Mindful Monday: A Month of Processing

As January 2011 comes to a close, I’m pausing to reflect on the first month of this new year. I’ve spent most of this month internally processing all of life’s changes since the close of 2010. The Reverb 10 series gave me a lot of fodder to ruminate over 2010′s events and manifestations for 2011. I aspire to become an English consultant, a tutor, a freelance writer, an independent editormy own boss. My writing on this blog should reflect that goal clearly, in fact. I’ve been blogging professionally for over three years now, and in that time I’ve made friends, attempted to monetize, written sponsored posts, and devised a posting schedule. Mindful Mondays focus on my endeavors to be more mindful of my words, actions, psyche, and body. Wordless Wednesdays provide an outlet for my photography hobby. Thankful Thursdays became the new gratitude series, so that I could share my appreciation for all things big and small in life. Foodie Friday caters to my love of food. I’ve had to move due to a fire, as well as job loss. Over the past seven months, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on my desire to earn a living as my own employer. Money affords us the ability to provide for ourselves and our dependents — and I’m sure we all know by now that I really need an income to feel like my kids are going to live comfortably. I’ve been seriously considering finding a job — full time or part time — in order to feel like I’m doing my part, and yet I find that being home for them also has it’s perks. I mean, I wanted to spend more time with my family after all.

During this month, I’ve had the opportunity to discover what feeds my soul and what poisons it. I’ve had the time to seriously consider purging clutter that I really don’t want, need, or use anymore. The emotional attachments we form to seemingly silly objects is rather fascinating, and at the same time I understand how some people can horde a plethora of items. We project our memories onto inanimate objects in an attempt to remember our memories at a later date. Sure, the memory’s been made, but we don’t always remember to relish in those good memories — as a matter of fact, I doubt I’m alone in that I some times dwell on the not-so-nice memories more readily than the good. However, packing and unpacking has made me realize that I need to ask myself what I really want, need, and use in my life. Additionally, I’ve begun asking myself a lot of questions about the present and the future. I’ve brainstormed ideas for my blog, my business website, and a professional website (more details to come next month). I’m excited about the possibilities and cautious about the obstacles ahead. While 2010′s business hasn’t quite given up just yet, this year seems to have a glimmer of hope beginning to shine through.

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Reverb 10: Photo

Filed under: Reverb10 — Tags: , , , , , , — Meredith @ 1:46 pm January 24, 2011

12/25 Prompt: Photo – a present to yourself. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.

This is a picture of me with Junior at Chop Stix Cafe, taken on December 27th. It captures me as a loving mother, the kind of mother I want to my children to remember me as. Brian took it with his new camera — it was a gift from our friend that evening, actually. This picture reveals how attached I am to my family, how much I enjoy noodles, my fondness for tea, and just the essence of me. I wasn’t expecting him to snap this photo, but once I saw it I was certain it would be perfect for this prompt. I had worried about choosing the right photo beforehand.

Chop Stix Reverb 10

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Reverb 10: Final Batch

Filed under: Reverb10 — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Meredith @ 1:59 pm January 16, 2011

So, I read @whollyjeanne’s advice about writing the reverb10 posts, and I’m going to heed her words to send backlogged prompts out in a batch and not to write a book about them. Admittedly, I don’t quite have the photo I want for the photo prompt, so I suppose that’s just going to have to wait. Anyhow, on with the prompts….

12/24 Prompt: Everything’s OK. What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

I actually had a moment of that, although I cannot remember the date, time, etc. I had made mention of it to Brian, that I had a calm sense of being at peace with the impending move. During 2011, I intend to try and remember that I had a sense of peace with this change, knowing it was the right thing to do — even when I doubt it.

12/27 Prompt: Ordinary joy. Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?

Much like the previously stated “moment,” I really can’t remember one explicit time, place, etc. However, I can say that any moment in which the kids were all calm, getting along, and being unusually angelic provided me with ordinary joy. Any moment in which my husband and I enjoyed together doing anything or nothing at all provided me with ordinary joy. Ordinarily I can enjoy even the simplest of life’s pleasures, even in the toughest of times when it feels like the whole world wants to see me fail miserably.

12/29 Prompt: Defining moment. Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year.

It’s funny how a lot of these prompts essentially kept forcing me to reflect on the same painful memory that I’ve tried so hard to block out — getting fired. However, it really did define the rest of my year. The only other competitive moment was the moment in which I accepted that job in the first place. I never felt comfortable with that decision, and I do still beat myself up over ignoring my instincts.

12/30 Prompt: Gift. This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What’s the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year?

I was given the gift of more time. Time is a glorious thing.

12/31 Prompt: Core story. What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world? (Bonus: Consider your reflections from this month. Look through them to discover a thread you may not have noticed until today.)

What’s at the core of my story? Could it be struggles? Overcoming obstacles? Fighting through things? Learning lessons? I read through my reverb10 posts and remembered the pattern I began to see as I reflected upon 2010 — as well as life in general. I’m an emotion individual with strong convictions about life and how to live it. I can be incredibly hard-headed, even when I know it’s time to change course. In fact, it took me five months to realize I needed to let go and relocate. I don’t always give myself enough credit. I’m new school and old-fashioned all at the same time. I’m sentimental and enjoy traditions. I dream big. I set a lot of goals. I take on a lot of projects — self-assigned and otherwise. I can only be myself.

***

We’re already halfway through January 2011, and thus far I’ve been much more introspective than anything else. I believe that once I complete the chores and business I have with 2010′s lasting effects, I will move forward a little more lightened. I also suppose I will eventually get to that photo prompt, too.

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Reverb 10: Achieve

Prompt: Achieve. What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.

Now that I’m settled enough to get back to meditating and writing on these prompts, I’m choosing to respond in the order of which suits me best. Today I’m choosing the December 28th prompt by Tara Sophia Mohr. I spend so much time pondering the year ahead and all the opportunities it holds. Sure, the road ahead appears difficult, littered with obstacles and challenges that threaten to derail my efforts, yet I feel hopeful that I can harness the power to transfer misery into happiness.

What do I want most of all? What would I like to achieve? I want to become my own boss. No more clocking in, clocking out. No more worrying about waiting on payday. No more worrying about work-life balancing acts that always seem to lean more heavily into the work portion. Right now, I’m still feeling like this is a very scary endeavor I’m partaking, however I imagine I’m going to feel extremely accomplished and satisfied with myself and the lifestyle I make for myself by the end of this year. I imagine I will feel liberated and fulfilled. I imagine myself working with students and clients who enrich my soul and brighten my days. I imagine sitting here leisurely sipping the simple mocha — a packet of hot chocolate mix, a serving of instant coffee, and a mug full of hot water — or tea, feeling at peace with my life, knowing my bank account’s in the black thanks to my efforts. I imagine enjoying the sun shining through the windows, reminding me that I once felt despair and anguish that passed as seasons tend to do. I imagine feeling relieved that I can finally go forward with plans of home ownership once again.

So what 10 things can I do to feel that feeling today? What 10 things will further my cause, making this dream a reality?

  1. I can relish the mug of mocha I just finished sipping.
  2. I can look out the window at the late afternoon sun shining down on a chilly north-west Georgia landscape.
  3. I can continue unpacking boxes, moving items to their proper locations, and laying out furniture in a homey setup.
  4. I can advertise my tutoring services.
  5. I can work on my business websites to move them closer to unveiling.
  6. I can take a hot bath to relax my muscles and my mind.
  7. I can calendar deadlines and create tasks in my Thunderbird.
  8. I can drink my water to ensure I’m well hydrated.
  9. I can curl up on the couch to do nothing for a little while.
  10. I can meditate.

These are all relatively simple tasks that can make a humongous difference in my life at this point in time. I need to also remember that success doesn’t happen over night. It takes baby steps and perseverance. Here’s hoping that 2011 will bring me all I wish for and more!

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Reverb 10: Beyond Avoidance

Prompt: Beyond avoidance. What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)

Is it any surprise that I avoided writing a response to this prompt yesterday? If you couldn’t guess, I really should have been focused on my writing — more importantly, I should have been focused on my career as a writer. I should have been writing on an almost daily basis, regaling my readers with clever, thoughtful discourse. I should have been planning my next moves and plotting my course. I should have been focused on making the transition from employed to self-employed. I should have been true to myself.

Oh, there were distractions around every corner this year. It seemed like every time I stopped to look up, I was surrounded by other, more urgent tasks. Instead of spending more time in “quadrant two,” I was constantly in quadrant one. Other times, I felt so ridiculously burnt out that I’d flounder into quadrant four just because I didn’t feel like doing anything other than sudoku, crosswords, or checking up on friends. And who could blame me? I was feeling jaded. I felt embittered by years of grooming — almost like those words in high school about college making you poverty-proof was little more than brainwashing. (Disclaimer: Kids, don’t take the wrong message out of this — get your butts to college, study what you love, and get that expensive piece of paper anyway! It’s too damn important to pass up.)

I was terrified of leaving a day job to pursue my dreams. I worried about bills and keeping my family in a stable, secure environment. I also questioned if there really was a need for people like me. I’d find myself swamped with projects, typically of the OPD variety. Honestly? I’m an ISFJ, which basically means I suffer from “doormat syndrome.” It took that unpleasant life change back in July for me to be free from my duties to others (except for my immediate family, who I’m more than happy to support as they are part of the dream for me).

Over the past six months, I’ve had plenty of time to mull over the possibilities, and I’ve come to realize it’s not just about putting a roof over our heads or making ends meet. It’s about feeling productive, feeling creative, and feeling fulfilled. Walking around day in and day out feeling like you’re on autopilot might earn paychecks, but it sucks your soul right out of your body. My last two months of employment had next to nothing to offer my career, and it completely blew. I sat there some mornings trying to work up motivation to complete my six months there in order to have the opportunity to once again job search within the university. I didn’t want to be the little assistant who maintains calendars and processes expense reports — I wanted to be the writer, the editor, the person relishing in all the creative little tasks. Next year, I’m not going to settle for anything. Unless it contributes to my dreams, it’s not worth my time. Next year, it’s about becoming the writer, editor, consultant, and tutor I aspire to be. Next year, I’m taking control of my life and leaving out the middlemen who are mere go-betweens for me and the IRS. Hey, the IRS publishes all their forms online — why shouldn’t I go into business for myself? And have you seen what texting has done to our youth? People need me to undo the damage caused by texting. Literacy needs me to mend our broken lines of communication. Now is not the time to feel insignificant. Now is the time to seize opportunity while it’s still slapping me in the face, shaking my collar, and screaming at me, “why don’t you just accept me for what I am?!”

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Reverb 10: 5 Minutes

Filed under: Reverb10 — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Meredith @ 12:20 am December 16, 2010

Prompt: 5 minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.

Okay, so I may have cheated a bit — 5 minutes to write a post seemed grossly inadequate, though. In the same vein, I also don’t intend to fully share the memories I jotted down in my allotted 5 minute time frame. For the most part, I came up with a lot of family memories that I would like to remember for as long as possible. Birthdays, holidays, family gatherings — the typical. I already discussed my youngest’s first birthday.

This year’s Halloween wasn’t too shabby, actually. For the past few years, we haven’t had really good pickings when taking our kids door-to-door. People are either not home, don’t have candy, or pretend not to be home (yeah, be thankful I’m not teaching my kids about the trick part of “trick-or-treating”). As for our candy dish, we usually get left with a ridiculous amount of candy — and I like handing out candy I enjoy. You can guess what usually happens to our leftover candy stash. This year? We had a boatload of trick-or-treaters. Now mind you, I had quite a few who didn’t even bother to put on a costume, but the novelty of it earned them handfuls of candy. I was overjoyed to hand out most of my candy stash. The kids had a great time, too. Per our usual Halloween celebrations, we ate some “dirt cups” (crushed oreos, chocolate pudding, gummy worms) and other “ghoulish” treats. Our little baby “Yoda” had a blast celebrating his first Halloween, too.

As for the rest of the memories I’ve chosen, know that these are memories that remind me that my life is enriched by wonderful people. Situations might seem dismal, but it’s the people in our lives who make it worth living through. As for my input on the halfway point of Reverb 10? I’m noticing recurring themes of time, family, silver linings, gratitude, opportunity, and dreaming big.

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Reverb 10: Body Integration

Prompt: Body integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

At first glance, I both knew the answer and denied knowing a possible answer. A very specific moment came to mind, and upon further reflection I know it’s the exact moment this year in which I felt as though my mind and body were quite cohesive. It was July 1st when I got fired. I refuse to describe the thoughts and emotions, the words and people present — it’s far too emotional and intimate. I don’t think I’ve even described exactly how I felt to my husband because the gravity of the situation is so incredible. However, I do realize that moment of cohesion has set the tone for the second half of my 2010. This prompt has given me the opportunity to explore my feelings and my current state of being.

You’ll recall I was anxious about accepting that job offer in the first place. Something nagged at me. Don’t take it. Don’t accept it. You can do better. Of course, somehow the general negativity that pervades our society can drag you down right along with everyone else. You listen to what other people say about how this other person did this and that. You determine your self-worth based on others. You compare yourself to others every day. And that’s just the problem. Okay, so some other person has x amount of years more experience than I do. Should that matter as far as I’m worth? Not a chance. What she’s done is what she’s done. What I’ve done is separate from her. Therefore, I should worry less about what everyone else thinks and more about what I think. I apparently have a good intuition.

I also realized that I had strayed from my path. Call it divine intervention. Call it coincidence. Call it chance. Regardless, I’ve noticed a pattern in my life in which I experience setbacks if I’ve strayed from my calling. For years and years I struggled to fulfill a destiny that wasn’t mine to be had. There were signs along the way that I didn’t understand. I remember as far back as 9th grade, when I devoted my Saturdays to volunteering at an animal hospital. I did this for experience and volunteer credit. I wanted to get my foot in the door, to shadow those in the position I thought I would someday hold. Due to age concerns, I wasn’t hired on. I watched as some people who really just needed a job — any job — got the job I coveted. I thought it was unfair. Really though, they needed the money whereas I just wanted the official title on my resume. Still, I couldn’t get the job. I noticed my inability to comprehend the equations in Chemistry. Foolishly, I figured it wasn’t that important if I was still about to make a B in the class. I think I would have realized the severity of my situation if the teacher placed more emphasis on the equations. I would have realized Chemistry isn’t necessarily all about knowing how many protons and neurons are in each atom. I would have realized it had nothing to do with making a food model of an atom, either. Unfortunately, another sign went unheeded.

Fast forward to college graduation. Jobs that didn’t further my personal agenda didn’t seem to work out. I was too far away (I applied out of state with the grandiose idea that I became much more valuable with that expensive piece of paper). I was entry level. I wasn’t experienced. I took a job because I needed the money. I lead to a career path in finance. That wasn’t what I wanted. My next job provided me opportunities to expand my knowledge and socialize with students of all sorts of backgrounds. It wasn’t a permanent place to be, but it was a great place to gain perspective. While the nearly two month foray into full-blown secretarial work — because, let’s face it, I gained nothing in terms of my editorial pursuits while there — seemed promising financially, it was ultimately not meant to be. It’s not what I want to do. It’s not my path. Of course it wasn’t going to work out. Remember that pattern?

I feel so much more rewarded when I’m working with words. I feel rewarded when I help students. I feel rewarded when I help others publish the best works they can. In turn, I feel much more rewarded when I have the leisure to spend time with my family. Nothing beats watching them learn and grow. I wouldn’t trade my family for any amount of recognition. Keep your six figure salaries and fancy titles — I don’t need the headache and responsibility that comes with it. I work to live, not the other way around. I absolutely refuse to let the people who live to work convince me that my way is wrong. Unless you’re walking my path, you couldn’t possibly compare your way to  my way. Besides, I have items on my life list that won’t get done if I’m tethered to someone else working on their agenda.

Incidentally, I had another sign today assure me that I’m heading on the right path. I’m a little more mindful of these things nowadays…

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Reverb 10: Party

Filed under: Reverb10 — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Meredith @ 10:27 pm December 9, 2010

Prompt: Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

The party of the year occurred on November 6th and 7th. We celebrated Junior’s 1st birthday that weekend. Day 1 we spent with family; day 2 we partied with friends.

Day 1: My grandparents came to visit. I baked homemade pepperoni pizzas. The kids enjoyed chocolate milk, while the adults drank soda. After pizza, we let the guest of honor open presents. He did quite well compared to his older siblings, seemingly knowing what to do with little prompting. The clothes worn matter little when compared to the cake worn by the birthday boy. We spring for Publix cakes when we celebrate our children’s birthdays. Honestly, I’m not skilled at decorating cakes, and it’s just as much a present to the kids as any other gift they receive. Now, Publix offers complementary “smash cakes” with the purchase of a first birthday cake. The idea behind a smash cake is fairly simple — you have a small round cake that you put in front of the baby, who then proceeds to smash it to bits. Junior, a boy who loves to play with his food, dove right in for a delicious first taste of chocolate cake. By the time he was finished, nearly half the cake had been decimated. Cake coated the table and high chair. It covered his face, bib, and clothing. Chunks lay on the floor, chocolaty reminders of the excitement experienced by a little boy celebrating his very first birthday. I can’t say that my grandparents appreciated the messy show of amusement, but my husband and older children giggled with delight.

Day 2: My friend who served as my doula at Junior’s birth brought her three children over to play and eat cake. For about an hour, the children played with cars and legos. The girls played dress up. The birthday boy marveled over the baby, who was a mere two months away from her own birth at the time of Junior’s birth. Then, there was more cake, chocolate milk, and soda. We had saved the remaining half of cake for more demolition the next day, so we brought that back out. Again, my sweet baby boy poked, grabbed, and devoured handfuls of chocolate cake. Apparently, we inspired my friend’s oldest son — he said he wants a smash cake at his next birthday!

Overall, Junior’s birthday was the most fun party of the year. There’s just nothing like watching a baby complete his first full year of life with a cake to celebrate.

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Reverb 10: Wonder

Filed under: Reverb10 — Tags: , , , — Meredith @ 12:55 am December 5, 2010

Prompt: Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

So far, I’m finding these prompts to be a little difficult, but today’s prompt just raised that bar about 100 feet into the air. How did I cultivate a sense of wonder in my life this year? I really couldn’t say — I doubt I really made a conscious effort to do so, therefore I really haven’t the slightest clue as to how I could have possibly done such a thing. So in order to further understand the meaning of this prompt, I took to Twitter to see what others have said. I checked what fellow reverbers who’ve commented on my posts had to say on the subject. Luckily, Kristen of Media Tinker wrote some very helpful statements that made me realize I’ve been subconsciously cultivating wonder throughout the entire year.

I’ve been paying closer attention to the milestones, the accomplishments that my children seem to pass so quickly. Particularly, I notice with wonderment that my youngest — my baby — is growing into his very own little personality. He’s got quite a strong personality already, actually. He’s shy around people he’s not familiar with, but around our nuclear family he’s quite the little clown. He’s recently taken to initiating games of peek-a-boo by hiding himself then popping up and shouting “BOO!” I stop in amazement to reflect on how much he’s grown over the past year of his life. Then I reflect on how my daughter’s becoming such an advanced little girl. No longer are the days of babbling and toddling. She’s very eloquent and holds some very interesting conversations. And my oldest? Oh my. One day a few months ago, I looked at his hands and realized he’s got little boy hands. They’re not baby hands. They’re not toddler hands. No, they’re not even preschooler hands. They are little boy hands. The type of hands that play with dirt and mud. They type of hands that speed toy cars around in circles, crashing into each other and all things in between. They type of hands that scream, “I’m a boy!” His facial structure has become more defined as an older child. The baby face is gone. Sure, he’s still the same old button pusher he’s always been, but he’s quite obviously more advanced in his boundary testing these days. When sent to his room for causing trouble, he storms away quickly, pouting and muttering, sometimes slamming the door. I think the first time that happens, I kind of giggled quietly, realizing that he’s growing into his own individuality. It’s become less funny, just as new habits and achievements tend to do.

Ever notice how we marvel over babies learning to walk and talk, yet we take for granted our own walking and talking skills? That thought always crosses my mind when thinking about how my children have been growing. I wonder when it’ll become the norm and loss the novelty. I wonder what new and exciting challenges they will overcome. I wonder if I will revert to a state of helplessness eventually in my lifetime. It really makes me appreciate all that I’m capable of doing that much more.

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Offering An Apology

Filed under: Unscheduled — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Meredith @ 10:17 pm September 12, 2010

I have to admit, I’ve thought of good material to write about, and yet I can’t see to find the time to sit still for a long enough chunk of time in order to write it all out. Something’s always coming up and taking priority over my writing, and I know that I should and could make a little more effort to sit and write. However, these days my spare time seems to be going more towards job hunting and resting if I can. The baby’s returned to his former night owl ways, and it’s been very difficult to get him back on track. He’s certainly got a strong personality, that’s for sure!

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