Gratitude # 58

Here’s a throw-back to my list of five things I’m grateful for:

1. I am grateful for another great batch of doughnuts. I added sugar to the recipe, which was successful. I also experimented with cream filling. Only one of my filled doughnuts pinched closed just right, but I’m sure practice will yield better results. I’m also going to have to experiment with the cream filling recipe, but it worked out well.
2. I am grateful that I’ve got a pot of chicken broth simmer on the stove. It’s so nice to take the scraps of chicken, some carrots, celery, onions, salt, peppercorns, and bay leaves and leave them to simmer on the stove while I’m enjoying some time in the living room with the family.
3. I am grateful for the reasonable night’s sleep I got last night. I managed to stay on my sides instead of rolling onto my back.
4. I am grateful to have a pajama day thanks to the cold front that just passed through. Sure, I played outside in weather like this as a little girl, but that doesn’t mean I feel like bundling everyone up to go outside.
5. I am grateful for a fairly nice weekend.


[Mindfulist] January 31st: Day of Mindfulness

I’ve gotten behind on my mindfulness posts, so I intend to catch up on them as part of my day of mindfulness. Once I have completed today’s writing, I plan to stay away from the computer as much as possible.

[January 27th] Strong Emotion: When a strong emotion arises, how do you respond?

When a strong emotion arises, I usually get lost within that particular emotion. The stronger an emotion is, it seems harder to avoid becoming trapped into the flow of the emotion. I tend to lose my ability to think rationally and logically, things which are quite important in controlling emotions. When emotions are strong, those moments are the most important moments in which to be rational and logical. I recommend following the link to Thich Nhat Hanh’s breathing exercise on The Mindfulist’s site. We could all use a little training in stopping, breathing, and separate ourselves from our emotions. I for one do not want to be overpowered by my emotions.

[January 28th] It will, it won’t: “Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” – James Baraz

Mr. Baraz, I applaud you. You see, this quote really speaks to me in that I can never seem to be fully in the moment. I believe I actually touched upon this yesterday in my gratitude post (or perhaps that was the day before). In any case, I’m always worried about the past — dwelling on things that I wish had been rather than what really happened, reliving past misfortunes, or even just longing to relive good memories. On the other hand, I also have a very big tendency to daydream about the future and all the hopeful opportunities it could bring. I could spend hours just wasting time dreaming of how it should be instead of living in the moment to actually make things become the way I’d like them to be. As part of my mindfulness practices, I’m trying to train myself to be in the moment.


[January 31st] Day of Mindfulness: Mindfulness in practice.

On , Gwen Bell shared the ten best posts from January 2010, including a piece by Rebecca Thorman called “Bloggers Are Not Writers.” Her points resonated within me in that I’m guilty of attempting to market myself — really now, look at my sidebar as evidence. PayPerPost? YouData? AdSense? A flippin’ PayPal donate button? Yes, I’m absolutely looking to fund my hobby. Yet I’m trying to become a writer, to transform a simple hobby into a fruitful career. I could ramble on and on about how her words dug into my skin like sharp puppy teeth, but I’m positive you’ll get the point once you read it. It really made me stop and think about how blogging reflects upon my writing as a whole.


Gratitude # 57

I’m grateful that I’ve beaten back my sinus headache. I woke up feeling a lot of pressure in my head, and it’s been hard to get going all day. I’ve been using the FlyLady concept of being able to do anything for 15 minutes. It really is amazing what you can get done in a 15 minute time span. I’ve also been trying to drown my headache with tea and water. I was thinking about trying to make soup, but I’ve let time get the better of me today. I’m grateful for the spices in my cabinet because I’m going to make some spicy chicken for dinner. The spices always help alleviate the pressure and congestion that comes with a sinus headache.

I’m also grateful for amazing graphic effects set to beautiful music.


Gratitude # 56

I’m grateful that it’s Friday. Friday nights are the best and result in the most satisfying sleep. I could sleep poorly and still be satisfied simply knowing I don’t have to rush out of bed in the morning. It’s been a very long week. I’m grateful that this mailing list project I insanely assigned myself should be off my back by Monday. The words and numbers are beginning to run together, the addresses all seem to be completely wrong now, and I’m feeling defeated by the list — even though I’m really on the home stretch. TGIF!


Gratitude # 55

I am grateful to be alive and well on this day. That might seem like I’m grasping at straws at first glance, but I assure you that is not the case. You see, a very important woman who works for the College of Engineering left work yesterday complaining of fatigue. She thought a hot shower and an early bedtime would right her wrong. That was unfortunately not the case. She didn’t show up to work this morning, so they called her to see what happened. The details escape me, but the end result was that she never woke up. They found her dead this morning and suspect it was a heart attack. Women, please be sure to read up on signs and symptoms of heart attacks in women as 70% of women who had heart attacks experienced unusual fatigue up to a month or more in advance of their heart attacks. It’s not necessarily going to be like what you see happening to men.

So today I’m grateful that I woke up this morning, dragged myself out of bed, and went to work. I’m grateful for every moment I’m getting to pay this game we call life.


Gratitude # 54

Facebook offers users the ability to become fans of people, places, and things. I’m sure you’ve been invited or recommended to join a page if you’re a Facebook user. Yesterday I was invited to join the Einstein Brother’s Bagels fan page with the promise of a coupon for a free bagel and schmear. I was skeptical about the validity of the coupon at the on campus Einstein Brother’s location — many of the chains on campus won’t honor the coupons. This morning, I decided to test it out, and I found out that they accept the coupons. So, I’m grateful for that free everything bagel with plain cream cheese. I do so love a good bakery fresh bagel. I miss New York City bagels as they’re absolutely the best ever.


Cease & Desist

I have recently issued a cease and desist notice to He Who Must Not Be Named and was blatantly ignored. I issued a secondary cease and desist to his web host and domain host as well. Seriously, why is it so hard to expect compliance? I don’t dabble in the same business as You Know Who does, therefore I want absolutely no associations to his websites whatsoever. I don’t appreciate the fact that he’s possibly negatively affecting my pagerank and potentially could bring harm to my website by referrer spamming it. It’s a lot of nonsense, and I’m publicly making the case for He Who Must Not Be Named to comply with my cease and desist request. I prefer not to go the legal route, but I will absolutely pursue an actions necessary to protect my work. I’ve held ownership of this website since 2003, and I refuse to let it all go to pot because of some random person on the internet wants to profit at my expense.


Mindfulness in Practice

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Stop listening to what everyone else is telling you and start listening to your heart. You have to believe in yourself and your abilities. A partnership will play an important role in your life. 3 stars

Today has been a Monday — to the point that I haven’t even really thought about Gratitude # 54 yet. Murphy’s Law seems to be in full force, and I’m just reacting, reacting, reacting. Remember my mindfulist post from yesterday? You know, my big five paragraph manifesto detailing ways in which to be more mindful? Well, I haven’t done so well today. I’m too busy listening to what everyone else is saying and doing (and living in the past, for that matter) instead of listening to what counts the most: me. I haven’t stopped to really assess things like I should be doing, and I’m feeling really negatively today. I started the day with a big to-do list, feeling like I would have no problems accomplishing each task. I was clearly wrong, but that doesn’t mean tomorrow won’t be a new day to get back to work on what matters most. That doesn’t mean I can’t salvage the rest of the day and believe that I can accomplish the most important things. I need to review my Mystory, particularly my emblem. Makenai!


[Mindfulist] January 24th

I missed yesterday’s prompt, so I’ll do that today. As for practicing a day of mindfulness, I’m practicing rather than writing. So here’s the prompt:

[January 24th] Science of the Mindful Brain: “The three foundational elements of mindfulness—objectivity, openness, and observation—create a tripod that stabilizes the mind’s attentional lens.” – Dan Siegel, MD

Wow. I’m glad I took on the Mindfulist prompts because it would seem this concept of mindfulness is going to tie directly into my pursuits to become the best Meredith I can be. I’m going to approach this as a sort of 5 paragraph essay, although my paragraphs won’t be anything worthy of the school writing tests that we either loved or hated — I personally preferred explanatory to persuasive as I’m better at explaining than I am at debating.

We think of objectivity versus subjectivity when we read the news, and we are also encouraged to be more objective when we are making decisions. If we are subjective, we are allowing our own personal bias to blur the true meaningsof what we see and hear. In terms of mindfulness, we can let our subjective thoughts — “What a fool I am, I should’ve known that” — rather than being objective — “Well, this is what I’ve learned.” I personally could benefit from being more mindfully objective because I have a very bad habit of negative self-talk. It will take a lot of mindfulness to sit down and retrain my brain, and I certainly don’t expect it to happen overnight. As with everything else becoming intertwined, this will be approached in a FlyLady “baby steps” sort of way.

Skipping to observation, we tend to make more observations about the latest celebrity gossip rather than making observations of our surroundings and our internal thought processes. Now, I do enjoy observing my surroundings as can be noted in earlier posts. However, I need to focus more on my internal thought processes and feelings. What triggers an emotional response? How do I react? What do my emotions cause me to think? While I won’t always be able to stop and be mindful right away, I intend to take baby steps towards stopping, paying attention to my thoughts and emotions, and taking notes whenever possible. Somehow writing things out always seems to assist me in processing my thoughts anyhow. Somehow things feel much more concrete when I’ve written them out on paper or typed them into some application or another.

I understand openness in this context to mean being open to ourselves to become more open to those around us. We need to be more open to the idea of becoming more mindful, to practice mindfulness. We must be more open to seeing all facets of a situation. A slice of bread may only have two sides, but it also has many pores. We must see the slice of bread for the pores where gas bubbles formed as a result of the yeast fermenting during the rising process. We must see the slice of bread for the ingredients that created it. We must see it for the nourishment it provides, for the symbolism it has served throughout time. It is not simply a slice of bread.

To become more mindful, I will be taking baby steps to become more objective in my thoughts, emotions, and actions. I will be open to all facets of life and everything in it. I will observe as much as I can about myself and my surroundings. I will stop to meditate upon these things and practice mindfulness to become a better person. Through these processes, I hope to become more mindful in all facets of my life, paying closer attention to how I function as a human being.


Gratitude # 53

I love weekends. I don’t need an alarm clock to rip me out of my nice, cozy bed. I don’t have to get going and out the door if I don’t want to. I get to spend time with my family. I get to do whatever I feel like doing — well, within the boundaries my kids set, that is. They come first, after all. Yesterday I finally decided to make a batch of doughnuts from scratch. I came to the conclusion that we’d eat doughnuts for our Sunday morning breakfast while I made pancakes after Brian got home from the store. (Yes, he got up super early to go to the store while me and the kids stayed home and slept in.) I made some pizza dough first since we needed to celebrate National Pie Day properly. Brian baked a caramel apple pie because apparently our problem areas aren’t having enough problems to begin with.

So I’ll bet you’re wondering about these home-made doughnuts. I cut Alton Brown’s doughnut recipe in half since I figured a yield of 20-25 doughnuts was way too much. I just wanted a dozen and some doughnut holes, which is exactly what the halved recipe yielded. I made some “normal” doughnuts — the kind with the hole in the middle — with chocolate coating (just melted chocolate with a bit of milk, really, but next time I’ll need cream to make it more of a ganache). I also made some raspberry jelly filled doughnuts covered in powdered sugar, making a ridiculous mess in the process of piping the jelly into them. Leave it to me to find a recipe that instructed me to pipe the filling in when most others confirmed that my idea of folding the dough over the jelly would’ve worked better. Live and learn, right? I also made some applesauce filled doughnuts with a cinnamon sugar coating. Next time I’ll do apple jelly instead, even though that experiment was alright. Hey, I’m a woman who likes to experiment with her food! Of course the little doughnut holes were fun. I forgot to save some to dip into the chocolate, but I preferred them with the cinnamon sugar coating. Next time I’ll have to figure out another storage method to keep them fresh and from getting soggy, and I’ll have to tweak the amount of sugar in the as they weren’t as sweet as we would’ve liked.

In the words of Homer Simpson, “mmm, doughnuts!”