finding calm in the chaos.

Photo (12)

Meditation has become such a practice in my life that I can no longer remember when I didn't practice. I did a quick blog search to see if I could find a "hey, I just started sitting!" post...but didn't land on anything. 

I sit nearly every day. Sometimes for just a few breaths, sometimes for a guided meditation, and sometimes for a lengthy session. I can say, with absolute conviction, that meditation has changed me. And when something works? Well, I want to learn/know everything that I can about it. 

Mind Calm by Sandy Newbigging starts with this - "Welcome to the meditation technique that you've been looking for. With MIND CALM you will learn how to let go of the constant chatter in your mind, gain clarity, perform at your best, worry less, heal faster, sleep better, improve relationships, and feel more calm, confident, and content - whenever you want." 

What I loved: the simplicity, and the clarity. Even though I'm a fan of the incense-burning & chanting styles of meditation, and realize that hippie shit is off-putting to many. MIND CALM is written in a very simple & straight-forward manner, and with a really pragmatic how-to approach for a meditation practice. Easy, do-able steps. I typically read through books like this with a highlighter in hand - and this book offers a ton of material that I'll refer to again & again. A favorite quote - "Life can become an emotional roller coaster if you fully engage in every thought that passes through your mind. Seeing your thoughts instead of being your thoughts makes all the difference." The book finishes with a 10-part MIND CALM program with daily schedules of implementation over 10 weeks. That kind of discipline makes me giddy. 

What I left: a few acronyms that didn't resonate. In general, acronyms tend to bring a corporate feel for me. 

I rec'd a copy of this book from Hay House for the purposes of this review. Opinions expressed are my own, and no other compensation was rec'd.


gratitude, good things, and giving up.

Bikepath
Or...how I can tie random thoughts together by starting everything with a G

Gratitude

I have started (and stopped) dozens of "formal" gratitutde practices over the years. I've written before about the variety of ways that I document gratitude, but the most important is this - I feel it. I continue to find that the best answer to feeling sorry for myself is to find things/people/situations to be grateful for. Right now, I'm grateful for chai latte k-cups, mala beads, weather that allows me to still wear flip flops, morning laughs with Austin, and coconut greek yogurt.  

Good Things

I'm listening to The Happiness Advantage on audio book, and just finished a section about noticing good/positive things. Similar to a gratitude practice, the thinking is that voicing good things not only changes YOUR attitude, but the attitude of those around you. In a meeting on Monday morning, I was very aware that one person started every response with "the problem is..." and guess what? I left the meeting understanding that we have A LOT of problems. Can we talk about solutions, please? I'm monitoring my own language...especially around the sale of my house.

Giving Up

Letting go, loosening my grip, and giving up have been (and continue to be) super important...albeit extremely difficult...practices for me. I remind myself daily that giving up is a choice, not a failure. This week, I'm giving up limiting beliefs and self-doubt. Marc & Angel posts are always excellent reminders of habits to give up. 

I'd love to hear something that you're grateful for, one good thing, and something that you're giving up. Ready, set, go....

 


seven practices in the seventh month.

vintage red number 7 marquee hanging sign seven industrial salvaged retro modern wall home decor initial personalized mid century monogram

(image source)

I've bounced around a lot with monthly goal setting this year. I've tried to follow the lead of people who inspire me (like Lee and Elise), and set four firm goals. Sometimes, that creates focus. Sometimes, it just adds to the noise, and results in rushing back to the list at the last minute to see if I can accomplish everything in the last day or two of the month. Sometimes, it just feels uninspiring - simply 4 more things on my to-do list.

So. Back to practicing, I go. The practices that I mentioned at the beginning of the year still hold true - so you'll see some redundancy in the list below. 

1. a self-care practice - I'm already in love with Bella's 31 Days in July. It's familiar in some ways, and stretching my comfort zone in others. 

2. a photography practice - even though my iPhone is constantly with me, there are still days that I don't take a single photo. Wanting to change that. Photos help me see my life from a different perspective. 

3. a meditation practice - I have been super consistent about meditation this year, and I will continue to practice in July. 

4. a movement practice - I've gotten off track thanks to travel & work & life. Wanting to incorporate more movement, in many forms - walking, running, biking, yoga. I haven't been to barre in a while (I miss you, Hermine!), but know that I will return at some point. 

5. a vision boarding practice - in the workshops that I facilitate for co-workers, we coach a lot of visioning - what do they want the business to look like? What does success look like? In July, I'm going to devote some time to applying those principles to my own life - through the vision board in my office, my Pinterest boards, and my vision book. 

6. a writing practice - I'm following the ALM Writes prompts for July (using 750words). 

7. a reading practice - I finished off 4 books from my summer reading list in June...11 to go! 

What are you practicing this month?


thoughts on practice.

I've had practice on my mind a lot over the past few weeks. In 2012, I established twelve practices. I thought about those practices again when I wrote about rituals during the Reverb project. I'm drawn to the concept of practice more than goals (although, I do still set goals. I waver.). When I look at things as a goal, it's too "easy" for me to give up when I miss a day. I tend to be a little black & white. The concept of practice feels more forgiving - you can always do better the next time. As I reviewed those twelve practices, I realized that most are still important to me, and I've renewed my focus for 2014.

Specifically -

1. a yoga practice - needing, wanting to get back into a yoga class. My friend, Leigh, and I were talking about practice in the context of yoga, and she really captured it so very well - we all practice yoga because few are masters. She was also sharing that she hasn't found a yoga home. Totally get that, although I'm fortunate to feel that way about Laughing River Yoga. Time to go home.

2. a meditation practice - daily. no time minimum. no requirement to be sitting in a particular place. Some days, I'm following guided meditation, some days ocean sounds, some days silence. Other days, it's about mantras. Still other days are just about pausing to take a breath.

3. a calendar practice - iCal for the win. I've also used an email service that sends a remind when tasks are due (my children LOVE getting an email to take the trash out. Ha!).

4. an exercise practice - still getting back into this practice. Back/hip pain derails me a lot.

5. a writing practice - I'm practicing morning pages right now, most often using 750words.

6. a gratitude practice - I've bounced all around on this one - using a gratitude journal, an app, instagram, etc. I'll continue to use a variety of ways to document, but I'm trying to lean toward putting pen to paper in my journal.

7. a OLW practice - I haven't signed up for Ali's class yet, but after seeing Lee's first month, I'm very tempted. I'm grateful (see practice #6) for friends who are helping me keep my OLW front & center by asking "is that moving you forward?"

For 2014, I'm adding at least one new practice...

8. a bedtime practice - Trying to fend off insomnia with a few new habits - washing my face every night (I'm fortunate to have very good skin that has endured years of neglect), reading a bit before going to sleep, buying new pjs instead of throwing on a ratty t-shirt.

Although I'm not one to use sports analogies, I think that this one fits - teams practice whether they win or lose a game. It's the daily/weekly practice that keeps them in shape. They show up. They do the work. They try again, and again, and again.

How 'bout you? What are you practicing?

 


looking back & leaning forward.

20122013Oh heeeyyy, last weekend of twenty-twelve! My days tend to blur together at this time of the year, thanks to days off, short workdays, and (let's be honest) wine & sugar indulgence. My big plans of having daily Reverb posts and really deep reflection...well, yeah.

So, I'm taking stock of where I've been, and making plans for where I'm going...

2012 : Twelve Practices - My twelve practices ebbed & flowed A LOT. The bread-making was replaced with the local bread option through my CSA. My exercise practice was consistently derailed by back pain, BUT I still managed to clock enough gym time to satisfy my work-sponsored wellness plan. I still struggle with the calendar practice (which is SO WEIRD for a project manager to say). 

Project Life - I'm finishing up December, and then closing the books on 2012. I am so very, very glad that I kept up with this project. It turned the-year-with-lots-of-challenges into the-year-with-lots-of-memories. I'm super anxious to get started on 2013's albums. 

OLW - I wrote about this on my Reverb blog - here. SHIFT was an amazing one little word experience. 

2012 : Manifesto - This was an awesome guide for the year. I'm planning on making a new one for 2013. 

In the category of "where I'm going"...

Project Life and One Little Word - for sure

A Happiness Project - I read The Happiness Project in 2010, and hosted an online book club for it. I loved the book, and the resulting discussions. For 2013, I'm going to be playing with my own Happiness Project as a way of capturing resolutions, goals, & practices. I'm pretty much forcing Barb to join me. I'm also thinking of starting a local "meet-up" group for it...need to get brave for that! 

Book Turn - A new blog! I mentioned a while back that I was thinking about dedicating some virtual space to book reviews. Book Turn begins!

I'm spending the next few days revamping vision boards, working on Project Life, drinking a lot of hot tea, and watching the snow fall. What are you up to? 


november is all that i know.

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November desktop found here

November is all that I know, and all that I want to know. ~~Sweet November

Sweet November is one of my favorite chick-flicks. I do plan to watch it this month. 

November feels full of possibility this year. I'm taking a cue from Amy (among others) and challenging myself to 30 Days of Thank You. I'm planning a very low-key Thanksgiving meal - and hopefully a less chaotic one than last year. A few goals for this month (many that line up with my twelve practices)...

1. Let Go. - I am so very bad at this. I hang on to thoughts/people/expectations for dear life. I replay memories in excrutiating detail. I have this irrational fear that letting go erases everything that was good about an experience. I'm working on that this month. 

2. Go to the gym 3x a week. - Football is over, which means that crazy football schedules are over. Austin starts a yoga class on Tuesdays next week, so I can plan to go to the gym while he's in class (it's yoga for skiers and snowboarders - that's why I'm not joining him). 

3. Take my supplements. - Another thing that I am just bad inconsistent at. 

4. Schedule reading time. - A cup of tea/coffee, a book, and (probably) a blanket...at least once a week.

5. Meditate every day. - This isn't a new goal. I'm using these fabulous Spirit Junkie Guided Meditations - they're a great way to get started if you're interested in meditating! 

What are you planning for November? 


let's read : being zen

Photo (14)(my solo sunday brunch - after waking up at 10:30am. please, moms of littles, don't hate me)

Being Zen has been sitting in my library book basket for a couple of weeks. I even had to renew it once b/c it was lingering & threatening to move to "overdue" status. It's not that I didn't like it - it's just that I was having a hard time getting into it. Which, in retrospect, is pretty funny given that I could apply that comment to my meditation practice a lot of the time. 

When I picked up the book again today, I thought I'd just read a few pages while I ate brunch. Instead, I found myself scrambling for post it notes to mark the passages that I wanted to remember (the only downside to library books is the inability to highlight!). 

A favorite passage about resistance - 

Resistance comes in many forms: not wanting to sit in meditation, choosing to spin off into our mental world, suppressing or avoiding emotional pain, finding fault with ourselves and our lives. No matter what form it takes, resistance brings no peace. Whatever we resist, we actually strengthen, because we solidify it, empowering it to stay in our life. 

And this, about experiencing emotions - 

It is in these darker moments, when we feel overwhelmed, that we are apt to judge ourselves most harshly. We're likely to solidify the most negative core beliefs about ourselves, seeing ourselves as weak, as losers, as hopeless. It's at this point that we most need a sense of heart, of kindness, of lightness, in the practice. We do this by learning to breathe into the heartspace, thereby undercutting the relentless self-judgement of our deeply held beliefs. 

And finally, this - 

We can come to see - to experience - that we are not broken, that we were never broken, and that we don't need to be fixed. This is the essence of the practice life: continuing to see through the crippling boundaries that we ourselves maintain with our blind belief in the solid reality of our substitute life. 

Powerful stuff. I know that not everyone in my life understands why I practice meditation. I suspect that more than a few think that I've just been drinking the hippie VT water for too long. The work that Ezra Bayda talks about in this book - working with believed thoughts, working through the broken parts - that's why I practice. 


doing what works.

Bluesky
My Monday really wasn't working for me. I delayed (aka procrastinated) several tasks that should have been completed over the weekend, and attempted to do them before work. Like at 5 o'clock in the morning. I am not a morning person. The thing is, even as I was setting myself up to fail...I knew that I was setting myself up to fail. I was then in a foul mood when I failed. Clearly, I thought that I'd surprise myself. 

As the day came crashing down mercifully ended, I was STILL thinking about what I'd done (and not done) to create such a grumpy day. What it boils down to is that I did a few things that really just don't work for me. I know what DOES work, so I'm making a list to remind myself: 

1. Early mornings are not my friend. Do not schedule/expect anything other than basic needs to happen before 7am. 

2. Get enough sleep. The days of working until the wee hours are over. 

3. Sometimes "good enough" is enough. Save super special cooking for dinner parties, not potlucks. (that one applies to yesterday)

4. Keep mascara in your bag. 

5. Clean the kitchen before you go to bed. There is nothing more irritating in the morning than a sink full of dishes. 

6. Make your bed. This is a complete 180° from the last couple of decades when I flat out refused to make my bed. Now? It calms me to come home and have a neatly made bed. 

And a few that I'm working on (some might say shifting my thinking applies here. ahem.)

7. Do better next time. Trust that you're not going to be abandoned when you have an off day. (oh, this is SUCH a therapy topic for me) Second (and 3rd & 4th) chances are allowed.

8. Find a new after work ritual. Explanation - a glass of wine has been my nightly habit for longer than my mother approves of. Since I'm watching carbs a bit, that glass of wine needs to be replaced. With the weather turning cooler, I find myself reaching for a nightly cup of coffee. Not a good idea. I need an alternative. I drink hot tea all day - so that's not it. Any ideas? 

9. MEDITATION. Sit. the. f. down.

10. Buy a new notebook, and make lists. Lots and lots of lists. 

PS. the picture above really has nothing to do with this post - I'm just loving the super blue fall sky lately.


august twenty.twelve : intentions

Augustbanner
August will be about movement. Physical movement. Emotional/mental movement. Steps forward. Remembering that sometimes a slight backward step is simply setting up the momentum to spring ahead. 

August will be about stillness. Continuing with a meditation practice, and a morning reading practice. Learnings from Sabbath by Wayne Muller

 

August will be about creating. Project Life & One Little Word albums will be back on track. Hanging new art & photos at home. Creating a new vibe.  
August will be about planning. Routines will be shaken up, so it's time to reinvent what works. We'll remain a family of 4, but become a household of 3...and then 2 when Hope goes to University. Planning what the new normal will look like. 
August will be about asking. Trying to ask for help, space, & advice when I need it. My friends are amazing, but they are not mind readers. Practicing asking myself "what do you need right now?" when I find myself gasping/reaching/spiraling.


What intentions are you setting for August?

 


twelve practices: feb check in.

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Time for a check in on my twelve practices. In case you missed that post, it's here.

1. a yoga practice - really out of practice here. My hip pain is worse than ever, so I'm finding it hard to imagine doing downward anything. 

2. a meditation practice - work in progress - but I've taken the time to sit here & there. 

3. a bread making practice - win! Found my fave go-to recipe so far. Now just have to practice moderation. 

4. an adventure practice - making plans :) 

5. a calendar practice - still haven't found THE thing that works for me. I keep telling myself that I just need to get an iphone. Clearly THAT will make everything fall into place. Right?

6. an exercise practice - two words: hip pain. Going to the gym, and finding out just how slow a treadmill can go. Ugh. 

7. a writing practice - definitely feeling like I'm doing a good job here. 

8. a photography practice - Project Life is forcing me to get cozy with my camera. Still need to learn, learn, learn. 

9. a gratitude practice - I haven't managed to write it down each day, but I have taken at least a few minutes to find something to be grateful for. Every day (even on days that were rough).

10. a OLW practice - my OLW (SHIFT) is resonating loudly this year. So loudly that I kinda want to tell it to shut up sometimes. 

11. a kindness practice - doing okay here, but still want to step it up. 

12. a creative practice - hellloooo Project Life