Sunday, January 4, 2015

Downtime gratitude

Today is the last day of my 2 week holiday break. I'm trying my hardest to focus on enjoying the day rather than let the "return to the real world" blues consume me. This has been the most enjoyable vacation I've had in a long time. I actually had that thought multiple times a day every day for the last 2 weeks. I've made many verbal and (even more) silent declarations of gratitude for this downtime. I didn't even know my soul was so starved for this break until it was given to me.

I had grand plans. I planned to go to the gym, go to yoga, go to the library, go to a few shows at our local (world renowned!) theater, organize and declutter, bake, craft, journal, shop, and anything else I desired. Go. Go. Go. Except it would be go, go, go for fun and because I want to.

So what did I do? I went to the gym. Never made it to yoga. I have a favorite yoga studio and I LOVE it there. But it's a 3 hour time commitment for just 1 class (that includes 1 hour and 10 minutes of driving just to get to and fro.) I couldn't get excited about driving or that time commitment...even when my schedule was so flexible. I tried to find a local studio...and asked around, but there just isn't anything desirable closer. If I had the training & talent, I'd say that might be a pretty good business opportunity. I let the yoga go. I made it to the library 3 times. I read 9 books. I'm working on my 10th. I still have one on the shelf and a list of 10 more I'd like to read. I heart the library! We went to 1 show at the local theater. It was fantastic! We will go again, maybe make it a seasonal date. I did organize and declutter, but not nearly as much as I planned. This one is kind of a joke because we are pretty organized and somewhat minimalists. But there is always extra stuff. I took down (and packed up) some decorative tchotchkes that no longer make my heart sing. I cleaned out a bin full of technological accessories, my hair accessories, and t-shirt drawer. I donated clothes, artwork I'll never display, and random household items we no longer use. I never got around to cleaning out my entire wardrobe. Next time. I did bake, once. I did shop, once. I did not craft /journal. But I did do a budget and set financial goals for 2015. We randomly stumbled on a house we liked...and dreamed of our next home. We watched tv, hung out in jammies, and I napped. A lot. Like pretty much every day. I'm going to miss that.

This is the first time we didn't travel for the holiday in several years. And it was fabulous. Yesterday, I was feeling a little guilty...I didn't do anything during my extended break. But after making this list, I see I actually did quite a bit. I just did it at my leisure. Who knew chores could be leisure? There was plenty of downtime...naps and books...but it wasn't totally unproductive. Not once was I bored. This vacation was a positive reminder to honor my "introvert." To restore my energy, I need peace and quiet and calm and stillness.  This time, there will be no "end of holiday" blues because I feel rested and rejuvenated. And that might be the best way possible to end a vacation. :)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

I quit making New Year's Resolutions...

because I'm perfect. KIDDING!

I used to make New Year's resolutions. When I was a kid, they were the same every year. This can be looked at in one of 2 ways.

1. I failed every year and would have to try again. 
Or. 
2. Even then, I knew what was important to me. (Family and health.) 

Those resolutions were: to fight with my brother less and to stop biting my nails. Eventually, my brother and I grew up...and we grew close. But the truth is, we were always close. Yes, we fought...sometimes it seemed like a lot. We were kids...with kid perceptions and kid coping skills. Maturity = the end of all our sibling discord. Just as our sibling squabbles ended suddenly (without any fanfare or momentous event to mark the occasion), so did the nail biting. The nail biting habit took a lot longer for me to break, but one day I quit. I wasn't trying to quit...I don't even know when it happened. I just noticed I had fingernails. "Wow. I wonder when that happened?" I know long fingernails and health might seem to be a stretch...but when I was a kid, I was super fortunate to be healthy...and surrounded by healthy loved ones. So I didn't really know what illness looked like. But I knew my fingers weren't pretty. They looked "sick" to me. I also understood this was a result of my behavior. I wanted them to look "well." So I wanted to break that habit.

I grew up. The resolutions changed (though not much...my theme seems to revolve around relationships & health.) Until they stopped. I had an aha moment. I don't need a new year to make positive changes. I don't even need a new month, or week, or day. I just need a new opportunity. For example, if I make a poor food choice...then the next time I eat - a few hours later it will be time for another meal or snack, I have an opportunity to make a better choice. Or not. The point is...to recognize I always have the choice. Choice and opportunity exist literally all the time. This truth freed me.

So it's that time of year. I'm not that active on facebook anymore, but I noticed my newsfeed is full of all or nothing resolution declarations. And it got me thinking...why are we so extreme? Instead of "I'll do my best to take care of my body as well as I know how" people are making declarations like "I will never eat sugar, fried foods, grains, dairy, or anything not organic again." Really?! Well good for you. Maybe. I hope you can live with whatever change you want to make and are not just setting yourself up for failure and disappointment by striving for an impossible, unattainable goal. It's not that I've given up...or I don't want to improve on anything. It's just that I see my life as a series of moments rather than a calendar defined time reel. If I think I'd like to try something or do something better/different, then I can immediately plan for it rather than make some big deal out of it. I want to live my life the best I can Every. Single. Day. Not just during resolution season.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Dreams

I almost always remember my dreams.  But not the ones that matter.  The dreams that happen when the rest of my body is unconscious...I remember those.  The dreams of what I want to accomplish or contribute to the world...I have no idea.

When I watch young athletes compete, I imagine they dreamed of that moment their whole lives.  Most likely, they have been working towards competition for as long as they can remember. I know a very strong competitive athlete.  I once asked her "Can you remember when you got into your sport?  Do you remember why you chose this sport?"  She couldn't remember choosing.  Playing had been part of her life for so long...it was always there.  Whether she chose or it was chosen for her didn't seem to matter...she obviously took to it, fell in love, and dreamed big.

Did I ever dream of playing a sport?  I can't remember.

When I notice someone passionate about their job, I often ask how they chose their field.  Most (passionate) people (I've met) knew what they wanted to do since they were young kids.  (Side note...anecdotally...this seems to be especially true for very technical fields...which I guess makes sense because the schooling required is overwhelming...it's hard for adults to transition into those fields as a 2nd career later on.)

What did I want to be when I was a kid?  I honestly can't remember.

I like to ask little kids what they want to be when they grow up. Their answers offer an interesting perspective on the world.  And they usually have great ideas.  Maybe one will strike me with some sort of "aha" moment and I'll remember...

I'm inspired by people that follow their dreams.  But I'm also a teeny tiny bit jealous.  I can't remember my dreams...maybe I never had them?!  Maybe I was too practical.  Maybe I was too scared to dream.  Maybe my imagination wasn't quite so active?  Maybe there were just too many possibilities in the world for me to choose one. Or two or three.  ("too many choices" is my nemesis.  It's overwhelming and exhausting.)

My kiddo self did think about the future.  I knew I would be independent.  (Independence equals freedom.)  I just never defined how I would become independent.  

I'm inspired by people that are great at what they do.  After I appreciate the showcase of talent, I think "I wish I were that great at something."  I silently acknowledge all the hard work it takes to become great...and then I think "I'm not sure I'm interested enough in any one thing to work as long and hard as it would take to become great."  

But then I remember people like J.K. Rowling, Julia Child, Vera Wang, Sylvester Stallone, and Colonel Sanders...people who became successful later in life.  Time and opportunity exists.  I just have to start dreaming.