Believe in You

Once she knows how to read there’s only one thing you can teach her to believe in and that is herself.” ~ Virginia Woolf

This speaks to the power of books but also to the struggle for women to find ways to believe in themselves.  One of the most powerful tools that any person has is their intuition, that gut feeling that may or may not drive decisions, depending on how well-developed it is and whether one trusts it.  Recent research has discovered that there is far more to “women’s intuition” than old wives’ tales.

“Intuition is the result of the way our brains store, process and retrieve information on a subconscious level says Professor Gerard Hodgkinson of the Centre for Organizational Strategy, Learning and Change at Leeds University Business School. According to his research, intuition is a real psychological phenomenon which needs further study to help us harness its potential.

Through analysis of a range of research papers examining the phenomenon, the researchers concluded that intuition is the brain quickly drawing on past experiences and external cues to make a decision on a non-conscious level. In other words, it happens so fast that we’re not aware that the intuition actually stemmed from a supercharged burst of logical thinking.” from Rebecca Sato in the Daily Galaxy 3/6/08

When we discover ways to harness this supercharged thinking it will have added applications; but the first step is to trust this phenomena.  Women especially are adept at this particular style of decision-making because the storage of emotional responses is more readily available in the female brain.  Yet women are more likely to second guess themselves and look to external factors to drive a less intuitive response.  This may come in the form of self-minimizing; I should try harder, I’m being too sensitive, too emotional, etc.

It is vital that we support the women in out lives in a way that allows them to trust themselves and teach girls the importance of looking inward for answers to life questions.  For all the wonder of a great book, the secret to trusting oneself is not between the covers.

Coming tomorrow…how one middle school in Montana made a tiny change with big rewards for girls and boys.

NaNoWriMo

Earlier this year after reading “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin I found inspiration to begin writing again.  I was especially taken by the idea of writing a 30-day novel and determined to give it a try.  I apparently skipped over the brief mention of National Novel Writing Month, but it must have stuck with me because I decided that November would be my month.  My reasons were weather (the first month of more indoor time), and the obvious fact that November has 30 days, perfect!

While I was enjoying the Sunday paper I stumbled upon an announcement about November being NNWM and decided to look into it more this morning.  I am now officially registered on the NaNoWriMo website and will be participating in any local events and entering my work for judging.  The last bit was wholly unexpected, but it is a useful tool to keep me on it when the going gets rough.  For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, the 30-day novel is 50,000 words (the approximate length of “Catcher in the Rye” and “The Great Gatsby”) written in yes, 30 days.  That means 1667 words a day, give or take.

Anticipating the things that most often derail my attempts to focus on a task that has the potential to frustrate and make me want to quit, I plan on employing a few tactics in advance.

First – the ongoing office disorganization.  I will spend at least one hour a day for the next 15 days regaining order and making sure I have all of my supplies at hand.  Being able to find what I am looking for and not having the excuse to run out to buy printer paper will keep my eyes on the screen and my fingers on the keys.

I plan to follow a schedule similar to the one I have now but stretching out the writing time to allow for an additional 1667 words a day.  Part of the challenge is NO EDITING, saving that for December.  How I will manage that I have no idea, but the point is to grow creatively and resisting interrupting the flow to edit is key apparently.  As a result, I will complete each day’s writing in one sitting with my inner editor locked in the closet.

Make this my number one priority.  The dishes, the laundry, dealing with email, chatting on the phone with family and friends; any and all of those will be on hold during my time to write.  And how much time will that take?  I’m not sure and expect it will vary daily.  I will give myself a two-hour window to start and then adjust as needed.

Likely this blog will see shorter entries, some about this endeavour and others on the usual range of topics.  If you are planning on participating in this challenge, let me know, I hope to keep up with my fellow writers with encouragement and when that fails commiseration.

What Remains?

“All natural goods perish. Riches take wings; fame is a breath; love is a cheat; youth and health and pleasure vanish.”  William James

These words could be construed as the mutterings of a bitter old man, with a purely naturalistic view of life.  They are, when taken in the context of “The Varieties of Religious Experience”, presented as an example of the “sick soul”, a soul that cannot find the ease of living, forever searching and striving to discover some value, some greater worth than that which one possesses.  In the same piece James quotes Edward Everett Hale, “I can remember perfectly that when I was coming to manhood, the half-philosophical novels of the time had a deal to say about the young men and maidens who were facing ‘the problem of life.’ I had no idea whatever what the problem of life was. To live with all my might seemed to me easy; to learn where there was so much to learn seemed pleasant and almost of course; to lend a hand, if one had a chance, natural; and if one did this, why, he enjoyed life because he could not help it, and without proving to himself that he ought to enjoy it…”, as an example of what James calls the healthy-minded.  He acknowledges that there are degrees of healthy-mindedness and sickness of soul; and concludes that the sick soul has the more overlapping perceptions of reality.

Does this mean then that we should turn away from greater happiness, that we give up on the hope for a joyful existence to live a “real” life?  There is room in the mix for a respectful acknowledgement of evil, sadness, fear, loss, and all the elements the “sick soul” tends to dwell upon, without becoming consumed with the “problem of life”.  When it seems that all in life has the potential to eventually fade away, what is it that we might hold on to in the face of the inevitable loss?

When indeed all the material is gone, youth and health have fled, we are left with memories.  The memories of a lifetime of choices and chances taken; of seizing the moment to run free, making time for the joyous bounding adventures.  Memories of the people we have known, those we have helped and who have helped us; memories of tenderness, kindness and expressions of love.  Our fully integrated self has stored these and more in our bodies as well as our minds, and until both completely fail we retain the ability to remember, not just thoughts, but emotions and the physical sensations of those cherished moments.

As we are mindful today, we are filling the storehouse of our bodies and souls with the thing that lingers; that which holds far greater value than the car driven, the title or letters following names, the balance in the bank.  Let the thing that lingers fill our vessel with the sweetness and the treasures of a celebratory life.

Small Step

OK, so I will admit I have fallen under the spell of the Happiness Project.   http://www.happiness-project.com/  Who knew it could be this easy?  I am such a sucker for the tag line, “studies show”, and one of the first studies cited shows that taking immediate action gives one a boost and is the gift that keeps on giving.  My first resolutions:

  • Start writing again – a blog is a great way to start!
  • Volunteer – using my best self
  • Pursue the intellectual – read more challenging material, think about IDEAS!

Yesterday one of  the take action steps was to go to the local public library and submit my volunteer application.  I am embarrassed to admit it was the first time I set foot in the door so it may seem odd that I had already decided to volunteer there, but books are my thing, and I need to add some regular human contact to my otherwise rather isolated lifestyle.  So the library it is!  I was pleased to see that it was comfortable, well stocked, has current book offerings and has wi-fi so some of these missives may originate from there in the future.  It is on the other hand, a small town library and needs more space and a remodel – the floors are a serious tripping hazard – I see I have my work cut out for me.  What better place to offer my time than a house for books that needs a lot of work, I may be able to use some of that construction knowledge yet.

Take action today items are:

  • Work on this blog and find three others that are related or of interest
  • Work on my Happiness Project Toolbox – you’ll have to follow the link if you don’t know what that is
  • Choose three books that inspire me to mine for essay ideas
  • Return my “test” to the library
  • Work on one nagging item – filing

Onward…..