If We Were Having Coffee: Mid-Semester Edition

Taiwan 047If we were having coffee, I’d tell you:

It’s mid-term exam week. It’s a very formalized affair here, and I’ll be grading all kinds of inane papers very soon. The only good part is that I don’t have classes this week, just tons more grading. As if a writing teacher doesn’t already have enough of that.

In addition to grading the mid-terms, I’ve created a to-do list that I want to get through this week. It’s probably a tad too ambitious, but I’ve already make some progress over the weekend, including some data entry for a research project–A LOT of data entry. Almost caught up. And it wasn’t even on the list.

I have an outing tomorrow. I’ll be going to Taipei to meet someone who wants to consult with me regarding academic writing, and it involves “seeing some sights” afterwards. I feel a blog post coming on.

I’ve had a few fairly large issues weighing on me lately, and one of them got resolved last night, so I’m feeling much more hopeful about getting back to the other things that need my attention.

I restarted the writing group this semester, and it really took. Most weeks, we now have 12-16 people. And they are starting to help choose the topics we cover. Further, they asked for some conversational “practice” time. PLUS, it’s at the coffee shop, where I’m having a coffee as I type this. The group isn’t meeting this week (mid-terms), but as you can see, it’s not keeping me away.¬† ūüôā

But I also ended something. I have cancelled my membership to Curves–for now.¬† The two evenings that I would normally go are now taken up with an evening class and a work session with a student helper (only night she can make it), and they aren’t open until 11:30 am, so I can’t go before work.¬† However, that doesn’t mean that I’m not exercising. I’ve increased my walking to every day, and I will increase it further over the next few weeks. Which leads to the next thing I would tell you.

November 4 marked the one year anniversary since I joined Curves, started walking, and totally changed my way of eating (as well as my thinking about it). I had a strong intention of becoming healthier as I approach my 60th. In the year’s time, I am excited to report that I lost 35 pounds! Now my intention is to do it again. I have to thank Joycelyn and Farther to Go! for the tools and motivation to accomplish this goal, after MANY failed attempts in the past. I’d also like to thank my husband, who has been totally supportive.

I am happy to be blogging again, even if on a limited basis. I’ve started visiting blogs again too–not as much as I’d like, but I hope to increase it a bit as I get a few things crossed off that darn to-do list. Thanks to everyone who has welcomed me back! It is just what I needed.¬† ūüôā

It’s 189 days to 60.

 

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I Dreamed Too Small

IMG_0345Sometimes, small is good. Like our great little dog, who is a delight to have around. I never expected to have a dog EVER, but here I am with a dog that was rescued from the street. She may be small, but she’s still awesome in my book. But not all things should be small.

In last week’s Share Your World, there was a question a gift I’d like. As I will explain in this post, I decided I needed to revisit that question before going on to this week’s questions. I was surprised to realize that even when I know better, I still have a tendency to think small.

When Cee asked to consider what gift we would like to receive (anything). Upon thinking about it for a couple of days, I thought it would be great to have a place to pursue my quilting art and creativity for a period of time in a retreat or studio experience. Here is the question and my actual response from that post.

If you could be given any gift what would it be?

A year-long stay at a quilting/art colony with a fully stocked studio and access to fabric, as well as a couple other artists to brainstorm and collaborate with. But I could still be ecstatic with a month or two.¬† ūüôā

But then a couple days later, I was out walking, and that’s when it occurred to me that if I could choose any gift, I really should be thinking much larger. And I got caught on that post. Don’t get me wrong. I love quilting and art-making in general. I love making music. The idea of having a place where I could really pursue those activities is awesome. It’s the second part of the “gift” that I really missed. I mentioned that I would like a few other artists there with whom I could interact. Duh!

Many people have memories of doing creative things as a child. But we often put those things aside as we “grow up.” No time. Or we got the idea that we weren’t necessarily good at it. Or as we got older, we might have been told that there was no way to make a living with that kind of thing. Whatever the reason, we may have pushed artistic expression underground.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have been fortunate to rediscover some of my childhood passions as well as discover several new ones. I sometimes don’t give enough time and attention to these artistic pursuits, but I recognize their importance. As a result, I want to make adjustments in my life that open up my participation in creative expression.

My dream is to help people uncover or rediscover their artistic and creative dreams. I want to help people to want to dream big, whether it be starting a graphic design business, painting, designing clothing, woodworking, writing, illustrating, creating a unique restaurant, or something totally off the beaten track. Even if it can’t be done all at once, we can take baby steps toward getting creative expression in our lives, baby steps that put us in motion toward the big pictures.

When I first answered the gift question last week, I got so caught in the everyday aspects of life that I forgot to look at my big picture. By not having that in my line of vision, I asked for a gift that was nice, but was still limited–both in scope and in its influence.

My new answer to the question?

If you could be given any gift what would it be?

A residential retreat center with room for classes, studio space, and equipment to help myself and others find space to create and experience art in all its forms. And an assistant to help with all the administrative details, so that I can do creative coaching, teach classes, and explore artistic possibilities.

How often I limit myself from accomplishing what I could be doing by thinking small. The Farther to Go! exercises and materials has given me the tools to change that. I just have to keep focused on the ideas I’ve gotten along the way. If I do, I will remember that the path to a life rich in creative expression is to think big and keep moving on those baby steps.

269 Days to 60!

 

Farther to Go!: AtoZ April Challenge

a-zchallengeI have known for a couple of weeks now that my post for the letter F would be about¬†Farther to Go! The “brainchild” of Joycelyn Campbell, the big idea of Farther to Go! is that we can “learn how to use our brains instead of our brains using us.”¬†She has developed a variety of materials, techniques, and courses that combine the best of what neuroscience has to offer about habits, consciousness, and creativity. It is impossible for me to do it justice in one blog post. It’s really important to check it out for yourself at her website: http://farthertogo.com.

I thought that maybe the best way to give you an idea of what is possible with Farther to Go! is to just make a (partial) list of¬†how Joycelyn’s synthesis of neuroscience, habit, and story is changing my life. In¬†no particular order, I offer my list: Ten ways that Farther to Go! has changed my life.

 

  1. I now¬†view interruptions in a different way. I don’t let them hijack me emotionally. Rather, I see them as opportunities to renew my focus.
  2. ¬†I look at my depression differently. I have learned to THINK about it differently, and that’s made a world of difference.
  3. Related to #2: After more than twenty years on anti-depressants and several unsuccessful attempts to taper off of them, I am now medication free. (If this were the only benefit of Farther to Go!, I’d be sold, but it’s only the beginning.)
  4. I intentionally develop habits that allow me to free up the conscious part of my brain for more important tasks.
  5. For the first time in my life, I am maintaining an exercise program that works for me. I’ve learned a technique from Farther to Go!, involving IAP (Intention, Attention, and Perseverance), and it has made a huge difference in my life.
  6. I have learned that I have a story about everything in my life. It’s normal. We’re wired for story. Knowing about how the brain constructs stories helps me see my life differently.
  7. I’ve learned it’s possible to create my stories instead of just letting stories happen to me.
  8. I have rediscovered the part of me that can make things happen. She is now the protagonist of the stories I will write create that will lead me to the life I want.
  9. I have an opening scene for a story in which the protagonist (the part of me that can make things happen) is poised for action to get what she wants.
  10. I now view life from a “get better” rather than a “good” mindset.¬†With that mindset, I can try anything, because I don’t have to be good at it, I just have to be willing to get better.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a lot farther to go, but the changes I see in my life keep me going in the midst of setbacks and frustration.¬†Stay tuned to find out what my newly resurrected protagonist takes on in her upcoming adventures.¬†Almost anything is possible when¬†I start using my brain, instead of letting it use me.

Stirring up some February Motivation

Image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

OK, the month of January has been a real slog for me. It’s not that I haven’t gotten anything done. I have, and some people might even say it was a lot. But I’m not going to make a list. I’m not looking for people to reassure me that I’ve done enough. I’m not looking for¬†someone to tell me it’s ok that I didn’t do as much as usual, that it’s enough, etc. I’m not¬†hoping for someone to make me feel better about it or¬†for some kind of cop-out. I’m simply¬†acknowledging that¬†January was less than I wanted it to be, and that I want February to be different.

I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions, but I did put together some preliminary notes about a few activities I want to experience in 2014. I just didn’t write the post yet. And here it is February.

So while there were things I wanted to do in January, I often sidestepped those items and took the easy way out. One of the things I did when my motivation was low was to clear out some of my blog comments and similar things in my email. Just this morning, I ran across a post from the first of November, New Month Resolutions. Randee talked about how posting every day in October had been easier than she expected it to be and that it might work to set up a goal or two for the new month. Well, she set up three. And in the comments, Yours Truly also commented that she had launched three activities for November (and December). Here is what I wrote at the time.

  1. I joined a quilt-along to FINALLY work on the quilt I‚Äôve been ‚Äúthinking‚ÄĚ about for my daughter for the last six years.

  2. I joined Curves to start working out 3 times a week, and

  3. I made an intention to finish the work on one of my textbook projects this month.

I knew I had written three things in the comment section of that post, but when I opened the post this morning, I didn’t remember what the three things were or if I had¬†actually followed through. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that I had¬†significant progress on these three items.

  • the quilt top for my daughter’s quilt is nearly finished (upcoming post will have pictures)

  • I am in my third month of Curves, and have accomplished 3 times a week most of the time (a record far better than¬† any other attempt at regular exercise EVER.

  • One textbook went to press, and I made some progress on the next one.

WOW!

So I thought to myself, “It’s February 1. Set some new intentions! Put them out there. It’s a short month. Don’t worry if they’re ‘the best’ ones. Just get something going! Get the wheels turning!¬†Stock up on exclamation points.”

So here goes! While there are many things that have deadlines and will occur naturally, these are the three things I will focus on in February

  1. De-clutter my work area, and begin work on my closet.

  2. Set an intention to do regular writing and follow through with it.

  3. Continue to make progress on my quilting projects.

It’s too early to tell if this will jump-start my motivation, but I have a focus now instead of just having all those to-do things bumping around in my head. Now I can settle down and put the others aside as I start my new plan: Focus for February!

471 days to 60

I am also posting this for FanFoFeb. You can check it out here:  http://willowdot21.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/fanfofeb-the-lovers/

A Coffee Date with Plate Spinner: Our Follow-up Conversation

This is Part 2 of an inner dialogue between me and Plate Spinner, the part of me that can’t seem to stop doing all the time. If you missed Part I of this “conversation,” you can find it here.

________________________________

platesME:  Would you like a cup of coffee?

P.S.: I’d love one! I can’t remember the last time I could take a break and just relax for a few minutes. Nice choice of music by the way.

ME: Thanks! I’ve been thinking a lot about what you said yesterday, and I realize things need to change.

P.S. I’d like to jump up and down for joy, but I can’t. First, I don’t really have the energy with all the spinning I’ve been doing. And second, forgive me, but I’m just a tad cynical about you changing your ways.

ME: I know I don’t have a good track record. But I really do get it. I can prove it. I totally resisted an interesting plate earlier today.

P.S.: Yeah, but that’s nothing compared to the moratorium you took on last year, and that only lasted a few months before you started collecting plates again. Granted, some of them were smaller plates, but they still require lots of attention to keep them spinning.

ME:¬† OK, you’re right. Just a minute while I link the moratorium stuff here. Some of the people listening to our conversation won’t know what we’re talking about.

P.S.: I’m sure they will be as amused by it as I was.

ME: Oh, come on! Seriously, I want to make things better between us. But your attitude is getting in the way.

P.S.: All I know is that we are currently on semester break, and we can’t take a real break. We have so many plates still spinning that we have to fill these days with to-do lists and projects. I mean, look what it took just to get your attention so that we can have a cup of coffee and talk about this stuff.

ME: But if you’re going to argue with every idea I have, how can anything get better. I really want to change.

P.S.:¬† OK, I’ll play along for a moment. How is this time going to be any different from all the other times you said you would change? Are you going to retire a few of these plates?

ME: I think I could make a plan for that.

P.S.: Oh, great! Isn’t THAT encouraging? When you make plans for something, the plan itself becomes another plate to spin. Do you even know how many plates you have in the rotation?

ME: Of course . . . . not. Ok, ok, you make another valid point. But I realized something else this morning. As I was explaining my decision to Avis this morning not to take her up on the quilting thing, I told her that one of my big problems is that I think things will only take a few minutes, and that I can manage that . . . . .

P.S.: You mean that you figure I can manage another one of your shiny plates.

ME:  Well, yeah, . . . .  when you put it that way. And then of course, it finally dawned on me, that those few minutes multiplied by the number of plates and projects just makes things impossibly tiring!

P.S.: I’d like to believe you’ve seen the light, but you can’t blame me if I’m still a little skeptical. Do you realize that if we were just going to store these plates–never mind spinning them, we would need more cabinets than will fit into this apartment?

ME: OUCH! Don’t you think that’s a slight exaggeration?

P.S.: Sorry, truth hurts!

ME: OK, so a moratorium must be re-established and maintained. That’s obvious.

P.S.: It might be a step in the right direction, but it’s certainly not enough to make a real difference in the here and now.

ME: Well, you don’t want me to just sort and reorganize. You yourself said that would just be another project added to the huge pile we already had–the pile that I just accumulated without really thinking about the consequences.

P.S.: Look at it this way. I’m willing to accept as a starting premise that most of the plates need to be brought to completion. And I will also–for the moment–attempt to believe you won’t add any new ones.

ME:¬† I hear a “but . . .”

P.S.: I demand better working conditions! Have you looked around? It’s a disaster area around here. All of these plates have paperwork and paraphernalia attached to them. It’s a miracle I haven’t broken my neck!

ME: Well, I can’t argue with that. I find myself overwhelmed by all the clutter around here. I sometimes gather up the stuff I need for a project or two and head for the coffee shop just to have space to think and work.

P.S.: But that’s my point. YOU can leave! I can’t! It would take a moving van and a crew of at least four for me to go anywhere and still keep all of this going.

ME: Yes, the stuff has to go. That is clear. I don’t really need it all. Even with all of these crazy plates, there is still stuff here that has nothing to do with the plates that need to be finished. And I have to be honest. If stuff doesn’t go with any of the over-abundance of plates, it doesn’t belong.

P.S.: Right, and don’t forget. You’re planning to leave this place in 18 months. Couldn’t we have some breathing space while we wind down this spinning production?

ME: You’re totally right. Time to tackle this de-cluttering thing, once and for all!

P.S.: I know it’s a major change for you, but we can’t simply have all of this stuff. We can’t continue to DO all of this stuff.

ME: Well, why don’t I make an intention to de-clutter the apartment?

P.S.: I’d be more inclined to believe it if you make an intention card.*

ME:¬† You’re on! Let’s do this!

P.S.: OK, so what do you want?

ME: It seems pretty obvious. I want . . . we want more time and space in this life we share.

P.S.: And why do you want it?

ME: To get you off my back, of course!

P.S.: Very funny! Somehow, I don’t think that will motivate you in the long run. If you’re serious, you need to figure out what the payoff will be when this place is de-cluttered. What will you get?

ME: Well, just thinking about the place being de-cluttered helped me feel relaxed a bit. I don’t feel as stressed or as trapped. If I focus my attention on this intention and persevere in spite of the obstacles, I can enjoy life more. I can enjoy people more. I can be more, instead of simply doing more. I can discover what it is I really want from life, rather than spending all our energy on this plate spinning thing. The idea of not having to spend all of our energy just treading water is very freeing.

P.S.: OK, it seems like you might really want this. Of course, this is a huge project. So we have to be realistic.

ME:¬† Right. I need Intention, Attention, and Perseverance. I’m not crazy enough to say that I’ll do the whole apartment in the next two weeks. I want to work on it a bit every day, maybe even twice a day.

P.S.: Right, but don’t set yourself up. Let’s make an intention that is do-able, that gives us breathing space. If you do more than the minimum, that’s fine, but let’s make sure we find a workable minimum an commit to that.

ME:¬† I know. I just get excited about the possibility of space. But I didn’t get into this mess overnight, it’s not going away overnight or even in several overnights. I’d like to think I can make some strong headway by summer though.

P.S.: OK, let’s start with an hour three times a week.

ME:  OK, that seems reasonable. And I will schedule three times in the calendar right now. I will write it in for Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

P.S.: That sounds good, too. What else can you do to keep your attention on the intention?

ME: I’ll ask Dave to either help me, or to at least check in on me. I could find another person to check in with, too. Maybe even find someone else who is trying to de-clutter. We can check in and keep each other on track.

P.S.: And now, how will you reward yourself when you stay on track? And even more important, what will you do when things get in the way of following through? You need a plan for perseverance because you KNOW something will happen to pull you off track at some point.

ME: Oh yeah, I remember when I started the exercise program. If I hadn’t had a plan for perseverance, I wouldn’t have made it through the first two weeks.

PS: Right! and now you’re already in your third month. So what will you do to keep perseverance going for this intention?

ME: I think I would like to have some quilting time on Sunday for a reward. And if I haven’t met the goal of de-cluttering time for the week, I could do some on Sunday.

P.S.: I think this might just work.

Taiwan 047ME:¬† I’ll think some more on it, and refine the intention card a bit. And while I’m at it, I’ll write an intention card for restarting the moratorium. I obviously need some attention and perseverance when it comes to that intention as well.

P.S.: Excellent! I feel better already. I’m really glad we had this little chat.

ME:  Haha!  Me, too. I think that might be another way to stay on track. Checking in with you on occasion.

P.S.: Put on the coffee and send the invite! I’ll be there!

________________________________

*For information on making and following through on intentions, see the following:

INTENTION IS POWERFUL:  http://farthertogo.com/2013/07/17/intention-is-powerful/

ATTENTION IS ESSENTIAL:  http://farthertogo.com/2013/07/19/attention-is-essential/

PERSEVERANCE IS MAGIC:  http://farthertogo.com/2013/07/21/perseverance-is-magic/

Spinning Plates: An Inner Dialogue

Here is the first part of a conversation between me and Plate Spinner, the part of me that tries to manage the multitude of projects and ideas I take on in spite of myself.

**************

ME:    Hi, Spinner. Thanks for taking the time to chat with me.

P.S.:¬†¬† No time for chatting. If you want to talk about something significant, make it quick. I’m very busy. No time for small talk.

ME:¬†¬† Well, I don’t want to intrude. If you don’t want to talk to me . . .

P.S.: Seriously? If I didn’t have all these plates to keep spinning, maybe I could sit down and have a cup of coffee with you, but that’s not the reality.

ME: I see: Why do you spin so much? Do you enjoy it?

P.S. Ha! It’s been a long time since I enjoyed it. It’s become nothing but a burden. It’s not whether or not I like it: it’s what I do.

ME: That’s the problem. You’re always doing.

P.S: Well, if I stop, all of these plates will fall. That wouldn’t be a pretty sight.

ME: Maybe not, but sometimes I get exhausted just watching you. Don’t you ever relax?

P.S.: No time. If it’s relaxation you want, turn it into a project, paint it on a plate. Then we can talk. Well, actually, I can’t really talk much, but I can add it to the other plates.

ME: Sometimes you can be so frustrating. Don’t you want a little time for fun, for friendship, for just exploring new things without it all being so frantic?

P.S.: What are you talking about? What would I do if I wasn’t spinning these plates? More importantly, how would all of these important things get done?

ME: Maybe they’re not as important as you think.

P.S.: Really! Aren’t you the one adding all these plates to the pile?

ME: Hey! I thought I was the one one asking the questions.

P.S.: Just because you keep me too busy for questions most all of the time doesn’t mean I don’t have them.

ME: O.K. I guess that makes sense. I don’t like it, but I can’t really argue with you. There might be some truth to it. I’ll go out on a limb here. Do you want to ask a question?

P.S.: Damn right, I do! But first, I’m going to put all of these plates down for a few minutes. Unless you’re brave enough to tell me to just let go of them all.

ME: I might like to be that brave, but I have to admit, I like most of those plates.

P.S.: No you don’t. I think they’re just a poor substitute for what you really want to be doing. You’re keeping me and yourself busy with all of this stuff. We barely have a¬†moment to think.¬†And besides,¬†this stuff isn’t satisfying to either one of us.

ME: What do you mean? I find a lot of satisfaction in these activities.

P.S.: Excuse me while I laugh hysterically. When is the last time you actually were satisfied with something you were doing? You don’t even give yourself a minute when something is done before you’ve moved on to the next thing, or the next dozen things. I work for you, remember? I can’t stop spinning these plates, because you won’t stop spinning. OK, give me a minute to put all these plates down for a few minutes.

(You can see the process in this video.)

P.S.: There! That feels better. Do you hear that?

ME:¬† Hear what? I don’t hear anything.

P.S.: Precisely! That’s my point. No whirring from the constant spinning of plates, no frantic footfalls as I run from one pole to another to keep all the plates in the air.

ME: Wow! I guess things really have gotten out of hand.

P.S.: When I came to work for you, I didn’t realize there would be all of this overtime. I didn’t realize that we would be spending so much time in the immediate moment keeping all of this crap in the air so that we’d never have time to work on the bigger dreams. I mean I do like spinning–and juggling for that matter–but you’ve taken all the joy out of it.

ME:¬† Wow! I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize how miserable I’ve made things for you. What can I do?

P.S.: Well, for starters, you can stop grabbing every new plate that comes along. And then when I do finish with a plate, you could consider just leaving that space open. Give me some breathing space. Give us a chance to step back on occasion and see the big picture.

ME: I hear what you are saying, but sometimes I can’t help myself. The colors, the textures, the patterns, the . . .

P.S.: Cut the crap! One of these days, I’m just going to drop the lot of them! I’ll walk off the job!

ME: Oh, please don’t do that!

P.S.: Why not? What do these plates really represent?

ME: Well, I never really thought about it that way before. But since you ask, I guess they represent me. After all, who am I without all of this activity to define me? Who will notice me if I don’t do all of these things?

P.S.: Really? You’re going to turn this into an identity crisis? Isn’t that a little too convenient?

ME: I’m feeling threatened, insecure. And I’m definitely not sure what to do next. You’re making sense, but I don’t know how to make it better. I don’t know where to start.

P.S.: Oh, I think you do. You didn’t get into this mess overnight, and you’re not going to dig out of it in a day, or even a week, but seriously, I think digging out is right where you need to start.

ME: You’re right. And I need to get intentional about it.

P.S.: Now I’m beginning to feel like you’re listening to me and like there is hope. I really need to get back to all of these plates. But if you’ll back off a bit, maybe we can meet tomorrow and map out this intention thing.

ME: You’ve got it. You’re really good at what you do, but I want you to feel like you’re using those skills for better things than just juggling all of my unexamined stuff. We’ll talk tomorrow!

P.S.: Great!  See you then!

(TO BE CONTINUED!)

 

 

10:23 pm on 12/06/2013

Endless possibilities

(Photo credit: jefito)

Have you ever wondered what you really wanted? Have you ever really defined it? Or dared to admit it to anyone, even yourself? Or do you, like me (and probably many others), avoid the question or answer it superficially. In this post from Farther to Go!, there is an exercise that asks you to answer that question every day for 30 days.

I started about three weeks ago. I can’t tell you exactly without digging out the notebook I was using. I wasn’t using cards as suggested in the exercise–not at first. I am now. I’m doing several things differently now.

On Friday (12/6/13), I realized that the exercise wasn’t going very well for me–for reasons I will share below. But, the bottom line is that I decided that day that I would start over, and change the things that weren’t working. So that evening, at about 10:00,¬†I filled out my first card¬†for the new 30-day period. And afterwards, I had a breakthrough.

It may not have been exactly 10:23, but I suddenly understood with complete clarity that I could no longer settle for mediocrity. I had to think about what I want without limits, especially the limits I put on myself. Thinking that I can possibly know what’s best, or what’s practical, or what’s feasible, or–most importantly–what’s possible. My life to this point is full of experiences that would have seemed impossible by any standards and yet I’m here, living this crazy life that couldn’t have been imagined prior to living it. I realized that the starting over was important, that by changing the way I approached the process of exploring what I wanted, I would be more effective, and more free–I could imagine even impossibilities. Up to the point of starting over,¬†four basic things were getting in my way of making the most of this exercise.

  1. Sometimes, I’d miss a day because I didn’t set an intention for writing in the notebook. If I had it would be on my daily list, and it wasn’t. I thought I could remember something as simple as¬†adding a few lines to my notebook each day. (I know better than this!) To learn more about the power of intentions, look here. Further, the routine itself has an effect on what emerges. If I get in the habit of making the list each day, the pump is primed when I sit down to fill out the card..
  2. I started by using a notebook for making my lists, instead of the 4 x 6 index cards suggested in the activity. I didn’t realize it at the time (obviously), but it really makes a difference to have a confined space with a specific amount of lines for each day. Even if I had used the index cards, I¬†suspect I wouldn’t have written something on every line. Many of my lists in the notebook wouldn’t have been long enough to put something on each line of a card. I took the “easy” way out, If no more ideas were immediately accessible, I stopped writing.¬†Using a notebook made it easy to fall into that trap, so using the index cards is a much better method–for me at least. No stopping until I actually have something on every line.¬†This problem is also related to the next one.
  3. I¬†was approaching my list-making from¬†a place of practicality. I knew on an intellectual basis not to do that, to let my mind go and to explore the possibilities in spite of the reasons for censoring. And while I KNEW that the sky was the limit,¬†my lists had become rather dull and lifeless. At first, I wasn’t sure what had happened, and then I realized something that put a lot of things into perspective. I had fallen back into moving through my days and activities on autopilot. From there, it was more than a slippery slope to falling into old habits: it was a free fall into a pit of mediocrity.
  4. I needed to re-commit to paying attention, to being mindful of the process, and not just make the listing another thing to check off. Yes, it’s important to schedule it to make sure it happens, but the actual process has to be more mindful than that.
My Pile of Index Card

(Photo credit: koalazymonkey)

So on Friday, I dusted myself off and began again with 30 4 x 6¬†cards, a clear intention,¬†and a plan. I can already see and feel a difference.¬†Each of these cards is completed in just a few moments, but the impact isn’t limited to the immediate moment. Wherever this path leads me, I know that my life will be different because I dared to answer the question of what I really want. As I write this post on Sunday, I just finished my 3rd card, and¬†I am excited about the possibilities that are showing up.¬†Now when I finish a card, I’m smiling. I have gone beyond the intellectual grasp of the concept back to an experience of reimagining my life. I can’t wait to see where this path leads.

If you’ve never thought about what you really want (or even if you have), I recommend this exercise. It only takes a few minutes a day, but the results may change the way you think about what’s possible.

Related articles:

http://randeebergen.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/a-moment-in-time-1023-p-m-on-12613/

http://farthertogo.com/2013/11/11/what-do-you-want-2/

https://myriad234.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/reimagining-my-life/

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A Moment in Time is a shared blogging experience, where writers document and share their stories from the same moment on the same day. The day and time for the next A Moment in Time is posted by Randee every few days in such a way that you’ll have a heads up on the exact moment to which you need to attend and focus on and, if it’s significant in some way, write about and add to the list.

Perseverance Revisited

A Sunny Wednesday Morning

The first part of my week is always the busiest. Part of it is because I teach 8 of my 14 weekly teaching hours by 10:00 on Tuesday morning.¬†Then on Wednesdays, I gear up for another long one, four teaching hours with two office hours in between. Over the last few weeks, I’ve become accustomed to this routine, even if it is a little tiring. But¬†on this Wednesday, I was beyond just putting one foot in front of the other. I was actually excited (on a Wednesday!) ¬†because I had an appointment when I got out of class at 4:40.

Karen, a former student of mine, was going to be my interpreter so I could go check out Curves, the gym for women. My intention was to find out if it would work for me, given a couple of issues, and if so, then sign up so I can start working out three days a week. She made the appointment for 5:00, and I was psyched.

Sidewalks in Taiwan

DSC09166

(Photo credit: shrimpcrackerz)

Many of the sidewalks in Taiwan are actually tiled, different kinds of tiles. The ones you see in the picture to the right are common in downtown shopping areas in Taoyuan and other cities in Taiwan. Some tiles in less commercial areas can be larger. These “sidewalks” are quite nice looking, and they are very smooth to walk on, almost like a tiled floor. Except that there are places where things are not totally level. As a result, it’s common to find steps or a wedge to adjust to these differences.¬†For example, when we leave our apartment, we walk up four steps to the “sidewalk,” which then goes to the corner and continues to one of the restaurants we like to go to. On the second leg of that trip, we step down two steps to get to the same level as the restaurant.

Of course, if you’re traveling in an area you’re not that familiar with, it’s a good idea to pay attention to the¬†steps and inclines. You do get used to it after a while.¬†It’s also important to use a little extra caution when it rains, because¬†these tiles can become quite slippery–some more than others, depending on the type of tile used.

The Best Laid Plans

It had rained Tuesday night, but the weather on Wednesday morning was quite sunny and pleasant. A nice breeze. It was time to catch the taxi to go to work. We walked along the sidewalk from the entrance of our apartment to the street about half a block away. When I was just a few feet from the two steps down to the street where the taxi was waiting, I stepped into a puddle of water left over from the night’s rain, and pretty much hydroplaned and landed on my backside after¬†first dropping¬†to my knees.¬†After I caught my breath, I tried to get up with some help.

An important fact for those who don’t know my history is that I injured my left knee back in 2004. After several years, it deteriorated to the point where I got the knee replaced in January of 2011. I even had the surgery done here in Taiwan. I’ve been so delighted with my replacement knee. But when I tried to stand up on Wednesday, the pain in the left knee was pretty bad.¬†In fact, I wasn’t sure if¬†my leg ¬†would support me. Luckily, Dave had run back inside to get my cane. Just before he got back, I tried with Mac’s (the taxi driver) help to stand again, and I was successful. With the help of the cane, I was able to maneuver enough to get into the cab.

With ibuprofen and my husband’s help, I made it through my classes. (At our university, if you miss classes, you have to make them up, so I just wanted to finish¬†them.) I did, and the students were quite cooperative. In the meantime, my colleague Jean was able to go online and make an appointment with my surgeon for the next day so that I could see whether or not I had done any damage to the artificial knee.

Off to the Doctor

Luckily, I was able to schedule an appointment with the doctor for late morning on Thursday. That allowed me to teach my Thursday¬†morning class and head to Taipei for the appointment. Thankfully, the x-rays showed that I had done no permanent damage to my artificial knee. I also got an all clear to go back and try Curves as soon as the pain subsided enough that I wasn’t uncomfortable. Funny thing, the pain is much easier to tolerate knowing that I didn’t do any damage!

During the trip to Taipei and back, I was reminded how wonderful it had been to not need a cane, as I had before and immediately after my surgery 2 1/2 years ago. But¬†Thursday’s news was wonderful. The x-rays showed that the knee was fine, and that once the pain subsides, I will be able to retire the cane again.

Perseverance

With the fall happening on the very day that I was planning to go to Curves, it would have been very easy to just give up on that project. After all, it requires a taxi ride downtown two nights a week (when my afternoon classes end). Then a 30 minute bus ride home. On Friday, it involves a bus trip both ways. But two weeks ago, I made an intention to check this out. Most other forms of exercise are currently not possible for me. Curves provides a different approach that I think will work.

Aside from enlisting Karen’s help with social support and interpreting, and working out a taxi and bus schedule around Curve’s hours, I had also worked in a reward for Friday’s (working a couple hours in a downtown coffee shop before coming home) and a productive use for my bus travel time (listening to MP3 files from Farther to Go!). Obviously, I had put a lot of thought and attention on this project; now it was time to persevere. So, I now have a tentative appointment for NEXT Wednesday at 5:00, and we’ll try this again.

Now, I’m off to persevere on¬†other matters, like posting more¬†on this blog.

570 days to 60.

Return of the Quilting Bug

Fabric Stash

(Photo credit: clumsy kristel)

As I’ve written about reimagining my life and taking time for me, it became clear that it was time to write about my quilting escapades–real and imagined. And before you think referring to quilting as having a bug, let me reassure¬†you that I don’t mean bug in the sense of an illness, but rather the little gnat-like things that buzz around you sometimes and just won’t let you be. No matter what you try, they keep coming back.¬†That’s how quilting is for me. No matter how many times I set it aside (because there are too many other things to do), it still buzzes around, capturing my attention in spite of myself.

Several times in my life, I have started to make a time and space for quilting, but I¬†have usually waited to play with¬†quilting until AFTER other things were caught up. So I either had marathon sessions with a specific quilt project in mind, or I did nothing, waiting for the magical moment when I could devote gobs of time to exploration and play. No middle ground, happy or otherwise. As a result, I have started and stopped quilting many times, the most recent incident having been documented in my blog over last fall and winter. To be honest, considering how little quilting (read NONE) I’ve done since I started blogging, I sure have dedicated a lot of space to writing about it.

Cutting Fabric

Cutting Fabric (Photo credit: designsbykari)

If you missed the posts I’ve done about quilting, I’ve included¬†links to them below.¬†But what I find really amazing about looking back at these entries was how much time I spent fighting with myself about doing something that I so thoroughly enjoy. I suppose it seems even stranger to me now that I am more focused on making my life more something that I am happy with in the here and now, not some distant far-off hope that is left to chance, never to actually see the light of day.

Taking time for me means answering the call to create, and for me, I feel most at home creating in fabric. I think that’s why the quilting bug keeps coming back. As I worked on materials for Farther to Go! over the summer, it was clear that bringing quilting back into my life on an ongoing, regular basis was one of my most important intentions.¬†I have come to realize that quilting isn’t something that I do when (if ever) the time presents itself. I want it as part of my life, and it is now my intention to make it happen.

The first step was to make a regular weekly time for quilting. To have at least one day a week off from working¬†that I could use for quilting. So far, I’ve made it two out of four times, but that’s two times more than I would have had before the intention. And what has happened in those two days of fabric play has far exceeded my expectations. More on that next time!

593 days to 60!

Links to earlier blog posts about quilting.

Finding Fabric¬† (November 13, 2012). In this episode, I find a great fabric district in Taipei where I can build the stash I’d re-started.

An Idea Whose Time Has Not Yet Come. Or . . .  (January 1, 2013). Rather than keep trying to put in small moments of quilting, I put together the idea for a two day quilting retreat. I mapped out my calendar and found a two-day spot during winter break.

Quilting Retreat: Planning or Resisting¬†¬† (January 29, 2013).¬†As the quilting retreat approached,¬†it didn’t hold the appeal and excitement that I had anticipated. And so many things had been left undone.

Reframe, Retreat, Renew   (February 1, 2013). I once again packed up all things quilting.

Keyword: Fun (Compliments of my daughter, Kate)   (February 5, 2013). A reminder from my daughter about what quilting really meant to me, and how far away from fun I had let it go.