Doin’ Nothin’

There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.” ~ Calvin to Hobbes ~ Bill Watterson

Some days it feels so good to put the to-do list away and take time to do nothing in particular.  Of course we still breathe and eat and sleep, so we aren’t actually doing nothing, but the delicious extravagance of unscheduled time is a luxury many do not often allow themselves.  We feel the need to be doing something, anything, that we can look back at and say, I crossed that item off my list.  As we go-go-go we then impose that on our over-booked children as well.  How many times has your child had to choose between one activity and another because there just wasn’t enough time to fit everything in?

Teaching our children the art of appreciating down time, simply sitting and observing and taking in the world around them.  A trip to the park that does not involve soccer, or elaborate preparations; just a walk down the block to swing or not, to mosey rather than hurry, to just slow the pace to know how that feels.  We owe it to our children to teach them the value of quiet that does not involve study, but just the simplicity of being.

At each stage of life these moments of doing nothing seem hard to find.  But in the end, will it matter if the floor was swept 1000 times or 1000 and one?  One can always find something to do, but it may also be an excuse to avoid paying attention to the quiet.  Discovering the inner peace that comes with mindfulness and the sheer joy that comes from free spontaneous play are gifts we give our children when we allow them to do nothing at all.  And in that nothing grows imagination, observation, love of the natural world and the ability to be self- entertaining.

We all deserve our down-time, our doing nothing moments. Breathe and jump in a pile of leaves.

Cross-Training

For those of you who have read this blog daily, a heartfelt thank you!  I realized with three sick days off that the dailiness of this has served its purpose and I am indeed writing every day.  But it has become confined to my blog and I have set aside other writing in favor of what you read here.  I want to add back working on the poetry and writing exercises that I hope will allow me to continue to improve as a writer and have some new things to add to the other pages of this blog.

I think we all need to change it up once in a while, whether it is our exercise routine, the route we take to work or the myriad other things that we do every day.  My cross-training just happens to be changing forms of writing.  As I have said in my “About Me”, I am not a storyteller, but I would like to become one.  And I haven’t written a decent poem in a long while.  So I am putting on my cloak of imagination and setting off.  I will put a note in a bottle and float it your way now and then, and in the not too distant future I hope to have some new poetry and perhaps a short story to share.  And since I can’t help but have those philosophical musing moments a new post on the topics I have written about these last few months is bound to pop up.

What Inspires You?

Inspiration, a tricky thing.  That little spark that can jump into flame with timing, effort and enthusiasm and just as easily slip away.  Looking for topics to comment upon on a daily basis has caused me to wonder what happens that allows a quote or a side note in another blog to cause my mind to kick into gear and the words to begin flowing.  I certainly do not wake up every morning with some brilliant piece already formed in my head just waiting to be typed!  For the most part when I hit the publish button, I am satisfied; thoroughly pleased on occasion and really excited once or twice.

So how do I inspire myself to keep writing day after day?  As I surf for quotes or pull out the bookmarks from passages previously read, I let my subconscious do the wander-ing and make some of the connections behind the scenes.  Even though my personal ah-ha moments are few, I find the “likes” and” follows” and especially the comments written by my readers motivating.  To read that a particular phrase resonated with another person creating a connection with them is thrilling.

I have read so many “About Me’ stories across the blogosphere and they are truly inspiring. I look to each writer for ideas, topics and famous quotes they have discovered and have moved them in some way.  Each person has something unique that touches them, a photograph, a bit of humor; something that tugs at their sleeve for attention.  Some are passionate about a cause that is close to them or an all-consuming life event that begs to be shared.  Others see the mundane and add a perspective that makes it sparkle.  The inspiration behind each story, behind each life, is as distinctive as it is original.

So what inspires you?  What causes you to becomes animated and excited, eager to share and create?  Looking inward and drawing out the best of your inspired self allows you to greet the day with enthusiasm and joy.  And when you can’t find it inside, just look around.  It seems when one begins to look for something it pops up everywhere.  Keep your eyes and heart open, be inspired!

We Are Not Alone

That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.”
~F. Scott Fitzgerald

As I continue to write this blog I have come to discover so many like-minded people out there who are doing the same.  As my followers grow, I look to their writing to see what might have resonated for them.  Some are a mystery, in others I find kindred spirits. The longing for connection is universal; the ability to connect with such a diverse and far-flung audience is one of the great gifts of technology against which I sometimes rail.

Literature takes the connection into the realm of flight.  Words knitted together with golden needles; emotions laid bare, stripped naked; portraits of places visited only in dreams; all found lashed together, placed in a pocket or bag and carried about for quiet moments of reflection and joy.  Peopled with characters familiar as a friend; struggling, celebrating, tackling the fearsome and mundane with grace or collapse; relatable all.  Literature, the craft, the inspiration and the gift do not come to most who write. It is rarified air those few breathe, as they take what is known and recognizable and build around it a stone castle of enchantment and wonder, a cave of terror and pain, turning the people and problems on end to tell the tale.

In the end though, the thing that captures us is the ah-ha moment when we see ourselves and know that we are not in this alone.  That another must have felt the same sorrow or despair to be able to so clearly describe it, to feel as though they were peering into one’s mind at the very moment of grief, gives us a small dose of hope in the darkness.  Be transported, uplifted, informed, inspired; great authors connect your world with theirs.

Wonder-ful!

“Never question the truth of what you fail to understand, for the world is filled with wonders.”―L. Frank Baum author of the “Oz” series

A sense of wonder has such a child-like characteristic to it, the very word evokes a vision of wide eyes, large smiles, standing on tip-toe, holding one’s breath.  How often as adults do we tap into our sense of wonder?  Wonder is magical and we become too jaded to experience that sense with any regularity.  Caught up in the adult sense of “knowing” we begin to lose the openness and sheer joy that comes from experiencing wonder.

I recently read an article about extremophiles.  Upon seeing the word I assumed it was about people who love the extreme; ones who would be good at reality television shows jumping off tall buildings onto a pile of pillows.  But no, it is a class of organisms that live in the extremes of heat, cold and pressure where it was previously thought no life forms could exist.  Digging deeper into the story, it describes an organism that has lived in a gas bubble in a crystal, and the crystal was fifty MILLION years old!  The organism apparently had not developed any way to divide or reproduce because it did not need to.  I continued to read filled with wonder.  The upshot of the article was we are discovering an entire new classification of life here on this planet; the obvious usefulness of which is to guide us to look for life in places we believed it could not exist here or on any other planet.

To understand how and why these creatures came into existence is far beyond my grasp, but I do not deny the truth of their being.  I am filled with awe and wonder at the things that are in our very midst and we are ignorant of their presence until someone with imagination and courage finds them.  The world outside and within is teeming with the undiscovered and when we allow ourselves the freedom of the wonder of it all, we become open to the great mysteries and excitement of life.

Opening up to that which strikes us as unlikely if not impossible with an inquiring mind and a receptive heart creates an entirely new space to grow oneself.  Tapping back into the sense of amazement at the world around us with a joyful sense of discovery feeds one’s creativity, imagination and freshens the perceptions of all that one believes and knows.

Let yourself believe for a moment in the magical, reclaim your sense of wonder, rediscover delight.

Creativity Day

Yesterday was a day I wanted to devote solely  to creative pursuits.  Sunday seems like such a good day for that; generally a slower day anyway, and doing something fun that gets my creative juices flowing is a great way to prepare for the week ahead.  Since organizing my space is a must for me, I created a new space in a bedroom under a south-facing window.  I hauled an incredibly heavy table from the garage and set it up.  I located all of my various tubs of craft supplies, paints, glue guns, drafting supplies, on and on.  For once, I did not go out and buy a single thing before I got started using it. I painted my coffee canisters, repaired small broken items, and laid out some ideas for decorating my Adventure Box – (sounds even better than activity box, I think).  It was so focused and relaxing at the same time.

Resolution:  Spend Sunday on creative projects and laying out future projects

Monday however, is my administrative day.  It seems at the end of the day when I think about what is coming up, on Sunday I always come up with things that I have to do on a weekday, such as calling businesses for appointments and such.  Before I went to sleep I made a list of calls, five, to get me started this morning.  I am so excited, this week’s calendar is busier with planned events, a class on WordPress tomorrow, Wednesday a presentation on a trip to Ireland, and Saturday a Celtic dinner dance to round out the focus on St. Patrick’s day. I am especially excited about the WordPress class as I look at other blogs and am inspired to do more.

My first personal Commandment for my Happiness Project:

Do not let others define you – be you from the inside out

Nature note:  Snow last night, maybe a 1/4″ but fully covered everything, so from looking like spring yesterday, this morning it is a winter wonderland again.  It will get above freezing later, then back to early spring, which in Montana is a bit more like “sprinter” a little of each, the forecast for the rest of the week is just about the same.  Being fully present in the moment, with concrete daily goals, makes this transitional season something to celebrate rather than tolerate.  Spring forward!

Daylight Savings Time

We are not really saving any daylight, right?  So why this artificial clock changing routine twice a year?  Worse yet, now I have several devices that change automatically and several that do not; the funny thing is even the auto setters can’t seem to agree on the exact time, each has a different minute setting.  I feel like the March Hare racing around trying to set clocks close to the same time as the others.  I imagine in some not too distant future my “smart” home will synchronize all the devices.  Until then I believe it is somewhere between 8:30 and 8:40 AM.  I do go by the earliest by the way.

Yesterday was successful on three fronts:

  • Overcoming fear to use a new tool and carry out a much-needed task – air compressor and tire inflation
  • Hard physical labor, reward – visual sense of accomplishment and physical exhaustion
  • Continuing routines that are healthy – food diary combined with healthful eating and  exercise/meditation

Today I am committing to a creativity day.  I’m bringing a large table up from the garage and will work on a couple of crafts projects and my Activity Box.  I realized that I have collected clippings and such for a variety of activities and then they go in a folder in the file cabinet and are instantly forgotten.  So I decided to decorate a plain file container that is fun and enticing and add these folders today and more I’m sure, as I go along:

  • Hikes
  • Gardening
  • Classes
  • Events

I hope a cheerful looking box sitting out where I can see it will remind me that I have loads of fun right at my fingertips!

Nature note: the Juncos are back!  I mistook their small bobbing black heads with tiny bright yellow beaks furiously bobbing up and down on the ground for butterflies last year when I first spotted them.  They arrive in big flocks and only stay a short while before heading higher into the mountains for the summer; but their sweet peeping and flurry of activity are a joy on an almost spring morning.