2020 Possibilities

This year I am going to work hard on reconciling my planning, list making, scheduling self with my living in the here and now self. I actually think this is quite doable, I just need to strengthen some mental muscles.

So, typical planning me starts jotting down what I would like to accomplish in 2020. Then I think I should come up with twelve items and schedule one for each month. But here and now me said, whoa. What if I don’t want to work on something a whole month or I need more time or I want to start and stop and resume a project later?

New combined me stepped in with the compromise. I narrowed my list down to six items I really want to do. No assigned schedule, a few of my projects will be worked on all year. One of my items has a deadline so I’ll adhere to that. But I will let here and now me decide when to do the rest.

Here are my six goals for 2020:

  • Catch up on organizing my photos. I started 2019 already so I really don’t have that much to do.
  • I am going to make a scrapbook for my son this year. One page for each month and use the extra pages for birthday and vacations.
  • Put together my own book of meditations/words of wisdom. I recently got a copy of Marcus Aurelius’ “Meditations” and was surprised to learn it was something he wrote simply for himself. I am always collecting quotes or thinking odd little things I want to remember and have them scattered in different places. I’ll put them in one book and practice my hand lettering at the same time!
  • I am going to do the A to Z blogging challenge in April. I have my topic/theme and I am already drafting blog posts.
  • Take Carla Sondheim’s collage class. It is supposed to take a full year but I probably won’t start until maybe the beginning of summer. We’ll just see how it goes.
  • I love the idea of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November each year but November doesn’t work for me. I just have too much going on then. So I am going to make my own short term novel writing time frame. Probably a bit more than a month but my goal will be to have a first draft of the novel that I have been trying to write for the last few years done. No matter how badly it turns out!

For daily items I will continue with my yoga, meditating twice a day and keeping writing my joy/gratitude lists.

Gotta run, this day is full of possibilities to embrace. 🙂

My Word for 2020

It took me quite awhile to figure out my word for this year.

Embrace Now?

Here and Now?

Live Now?

Use the word today instead of now?

I don’t remembering having these issues in past years. Seems my word found me easily. Maybe I tried too hard this year. I know how I want to live this year. I want to spend more time in the moment. I want to find a way to embrace my time here in the desert. I don’t have to love it here but I can certainly find a way to live happily these next few years. To use my time wisely and thoughtfully.

Julia Child once said, “You don’t need to have the life you want to enjoy the life you have.”

This sums up my thoughts perfectly for this year. All I needed to do was break it down into one or two words.

I finally decided to go with:

Embrace Today

My favorite Christmas present this year!

Sometimes it feels perfect, sometimes not quite right. I figure I can always change it later in the year if I want to. The words really aren’t that important as long as I live the intent.

2019: Creative Courage

My word for 2019 was Creative Courage and I have to say I think I did pretty well. I stepped out of my comfort zone numerous times and in various areas. Some of the things I did include:

  1. Taking a photography class and sharing photos and making Photo Friday posts.
  2. Participated in Anne Butera’s Handmade Joy Exchange.
  3. Contributed regularly to Carrot Ranch’s flash fiction prompts.
  4. Entered three of Carrot Ranch’s flash fiction contests.
  5. Created a sketchbook for the Sketchbook Project which will go on tour and be available for viewing on-line.
  6. Shared art work on-line via Facebook with “Magical Mindfulness” and “Sketchbook Revival”.

And now it is time to think about new goals and challenges. I am having a tough time figuring out my word for 2020. Once I figure it out I’ll let you know!

Flash Fiction: By Design

The prompt this week from Carrot Ranch is “By Design”. My goal was to paint as vivid a picture as I could of “real” winter. Not the sort of chilly, once in awhile gray winter weather we get here in the desert southwest. So how did I do?

“Painting a Picture”

 The landscape was encased in ice, trees frozen in mid-motion. Snow gleamed pure white, too cold even for the stars to twinkle.  The cold poked and prodded, looking for a way into the snug cottage.  All was still.

Inside the fire crackled and popped from the newly added pine log before settling down to give a steady heat.  The flames danced to a happy song only they could hear.

I breathed in slow and deep, holding for a beat at the top.  By design peace flowed through me.  By Mother Nature’s design sleep settled over the great wintry outdoors.

Here and Now: December

Despite my best intentions the days this month have felt rather hectic. I have decided I am not a fan of the no-plan plan. I am thinking a “soft” plan would suit me better. I will put things on the calendar and when the day comes if I really don’t feel like doing whatever it is then I can re-plan it. Or if the mood strikes I can do it sooner. But especially for the holidays I need to see all I need to do posted on a calendar.

I am continuing with my yoga and meditation. I was worried I would quit the yoga now that I am getting up in the dark but found I love doing the yoga by the light of the 12″ tree in my office. It is peaceful and festive and the stretches feel really good.

Meditation continues. I am hoping my focus improves for the morning session (so much to do these days!) but I am loving the evening session and actually look forward to that period of peace and quiet before bed. Once again I am in the office with the only light coming from my tiny tree.

Something I forgot to mention last month is my gratitude logging. I write down at least three things each night that I am grateful for or brought me joy. I do believe this is having a positive affect on my attitude. Helps me look for the good in the day. (No line at the post office! A good coupon for Petco! Getting my second shingles shot out of the way, even if it did make me feel like crap for two days.)

My absolute favorite thing to do this month? Story time with my son. At bedtime we take turns reading a story to each other. We have a whole shelf of Christmas books, many of which he has technically “outgrown”, except I believe you can never out grow books. So we are visiting our favorites, “Oliver the Other Reindeer”, “Mr. Putter and Tabby Bake the Cake”, “If You Take a Mouse to the Movies”, “Mickey and Minnie’s Gift of the Magi”, just to name a few. That reading time together makes my heart happy.

Last year I colored the dogs, this year cats.

All the holiday pieces are coming together. One thing that I am doing differently is saving a few items to do between Christmas and New Years’. Not all the cookies need to be baked ahead of time, not all the movies watched before Christmas Day. For my family Christmas is celebrated through Epiphany, January 6th. I always feel a little sorry for those families that start the day after Thanksgiving and are sick of Christmas by the 26th. Just makes the winter that much longer.

I like taking my time preparing for the whole 12 days of Christmas (which start Christmas day). This year may not be quite as detailed in the planning but there will be activities and fun family time.

I hope you get to enjoy the whole holiday season, both the preparations and the festivities!

November Recap

My focus for November was yoga, meditation, creative time, random acts of kindness and having some computer free time. I am thrilled at how well I did for all these!

Yoga: Every. Single. Day. Whoo-hoo. I even added one new pose to my morning routine.

Meditation: Every day. “Self-five!” I am now up to ten minutes a day. I have been thinking about my twenty minute goal and realized I wasn’t really looking forward to it. Mostly because I would lose some of my flexibility as to when I could meditate if I had to have twenty uninterrupted minutes. Plus I wasn’t sure I could really focus for that long.

So I took a few minutes to really think about what I wanted and I have decided to stop at ten minutes in the morning and add an evening/bedtime meditation session. I will start with five minutes and add one minute a week until I am up to ten minutes. I will experiment with different times and bedroom vs office and see what works best.

It was a bit of an epiphany realizing I can simply do what works best for me and I don’t have to follow someone else’s guidance or rules.

Computer Free Time: I am doing better. I realized trying to do a set 24 hours was really hard but that after a quick use in the morning I could ignore the computer the rest of a designated day. Overall I felt like I was on the computer a lot less and that I am well on the path to less mindless computer use.

Creative Time: I have been working on lots of projects this month and enjoying them all. Now I just need to get some of them finished! Here are some of my accomplishments:

Thanksgiving place cards, even the dog gets one. 🙂
I got a book on lettering out of the library and found I loved it, once I let go of worrying over the end product and just focused on the process. I trust that with practice my spacing will get better, my lines straighter etc.

Still working on my felt winter window, slow going. But I have almost finished eight Christmas mason jar ornaments.

Now I need to figure out what to do with them!
I got some jars from the dollar store, made these labels and I am going to fill them with yogurt raisins. Do I give them to the naughty or the nice list?

Random Acts of Kindness: I accomplished this mostly through my driving. This time of year the snowbirds are starting to arrive so there are a lot of older drivers out there. Going slow. Forgetting where places are. Confused about the left turn arrow which could be at the beginning or end of the green light (and in a few intersections is at both the beginning and end). And it only gets worse through March. This year I am being extra patient and ultra courteous. I especially get to do this in the mornings letting drivers in/out of the school driveway right next to my son’s school. And yes, I do feel like a better person and less frustrated driver for doing this.

My chrysanthemum bloomed just in time for Thanksgiving. I loved looking at the blooms outside the kitchen window while doing dishes!

Modern Love

“Is it possible for it to be the right decision and still be a mistake?”

I have been watching and enjoying the Amazon Prime series called “Modern Love” though I am a bit disappointed that some of it is fictionalized. I feel bad for the people whose stories were changed. I always wonder what exact part of their story wasn’t good enough or interesting enough or didn’t translate to thirty minutes of television.

I suppose I am living my own version of “Modern Love”. I may have mentioned a time or two how much I dislike where I am living. Have you ever wondered why I don’t move? Well, let me tell you…

The father (K) of my son (E) and I are married and we live in the same house, but we are not a couple anymore. We function as a family but we have separate bedrooms and do not do any couple activities. If not for our son there is no doubt we would have divorced long ago. But I want to do what is in my son’s best interest and I won’t lie, it is really hard to know what that is.

I feel like I should write a little bit of background but I don’t want to turn this into a rant about all the things wrong with K. First, K is not abusive or an alcoholic or hiding a gambling problem. He has a good job. He doesn’t like drama, to the extent that he acts like nothing is ever wrong. He simply ignores anything he doesn’t want to deal with. Nothing is his fault or his responsibility. He has never apologized for anything in the 14 years I have known him.

On the parenting side he has two grown children he hasn’t seen in more than ten years. One avoids him and the other is an alcoholic with mental health issues that he avoids. He also has three grandchildren he has never met. (Neither of his kids have ever married.) Enough said.

And yet I still feel like my son deserves to have both his parents in his life full time. In theory we could do that several different ways but I think this is the best situation, at least for now. (I won’t go into specifics but lets just say K is a very lazy, or maybe indifferent is more accurate, parent and I wouldn’t be comfortable leaving E with him for more than a day or two.) I know the situation isn’t ideal and worry about the messages E is getting about marriage. But we don’t fight and seldom even argue. At worst sometimes days go by without much interaction between us.

So yes, I worry all the time that I am making the right decision. If we split up would there be a big custody battle? Maybe. Maybe not, as my husband avoids confrontation at all costs. Arizona is big on paternal rights though and would I be able to take E out of state? How would my son feel if his father couldn’t be bothered to fight for him? It is a lose-lose situation for sure.

So I have decided the best option is for me to come out the loser, at least until E graduates from high school. We have had a few conversations about our somewhat unconventional family situation and as E gets older we will talk more. I don’t want him thinking this is what marriage is supposed to be like and while I wish I could be living a good example for him that just can’t happen right now.

I love my son more than anything and at the end of the day his father being around on a full-time basis seems to be the most important thing. So that is what I am going with. Modern Love.

“Is it possible for it to be the right decision and still be a mistake?” *

This is the thought I live with.

* I heard this line on the Australian television show “Heart Guy” and thought, yup, this is what I keep thinking.

Here and Now: The Holidays

One of the drawbacks of living in the moment is I am not doing my holiday planning like normal. Typically I start making lots of list about mid-October: Thanksgiving menu, selecting cookies recipes to bake, Christmas shopping lists and planning out the calendar. When will we do “Christmas Story” night or look at Christmas lights? It feels weird to not be planning all this out but I am wondering if maybe this can be a good thing? Maybe this Christmas will be much simpler?

I finally made a few lists last week and started buying the non-perishable items for Thanksgiving. My heart wasn’t in it though. I wrote out the Thanksgiving menu and then a list of ten, TEN, different items I should prep ahead of time. This for a dinner for three people and when I am trying not to have many leftovers. Maybe next year I will be ready to change up the menu but for this year I am sticking with our traditional feast, just in smaller quantities. I did ask the family what they would change and the answer was “nothing”. So no help there.

Love autumn leaves!

And then I realized, yes I have ten different items to prep but smaller quantities will make a difference with quite a few of the items. And my son will make the pie. And honestly, I don’t have any overly complicated recipes so while the list seems long the time involved isn’t so bad. And by Thanksgiving week I will be excited to do the food prep. So I am giving myself permission to do the grocery shopping and then forget about Thanksgiving until I am ready for it.

I also made a Christmas shopping list and when I got to seven different stores I said “enough”. Even now I feel a little sick looking at shopping lists and menus and ideas for potlucks. Right now I am not the least bit interested in Christmas. I suspect (and hope) this changes with the arrival of December.

The big events that need to be planned ahead are done. We have our Polar Express tickets and reservations for Flagstaff, “Nutcracker” tickets as well as tickets for the New Year’s Eve Road Runner hockey game. But everything else is up in the air. Scarily I am okay with this. More than okay actually, I am excited to see how the holidays unfold with fewer expectations. And, dare I say, less work?

Kind of surprised at how happy I am with Jimmy Butler.

For now I am going back to my drawing and reading and watching Miami Heat basketball. No need to get caught up in holiday hoopla too soon.

Here and Now: November

My goals for this month are to do a series of short yoga stretches every morning, write down at least three things that brought me joy or that I was grateful for every night and meditate every day.

For the meditation I am going to be trying different ways to meditate like using a mantra or walking meditation as well as practicing at different times of day. I am hoping it will be easier to stick with a daily practice if I mix it up a little. I will be starting with six minutes a day and adding one minute each week until I get to twenty minutes. (I have been meditating for five minutes most days for awhile now.) I feel like twenty minutes is a good goal.

At least three times a week I want to spend time doing something creative. I am keeping it rather open-ended, not sure if that is the best idea but we’ll see. I feel like telling myself I have to do it for a certain length of time would be too restrictive. I have a list of ideas of things to do, some writing, some drawing or painting. A few on-line classes bookmarked. I like the idea of giving myself permission to sit down and create something.

I dithered a bit over whether to count coloring as creative time but in the end decided it counts.

In October I did a pretty good job of cleaning and purging long ignored areas. Much to my surprise I am continuing this process with no goal in mind. On the first of November I had my husband move the fridge out and cleaned the floor behind and around it. And then on Monday I found myself doing yet another clothes purge. I donated eleven items and five pairs of shoes. Since then the cleaning has continued, mostly moving furniture and cleaning underneath. Sometimes I do surprise myself!

Look what I found, fall and Thanksgiving socks as well as pumpkin boxers to use as pajamas!

Here and Now

A few months ago I read something to the effect that looking back makes you depressed and looking forward makes you anxious. To be content you have to be in the here and now. This concept really hit home for me. I have put my focus on staying in the present and I have to say I feel so much happier! Now some of this may be due to the settling of the ol’ hormones but really I feel like keeping my attention on today, right now, has been a big difference maker.

I am finding contentment in getting up and seeing what I need and want to do. And then I do it. I don’t worry about tomorrow’s grocery shopping or the school event at the end of the week. Sometimes I make a list for the next day or two to get things out of my head (so I don’t forget about them but it doesn’t mean I have to do them), but overall I have become pretty good at happily being mindfully in the moment.

Gratitude heart I drew. Making the orange part I went into a kind of meditative state and then for each purple heart I thought of someone or something to be grateful for.

I would say the most important thing I learned from my “Magical Mindfulness” 21 day on-line retreat (from Kim Strobel) was that we have control of 40% of our happiness. Fifty percent is genetic and only ten percent is external/environment. I can do a few simple things and be forty percent happier! I say that is worth staying in the moment for.

While Kim gave us six things to think about doing I am sticking with three daily items: gratitude, meditation and exercise. And I’ll do a fourth, random acts of kindness, as often as possible.

My ombre gratitude leaf.

I have to confess that I was really surprised to learn that I have complete control over forty percent of my happiness. Am I the only one who had no idea about this?