Holidays, Anticipation and The Joy of Making Plans

In four days my family and I are heading away to Vietnam. We are all so excited, it is a big trip for us as a family. It has been brewing for several years, and has been many months in the planning. Some families go overseas regularly, like it’s no big deal. Not us. Nope. Air travel (even to Queensland) is a big deal. I’m happy with this. I consider this a gift that I am giving my children.

I didn’t go on a plane for the first time till I was 19. Yep, you read it right. I was 19 and I flew to the Gold Coast. So the novelty of getting in to aeroplane and heading off someone so completely out of reach is so thrilling for me, even now. I want that for my kids too. So, while travel is a huge gift, so is a life time of it not being ordinary.

In a way, something like this puts me a in a state of flux, simply because it’s so big and it crowds out everything else. So now that it is only days away, of course I am wild with excitement, not just for the heat, the food, the smell of the unfamiliar, but also for the delight of anticipation for after. For home coming, and settling.

I think that cycle of planing, anticipation, arrival, experience then beginning again is renewing, and energising. It’s just so good to make plans. Even when they unfold differently to how you imagine, it’s always a growth experience.

But as I check and recheck my to-do list for Vietnam my mind is already moving in to future plans, for when we are home. So I thought I’d share a few things I’d like to do when we get home:

Make a Commitment to Meditation – I’ve downloaded ‘Insight Timer’ and am ready to go. I was interviewing a beautifully inspiring woman on mindfulness recently and she quoted Rumi to me:

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing

and rightdoing there is a field.

I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass

the world is too full to talk about.”

She said the field that Rumi speaks of, for her, is meditation. This had such an incredible impact on me. I’ve written about meditation for work many times, so I’ve read all the research on the benefits of meditation. My husband meditates every day and is a walking advertisement for the benefits of it – he is peaceful, calm, and generous of spirit. My father is a life-long meditator, who knows me well and continuously tells me that my personality needs meditation.

But it was the poetry and the metaphor for meditation that truly spoke to me. It moved something in me; so much more than any compelling scientific research on meditation ever did. That field sounds like a worthy place to visit, and this lady showed me how to get there. It’s up to me to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snail Mail – I am going to write more letters and post them. To strangers, and to people I know. I follow a gorgeous blog call Naomi Loves, which has it’s focus on what Naomi describes as the Snail Mail Revolution. If I am going to be involved in a revolution, it must a gentle revolution; so I think snail mail fits the bill. She paints beautiful pictures on envelopes and writing paper and posts them out to people she doesn’t know. I just adore the whimsy that this embodies and I’d love to be a part of it.

Naomi also subscribes to slow living, which is a permanent work in progress for me. But having been involved with The 100 Day Project, I’ve learnt that daily art is the perfect antidote to our manic modern lives. Regular creativity, combined with a sharing mindset, seeking community and connection can only be a happy positive way to spend one’s time.

Getting a Grip on Our Finances – Of late I am moving from a mindset of scarcity, to one of abundance. When I say scarcity I mean that I always feel like we need to earn more cash, but in truth, we have have what we need, we don’t need more.

Don’t get me wrong, it is definitely a work in progress. But I am recognising that the mad scramble for dollars that punctuates our every day, almost our every moment, is a ruse. We don’t need to do this. In fact we need very little, and most of us live with such abundance we don’t even realise how much we are wasting.

So I am going to re-do our budget, get a grip on the actual expenses of living our life, scrap what we don’t need and focus on less waste. Shifting the focus to less waste rather than getting more money makes so much sense to me. Because that spiral of more money really just means more waste. There is only so much we humans need.

The Garden – Just on that, part of aiming for less waste means getting back to basics. My husband grows food every season, I can’t claim any of it. But I want to be part of it – I want all of our family to be part of it. When children understand the cycle of growth, where their food comes from, the energy and resources that go into growing it, it is a knowledge base that will inform all aspects of their lives.

So while all of these plans and the associated anticipation of carrying them out, is quite delicious, I’ve got a holiday to go on first! I’ll be back at the end of July.

I’d love to hear of your plans for the second half of the year. 

What I learnt From A Walk In the Rain

DSC_0015Yesterday, for the first time in what feels like forever, the sun came out. It came out and it shined down on us all day. We were all tricked by the winter, loaded up with coats, scarves and jumpers. Then found ourselves peeling off layers, not even the breeze was cold. People were smiling rather than gritting their teeth against the bite of the air. The boys playing footy were leaping around, having fun, rather than turning purple from cold. Mother nature never fails to surprise and delight. [Read more…]

10 Ways to Banish the Overwhelm

I drew this when I was feeling emotionally overwhelmed. It soothed.

I drew this when I was feeling emotionally overwhelmed. It helped me escape and soothed my pain.

 

Never before have we lived such comfortable and affluent lives. Australia has the third highest average wealth in the world, behind Switzerland and Norway.  We make up 0.36% of the world’s adult population but account for 3.78% of the world’s top 1% of wealthiest people. (source)

But this comes at a cost, on many levels. The African proverb ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ still remains, yet the village has gone. Everyone is out working, or taking their kids to gymnastics, swimming, athletics, scouts, karate, football, cricket. Or volunteering in the class room, on the sports pitch or up at the school. Or preparing for dinner guests, kids parties family get togethers…it never ends.

There’s no doubt we have very full lives. Often too full. So full, in fact that many of us feel that our day to day lives have become an avalanche of events and we are like a pack of hounds chasing our tails in a frenzy of FOMO confusion. (FOMO, for those who don’t know, is an acronym for Fear Of Missing Out). [Read more…]

Sometimes Quitting Can Be Glorious!

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(Image via Pinterest)

Life’s been a little bit hard of late. We all go through cycles where things get a bit tough and the cogs of life grind very slowly. That’s me at the moment, mainly due to my youngest daughter’s night time shenanigans; but that’s a whole other story.

So at the moment, I’ve been focusing on the basics. Just showing up, really. Making sure my kids show up (hopefully fed, clothed and clean). I also try for this (the clothed one is my priority – obviously). But when you’re sleep deprived for an extended period, anything but the basics is hugely taxing. It doesn’t help that when we returned from our trip I was energised, motivated and ready to go. With lots of plans and goals and six weeks in…well, life had other plans for me.

Fortunately, I recognise that this is just a blip. But there’s nothing like plans that fall by the wayside to leave your morale sagging a bit. I posted recently about the stress of meditation and how I berated myself for not establishing a regular practice.The same goes for all my other little projects. I see the pile of books that I have set aside for research, untouched. A list of ideas that I haven’t been able to develop, which keep popping up each time I open my notebook. Even leisure activities, a pile of magazines unread, webpages tagged and never revisited.

So this week, when I read Sarah Kathleen Peck’s article ‘Why Quitting is ok’ –  I felt vindicated and absolutely light-footed because of it. The article got me thinking about success and failure, but also the cycles that play out in our lives. A full life is a fluid life that weaves in and out of different phases; both good and bad. This is an honest life, lived well. But to berate ones self for this fluidity can be fool-hardy. To be restricted by the success/failure binary is not helpful to anyone, least of all our lovely selves.

So after reading Peck’s article on quitting, I took it one step further and decided that I don’t even need to say ‘I’m quitting’. I’ll just quietly move on if the peaks and troughs of life require it, and when those peaks and troughs permit, I’ll come back to what ever it is I’ve put on pause. That way, there is no pre-determined outcome. I can go back when I feel like it, if I don’t ever feel like going back to said activity, project, goal then so be it. It has served it’s purpose in my life.

Coming back to Arianna Huffington, (as I tend to do) she explained in Thrive that abandoning learning German, learning to ski, or other such extra-curricular activities was freeing to her. Striking it off her agenda meant she could walk away and move on. So finding your own way to let go (including letting go of the angst that comes with letting go) is a significant way to make your every day life a little bit easier, and quite a bit happier.

Lets face it, sometimes life can get hard; just showing up is hard. So letting go of the peripherals that make it hard is just one step towards making it easier.

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A Digital Detox? Spare Me! I Have Bigger Plans Than That…

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(Image via Pinterest)

It’s about half way through the 21 Day Meditation Experience. Today is Day 10, I’m on Day 8.Yes, that is a confession – I missed last Thursday and Friday. But I had already made the decision not to be hard on myself if I did miss a day, as that defeats the purpose of meditating in the first place. So I’ve just picked up where I left off and it was so much easier to continue on when I didn’t have his negative self-talk going on.

But missing two days got me thinking. Last Thursday and Friday I did manage to check my emails. I also managed to look at Facebook (more than once, on both days), I think I also managed a glimpse at Instagram, so why did I not find the time to meditate?

Arianna Huffington, in Thrive, talks about a study done by James Roberts and Stephen Pirog on technological addiction. According to this study we check our phones 150 times a day, which averaged out to checking it every six minutes. Now I don’t think I’m as bad as all that, but it was a statistic that left me reeling. I immediately thought ‘so if we are so distracted by our phones, what other projects, hobbies, people, are suffering because of this lack of complete engagement?’

Light bulb moment! Ahhhh, that would be my meditation practice – for one. There is also a pile of new novels sitting by my bed (they’ve been there for more than a year), so yes, reading for pleasure is another. More importantly, I confess, shamefacedly, my children have suffered because of this. (Don’t judge me, please!) It is not uncommon for my poor children to have to repeat what they have said to me two, sometimes three times before I comprehend because I’m distracted by my iPad. Linda Stone  coined the term ‘continuous partial attention’, the concept both shocked and resonated with me.

But the battle is not a personal one. I’m not a disengaged person – in fact, the opposite, I’d describe myself as an extrovert. I feed off the company of others, I love conversation, but we are fighting a global battle against the rather crude FOMO! For those of you who don’t know what this is, it is a Fear Of Missing Out. But our fabulously modern age perpetuates this – there is an undercurrent of fear that something might happen and you won’t witness it. It is completely irrational, but nonetheless, it is there.

But worse than that, oh the pain… when you realise you have missed something! Because there it is, on Facebook, unfolding before your very eyes, and you are stuck at home!!

The FOMO in all of us, realise it or not, has left us in a permanently elevated state of anxiety – hence the compulsive checking of social media and use of technology. Arianna Huffington explains that technology ‘crowds out the time and energy we have for real human connection’. It is affecting our ability to connect with real people and have real and meaningful interactions.

The downside to continuous partial attention is myriad and worthy of an entire separate post, but I am just considering a fraction of its negatives and I am going to attempt to do something about it.

I hate the term ‘digital detox’ because it suggests that just taking a break from technology will fix things. And then you can switch everything back on and ‘retox’. It suggests that we live in desperate deprivation of our technology, only to be counting the days till we can switch back on. But I’d like to reset my patten of engaging with technology.

I’ve read suggestions to check social media for just one hour a day, but applying these limitations only makes me edgier in my hour ‘on’, then more desperate to get back on for a sneaky ‘Facebook binge’ in the evening.

So I am switching off everyday, at 6pm, for a month. The plan is that it will reset my neural pathways and then if I want to look at social media after 6pm (after my month of retraining), I can do it without angst or guilt. I’m hoping I won’t be that interested; I’ll be too busy meditating.

Have you retrained your neural pathways regarding your use of technology? I’ll report back in a month and let you know how things changed for me.