From Type A to Type Ahh

Be the Change You Wish to See in the World – Ghandi


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Oh Yeah…That’s Progress

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I can often become obsessed with outcomes.  That is part of who I am, and also a trait of most perfectionists, even recovering ones.  How is this working? Have I arrived yet? Did I finish? Is this correct?  All of these thoughts can and have dominated my life for a long time.  The weirdest thing happened recently.  I realized that for the most part they don’t anymore.  Even weirder for a results oriented perfectionist, I also realized I was not consciously trying to get rid of them.  I was not really even focused on them.  Instead I was focused on adopting some positive actions.  The journey I started over a year and a half ago.

All of sudden this week I noticed that some things had actually shifted as a result of the actions I had tried to adopt.  It feels a little like compound interest of the soul.  All of these little investments and changes actually led to some real change.  I have been working on being more mindful and present and being kinder.  I had to spend a lot of time reminding myself stay present.  Or realizing three hours later that I am not even sure what I did for the last three hours; I was that much on autopilot.  Also because my nature is defensive sarcastic, I had to really consciously work to be kind.  Reminding myself be nice, be compassionate, listen.  Last week I was in several conversations, even difficult ones, and I noticed that instead of saying “be kind”, I was actually being kind.  I found myself fully engaged in moments with friends, family, my husband, and my cats.  Also I could notice when I wasn’t.

I am not sure when all of this started coming together.  Probably not a great tribute to mindfulness.   I am clueless as to when the whole thing started coming more naturally and bringing more awareness about when I am not achieving these goals.  I do think certain soul investments have been most valuable to me.

  1. Meditation everyday.  I don’t know when the promise to do it just once a day for  2 minutes  became twice a day and able to sit for 30 minutes or more.  I know the results have been revolutionary for this hyper-active, performance driven workaholic.
  2. Gratitude practice.  The sharing three things we are grateful for practice my husband I adopted before dinner is now a highlight of my day.  Not just because it makes me focus on something positive but I am learning more about what my husband finds joy in.  Also this lens, without even knowing it now changes many things in life for me.  I can view them and say “wow I am really lucky.”
  3. My Buddhist Communication Course and Insight timer Courses.  Having daily lessons and activities as well as tools to achieve better communication and deeper meditation have really helped me with clarity, honesty, and empathy.
  4. Volunteering.  This has really brought a lot of value to my life and helped me align my values and step out of myself.
  5. Going back to vegetarianism. It has helped my health I feel better than I have in years. Also it was true to my soul and values.  I believe all animals are sentient beings and eating them is just not consistent with that belief.

It was not a lightning bolt and I did not do all of these things at once.  I added them gradually as I was ready.  All of it has begun to add up. I feel, calmer, kinder, more aligned, less reactive, and more focused. Turns out incremental progress is okay after all.


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Change is Hard and Slow

peaceful-person

I wish I could say this was me everyday.  The reality is as I pursue this journey to a more genuine, calm, and centered version of myself it seems I take one step forward and one step back.  Like my experiment with my phone in January, which was a miserable failure.  I should be stronger than that.  I was recently listening to a podcast where they were talking about cell phones and addiction.  I could relate to some of it, but not all of it.   In small ways that made me a little more conscious about how I use my phone.  So I adjusted my more ambitious goals and I am just trying to ask myself a few questions before I pick it up.  This helps bring me more fully present.  What am I checking? Am I just bored? What do I physically feel if I just leave it?  Then I have been regularly plugging it in to charge  when I am home.  Now if I want to check it I have to walk into another room and pick up the phone.  That has a way of making you feel ridiculous.  I realized real change comes from all of these very small decisions that we consistently make and then build on, sometimes without noticing.  It also helped I was listening to the Minimalist podcast and they were talking about how if you look around and see everyone on their devices also notice that none of them seem happy.  I have been doing that, and they are right.

Meditation has been the anchor for me to making many of the small decisions and changes in my life.  I feel like it has made me more aware of what I really want.  When you get quiet, turns out you can listen alot better.  I will say for now, most of my improvement with meditation has been geared toward me.  I am definitely calmer and less reactive.  I am definitely quieter and actually much more content.  Where I still struggle is being fully present in my life especially with other people.  I have every intention of doing that and I find I fall into old habits and I will be in a conversation and suddenly I have drifted off.  I also really want to be more compassionate.  I have been working on it.  It is easier with people close to me.  I still struggle with judgement and sarcasm, which have been a part of my life for so long.  They are such a comfort zone for me.  I am trying to leave conversations that turn negative or gossipy.  Right now rising above often looks like taking off, but again baby steps.

There are other things that I have been working on that are going really well.  I would say health which is super important to me.  After 7 months as a vegetarian, I really feel like this is the right and easy choice for me.  I feel healthier and more aligned with my values of animal welfare and environmental protection.  Also as part of my work wellness rewards program I was able to get a Nutribullet Pro for free and now everyday I have one meal that is just juiced fruit, veggies and nuts or seeds and it has been great.  We rejoined a gym and I have committed to a minimum of 2 day a week strength training with the ideal of 3 days.  I can really tell a difference and it helps my running.  I am also very consistent about sleep, which has never really been a problem for me.  There are other things I could talk about but this is long enough.  I will deal with other stuff in another post.  If you are working toward a better version of you it may seem like you are not making progress.  It is a slow incremental process and I am sure you are further along than you think.

 


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Technology Togetherness

 

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This month has been a struggle and I have noticed a few things good and bad.  Since I am all about keeping this space honest and not making it look like changing core aspects of yourself is a walk in the park here are some observations I have made in pursuit of a less technology influenced Zen.  I use my phone a lot.  I mean enough that I can really notice and physically struggle not to use it.  So not proud of that.  In my mind’s eye I see a much more evolved version of myself.  Unfortunately, the harsh light of day I see me and my phone.

Giving up social media is really hard when your job and your volunteer work require you to use it.  If I am being totally honest there are parts of it I really miss, but parts I am grateful that I am missing.  I really truly miss keeping up with the Good Mews Shelter on our Facebook Page. I could tell which kitties got adopted and support other volunteers and I do feel out of the loop and not in that zen mountain top kind of way, but in that I am not fully supporting my friends and organization kind of way.  Also there are times that social media really provides some micro-local information faster than anywhere else.  See how by using my phone less I have had time to completely invent words like “micro-local”.  For instance we had another snow and ice event and I am not going to lie I used social media to get updates on roads, the County’s status since I work there and the school system where my husband works.  I also used it to make sure my friends and family were okay.  The other thing I miss is that these platforms, particularly Facebook, are a way to stay connected to family and friends I don’t see.  No, it is not the same as Face to face.  I feel that in the rare instances when we can get together face to face I feel closer to them because I am connected to them through this platform.

What I did not miss and where I think I sometimes got dragged along is all the other stuff.  The vitriol, the news stories, the fighting, and proselytizing.  I don’t think that elevates the discourse.  I can’t tell you how glad I was to have the mental peace of mind during the whole Government shutdown.  I think what has come out of this is a more intentional use of social media.  I think I may actually post less and support more.  I can better prioritize what to use the platform for so it becomes a benefit and not a distraction.

On using the phone less as a whole that has had mixed results and interesting revelations also.  This post has been long enough.  I will expand on that in my next post.  Hope your new year is off and running.


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Pulling Away from the Phone in 2018

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It is that time to set my Year Goal.  I won’t be starting resolutions, because I believe they are too restrictive and we shoot for things that may not be attainable.  At least that is how it works for me.  It may not be the case for you.  Last year I had a lot of success and ended up achieving some additional benefits from the goal to meditate everyday, whether for 1 minute or 30 minutes.

This year I gave a lot of thought to my big goal for 2018.  It has to do with my phone.  I think, like the simple concept to meditate, this goal may also come with some ancillary benefits.  In short my goal is to be less dependent on my phone.  How am I going to work toward this goal?  I have already begun but I will share my pretty simple plan.

  1. The month of January I am on a Social Media break (no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn).  If people want to connect with me they will have to do it the of-fashioned way…Text. LOL
  2. On Tuesday and Thursday night after I get in from work I put my phone on airplane mode.  I believe I have finally realized that I don’t have to be available to everyone 24 hours a day.  Instead I am choosing to be fully available to the people and cats who mean the most to me, by not being tethered to my phone.
  3. On Saturday I am not taking my phone with me when hubby and I go out or if I do it will be in Airplane mode as a just for emergencies thing.

These  may not seem like life altering changes.  Like meditation last year, I started small and gained big insights that I built on.  I suspect this will be similar.  I hope your 2018 is off to a mindful and present start.