Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Morning Meditation and Reflections

I did a little meditating and deep breathing as I ate my breakfast this morning. With Mark at work and both kids sleeping, it was quiet (except for Scout plaintively begging me to share my breakfast).

We have a lovely view from all the windows of our house - seriously all of them. When I sit at the kitchen table, I look out at a winding creek banked by many tall and beautiful trees. It's springtime, so the birds are getting very active - in the past couple of days, I've seen chickadees, robins, mourning doves, cardinals, bluejays, finches, blue birds (lots of blue birds!), ducks, Canada geese, snow geese, woodpeckers, and many more birds, including some I couldn't identify.

Another frequent visitor to our area, due to our proximity to the creek, is a very large blue heron. What a majestic bird! It sticks its legs straight back behind itself and flaps its gigantic wings gracefully as it takes flight and moves in a straight line across the sky. This morning, as I sat and breathed and meditated, it slowly flew right overhead, over our house, our kitchen, our deck, our yard, the trees, and down the creek toward where our business is (we could seriously jump in a canoe behind our house and ride the creek to work, since our business is also on the creek but down a little).

The sky had that morning look - overcast with wispy clouds, but not gray - so I got to see the blue sky peek out in snatches and slowly overcome the white-gray puffs as the sun broke through, aiding its presence.

Now I'm sitting by the fireplace, composing this post as I try to get myself back into the habit of writing more. When I was writing more frequently, the words came more easily and they flowed. Now I feel stunted, stagnant, staccatoed. I have so much I want to say, but feel stuck and unsure.

As I said at the beginning of the year, I'm actively working on being more present in the now, being mindful. I'm saying "no" to others more and "yes" to myself and my family - those I enjoy spending time with the most. It's been nice really. I'm even learning to accept and own that in the winter, I tend to hibernate and draw inward. Every time I fight that, I feel miserable and cranky. From about mid-January to mid-March, I don't feel particularly social. It's cold out and gray and I think there is a natural inclination on my part to withdraw. I used to get on my own case about it and see it as a negative thing. Only this year am I beginning to see it as a thing - with no judgment - and accept it, own it, and act on it. I am seriously considering having an "away/vacation" message on my email next winter and saying no to most every activity - "see you in the spring."

So, it's been good. We've been getting things done, though never as much or as quickly as we'd like. I've said it before, but we're horribly inefficient. We talk, we play, we watch shows, we research, we analyze . . . that's us. The biggest thing we've worked on these past couple of months has been an overhaul of schedule - mine, Mark's, our family's. For school, for personal time, for chores. For play, for dates, for down time. We've tweaked it here and there, once or twice, and overall it's going quite well. Yes, there have been some bumps, but the trajectory is certainly upward overall. We're trying anyway.

For instance, my email inbox got completely out of control these past few years, especially this past year. When we really sat down in earnest to work on it (and I say "we," because a lot of what's in there pertains to all of us and is due to us not being on top of things, so Mark is working on it with me), I had over 4000 emails. In the past month, we've whittled that number down to . . . let me go check . . . 371. Yep. There has been a lot to address.

I will say that the majority of those emails consist of texts and emails I send myself (I've said it before - I have a very distracted, racing mind) - mostly full of ideas for my books, ideas for school, and things to do. I often feel like most anything we do is on me, whether it's school, fun, activities, outings, vacations, house stuff, business innovations, yard stuff . . . so I find it difficult to relax and let go. I feel completely overwhelmed by it all. My mind races and I feel like it's too much to contain and so I write it down and make lists and, my god, the lists are endless. It's overwhelming. So yeah, many of the emails are notes I've sent myself and things to write or do. And many have to do with the homeschool group I organize. And many are from friends. But mostly they're from myself. And I'm trying to dig out. I'm feeling good about the progress. Now that I've got under 400 emails in my inbox, the ones that remain are the ones that need a bit more attention. I'm antsy to address them all, respond to those that need responses, and get my inbox to zero - and then keep up on it. That's the plan. That's always been the plan.

So, we're feeling good about that. Another big project is going through those extra moving boxes that occupy our garage and formerly occupied the 3rd floor of our farmhouse. Some of those boxes are from our move in 2007 from townhouse to farmhouse, so you can imagine what's accumulated. We've even worked on that - we've gone through several boxes and we've organized, donated, and even thrown out/recycled some stuff. Mad progress for us. It's coming along, though slowly. The inbox has taken precedence, but we've chipped away some at the garage, too. We've also done some small home projects and we've kept busy with school and activities.

Exercise. That's been better, too. We've been eating better (a priority we've had for years) and exercising more. We set up an exercise area. Jim got us an awesome new television for Christmas (thank you again, Jim!), so it's set up in the exercise room with two ellipticals in front of it. We also have a small trampoline and weights. I don't particularly like to exercise, though I do like how I feel when I exercise and I know it's important for physical and emotional health, so that's my motivation. Well, I've figured out that having a TV to watch while exercising? Key to my success with doing it more often. We're watching "Veronica Mars" and "Psych" while we work out and it's great!

So, I'm trying to do those three things - write, meditate, exercise - more. My constant quest, those 3 things. I'm writing some, but not as much as I'd like to. (I do think the inbox is what's mostly getting in my way. Once that's done, I see myself committing to writing more often.)  I am exercising more. And I am meditating more - casually, nothing super official. I have affirmations in 3 different places around the house (on my bathroom mirror, on my laptop, and as a bookmark in whatever book I'm reading) and I contemplate those every day in addition to deep breathing, mindfulness, etc.

Mark and I have often sort of dismissed the idea of a "date night," mostly because we've often seen couples religiously go on a weekly date night while being totally disrespectful to each other the rest of the week, so it always looked like a bit like a band-aid applied to a gaping, bleeding wound. Well, color us reformed, because while we do think it's important to be respectful always and to connect way more often than once a week, we do see how much life can keep us busy and make it difficult to have a conversation (there was one day this week that I don't think he and I got through a single thought without some interruption from someone or something - the kids, the dog, the phone, etc.), so we've been making an effort to do something more formal together weekly.

Quite honestly, we haven't ever really been able to go on a whole heck of a lot of dates over the years. We haven't ever lived near family and we aren't particularly trusting when it comes to people watching our kids. There have been a couple of times I've wanted to do something special, like a getaway, but when I asked for help with that (something I am loathe to do), I was turned down. We have always made a point of spending time together daily at home, usually before bed - playing a game, watching a show we both like, talking. Now that the kids are older and don't really need sitters, we can get out more and do things out together. More often than not, we go out for sushi - it's my favorite date together. Sometimes we play Mario Kart. Sometimes we watch a movie. But yeah, we're focusing on ourselves more, because I've worn myself out taking care of everyone but myself these many years. My biggest issue as I do this is GUILT. I often feel uncomfortably guilty taking time for myself. Clearly, I have a problem, I know. I'm working on it.

We're having regular, weekly business meetings, too. Before, they were sporadic and we didn't keep up that well. Now, it's near-weekly and regularly and we've got lots of ideas that we're implementing. I've been taking a more active role in our marketing and advertising and promotions. With the spring weather, I'm feeling more inclined to get out there and network and connect better with complementary businesses and see how we can help one another.

Well, anyway, those are my reflections on how the year is going. More to say, more going on, but I better go get ready for the day. As I was writing this, our St. Patrick's Day cupcake delivery showed up at the door. Color us GREEN with excitement!


Emily Foley said...

We have a TON of bluebirds here too. There's this area by our house that fills up with water and they've been hanging out there for a few weeks, it's pretty cool to see.

I feel that same way but in the spring now, not the winter. I have a really hard time with the wind here, it starts to make me feel like I'm literally losing my mind. The sound of it, the dirt in the air and in the house, blowing me and everything around. I HATE it. I actually have been praying for a few weeks that it wouldn't be windy on my birthday and it wasn't. Such a blessing. In fact, it's barely been windy at all and I am so grateful. i just hate it. I'm sure it will come, but for now I'm appreciating the wind-less days.

We haven't ever really done dates either. Very rarely, and usually for an anniversary or other special occasion. It's hard to find baby-sitters and the cost of paying one usually doubles the cost of our date, so that's hard too. But Isaac is going to bed so late these days that Dave and I are both exhausted and don't even have time to watch a show together before collapsing in bed and falling asleep. Zoe doesn't sleep well so he deals with her while I deal with the baby who doesn't sleep well...we're just tired all the time. I feel like we barely even talk anymore, and I hate that. I keep finding myself looking forward to when Isaac is old enough to actually baby-sit so we can go out again. But I know I need to just appreciate the here and now, because this is our last baby and I know from experience that it goes so fast and I won't remember the little things he does that I love so much. So I'm trying to focus on loving it now while I can.

Anyway. I like your reflections. I'm glad you're coming out of the funk and finding time for yourself. You deserve it!

LMW said...

I like your goals for this time of your life, especially the writing more one. Good luck accomplishing them!

Having a date night when you have kids seems very important, even with the best kids in the world.:) I'm glad you two can do that now.

Dr. Mark said...

It hasn't been completely smooth, but I think the overhaul has been good in general. I'm looking forward to seeing you write more. You're happier when you're writing more consistently. Spring is always a good time for you, too. I wish we weren't waiting for snow on the first day of spring, though! I've enjoyed our dates, too. Another reason I am NOT happy about tomorrow's weather.

Boquinha said...

Oh Emily, that all sounds EXHAUSTING! It does get easier with older kids. MUCH easier. I love it. Again, not rushing it. Thoroughly enjoying it. But yeah, sleeping better makes an enormous difference. Sounds like you've got the right idea - mindful parenting.

Thanks for the encouragement. I'm trying REALLY hard to feel like I'm worth it. I'm trying to take care of myself but dealing with SO MUCH GUILT when I do. I hate it!

LMW, thanks. I haven't been doing so great with the writing one. Trying to dig out from so many other things. Writing is what I miss most and want most to do, too. So frustrating. I'm really wanting to work on that.

Thanks. :)

Mark, ugh. You wrote that comment a month ago. Have we accomplished much? Where does the time go? I am liking our dates a lot.