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The Treadmill of Not Good Enough

Open DoorI am out of sorts. It is 5 am, I am sitting in my office writing in silence except for the gray cat purring loudly and pacing back and forth across the desk. She meows every once in a while for me to pet her. I am out of sorts because I feel that time this week is compacted and there is no time for me to be still, let alone connect with myself.

Tonight I have a meeting for work and will not be home until after 10 pm. 12 to 14 hour days are hard but sometimes I have to do them. I am playing catch up from the going to Tennessee to see my father and stepmother this past weekend, so I have not gone grocery shopping or set up things for my week to run smoothly. We have a wedding this weekend I am not ready for—we have to get the gift, I need a haircut, and I need new panty hose. The to do list goes on, my car needs an oil change and is making a squealing noise when I start it, the laundry needs folding, I need to vacuum, I want to make home cooked meals every night so we stop eating out.  My good friend wants me to come over for dinner and I feel bad because I have to reschedule.

Plus I have not had time alone for days. I need to write. I need to sit in meditation. I need to go out and ride my bike and feel the cool air rushing past me. I need to smell the wet earth and ripe leaves getting ready to turn orange and red. I need to sit on my meditation cushion and listen to the rain fall and go back to my breath. I need to hear what my heart is saying.

When I get into these spaces my to do list spins out beyond my reach and before I know it I am buried under layers of anxiety. Everything feels tight, narrow focused and my breathing is shallow at best. I get cranky, snappy and distracted. I don’t like this state at all and it only feeds “not good enough” feelings I know too well. So I tighten my grip, my world gets smaller, the to do’s grow even bigger in my mind. I am on the treadmill of not good enough and it is going faster and faster. I know this is temporary and I also know I have to do something to slow this down so I can get off the treadmill.

First thing, I have to sit and meditate. That alone will help me to give a pause to the rapid thoughts so I can know what is really going on and what I actually need to do.  Next, I have to move my body. Nothing will move anxiety and bring me into the present moment more than going for a walk, doing yoga, riding my bike. Next I have to manage my expectations of what I can accomplish and prioritize what is important. My house is going to be messy, I am going to have to reschedule my dinner with my friend, my ideal home cooked meals will have to wait.

And finally, I have to make time to write. It is only by writing that I understand what is happening, how I feel or what I want. Magic happens when I write. Connections are made. Courage is garnered. Not good enough feelings shrink.

Most importantly, I need to remind myself all of this is temporary and will pass. Next week I have the whole week off from my day job and not too many plans—and I plan to keep it that way.

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August Break Moments

 

August Break 14 Morning dew lighSilence

It has a sound, a fullness.
It’s heavy with sigh of tree,
and space between breaths.
It’s ripe with pause between birdsong
and crash of surf.
It’s golden they say.
But no one tells us it’s addictive.”
― Angela Long

The signs that summer is dwindling are beginning to appear. The kids next door played football in the backyard last night. Darkness comes an hour or so earlier. The daisy heads are withering, the tall grasses are drying up and becoming brittle. I have an extra pink blanket on my bed as a chill is creeping in at night.

August Break 14 quoteI see changes online too, more e-courses are being offered, people I haven’t heard from all summer are starting to show up in my social media feeds again. My mail box is filled with invitations for fundraisers and other events around town. We are moving towards back to school, back to work, back to busy. We are moving away from long languid days, extra time to linger and notice the morning sun dance on the wet dewy grass. I am a bit wistful, I love moving slower and I have yet to figure out how to maintain a summer pace when fall ramps up.

August Break 14 in my bagI want to savor these last moments of summer before the hustle and bustle of fall comes rushing at me. That is why I love Susannah Conway’s August Break, it is low commitment and yet keeps my creative eye moving. Plus this summer has been about writing and deep learning. I need a break. Focusing on what I see around me with my camera instead of my notebook let’s me rest.

August Break 14 Early OrangeMay you find rest and wondrous August Break moments. ~Kira

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Inspiration to Open Your Heart

Lupe in her HouseMy intention is to notice joy. I am participating in Kat Mcnally’s August Moon, the first prompt is to set an intention for the next two weeks. I set off my for weekly trip to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods noticing the clouds, the beginnings of orange tips on some of the trees. I stopped and smelled the yellow snapdragons and white and pink mums. Little moments of joy, if only I took the time to look.

By the time I got home, my foot was throbbing with pain. I was short, cranky and narrow focused as sought Aleve and my TENS unit. Without saying a word to Jay, I laid on the couch and promptly fell asleep. When I woke it felt better but not great.

My foot is in pain because I have Hallux Rigidus and I was on my feet all day Saturday while Jay and I cleaned out the garage and did other long neglected jobs around the house. I did too much and I was stuck not doing much else as my foot ached and radiated pain up my leg. I am scheduled to have the same surgery I had on my right foot last January this October to fix it. Even though I dread the two month recovery time, I can’t wait to be able to hike 10 miles again or spend the day on my feet.

So it seemed finding joy was short lived. I admit it is hard to notice joy when I am in pain, physical, spiritual or mental. But I have to remember that an intention is an aim or plan. I have not failed because I am stilling aiming to notice joy. Right now I am watching my little gray cat, Lupe, settle herself into her cat house to sleep.  When I see her in there I feel this surge of joy. She always looks so happy and comfy.

So here is this week’s Inspiration to Open Your Heart.

August Moon with Kat Mcnally- It is not too late to join. Low commitment and a great community for bloggers.

Intentions are Seeds by Gil Fronsdal

Stop Multitasking, Start Monotasking- Yes, I think I will always struggle with learning to do less. My word this year is balance and it seems that means stop doing so freaking much.

How to Read Like a Writer and Why by Trish Nicholson

No Time To Think- Another great article on why being busy is not so great.

May you notice joy in the coming week. ~ Kira

 

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You Are Your Own Teacher

Sitting still to open heart

“You are your own teacher. Looking for teachers can’t solve your own doubts. Investigate yourself to find the truth – inside, not outside. Knowing yourself is most important.” – Ajahn Chah

I love the distraction of looking for answers outside of myself. It is only when I sit still, when I cultivate the courage and willingness to explore and encounter all the messy, swirling, aching and yes joyousness inside, am I able to open my heart. When I open my heart, I soften and I start connecting with people authentically, not based on what I think they want or need.

When I am dissatisfied with my life, I find I still want to go outside of myself to feel better. I think others know what the terrain of my inner life is like and how to fix me. For sure, I can look to others for guidance and knowledge. I often need help to be pointed in the right direction or to learn new tools. I learn and receive help from others everyday but it is only me—alone—that knows what it is right for me.

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Inspiration to Open Your Heart

Chicago Bean

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” ― Dalai Lama XIV

The L train passes a couple of blocks away, shaking the whole apartment building, rattling the toaster oven and dishes in the stainless steel sink.  I sit in quiet, a brief moment alone, while everyone still sleeps. We are in Chicago for a much needed vacation. Today is another day out roaming the streets, scouting neighborhoods and finding yummy food to eat. Last night we sat in a Cuban cafe in Logan Square, candle light, bright conversation and  Latin music surrounding us as we ate the most amazing empanadas’, tamales and Fricase de Pollo.  This is what we do on vacation, explore the city, find book and record stores and good food. We rarely make our way to more typical tourist sites, rather we reach out for the vibe and texture of the city we are visiting.

The last time I was in Chicago was in 1995 and I had just quiet smoking. Nothing was ok back then, I felt red, raw and over exposed with out the smoke screen of my camel cigarettes.  I came to visit the Chicago Art Institute with a few girlfriends. Besides feeling like I needed to craw out of my skin because I wanted a cigarette, I don’t remember much about that trip except the staggering awe and wonder I felt when I saw Kandinsky paintings for the first time. The bright colors, and forms all moving together in a single dance. I fell in love O’Keffe too, her entry way into the depth of color, texture and form softened me a little bit. It was a year after that trip that I dropped the idea of getting a degree in social work and declared myself a fine art major.

I visit Chicago, searching with a critical eye to see if I could live here. I am at another pivotal point in my life. I feel like things are ending and new things are beginning. My partner Jay and I discuss moving here or to another city with better mass transit, better opportunities for music, writing and other arts. More like minded people. I am thinking about switching up my life to pursue my MFA. I told myself when I got my BFA 13 years ago, I would take a few years off before I pursued my MFA. I think it would be good for me but I am not sure about the MFA yet. I have time and space to figure out where we will end up or if I pursue a MFA but I can say this, I really like Chicago so far.

Here is this week Inspiration to Open Your Heart.

What will make you happy? An interview with Daniel Gilbert

Kierkegaard on Our Greatest Source of Unhappiness via Brain Pickings

Dear Fashion Industry by Renee Magnusson- I have gained some weight in the last year and while fashion is not that important to me, I do like to look good. So I do struggle with my extra pounds and nothing fits right, yet I am healthy, I am strong and I have never been happier.

Hand Wringing over Hand Writing- A fascinating look at why writing by hand is so important. I write by hand every day in my journal and I normally do all of my first drafts by hand and then dictate into the computer for editing. My writing is fresher and clearer when I write by hand.

And finally, Thoughts on Creativity and Quiet by Jenna McGuiggan After five days away, immersed with people and not many moments alone, I am feeling twitchy and craving the solitude to collect my thoughts and write. I need space and quiet to work.

 

 

 

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