Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Challenge Update

I'm day 15 into my 40 day challenge, and a challenge it has been! I won't say I'm failing, nope; I'm not going to say that. I will say that I have been struggling the most with getting off of the computer at 10pm. I like the night, and at night, it's quiet, it's just me, and that is when I like to research things on the Internet. It's the time of day that I like to click on links, read all the articles I have saved to my favorites, check out the pins I have pinned to Pinterest, and find topics to write about.

So I can say without a doubt, that when my 40 days is up, I will not be continuing on with that part of my challenge as a habit broken and a new one begun. I just don't like it! In fact, there have been many days that I have not been able to meet that challenge.

I have been quite successful in the other 2 parts of my challenge. I have been mindful in my kitchen, trying to find the gumption to keep on cooking some great meals. There was one night when I was very busy and I made pizza (and no not the healthier version of pizza I sometimes make). However, we did have a yummy spinach salad with it! When I am mindful of what I am putting into my mouth, and consistent with yoga, I feel better. I feel healthy, I feel strong, and I feel on the right track.

Lastly, and what has turned out to be my favorite, is being mindful throughout my day, and taking one of the moments in my day to write about. My challenge was to find something beautiful in each day and write about it. I started out wanting to write just a small stone about it, a poem, something short. I wanted it this way because I thought if I kept it shortl, I would be able to keep up, not get overwhelmed and stay committed to the challenge. Instead though, I have been amazed with where this has taken me that I've written quite a bit about it. I want to share some of that here in this post and in some future posts.
Day One: Today, I was to be mindful of something and create words to go with it. I should have been looking for something, finding purpose in something beautiful to write about. But something else happened instead. I found beauty in something I heard.
Haley wanted to cook dinner tonight. She likes to make pasta with veggies, and so I told her she could. I suggested that while she chopped veggies, she could listen to her music on her iPod touch. I went to spread out on my bed for a few minutes, or rather warm myself under the covers. As I lay still, I could hear her music. I may have groaned a bit when I heard her choice in music, but the music was no longer what I heard. It was the chopping, the knife cutting through the vegetables, hitting the cutting board. Click, click, and click. Then when her board was full, I would hear the thunk of the veggies being thrown into the strainer. Although we were two rooms apart, I could see her in my mind, and I could see this growing girl, full of pride for what she was doing, she was preparing a meal for us. Here she was being mindful in the kitchen, taking care to chop up the veggies, stirring them as she sautéed. Here she was, an extension of my 40 day challenge, being mindful in the kitchen. Here she was my extension of me!

Day Two: Covered in red blotches, her skin was completely dry. To the touch, it felt like very fine sand paper, the finest there is, right below my hand. Then there it was the sagging skin, visible in the crook of the back of her knee, a spot free of dryness and full of tiny wrinkles. Those wrinkles, are beautiful to me, they are so small and intricate, upon skin so delicate in places and so rough in others. Those wrinkles, each one of them, telling my mom’s story in a whisper I can barely hear.

Day Three: She is sitting beside me the first time she cries. Because I don't know her, and because I can't remember the last time I saw an elderly person cry, I don't recognize it before it happens. I see her eyes behind her glasses scrunch up, her face screwed up in a way that is unrecognizable to me. Then her soft, old, wrinkled hands begin to shake as she searches for a Kleenex in her bag. I touched her then, placing my hand on her hand, running my hand soothingly up and down her arm, wanting to hug her.
When the tears came next, I was watching for them. Grief came upon her quickly, sadness filling her eyes, mixed with tears, her shaking hand reaching once again for her Kleenex. Once again, I soothed her with my hands, awkwardly wondering if I could reach my arm around her tall, narrow frame. I know she trusts me, feels a kindness from me and towards me. Later, after she was gone, I wondered if I had handled her sorrow the correct way. Then I reminded myself, sometimes it's not words we need, just a human touch, warmth and kindness.

It really is just moments in our life, that our memory holds onto. Some good, some loving, some sad and some hurtful. Every day, I have made a point to see something beautiful, be present, be mindful of something around me. You know what? It makes life that much more colorful!
I would love to hear from you! Have you given yourself a challenge this New Year? What is it, and how is it going??

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Mindfulness. I'm up for a 40 Day Challenge!

January 10th, and we are inundated with New Year’s resolution suggestions, questions of failure or success, questions asked to engage us to answer with our own New Year’s Resolutions. Wow, talk about pressure. What about a challenge? I like that idea, because I like to privately challenge myself all the time, throughout the year.
Photo courtesy of Photobucket
My yoga instructor has come up with yet another great idea. A 40 Day Challenge. We have the option to participate or not, and if we do, we receive daily e mails of inspiration. I don't know about you, but the daily e mail of inspiration will help. I enjoy opening my Facebook and seeing the inspirational messages, ones I can forward, ones I can "like", and others I can just read, keep privately in my mind and let the words resonate with me.
Our challenge could be anything we choose. At the end of my class the other night when she proposed it to us, I knew I wanted to participate, but what would be my challenge? Give up wine for 40 days? I don't think so! If I practice a less than desirable yoga pose, like sleeping pigeon, every day for 40 days, at the end of that time, maybe I will learn to love the pose? That is doubtful! Give up sugar for 40 days? I think that's nearly impossible. Should I go 40 days without buying a magazine or book? I could I suppose, but I don’t want to!
Then I thought of the reasons I would choose a particular challenge. Would I choose something to help me change a bad habit, because I know that after 40 days, I am well on my way to being successful! Would I choose something I want to be better at, or something that would align itself with the yoga philosophy and benefit my mind, body and soul? All I know, is I don't want to pick something that I am going to fail at. I don't like to fail.
I went from having nothing to pick, to having too many to choose from. Here is what I decided. I want to challenge myself for 40 days, three things that will enrich my mind, body, and my soul!
For my Mind
I want to give myself a time limit to get off the computer at night! I am not a good sleeper to begin with. I had been on sleeping medication for the last 2 years, and just in the past few weeks, I made the decision to go off. I had tried cutting back, taking it only every other day, allowing myself to choose days that I thought I could get less sleep. How do you choose that? I thought that was a stupid suggestion from my doctor! I tried it though, and I was failing. So I just made up my mind that I would go off my medication and just do it. I put the fear of spiraling back into the land of insomnia out of my mind, and I did it! Now it may seem like I am digressing, but the computer likely has a great deal to do with my over active mind, especially at night. So my first challenge is to shut the computer down at 10pm, no research, no Pinterst, no Facebook, nothing! So if you see after 10pm that I have "liked" your status, commented on your page, or "pinned" something, please call me on it! Point it out and tell me I may be failing my challenge! I need that help!
For my Body
I am going to practice mindfulness in the kitchen. There usually comes a time for many of us this time of year, when we have eaten too much over the holidays, we are sick of winter food, we want summer to hurry up and arrive. Here where it is so cold, January is the time when we want to BBQ, eat fresh fruit, shop at the market, and eat lighter, because we are sick of food. I feel it every year, and I sometimes disconnect with the food I am preparing. The whole saying of we are what we eat, our bodies are our temples, we feed out soul, there has got to be some truth to that. So I am going to practice for 40 days, being mindful in my kitchen. I am going to use the rainbow of colors to cook my food, I am going to only buy what is good for us to eat, and I am going to cook good, healthy food! I cook good, healthy food now, but I need to be mindful of being better. Being mindful, being fully aware, present, and wearing that cute apron I got just before Christmas!
For my Soul
I am part of a group of people who come together at a writing forum. One of the things that they have practiced is mindful writing. The challenge is to notice something every day, and write a sentence or two, or a small poem about what it is. It is about finding beauty in something every day. This idea, I like allot. Something that frustrates me every day is how our faces are focused on our phones, we walk by people and don't notice them, we don't look into people’s eyes and we don't really listen! We are all guilty of this and some of us are worse than others. So my challenge for my soul is to take notice of something or someone every single day and write a little bit about it. Maybe I will stop for a moment and look out my window and actually watch the squirrel that runs on my fence and jumps from tree to tree several times a day. Maybe it will be someone I pass by one day, maybe it will be a snowflake on the window, a snow covered branch.
I am really looking forward to this 40 day challenge. It starts for me on Jan 14th, so please feel free to check in on my and see how it's going. Please feel free to join me, and make your own 40 day challenge. Let me know if you want to join me and we can support each other!
As always, thanks for stopping by!