Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I Have a Song in My Heart

Sorry for the long break in posting, but I've been going through a blogger's version of writer's block. Anyways, I felt myself become unstuck tonight at yoga. We were lying there, listening to a chant, when I began to think, "This is music for every mood." It was happy and wistful and passionate and mellow, all at the same time.

Now, normally, I don't get too excited about New-Age music, but this chant vibrated my joints and made my fingers tingle. Maybe music affects me more than it does other people, but I doubt it. While most people get annoyed at the question, "What kind of music do you like?", almost everyone I know has at least a few songs that stir something deep inside, like this chant did for me.

Personally, besides random yoga music, I am liking Civil Wars, the Kinks, and Bobby Womack lately. Also, I have a special place in my heart for Karen Carpenter's Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (don't laugh until you listen to it - it captures the myriad of feelings, including longing, that come up this time of year - yeah, I know I'm a nerd). So, what songs capture your feelings this year? I would love to find even more songs for my iPod and, maybe, feel that tingle again.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Resolutions to Make the New Year Bright

It's the most wonderful time of the year - right? I promised myself that when I decided to make this blog more personal, it wouldn't just be me ranting endlessly about personal insecurities. Today, however, I am going to take exception to that rule. While I have been busy running around doing my holiday shopping, something has been on my mind. I feel like I am in a state of inertia. I need a challenge. So, in the spirit of the season, I have decided to make my New Year's resolutions. I hope you will feel free you post your own here:
1. I WILL quit smoking. (for those of you who follow this blog, you know I tried to quit a few weeks ago. Despite my resolve, it didn't happen because I noticed I was getting a little depressed every time I went an extended period of time without smoking. Hopefully, this is just a temporary hurdle. My solution (among the many I could choose from) is to try to slowly ween myself off so I don't have a nicotine-withdrawal-induced breakdown.
2. Find new challenges. I am not sure what this is going to look like yet. I have been playing around with the guitar a little bit, but I'm not sure that I want to concentrate my energy on just one thing. There are so many challenges I could take on that I get overwhelmed by the choices. As a result, I stay home and watch tv (probably not the plan I want to go with). So I'm torn between finding one area to really focus on challenging myself or to find little things to challenge me everyday. Maybe I'll go with both choices.
3. Try to find time to meditate consistently. I swear it really does make a difference. It's like brushing my teeth. I know it's good for me and sometimes I even enjoy the sparkly fresh clean feeling, but it's a challenge to make myself do it after every meal. I hope to make meditation a consistent practice, so I can enjoy a multitude of benefits.
4. Volunteer. I think the best way to get rid of that underutilized feeling is to give back to others, so starting in January, I will be volunteering at a local mental health center.
I could go on and on, but these are my top resolutions. I hope to explore the idea of taking on new challenges, as well as hearing some of your resolutions in the coming days.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tunnel Your Energy into a Journal

If you don't keep a journal on your computer or in a notebook (etc), now would be a great time to start. I find that writing in a journal is very cathartic and means I have to spend less time bogging down other people with my problems. (I hope you don't consider this blog to be an example of that).

You can rant about one topic and repeat yourself for an hour and no one will be annoyed with you. Plus, it's easy and free entertainment. I am sure, also, that occasionally you stretch your writing muscles while keeping a journal. Most of the things I write really are not fit for print, but every now and then I will see a beautiful phrase that seems like it's worth sharing.

Journals are not only helpful emotionally and creatively; they also are a great outlet for energy of all kinds. I like to write prayers to the Universe, and, usually, I wind up writing some sort of answer. Now, I am not going to get into any metaphysical questions here, but even if I am generating the answers, it's an answer nonetheless. It's another way of working things out.

My friend is a runner. She says she started running because she had nothing left. I could say something similar about my journal. But even if your life is going well, journaling is a great way to spend time.

Learning to Visualize Dreams for a Healthier Life

"Those who lose dreaming are lost." This is an aboriginal proverb I found on one of my favorite blogs, writingoutloud. It got me thinking. I followed my dreams, and where has it gotten me? I have taken several wrong turns on the career path, but, at least, now have a steady job. I am married to a wonderful man, who is not perfect but is smart, funny, and sensitive. I can tell him everything. " Even though we ain't got money. . ."

So now that the basics are taken care of, it is time to dream new and bigger dreams. I dream of traveling the world before I'm an old woman. I dream of increasing my joy and learning to accept discomfort and pain as inevitable and necessary parts of life. Mostly, I dream of being healthier so I can lessen the effects of a chronic illness and live into a healthy old age.

So I've been taking steps. Contrary to the advice I gave you on this blog a few weeks ago, I have not been making one change at a time. I am too excited to wait. Instead I am making easiest changes first, in the hopes that it will increase my confidence for the harder changes.

One of the more difficult dreams to realize is the desire to be smoke-free. I made a big deal about quitting on here last week, and sadly, I am no more quit than I was two weeks ago. I can't afford hypnotherapy, so I was thinking about getting a book on visualization. Does anyone know a good one? I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Giving Up Your Image, Getting Peace of Mind

A friendly reader compared quitting smoking with her troubles being worry-free.I think a lot of us can relate to this problem, myself included. Some people worry about future events, some about meeting their goals. Personally, I worry most about what people think. There! I wrote it down; it's true.

I know this is suppossed to be a problem that only affects middle schoolers, but I must admit I worry about the image I'm presenting from time to time. Now, I know this is a very uncool problem, but I suspect that most of us have at least a little bit of an image to protect.

This may be that you are a person who makes a lot of money. What do you do when you suddenly lose your job? Or, you may want people to think you are a great parent, but the darn kid came home drunk last night. What are we to do about our images?

To be honest, I think this is a problem that gets easier with time. When I turned 30, I had a friend tell me, "In my 30s, I quit caring what people think." Plus, I have yet to meet a senior who seems too preoccupied with what other people will say.

Beyond letting time take it's course, I am renewing my commiment to meditating. I know I talk about meditating ad nausem, but it's a great way to train the mind. The keys are consistency and dedication (neither of which I have regarding meditation at this point in my life - maybe soon!). If we can train our minds, then we can kick out pesky thoughts like, "I walked around all day with spinach in my teeth. People are going to think I don't brush." Then, maybe I won't worry if you think I'm a nerd for having this problem.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Appreciating the moment without Smoking

Now, I am not going to turn this into a blog about quitting smoking, even though it is consuming my mind right now. There are plenty of blogs and information out there for those who want to quit, and I don't think those of you who never smoked want to hear me complain for the next few months (or years - could it be?) that I want a cigarette.

 I will say it's been about 72 hours since I smoked, and I still feel like I could slap my mom for a cigarette. Don't worry, Mom, I wouldn't really hurt you, but this does lead me to other thoughts.

It's amazing how much time my addiction took up. Whenever I didn't have something to do, I smoked. Now, I find myself bored a lot. I am pretty sure this is a matter of cultivating new habits, but it brings up something I'd like to share with you.

How many moments of the day do we spend wishing we were doing something else? I know personally my count is up to about 50 billion. Maybe we could spend less time wishing we were doing something else and more time enjoying what we are actually doing. In other words, we could change the ways we spend our time or learn to appreciate the moment, not matter what is occupying us.

I think this habit would be soooo beneficial and want to practice is more myself. I find focusing on the breathe helps me when I can remember to do it. What helps you appreciate the moment?