Life

Building daily habits

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Back in September, I started a daily journaling exercise called the 6-Minute Diary. The basic outline is that for three minutes in the morning you answer three items:

  • Three things to be grateful for
  • A couple of sentences on how to make the day great
  • A positive affirmation

At the end of the day you complete three more exercises:

  • Your good deed for the day
  • How you’ll improve
  • Three great things you experienced that day

I just passed the critical juncture (66 days according to research cited by the author of this book) for establishing a solid habit. This is 66 days of positive thinking first thing in the morning and last thing before going to bed. I have to say it works for me and makes my days a little more meaningful. I have to put thought into my daily good deed. I have to think about how I can do better tomorrow. Even on a bad day, there have to be three good things.

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Life

Synchronicity

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The term synchronicity shows up early on in week three of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way (which I am currently halfway through!) and she likens them to answered prayers (which she says are scary). She tells you to be on the lookout for them every week there on out. One minute you are wishing, praying for something and the next thing you know, it’s right there. A weird coincidence. I don’t think synchronicity is scary but I’m not always paying attention for it either. A couple weeks ago it bowled me over.

If you have been following along these last several months, you might recall I have been unemployed since early January. I had a few weeks before unemployment benefits would kick in and from there I would have 26 weeks to find another job. I scanned the job listings casually at first, looking for a good fit. I was steering away from marketing jobs which I’d been doing for the last fifteen years, wanting something a little different. I also wanted to work part-time so I could spend more time writing. What is out there that fits this description? Retail, service jobs, low paying jobs. I am cool with less money but after thirty years of work history, I didn’t want something at minimum wage level. This is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

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Life

Life in the messy middle

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Sometimes I think of life as a sandwich with three layers. The bottom piece of bread is where you don’t want to do anything. Energy is lagging, you might be feeling like a cold is coming or you feel like getting through each day is enough of a struggle without trying to do much more than sustain yourself and family. You feel weighed down by the rest of the sandwich. The top layer of bread is where you are sitting above the fray. Energy is high. Things get done. And there’s not a lot of work involved. The middle is messy. It’s where you push yourself a little more. You don’t just show up to life but participate in it, making decisions, making an effort, letting yourself shine through your actions.

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Life

Dreaming of what’s next

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A sign in front of the Amorgos Diving Center. All roads lead to and from Amorgos.

Until this week, I have never written a formal bucket list. Things would bounce around in my mind through the years and if I did them I would mentally tick them off. Skydiving. Check. Zip line over a rainforest. Check. See the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. Check. I even got to see a parade for a dead member of the royal family. That was not on my list but we happened to be in London when Queen Elizabeth’s mother died in 2002.

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Life

Writing a Palanca Letter

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What is a palanca letter I asked myself as a woman from our congregation passed out a flyer asking parishioners to write one. Oh course, I turned to Google for assistance. Palanca is a spanish word that means lever, an instrument that helps lift something up. The palanca letter is a personal note to someone attending a spiritual retreat and as with many things in life, I was coincidentally being asked from two separate corners of my life to write these letters on the same weekend. One for a stranger, an inmate at a nearby prison and one to my aunt who lives in Texas.

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Life

Dreams you don’t know you have

Greece was never on my bucket list and I’m not even sure why. Maybe it’s because I heard about their economy which had imploded. Maybe it’s that the language seemed scary and so foreign. It was nearly half a world away and the flight would be long. But, alas, when my friend mentioned she was going there for a yoga retreat every ounce of my being was aching to be there too. More for the yoga retreat than anything else.

When she asked me to go, I was elated but I never imagined I’d be able to go. I have my family and I’m unemployed – how selfish would it be to ask if I could do this. When I arrived home from the bruch where I heard about the retreat, I casually mentioned it to my husband. My brother-in-law was there and can vouch that I never outright asked to go, but within minutes it was happening. I was texting my friend- I’m in!!!!!! Yes, I’m pretty sure I used all those exclamation points. Greece. Yoga. Meditation. I can remember the joy I felt the moment I realized it was going to happen.

This was in March of this past year and the retreat was slated for the end of July. It seemed like an eternity away. I wanted to lose some stubborn weight that had been sitting and growing in my belly area for a few years. I had stopped going to yoga because our Saturdays were filled with other activities and I needed to get back at it. Life kept chugging along. I got on a nutrition program, upped my workouts and rekindled my love for Saturday yoga.

The day to leave for Greece finally came. All the work to get there was about to pay off. With a suitcase full of new clothes and my longtime friend by my side we started the trip of a lifetime. I didn’t know that it would be more than I ever imagined.

MC

Life

Snakes and bugs, oh my

Snakes scare the crap out of me. They always have. Apparently they thrive in Florida because not a trip goes by without me seeing one. This time, a small red and black creature was waiting at the back door to greet me and my scream was probably exaggerated compared to the size of this little guy. I immediately slammed and locked the back door hoping it would be gone the next morning. A favorite aspect of our home in Florida is the covered patio at the back of the house so I didn’t want this standing between us.

My scream didn’t scare this little guy away – he was waiting in the same spot today – and when I opened the door he somehow managed to slither into the lanai. Oof! I ran for the broom and hastily pushed him back outside and swpt him onto a patio block in the grass. He stayed nearby as I was putting the patio furniture out but by the time I went to grab my phone for a picture, he had disappeared. I think not knowing where he went makes me a bit uncomfortable.

I’ve overcome a lot of fears in my life but bugs and snakes are something I can’t seem to get past. It took a while but I think I’ve come to accept the geckos which are the chipmunks of the south. Somehow they get inside the house and die and shrivel up between our visits here and I find their husks in the corners of the lanai.

Honestly, I could really do without seeing all these creatures even if we somehow have to coexist in the world together. I know we each have our purpose. Do you have any phobias you wish you could overcome?

MC

Life, Uncategorized

Small progress

Later today I’m leaving for a week away. When you’re unemployed, taking a vacation seems redundant but there you have it. At least it will be a change of scenery and better weather (although it’s pretty nice here in upstate New York).

I was so fired up from my last post about decluttering that I did something pretty amazing yesterday. Drumroll, please… I went to the landfill!!!! Yup, I took that old broken television and a monitor that doesn’t work and a laptop that has seen better days AND the huge box the new television came in right to the landfill. I have lived here 17 years without making a single trip to the landfill. It was a revelation!

I also mentioned my plan to my husband and I think the action I took about getting rid of these things that had become the backdrop of our life opened him to the idea of getting rid of more stuff. A lot more stuff. Of course he asked what I was going to do with my hot button items: the juicer I no longer use and the food vacuum sealer thing I bought because I was going to do freezer cooking. These are things I need to think about because I’m not using them and they were pretty expensive.

One thing he didn’t mention was my long forgotten scrapbooking hobby that has been taking up space in our very disorganized loft space. I don’t think you can call it a hobby because I never really did it. I actually went up to our loft yesterday with the intention of throwing out the scrapbooking stuff, but boy do I have a surprise for him. I’ll tell you more about that next week but I’m pretty excited about it.

I need to find my own word for ‘onward’.

MC

Life

Sunday afternoon at the trampoline park

It’s not lost on me that it is a gorgeous, sunny afternoon and I’m with two twelve year old boys who want to do inside things. Don’t they know winter is coming?! The naïveté of youth.

I spent the early part of the afternoon outside with a book which I could barely stay awake to read. I’m certainly not complaining because napping in the sunshine is my favorite. The rays beating down, almost caressing you to sleep, the book splayed on your lap, a forgotten companion.

The boys were inside, shooting each other up on Fortnite (or whatever it is they do on that game). They couldn’t care less about blue skies and sunshine in their zombie-like state. Eventually I pulled the plug and after moaning a bit, they thought a trip to the trampoline park would be fun. Why not?

The place is nearly empty. Most parents have better sense than to let their kids stay inside all day, but this parent is too tired to come up with alternatives so here we are. Sunday afternoon at the trampoline park, 80’s music instead of sunshine beating from above. Mom gets an hour to write and read.

Hope you are enjoying Sunday, wherever you are.

MC