Making Plans vs. Making Goals

Making Plans vs. Making Goals

Today I am grateful for my overall good health. I had a bone density exam last week and the results are I have osteopenia in my lower lumbar (on top of the arthritis that is there). While osteopenia is not as severe as osteoporosis, I was still shocked at the diagnosis. I’m someone who does the weight training (for years), eats well, takes the extra calcium and vitamin D. The diagnosis ultimately ends my plans of eventually getting back into running, which is a bummer. I’ll just have to keep going with the cycling, and I assume, walking (which is fast-paced on a 10% incline – I beg the universe to not take this from me!). But other than this, I always feel fantastic, years younger than what I am.

I am grateful we got the garden planted this past weekend. Now just hoping the plants make it!

I am grateful for my quiet life. I adore it.

I am grateful for the love of great friends. Looking forward to spending an evening with one tonight at a Sixx AM concert.

I am grateful for my almond butter chocolate chip cookies (I use this recipe) – they are AMAZING! Make them all the time.

I’ve been thinking even more about this blog/journal and what more I can offer. I had a topic in mind for this week, but realized I needed to do a little research on it before posting. But lately me and the word “goals” haven’t been getting along well. I once loved setting goals, but after years of doing so I found myself pushing back against the ones I set for myself. I started feeling restricted rather than organized. I came to resent goals. I just wanted to live life, unbound by always being tied up in one goal after another. (Funny – as I sit here typing about goals I can feel my heart rate increasing. Automatic notice I’m entering territory I’m not meant to be in). But, in order to have a coherent and relevant journal, some additional thought has to go into it. So I’ve decided to make plans for more enlightening posts. Making plans sounds more fun to me, more relaxed. Like saying, “Let’s make plans to get together tonight!” or, “I’m making plans for summer vacation!” So much more fluid, I think, than “making goals”. Can you imagine saying to a friend, “Let’s make a goal of going to lunch tomorrow.” I feel like the date would need to be quantified on its effectiveness afterwards! Don’t get me wrong, goals have their place. But after a life filled with them, I’m over them.

So I will be thinking of a plan for next week’s post. But outside of that, I’m letting the universe take the wheel, trusting in it’s guidance. In other words, I’ll be enjoying life, as is. I hope you will as well.

Peace, love, happiness, and harmony always.

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Practicing Patience

Practicing Patience
  1. I am grateful to be watching birds feed outside my window right now. So peaceful to observe.
  2. I am grateful to have made more progress on setting up my studio space in the living room.
  3. I am grateful for making baguettes for the first time yesterday. What a long process! (More on this below.)
  4. I am grateful I had a peaceful weekend.
  5. I am grateful to be back into practicing mindfulness.

One of of the things on my “must-do”list is learning to make perfect baguettes. One of my absolute favorite pleasures in this life is a fresh-baked French baguette. Crispy on the outside but delicately soft and chewy on the inside. Some of the best I’ve had were while vacationing in St. Maarten (second to those in Paris many years ago). I found this recipe while browsing through Pinterest and decided a slow Sunday morning was the prime time to give it a go. What unfolded was a true test of patience and an unplanned lesson in mindfulness.

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Getting all the ingredients ready.

It’s a called a “Four-Hour Baguette” and it took every bit of four hours from start to finish. I tip my hat to all the hard-working bakers who start their day in the wee hours of each morning to prepare and bake all those delectable sweets and breads we love so much. It’s a lot of hard work! Combine the water and yeast – then wait. Mix the flour and yeast water – and wait. Knead the dough for at least ten minutes, then place in a covered bowl, then place in a cold oven – then wait. And so it went. I found myself at times being tempted to swear off ever making the recipe again because it was taking too long. Then I asked myself, “Why?” Simple enough question, but for someone who makes it a habit to rush through nearly every single thing (who grows impatient at the slightest delay), it was a question forcing me to be truthful with myself. What was the rush? The truth was there was no rush. There was nothing else that HAD to be done. There was nothing more pressing hanging over my head. The only thing on the agenda for the morning was baking baguettes. For years I’ve held goal after goal, one grand expectation after another, over my head. I worked a full time job and had to complete my college degree in record time (while maintaining a high GPA). I graduated and then HAD to learn the publishing industry and write the perfect first novel. After that, I HAD to come up with an exciting and profitable business idea that would make me financially independent. But no one was forcing any of this – it was me against myself. I was my own worse enemy. True, I learned a lot during those years. One of the greatest lessons: if you keep pushing yourself nonstop with over-the-top expectations, you will suffer. Your health will suffer first. Then your closest relationships. Your happiness will be non-existent. I am way overdue to live according to my own natural rhythm.

My natural rhythm is this: slow and steady. A frenetic pace stresses me out. And believe me, all those years of essentially working two full-time jobs was frenetic and stressed me out: tightness in my chest; constant shallow breathing; constant stomach upset with additional GI issues; headaches; and moodiness (just ask my hubby about this one). I was, no doubt, slowly killing myself. I started practicing mindfulness within the past year, but found it taking a backseat to the demons rattling my mind (or what I sometimes refer to as my monkey brain). Fear and doubt are slick little bastards – it only takes a sliver of opportunity for them to set up shop in my head. But here on this Sunday morning, having to commit four hours to making bread, was what I needed to practice mindfulness once again. And it is a practice. It doesn’t come overnight – it’s a constant effort to practice in order to eventually become a master (same applies to meditation). So when it was time to knead the dough, I narrowed my thoughts to my hands working through the dough. The only thing that existed at that moment was my breath, my hands, and the dough taking shape within my hands. For ten minutes these were the only things that existed in my world.

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Making progress (both with the bread and myself).

Afterwards, I felt calm. It was an extraordinary practice in patience. This is how life is meant to be lived – one single moment at a time. Not rushing from one place to another, or from one goal to the next. Learning patience, mastering mindfulness is my destination. Nothing else. It will help me be a better artist, a better wife, a better friend. It will help me stay healthy. It will lead me to great places that rushing would have never taken me. I am grateful for the continuing lesson. I am ready to just be. All that is good and abundant in this life will comes to me with ease. I am at peace with myself – I am enough. And for this particular lesson I am forever grateful.

Today is a great day.

Let’s Start Over…

Let’s Start Over…

Rethinking the format of this journal. By week’s end last week I was emotionally exhausted and I attributed it too a lot of things, one being putting my personal thoughts “out there” for the world to see (even if only one person read it). I believe I will keep the gratitude portion, but then focus more on creativity. Need to put some thought into it.

Peace, love, happiness and harmony always…

My True Self

My True Self
  1. I am grateful for my overall great health. Despite this hip issue and my arthritis, I have it pretty good compared to others.
  2. I am grateful for discovering new artists – they light my way.
  3. I am grateful for my perseverance. I may get down still from time to time, but I am able to keep moving forward. I refuse to let depression shackle me.
  4. I am grateful for all the wonderful people I have met online – I have met my best friends this way. Sometimes the internet is a great place.
  5. I am grateful it’s Friday! I know, this one is kind of lame, but so true. May I get to a place soon where days of the week are totally irrelevant.

    This morning was a struggle to come in here to share my daily post. I am an introvert through and through, so I have struggled in the past (and now) with continually putting myself out “there”. This is why I loathe the idea of hustling, of the idea of having a blog and constantly updating social media in order to gain a following. It’s not that I don’t want to connect with like-minded people – I totally do – but I love my private world. I prefer to reflect internally rather than externally. To publicize my feelings and thoughts is a pretty big hurdle. But, I will at least make an effort. I need to make the conscious effort to rein in my brain to keep it from running away with me (“Check your stats! Is anybody reading? More! More! More!”).

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    For real. (credit to Copyblogger for this image)

    And this act alone is exhausting. For real. However, I am, without a doubt, WAY happier these days and a truly optimistic and positive person, but I’m also over denying the existence of my true self. My true self IS a quiet woman. My true self IS a thinker, a learner, someone who will think through her thoughts before speaking. My true self DOES get exhausted constantly being around others. My true self relishes silence over noise. I love my true self, even when others don’t understand (usually the extroverts – which includes the hubby). My true self cares deeply for the causes she believes in. My true self is seeking absolute fulfillment in life, which includes the career. I dismiss the notion that this isn’t possible. It is. And I am going to make it happen.

    Today is a really good day. I will focus on being relaxed, on being the true me. It’s the only reality I will embrace.

    Peace, love, happiness and harmony always.