I can’t seem to get any traction going. I can’t seem to get consistency on mybig rocks.
My scorecard this week:
I blogged last week, so Blog 1/1
The writing is the easiest. The blogging is the hardest, but since the blogging is only once a week, I managed, at least for the first week, to gut it out.
I credit Nanowrimo for getting me in shape to write 1K a Day. After having to hit that 1667 word-a-day benchmark every day in November, a thousand words a day is puh.
As for the meditation, even though I haven’t been consistent, I really like the new meditation app I’ve been using. It’s Sam Harris’s Waking Up Course. There are daily, ten-minute guided meditations. And even though they are talkier than I would normally be able to tolerate, I find, at this stage in my meditation practice, I kinda welcome his intellectual guidance. Having spent decades on the cushion doing zazen, and other techniques, and not quite understanding what the hell I was doing, Sam’s guidance is causing some of the the mist to dissipate.
My greatest resistance is to my 30 minute daily personal yoga practice.
Is it that I just don’t want to confront how inflexible I’ve become? How physically weak?
I haven’t come up with a good time-slot for it, either, and that is a stumbling block. Plus, I have this thing about changing my clothes. I hate changing clothes. It takes everything I have to get out of my pajamas into day clothes. And then when it’s time to teach, I resist getting out of day clothes into yoga clothes. It’s a ridiculous struggle.
I was talking to a fellow yoga teacher friend and she practices first thing, in her pajamas. But I don’t like yoga first thing. I like yoga, like third thing, after writing, and meditation. But then the puppy needs a walk, and then the day often derails.
The solution would be to take a regular yoga class. Plop down a lot of money and commit. I’m an Obliger. I need accountability. But there is no regular class or teacher around here. Mine are the regular classes. I am the teacher.
Then I noticed a Thich Nat Hahn book on my side table: This Moment Is Full of Wonders.
I flipped through it and found some juicy contenders:
Be Free Where You Are
Go As A River
Are you sure?
Now Is The Time
This Moment Is Full of Wonders
No Mud No Lotus
This Is It
No Mud No Lotus made me smile. Yes, I thought, this is perfect for times when I struggle; for times when I want to jump ship, and abandon the project.
Mud stands for hard work, darkness, not knowing, not being sure. Mud is lack of clarity.
Clear as mud.
Lotus is the flower, the fruit, the result of the hard work, the deep introspection.
No mud no lotus.
So I decided this would be my mantra for 2019.
But it seemed a little dark, a little hair-shirty.
I needed something for the times when I wasn’t in deep struggle.
This Moment Is Full of Wonders.
I liked that. I liked that a lot.
I like the word wonder.
Wonder is an attitude of amazement. It is also a attitude of questioning, of not knowing. And that’s a space I’d like to learn how live in more comfortably, for sure.
If it became my mantra it could remind me to look for those wonders in every moment.
I could use it on the yoga mat, This moment is full of wonders, as I’m breathing in a posture.
This moment is full of wonders as I’m filling the dishwasher.
This moment is full of wonders as I fold the laundry.
This moment is full of wonders as I walk Stella through the town and countryside.
Today I road tested it as I sat in the periodontist’s chair: This moment is full of wonders: the light glinting off the adjustable lamp, the sand-colored paint on the walls, the sound of the sonic tooth blaster thing, the dentist office’s version of Bohemian Rhapsody playing softly on the radio.
This moment is full of wonders.
If I were forced to pick just one word for this year though, it would have to be Wonder.
Wonder in the sense of amazement, like in the Mary Oliver poem where she wants to be “a bride married to amazement.”
But also Wonder in the sense of curiosity and not-knowing.
So for 2019, it’s 2 mantras and Wonder. I think I’m off to a good start.
I blogged, what? Twice? The goal was 8? That was a miss.
I don’t want to let this one go. I am going to try for once a week and set up a Project in Scrivener called 2109 Blog Schedule. Put down all the dates, and then just fill them in.
I did nothing toward learning the Excel spreadsheet. That one will roll over into the new year as well. I need some incentive to do this, though.
And while I didn’t learn any new tricks on Scrivener, I did download the latest version, Scrivener 3, and I’ll take that.
I’ll give myself a pass with the writing of writing notes. I wrote quite a few but not 6 a week. I did figure out that if I just pre-address and pre-stamp envelopes and leave them lying around with their notecards inside, I’m more likely to scratch something onto one of them at some random moment.
G got me a Sproket printer and I tried it last night and I really like it. It’s a machine that spews out small 2×3 inch pictures. It works through an app on my phone. I took a pic today of Stella sleeping on her back, her legs all splayed out. I think the kids would laugh at this in a note.
I am having a ball compiling my sequences using my new Circa system from Levenger. Big win. Game changer.
While I walked Stella to the Post office today, G took down the tree.
This tree did not last. The guy at the tree farm nicked the bark at the base. I think that was the killing blow. It never took up water. Something happened.
Not a good tree year.
I felt this load lift yesterday when it was finally over. I get exhausted easily at Christmas time. It’s a struggle for me to feel optimistic at this time of year. Whereas at other times of year optimism feels like my natural born state.
The weather is a factor of course, but so is the work involved in keeping traditions going.
All worth it, of course, but still.
I know I am dehydrated. Too much sugar and alcohol.
So let me remind myself why I set this as a year-end goal in the first place. What was my why for this one? Frankly, I don’t remember. But my 3 main reasons for starting any project are:
1. To see if I can endure or persist over time.
2. To gain some new knowledge or skill.
3. To reduce an irritant.
Which box does blogging regularly check?
Probably persistence, but that’s not the real why.
I think it has more to do with my fear of being judged unkindly.
I need to find a way of defanging this self-limiting belief. I need to tell myself another story, one that will have me approaching the writing of the blog with interest and enthusiasm. Now I approach it like cleaning the toilet. It has to be done, but I don’t want to do it.
I think I am delusional. What I mean by that is I think I can achieve things without doing work.
I am work averse. I believe in magic. Magically, this will happen and I won’t have to suffer. Work makes me question the worth of everything.
“You are defined by what you are willing to struggle for.”
This is a tenet of stoicism. I believe it. It explains a lot of my lack of self-definition. Who am I? What am I willing to struggle for?
I honestly don’t know.
As a young woman, my motivating struggle was freedom and autonomy. I needed to get free of my suffocating family. But once that happened, I still wasn’t free. I was free of them, as people, but I still bore the wounds of bad or non-existent parenting.
Low self-esteem, being the major wound.
Needing to be seen. Another one.
Needing approval. That, too.
So the blogging meets my need to be seen. And sometimes I get positive feedback and that meets my need for approval. But it’s the crippling low self-esteem that creates the avoidance and the resistance when it comes to posting something. The writing has to have a point. And sometimes, or most of the time, what I write seems pointless. Or no. Not pointless, just irrelevant and boring. It’s not helpful. Except to me.
So I figured a positive motivational ploy would be to tell myself there is value in showing people what it looks like to set goals and struggle to achieve them. That a blog devoted to that would have a point. It might even be helpful.
There might be a few people who would enjoy watching the on-going saga of a how a projects develops, thrives or dies. And that’s what I would show here. Show your work, as Austin Kleon advises.
I wish I could say that this articulated blog mission has cured my resistance, but it hasn’t. So far. Maybe I just need a few more thousand repetitions of the mantra: Show your work, show your work.
All day I’ve been distracting myself looking at Planners. Paper planners.
That’s because I’m not really here in my mind. My mind is in North Carolina with G whose father is dying.
On Monday he left the hospital. He called a halt to all treatments. He said he wanted to go home. He’s not eating or drinking. The family is all there. They’ve said their goodbyes. He started taking morphine this morning. Hospice comes twice a day.
Stella and I walk.
I teach my classes.
I write, and meditate, and look at the Christmas tree which has lights but no ornaments on it yet.
I light the menorah.
Stella and I watch the news at night.
I’ve been looking at the Circa system in the Levenger catalog. I ordered the Junior size planner and it came the other day. I think it’ll work. We’ll see.
It feels weird to be “planning” my year ahead while looking at photos of a man who has no more need for a planner.
It makes me grateful for my life.
I have a wonderful life. Even the other day, when I had to have a root canal, I felt so lucky. I have the money to afford a root canal. My endodontist is a complete pro. The procedure was long but pain-free.
Today I took my last antibiotic.
Every night I sleep in a warm soft bed. Every evening I teach yoga to kind, gentle, generous and caring people. The best people I have ever known. I feel so loved. So appreciated.
There is no way to plan for this kind of life. This kind of life has to be built choice by choice. Saying yes to some things, no to others. Saying yes to kindness and patience, and no to irritability and grouchiness. Even when I feel irritable and grouchy.
It’s a trillion little choices that make a life. Until one day there are no days left in the calendar and nothing left to plan.
I think all that anyone can ever hope for is that their love goes viral. That everyone they ever encountered felt their kindness, and then spread it to everyone they encountered, and on and on.
I feel this way about Owen. His love was contagious. I caught it, and I intend to spread it.
I don’t write novels. Never have. Never will. But every year since 2011 I’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo, and I’ve won it 5 out of those 8 years.
This was a winning year. I validated last Friday and high-fived myself.
I do it mainly to increase my stamina and endurance as a writer. I think of it like treadmill running. It gets me in shape for winter, and the introspective writing months to come.
I hop on Scrivener, set my word goal, and just crank. I get winded, I stall out a lot, but I know I have to hit that 1667 daily word count daily, or else tomorrow there’ll be a deficit to make up. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned over 8 years of doing this crazy game, it’s that catch-up is a bitch.
Doing NaNo has taught me tons about how I roll as a writer.
I have learned, for instance, that I am definitely not a coffee shop writer. (I lost the year I tried that.)
And that even though I’m entranced with fountain pens and Moleskines, they are not conducive to serious output, and positively discourage editing.
I have also learned that for me, the best soundtrack for writing is no soundtrack. I require silence to hear the music of my mind. One year I made a playlist on Spotify and I lost that year. And now, every time I hear any of those songs, I get slightly nauseous.
But I have also discovered how I do work best:
First, I need exercise. I do what I call my “Campus Scamper”—a brisk 3 mile hill and step-infested walk around campus.
Next, I buy or make a large Americano which I take up to my cozy lair, aka, my bedroom.
If it’s cold out, I turn on the little space heater. I need warmth to write.
I then fire up the diffuser with 4 drops of Eucalyptus Radiata and 4 drops of Helichrysm essential oils. This is my magic “brain blend.” As soon as I smell that, I want to write.
I sit down in my Space Chair and fire up Scrivener, the best writing app in the world, set my 1667 word goal, and crank for as long as it takes. Ideally, all this goodness happens at the same time every day. For me that time is within 4 hours of getting up. Because after lunch my brain goes offline.
I love and look forward to this ritual.
This year I called my not-a-novel The Yoga of Everything 2.0.
Here are some of the things I wrote about:
I wrote about the yoga of boredom, and the yoga of dog training and the yoga of cleaning.
I tried to figure out the artistry of Haruki Murakami, and I analyzed The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene.
I pondered the point of blogging, and the point of, well, everything.
I beta tested a “metta” project where I telepathically sent a “May you be happy” message to every person I passed on my walk, and tracked the results.
I wrote about signals and all the ways people signal to one another.
I wrote about paint colors for the dining room
I asked myself “why?”with an obsession that bordered on neuroticism.
So now I have 50 thousand words to mine in the coming months for little blog posts and essays. The brain dump is over, the resistance monster has been slain. I’m feeling strong and have honed my endurance.
I feel in shape and ready for those long winter writing sessions.