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Monday, December 31, 2018

The Sound of Bliss in CenturyLink Field

Cardinals vs Seahawks @ CenturyLink Field
Photo thanks to Amanda McCusker

We had the amazing opportunity to go to a Seattle Seahawks game in CenturyLink Field. It's the last week of the NFL regular season against the Arizona Cardinals. It was an incredible game, which the Seahawks won!

What struck me most about the experience was the sound. The stadium is built to amplify sound and the Seattle crowd knows how to harness the power and direct it into the game. During defensive plays, the stadium is deafening. During offensive plays, you can almost hear what Wilson is calling on the field it is so quiet.

Opposing teams average 2.36 false starts per game at CenturyLink Field. You can tell how the crowd affects the plays, it is a remarkable tactic. It makes sense why the Seahawks retired the number 12 to dedicate it to the fans who play the 12th man.

In the middle of all that focused energy, I closed my eyes. I could hear a pulse, a vibration, to the sound that made me feel elated, light as air and vibrating a little myself.

This euphoria is not an unknown feeling. Have you ever been to a concert or performance and the sounds and energy seem to go beyond that space and come from everywhere? I remember a few praise and worship moments, in church or with a group, where you could feel the divine reach out and caress your soul.

In yoga, we call that sound of bliss "OM." It is a sound and symbol rich in meaning and depth that is described as the sacred, universal sound of the universe. It is the moment when all tones, voices and energy align causing the sound to vibrate to a point of bliss.

The crowd in the stadium hit this sound and then projected it towards the plays happening on the field. It was an incredible feeling to be connected to so many people at one time. It was an experience I will cherish and lean on when I am feeling isolated in my own mind.

I even have it on video to remember it by:



Have you ever had this feeling of bliss, or euphoria? Where were you and how did it make you feel?

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Making Some Daily Habit Adjustments

Photo by Jonathan Klok on Unsplash

I looked at the calendar today and realized that there are only two more days until the new year. It is just another day, though a recognized bank holiday, that you can wake up and start fresh. You can do that any day. However, the new year is also a benchmark in time to consider how much has changed since the beginning of last year. I don't know about you, but my world has changed a lot.

Since the beginning of 2018 I have moved residents, began homeschooling my daughter, made a new commitment to publishing my novel and strived to find balance and confidence in my life. I have been more healthy in this past year than I have been in my entire life. I feel good and I am trying so hard to keep working towards my goals and consistently make improvements in my life.

The process is hard. Sitting down and doing the work is hard. Keeping the house and family running smoothly is hard. Trying to keep anxiety to a dull hum is hard. Taking time for self-care is hard. I'm not sure why it takes us by surprise, but life is hard.

At least as I realize how hard life really is, I am also discovering that I am strong enough to take it on. I have the support of people who believe in me and I am actively trying to change my habits to create a lifestyle of inspiration, peace and resilience.

In doing this, I am trying to change small daily habits.

One is to stop apologizing for things outside of my control. I hear myself apologizing because the red light didn't change fast enough or the store was out of our favorite flavor of potato chips. I can't control this, there is no reason for me to be sorry. In fact, it degrades my self-worth. I want to be sorry when I do something inconsiderate and it really matters. I want my apologies to be meaningful, not frivolous and I want to lift my self-esteem, not tank it.

Another small change is to answer in confidence instead of meekness. I've realized a lot of my indecision stems from my anxiety. I don't know which outcome or item will be better. The crux is that neither are better (in most mundane situations), but it a decision that must be made to be able to move forward. I am trying to trust that lean in one direction and just go with it without worrying what other people will think about it.

As a result of answering with confidence I am gaining a calm in my mind. To aid in this, I am getting rid of as many distractions as possible. I have very little contact with social media or things like that. I check my email once in the morning and then stop worrying about it for the day (unless I am waiting on a reply for something important I suppose, but that is rare.) I do my best, that's all I can do. That's all anyone can do.

I am also trying to focus on one thing at a time. It seems counter-intuitive in this society to not multitask, but I find I do a better, more concentrated, thorough and peaceful job at my tasks if I use my full attention on them. This goes for working, writing, reading, cooking, spending time with my family, even for walking or waiting in line. I take that time to observe my surroundings and the (mostly) amazing people I share this city with. There is a great joy in being entirely where you are.

As the new year quickly approaches, I am trying these adjustments. I've been working them in one at a time over the past couple weeks and I am finding great improvements to my mood, productivity and energy levels. I am ready for these changes and I am looking forward to the potential of what this new year has in store. 

Are you making any new year's changes in your life? What are you seeking during the next year?

Friday, December 28, 2018

Celebrate Something Today

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

I've recently had this calm come over me. As an anxious person, this is a pretty big deal. There was no great revelation or anything, just a good feeling that settled in. Thinking back through my day, it seems I had a great yoga class and have been able to keep the balance I gained with me.

In my yoga classes, the instructor often has some sort of message or intention to share. On this particular day, the message was about celebrating something everyday. It doesn't have to be anything big; it's the small things that really matter anyway.

She shared that this inspiration came after hearing a loved one was diagnosed with cancer. I also had a friend's mom recently diagnosed with cancer. It is scary how often you hear about this type of thing. It makes you feel like life is a waiting game, eventually something bad happens.

This is where my mind goes, that is why I am constantly reading inspiring quotes and seek out positive in everything - like yoga. My instructor said that it was a heavy holiday, but even more than that, she was inspired by the perspective.

Instead of falling into despair, live every day of your life like it is the most precious day in the world. Be in this moment and celebrate something everyday.

It could be something big like a holiday or accomplishment, but more often, it is those quiet moments  -- like when you finally get the library books back before they are due, when you made a really good batch of mashed potatoes from scratch, when you got a new game and really enjoy playing it, or when you had a good conversation with a friend. All of these things have happened in the last few days and I am celebrating.

There's something good happening, even if you can't see it yet. Sometimes you have to flip your perspective to see a positive spin, but that's okay. Take the day and really see it, the good moments and the ones you wish you did something differently. Learning and growing in your own journey is worth great celebration.

What can you celebrate today?

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Looking Forward to a New Year

Photo by Hombre on Unsplash

Hello dear readers,

I have to share with you today my joy of organizing. In fact, I am obsessed. I recently wrote about this in a post called OCD or Organized? That is the Question after realizing that I may be over doing my systematizing.

I am taking it a step further today, by sharing that yes, I indeed have a problem - and it's not OCD. I keep trying all of these ways to organize my productivity, meaning my thoughts and ideas for writing, my novel, my homeschool records, and my recipe book in particular. I've tried notebooks, note cards, online document, apps and nothing seems to be working.

My husband, with a chuckle, reminded me that any of those methods are fine, I just have to do the work and keep putting it together so I can build on it. I took most of the day to process this information.

I have decided binders are the way for me to store and expand data. I like several aspects of this system. For one, I enjoy the ability to have online and hand written entries mixed together, especially as I am actively developing ideas. I like being able to move them around as I wish and update them to recycle previous iterations. I like everything being in one place that I can get to and store easily. A binder does all of these things.

However, that discovery is only one aspect of this challenge. Now I have to do the work. Not only putting the information in the system, but then letting it rest. I need to be able to reliably go back to the material, knowing I have the most updated copies of my work and I will be able to find what I am looking for.

I don't feel like I am productive unless I'm running myself crazy. This is a perspective I must shift. There is lots going on, even while I am resting. For it is in these quiet moments that the next development often becomes apparent. I need to balance my time for work, rest and life by clearing away the clutter - both physical and mental.

So, that is what I am doing. The first step is to pack away all the Christmas decorations. This is always a slightly sad thing, especially the lights, but it is necessary. Then I have several piles of untouched materials that need going through so they are not in my way or a distraction. This time between Christmas and New Years is the perfect intermission to take care of these things.

My intention is to wait until the first of the year to start on my focused revisions for my novel, but I find myself seeking it out. I finished going through my files so everything is up to date and ready for the next step. This makes me so happy. It's a tangible step forward and I'm ready to go.

I need this time of organization to help me set myself up for success. I am proving to myself that I can stay calm, I can be still, I can be productive and still rest. I can be there for myself, my husband and my daughter. I can do it, I just have to stay organized. This is where it all starts, a whole new year. I am so looking forward to it.

What are you looking forward to for this upcoming year? How are you preparing yourself for it? I am sending you warm blessings of clarity, encouragement and confidence to help you on your way.

Namaste,

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Post Christmas Intermission


Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

Hello dear readers,

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

We greatly enjoyed ourselves. We slept late, opened a few gifts, then played games and ate delicious food all day. It was a perfect, cozy Christmas. We were able to talk to some family who live on the other coast and set up our new aquarium.

I'm really excited about getting fish. I believe having an aquarium in the house will be a huge benefit to us. Not only is it calming and a learning opportunity for all of us, but we are also making an aquaponics system. Basically, we are creating a closed system where the fish help fertilize plants as the plants feed the fish. We've been wanting to try this technique out for a while as an option to have an herb garden indoors.

Honestly, I love this time of year. If we are lucky, we are able to take a small pause between Christmas and New Years. I know this isn't the case for everyone, just like many people travel and are away from home on Christmas. But, it is an important time for my family to take a big breath and just enjoy this moment. We play games and build Lego sets. I usually clean up the kitchen to include the new gadgets and knickknacks I received to add to it this year.

This is a huge time of reflection for me. I really look at what I want to accomplish in the next year and figure out how to get there. It amazes me how much of my struggle comes from getting in my own way. I need to shovel the path by setting intentions and clearing out the clutter.

I've been looking at some old writings and systems that I've pushed aside and evolved, yet I am still hanging onto those ideas. I don't know why. I don't need that stuff anymore, it is no longer useful. Some is worth keeping to remember a particular thought or moment, but most of it is just collecting dust -- agitating my mind and work space. It's time to let all of that go so I can get out of my own way and really accomplish what I set out to do.

What do you need to get rid of this season to make way for the next?

I encourage you to think about it. That change is not necessarily anything big either, just the little things. In many ways, it's the habits you change that matter as much or more than the physical items. Get up a little earlier to start the day awake and ready. Journal or meditate before checking emails. Make your coffee at home to reduce you spending and sugar intake. Throw away the cheap pens and get some nice ones. Change that boring item sitting somewhere in your life to one that will make you smile. Print out some pictures and spruce up your work space.

Pay attention to the flow of your area, especially in the kitchen and where you work. Make sure you have what you need where you need it. Make your tools easy to get to and easy to put away. Recycle all the discarded ideas, broken tools and go through that pile you have been meaning to for forever. My goal in life is to keep a flat surface clean. I'll tell you, I haven't done it yet, but it is an aspiration that keeps me actively going through my backlogs.

It's the day after Christmas, you made it! First, it is time for a deep breath -- in through the nose, out through the mouth.

Now readers, it's time for the rest of your life. Make it a good one.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas 2018

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

I wish you and all of yours a very merry Christmas!

Christmas has come like a flash this year, even though it seemed like it would never get here. There is something fun about staring at a Christmas tree with a few surprises under it to share with the people you love. Often times the gifts are something we need, or want but wouldn't get ourselves. Sometimes they are just fun, but the important thing is, it is a day to come together to share, laugh and play.

I am so grateful this year for my family. The three of us are pretty close-knit and have celebrated Christmas together as a family since our daughter was born nine years ago. Nonetheless, we have family all over the United States it seems. I now send Christmas cards to nine different states. We love you all and wish you the best day filled with love and blessings.

I am thankful to be able to send out good tidings to the world. This is a time, at least in this country, that we really need it. No matter your belief, this is a time of year that brings out the best and worst in people. I am choosing to find the best in myself. What about you?

Happy Holidays to you where ever you are. May this day bring you cheer and joy.

Monday, December 24, 2018

OCD or Organized? That is the Question.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

I often wonder if there is ever a time where you can be too organized. I'm not sure the answer, but I do know I can't seem to stay organized because I keep changing my organizing pattern. I think I have a problem with just letting my systems be.

I'm beginning to wonder if the reason I can't seem to finish anything is because I spend too much time taking it from table "A" and moving it to table "B" and sometimes even back again. This is the case for so many things: recipe books, my writing ideas, my story details, my homeschool record keeping and even my own daily writing routine notes. I keep changing my methods so I never feel stable in my system.

I'm sure there is some sort of psychoanalytical conclusion you could draw from that. Some underlying factor that will inevitably have to do with anxiety or OCD or perhaps simply not being able to let myself be.

The real pickle is, I don't know what to do about this one. Before I can even get settled, I think of a better way to keep something. The only thing is, then I don't get much done because instead of working the problem forward I am just spending my time spinning around in circles. I wonder why a hamster does it? Is it just for exercise? Is it peaceful somehow? Is it some quest for natural survival?

Okay, I may be looking a little too much into this. Still, I like to look at my habits and try to figure out why I do the things I do. Organizing continuously seems to be a way that I assure myself that everything is going well. If it's not, at least I can change it.

Do you have anything like that? Something that you do consistently and don't really understand why. Do you ever wonder if that is the thing holding you back from doing something more? Maybe not, maybe that's just me. But it's something to think about.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Anxiety Doesn't Stop For Christmas

Photo by Tyler Delgado on Unsplash

The strangest thing happened to me yesterday, I felt my anxiety spike in a way I could not control. It was a crazy feeling to feel so disoriented. I explained it to my husband by describing how my head was yelling at me from the inside. I felt a weird sort of panic lying just under the surface of my conscious thought - my mind refused to think rationally.

I don't even know what set it off. We were discussing what we wanted to cook for Christmas dinner and weren't really coming to any cohesive conclusion. We were all getting frustrated and sort of let it be for the moment. But for some reason, I couldn't get the grievance out of my head. I want so badly for Christmas to go well, that I'm making myself crazy about it.

Something I've recently realized about Christmas is that it is the most anticipated day of the year. We start counting it down twenty-five days before it happens. It's still a few days off and I'm just ready for it to come so I can relax and not worry about it anymore. The anticipation creates a sort of underlying tension for me, which exasperates my anxiety.

It is a good kind of anticipation though. I'm excited for this year. Everything is already wrapped and ready to go. We are all ready to share the surprises we have chosen for each other. Eventually, we did figure out a Christmas menu with the added benefit of using the crock pot so we don't have to cook all day.

I took a walk down the street to this lookout point where you can see both the Space Needle and behind it the Olympic Mountains. It was a beautiful view. Though chilly, there was no rain this afternoon allowing a clear look at the snow covered mountains. The breath of fresh air really helped calm my anxiety down. I had to pay attention for the rest of the afternoon and remember to let go of my expectation of the outcome; to simply be in this moment and let those future moments take care of themselves once they get here.

It amazes me how much our expectation is the cause of our struggles. I want some to happen in a particular way and if it doesn't, which let's be honest nothing ever really occurs the way we think it will or should, then I feel guilty, disappointed or lost. I am trying to learn to let go of what I want the time to be and just appreciate what it has to offer in this moment.

I am grateful for my growth. Not very long ago, that kind of panic attack would have put me down for the whole day, or longer. This time, it was only a couple hours before I climbed out of my fears. This is something I am learning about myself - how to break out of this downward spiral of dread.



Saturday, December 22, 2018

Winter Solstice Reflections

Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

Winter offers the ideal setting for reflections, which lines up perfectly with the new year. I have been meditating leading up to this season, asking myself what intention I want to set for myself next year and how am I going to get there.

My goal, ultimately, is to publish my novel. I am at the point now where it would hurt worse for me not to finish it than it would to publish it and see it flop, or no one read it at all. I am defining my success in this endeavor as finishing the process. It has been an uphill climb to figure out how to accomplish this big of a project. It is taking a while, but I am learning so much along the way.

I don't know if it is precisely related, but I've had a realization about myself during these winter reflections. Most of my anxiety comes from freezing, undecided between fight and flight. I am the definition of a deer in the headlights.

Though I didn't define it until much later in life, anxiety has always been with me. Often causing me to hesitate and back down. Trust me, I was never the first one to go off a diving board, if I ever went at all.

I think this mentality is giving me a hard time with the completion of my novel. It is, after all, a long list of endless decisions about simple and complex things. I debate too long over little things and often want to change details after I've already gotten well through the manuscript.

I'm trying to change this anxiety, at least calm it down a little bit. I want to do this risky thing. Putting my story, my creation, out into the world is a scary thing. There is always this fear of not being accepted. It took me a long time to be able to want this bad enough to begin to overlook people's judgments. I am ready for a break through, that is what my new year is all about.

I am looking to overcome my anxiety with a strong daily routine of purpose, productivity and self-care. I have a lot of things I want to do and being organized and healthy is how I am going to get there. This isn't going to be easy, but I know I am strong. I am ready to find my voice.

Do you take some time from the holiday craziness to reflect on your year and set intentions for the next? I would love to hear about some of your aspirations. No matter what, always remember that you are strong and powerful. I wish peace for you and yours this holiday.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Almost Winter Day

Photo by Atle Mo on Unsplash

It is very much a winter day. We still have one more day until the Winter Solstice, and yet, I am already longing for spring. The days in the Pacific Northwest tend to run together in an eternal gray. Even during the day if the sun does peek out of the blanket of clouds, it is only for a short, blinding moment.

Yesterday, our power went out for a little over three hours due to an intense wind storm that knocked out power all over the city. In the end, it didn't really affect me all that much, but it sealed in winter as it slowly got colder in the house as the day wore on. I also can't believe how dark it is in the middle of the afternoon without lights on in the house.

Earlier that day in my morning routine, I was challenged to find something I love about the winter season. I have to be honest, that one is hard for me. This time of year, I struggle to keep moving when all I want to do is hibernate like a bear. I think I am solar powered because as the darkness increases, my motivation and focus decrease. I am intentionally working on improving that this year, but that's not the point.

The point is...I had to think really hard about what I could like about winter. The thing I like most about this time of year is when I get to curl up in a blanket with a cup of hot tea and read. I do that all year long, but it is especially satisfying in the winter. In fact, it was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon during our power outage yesterday - I am thankful for my Kindle with its back light and long life batteries.

It was funny the other night, I watched Ellen DeGeneres's stand up "Relatable" on Netflix (it was great by the way, I highly recommend it) and she uses this set up as an intro to her idioms bit. She asks who really takes a book and goes to curl up and read? I wanted to raise my hand high. I suppose every phrase has some sort of kernel of truth, at least this literary stereotype is one I don't mind.

All of this is going on in my head as I am adding layers and wishing I could heat up some water to make tea and toast Mother Nature on powering down half of Seattle for the better part of the afternoon.

After sorting through my cynicism, thank you meditation, I realized there is another thing I like about winter...and hot tea. It is a time for introspection. The darkness does not get me moving, but it does get me thinking--always a scary thing.

This is the time of year that I begin to make plans for the next year. I look at what has worked and what has not over the past year so I can make better choices moving forward. I'm finding the places I'm stuck and I'm trying to break through. I suppose that is at least something to be grateful for.

As the days get darker, I think about how it will all turn around before I know it. The rains will stop, the sun will come out and my power will come on. I will be back to my old self, running around and doing a million things all at once. But for right now, I am going to enjoy this time of rest to organize myself so I can make that break through next year.


Thursday, December 20, 2018

It's Time for a Breakthrough

Photo by Will Bolding on Unsplash

It's been over a month since I've posted and yet again, I have had a change in perspective. Honestly, Nanowrimo doesn't play well with blogging. Maybe that should be my blackout month every year because I go all in to write 50k words during the month of November. This year I wrote over 54k. It was a great and inspiring project this year.

But now, we are halfway through December and I am still not coming to the page to write and share my thoughts. In some way, I really want to turn this blog into my daily refection. The problem with this is that in order to get followers, you generally have to have some sort of niche, something that you talk about regularly that catches the interest in a particular group of people. My problem is that I am not like that. All of my thoughts jumble together in this cauldron of ideas, inspiration and emotion. I don't ever really know where they will lead.

Today I read this quote in a lovely book by Sara Wiseman called Living a Life of Gratitude, which stated:
"I realize that this is the lesson I am learning now: how to live without fear, regardless of outcome."
I have a hard time with this. I have these little panic sessions in my head sometimes where I imagine someone very close to me dies and I have to figure out what to do next. This is a fear that has paralyzed me off and on for years, though it has yet to manifest, I fear that it someday will.

I realized I had a problem when I was folding laundry while sitting on the bed almost in tears because I was so afraid something was going to happen to my husband on his walk home. He wasn't home yet, but I also wasn't expecting him for another hour at least. In fact, come to find out, he hadn't even left the office yet. I don't know why I worry like that, but I can't imagine I am the only one who does.

The thing is, that is no way to live. Now I have to step beyond that fear so I can get the laundry up and still have time to get some work done before I need to start dinner.

I think it is time for a breakthrough. When I dig my feet in the sand so to speak, I know something is about to happen. I am ready for it. I am learning how to manage my time better, I am doing a better job keeping energy and organizing my work space so I can get lots done. This is hard for me in the darkness of the winter, but I am determined to dig in, not to my fears, but to my dreams and work to finish the final revisions on my novel.

In the end, it all goes back to writing. That's why I have to write because the stories are ready to spill out, I just need to sharpen my pencil and come to the page.