Present moments and future pleasures. #NaBloPoMo

30 Day Blog Challenge, Personal Narrative, Spirituality, Temple Building

Love in the past is a memory. Love in the future is a fantasy.
To be really alive, love — or any other experience —
must take place in the present.
~Jack Kornfield

I don’t want to get too caught up in what’s next. I want to enjoy what’s now. (While still excited about what’s next.)

I’ll admit that’s been hard the past few months. After a period of dormancy, my life is in the full bloom of spring. It’s glorious. I have big plans and I’m working toward them day by day. Still, I find myself saying things like, I can’t wait until

Now, I want to be clear: There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being excited about the future, no matter whether future means five years or five minutes. But being too caught up in future happiness – or past, for that matter – makes you miss opportunities for joy and growth in the current moment.

Happiness is not something far away. It is to be found neither in
fame nor in popularity. When you live with integrity,
your hearts begin to fill with a happiness as vast as the universe.
It’s about being true to yourself and starting from where you are.
~Daisaku Ikeda

Where are you?
There’s risk living fully in the present moment. You have to be open. Vulnerable. You have to face life as it is, not as you would have it be, or as it used to be. It requires acknowledgment. Discernment. And it’s a balancing act, really. Reflecting on past moments, looking forward to future moments, all while living in the now, is more than a notion.

NaBloPoMo March 2013

That’s really a challenge if you feel your life is a smidgen too far from perfect. Why focus energy here and now, when you really want to just hurry up and get to happily ever after? And if life is good now, but better is just around the corner, it’s easy to want to rush time along.  Funny thing, time.  You can’t get to future moments without experiencing this one. And because the chain of cause and effect is never broken, the way you experience the future is predicated, in large part, on the way you frame your present adventures.

Mindful moments.
One way I’ve remained mindful of (and grateful for) present moments, is by adding to my joy jar. I could do this more often, and I’m writing about it now as a gentle reminder to myself.  Another strategy I implement is listing. I jot down small, specific tasks I want to accomplish in a short period (one day or two), and check them off as I go.  It’s simple, but it allows me to see and appreciate constant progress, and consequently build momentum.

I also enjoy simple things like outdoor exercise, sitting in the sun, stretching, or salt baths. These all help me slow down and notice what’s going on right now. They also help me listen to my body, which whispers its need of rest or better nutrition before turning to drastic measures like illness or injury.

vorfreudeCultivate your life.
My aunt is a Master Gardener. And no matter how excited she is about her future blossoms, there’s no escaping today’s work of tilling the soil, planting and pruning as the case may be. She enjoys the work of gardening (even the setbacks), the anticipation, and the fruits of her labor.

And so it can be with us.

Today’s rainbow…musings from a traveler. #NaBloPoMo #amwriting.

30 Day Blog Challenge

I.

Today I wore a turquoise wrap. Peacock blue, to be precise. Smug and perky, a bright splash of joy draped across my shoulders, I took in the scene on the airport tram. Shook my head at the stoic wall of black-navy-gray. Oh, what a spot of color wouldn’t do to add a dose of cheer…

II.

Walking through the security line, my eyes spotted a fellow smug and perky. The slight smile on his face framed by a bright red sweater. He strolled, weaving through the stanchions with an air of confidence and a hint of fun. It was the red. I know it.

III.

My window seat afforded me a perfect view of the bay set against the pink-orange dusk. Smug and perky overcome by the sinking realization my time near salted waters and humid air is rapidly coming to a close.

Pass-a-grille Beach

Good credit. #NaBloPoMo #amwriting.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Productivity

NaBloPoMo March 2013When good things happen, people tend to underestimate how much credit is due to their own efforts, and overestimate the influence of outside forces.

  • That was just luck.
  • It’s only because someone else did thus and such.
  • I was in the right place at the right time.

Meanwhile, when something negative happens, the opposite is suddenly true. They get plenty of credit for the poor outcome, while the external forces are let off the proverbial hook.

  • It’s all my fault.
  • I always do thus and such wrong.
  • If only I had done this, that or the other thing.

In either case, the scales are always tipped to favor luck for good things, and self for bad.

Why is that?

We are co-creators in this world. That means just as there are some things outside of our control, there are other things that we have the ability to influence. We owe it to ourselves to get clear on our power in either case. We deserve credit for the victories in our lives. Perhaps we were in the right place at the right time, but we were also prepared and ready for the opportunity when it came along.

History is created by people. Each individual is a key protagonist in that endeavor. Instead of relying on others, we must enact our own great drama of creativity. Then we can break through the shell of our limited self, advancing and improving ourselves day after day. ~Daisaku Ikeda

We have agency. Don’t relinquish your power, content to subject yourself to the whims of the universe.  Sure, good and bad things “happen.” But be just as sure that you contribute to the good things. The more you recognize your power to co-create the wins in your life, the more victories you can accumulate.

Yes, Lady Luck deserves some of the credit, and so do you. Give credit where credit is due.

Beets and baby steps. #NaBloPoMo

30 Day Blog Challenge, Productivity

Baby steps count. I’ve said it before and it bears repeating from time to time.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m traveling a lot these days. When I’m home, I try to detox to some degree. This weekend I had the great intention to make hot pink smoothies. What makes a smoothie hot pink? One half of one raw beet!

#hotpinksmoothie

My time is limited on the weekends, and I was excited to make it to my local grocer to get beets and the other ingredients. Once home, I unloaded the groceries and immediately departed. No time to clean beets and fire up the blender.

I rushed around handling other business, lamenting my unprepared beets. Hours passed in this way. Then one day. Then two. Not until I was just about ready to depart did I finally get the beets ready.

I was disappointed I didn’t make my smoothies before I left, but guess what? Everything is ready for my next visit home. It’s a little step, but one big enough to put me ahead of the game next weekend.

Roots. #NaBloPoMo.

30 Day Blog Challenge

Today’s topic is a stream of consciousness.

I recently realized that weekly traveling isn’t really good for someone like me. By someone like me I mean someone who needs to be grounded. Whenever I travel, my spirit has to catch up. There’s a delay from an hour, up to a day, before I feel like I’m truly back in my body. This is especially true when I’m flying away from home.

I have an arsenal of grounding exercises, although in hotels I find that drinking lots of water and sitting still for an hour or so helps a lot. Nesting helps as well. I can’t live out of the suitcase. I have to unpack and organize and arrange things. Otherwise I just feel flustered and disoriented.

I’ve done the weekly travel gig before, and I think it bothered me less then because I spent fewer days on the road. I traveled one evening, worked two days, returning on the second. I had time to unpack, wash clothes, prep for and teach a face-to-face class at the university, and then repeat the cycle. It was hectic, but I always felt like myself. It also helped that I was working the same project, so I always stayed in the same hotel, saw the same people, etc. The routine was grounding, I suppose.

Most of this year, I’ve been away sometimes five nights at a time. I’m home long enough to soothe a distressed cat and head out again. Each week of the month it’s a new adventure, then the cycle repeats.

Thankfully my schedule is tapering a bit. (And soon enough, perhaps too much). I’m a bit of a workaholic, but I need to be rooted.

It’ll be nice to plant roots this spring…

Speak to me. #NaBloPoMo.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Feminist Thought, Personal Narrative, Sexual Violence

NaBloPoMo March 2013

Yesterday I touched on the risk of remaining silent. I have more thoughts on the topic, but I wanted to broach the other end of the continuum – speaking up. In this case, I don’t mean speaking out, per se, but rather truth-telling to yourself.

And of course I am afraid, because the transformation of silence
into language and action is an act of self-revelation,
and that always seems fraught with danger.
~Audre Lorde

Silence into Language
As a narrative inquirer, I investigate stories. I wonder what we can uncover when we treat stories as data; when we mine them and make sense of them. I encourage women to tell and delve into their own stories, to engage in deep reflection about the gems they unearth during this work. This is a liberating, yet potentially painful process.

I made brief mention of triggering. Studying your life reveals truths you had forgotten, weren’t expecting, or had even rejected. Suddenly, there they are, in bold relief, and you’re faced with a choice.

Language into Action
When I hit that moment of great revelation in my own investigation, I cried. These were the wrenching tears of a deeply wounded soul. My tears surprised me. I honestly didn’t know I harbored such profound hurt. But the crying and the subsequent feelings of relief did not mark the end of my work. They became the bridge to further learning and new steps.

I asked myself, now that I see this truth and better understand this part of my life, what will I do with this? What actions can I take to create a better outcome for me, or for others who may face similar circumstances? It wasn’t enough to give voice to my experience, I need/ed to use it.

If it’s true that past is prologue, studying my story gave me tools to construct a plot more to my liking. Rather than aimlessly bouncing to the next experience, I consciously authored next steps: learning vulnerability and inviting love.

And it was freeing. Scary. Difficult. Illuminating. Empowering. Risky. Painful. But freeing.

Speak.

My silences had not protected me.
Your silence will not protect you.

~Audre Lorde

The Risky Business of Silence #NaBloPoMo.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Feminist Thought, Personal Narrative, Sexual Violence

NaBloPoMo March 2013

I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That speaking profits me, beyond any other effect. ~Audre Lorde

For years I’ve carried a story untold. Two decades. Thank goddess I finally realized the untelling was its own telling; my silence its own story. Like an ill-trained architect, my silence designed a life that might not have been. And I suppose it had my permission – my silence was consent. But as of late I have been telling the story, rereading it and writing a new ending…building a brand new life.

Silence wasn’t a strategy. Not a conscious one, in any event. I didn’t know I needed to tell it. I didn’t know there was even a story; that there was anything worthy of telling. So I didn’t. I didn’t share it with anyone.

Not even me.

I carried a story untold, never bothering to see if the heroine, teenager that she was, needed to share her version of events. I never checked to see if she wanted to claim her space. Lift her voice. I gave her shelter, but no platform. I thought nothing of it, and without so much as gut check, I muted her.

And with each passing year, her story was reduced to a chapter, a vignette, a scene, a beat. A moment that no longer mattered because it was all those years ago, and here we are in a new time, and space, with new characters. No need for digging up the old untold.

Lies.

What are the words you do not yet have? What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? ~Audre Lorde

There is a risk in the telling, yes, but the greater risk is in the untelling. In the silence. In the denial of your story. In the casual disregard of your truth. Voicing your story does not have to mean telling it out there to them, but at the very least, you owe it your life to tell it in here, to you. What truths are hidden in your silences? What love is lost? What life is secreted away, literally buried alive? Can you save it? (Tell it). What is the story that remains hidden so far in you that you barely recognize or remember it? (Tell it).

Funny thing about a story untold. We deny it audience, yet it finds one anyway. We hear echoes of characters past in the voices around us today. We recognize the scenery in our present circumstances. We don’t quite understand why the script, the players, seem familiar. It’s untold story, demanding recognition. When if we could just tell it and see it for what it is, we could get on with the very important business of writing the life we really want.

And of course I’m not promising that telling is easy. Sometimes storytelling is a dangerous, triggering business. But you are the author of your life. Name your reality. Share your story.

And then? Keep writing the rest.

To an epic March. #NaBloPoMo.

30 Day Blog Challenge

NaBloPoMo March 2013

I am risk-averse.

I generally play it safe. But I woke up this morning, overjoyed, excited, and inspired to tweet this:

It’s because I’m on planes every week, logging hundreds of miles in rental cars, memorizing favorite dishes in restaurants, and yet rather than wait for all of that to slow down, I’m writing anyway.

It’s because somewhere amidst my hectic lifestyle, I have to pack up my apartment in paradise, and return to my roots. Something I hadn’t planned to do… possibly ever.

It’s because the last day of March marks the first day of a new life. And I can’t wait!

I’m not sure who this risk-taker is or where she’s been hiding all this time, but she seems to have relegated safe to the margins, allowing LIFE to take center stage.

#30in30. Part Deux.
On a whim, I wrote 30 posts in 30 days last August. My stomach churned a bit as I mulled Aliya’s tweets, asking fellow writers to join her on the quest. It seemed reckless. I had planned to write more in August, but not for all the world to see. Publish every single day? For a month? I’d never done it, despite my claims of being a writer. But because I’d been pushing myself beyond my comfort zone, the discomfort assured me this was likely to be a good decision.

And it was.

It was also very difficult. Like, very.

But I grew as a writer and as a person. And when the 30 days were over, I found I missed the discipline. I gave myself permission to vacation from blogging, and slack off a bit, but eventually the bit became a bite, became a double portion. I wanted to try “something like that” again. I thought I would start in April, when I was logging fewer miles and fewer calories. But two days after my birthday, I found I could wait no longer. March feels like the right time to write.

So here I am.

I have no clue what I’ll be sharing with you here. But I’ll be here every day. I hope you will, too.