I am a collector of sentimental emails and I am swamped by sentimental email clutter.
This realization hit me yesterday when I looked at the number of emails in my inboxes (yes, I have multiple inboxes.) As I started to whack away at some of the email clutter and moved some things to one of many folders, I asked myself, “Self, are you REALLYEVER going to go back and look for that email?”
For a moment all I heard were crickets. The silence of guilt.
Then I snapped back, “No, probably not, but I MIGHT listen to that audio recording again.”
It seems in our digital age, we moved our clutter from the desk top to the, um, desktop, if you know what I mean. Where we used to collect newspaper articles and shove them into scrapbooks or binders, now we’re right or left clicking and moving electronic stuff into folders.
I’ve set up “rules” for certain emails to direct them into specific folders. Then I rarely go back and check that folder and stuff simply accumulates.
I’ve unsubscribed from some newsletters, only to join others in their place.
Buy something, get put on their mailing list, unless you un-check that request. (Tricky aren’t they. You’re automatically signed up unless YOU tell us otherwise.)
Mark an email as “unread” so you can go back and read it later. Only later turns out to be weeks or months, instead of hours or days, because that email has slipped down the queue.
Go on vacation and the email insanity multiplies exponentially it seems.
Happy July dear readers! Beginning with this post we embark on the next half of the year and the next half of our mindfulness practices. Woo-hoo!
How did you do with last week’s practice to study suffering? I admit that it is one of the more curious practices. Not only does it bring more awareness to our own thoughts and suffering but also the suffering of others in subtle ways. I’m still wrapping my head around it at this point.
This Week’s Mindfulness Practice: Silly Walking
Alright, what a way to follow last week’s practice. Are you familiar with silly walking?
Yes, this week’s mindfulness practice was inspired by the Monty Python skit “Ministry of Silly Walks.”
Now that you’re smiling if not laughing, can you see the point of a mindfulness practice using silly walks?
Last week we studied suffering which really starts with oneself and becoming aware of negative thought patterns. Now consider what would happen when the negative voice is ready to rage in your head and instead of going down that path you did a silly walk instead?
What happens to your state of mind or mood?
The objective behind this mindfulness practice is two-fold: to become aware of our negative thoughts and to become aware that only we can change our mood. We cannot depend on people or things outside of us to change our difficult emotions. Doing this task reminds us to take ourselves lightly.
Reflection: Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly. -Unknown
It seems hard to believe that we’re nearing the end of the first quarter of the year. So far in our year of mindfulness we’ve practiced using our non-dominant hand, leaving no trace, eliminating filler words, appreciating our hands, and simply eating. We’ve paid true compliments, paid attention to our posture, expressed our gratitude, truly listened to sounds, paused before answering the phone, and practiced loving touch.
This past week we took the time to practice all forms of mindfulness while waiting; waiting in traffic, waiting in the check-out line, waiting at an appointment. How did you handle your time of waiting? We’re you able to feel yourself relax if you practiced deep breathing while waiting? Did you feel your frustration clear if you closed your eyes and meditated while waiting?
This Week’s Practice: Take a Media Fast
Practicing mindfulness while waiting seems to dovetail nicely with this week’s practice. This week we are asked to take a complete media fast. No email, no TV, no computer, no iPod; no newspapers, books, or magazines; no Twitter, Facebook, or other social media.
Think you can do this? My first reaction was “Wait, I run a business. I’m the only one running my business. I can’t go cold turkey.” So I’ve decided a compromise may be in order. If you can’t take a complete media fast, can you eliminate one thing for the week? Or can you reduce the frequency of your media usage for the week?
The intent with this practice is to find alternatives to consuming media. Long before we had the internet and cable TV, most of our media exposure was limited to whatever happened in our immediate surroundings. Local news was truly local. Now that we can access all forms of media 24/7, the odds are pretty good that our anxiety has increased as we witness suffering that we are helpless to fix. That suffering sits heavy in our hearts and in our heads. We can easily suffer from “secondary victimization” where we are affected by trauma simply by hearing about it.
So this week, consider taking a media fast, eliminating some form of media, or reducing your frequency of exposure. Become mindful of what opens up or presents itself to you.
Reflection: If we can decrease our intake of these toxic images, we can more easily establish a heart that is open and a mind that is serene and clear. This is the best foundation we can have if we want to move out into the world of woe and make a positive difference. -Jan Chozen Bays
It has been a little quiet here at Musings from the Moonroom. While some experience March Madness, I’ve been going through a bit of a slump and not feeling very chatty these last few weeks. This usually happens to me during the month of February. Something to do with the grey weather I suppose.
This time my March Doldrums had nothing to do with the weather. It had more to do with disappoint in plans I made. Plans that never materialized or didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped. One disappointment after another left me wallowing in self-pity. I started to question myself and my plans. “What’s the point?” I’d ask. “Why bother anymore. I did what ‘the experts’ suggested and still nothing happened.”
I definitely exceeded my recommended 15 minute pity-party. In fact, I was starting to have a pity festival!
This attitude was not conducive to creating.
In place of creating, I attended Jennifer Lee’s 10 day Right Brainers in Business Video Summit which was a fun event. This was Jen’s second year hosting the summit. It features a different speaker each day accompanied by a chat feature. The event is free and you have access to the videos for 48 hours after the live event. Jenn also offers two different upgrade options that give you unlimited access to the videos and other goodies.
This year’s speakers included Mark Silver, Lindsay Wilson, David Goldsmith, Tara Gentile, Hiro Boga, Elizabeth Marshall, Alison Marks, Jeremie Miller, Chelsea Moser, and Jen Louden. Topics ranged from heart-centered selling, social media, and legal basics to earning money, spirituality in business, organization and technology.
Some of my take-aways from this event:
make a connection
post on Facebook in the morning & ask a question
if you need a lawyer, get all your thoughts down on paper first
know what sells
know how much you make
be comfortable with the value of your product or service
tap into the wisdom of your inner resources
what do you want to achieve with your marketing?
define what your organizing first
what is your message?
a lousy first draft is better than no draft
you need to invest in yourself first in order to grow
look at each day; are you trying to do too much?
Bench Pressing Away the Doldrums
That last point (are you trying to do too much?) was made a few times during the summit by different speakers. The more I heard it, the more I realized that part of my problem was trying to do too much. I realized that while I was spreading my attention over at least five areas in my business, I had drifted from my original focus for the year. And we all know that when you try to divide your energy over too many areas, something is going to suffer.
During this time I also pulled out my materials from Christine Kane’s Uplevel Your Life workshop. I took the workshop in 2009. I’m sure Christine has made some changes and upgrades since then, but the basic bones of the program remain consistent. I started to get clearer on my intention for myself and my business. I returned to writing my gratitudes, gifts, and gains. And I started de-cluttering (the infamous, never ending clutter; it’s not just physical clutter either.)
In just a few short days, I began to feel my doldrums lift. Energy started to shift back to the positive and opportunities started to present themselves. The last 10 days have felt a bit more manageable. And I have started creating again (updates soon to follow.)
Bench pressing away the doldrums didn’t come easy. Some days it felt like I was pushing 500lb weights off my spirit. I really was concerned about staying stuck in this mindset. I simply had to kick myself in the pants, listen to my inner voice, and get clear on what I was doing and where I was going. Will the rest of the year be easy-going? Probably not. But I’m hopeful that putting some systems into place will make any future doldrums a little easier to bear.
Life has an uncanny way of tossing challenges at us. Sometimes they show up once in a while. At other times they come at us one right after the other. The challenges I’ve faced in recent months felt like they came one after the other: health problems; a sick kitty, home damage during a long, hard winter, relocating my studio several times, surgery, preparing for repairs and painting, and then delayed repairs due to contractor schedules.
As they say “When it rains, it pours.”
Once the haze of frustration lifts and the pissing and moaning ends, I try to reflect on each challenge and understand why the particular situation happened. To be honest, I don’t always find an answer. I don’t know if there is supposed to be one. Sometimes I don’t realize why things happened until well after the challenge has passed.
More often than not, the challenge arises from something beyond my control. And that lack of control over the situation makes it even harder.
One of the hardest things to do as a human is to give up control and to put the situation in another person’s hands, whether that be another human, or Spirit, or Universe, or Source.
For me, one of the other difficulties that I face in these situations is acceptance of the unknown. That is, not knowing why the challenge has appeared and being comfortable with that. I’m sure this is related to the control issue and our natural tendency to seek answers to situations that challenge us.
But do we always have to understand the “why?”
Dealing with challenges is a little easier as I get older. The phrase “There are things we can control and things we can’t” has become a familiar mantra.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I’m not sure it would be very good if I did. What would be the point of living if we knew all the answers anyways?
Just because I’m an artist, that doesn’t mean I can’t be color challenged. That is definitely how I’ve felt in choosing a new wall color for my studio. I never thought it would be so difficult to choose a paint color. I’m an artist, right? I work with color all the time. I choose colors for my artwork, often working intuitively, mixing and blending until the colors evoke the feeling of the piece. This should be a piece of cake.
My studio is on the third floor. It has nice natural light but can feel a little cold in the winter. The current wall color is builder basic: antique white; a very light yellow. Flat. Dull. Boring.
I had an idea of what color I wanted for my studio walls. I love the Tuscan yellows and golds and thought they would warm up the walls. So I brought home a bunch of sample chips in that color family.
Then the clerk at the local Ace Hardware tells me they loan out the color books at the store. These books have 8″x8″ color samples. It will make choosing a color easier because of the larger sample. Hang it on the wall. See it at different times of day and in different light.
Next thing I know I’ve pulled 17 samples from the book that contained most of my color preferences. 17 colors stuck to my studio walls. This is not going to be easy.
After a process of elimination and asking artist friends for their input, I narrowed down my color choices to three. Then off I went to the paint store to purchase small cans of paint in my chosen colors, some small rollers, and a paint tray.
First, I thought I’d go bold. I tried out the sample called August Morning, a dark orangey-gold looking color.
August Morning Paint Sample
And this is how the paint sample looked on the wall:
August Morning (with camera flash)
August Morning (no camera flash)
Yep, it’s dark orange. It’s pretty bold and intense. My first warning came when I opened the paint can and saw orange sherbet.
Next up was Golden Mist. Golden Mist was a wild-card choice. I saw it at the last minute in one of my many swatches. Still being in a bold mood, I gave it a go.
Golden Mist Paint Sample
The sample fit my original thought of something Tuscan-like. And then I put it on the wall.
Golden Mist (no camera flash)
Golden Mist (with camera flash)
This color was deceiving out of the can. It looked much lighter as I stirred it. But when paint met the wall, it became this deep gold color with a touch of magenta in the base mix. Initially I thought it was a color I could live with. Yet as the weekend grew longer and I tried to picture this color on all the studio walls, I started to feel claustrophobic and shut in.
On Sunday I put Crisp Straw, choice #3, on the wall. I was a little leary because the base mix included orange, yellow, and gray!
Crisp Straw Paint Sample
When I look at this sample, it looks like straw; a light colored beige with a hint of yellow. And then I put it on the wall.
Crisp Straw is a soft peach! I couldn’t believe it. Since when does the color “straw” look like the color “peach?” In this picture, it looks a little fleshy.
But the third time was the charm. Crisp Straw presented as a soft, warm, feminine color. Just the right amount of warmth and color for the studio walls without being too bold or too dark. And it won’t make me feel claustrophobic.
I chuckled as my original paint idea morphed into something I really had not considered. And a wave of relief came over me as well. I had felt completely frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t find a color I liked. That little voice of failure was speaking up, mocking me as an artist who couldn’t choose a simple color.
While I had decided early on not to lose sleep over the situation, I was worried that the painters would arrive and I’d still be undecided. Or I’d have to go with a back up plan: something neutral, in beige.
So, there you have it. An artist can indeed be color challenged. Perhaps our love of color can also be a hindrance. Fortunately, I found a color I liked and that I can live with for the next few years.
Now why in the world would I have the theme song from Sesame Street running through my head when this is what greeted us this morning?
Front Yard Holly Bush
Back Yard Suet Feeder Gets Weighed Down
Heavy Snow Weighs Down Tree Limbs
Perhaps it is precisely this April Fool’s Day snow storm that triggered the Sesame Street song. In truth, the song has been bouncing around in my head for the past couple of days. And I think it has more to do with some recent improvements in my health status.
It was one week ago today that I had day surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital to remove a fibroid that is believed to have been causing me so much grief these past few months. I had a consult with Dr. Brian Walsh in mid-March to discuss my options. He took one look at my MRI, pointed to the bugger and said “That is what is causing you all this grief.”
A sense of relief washed over me. Could it really be this simple? After being told for years that my only options were to “watch and wait” or have a hysterectomy?
We discussed the specific procedure, a hysteroscopic myomectomy (also known as a hysteroscopic resection) which is a noninvasive form of surgery for this specific type of fibroid. No incisions. No long hospital stay. Just day surgery with IV anesthesia (with painkillers and anti-nausea meds.) I was home by 2:30 in the afternoon.
(Yes the surgical name sounds pretty scary and kind of gross. I’ll spare you the technical gobbledegook. Suffice to say the name comes from the particular surgical instrument used and the name for one layer of the uterine wall. Nuff said.)
Recovery wasn’t too bad; some mild cramping was the worst of it. I laid low, took lots of naps, and watched bad TV. By Monday of this week I was feeling good enough to run some light errands and take short walks.
And today, a week later, I feel back to normal. Definitely a sunny day in spite of the wet snow outside.