Forgetfulness and Forgiveness

I’ve written before about how I am a numbers and metrics person.  I like data, spreadsheets, charts, but mostly, I like what these things represent to me. Progress. I you can measure it, you can improve it, and I’m all about self-improvement. I love tracking things. I track my calorie intake and burn (MyFitnessPal), I track my weight and fat percentage (Renpho), and I track my meditation length and frequency (Insight Timer).

It’s with this last one that I hit a snag. Because I committed myself to a 30-day meditation challenge, I really got into the groove of meditating for 15 minutes every morning – or at least every weekday morning. On the weekends, I typically mix things up and meditate in the afternoon when, during this time of year, there’s a chance I can go outside and enjoy nature while getting down with mindful self.

Things were going great. Every day I had timed and logged my meditation. I felt a small bit of elation every time I earned another little milestone star on the Insight timer app. 10 days consecutive, 20 days consecutive, 50 days total logged, and so on and so forth.

Last Sunday, just a few days before the 30-day mark hit, I woke up with a start. I had forgotten to meditate the day before. My 40+day streak of meditating had come to an end. I began feeling the rising disappointment that I had failed. That next star, that next milestone was grabbed from my grasp and put further down the road.

Balls.

Beans, My meditation companion most mornings.

But before flying off the handle and getting angry with myself, I stopped. This is what this challenge, or meditation in general is all about. It’s not just something I do to tick off a to do item on a task list. I don’t meditate to win or beat the numbers. I meditate to digest, to grow, to stop and allow myself to enjoy the present. I meditate to suck every last morsel of joy out of the marrow of life and let it nourish me and fill me with contentment and well-being.

I forgave myself the small slight and moved on.

 

 

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Content Consumption

Never stop learning.

I read 105 books in 2018. This is the highest number I’ve achieved in one year since I started tracking my consumption. I’ve always been a big reader.

Growing up, my parents would tease that I just wasted books, as I could easily read multiple Babysitters Club or Animorphs books in a single road trip. Literature was one of my earliest leisure activities and my love for reading continues now.

I read all platforms. At any given time, I’m reading 3-4 titles, typically 2 audiobooks and 1-2 physical books or ebooks on my Kindle. I do try to make sure the books that I’m reading simultaneously are of different genres, so as not to confuse them.

In addition to my numerical goal, this year also marked a big change in my reading habits. I delved into more non-fiction titles than ever. Novels are generally my bag, but through my journey of self growth and mindfulness, I’ve definitely learned to love and appreciate those books that can further my growth. I’ve read books to learn more about the industry that I  work in and love — employee recruitment and retention–and in doing so, found a new passion in mindfulness and mindset coaching.

This year, I hope to consume even more of this growth content and become a better qualified go-to person in the field of mindset training.

 

On Meditation and Corgis

I often change up my meditation routine so that the act itself doesn’t become a mindless routine. During warmer days, I particularly enjoy meditating outside. I’ll do my routine sitting on a pillow on my 3rd story back porch, overlooking the forest in the shadow of Mount Yonah, or I’ll curl up on our newly restored porch swing, surrounded by a string of decorative firefly lights, or I’ll be in one of my favorite places–lying back in my hammock.

But alas, the days have turned much too cool to comfortably sit outside with little to no movement. So my meditations have returned to the indoor world. For the past few days, I’ve been sitting cross-legged on the living room love seat with a square throw pillow in my lap.

And everyday, Beans, my corgi puppy, has been jumping on the couch and then crawling on top the pillow in my lap and falling asleep.

The first time she did this, I was unsure of the outcome–she is an energetic puppy, to be sure, lots of little piranha teeth.  But, I gave her the benefit of the doubt, and I truly believe that she’s significantly improved my meditating experience.

You see, I’ve been focusing on compassion, gratitude, and goals during my meditation ritual lately. When I take a couple of minutes to center on compassion, I have a tactile link I can explore. All of my pups illict deep feelings of love and compassion for me. So when I need to bring those emotions to the surface, I place my hands on her and those feelings are brought forth easily.

The warmth of her body. Even though the pillow is soothing, and the rhythmic motions of petting her keep my attentions on the here and now.

Of course, right now, Beans is only 10lbs. Let’s see how I feel about this habit when she 25-30lbs!

My meditation partners–Scotch beside me and Beans on the pillow in my lap (with the sock she brought with her)

 

Taking It Easy

I’ve had a tough, strange week. Aside from experiencing mild to moderate ongoin energy issues — which were not helped by the time change AT ALL — I’ve also been dealing with a resurgence of stomach-ish pains. AND my jaw decided to randomly misalign itself, so I’ve been dealing with a super sore jaw that messes with my eating. It’s been a struggle to stay awake and stay focused.

My productivity has been sorely lacking.

But, I’ve allowed myself to take it easy. Pushing won’t help, but I have to be careful to distinguish between relaxation and laziness.

Today, I improved a bit. I had energy. My abdominalnpain abated for the mist part. My jaw still hurts like the dickens, but that’s more easily dealt with. So today, the cabin got a much needed cleaning and the cupboards are once again filled with food. I not only meditated, but I also exercised for 45 minutes on my recumbant bike — taking it relatively easy, of course.

Time to reset and get back on the horse.

Fall Sensations: Tastes

I love food.

And as the temperatures start falling, the varieties and hardiness of food explodes into a veritable cornucopia of potential feasts. So closely entwined with your sense of smell is your ability to taste. Food and drinks are amazing in autumn!

Some people say that fall officially begins when the pumpkin spice latte becomes available in Starbucks. Personally, I prefer a caramel mocha frappachino, or my homemade mulled apple cider, but I digress. There are a few things out there that are pumpkin spicy that I do enjoy (my co-worker’s gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake balls are divine!), but I tend to enjoy the other flavors of fall.

It all starts with the candy. Everyone knows that pumpkin-shaped Reese’s are far superior to the everyday Reese’s, and every small piece of candy brings back memories of trick-or-treating and tummy aches. When you see the halloween-branded candy in stores, you know, in your heart, that that candy is the best.

But as we get older, our dessert palettes become more sophisticated. We crave the richness of pies – apple, pumpkin, pecan, oh my! A nice hot piece of pie, all topped with a scoop of quickly melting vanilla ice cream.

Admit it, your mouth is watering at the thought of it. Remember the last time you had a delicious piece of pie? Visualize the experience. Enjoy the memory, savor it!

Pie is a special treat in my household. We typically only have it three or four times a year, with Thanksgiving usually being the most pie-intense day. But dessert is not the only taste of the aptly named Turkey day, there’s a whole feast involved!

Old picture of me chowing down on the leg of some fowl – can’t remember if this is turkey, goose, or duck. We kinda experimented a lot with Thanksgiving several years ago.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls, dressing, gravy, creamed corn, casseroles galore, and so much more! Not to mention the leftovers and the inventive meals that you come up with to use those last remaining bits of turkey.

Oh, so good!

And think of all the other wonderful foods that don our cupboards and shelves during Autumn: Apples, nuts, oranges, cloves – things that not only taste great, but leave a lasting, comforting aroma.

And stews! Soups! and Chili! all those warm comfort foods that seem too hot to enjoy when it’s 90 degrees outside hit the spot when the thermometer drops below 60.

What’s your favorite fall food and drinks?

Y: Yard Sales

Today is the one year anniversary of my my Grandmother’s death, so for my Y entry, I’ve decided to repost “Yard Sales in Heaven.”

Original Post from April 29, 2013:

At 12:15pm today, my grandmother died. I wasn’t by her bedside, or even in the same state. I was in my office, waiting for the call I’ve been dreading for the past day and a half.

Several times on this blog, I’ve mentioned my passion for going to yard sales, especially in search of books. I got this love of riffling through other people’s old things from my grandmother, who was an avid connoisseur of yard sales, rummage sales, and estate sales. I loved going to visit her, knowing that we would spend all day Saturday driving around the neighborhoods of Maryville, TN looking for thrifty treasures. She knew all the best neighborhoods, and would always scan the yard sales listed in the local newspaper, looking for the best sounding ones and planning out our entire day beforehand. We would pick her up from her house (a house who’s land backed up right to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park), and she would climb into the car, armed with her newly-purchase purse (95% of the time she had gotten it from a yard sale a few weeks beforehand) and the clipped classifieds section, the best yard sale advertisements circled in pen. From 8am to lunchtime we’d prowl the subdivisions, and then go back out and search for more after lunch. No one had a better garage sale sign radar than she did.

Growing up, it was always my dad who drove. My dad has a tendency to hurt himself, or, he would rile me up enough to where my little-girl fist would somehow find that perfect spot on top of his shoulder. Any time my dad got hurt, it set my grandma off into giggle fits. She couldn’t help but laugh every time he cried out in shocked pain.

Over the years, she gave me many small presents, treasures that she had found at yard sales and knew they were perfect for me. She got me dinosaur figurines and jewelry, books and fancy boxes, beautiful pens and silly notepads. Each thing was special, especially since it only cost twenty-five cents.

Later, my husband took the reins of driving us around, at the same time we drove him crazy. “GARAGE SALE SIGN!” one of us would shout, forcing him to react quickly (his radar isn’t nearly as tuned as ours). It was on one of these adventures with my husband that my grandma said something that has stuck with my husband and me ever since: “Monkey Fuzz.” Where most people would say something like “Ah damnit, lost my lipstick!” she would pipe “Aw, Monkey Fuzz!” in her unique sweet and high-pitched voice. There’s hardly a day that goes by that one of us doesn’t use this playful curse.

One of the first books that I ever picked out for myself was during one of these yard sale excursions with her. It was the fourth book in the Babysitters Club series, Mary Anne Saves the Day. I have bought many books from yard sales since, and I don’t remember where or when. This one was special, because it was my first. I remember that it was an old farm house, shaded by old, mossy trees. And I remember that my grandmother was there.

I continued the tradition of going yard saleing with my grandmother up through my early adulthood, and I would still go with her if I could. I inherited several things from my grandmother (the allergy to penicillin being one of those things), but my love of yard sales is one of the best things she ever gave me. I won’t be able to stop at strangers’ houses looking for cheap stuff without thinking of her. I love her and I’ll miss her dearly.

Mamaw, I hope you’re enjoying all those yard sales in heaven.