Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Road Once Travelled


What kind of achievements have you accomplished in the past?

I was reading today in This Year I Will... (another great book) that creating a list of achievements that you have succeeded at in the past helps you see what strengths and skills you have to bring to the change you wish to make now. And it sounds pretty smart, so I thought I'd make a small list of my own, and encourage all of you to do the same.

  1. I have finished the first draft of my first book in the series.
  2. I have finished the outlines of the first 10 books in the series.
  3. I have said no to drugs and smoking.
  4. I have worked in retail despite my social anxiety.
  5. I have performed in 2 plays.
  6. I have controlled my anger to an extreme degree my entire life.
All of those accomplishments were done by me. Not someone else. Me. And they took strength, courage, passion, love, and determination. They took self-control, coping mechanisms, adaptation, willingness to see all sides of a story, and positive thinking.

And those are all things I can turn towards my new life change to help make it happen.

What have you done, and what are the skills that it took to accomplish that? Can those skills help you on your current problem?

Hope you find this as interesting as I did!

Daily Stats:

 

  1. Exercised, stretched, meditated, and worked on my writing twice today.
  2. Wrote in my journal, stayed on budget, and wrote a poem today.
  3. Posted on my blog.
  4. Made my bed.
  5. Did NOT stay on my diet today.
  6. Cooked breakfast.
  7. Drew. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

What's Wrong?


I may be a good writer now. But I'm not great. And I desperately need to be great. I believe my key to greatness is criticism.

If I want to grow, I'm going to have to ruthlessly work on the things I'm bad at. I've been tackling the consistency problem I've had, but it's time to identify other weaknesses in my writing and start targeting those behaviors, too. Only by identifying them and working through them can I hope to get better.

I know I can do it. For once in my life, I finally view criticism as a good thing, instead of a self-esteem bashing. I have to use it to grow, instead of viewing it as some kind of proof that I'm not good enough as I am. That's my path to greatness.

So, if any of you readers out there can identify where I need improvement, I'd dearly appreciate it. I'd also appreciate it if you know of any sites where I can join and have my work critiqued by other writers. I'd like to start working on my writing in full force now.

I'm going to need YOUR help to do it.

Daily Stats:

 

  1. Exercised, stretched, meditated, and worked on my writing twice today.
  2. Wrote in my journal, stayed on budget, did not write a poem today.
  3. Posted on my blog.
  4. Made my bed.
  5. Stayed on my diet.
  6. Cooked my lunch and breakfast and dinner.
  7. Drew.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Writer's Soul






I sometimes seem to forget why I'm making this change. And when I realized that today, it made me realize something else as well. I have spent so much of my time both on and off this blog talking about these changes I'm making that I've forgotten to mention the why of it all.

A serious oversight, to be sure.

Why am I doing all of this? Because I'm a writer. It isn't my occupation, it isn't my hobby. It isn't just my passion. It's my life, who and what I am. Writing has defined my entire existence. Not just the act of writing, putting words on the paper, but the act of creating. Creating worlds, characters, stories. I've done that since I was a very small child. And I can't imagine a life without it.

That's why I'm doing all of this work. That's why I'm here. I want to be an incredible author. I want people to read my work for generations. Not because I'm egotistical. I may want to be special (who doesn't?), but I've had this driving need to share my worlds and stories with people since before I understood what money and fame were. I need people to see what I see. I need to give them a glimpse into my mind.

I've struggled to share my world inside my head since I was a kid. And other people never seemed to get it quite to the degree I needed them to. At first, I wrote it off as impossible to communicate, but still I itched to share.

And then I decided to do something about it. I worked on my writing, trying to share once again.

It didn't work out that well.

My work was creative and vivid and incredible. But the writing just wasn't good enough to communicate what I wanted to communicate to other people. Nor had I learned how to create a complete story from the random ideas and worlds that were in my head.

In short, it sucked. But it had potential.

My writing has improved since then. Not enough, still, but I continue to get better all the time. I've learned to piece together stories from the pictures in my head. Stories other people can see and understand almost as well as I can.

It's the writing I need to improve. I'm good with words, but I'm not great. And I need to be great. That's the only way I'll be able to truly communicate my worlds. It's the only method I have to share it all.

And sharing my worlds is my reason for being. I've known it my entire life. That's why I'm doing all of this. Because I have to share my worlds with everyone, or I'll have failed to fulfill my purpose.

If you can't tell yet, I don't like to fail.

Daily Stats:



  1. Exercised, stretched, meditated, and worked on my writing twice today.
  2. Wrote in my journal, stayed on budget, and wrote a poem today.
  3. Posted on my blog.
  4. Made my bed.
  5. Stayed on my diet today.
  6. Fixed my lunch and cooked my breakfast.

Good Data





So I've had another bad day. One of those days where I simply want to go home and go to bed, and not do any of my work or exercise. One of those days where I seem to fail at every turn.

But I'm not sad this time. I'm not even a little discouraged. Because I learned a few things today.

First, I still have trouble saying no, especially to foods I have always loved that someone else will give me for free...even if it isn't on my diet. Second, that my entire week is defined by my 2 days off work. If I accomplish a lot and feel good about myself on my days off, I'll do better that week because I feel more motivated by my success. If I don't accomplish much of anything at all in those 2 days, I'm going to struggle and fail all week.


It's kind of strange to think that just 2 days can change the outcome of 5 more of them, but there you have it. So, I'm going to have to try extra hard this coming break to make sure I accomplish something.

And that's what you call turning a bad day into good data. Life is an experiment and chances are you won't get things right the first time you try them. So keep trying.

I know I will.

Daily Stats:

 


  1. Exercised, stretched, meditated, and worked on my writing twice today.
  2. Wrote in my journal, kept on my budget, and wrote a poem today.
  3. Posted on my blog.
  4. Made my bed.
  5. Did NOT keep on my diet.
  6. Cooked my lunch and fixed my lunch.
  7. Drew today.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

To Draw A World






So today I started my seventh goal for this year: drawing something every day. And, let me tell you, this one is going to be interesting.

I've never been very good at drawing. Not since I was a very small child. People would look at my work and ask me what in the world was that with this truly horrified look on their faces. After the extensive rejection of and mockery for my work, I told myself I just didn't have a knack for drawing and quit. But I always looked on others that could draw with envy and longing.

I wanted to do that, too.

Well, here's my chance to try. Maybe I don't have a born gift, but according to Talent Is Overrated, no drawing gene has been found in the human genome as of yet, and it seems a little crazy to think there will be.

But my eye isn't very well-trained. And my thoughts keep getting in the way. But I can do this. I can learn how to draw. I just know I can.

I started tonight at learntodraw.com and I have to say, it's quite interesting. I think I might have a shot at this, after all. I just have to try my best, and I can only get better.

Here's hoping I can be something of an artist someday.

Daily Stats:

 


  1. Exercised, stretched, meditated, and worked on my writing twice today.
  2. Wrote in my journal, stayed on budget, and wrote a poem today.
  3. Posted on my blog.
  4. Made my bed and did a load of dishes.
  5. Stayed on my diet.
  6. Cooked chicken for lunch and breakfast and fixed my lunch for work.
  7. Worked on drawing today.

Fighting Depression





I'm a very happy person. Or so I've been told. Over and over again, all of my life.

And I am a happy person. When I'm not depressed. But depression has plagued me most of my life. It's a terrible disease that haunts my thoughts. Anytime I feel overwhelmed or trapped, depression seems to reach up and swallow me whole.

It steals my life away. It steals my energy and dreams. It steals my love for myself. It steals my hope and kindness away.

It's a dirty, rotten thief, and I refuse to allow it make itself at home in me any longer.

Of course, I know I'm going to get depressed. I'll probably be depressed tomorrow. But I won't let it beat me. I won't let it stop me. I won't let it steal those things from me anymore. It may break into my life, but that's no reason for me to ask it to pull up a chair and stay for a while.

It shocks people when I tell them I suffer from depression. I seem so nice, so peppy, so full of hope, they say. Most people don't seem to realize that all of that comes with a dark side. If you can feel the good emotions that vividly, if life can ever be that bright, then it goes to reason that the opposite is true. You can feel the bad emotions just as vividly as the good, and life can be inexplicably dark when the brightness fades away.

It's beautiful and it's terrible. So, if there is anyone else out there suffering with their darker side tonight, I want to remind you of something Annie once said: the sun will come out tomorrow. She will be bright and beautiful when she rises. And isn't the dark worth that, when all is said and done?

If you never let it beat you.

Daily Stats:

 


  1. Exercised, stretched, meditated, and worked on my writing twice today.
  2. Wrote in my journal, stayed on budget, and wrote a poem.
  3. Posted on my blog.
  4. Made my bed.
  5. Stayed on my diet.
  6. Made pizza this morning and fixed my lunch and snack for work.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My Superpower





I was thinking to myself on the way to the hospital to see my mom and I realized something. I have an incredible superpower.

Unfortunately, it isn't something cool like telekinesis or technopathy.

I have the amazing ability to create worlds and characters and stories in my head. I can go anywhere I want to, just by thinking about it. I can feel any emotion I want to, have any relationship I want to, be any person I want to, just by imagining it. I'm incredibly creative, and my brain never stops wanting to create something else. It churns out ideas at an unrealistic rate.

But I don't do anything with it.

I spend most of my time inside my imagination, creating and pretending and building inside my mind where it does no one, not even me, any kind of good. I read books and watch TV in a strange attempt to direct my imagination so it doesn't go directions I don't want it to. And then I do puzzles and play games so that my brain's too busy to create, just to turn it off for a while.

But I never use my gift, my superpower, to benefit. I've tried writing, tried to make it direct my imagination in a constructive fashion. And I fell head over heals in love with the method. I found that writing opened up my imagination in ways I never dreamed. And it directed my focus, so that my mind didn't wander.

But then I grow bored. I want to move onto something else. And the book is never finished.

When I started the series I'm currently working on, I determined that wasn't going to happen this time. And it hasn't. It's been around 2-3 years since I first started designing this novel and I haven't allowed myself to get distracted yet.

I've decided, though, that the only way I'm ever going to see my superpower benefit myself and others, is if I direct it towards my goals mercilessly. I can't allow myself to imagine and create whenever and wherever I want. I need control.

Control is one of the few things I don't find easy to create.

Small periods of control are easy. It's the long-term that I can't seem to manage. But this new life change is all about changing that. Shaping my mind and my life the way I want them to be.

So that's my next concentration. I'm going to continue on with my goals (drawing daily is my next goal and it starts on 4/25), but I'm going to do so with an overall thought in mind: I want the ability to turn my superpower on and off at will.

I refuse to let it rule my life. It's time for me to take control.

Daily Stats:



  1. Exercised, stretched, meditated, and worked on my writing twice today.
  2. Wrote in my journal, stayed on budget, and wrote a poem today.
  3. Posted on my blog.
  4. Made my bed and did some laundry.
  5. Kept to my diet.
  6. Made pizza and lots of vegetables and fruits for lunch.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Failure Is Not An Option





It's awfully ironic that I'm forced to write this post after yesterday's. It would be hilarious if it wasn't happening to me.

My mom had to go to the hospital today. I spent over 7 hours there and that isn't including the doctor's visit before hand, the stop at the restaurant with my mom, or getting ready to go. All-in-all, it has been an extraordinarily unproductive day, and an exhausting one to boot. I'm about to go to sleep after one giant day of fail.

And my poor mom. She's got to be miserable. I would be, if I'd been to the hospital as many times as she has been. To be sticked, prodded, and examined repeatedly sounds (and looks) like hell. Talk about an annoying, unproductive day.

To be honest, I don't feel like I wasted my day. My mom needed to go to the hospital and find out if there is anything wrong with her heart. I needed to be there with her and make sure everything went okay.

I'm not ashamed of that.

But I refuse to let a day of not reaching my goals lead to more days like this. So thinking on this day as good data for future planning is useful. Of course, I have to face the fact that days of failure will come regardless of how much or well I plan.

It's a life of failure that is unacceptable.

Daily Stats:

 


  1. Didn't do my routine at all.
  2. Wrote in my journal and kept on budget. Did not write a poem.
  3. Posted on my blog.
  4. Made my bed.
  5. Did not stay on my diet.
  6. Didn't cook anything.

Determined To Succeed







I finished reading Talent Is Overrated today. It was truly a great book. And I think I am the richer for having read it.

One point has really stuck with me, though. It was on the last few pages of the book, just about at the end, when the author said that many people who have achieved great things have little to no social life and very few hobbies. The author points out that it takes great determination and need to be willing to forgo relationships and fun to achieve your dreams. He even goes on to question how big something would have to be to make you feel the same way.

And I asked myself that question today. Over and over again, I asked it. I've long held the dream of having it all. I wanted to live my dream life, have my dream career, and have a family. And I wanted to be GREAT at it all.

But I'm not Superwoman. I can't do everything. I'm going to have to make some choices. And it all comes back to what I want more than anything from my life. The answer to that question didn't take but a moment for me to think up.

I want to be a writer.

And not just any writer. I want to be a world-reknowned author. I want to be one of the greatest writers to have ever lived. I want to share my worlds, my characters, my stories with generations of people. I want it so bad that it actually hurts.


If push comes to shove, I'm willing to forgo a social life and hobbies to achieve this dream. This dream is more important to me than pretty much anything else.

And I will succeed. There isn't another option anymore.

Daily Stats:




  1. Exercised, stretched, meditated, and worked on my writing twice today.
  2. Wrote in my journal, stayed on budget, and wrote a poem today.
  3. Posted on my blog.
  4. Made my bed.
  5. Stayed on my diet. :D
  6. Cooked my lunch and dinner, and fixed the rest.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Write It Down (And Then Do It)


Is there anything you want to accomplish with your life? With this year? With this week? Today? This minute?

Then stop what you're doing. Go on. Take your eyes off the computer screen and get a notebook out.

Done that? Now write down what you want to do with your time. Write down, in detail, a specific goal you want to accomplish. Finished yet? Then give yourself a time limit to accomplish that goal.

Having a day and time that you have to achieve that goal makes it suddenly much scarier, doesn't it? I've found both in my writing and in real life planning, everything becomes more real if you write it down and plan it out. And real is a heck of a lot more terrifying than fantasy.

But real is what you live. Real is possible. Fantasy is just a hazy wish you dream about before you go to sleep at night. If you ever want your life to become that dream, you're going to have to make it real.

Is that enough, however? Can you just give yourself a general goal and a deadline and voila, you're a success? Of course not!

You're going to have to plan. A lot.

Take that general goal and break it down into many, smaller goals. Once you've finished that, give yourself a mini-deadline for each of your small goals. Be conservative; it's better to have too much time allotted than not enough in this exercise.

Now look at your coming schedule. What time do you have available for this activity? How can you fit your goal pursuits into your daily life? Obviously you're going to have to give up something to make your goal happen. Because if you didn't have your time wasted on something else, you'd already have accomplished the goal by now.

So do an honest evaluation of your life. Is there something you could cut back on, just a bit, to fit your new activities in? Is there anything you can cut completely?

Write down any decisions you make about your decisions here, too. The human brain is a funny thing. Writing your goals and decisions down on paper has shown to make people more susceptible to implementing those changes.

Having said that, I don't want any of you to mistake my meaning. Once you write it down, you're still going to have to do it. You have to get up and walk away from the pen and paper and actually accomplish something if you want to succeed at your goals. But writing them down is an excellent strategy at changing the way you think about those changes. It takes something that seems like a fantasy and brings it into reality.

And no one knows how incredibly hard that is to do better than a writer.

Daily Stats:

 

  1. Exercised, stretched, meditated, and worked on my writing twice today.
  2. Wrote in my journal, stayed on budget, and wrote a poem today.
  3. Posted on my blog.
  4. Made my bed.
  5. Stayed on diet (improved my vegetable and fruit eating!).
  6. Cooked breakfast, fixed my lunch, and fixed myself dinner.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Following The Rules


So I was watching a show on Netflix (The Finder), and the main character said something that really hit me. He was discussing another character on the show who is a thief and a gypsy, and he says that trying to make her into a rule-abiding citizen will never work. She had both nature and nurture against her already. No one and nothing was going to change that part of her.

But he didn't mean for anyone to give up hope. Instead, he said something very meaningful. Instead of teaching her to follow the rules, you need to teach her the difference between right and wrong.

I've thought on this subject before when I've delved into what I call humanities greatest gift: the ability to see the big picture. And I've condemned our societies' means of teaching their children incessant rules instead of showing them how to see how their actions affect the big picture. Essentially, we aren't teaching our children the difference between right and wrong; we're teaching them to do what they're told.

Not exactly healthy, for them or for our society.

Of course, I'm not recommending we get rid of rules entirely. That would lead to absolute anarchy. But we should teach our children much more than just "Do this." and "Don't do that."

It's kind of like having a disease, and when you get to the hospital, the doctor prescribes a treatment to fix the symptoms you present instead of trying to find the cause. Sure, diarrhea and high fever have to be treated immediately because they can kill you faster than the disease will, but do you just send the patient home after you've treated the symptoms? No, you look for the cause and you administer a treatment for that, too.

The same is true in how we approach humanities' weakness: the inability to deny immediate gratification for the overall good. We teach our children rules and to follow the law, even though we know all the rules have exceptions and the law is flawed. And then we expect them to grow up to be law-abiding adults who know the difference between right and wrong.

Far too many times they don't.

The show went on to say how the main character believes the criminal should be taught the difference between right and wrong: let her see a lot of rights and let her see a lot of wrongs.

And that clicked for me. Because if you see a lot of rights and a lot of wrongs, you're going to start seeing patterns. The brain is designed to pick these up and use the information to protect itself, and this circumstance is no exception. When you see the effects of right and wrong first hand, the long and short term consequences to those actions, your brain picks up the patterns and trains itself to pick them up in your life.

That trains you to see how your actions affect the big picture.

I don't have kids. So, I can't judge those who do. But if and when I do have kids of my own, I hope I remember this lesson. I don't want to teach my children to follow rules; I want to teach my children to see the difference between right and wrong. To see the big picture.

Daily Stats:

 

  1. Exercised, stretched, meditated, and worked on my writing twice today.
  2. Wrote in my journal, stayed on budget, and wrote a poem today.
  3. Posted on my blog.
  4. Made my bed, did a load of dishes, and did laundry.
  5. Stayed on my diet.
  6. Cooked my dinner and breakfast and fixed my lunch for work.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Big Dreams


I've felt pretty crappy the last couple of days. I'm still hanging in there, but the going is tough. But these little sessions of remembering why I'm doing this, why I'm here, help me through it all.

I have big dreams. Big plans. And I refuse to give up until I've realized them.

That's the reason I'm here and that's the reason I'm going to keep going. Just one foot in front of the other. That's all it takes.

Here we go...

Daily Stats:

 

  1. Exercised, stretched, meditated, and worked on my writing twice today.
  2. Wrote in my journal, stayed on my budget, and wrote a poem.
  3. Posted on my blog.
  4. Made my bed.
  5. Did not stay on my diet.
  6. Cooked fish and pancakes today, and fixed my lunch, breakfast and dinner.

There's Just Something About Nothing Days

Never quit. That's what I keep telling myself. But on days like today, I really, really want to.

It's not that it's been a particularly bad day. I just don't feel like doing anything. It's what I normally would call a 'nothing' day, because it's a day where nothing gets accomplished. I've long had days like that, because my health (both mental and physical) isn't the best. But I'm determined that I no longer will have nothing days.

But those are the days where it's the hardest.

Those are the days when I want to do the parts that are easiest. Those are the days when I don't want to get out of bed. Those are the days when I constantly ask myself, "Isn't this enough? Do I really have to do anymore?"

Which is a valid question, really. After all, I don't call them nothing days for nothing. Days like today are days where literally nothing gets accomplished. I watch tv, read books for pleasure (not research), and imagine. I don't work. I don't do anything that even reminds me of work. So, when I force myself to do a little bit on the days I don't want to do anything, I can see why I ask myself this question. Something is better than nothing, and we've done that. Let's quit now.

Only that isn't who I am anymore.

Still, these are the hardest days to get through. If anyone out there has ever felt this way, I'm so sorry. I wouldn't wish the need for a nothing day on anyone. It has been the largest reason why I've failed at so much in my life.


But I won't let it do that to me anymore. I'm sick of being stuck. I'm going to go somewhere in my life. And nothing days actually do something quite awful: they hold me back from that.

No more. I cannot have nothing days if I want to be something. It's that simple.

Daily Stats:

 

  1. Exercised, stretched, meditated, and worked on my writing twice today.
  2. Wrote in my journal, kept on budget, and wrote a poem today.
  3. Posted on my blog.
  4. Made my bed and put away some laundry.
  5. Stuck to my diet.
  6. Fixed my lunch and dinner.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Does Talent Exist?





Like many people, I've always believed in the existence of talent. Some people are just born gifted. Mozart and Tiger Woods are excellent examples of this.

But today I've been reading a book entitled Talent is Overrated. And it builds a compelling argument against this view of talent. That people like Mozart and Tiger had other things going for them that created their success, not talent.

It doesn't outright say that talent doesn't exist, but you can tell the author generally doesn't believe it does. But they do say it is NOT an indicator of success, even if it does exist.

Personally, I've long subscribed to what I call the garden theory of talent. That people are born with certain gifts and flaws and that this is like the dirt you start a garden with. And if you work that dirt, you can grow a garden in just about anything, regardless if it is or isn't rich soil. But it will never be as good as those who do grow in the very best soil (or with the very best talent).

Of course, those who have rich soil but never get down to work in it, don't have any gardens at all. And talent without work is, as stated above, a tragedy.

But this book just might be changing my view.

What about you? What do you think? Do you believe in talent? Are we all born with innate talent in our genes, giving some the ability to do some things, while others just can't? Or are we more of a product of hard work and what this author calls "deliberate practice"?

Does talent really exist? You decide!

Daily Stats:

 


  1. Exercised, stretched, meditated, and worked on my writing twice today.
  2. Wrote in my journal, stayed on budget, and wrote a poem today.
  3. Posted on my blog.
  4. Made my bed, picked up in my car, cleaned out my closet, did LOTS of laundry, did a load of dishes, and cleaned out the kitchen sink.
  5. Stayed on diet.
  6. Made all my meals but didn't cook.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Research Your Way To Success






Up until 2 months ago, I always believed it was impossible for me to succeed. I just couldn't see how I could get from where I was to where I wanted to be. It seemed insurmountable.

And then I reached the point where I was sick of giving myself excuses.

My brain ran through my various failures over the years, looking at what I'd tried and failed to do. And I didn't want to do the same old thing, hoping it would work this time. It hadn't worked before and it wouldn't work now. There had to be a better way.

So I googled it.

Sounds so simple, right? Well, it wasn't. I filtered through tons of websites, all claiming to have thousands of ways to fix my motivational problems. Instead of picking through them higgledy-piggledy, I clicked on the ones sourced in psychological studies.

Eureka! I found my answers. They had been at my fingertips all along, yet I didn't have the where-with-all to find them.

And my life change was born. What you see here, on this blog, is an accumulation of weeks of research. I read books, I looked up website after website, and I studied each subject individually. Whatever I had to do to be successful this time, I was going to do it.

And here I am. Maybe not a raging success (yet!) but I've made it further than I've ever made it before. And my instincts tell me this is going to stick. This is a permanent change this time. All because I sat down and researched it.

Is there something you wish to change, too? Well, chances are there is an article or site dedicated to the subject somewhere on the internet. Google it and you may find that research will open the way to success for you, too. If it works for me (and many others who have succeeded at changing), chances are it will work for you.

If you really want it to.


Daily Stats:

 


  1. Exercised, stretched, meditated, and worked on writing twice today. Jogging day #1 for the week.
  2. Wrote in my journal, kept to my budget, and wrote a poem today.
  3. Posted on my blog.
  4. Made my bed, picked up in my room, did some laundry, and did dishes.
  5. Did NOT stay on my diet today.
  6. Cooked nothing, but I did fix my breakfast.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

10 Ways to Meditate





I remember when I first started meditating. It was only a little over 2 months ago, so it isn't hard, but it feels like forever ago. I remember feeling as though I was attempting something foreign and completely unknown.

I told myself it would be easy. I mean, how hard could sitting still and thinking about nothing but breathing be?


Turns out, pretty hard.

In fact, I've never grown to like that particular meditation. But I quickly discovered there are many other meditations out there to try. Here's just a few to peak your interest:

1.) Body scan meditation.

This one is my favorite. I lay still with my eyes closed and simply concentrate on one body part at a time. I repeat phrases like "I am my feet (or whatever body part I'm concentrating on)." and explore the sensations there until I can feel everything there without having to try. Then I move on to the next part it's connected to.

I start at my feet and move my way up until I reach my head. Each part is given special attention and any thoughts that intrude are brushed away and my concentration returns to my immediate concern. At the end, I concentrate on feeling my body in its entirety, and see how it feels to inhabit my own skin in the present moment.

What I love about this meditation is how incredibly relaxing it is. Because you concentrate on each body part without judging, it relaxes automatically without any interference from your mind.

2.) Walking meditation.

You can do this meditation anywhere really. Just get up and walk. Think the word inhale as you inhale, then count how many steps it takes for you to exhale. Repeat this over and over again as you walk.

I was amazed by how helpful this was at work. It's more of a mini-meditation for me, as I use it at my job to break up the stress of the day, but you can use it as a larger meditation if you like long walks in the wilderness or the like. It really helps you deal with hard days.

3.) Observational meditation.

This one is a little harder to do than the others, so you may want to try something else first. But it's relatively simple in theory. You simply count 6 exhales, and then start watching your thoughts. Label each thought with a name. Then make each thought as vivid as possible, picturing the thought as a living thing outside your body. Watch it for a while and then decide if you want to keep this thought or not. If you decide it is doing you harm, picture yourself pushing it away from yourself, building a wall between you and it, or simply deleting it from existence. Whatever imagery works for you, get rid of the thought.

You may have to brush the thought aside multiple times at first. But eventually your control will improve and the push will come easier.

What's incredible about this meditation is how it allows you to control your thoughts much deeper in real life than you ever thought possible. Once your brain has been trained to get rid of thoughts you don't want to have, the means of doing so is surprisingly easy.

4.) Emotional exploration meditation.

This is the same as the previous exercise, except this time you should observe your emotions instead of your thoughts. Whether you believe that each thought provokes an emotion or that each emotion provokes a thought, this exercise will help you control and identify your emotions.

Count 6 exhales before you start. Then go into your thoughts, merely observing. Don't get too caught up in the thoughts, just watch them as they go. Now, go deeper and find your emotions behind the thoughts. Go through and label the emotions you are feeling, one by one. Identify where they come from and explore what each feels like in its entirety, without judgment or fear of reprisal. Don't try to brush emotions aside as you did the thoughts, but do control what thoughts spring from these emotions. Reject any thoughts you don't like, and throw yourself into the emotion as much as you can without actually feeling it.

A great accompaniment to this meditation is to be extra-conscious of your emotions throughout your day. Take time to label thoughts throughout your day with an emotion and take time to have periodic checks to see what you are feeling right then, in that moment.

This is great for those of us who are extra sensitive (like me!). It helps you see how your emotions work and what the process is that you're going through. Controlling your reactions to emotions, and embracing them for what they are, are the first steps to being free from the power they hold over you.

5.) Cleaning meditation.

If you're one of those people who simply doesn't have the time to just sit still and do nothing, then this meditation is for you! Just go about a normal daily chore, but do it with one slight difference: instead of trying to finish the chore quickly to move on, absorb yourself completely with the physicality of it. Feel the washcloth as it washes the dishes. Feel every moment as it happens, dismissing any thoughts of what you have to do later or what happened last night at your friend's party. Just feel the moment right now.

This one is pretty simple and can have as meaningful an effect on your life as though you did carve out the time to meditate each day!

6.) Mantra meditation.

This is the one most of us see in the movies. In this meditation, you sit still and chant a mantra over and over again. It doesn't have to be out loud, but it does need to be simple and meaningful to you. Many people choose the word omm, for it's traditional purposes, but you can repeat any phrase or sound that appeals to you to repeat.

A great part of this meditation is repeating a positive affirmation in it. It's funny how much your brain begins to believe something if you say it enough times. So, you can kill two birds with one stone with this meditation and increase your positive thinking, too!

7.) Compassion meditation.

I've never tried this one myself, as I feel I suffer from too much compassion at the moment, but I feel it will definitely be added to my repertoir at some point in the future. There are several different kinds of compassion meditations, but here's the one I liked the most:

First, you call to mind your own self and say silently “May I be happy, may I be peaceful, may I be healthy, may I be free.” Next, call to mind someone you love, and say the same, but replace the Is with yous, obviously. Next, call to mind someone who is pissing you off or making you sad, and do it for them. From there, you can extend this meditation out to the entire world (“may all beings everywhere be happy” etc.). This part loses some people. If you’re one of them, then when you’re done with the person who you’re upset with, do someone else you love so you end on a good note.

This meditation is said to give people a more understanding and compassionate outlook on life and the people they deal with each day. It can definitely be a useful exercise when you're angry with one of your loved ones, or just upset in general.

8.) 100 Breaths meditation.

Okay, so this is just the breathing meditation we talked about not having to do, right? Except it isn't. In this meditation, you count each breath (that is, an inhale AND an exhale) until you reach the number 100. It sounds a LOT easier than it is because it's so simple to lose count due to thoughts coming along and distracting you from the numbers.

This is a great exercise if you want to learn how to control your concentration and focus for long periods of time. I hate it, myself, but I think it benefits my mind and so I stretch it with a few applications of it regularly.

9.) Focus meditation.

In this meditation, you sit and focus intently on an object outside of yourself. So, instead of observing your thoughts or feelings, you observe an object. Very popular objects to observe are flames and water.

This is a great meditation to stretch your focus. It keeps you thinking on something monotonous and mundane rather than the constant flow of life we get so used to.

10.) Spiritual meditation.

Meditation doesn't have to be spiritual, but it can be. You can experience it in the form of prayer if you so desire. Just pray as usual and concentrate on your words.


Meditation isn't always easy, but everyone can do it. It just takes practice and determination. And don't worry if your thoughts don't stay where you want them. Most people's don't. Even very experienced meditators suffer from that problem. Just remember that it's better to spend 10 minutes of your time redirecting your thoughts than it is allowing them to do whatever they want when you aren't looking.

Well, that's all the motivational speaking I have in me tonight. Good luck to everyone on learning meditation. I hope it proves as incredible an experience for you as it has been for me!

Daily Stats:

 


  1. Stretched, meditated, and worked on my writing twice today, but only exercised tonight.
  2. Wrote in my journal, kept to my budget, and wrote a poem today.
  3. Posted on my blog.
  4. Made my bed.
  5. Stayed on my diet.
  6. Made my lunch. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Anniversaries


Happy anniversary to me! Yay!

It amazes me to see how far I've already come. This day marked the 2-month anniversary of when I started this life change and the difference between now and then is simply incredible. Maybe not as far as I hope to get in the future.

But still amazing, regardless.


And my blog! My last blog, it was amazing if I remembered to update twice a week! And it died a natural death because of that. But this blog I've kept posting each day for 1 whole month!

I feel silly and a little giddy. Even though today was a terrible, grueling day at work and my body is terribly sore from yesterday's strains, I'm excited about it all. I feel as though there is no struggle I can't fight and win, no trouble I can't take on to get where I want to go.

My life has officially become what I want it to be. And I'm going to make it work, shape it all into the life of my dreams. I will succeed. I can feel it.

I'd like to take this chance to thank any and all of you out there who have been reading this and following me on this incredible journey. And a special thanks to Mark, for taking the time to encourage me along the way. Blogging each day would have been so much harder without you, Mark. At least I know someone is out there.

Thank you so much. It feels good to know I'm not alone.

Daily Stats:

 

  1. Exercised, stretched, meditated, and worked on writing twice today.
  2. Wrote in my journal, stayed on budget, and wrote a poem.
  3. Posted on my blog.
  4. Made my bed.
  5. Stayed on my diet.
  6. Made juice with my juicer and fixed my lunch for work.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Had A Bad Day






I don't really feel like posting tonight, but I don't believe in letting anything, not even a really bad day, hold me back from reaching for my goals anymore.

But I have had a terrible day.

It started with a really bad fight with my mom. I almost had to move out, it got so bad. But I'm still here, and I don't think I'll be going anywhere anytime soon.

I think that was the main cause of the bad day, though. The rest was just having a LOT to do at work today, too many people everywhere I looked, the library was closed an hour before I got there, and the fair in town is closed after I get off work each night and closed on both of my days off for the next 2 weeks.

It just seemed to be one thing after another for me. And now I'm just exhausted, both mentally and physically. I want to go to sleep and wake up to a new day, one with a thousand possibilities.

In case the universe was wondering, I'd like one of those possibilities to be me winning $10,000. Thanks. :D

Daily Stats:

 


  1. Exercised, stretched, meditated, and worked on my writing twice today. Jogging day #3.
  2. Wrote in my journal, kept on budget, and wrote a poem.
  3. Posted on my blog.
  4. Made my bed.
  5. Broke my diet and ate some chocolate.
  6. Cooked some chicken for the entire week and fixed my lunch up.

10 Reasons to Meditate


Are you interested in meditation? I've found it is the most useful technique in dealing with your problems, and even in discovering problems you never even realized you had.

Here's why I think you should try it:

1.) Meditation reduces stress.

Meditation has been shown in scientific studies to reduce our reactions to stress. And who doesn't have a stressful life, nowadays? If you ever feel a little overwhelmed by work, family, and your goals, meditation is a great way to unwind and get back on track.

2.) Meditation is good for your mental health.

I've found that my meditation has helped me explore reaches of my mind I didn't even know existed. By sitting and observing my thoughts, making them as vivid and detailed as possible so I can truly see all sides of them, I've found a lot of the problems I've had in pursuing my dreams were really all in my head.

And simply by dealing with those mental issues, I've been able to grow past them and pursue my dreams.

3.) Meditation can improve your physical health.

Meditation will improve your health by strengthening your immune system, reducing your blood pressure and lowering cholesterol levels.

If you're someone like me, who comes from a family of "sickies", this can be a life-saver. I also have extremely difficult health issues and meditation has been proven to reduce inflammation - a problem I have troubles with in my psoriasis and lupus.

4.) Meditation improves your sleep.

It's been shown that meditation can actually improve your insomnia and help you feel more rested after sleeping. However, in scientific studies, it has also been shown to make you a lighter sleeper, as the mind is more active.

5.) Meditation can slow aging.

Studies into the effects of meditation have shown that the regular practice of meditation can slow the aging process. The biological age of long term meditators is thought to be less than those of people who have never meditated. They think this is caused by the fact that meditation helps to reduce the body’s production of free radicals. Free radicals are organic molecules that are responsible for aging, tissue damage, and possibly some diseases.

Do you want to stay younger for a longer period of time? Then meditation is for you!


6.) Meditation promotes positive thinking.

You may think this is just an extension of good mental health, but I think this deserves a number all its own. Because how many negative thoughts have you had today? A hundred? A thousand? More? Did you get angry at someone in traffic? Frustrated with a coworker? Complain about your job (again)? Upset with your spouse or child? Now, track how many negative thoughts you had over the course of these emotions...

If you're anything like most people, you've had a lot of negative thoughts. Some of them are so bad, you'd never voice them aloud even if absolutely enraged. But meditation can help you control your thoughts much better, and thus promote positive thoughts over these negative voices we see so much of every day.


7.)  Meditation improves concentration.

You're sitting in absolute quiet. You are focusing on one piece of your body or mind and everything else ceases to exist. If your mind wanders, you gently guide it back to the matter at hand without judgment or anger.

This is the very definition of the term 'concentration'. If you have trouble concentrating (and who doesn't in our modern world), then meditation may be the solution for you. And we all know that I prescribe to the belief that focus is one of the key factors to a successful life.

8.) Meditation makes you less bothered by the little things.

Remember yesterday's post? Well, meditation encourages you to look at the big picture more, without becoming overly concerned with the small details. Messing up and eating a small piece of cake on a rare occasion doesn't hurt your overall health -- consistent choices are what influences your health. So, if you are eating that cake every day, chances are you're hurting the overall picture. But an occasional slip-up?

That barely affects the big picture and meditation helps you see that. Connections begin to make more and more sense in your mind. And as I believe the ability to see the big picture and how it all connects is the greatest gift mankind has, I think it's well-worth encouraging!

9.) Meditation can improve your ability to connect with other people.

While meditation can seem like the ultimate form of self-absorption, at least one kind of meditation can improve your compassion (and thus your connection) with other people. It's known as loving-kindness meditation.

And who doesn't need a good boost to their social life?

10.) Meditation helps you feel more grounded.

Meditation brings you into the moment of now. It's a very different feeling, especially if you're like me and constantly dreaming of a possible future. Bringing you more into this moment right here is an excellent way to help you get more done, as you can't act in any other moment but right now.


I encourage everyone to meditate for at least 10 minutes every day. It's a great way to get your life and mind under control, and to learn more about yourself than you ever realized was available to know. If you're interested, check out Headspace or Calm.com. They can get you started towards a more relaxing and fulfilling life.

That's what they've done for me!

Daily Stats:

 

  1. Exercised, stretched, meditated, and worked on my writing twice today.
  2. Wrote in my journal, stayed on budget, and wrote a poem today.
  3. Posted on my blog.
  4. Made my bed and did a load of dishes.
  5. Started my diet change and bought groceries for my next week.
  6. Didn't cook anything yet (got home from work with my groceries at midnight).

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Immediate Gratification


I believe that one of the few things that separates humanity from so-called lesser species such as dogs and chickens is our ability to connect the immediate surroundings into a much bigger picture. We understand that our actions in this moment have both rewards and consequences, and the outcome is dependent on us. We see how the past, present, and future come together to represent the world. We understand how seemingly small actions of an individual can impact the entire species and planet as a whole.

We can see the forest for the trees, as it were.

When you think about this gift, it's truly amazing. We have the ability to connect every single action of our lives into a map, cataloging what makes us do the things we do. We can catalog our DNA and show why our genetics make us do what we do. We can study history and see how that has lead to the incredible advancements we have today.

And we have incredible resources to expand this ability with! Go to the library, use a search engine, or surf the internet on sites like tumblr, and you can learn virtually anything you've ever wanted to know.

This ability we have is truly amazing. WE'RE amazing.

Except we never use it when it matters most.


Think about it. When you go to the store and see that chocolate cake you love so much. Do you stop and think about the potential health problems eating that cake could cause? Do you stop and question the cost of that cake and how it will impact your budget? Or do you think about how good it will taste and reach for the cake?

And what about that room you know you should get up and organize? Or that exercise you promised yourself you were going to do to improve your chances of survival? What about the meditation, the yoga, or the millions of hobbies you promised this time you were going to make stick?

I'm not saying this to make you feel guilty. I'm saying this to get you thinking. Humanity is an amazing species. We have abilities that haven't been recorded in any other species that has been observed. And yet, when it comes to so many of our life choices, we are just like animals, reacting on instinct and what feels good right now, regardless of the possible negative impacts it could have on our lives later.

What's worse, unlike the animals, we actually know better. We can see the big picture. We can understand how eating that cake, not exercising, or doing one of a billion of other illogical choices we make each day impact our future and the possible future of our species and planet. And we do it anyway.

Why? Because it feels good. Smoking, rain forest degradation, the damage to the ozone, political problems, and every other sin you could possibly name throughout human history can all be sourced back to the same problem:

Humanities inability to deny themselves immediate gratification (what feels good right now) in order to reap the rewards of the overall good.

When I use the word good in this case, I mean what connects to the world, the human species, and to your own life in the least negative and most positive way possible. Does it have more benefits than consequences? Will it be worth the cost?

So, next time you're making a decision about something, even something relatively small in your life, I encourage you to stop a second and ask yourself two questions first. Am I wanting to do this because it will make me feel good for a short period of time or because it will benefit my life long-term? Does this have any possible consequences that could hurt myself or the human species as a whole in some way?

Those questions push you to look at the big picture, access that amazing human ability to see how it all connects, and make a conscious decision of what is REALLY best for you. You might be a little amazed in how much it changes your thinking.

It's the only thing I think is keeping me going in this lifestyle change.


Daily Stats:


  1. Exercise, stretched, meditated, and worked on my writing twice today.
  2. Wrote in my journal, stayed on budget, and wrote a poem today.
  3. Posted on my blog.
  4. Made my bed.
  5. Tested some of the dietary changes I'm planning to make.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

No Turning Back Now






 So I was reading books on diet and budgeting (really good ones!) and it suddenly hit me. There is no turning back from this change now.

I know it probably sounds weird, but it's like I reached the point of no return people talk about so much in the movies. Where the helicopter or plane's engine has used over half of their tank of gas. They can't turn back because they could never make it back without running out of gas and crashing to the ground.

That's how I feel.

Because I know now. I know that spending all your money to the point where you live from paycheck to paycheck is stupid. I know that not budgeting your money and planning where it goes means that you will have no control over your spending habits. I know that using credit cards is financial suicide. I know that diet and exercise truly lead to better health. I know that I will develop heart disease, diabetes, and strokes if I don't change my diet. I know that my health problems in life are a consequence of my unhealthy eating choices.

I know what healthy eating choices are and how to implement them. I know how to exercise and how easy it is to fit it in if you really want to. I know that a little discomfort can make you feel better than comfort ever could. I know that energy isn't a magic wish that just appears, and my choices in diet and exercise determine how much energy I have each day. I know that my mental health is dangerously low and my self-esteem is almost nonexistent. I know that those two factors are leading causes to failure in life.

I know that if I don't pursue my passion, it will never happen for me.

And that knowledge comes with a price. Now that I know, I can never go back to blissful ignorance. I can never ignore the impact of what I do and what I don't do. I cannot unsee the connections between my actions and my life. I can't take this life change back and fall back into what was because it was never what I thought it was. I was ignorant then. But I'm not anymore.

And that changes everything.

It's scary to realize that you can't fall back on your old pattern of behavior if this new pattern doesn't work. It's scary to realize how wrong you were before. It's scary to realize how wrong you probably still are.

But there is no turning back. And while that may be terrifying, it's also kind of wonderful. Because that means I'm succeeding. I'm changing my life, permanently.

I'm making this happen. And that's amazing.

Daily Stats:

 


  1. Exercised, stretched, meditated, and worked on writing twice today. Jogging day #2.
  2. Wrote in my journal, stayed on budget, and wrote a poem today.
  3. Posted on my blog today.
  4. Made my bed, did some laundry, did a load of dishes, and cleaned the microwave.

Monday, April 8, 2013

To Change or Not To Change

video

I'm so sorry for the poor quality of the video, but I can't afford a camera, and for my many mistakes. I hope I get better as I do this more.

Oh, and please excuse my general dishabille. It's been a long day.

For those of you who do NOT wish to watch the video, here's a quick overview of it:

This blog post is to address the fact that there are some things in life we should change about ourselves, i.e. the things we don't like, and then there are things we shouldn't change at all. And since I've spent so many of my blog posts discussing what I don't like about myself, I thought it'd be a nice change of pace to list the positive things I find in myself.

And today was a great example of that.

I went out with a friend today. She recently was injured at work, her head being smashed between two objects. Because of that, she lost her memory. That's right, I know someone with amnesia.


In a single swoop, this girl lost everything she had ever known. The very idea sends a chill down my spine. I can only imagine how much she's suffering right now.

When someone at work was bad-mouthing my friend the other day, I surprised myself by speaking up for her despite the fact that it meant confronting someone. I don't do confrontation, but in the case of defending my friend, I did it, anyway.

And that surprised me.

But not as much as my actions today surprised me. When a car was coming toward my friend while we were crossing the street today, I instinctively stepped in front of the car, blocking her from harm. And I angrily stared down the driver of the vehicle, daring them to try to get through me to hurt her.

Life had hurt this girl enough as it was. Enough was enough. If someone had to be hurt in that moment, it was going to be me. She was not going to have to suffer something else on top of all she's already going through.

That amazed me. I never thought of myself as the type of person who stands up for justice or righteousness. But I did it. Right then. When the moment came, I did it.

And I'm awe-struck by that fact.

Do you, too, have something about yourself that you actually like and find positive? If so, list it in the comments below and tell us all about it.

Two Announcements:

1.) I will be integrating my diet change and cooking healthier alternatives into my schedule beginning Thursday, April 11th.
2.) I will begin jogging 3 days a week from now on, eventually moving myself to a 5 days a week regimen.

Thank you so much for listening if you did, and for taking the time to read this, even if you didn't listen. Have a good one and don't forget to get out there and do something!

Daily Stats:


  1. Exercised, stretched, meditated, and worked on my writing twice today. Jogging day #1.
  2. Wrote in my journal, kept on budget, and wrote a poem today.
  3. Posted on my blog. Video blog post of week DONE.
  4. Made my bed and cleaned my car out.