by the time I got home I was sore, tired, and felt kinda gross.  I was really close to not wanting to go to class, but I did, and I'm so glad.  There's nothing like seeing a bunch of your friends, getting hugs, talking about each other's lives and upcoming plans, and just laughing and having fun together.  With all of the technology at our fingertips, it can be easy to stay connected to old friends and share in the daily events in each others' lives.  But to see each other, touch, and have live interaction brings a level of intimacy and connection that facebook can't.  Socializing has been proven to help: relieve self-esteem, decrease shyness, loneliness, and anxiety, help us build more meaningful relationships, create more opportunities for enjoyment, provide better career opportunities, strengthen individuality, and increase I.Q.  Weird, I know, but socializing actually makes us smarter.  Whether you are interacting with family or friends, in a religious, athletic, or any other capacity, it is important to get out there and mingle.  My sisters and I are proud to announce that we are officially starting a book club.  I will also have to be going to a lot of places around town for my blogger job, so hopefully that will open up a whole new social network.  Any time we get outside of our head and interact with people around us, we are acknowledging that we are not alone in the world.  And that is a beautiful thing.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Feb 21: Grow Up, a.k.a... Do things even if you don't want to.

This morning I wanted so badly to stay in bed that the second I hit snooze on the alarm my mind started working.  Well, if I stayed home I could do this.... I'll tell him this.... he won't be mad for too long... I do need to do this... because... Ever notice how easy it is to talk yourself out of something you don't want to do anyway?  I am especially bad about this.  For years now I have worn my "free spirit" like a badge of honor.  I respect people who dedicate their time to something they don't necessarily enjoy simply because it is the responsible thing to do, but I always consider myself an exception to that concept.  I tell myself that I was not meant for such a life, that I have amazing potential and will somehow never realize it if I allow myself to be "captured" by something ordinary.  And even though I don't want to lose the desire to reach for an extraordinary life, there is certainly something to be said for sucking it up and dedicating yourself to work (no matter how boring or difficult it may be.)  Without fail, every thing that has been difficult for me to make myself do has turned out to be so much more rewarding than I thought it would be.  In fact, one might even say that the difficulty of doing a task is in direct proportion to the satisfaction following its completion.  Doing things we don't want to do is part of living a purposeful life. It goes from little things like taking out the trash, to big things like getting up early every day for years to work at a thankless job to support your family.  So in an effort to do the things I don't want to do I researched How To's online and found some great advice from Henrik Edberg, author of  He recommends 1.) accept it (acknowledging your feelings and knowing exactly what you are trying to avoid is a big part of the battle) 2.) list the positives (what opportunities/benefits will come from doing this thing?)  3.) just do it (if you think about it too much, you'll end up right back where you started.)  This man is a genius.  Any time I've made myself do something, I've used some form of this advice.  Except when I am only doing it to avoid something negative- that is a bad way to start a yucky task and probably won't bring the same satisfaction once it's complete.  In conclusion- some things in life are just not enjoyable.  But we have to roll like Maria, and climb every mountain in front of us, until we reach the glorious top.  The trick is to try to enjoy the climb along the way.  Mix things up with little enjoyable moments, like music or chocolate, and even the tallest mountain seems a little more pretty.

     Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. - Mark Twain 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Feb 20: Make Food for People You Love

Yesterday was fun, but it certainly took it's toll on all of us.  All but one of us stayed home for the day, recouping.  We were able to spend a lot of time together, especially me and my little brother.  We watched movies, we talked and I even cooked a little.  In fact, I made a fruit salad, deviled eggs, black beans and rice, and cornbread (not all for one meal).  I used to cook all the time and really enjoyed it, but lately it has been hard to find the time and motivation.  Too often our relationship with food is an unhealthy one.  We grab what's fast, accessible, cheap, or tastes good.  We eat quickly, with little appreciation of texture, taste, temperature.  We think little of nutritional value, having a balanced diet, or where our food comes from.  I highly recommend watching "Food Inc.," "Julie and Julia," and "Ratatouille" for help on all of these topics.  To take our time with food, to share it with those we love, to appreciate that we are able to eat, will make our relationships with food more meaningful.  It's funny to think of all the cultures around the world, how different their ingredients, methods of preparation, and food partaking-of etiquette.  In some cultures, for example, they only eat what they catch, kill, or harvest themselves.  Packaged and processed foods are not even an option.  In some cultures it is rude not to burp, or to leave food on your plate, or to use improper utensils, or to use utensils at all.  We are so blessed to have such variety at our fingertips, and even more blessed if we have someone to share it with.    

   ~ God gives all birds their food but does not drop it into their nests ~ Danish Proverb

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Feb 19: Sleep

So I have been up for like 20 hours, I spent all day on my feet, and I am sore and exhausted.  But it was wonderful!  We went to Universal again, and stayed for the Mardi Gras parade and a little of the B52's concert.  The last thing I want to do right now is work on this post, so I thought I'd write about the one thing I want to do more than anything, and something I always quite enjoy... sleep.  According to Wikepedia, Sleep is a naturally recurring state characterized by reduced or lacking consciousness, relatively suspended sensory activity, and inactivity of nearly all voluntary muscles.  Sleep is a heightened anabolic state, accentuating the growth and rejuvenation of the immune, nervous, skeletal and muscular systems.  Effects of sleep deprivation include: irritability, cognitive impairment, memory lapses, impaired moral judgement, impaired immune system, higher risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, aches, tremors, and growth suppression.  Benefits of sleeping include: pretty much the opposite of all of the negative things just mentioned.  Sorry... I am quite tired.  Tomorrow is Sunday, the day of rest.  And that is just what I intend to do.  There is nothing like a busy day to make you really appreciate how comforting and amazing it can feel to go to sleep at night.  Like I said before, opposition and balance :)  

O bed! O bed! delicious bed!
That heaven upon earth to the weary head.
~Thomas Hood, Miss Kilmansegg - Her Dream

Friday, February 18, 2011

Feb 18: Seek

In "Eat, Pray, Love" Elizabeth Gilbert is suggested to be a woman "in search of her word."  A word that defined her, not what she does or who she is in relation to someone else.  She finally settles on "attraversiamo," an Italian word that means "let's cross over."  In my life I have been (and will be) many things.  But while there are some words that only describe us, it can be difficult to find a word that truly defines us.  For me, a very fitting word would be "Seeker."  Not the kind that's in Harry Potter, but I have a kind of seeking nature.  I am always interested in new things, places, people, and ideas.  I can't imagine, even as an old woman, that I will feel any differently, and I hope I'm right.  There is so much joy to be had in seeking something, sometimes it's better than the attainment itself.  A few years ago I went with my Aunt and Uncle on a fishing trip to Pulaski, NY.  Now, I am not particularly fond of fishing, but I love to go to new places, and so I tagged along.  One day I rode a bike to a nearby town called Selkirk because I'd seen a picture of the Selkirk lighthouse and thought it was beautiful.  I don't remember how long it took to ride there, I want to say it was about 5 miles.  I also didn't know exactly where I was going.  I just got on the bike and headed out.  I took a couple lucky turns, and ended up riding right up to it.  It was such an amazing feeling to find it.  It was as if I was meant to go there, and some invisible force had guided me to it.  In life there are so many wonderful things to experience- making new friends, going new places, learning new things, falling in love.  Sometimes those things will stumble into our laps, but more often we have to actively participate in the process.  We have to seek.  Today, for example, I had a wonderful writing/reading/meditation, watched a good movie while I cleaned up and chilled, cashed my V-day checks, and did a little superfluous shopping with my sister.  It was a wonderful day, and yet when I sat down to do my blog, I completely blanked.  I searched the web for some inspiration, I went through my day looking for a recurring theme, but came up with nothing.  Then just when I was on the brink of skipping tonight, I realized that seeking is an action in and of itself.  It's important that we are seeking the right things and for the right reasons.  But without seeking something, we cease to grow.  

"Seek and ye shall find." - Matthew 7:7

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Feb 17: Be Committed

This is not the kind of committed like in Girl, Interrupted, though around our house it can seem like that's where we should be headed.  Rather, this is a way to focus on what you are doing instead of doing things half-heartedly.  Today was my training call for my new blogger job, and I was really nervous.  I decided that if I was really going to do this, I'd better really commit.  And so today I got up early, spent a few hours going through the information packet she'd emailed me, checking out the links, etc.  I even spent some time cleaning and organizing the office (b/c it was ridiculously cluttered- and that is NOT conducive to a pleasant working atmosphere.)  Now I am trained and ready to get started!  Those who know me know that I have a hard time committing to things.  I have an insatiable wanderlust.  An irrepressible, irresponsible, free spirit.  I'm grateful for all of the opportunities I've had, but sometimes I wonder where I'd be if I'd stuck to one of them, really committed.  In life there will be experiences that come and go, people, jobs, hobbies.  But we have to really grasp the good ones with both hands and hold on tight for as long as we're able.  Pretty ironic, I know, after yesterday's post... but I believe that there is opposition in all things, and wisdom comes from knowing how to balance them.

"There's no scarcity of opportunity to make a living at what you love.  There is only a scarcity of resolve to make it happen."  -Wayne Dyer

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Feb 16: Let it Go

A certain individual who shall not be named was telling me their plans to "verbally burn" someone who was asking for a favor.  They were so proud of themselves and couldn't wait to share it with me... even though I never respond positively to such "sharing."  They concluded that they were "teaching" the other person a lesson, and I informed them that they don't always have to "teach someone."  I hate that kind of thinking.  To me it is petty and prideful.  But I can be like that too sometimes.  I have quite the sharp verbal arsenal at my disposal and it can be very tempting to fire when provoked.  Tonight I watched "You Again," with my sisters and a friend.  It made me realize how much the past can poison the present.  It can be really hard sometimes to let things go.  It makes me think of a line from "Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood."  Vivi tells her daughter Sidda that she likes to "chew on a problem until all the flavors gone, and then stick it in her hair."  We do that sometimes, wear our hurts like adornments, carry our pain wherever we go.  Someone I love and respect once told me that "holding a grudge is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die."  When we hold onto bitterness and anger, we are the ones who suffer.  We miss out on the beauty of life around us and close ourself off to opportunities to grow and learn.  People who let go of anger also experience: healthier relationships, greater spiritual and psychological well-being, less stress and hostility, lower blood pressure, fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety, and chronic pain, and a lower risk of drug and alcohol abuse.  The truth is that while feelings of pride, resentment, bitterness, and anger might be comforting in the moment, they only hold us back.  So here's to holding onto the things that matter, and letting the rest of it go.

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
-- Lao Tzu 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Feb 15: Go With the Flow

As part of my recovery from Valentine's Day I slept in until noon today.  The good part is, I needed the rest.  The bad part is, I'd forgotten how much sleeping in can throw off the whole rest of your day.  I didn't do any of my "morning stuff" and I could really feel the difference.  As I was on the way to institute (and all through class) I just felt scatter-brained, frazzled.  Then I had a good talk with a friend.  By simply facing something I'd been nervous about, all of the stress and worry faded away and I melted into the moment and felt completely centered and at peace.  We waste so much of our lives over-thinking, over-analyzing, and worrying about what may or may not happen.  But life is constantly changing, as are we (hopefully for the better), so why not just accept that we don't have all the answers, we don't know what the future holds.  If we can learn to enjoy the moment, then the future is pretty bright.  

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” - Lao-Tzu

p.s. this is a really great article about this topic, check it out :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Feb 14: Share the Love

So since it's Valentine's Day, I just had to write today's post about love.  I delivered flowers for Kuhns today- 38 deliveries!  So all day I got to deliver flowers to women and it's interesting to see how each of them reacted.  A few of them were surprised and then couldn't stop smiling, a few were like "Oh, he's so sweet..." a couple of them barely showed any reaction at all, as if they just expected them and it was nothing special, and one of the women was downright cranky.  Strange how all of them were receiving flowers- a gift of love and appreciation, a sign that someone cared about them, and yet they each reacted differently.  How do we react to signs of love from other people?  Does it depend on who the person is, what kind of mood we're in, or how accustomed we are to their affection?  I have never been in a relationship on Valentine's Day, so I have never had a "romantic" Valentine's Day.  But without fail, I have someone in my life to write me a card, send me something, give me something, and show me that they care.  Valentine's Day is not just for lovers, it's for love.  Hopefully we are not waiting for a special holiday to show the people in our lives how much they mean to us.  We can also try harder to be easier to love, kinder, gentler, huggable...

All you need is love.
John Lennon & Paul McCartney

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Feb 13: See

So my sister and I gave talks in sacrament today, and I taught Relief Society.  We were very nervous about the whole thing, but everything went really well and now we are so relieved it's over.  Of course there will always be another talk or lesson in the future, but for now we are relaxed.  I searched for a theme that popped up a lot during the day, as I often do, and today's theme is "See."  I realize this is a very open theme and kind of like that about it.  We can see how our choices affect our future, and those around us.  We can see the positive things rather than the negative.  We can see the beauty in the world around us.  We can see all of the work that goes into making every aspect of our lives the way it is, and be grateful.
But mostly I want to talk about how we can see miracles all around us, every day.  You all know I love movies, and one of my favorite scary movies is "Signs" by M. Night Shyamalan.  In it there is a scene where Graham, an ex-reverend, is trying to comfort his brother Merrill, who is worried about the future of the human race.  He tells him there are two kinds of the people, those who see signs, see miracles, and the ones who see everything as random chance.  By the end of the movie, Graham's faith is returned to him.  He sees that though he thought God had turned his back on him, every difficult thing had happened for a specific reason, and in the end, it was his ability to see those small miracles that saved him and his family.  
Deepak Chopra teaches that God sends us messages in the form of coincidence.  That He is always there, ever trying to teach us something, show us something, and all we have to do is be open to those signs.  To me one of the most miraculous things to behold is the sky.  And through modern technology we can see more beautiful sights than we could ever have imagined.  Of course, there is science going on behind all of it, but that is how God works.  Galileo Galilei's study of space increased his faith in God.  He asserted that science and religion were two different languages telling the same story.  Now I don't know much about science.  I can't tell you about the physics behind aurora borealis or black holes or magnetic fields.  But I do know this, they are miracles.  Everything is.

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." - Albert Einstein

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Feb 12: Be Positive

Today I delivered flowers for Valentine's Day, and as I was driving I had a lot of time to think.  I'm not sure what brought it about, but I suddenly felt so grateful.  I thought about how down I've been off and on about myself and my life, the things I'd like to change and my frustration for not being able to get what I want.  And then today it suddenly hit me how ungrateful I was being for everything in my life.  I started seeing a positive to every negative and before I knew it I was filled with gratitude and saw everything differently.  For example, I focus a lot on my physical flaws, that I'm not thin, that I have to wear contacts and they bother me sometimes, that my teeth aren't white enough, toes are silly looking, skin is too pale.  And then I realized how ridiculous it is to focus on those things and see them that way.  I may not be thin, but I am healthy.  I'm not disfigured or handicapped, I can do everything  I want to do and I am strong.  I may have to wear contacts, but I have eyes and I can see the amazing world and all of its diverse beauty.  Imagine if we could approach every "negative" aspect of our lives that way.  I hate getting up early, but I'm glad I have things to get up early for, like work, so that I can earn money and provide for myself.  I don't like doing chores sometimes, but I'm so grateful I have a home to clean, to live in and be protected and warm.  I don't always get along with my family, but I love them so much, and I can't imagine how lonely and lost I'd be without them.  
Thoughts have a way of building on top of each other and gaining power.  When we think of just one negative thing, we think of another and another until we are like Winnie the Pooh with a little black raincloud over us.  When we think of one thing positive, or that we are grateful for, we think of another and another until we are smiling and filled with joy.  We have the power, no matter what's going on, to control our feelings and our thoughts.  

Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.  ~Anthony J. D'Angelo, The College Blue Book

Friday, February 11, 2011

Feb 11: Be Kind to Yourself

So soooo close to not posting tonight.  Besides a couple great moments with my sisters (hello pedicures:), today felt like kind of a fail.  I didn't do any of my morning "stuff"- my morning pages, my reading, my walk... and tonight at the dance (even though I did have a lot of fun at some moments)  was an epic fail as far as making new friends.  I did talk to a few people I didn't know, but I didn't go out of my way to, and I didn't follow any of the tips from yesterday's post.  I was feeling pretty crappy (and sore) about the whole thing, and then this quote from "Eat, Pray, Love" popped into my head.  The hot Italian tutor tells her that when you are learning new things "you have to be kind to yourself."  And though making friends should not be something new, we should learn that skill as Kindergarteners, (sp?) for me it is a new goal, and therefore I count it as something I should be kind to myself about.  There is enough negativity to fight against in the world without being down on yourself for your shortcomings on top of that.  Tonight I was listening to a friend's problems.  Why is it easy for me to be patient and comforting with her, but not to myself?  Well, I am working on it.  Tomorrow is a new day.  And even though I disappointed myself today, I can be kind enough to say it's okay, it's not the end of the world, I can try again tomorrow.  And now I am going to do myself a huge favor and GO TO SLEEP:)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Feb 10: Make New Friends

So we have been keeping a little secret from my dad about getting an English bulldog.  He's wanted one for forever, but they are usually very expensive, so... yeah.  Then a friend of my sisters was giving one away so we picked him up, put a bow on him, and surprised my dad with him tonight.  I have to admit, when I first saw him I was a little apprehensive.  You know that saying that something is "so ugly it's cute?"  Well, the cute part took awhile to kick in for me.  I was asking all these questions "Is he supposed to look like that?"  "Can he breathe?"  "Are his legs okay?" and just keeping my distance.  He slobbers, he breathes like Darth Vader, and he is very gassy.  Needless to say, I was happy for my Dad, but just didn't get it.  Then tonight as I went to the office to work on my blog (everyone else in the house asleep), I walked into the living room and he was just laying on the tile floor like a beached whale in the dim light.  "Um... are you ok?" I asked.  He jumped up excitedly (okay, jerked his head, rolled over, and struggled to his feet), and followed me into the office where he has been lovingly by my side, passing gas, ever since.
And so my theme for today became "make new friends."  This is something I've always been nervous about.  I'm usually not the kind of person who will introduce myself and get to know someone, I am generally more of an observer.  But occasionally I will step outside my comfort zone, and usually I am glad I did.  I end up making a lifelong friend out of someone I could have just passed right by.  Here are some tips to making new friends that I found online:  1.) Be Yourself- eventually people will get to know the real you.  The more real you are at the beginning, the better.  2.) Spend More Time Around People- we all need our alone time, but it's important to dial down the agoraphobia and have a healthy social life as well.  3.)Join an Organization With People Who Have Common Interests- hello, YSA's!  But also book clubs, sports groups, or hobby groups are good.  4.) Volunteer- serving people is the quickest way to love them.  5.) Talk to People- instead of passing by the neighbor every evening when you walk (yes, you, lady watching your dog urinate at 8pm) say hello or Hi, how are you?  Some conversations may be dead ends, but you may make a friend for life.  6.) Make Eye Contact and Smile- body language says a lot, so if you are frowning with eyes squinted and arms crossed, people will think you are unfriendly and unapproachable.  7.) Start Up a Conversation- Don't underestimate the power of small talk, especially if it's original and sincere.  8.) Introduce Yourself at the End of the Conversation and Remember Names- this one is especially hard for me, I usually need to make up a little rhyme, hey, whatever works.  9.) Initiate a Get Together- this can be awkward... you don't want the person to think you're psycho... but be casual and try to find something you have in common.  10.) Don't Pressure- don't freak them out and don't come on too strong.   HoLy LoNg PoSt!  Okay, wrapping things up for tonight.  I am going to a Single Awareness (otherwise known as Valentines) Day dance tomorrow night.  So I will try these techniques and report back tomorrow.  Hopefully with good news:)

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born."
- Anais Nin

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Feb 9: Enjoy Your Freedom

Okay, so we all know single awareness day is coming up soon, but that is not where this is coming from, I promise:)  I watched a documentary tonight about North Korea that shocked me.  I knew a little about the situation there already, but this documentary showed footage from inside that astounded me.  Known as the "Hermit Kingdom," N.K. is famous for its secrecy and strict adherence to "juche," an ideology of self-reliance which keeps them from accepting anything from outside their own borders, even to their detriment.  The people sounded brainwashed and scared to think for themselves, and it made me realize how lucky we are.  Everyone knows that the United States of America are not popular everywhere else in the world.  In fact, some people consider us to be pure evil and would annihilate us at the first opportunity.  Whether we are being lied to by our government or are unwitting conspirators to do ill in other countries I cannot know, and it is not my intention to get mixed up in all of that.  What I am saying is that never have I appreciated freedom as I do right now.  To be able to choose how to worship, to own property, choose employment, read books, watch movies, listen to music, take in every idea available and decide for ourselves what is true and what is not, what is valuable and what is not, that is freedom.  And freedom is a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Feb 8: Face It

Listened to "Details in the Fabric" on repeat the other night, and a line has been stuck with me.  "If it's a broken part, replace it, if it's a broken arm, then brace it, if it's a broken heart, then face it."  We each have things in life that we avoid, whether it be a person, a place, a chore.  And today I had several things to do that I didn't want to, partly because I'm sick, and partly because I kept putting them off and they seemed to grow in their intimidation.  And though it took me most of the day to get started, they seem much easier to achieve now.  Why does it seem like the more afraid of something we are, the more rewarding it turns out to be?  Most of the things we worry about come and go and are much less daunting than we anticipated.  Afterward we wonder, "What was I so afraid of?" or "Why have I been putting that off for so long?"  We can hit snooze and put things off until tomorrow and avoid life for awhile, but eventually we have to face it.  And each time we do, we are enlightened, encouraged, and empowered.  After all, the best way to get something done... is to begin.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Feb 7: Take it Easy

So I'm giving a talk in church on Sunday, and my subject is a talk by Pres. Uchtdorf entitled "Of Things That Matter Most."  In it his main message is that despite the pressure to have it all and do it all, sometimes we need to simplify our lives and focus on the things that matter most.  As Mahatma Gandhi taught, "there is more to life than increasing its speed."  There are seasons in our life where extreme focus and hard work are necessary, and there are times when we are dealing with struggles beyond what we are used to.  In times like those, we need to focus on the basics and keep a slow and steady pace.  Life is a marathon, not a sprint.  For example, over the weekend I thought of all these things I wanted to accomplish in the new week.  I had this fiery zeal and couldn't wait to blaze forward.  And then I got a sore throat, a fever, aching body, etc.  It seems like that always happens, something always tries to derail me.  I made a list of the things I wanted to accomplish, and instead of doing all of them, or crawling under the covers to sleep it off, I tackled soft little mini-versions of my goals.  Though I didn't get everything done that I wanted to, I got a good start, and it'll be that much less to do tomorrow.  In fact, I went for a walk (in the rain) and got a lot of inspiration for my book.  Had a wonderful night with my family, and got an email about a job offer.  And though I am mostly excited just to sleep right now, I can't help but feel a small sense of accomplishment, despite the icky taste of nyquil in my mouth...

Diligence is a good thing, but taking things easy is much more restful” - Mark Twain

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Feb 6: Keep Trying

The last few days have been kind of awful.  I've been really frustrated and disappointed with myself because I keep falling short of my expectations.  We can really beat ourselves up over the mistakes we make, especially if they seem to be the same ones over and over again.  There was a lot of talk today about what we want vs. what happens, about having trust in God to give us what's best for us, about patience and perseverance.  I have never been good with those "p words," and it seems as if others are struggling with them as well.  We will all go through times when it seems like everything has gone wrong, we have failed, or we aren't making any progress.  The important thing is to not let those defeating feelings keep us from seeing the truth, that we are in fact moving forward.  There may be diversions along the way, but we have to keep going because we never know what's around the next corner.

Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow.”  Mary Anne Radmacher

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Feb 5: Live for the Good

 I spent the day working with my Dad and little brother, went for a long walk to the Castillo, and then watched a couple documentaries with my folks.  An exciting Saturday night, I know :)  I had several themes vying for post position, which is always better than struggling to come up with one. But in the end the idea that was freshest won out, the classic battle of good vs. evil.  I like to think of the world as mostly good.  In fact, my mom is always worried when I want to go off on my own because I seem too carefree, as if nothing in the world could ever harm me.  But the truth is, you never know what could happen at any moment.  The movies we watched tonight were filled with stories of unspeakable traumatic events.  It's sad to that we as human beings are capable of such atrocity.  But we are also capable of amazing acts of compassion, heroic deeds, and kindness.  It makes me think of a scene in "Where the Heart Is."  Ashley Judd plays a woman whose boyfriend beat her after she tried to rescue her child from his sexual abuse.  In tears she asks her friend, played by Natalie Portman, what she is supposed to tell her kids when they ask why this happened to them.  Her friend replies: "You tell them that our lives can change with every breath we take... and tell 'em to hold on like hell to what they've got: each other, and a mother who would die for them and almost did... You tell them we've all got meanness in us, but we've got goodness too. And the only thing worth living for is the good. And that's why we've got to make sure we pass it on."  

Friday, February 4, 2011

Feb 4: Use Your Words

I was conflicted about what to post today, as I accomplished very little and did not put much thought into anything I did.  Sad, but true.  The one thing worth writing about is a walk I took with my mother, in which she poured her heart out to me about the pain she's been feeling since someone posted something cruel and hateful about her online.  I have a couple very important letters I've been trying to write, and so I have been thinking a lot lately about the power of words.  Words can start wars, bring peace, change everything.  At their best, they uplift and inspire, at their worst they can crush and wound.  We must be careful to use words like good, evil, love, hate, always, and never only when they truly apply, not to be dramatic.  Our words reveal who we are.  So who do we want the world to see?

“The language we use to communicate with one another is like a knife. In the hands of a careful and skilled surgeon, a knife can work to do great good. But in the hands of a careless or ignorant person, a knife can cause great harm.  Exactly as it is with our words.” 
Source Unknown

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Feb 3: Stay Motivated

So you know how when you have this great idea, you feel really pumped about it?  You're ready to go out that second and do it!  Things are good for awhile and the initial spark gives you momentum... and then something happens.  The details trip you up, the follow-through is lacking, and the results are never like you thought they would be.  I've been hitting those kinds of days lately and so I've been thinking, today especially, about motivation.  I made that beautiful collage of goals for the new year, but focusing on it every day and working toward those things that I claim to want so bad?  I could definitely do better.   So what can we do to get motivated again? recommends we: 1. think of the good reasons we are trying to accomplish something (material, emotional, is it a step toward a bigger goal?) 2. make it fun (how can you turn something you avoid into the best part of your day?)   3.  take a different approach (mix things up a little, try doing it in a new way)  4. recognize your progress (through a journal, chart, something visual is best) and 5. reward yourself  (with something that doesn't conflict with your goal).
I also recommend writing down all the things that you think are holding you back, and taking those one at a time as kind of a goal within a goal.  For example, say my goal is to go to bed earlier and get up earlier... a hindrance might be, oh, say... waiting until 11 pm to work on my blog.  So maybe I can set an alarm to do my blog at the same time every evening, so that's one less thing holding me back.  The less obstacles in our way, the easier it is to stay motivated and finally achieve the things we want to do in life.  Why is this important?  Because getting off the ground is one thing, staying up is something else entirely.

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Feb 2: Look Into Your Dreams

Imagine if all of the answers you need to live a happy, well-directed, fulfilling life were within you... Well some people believe they are.  I love to hear about people's dreams and think about my own.  I love to search them for meaning and symbolism.
For example, last night I dreamed that our house was right on the edge of the marsh, and that the porch was made of glass and shaped like the bow of a ship.  From it's safety I watched as a storm raged upon the waters outside.  A few small vessels were being tossed by the waves, and some items had washed up onto our porch.  I pulled them inside and they were two ladies hats, a fancy black one like an old woman would wear to a funeral, and a summery straw hat with a flowery ribbon around it. There was also a small glass compass with an emerald green sphere in the middle.  I had some idea as to the meaning of this dream before I researched it, and here is what I concluded: The storm represents the turbulence of my life right now (raging emotions, stress, and the unknown.)  The fact that I am watching from a place of safety is good.  Despite the uncertainty of my life right now, I am figuring things out from a place of safety where I have everyone and everything I need while I wait out the "storm."  Hats represent your point of view.  As I have stated before, I believe that we can choose our emotions and our thoughts like we choose our clothes in the morning.  We can be negative and wallow in self-pity, or we can be positive and hopeful, hence: a dreary hat and a cheerful hat.  A compass represents seeking direction and guidance.
Now that January is behind me and I have some established some important good habits, I feel like I have a solid foundation to build on.  And so I thought about my next couple priorities, and took some affirmative steps toward achieving those goals today.  Who knows what will come of it, but when the universe sends us clues, we shouldn't ignore them.  Paying attention to our dreams can help us see things in a new way, learn what our true desires are, get past old ways of thinking and feeling, and move forward.

Don't be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.

Feb 1: Chillax

Happy February 1st everyone!  Why is it that on the days that I feel least like dealing with drama are the days that it comes in truckloads?  This morning started beautifully.  I got up early to take my sister to work, then spent a couple hours writing, reading, and meditating.  I focused especially on two mantras: "Tat Tvam Asi" (I see the other in myself and myself in others), which aims at improving personal relationships, and "Sat Chit Ananda" (My inner dialogue reflects the fire of my soul), which aims at controlling your thoughts and emotions and being less swayed by turbulance in your life.  Then things got a little dicey.  I developed an awful migraine, again, and there has been one dramatic, emotional, exhausting conversation after another.  I have literally spent hours today listening to and dealing with people's problems.  And whether from the drama, or the hour, or the meds I've taken to get rid of my headache, I am mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted.  In fact, as I've been working on this blog, the internet connection is cutting in and out and as I am typing I don't know if I'll be able to post tonight.  Even though I've gone 31 days straight and I hate to lose a day, even though I have managed to plan ahead and make this happen when I wouldn't be home, or when I had plans and was out until all hours of the morning.  I guess sometimes in our lives there are days like this.  Days when we just want to scream or cry or  crawl under the covers and disappear.  Those are the days when we have to try harder to see the good, in others, in ourselves, in life.  We have to take a deep breath, close our eyes, think of something to be grateful for, do the best we can, and trust that tomorrow will be a little easier.