Another way to look at the pandemic ‘pause’

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In my post, “Are you an energy drain?,” I talk about adopting an attitude of gratitude. Admittedly, I think practicing gratefulness vs. grumbling proved easier pre-COVID-19. Although not impossible, it now requires a greater commitment to look for—and expect—the good. One way that’s helped me focus on the positive includes working through a 28-day joy project. In addition, I ran across this gem: 50 ways to add joy to your life. And I also started listing things I’m learning about myself while life shelters-in-place for many of us. One of my biggest discoveries: that the response I don’t have time could be better described as a reflexive knee jerk. In fact, by simply shifting priorities, I make more time to engage in activities and projects that refuel my “joy” tank—like reading and writing, exercising and taking online classes, listening to podcasts and trying new recipes. With 1,440 minutes at our disposal each day, how can anyone be bored?

What have you learned during the “pause?”

Image courtesy of niamwha at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Make it work: just do it

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In my post, “How to discern the answer you’re looking for,” I talk about a trek into the desert that brings clarity to a dilemma and, although not a make-or-break-me situation, it’s a debate I engage in with myself on the daily (isn’t that a fun, hip phrase?). To write, or not to write—that is and has been the question for decades. However, during said hike, I discover, with certainty, that the desires knit into my heart prior to conception are not without a purpose (although TBD). So why don’t I jump for joy and shout with exultation?! Because life. And its plethora of more pressing goals and commitments; the battle between self-care and self-indulgence; the act of self-sacrifice to put others’ needs ahead of our own. But wait! To make it work does not mean all or nothing, nor does it require a choice of one dream at the expense of others. To make it work means: just do it.

How do you make it work?

Photo source: https://www.pinterest.com.

Do what you can: how to cultivate discipline

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On the heels of my previous post, “Persistence, determination…,” what if you don’t see the results of your consistent efforts right away? Or even within months or years of “showing up” each day? How do you fight the discouragement and keep on keeping on? That, my friends, boils down to the question: How badly do you want it? If it’s something that doesn’t occupy your thoughts 24/7 or make you excited to jump (or crawl) out of bed each morning, then whatever it is may no longer be worthy of your attention. And that’s okay. But if it is a dream that defines you or your purpose in life, then you must work through any disappointment or obstacles and chalk them up as growing pains. Maybe up your game, reprioritize. Simplify along the way. According to “Consistency Beats Talent…,” ‘Do what you can with the hours you have. Cultivate discipline. Master your time so you can maximize your production with what time you have.’

How do you cultivate discipline?

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Never the perfect time: sticking to our priorities

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You know when you plan to do “the thing” and there’s always another thing that comes up? Because life. Last year I devised a plan to apply for my MFA in 2017. My goal was to apply by Feb. 1. Then life happened and pushed out my application to May 1. Now it might be July 1. I mentioned this to a friend who said, “It’s like having kids… you are never really ready for it, just adapt when it happens and, surprisingly, it usually works out just fine.” He’s right: because life. Another friend is embarking on a new adventure of her own, denoting a big change in her life—which means conquering her fears. Change and fear are often synonymous with life, but we do our best to adapt, or to overcome. With that in mind, after work I didn’t pass go or collect $200 but, instead, drove home, stopped procrastinating and made significant progress on my application paperwork. Because life.

What must become your priority?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Purging and prioritizing: housekeeping for the soul

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regrets mistakes memories

Hard, this life thing. Over the past few weeks I’ve engaged in significant housekeeping tasks that, below the surface, denote a clean slate—a ‘starting over’ in practice and in theory. On the home front, I’ve tackled clutter and tossed what is no longer necessary, bagged up things to be sorted through eventually and donated items I hope might bless others. My personal life also experienced a collective loss, which has become the catalyst toward a sense of peace and healing—an opportunity to put my priorities in right order, to live with intention instead of allowing life to happen to me. Every regret or mistake I’ve made is a lesson learned, a temporary memory purged much like photos that fade over time or are deleted off a hard drive. And then replaced by the truth of knowing I’m finally on the right path as I leave behind my self-centered ways and prepare to step into my fabulous new life.

How do you ‘get over’ regrets or mistakes?

An exercise in self-discovery

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Self-discovery

 

In my post, “Living in the ‘ah-ha’ moment,” I share my insights about enjoying the journey with no attachments to the past or future. Throughout the last two weeks, I’ve put this concept into practice—in my writing, my job and my relationships. Pertaining to my daily writing habit, I prefer to work on more than one project. This way, I can pick and choose what to work on depending on how I feel in that moment. I might opt to ramble in a blog, experiment with poetry, explore character development or draft a contest essay. For my job, I chart each day and manage the tasks as I go, adjusting as needed contingent on priorities. And in my relationships, I exercise a ‘go-with-the-flow’ mindset. This includes a spur-of-the-moment trip I booked to fly home and play catch up with family and friends. I’ve discovered that living in the ‘ah-ha’ moment is my favorite place to set up camp.

What have you discovered while living in the moment?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Wanting and doing are two different things

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ID-10098825The saying, “It’s not about having the time, it’s about making the time,” is not a new idea. As I focus on the concept of balance this year and what it means for my life as far as work, play, fitness, relationship with self and others, as well as the pursuit of my dreams, I’m reminded that if I want to do something, it takes more than desire; it requires deliberate planning. When I don’t set aside time to tackle the task at hand, something else is bound to be more appealing or easier or convenient. Just like I make a regular commitment to practice the yoga, which can fill up 2½ hours of my day including the commute, I must pencil in time for the other priorities in my life—whether it’s journaling, deepening my connections with family and friends or decluttering and decrapifying my home and my life (see https://miscellany14.wordpress.com/2015/02/17/the-40-bags-in-40-days-challenge/). If it’s important enough, I will make the time.

What will you make time for today?

[Image credit Stuart Miles and FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

Aligning our beliefs, actions

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Working around a state of flux

 

[Image credit: digitalart]

If the things we believe are different than the things we do,
there can be no true happiness.
~ Dana Telford

Sometimes we must adjust one or more of our priorities, hopes, dreams, opinions, etc., in order to realign our values or goals. And sometimes that can be scary, painful and not without second guessing, remorse, self-doubt, etc. But if you find yourself in a near-constant state of confusion or conflict, then it’s wise to re-evaluate the things you’re doing to get where you think you want to go. Or perhaps what you believe about others, a situation or yourself is misinformed or untrue. Wherever you find yourself today, know it’s temporary. And be assured our lives are always in a state of flux. If not, we’ve ceased to grow, advance ourselves or contribute meaningfully to our small piece of society. When we’re able to align our beliefs and our actions, even for a day, all feels right—and happy—within our world.

What makes you truly happy?

Don’t be afraid of the white space

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Don't be afraid of the white space

[Image credit: anankkml]

In my post New Beginnings, I talk about not wasting the white space on the blank page of each new day.  This past week, however, I was reminded during the editing process at work not to be afraid of the white space.  What does this mean, exactly?  In publishing, it suggests that stuffing as much as we can onto a page is visually overwhelming to the reader.  Similarly, stuffing too much into each day is also physically and mentally overwhelming to the doer.  So how do we balance it out?  By making every word (action) count.  This way, the white space (free time) complements the overall publication/day’s design.  I talk about this often — taking periodic time-outs to rejuvenate.  But I just as easily forget and then find the demands on my time at a record high.  Consequently, it helps to pick a few priorities and work in the rest as time (and white space) allows.

Do you handle the white space by trying to fill it all in?