THE YEAR AHEAD

These may not be the best of times. It certainly is the strangest of times. Most of all, it is the only time we have. I’m trying to find a way to make the most of it. I’ve been a little frustrated, irritated, a little angry, a little up and a little down, feeling the whole kaleidoscope of emotions. Today I’m feeling more at ease and relaxed. I’ve come through the clouds though it is a cloudy day. No sun at all but it is a mild December day. It is -1 degrees Celsius. It is cooler in the greenhouse, -1.6.

I’ve been frustrated with my clutter, my inefficiency. It seems I’ve been working at it for years. Or have I? I’m probably just spinning in my tracks, going nowhere. I have Stephanie Bennett Vogt’s A Year to Clear on my Kindle app. Maybe it’s time for me to open it and follow it daily. The chapters are in weeks and within days. Surely I can tackle a single day at a time. It will be good training for my errant brain. I really have difficulty concentrating and doing things step by step in order. I often skip the middle of the book and read the ending. I am impatient. I can’t tolerate/enjoy the whole process. Often I don’t make it back to read the whole story.

I’m practicing on being more patient, tapping slowing and patiently on my keyboard. Sometimes my thoughts race ahead of my fingers. It’s torture to proofread but I will start to do that from now on. I’m good at figuring out computer glitches. I tap here and there until everything works. I can’t tell you how or why though. That’s what my brain is like – a mess of synapses snapping away. Order inside and out is what I desire. I will put that down on my list on my Notes app.

The day has progressed into evening. I will shut it down soon. I have opened A Year to Clear. I will take the time to work through the days and weeks. I am taking this week to relax into the process and to reflect on what it is that I want to clear and what to keep. It is not just about stuff. My mind is as cluttered as my dining room table. I will take it slow and easy. I have a whole year ahead.

ORDER, VIRTUES AND BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

Here I am, a little earlier than usual. When I am stuck, I shuffle my deck of cards and try to come up with something else. Staying stuck frustrates and discourages me. Then I start feeling sorry for myself. No point in crying a bucket of tears or get shaky with anxiety. I come back to my rule of the index card/quilting square. They’re small and manageable. It’s easier to touch the edges. I will not get lost. And in this space here,  I tap, one letter at a time. I get a sentence, then two. Soon a thought, then an idea forms. My body relaxes, I unfurl my brow. I tap on.

My hip pain is mostly gone, though the memory is still in my muscle. It reminds me every time I get up. It’s only a faint whisper but enough so that I carry on with my stretches 3 times a day. I’m not quite as eager to do them now that the acute pain is gone. But I’m listening to Benjamin Franklin’s voice. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” I’m obeying, being a good adult.

I wish that Ben had been talking to me way before now. I would be in a better place if I knew it is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them. No matter.  I am now learning how to break them. I have read 46% of Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself.  Understanding the mechanics of how I got here makes it easier to dismantle the old bad habits. Don’t ask me to explain just right now. I’m into the wine. My head is a little bit fuzzy. I’ve been downstairs working at organizing all my sewing paraphernalia. It’s a chore – so many years of gathered STUFF.

I had to come up for air after an hour or so. BUT all the threads are sorted, the buttons in their container, the zippers, seam bindings, elastics, lace, and velcro gathered and in their places.The fabrics are in their bins with lids closed. I found all the seam rippers. Now I have 4. If only I could find my quilt rotary cutter! It will show when it’s ready, I guess. I am happy to have made this much progress. Tomorrow is another day. The dust and other stuff can wait. It would do me well to study and work on Ben Franklin’s 13 virtues a little each day.

1. TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
2. SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
3. ORDER. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
4. RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
5. FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
6. INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
7. SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
8. JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
9. MODERATION. Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
10. CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
11. TRANQUILLITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
12. CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
13. HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

TEDIUM AND TEDIOUS

Life, at times, seems to be made up of many necessary but tedious tasks – like cleaning and tidying up. Here she goes again! I can hear you say but it is so true. It is 2:27 pm and I’ve just sat down after preparing lunch, eating it and then what I detest the most, cleaning up. Now I’m writing about it. Ha! The tedium. I really want to have a nap now.

But I know the value of order and discipline. My nature is that I don’t really have a driving desire to do anything. If I have my druthers, I would probably be singing Freddy Fender’s, wasted days and wasted nights. I’m one of those people who needs inspiration, challenges and goals. I seldom plan. I might be in a neater, if not better place if I did. It is never too late. That’s what they tell me. I’m inspired to go that route now.

My plan is to have a plan for the day. I’ve been operating on it for a few weeks now. I’m doing the obvious, the hardest and most hated stuff. What is difficult for me is cleaning up and putting stuff away in a timely as well as neatly fashion. When I was in Grade 1 in Hong Kong, one of our assignment was to get a note from our parents. The note was to identify what they thought our worse trait was. Well, my mother thought mine was paper clutter. I dropped them wherever. It was like a show and tell. I was reprimanded by my teacher – very severely I felt at the time.

Obviously, it hadn’t helped me. I am still that clutterbug. I’m changing my ways though. I’m working on the dishes. After washing and drying, I’m painstakingly putting them away where they belong or finding a better place for them. You’re wondering, What’s so painful about that? Well, for me it is! It feels like I’m going against the grain or my nature. It’s like torture. I wonder if I have some kind of disorder.

Things are getting a little easier though. You can see some surface on the dining room table and my desk. I’m ridding my junk mail (hard copies and emails) faster. I’ve lived many days feeling as if I have something needed doing but don’t know what. FINALLY that dreaded feeling is gone. I’m feeling more at ease.

Hmm. I’m feeling more alert and focused. It helps to identify my problem areas. It is nice to see progress. That is why I come here each day to tap on the keyboard. Some days I have great thoughts, exciting news and projects. Some days I am sad or angry. Then there are the doldrums. There is a lot of it in life. When they are taken away from you, that is the time when you see what treasures they really are. So I don’t mind them so much. They are restful. Maybe it is what mindfulness is – learning to sit and stay in the mundane and tedious until they are no longer so. Until you see what jewels they are.

 

MACHETE DAYS – Day 11 in a year of…

Day 11, August 2, 2016 @2:33

IMG_6859Some days are tougher than others.  I still get up, dress up and show up, though not quite made up or comb up.  Some days you have to change the order of things when you feel disorderly.  Life is a jungle of trials, tribulations and emotions.  You have to machete your way through the undergrowth, and dodge bullets at the same time.  You roll with the dice.  It is called being flexible.

This is why I’m doing this year long project of choosing to do different.  I need to stay nimble and flexible to dance the Plie, Pirouette, Tendu and Jete in the ballet of life.

IMG_6867Wanting to do different, I choose to show up again and again every day.  Trying NOT to whine again and again, I come back to the Mindfulness Summit of the 2015.  This morning I sat with Melli O’Brien and Jono Fisher.  Some days I can focus better than others.

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Still – I am here with bells in my ears.  I’m ready for the dance of life, however it is.  Are you?

WRITING ON THE WORD

IMG_39192015 is over. We are into the second day of 2016. There has been no big bang.  No celebration.  None that I’ve felt nor seen anyways. It’s disappointing in a way but it’s all good.  It’s a slow comfortable ease from the old into the new. Let me celebrate it now with my words and pictures.  Let me draw back the curtain and close the door. Let there be no distractions while I sit in the STILLNESS of last year’s word and think about the ORDER I want in the coming year.

IMG_3925My tea is made.  I am ready to sit in silence and look backyards to what I have left behind.  It is peaceful here looking out to what was. What was fell short of my intentions of stillness.  It happens.  Shit and failure can happen.  I see that now. I am not that powerful.  I am not in control of the Universe.  I cannot wave my magic wand and make VOILA! happen.  I can’t even tell you a good fairy tale.

 

IMG_3930What I can tell you is that the stillness I intended and longed for is here within me now.  In this moment as I am tapping out my words, I feel its presence within.  I look up and I can feel my ancestors looking down on me.  I hear a whisper.  ‘Be still and you will find order in your life.’

 

ORDERLY ORDER

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Order is in the order for me today.  I rise, stretch and do my 18 heavenly qigong moves to the sunrise.  It is so fresh and still in the early morning.  I have to thank Sheba for rousing me out of bed.  She is quite insistent.  Get up!  Feed me!

And so I did.  And so starts another day.  I breathed and moved in the light of the rising sun.  I felt my breath slowing down, saw the robin on the fence and heard the stillness of the universe.  My breath deepened and my heart stopped its fluttering, my eyelids dropped.

All is copacetic.  I am relaxed and in the flow.  I feel the order within me.  I am not behind.  I have time…to put one foot in front of the other, to do one thing at a time, to walk and not run.  I have time to breathe, to stay here now, at this time, to be with me.

I am taking miniscule steps towards order, finding places for things, finding pleasure in the doing, finding kindness for myself.  And I am grateful.

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BEN AND I

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I was thinking about Benjamin Franklin and his 13 virtues this morning.  I was thinking that I need to move a little faster towards order.  No use getting all these ideas and plans but no action.  Without any movement there will be no change.  There will be no order.

I was thinking about all this as I was coming out of the bathroom.  I looked out the living room window and there was Benjamin Franklin, making a house call!  I took that as a sign of great magnitude.  Wow!  Whatever thou can conjure in the mind, you can bring forth.  Maybe I should get a lamp like Aladdin’s or a Ouija board.

Seeing Ben did shake me out of my inertia.  I am sure that the plumber was also shook up to see some woman aiming a camera at him as he was getting out of his truck.  He seems to be held captive momentarily on the steps.

Having been reminded of my goal to pursue order, I set to work…dishes, floor, laundry, walking Sheba, bathing Sheba, cleaning her mats, lunch, more dishes…..  Wow, I’m amazed by myself!  Now I face my hardest challenge, my office.  For some unknown reason, psychological block, I have not been able to put it in order since the beginning of time.

I stumble and stumble every time I decide to do this chore.  I am overcome with unease, unable to make a start, a move in the right direction.  Perhaps I should stop thinking of it as a chore.  Maybe I can visualize myself as the FlyLady (http://www.flylady.net/) with a purple feather duster instead of Tinkerbell and her magic wand.  Whooosh!  In one purple swoop, my desk is dust free and clean, the pens in their holder, the papers in their proper folders in the cabinet…everything in order.

Would that not be nice if we have a magic wand or feather duster?  Alas! we mortals must do the hard work.  So I shall go now and make a start.  I shall at least try my best at the moment.  I will not be behind.  I will pay my bills and file them in their proper folder.  And perhaps my friend Ben will come to help again another day.

ORDER AND PATIENCE

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It is six o’clock in the morning.  The sun is out and shining bright.  Sheba is fed, watered and satisfied.  The world is still quiet.  There is order and I am learning to be patient.  Nothing is permanent.  Everything passes.  That is the nature of the universe.

I shall not be afraid of the universe.  I shall not be afraid of my own nature.  There is reason.  There is order.  I shall go forth to greet all there is and learn from the experience.  Rumi’s Guest House is my favourite poem and it says it all.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi