Reflection and New Year Reset

Good bye, 2018 and an enthusiastic hello to 2019 – a fresh new year. It’s time to reflect on last year and reset your mindset for this year. It’s been a whole 365 days of growth and setbacks and rebounds and losses and wins and forward momentum and stumbles and epic moments. There’s a lot that’s happened in the past year. So take a few minutes to not only check in with yourself, but to really focus on what has happened this past year to encourage your own personal growth.

What lessons were learned? What were your wins? What were your low points? What were your high points?

Below, I reflect on several different areas in my life and how I hope to reset these areas and work on them in the upcoming year.

Worklife

Reflection: One huge thing that I’m proud of is being a part of my workplace getting ranked number six on Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work for Small to Medium Business. I firmly believe that this award was the result of our efforts to help the employees of our company to become happy individuals through things like our thoughtful team-building events, our mindset training, our wellness challenges and more. Most of which I had at least a small part of. I love my co workers and I love my job.

Reset: I want to focus even more on encouraging the personal growth of my coworkers. More ways, more options for them to find their own paths to happiness or enlightenment or stability or whatever it is they seek. I will curate a learning library for them. I will lead more wellness challenges or activities. I will continue to be a coach and enthusiast for mindfulness and mindset training.

My Body

Reflection: I got ill again this year. But this time, I didn’t break down in a bathtub. Because of my first battle with this mystery sickness, I was better prepared and armed. I chose to fight harder. And as a result, me and my team of doctors were able to eliminate a few more possible causes. I also bounced back a lot quicker this time, even though I’m still having a few lingering, albeit relatively minor, symptoms.

Before I experienced my illness this year, I was on the journey to becoming a fitter person. I faced a set back, but I’ve reset already and am making the choice to jump back on the fitness wagon.

Reset: I am now better prepared for the struggle. New insurance means newer, lower deductible and out of pocket max. This year, I will strive to get my body in even better shape so I not only feel and look better, but I’ll also be better prepared to fight if illness strikes me down again.

Mindset

Reflection: This year is the first year that I’ve really focused on being mindful. I’ve always enjoyed the simple pleasures in life – food, honest work, nature – but now I’m taking even more pleasure in it. Not only living in the moment, but really taking it all in.

Reset: Keep on keeping on. I’ve made great strides and I plan on continuing with this mindful momentum. I’ll continue journaling, meditating, practicing gratitude rituals, doing yoga, and consuming growth content to become a more well-rounded person.

Overall and Miscellaneous

Reflection: This year has had its ups and downs. We lost Waffles, our beloved first dog who fought her own battle with illness (Degenerative Myelopethy) for three years, and taught me so much about love, companionship, and patience. We got a new puppy, Beans, who has brought so much joy and compassion (and bite marks) into our lives.

I hiked less, but took up kayaking and love the new variety we’ve found in our outdoor activities. I got a tan this year for the first time in decades!

I made major strides towards my health and wellness, and then I became ill again.

I ate better.

I gave up alcohol.

I found mindful living and shifted my mindset. I became a happier, more patient human being.

Reset: This year I will strive to focus more on

-my personal growth and happiness;
-becoming a coach and resource for others;
-decreasing my body fat percentage to more optimal levels;
-saving more money by budgeting better, making better choices, and making my money work harder;
-making an effort to be warmer to all those around me.

Hello 2019

I do have fears for 2019. I’m afraid I can’t maintain consistency, or that I will lose forward momentum. Really, my biggest fear is that I will get sick or worse again, or that the lingering symptoms won’t go away.

But I am so excited for all the possibilities of this upcoming year. I want to feel fit and well once more. I want to be a guide and help others realize their own goals. And I just want to continue living my fulfilling, Hobbit life.

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Journaling

Dear diary, today I…

No, no, no. Not that type of journaling. Not that there’s anything wrong with keeping a diary, it’s just not what I’m  focusing on for the purposes of this discussion.

I want to talk about journaling as a means for focus and intent, and even for productivity and momentum. Journaling is daily planning and reflecting. It sets a purpose, a list of goals and tasks, and it should be meaningful to you, personally.

It’s December. The end of the year. January is just around the corner. A new year signals a new awakening, a new purpose,  a new you! So of course I’m being inundated with advertisements for specialized daily planners. Fitbook, Evo Flow, Panda Planner – just to name a few. These are companies who are jumping on the journaling bandwagon, each with their own unique, but similar approaches to daily planning and goal setting. And I’m definitely encouraging these marketing algorithms to show me more. Each time one of these planners shows up in my Instagram or Facebook feeds, I click on them  interested to see what their methodology is, and to see if I get inspired to change up my own journal formatting at all.

I also hate to disappoint these these companies,  but I’m not going to shell out $40 for their product – at least not anymore. I have bought a Panda Planner in the past, and really liked it. It helped shape what I do now. The prebuilt, structured planners are a great starting point if you don’t know what you need to do to get into a daily journaling ritual.

My journaling method isn’t a secret, and it isn’t anything fancy. It’s just what I do to put myself in the right mindset for the day, to organize and focus, and to help me be as productive and accomplished as I can be.

First, I write down the date, because I’m such a rebel. Actually, this forces you to acknowledge what say it is, so that when you inevitably have to tell someone else the date, you look like you’re on top of it.

Next line is my mantra for the day. Currently, my mantra is “I will be productive. I will make good choices. I am awesome.”

Then, I write down three things that I am grateful for. This helps set yourself in a positive mindset. Gratitude rituals have been shown to make people’s baseline happiness increase, and the happier you are, the more focused and productive you can be (not necessarily a scientific fact, but more anecdotal). I physically write “Today. I am grateful for…” and I list three things.

After that, I write out three things that I love about myself. This may be awkward for some. I find myself struggling with this one as well as it wars with my ideals of not being a snob. But self love isn’t conceit. It’s about recognizing the awesome in you and about you. This can be a physical feature. It’s okay to be proud of your derrière.

For the last part of my first section (there’s four, bear with me, the others are shorter), I write down three things that I am looking forward to. Going to the movies, a party, completing that big assignment, a weekend hike — the whole future awaits you!

This is where I draw some pretty little divider and move to the next section. Section two has only one part. I list the tasks I want to accomplish that day, usually in an abbreviated form ( ie, I write “bed” instead of “make your bed”). Sometimes I organize them into categories, sometimes I don’t. I do, however, typically break it down into four columns.

My third section is optional. I put an hourly breakdown. A list of when I’m going to do what (this is where the list categories comes in handy).

An example of my daily journal.

Last section is the one that I skip over way too much, but I know I shouldn’t. At the end of the day, I list three things I could improve on from the day, and three things that I did awesomely and can be proud of.

This type of journaling is a great habit to get into and I implore everyone to find a technique that works for them.

I do suggest that you invest in a pen/pens you like to make journaling more enjoyable. I use three different colored pens for my daily entries, because I love making my life a bit more colorful.

Do you already have a journaling routine? What does yours involve?

Leisure Time vs. Lazy Time

Everyone should afford themselves some leisure time, but be careful not to fall into a lazy trap. But April, aren’t they the same thing? No, there is a huge difference between spending your time leisurely and spending your time lazily.

Leisure has purpose. When you are allowing yourself leisure time, you are focused on your enjoyment, whether that’s reading, fishing, hiking, doing whatever you need to do to give you some purposeful downtime. Laziness is nothing. It’s idleness that doesn’t do anything for you.

Another difference is reward. Leisure is something that you earn. Laziness is more related to procrastination or boredom.

Life’s too short for boredom. Be intentional with your time. Spend it wisely. Your off time should be spent doing something you actually enjoy, something that gives you a positive boost. And be mindful during your leisure time. Get the most out of it!

Some of my favorite leisurely activities are hiking, kayaking, reading, writing, and coloring. What do you do in your leisure time?

Combining two of my favorite leisurely activities – Kayaking and reading!

Another Day, Another Test

Today I had an endoscopic procedure where they put a camera down my throat and looked around in my upper GI tract for anything untoward.  (It was supposed to be yesterday but due to insurance stuff, got moved to today).

There was nothing obvious to be found.

I still have to wait on the results of the couple of things they biopsied, but things look to be on the up and up. Several major illnesses have been ruled out, so that’s good.

And, yet, I still sit here with these mystery pains.

Onward.

 

 

 

 

Privilege

I’ve been pondering lately on privilege. I am grateful for the level of needs I have met on Maslow’s hierarchy in order to be free enough to explore things like mindfulness and contentment.

That’s the one big problem that I see with so many of the self-help and mindfulness gurus that are out there. They spout their beliefs and say that ANYONE can be happy with what they have and where they are. They just have to chose to be happy.

But that simply isn’t true.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

There are other, more basic needs that must be met before we can stop and truly focus on our happiness. Who wants to be mindful of the sensations of their body, when their body is starving and in desperate need of food? Or when their body is shivering from wont of proper clothing and shelter? Should I person who must live in an environment of violence and hate be content with not being hurt or killed everyday?

Can you tell these people who are homeless, sick, famished, or fearful that they should look at all they have to be grateful for? Sure, they have things in their lives that I’m sure that give them some source of pleasure, but their focus must be on fulfilling those more basic needs of food, shelter, and safety before they can start fathoming a journey towards love, belonging, and esteem? not to mention gaining the privilege that is mindfulness.

Some people can check off those basic needs so easily, and for others it’s a constant struggle. Through struggle, there is growth, of course, but it’s never as simple as “stop to smell the roses” or “meditate daily.”

And my argument here doesn’t even begin to brush the surface of serious mental health issues like depression.

So yes, I do encourage folks to be mindful and focus on their self-care as much as possible, but I also understand that not everyone can accomplish that at any given time in their lives. I am white, financially stable, and relatively healthy (… relatively). I come at the practice of mindfulness with all that my upbringing and environment allows me, and I strive for more growth all the time. But that’s just it. It’s a journey, and people start at so many different beginnings and there is no set destination. You just keep moving forward, fulfulling each level of need until your time on this earth ends.

So take care of yourselves, my friends, whatever that means to you, wherever you’re starting from. Never stop striving for better.

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.