On Saturday, Greg and I returned to one of our favorite local destinations – The Smithgall Woods Center for a hike.
Smithgall is awesome because most of the time, the entire park is pedestrian only. So even just getting around in the park is a hike in itself, and there’s several hiking trails off of the main road. It’s a peaceful, less populated state park.
I am happy to say, that the park has fully reopened. Last time we went, most of it was closed because the main road had been washed away, leaving behind a ravine.
Instead of hitting up one of the normal hiking trails, we decided to take a graveled side road up to a cell tower. The road is aptly named Tower Road. We’d never explored this part of the park before, and I can say for certain that this is definitely the steepest part of Smithgall.
We took the Scotch and Beans and had some fun. After not going hiking or leaving the house much at all these past few weekends, it felt awesome to get out in nature again and really reset myself for the week at hand. Nothing makes me more content than a jaunt through the woods amongst the happy tree pheromones ion thingies (no really – look up “Forest Bathing”)
When I started my 2019 journey, I made a promise to consume more meaningful content in order to promote my personal growth. One of the reasons I started this blog was to share this relentless pursuit of self-improvement and joy to the world at large. So I’m adding a somewhat new feature to the blog: Book reviews.
Bishop doesn’t hold the punches in this book. It’s no nonsense, and the advise is practical. The main premise of the book is that we, as human beings, are wired to win. We just have to figure out what it is we’re winning at. Is it something that you don’t really want to win at? Well, you’ve got to change your narrative and stop being your own worst enemy.
This is a self-care book for people who are put off by the more spiritual, “hippy dippy” kind of self-care. It’s a good nudge for people who might balk at the genre in general, but because it has a edgy title, they may be more likely to give it a try. And even though the author disparages the adage of “Just think positive thoughts,” the message kinda boils down to that anyway, but in a way that’s less cheerleadery and more real.
It’s a positive attitude kick in the pants.
Most of the self-improvement books I read, I actually listen to. Narrators can make or break an audiobook. Unfu*k Yourself was no exception. It’s read by the author, who is Scottish, and that gives it an extra bit of gruff awesomeness. Bishop’s voice is unique in the world of audiobook narration and kept my attention for sure. And at only 3 hours and 23 minutes, it’s a quick listen.
Each morning, pretty soon after waking up, I set my intention for the day. Typically, this intention is just one or two words that I hope will guide me to a meaningful day.
Productivity, focus, health, happiness, contentment, momentum, minimize — these are all words I’ve used to set the tone for my day.
But what about long term? This year, I’m trying something new. I’m setting a renewing intention for the year. I’ll still have my varying daily focuses, but all relate back to my overarching theme for this year – Growth.
I want to grow.
No not taller, y’all. I don’t wish I were a baller. I mean, I AM short, and could use an extra inch or two to my stature, but that’s beside the point.
I mean that I want to grow as a person. I want to focus on growth in multiple facets of my life. I want to grow my intellect. I want to increase my muscle mass. I want to improve my physical health and go deeper with my emotional and mental well-being. I want to grow to be a warmer, more compassionate person.
Along with one of my bosses, I organize our mindset training group at work. Mindset training is one of my favorite job perks, and helping form and run it is an extremely fullfilling duty. I love this group of folks and the self-improvement work that we do, together.
This month, we decided to do a meditation challenge, but unlike other challenges, each person made up their own goal to accomplish over the next 30 days.
Mine is to meditate at least 15 minutes once a day over the next 30 days.
Though the challenge officially started yesterday, I knew about it ahead of time (one of the perks of being a leader), so I’ve been gearing myself up and figuring out the best way to adjust my morning routine to fit.
This morning, I hit a personal milestone. I’ve meditated for 10 days straight. Woohoo! It’s a nice little win for myself.
Writing a goal or intention down, pen to paper, makes it more real. You have a tanglible reminder of what you wanted to accomplish. So everyone who is taking part, wrote down their personal challenge.
There is no winners or losers in this challenge, no competition, just a pledge to improve yourself.
What mindfulness practice do you challenge yourself to do over the next month?
Growth comes from rest. When you work out a muscle, the fibers tear. These tears are where the growth occurs. But if you just keep tearing, day after day, without giving you body time to repair itself, you risk serious injury.
Which is why I decided to forgo a workout session tonight. My legs hurt something fierce. I’m not sure if it was from my regular workout rourine, or from the two games of bowling yesterday, but as the day has gone on, I’ve found myself in increasing pain.
I welcome a bit of soreness, because it means I accomplished something. But sometimes, I over do it. If I don’t take the time to heal, I’ll only make things worse. So tonight, I’m taking a break from my normal Monday night workout session.
The same is also true for your mental health. If you don’t take the time to stop and allow you mind and soul to repair itself from those little tears they experience everyday, instead going on and on, with no stress relief, the pain will debilitate you. Overwhelm will set in. Meditation is a great way to rest your mind. Being mindful and grateful is another way. However you chose to stop and relax your mind, it doesn’t matter. Just remember to allow yourself time to rest and heal.
So this is a reminder to stop. Be present. Focus on you, your surroundings, what’s happening right now. Is there any part of you–mind, body, or soul–that needs a rest?
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the daily journaling technique that I use to make the most of my days. Everything I did was handwritten, and doing so, would take me anywhere from ten minutes up to an hour to complete. Okay, the days it took an hour were due to other things distracting me, but still, writing every little thing out, while incredibly helpful for focusing my day, cost extra precious time I could actually be accomplishing something else.
So I took the time and dedicated my personal project time to developing a PDF version of my journal that I hope meshes together the best of both worlds. I save a little bit of time with writing out the repetitive stuff, but I still get the benefit of hand-writing out the important stuff, thus continuing to support my intention-setting and productivity goals each day.
I’ve decided to share this pdf with the world, no strings attached. Seriously, here’s the link: daily journal
Simply download and print. You can print on two pages, on front and back, or both pages on a single, front side in landscape mode, or whatever works for you – you just have to finagle your print settings.
If you need any extra guidance on how to fill this out, I suggest you read the original post on journaling.
I don’t often interject my opinion on social media threads, but earlier this week, a topic caught my attention. You see, a lady lost her 6 year old dog a earlier in 2018. She grieved. But towards the end of 2018, she and her family decided it was time to get another puppy. Fast forward to last week, and the day before the new puppy’s pick up date – that’s when the guilt ferrets invaded.
She posted her feelings in a group we both share membership in. She spoke how she felt guilty about getting a new puppy, feeling like she was replacing the late pet, and she wasn’t sure she could give this new puppy the love she deserved.
I responded, because I found out a truth myself this past year. A new puppy is an amazing salve. We lost our Waffles back in July and got a new puppy, Beans, in September. I had similar thoughts. I still miss Waffles like crazy, but Beans’s puppy joy has helped a lot.
Grief like this leaves a hole in your heart. And while getting a new puppy doesn’t heal that hole, it makes your heart grow even bigger, so that hole becomes less noticeable and painful. I still grieve for Waffles. Because I posted so many pictures of her, they show up in my social media flashback timelines all the time. Most of the time, they make me smile. Other times, they make me sad with the remembrance of how awesome a dog Waffles was.
What doesn’t happen is I ignore them and say to myself “Well she doesn’t matter any more. I have a new puppy now!” – because I’m not a heartless asshat.
But back to the story at hand.
Soon after, the thread was filled with the exact same sentiments. Over thirty other folks replied to this lady and helped her over her guilt bump, enforcing the fact that she was ready to love this new puppy. And the next day, she posted happy pictures of the new puppy.
Grief sucks because it isn’t something that you can just get over with a deep breath and a mental reset. It has to run its course and afterwards, it’s always with you. I titled this post a Little Bit of Grief because the loss of a pet is, to me, a little grief in comparison to losing a spouse or child. Pets’ lives are fleeting. I love my pups, but I know that they live short lives in comparison to humans. Your children and your spouse are supposed to be forever. Their loss cuts so much deeper.
I’ve lost all my grandparents, and I’ve even lost a cousin whom I damn near grew up with. I still mourn them. I still find myself crying at their individual tragedies and absences, but I’ve found things and experiences to grow my heart over the years, and it’s helped make the holes they left more bearable.