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Monthly Archives: July 2017

The Art of Organizing (part 2 of 2)

This is part 2 of a two-part post, to read part 1 click here: https://goingoutwordsandinwords.wordpress.com/2017/07/27/the-art-of-organizing-part-1-of-2/

Please note: All of these suggestions are simply what I find useful in my own life.

6. Meditate in the mornings. Starting the day with a few minutes of meditation helps to lay the groundwork for a more solid and stable platform in which to build your day upon. Having a regular meditation practice allows us to strengthen our inner muscles of resiliency, concentration, solidity, ease, patience, openness, and equanimity, all of which serve important functions in our day-to-day lives. And being well-organized internally translates, over time, to being well-organized externally, too.

7. Make self-care one of your priorities. I believe that for a person to be well-organized and have it be a sustainable and prolonged way of living, one must find ways in which to replenish their own energy tanks. If self-care is ranked low on the list of importance, the chances are good that eventually we’ll burn ourselves out and become stressed, overwhelmed, and utterly exhausted by all of the things we choose to do with our time. In an effort to address a common misunderstanding, self-care is not the same as being selfish or self-indulgent. For me, investing in acts of self-care has to do with understanding how my well-being affects that of those around me – when I’m taking good care of myself I am also taking good care of others, there is no separation. I practice to care well for myself in order to care well for those around me, and to continue being active and productive in all the ways I want to be without getting overly taxed and depleted. Self-care will look differently for each of us – for me, since I live with chronic pain and illness, I’ve found that taking a short nap most everyday is vital to my ability to function optimally and manage my pain levels. I also make sure to set time aside to do the things that I most enjoy, such as: writing, playing music, volunteering, going on retreats, paddle-boarding, and photography. It’s important to investigate what self-care looks like for our own individual needs and to practice not feeling guilty about making it happen.

8. Don’t compare. One of my favorite quotes is from Theodore Roosevelt: Comparison is the thief of joy. To continue with his train of thought I’d like to add: Comparison is the thief of time and energy. From an efficiency standpoint, getting stuck in comparison games is a huge waste of time and energy that could be much better spent elsewhere. When we’re constantly weighing, judging, and re-evaluating what we’re doing in comparison to what someone else is doing, it often leads to second guessing, hemming and hauling, and non-action. Drop the tendency to compare and strengthen your confidence in your own capacity to take decisive action.

9. Practice belly breathing. When breathing, many of us use primarily our upper register to inhale and exhale, aka: our lungs. When we practice to deepen our breathing – bringing it from and into our belly – there are certain very practical and helpful benefits. Deep breathing aids us in raising our mental clarity, focus, and alertness – all of which, of course, are key to being well organized. It also helps increase circulation, reduces fatigue, lowers blood pressure, improves digestion, and bolsters our immune system.

10. Take responsibility for your life. It’s easy to operate in such a way where we feel life is rather heaped upon us, as though we were a victim of all the things needing to be taken care of. But the truth is, the life we lead is made up of our own volition, consisting of the results of our choices and decisions we make. The quality of our lives is up to us – we can either view challenges and difficulties as opportunities to grow or as occasions in which to complain about and blame others for, the choice is ours.

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From Tree to Oven

On Wednesday, my mom and I and my 17-year-old stepson went up north to the Flathead Lake to do some cherry picking at a u-pick orchard. Although the place I went with some friends last summer wasn’t open yet, we found another great spot – it even operated on the honor system and just left out a scale, some buckets, and instructions on where to leave your money when you were finished picking and weighing up. Oh how I love this great state of ours!

 

Even though I never buy cherries in the store and don’t much care for eating them, I really enjoy picking and prepping them. I find the whole process to have a high degree of mindfulness built right in naturally. And there are many activities like this, that innately involve a certain quality of mindfulness that you don’t have to work at developing, it simply exists with little effort – like fishing, cooking, playing an instrument, knitting, wood working, painting, photography, and so on. I find that picking cherries and then setting to work pitting them holds my attention and focus quite readily.

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The Art of Organizing (part 1 of 2)

Prompted by a friend’s request to meet up with me next week to discuss ways of being more organized, I decided to utilize her inquiry to fashion this post. My friend explained that while she spends her days feeling super busy, she doesn’t get anything done. Her judgement was that I am someone who takes care of a lot of different things, accomplishes a lot, and is very organized, all of which, I would agree, are true. She also knows that I actively practice being a non-busy type of person – so, basically she’s looking for some how-to advice.

At first, I wasn’t sure what I would be able to pass along to her by way of useful information, as I’ve never thoroughly dissected what it means to be organized and efficient. For me, being organized is something that comes very naturally and is in my blood – both my maternal grandfather and my mom were/are especially adept at it. It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve come to realize that being organized is a skill-set that often causes me to stand out, in the sense that it’s a talent many others wish they had.

But it quickly occurred to me that my friend’s request posed a great opportunity for me to attempt to put some of this into words in the form of practical applications to implement. So, as a Dharma teacher-in-training interested in stripping things down to nuts & bolts, here’s what I have to offer on the subject of honing the art of organizing:

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Mindful Morning Saturday

I awoke just before 4:30am and turned on my Mighty Bright book light made in China, patents pending, and slid out from under a mismatched set of sheets, one fashioned from organic cotton made in India and the other I got from the Goodwill, who’s tag I was unable to locate while groping around in the dark trying not to disturb my sleeping husband.

After reciting my daily morning verse: Waking up, my smile greets a brand new day, I padded into the bathroom where I proceeded to use recycled toilet paper, glide on some Tom’s of Maine unscented deodorant, made in the USA, wash my face with 85% organic ingredient soap “made with care in Missoula, Montana,” and run a brush through my hair that I bought in Paris upon realizing that I had managed to hop across the pond without a detangling stick. A brush, I might add, that must’ve been made outside of China, due to its lack of stamped mention of a country of origin.

I then found myself in the kitchen turning on the electric tea kettle, made in China and sporting the words “Do not immerse in water” in five different languages engraved on the bottom, and readying my morning gunpowder green tea, which I order online and has Chinese writing emblazoned on the packaging. And I sip said tea slowly from my most favorite hand-crafted clay mug made by my friend Drew (see pic above), as I ease into the day.

And the day will proceed onward in this fashion – I will use and encounter an endless array of items and products, from both near and far flung places. My day-to-day activities will be due to an endless sea of people having created, fashioned, and made possible my way of living.

What most struck me this morning, as I was fine tuning my attention to my routine, was how much the presence of water factors into my day – and how often I take it for granted. In operation of the toilet, washing my face and hands, preparing tea, boiling eggs for breakfast, filling the cats water bowl, washing dishes, drinking, showering… Being able to turn a handle and have clean water dispensed is a miracle of convenience I don’t think enough about.

So, today, among other things, I celebrate water :)

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2017 in Everyday Practice

 

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Discomfort Practice

The more we attempt to regulate our environment to suit our preferences, the less resilient we become in managing fluctuations when they occur. This week: practice weathering (and perhaps eventually embracing) small discomforts by doing such things as:

  • not putting on the AC in your car when running a short errand around town
  • eating a meal without being on your phone/laptop/TV
  • foregoing your favorite morning beverage for one day
  • doing something you’ve been putting off because you don’t feel like doing it
  • eating something that you tend to generally avoid
  • listening to a song you would otherwise thumbs down on Pandora
  • doing something nice for a co-worker who you don’t particularly like
  • voluntarily standing in the longest check-out line at the market
  • walking much slower than your normal pace when going a short distance from one place to another
  • not falling asleep with the TV on for one weekend
  • intentionally leaving the house without your phone for a whole day (or 1/2 a day – or even 1 hour!)
  • not using your phone to kill small increments of time (when stopped at a red light, waiting in line, in-between errands or bites of food…)

We’re becoming a culture unable to forge strong, intelligent relationships with our own selves – so quick are we to run, distract, intoxicate, ignore, and fight against even the slightest of uncomfortable situations. If we are incapable of managing the small stuff, how will we be able to sort through the big stuff, like dealing with grief and loss, handling stress, or going through emotional/physical/political/societal upheaval?

Valuable practice: Start small so you can work big.

 

 
 

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On Marriage

Photo Credit: Bill McDavid

 

On Saturday, my husband and I attended the wedding of one of his oldest friends from high school. I wrote this for them:

When I was a little girl, I thought marriage was all pleasantries and rainbows – the sort of which I would reenact with my Barbie and Ken dolls, in their fancy attire and meticulously well-groomed hair, not a stitch affray.

When I was a teenager, I thought marriage was both what you were supposed to do and what drove those, who would otherwise be considered delightful people, a little crazy.

On the cusp of adulthood, just as I was about to open the door to my 20’s, I met the long-fabled, mystically-entrenched, and dangerously-romanticized creature, commonly known as “the one.”

Armed with culturally passed down crappy-ass misinformation about what married life was slated to be and look like and what I, as wife, should do and not do, it’s sort of miraculous we weathered those early seas as well as we did – what with my unpleasant, controlling, passive-aggressive energies steering the ship and all.

But when “the one” and I got married, we made a loving and binding contract. We vowed to grow up together. And that’s what we’ve been doing ever since.

I’ve learned that marriage isn’t something you “do,” it’s about entering into a perpetual state of becoming – becoming someone who’s committed to cultivating their own inner landscape, guided by what’s in the best interest for their most cherished and beloved one. It’s about learning how to be together…and stay together, even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard.

Marriage has been, at times, the most painfully challenging endeavor I’ve ever encountered, and will always be the single greatest decision I’ve ever had the great fortune of making.

And even now, all these years later, whenever I stand alone and bear witness to the great and awesome spectacle of a sunrise (which is not uncommon given that I’m a morning person and my “one” most assuredly is not), he’s who my heart calls for to share it with, every…single…time. And this is my fervent wish for you both: that your hearts continue calling for each other, whether you’re near or far apart, happy or sad, sleeping or awake, for the rest of your days.

 

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2017 in Creative Writing

 

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Texting/Email Etiquette

The lack of texting/email etiquette is increasingly becoming a pet peeve of mine. I’m referring to the absence of friendly greetings and basic civility that would otherwise accompany a live in-person conversation but is routinely side-stepped altogether when it comes to people pecking away at their smartphones or laptops. At the risk of sounding terribly old fashioned, when did we become so boorish? I have a few friends that don’t even take the time to type out Hi or Hello, they just launch directly into whatever it is they have to say, without so much as a polite salutation or proper good-bye.

Since texting and emailing are some of the most common ways we communicate with one another, I think it’s worth investing time creating some kind of mindfulness-based practice around these methods of electronic connection. Here are some ideas:

Ways to infuse mindfulness into our texting/emailing routine

  • When beginning a new conversation strain, start with a greeting, such as: hi, hiya, hi there, hello, sup, good morning, top of the day…something to indicate that you’re not a caveman who’s totally unfamiliar with the subtleties of being kind and polite.
  • Tune into whether you’re feeling rushed when texting/emailing someone. So often we’re caught up in rapid-fire responding, fingers or thumbs ablaze. We can ask ourselves: Do I really need to be moving this ferociously?
  • Be attentive to your tone of voice when typing. It takes more time and will require more focused awareness than perhaps you’re used to, but how we communicate is perhaps the most important element in determining the quality of our relationships. Take the extra time to ensure that what you’re typing is coming across in a friendly manner. Remember: tone of voice comes across differently through our electronic gadgets. We have to enfold extra time and concentration into making sure we’re coming across well, since people cannot see our body language or hear our actual tone of voice when communicating.
  • Sign off in a manner that doesn’t make it seem like you’re just droppin the mic and walking off-stage. So many people that I receive texts or emails from don’t take the time to offer a short closing, they just stop typing and press send. It’s as though they were suddenly abducted by aliens and were unable to formally say good-bye before getting beamed aboard.
  • Read what you write before sending it off into the electronic ether. Don’t just skim for quirky auto-correct mistakes, read it for content and tone of voice.
  • A :) goes a very long way. Never underestimate the power of a well chosen opportunity to put a :) into your text or email.

Happy texting/emailing everyone :)

P.S I’d love hearing your own experiences with electronic forms of communication, please comment below if you feel so inclined!

 

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2017 in Everyday Practice

 

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