This Moment

“Happiness, knowledge, not in another place but this place, not for another hour but this hour.”   Walt Whitman

So many wait to begin at the beginning; of the New Year, of the week, of the next perceived starting point.  Yet what are we doing while waiting for that perfect moment?  In some cases one actually undermines the future opportunity that lies ahead.  How many times is a diet or exercise program preceded by splurging on rich food and indulging in couch time?

We put off, we set aside, we make poor choices with the promise of doing better; all common behaviors.  Waiting for that perfect time to begin, so many hours and days are left languishing, sliding away, unused, unrecoverable.  Many long for more time to follow pursuits that seem distant, yet killing time is a common device.  More than any other benefit, mindfulness offers us more time.  Each moment that we can maintain our mindful presence is one well used adding to the storehouse of experience, knowledge and memory.  Arriving at one’s destination having seen each sight, breathed the scents of the waiting in lineplace, with the feel of the swirling air of the present on one’s skin, the journey becomes a piece of us.

There are dozens of lists detailing how to make the most of one’s down time; waiting being so much a part of the many errands we run.  Bring a book, write a list, call a friend; each useful and certainly productive.  But could we not also add breathe, listen, look about, dip you hand in the fountain?

As this day of fresh starts becomes the next and the next, let us remember that we can  wait until the next day or hour to become present in this moment.  We are here, we are now, and the storehouses of our lives are filled to the brim with all there is when we give over each instant to mindfulness and intent.

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.

Milestone ~ 100 Posts

This marks my one hundredth post since beginning my challenge to write every day.  While for many it is important to take a day off to refresh and rejuvenate, for some reason I tend to just drift away.  This has been the case for so many things that I enjoyed and looked forward to; morning walks, going to the gym, eating healthfully, watching the nightly news; the list is endless.

I suspect this results from a lack of self-discipline and a somewhat drifty personality.  I lose interest easily, or rather I gain interest in something else easily and leave all of my best laid plans behind.  As part if my personal Happiness Project and overall growth, I realized this was one thing that lead to much unhappiness in my life.  Not only was I not doing something I deeply love, writing, but I had a long list of unfinished projects, unmet goals, unestablished habits.  This blog became my first step in the process of finding a way to make something I value stick.  Taking a day off from it has seemed like falling back into my pattern of drifting away, never to return.  As my regular followers know, I lost a day to a technology glitch, but I am happy to say I picked up the very next day.

Writing daily has other hazards as well.  Repetition being the first and a huge one at that.  I am not offering timely diet tips, a log of my struggles with weight or parenting or learning to dance.  This has become daily philosophical musings, and the topics are often interrelated and have been examined for centuries by great minds and even in my case discussed more than once.  In considering this I began to worry that this blog and its direction have grown stale.  I reminded myself that sometimes I must hear the same thing several times and from several angles before it really takes.  I also reminded myself that every day new readers find me and may only read a couple of entries, which then are new to them.  With that consolation I will continue looking at life, truth, the senses, reading, writing, happiness and the rest.  I look forward to the next one hundred posts and hope that you will as well.

Picking up the Ball

Going back through all of my posts has had an unexpected side effect…a severe case of “when did I lose track of that?”.  Although going through the ninety posts is slow going; I find I need to re-read each one to pick words that are somewhat reflective of the topic to use as tags.  I covered the first twenty or so and I know it will take longer as I go, the posts grew in length over time as well.

The first topic I lost track of was the “spin”.  Taking the negative or gloomy perspective and finding the positive, upbeat view.  Everything  from finding joy in a long gray day to finding the humor in an awkward encounter seems to have slipped away a bit.

Specific resolutions like Creativity Day and getting the filing under control – the work table for creative projects is now buried under all of that filing!  Some resolutions were kept and the one I hang on to as proof I can do this is writing daily.  So I will give myself a gold star on that one and pick one resolution to add in for the next ninety days. (Hey, I’m a slow reinforcer, most people it’s a month to six weeks, me, far more.)  So I will deal with my pigeon of discontent (as opposed to the Bluebird of Happiness, thanks G. Rubin), which is the filing.  It is not simply a stack of papers that need to go in folders, it is an entire shift of past years to boxes (need to buy one), make new files and purge the old, then put it all away.  But, once done, I am resolving to put the paper in the folder without it ever hitting the “to be filed” pile.  When I look at what has prevented me from doing this I realize, beyond it being a less than “fun” task, my perfectionist streak gets in the way as well.  The folder “needs labels” is the fattest, because I like printed labels, not hand written.  I will accept that it is important to me and make the time to print labels as needed, rather than “later”.

So here I am again circling back to mindfulness; paying attention to what is really happening or keeping me from attacking a project or task.  One of the huge benefits of putting things in writing is being able to look back as a check-up, to remind oneself where we were, where we thought we wanted to go, and hold that up against one’s current location.  There will always be some slipping, life happens, and all of our good intentions may lose some of their priority, but the good news is, with reminders, we can pick up the ball again.

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!

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…..