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.


Life Changes

All things considered, I’ve finally realized my lack of writing can be forgiven. After all, there’s only so much time between the baby’s climbing escapades. There’s only so much time when all three kids are either napping or spending quiet time in their rooms. There’s only so much time left after I’ve devoted most of it to a seemingly fruitless job hunt. And on that subject, what does a woman have to do to get a job these days? Apparently it’s not as simple as it used to be — but of course, the job market is over-saturated with many of my other unemployed brethren. We’re all flailing about, hoping potential employers will see us for the shining stars that we are and choose one of us. Where there are jobs, there are also more qualified candidates. Where there are service jobs, there are high schoolers and college students ready and willing to work. Living in a college town, I find that job hunting needs to be timed just right, or else you’re out of luck for several months before the next round of hiring begins.

Lately the potential for a change of scenery has weighed heavily upon my mind. Each passing day brings more debt and less hope for salvation. Each day I realize more so that I may very well have to accept a serious change in living arrangements and lifestyle. We wouldn’t become homeless, no. However, we would be leaving the state. I realize in the past I have complained that I’m tired of living here, but I really wanted to leave Florida on my own terms. This is a little less on my terms. On the other hand, this could very well still be the opportunity I need in order to make the leap from someone’s employee to my own boss. I could potentially spin this into my chance to write for a living. I could put forth energy into my own business exploits because rent and utilities wouldn’t exactly be the issue they’ve been. Sure, I don’t intend to be a freeloader, but I don’t see any reason why I’d need to continue spending the same amount on my living expenses as I do now.

Time is running short, and the probability of an interstate move seems much higher these days. My writings may be spent more in private paper and pen format, rather than a public weblog format, but know I don’t mean to ignore my public writings. In fact, I’d love to devote more time to it, and I just might get that chance at the start of 2011. My goals for 2010 might be a wash, but that doesn’t mean a shiny new beginning couldn’t mean a chance for achieving goals and living dreams.


Mindful Monday: Unplanned Hiatus

I’ve become highly aware of my complacency to just let a week or two go by without a post, and I notice the increasing guilt I’ve felt as a result. I also realize I made many big goals for myself at the start of the year, only to realize they’ll suffer that stereotypical fate of most goals set around the onset of a new year. I found myself wondering how I could call myself a writer if I didn’t actually practice the craft — it’s not like I’m merely putting my efforts into another outlet, after all. Still, I’ve also been told that writing just to put something there isn’t always a good idea. I tend to write from the heart when I blog, honestly, so that would really make sense in that respect. It’s not methodical here. There are no outlines, no drafts, no drawn-0ut revisions. Instead, an idea hits me, my brain begins to process thoughts and words, and somehow I churn out between 200 and 800 words after any given post.

So the other day I read Gwen Bell’s post after a bit of her own hiatus, and I realized that perhaps the guilt is unfounded. Perhaps I’m merely treating this thing — this possibility to monetize my words and never have to leave my house to pay my bills — improperly. Perhaps I should be writing to write, to share the joys within my heart. To share the ideas I have. To simply share. Sure, a little money here and there would be nice, but at what cost? I already know there are those out there who frown upon some of the mediums I’ve been using as mediums that abuse the very writers whose words have so much more value than the mere pittances awarded to them. And why should it even be about that insufferable Google PageRank? It’s not about the quantity of visitors, really — it’s the quality. I’d like to say the quality of my visitors is quite nice at the moment.

Maybe I’ve been approaching my writing the wrong way for the past few months. Maybe it’s time to let go of the guilt, embrace the moments of creation, and go forward without looking back at past “failures.”


Schedule Deviation

Obviously, Thankful Thursday never happened. It just didn’t. To be honest, my day started with a time wasting orientation that served merely to give me a hint that I might get a little bit of job placement help, but basically it seems to receive unemployment you need to report back to Big Brother every so often. Good thing I’ve been keeping track of my job hunt just for my own personal use! So, I suppose we’ll see if it works out to my advantage or not — here’s hoping! Due to some sleep loss (one kid woke up crying thinking it was time to get up at 1am, had to get up early to go to previously said orientation), I was a bit cranky yesterday. Sure, I’ve got plenty of things to be grateful for — but it’s nothing I haven’t already rehashed here. Sometimes, my brain isn’t cooperative in terms of recycling material in a newer sounding fashion.

And you may have noticed that Foodie Friday’s not happening. Sorry, nothing good to share today. While I have found myself in the kitchen more often than I’d like to be in there, I haven’t really felt like staging things to take pictures. I haven’t felt like something was post worthy until well after the fact — when it’s just too late to go back and get pictures of the process.

Life can become a bit complicated when everyone wants a piece of Mommy/ Meredith’s time. I have a list of projects and some to-do lists scattered about my hard drive, and yet I find I have less and less time to really devote to them. Working on my own business? Nope, no time or motivation when I’m worried about following all the laws to the letter. I mean really, we live in a day and age when a grouchy neighbor can call the cops on little kids running a lemonade stand and get the law and their side! Without a food and beverage license, those kids are breaking the law — absolutely messed up, but absolutely, unfortunately true. So here I sit, wondering who’s watching what I do, just itching to report me the second I decide to take business before getting everything legit. It’s disheartening. I’d love to earn some extra money, but it’s true that you need to spend money to make money. Are my services taxable? I haven’t a clue — nothing concrete seems to exist within the realm of what I’d like to do. Some sources say yes; others say no. And if they’re taxable? I have the joys of estimating taxes. Are you kidding me? This is why Mom & Pop’s don’t work anymore. It’s truly a shame that the Land of Opportunity is no longer the land of opportunity.

I could sit here taking on the victim persona, whine and cry about how awful everything is, and generally wallow in misery. However, I know that it only serves to feed into that vicious cycle, and the best way to deal with it is to spin it into a positive. But sometimes? Sometimes it’s really hard to put a positive spin on a situation, especially when you stop, step back, view the bigger picture, piece together all the variables, and realize there’s a lot to be done in a short period of time. It’s hard to really stay upbeat and positive all of the time when times look bleak. Prospects are slim, standing out from the masses seems hopeless, and even networking appears to be falling just short of getting a foot in a door. The funny thing is that I can pretty much go back in time three years ago and apply most of these job hunting frustrations to that time period. Things did work out, I finally stood out of the crowd for the right position. It just takes time, determination, and perseverance.

Although I’m obligated to complete another round of sifting through job postings tomorrow, I think I might take a step back from the Internet over the weekend. I deserve a weekend away from it all. Sure, there won’t be any lovely beach excursions in my near future, but I certainly could use a little less electronic glow and a little more inner glow. Sunshine is optional — I’m not entirely certain the weather would cooperate with any outdoor plans.


Mindful Monday: Super Late

I’m well aware of the fact that I missed my Foodie Friday post, even though I had essentially come up with a couple of ideas to use for that post on Wednesday. No, I wasn’t going to regale you with a recipe and oodles of pictures. Actually I had planned on discussing season six of the Next Food Network Star (because DirecTV would/ will be slapping me with hefty penalties if I cancel any time in the near future, so it’s best to think of this as a short-term unemployment). I was going to toss in a picture or two of the extra special buns I made for dinner — I added a pinch of garlic, some sesame seeds, and some poppy seeds to the dough. (I had the seeds on hand from better times.) But some times even thinking ahead doesn’t always result in meeting goals, especially when a severe sleep deficit takes over as baby teeth make their seemingly excruciating exit from the gum line. Especially when life’s circumstances overwhelm the mind and soul and shove you into a rut. Especially when sometimes the only free moments entail grabbing a cup of water, hitting the bathroom, and maybe compulsively checking email for any signs of a “bite.” I’m pretty sure the last straw for me has been the lack of response from my one “sure fire fall back.” It’s rather disheartening to say the least, and downright soul crushing to say the most. I have no hard feelings against them, though, it’s just changes plans a bit.

I’m well aware of the fact that it looks like I’m prattling on with excuses for not meeting my schedule guidelines. To be honest? The schedule, while the days seem fine, doesn’t seem to hold up in terms of the time of day I post. The number of twitter users who find their way to my blog generally stays at zero regardless of what time I schedule my posts. The time is irrelevant to when facebook picks up my feed — the regulars will go through their feed and click the link regardless of what time my post actually hit their feed. So while another blog claimed 10am to 2pm was “prime time” for posting, I don’t necessarily think that matters. For my own terms, as long as I get that post out before midnight, it’s on time. I know my regulars are going to find their way here every time I post no matter what.

I’ve recently become more mindful of a marked change in my perspective on things in life. I realized that some sudden, unexpected events in life have given my incite into how my perspective changed over time, how I had become hardened to a lot of things, and how I had seemingly lost that spark I once had several years back. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve come to realize that there were various factors contributing to that hardened mindset. While I can’t say that I’ve completely done a 180, I’d say having the epiphany was a big step in the right direction. Even my husband has made the observation that I’m recovering that more optimistic than not outlook I once had. That sense of hope and determination I once had. And while I doubt the shine has fully returned, I think he’d tell me I never lost that in the first place — but he’s a biased party whose opinion is painted by love.

For some people, it’s all about keeping your eyes on the prize, but I have to say I’ve learned that it’s not the necessarily the best way of living life. At the start of this year, I might have thought so, but not after realizing that keeping your eyes on the prize means you’re not stopping to look at the scenery along your path. You do need to think more about the journey and less about the destination at times. Really, I’ve found that planning too far in advance can result in disappointment — sometimes serious disappointment. It’s all well and good to have some guidelines, but you’ve got to be a little more flexible to go with the flow. Yes, planning is wonderful, but contingency planning is even better. Taking the time to become a better person to better handle whatever obstacles land in your path is prudent. It’s not about getting past obstacles, it’s about how you handle them. The way we handle different circumstances speaks leaps and bounds about our character. I for one never want to be that person blaming the waitress for the cook’s mistake or worse, my bad day. I don’t want to be that person who people perceive as an arrogant, condescending cad. In the same regard, I don’t want to be viewed as the doormat — I had enough of that in middle and high school.

I can’t say I’m changing, but I can say that I’m listening. I’m paying attention. I’m determining what move to make next, what changes to implement. I looking at the big picture, I’m absorbing my surroundings and the lessons, and hopefully I can learn to relinquish some desire for control and relax a little bit more. After all, in this moment life isn’t as bad as it might seem.


Introducing Thankful Thursday

I’m very pleased to announce four theme days – Mindful Monday, Wordless Wednesday, Thankful Thursday, and Foodie Friday. Let me explain each topic.

Mindful Monday will be all about mindfulness. I will be discussing my practices with mindfulness, topics discussed on The Mindfulist, and ideas to be more mindful. Wordless Wednesday will be a single picture – no words. It’s fairly popular, actually. Thankful Thursday will essentially be the evolution of my gratitude series. And my favorite? Foodie Friday will encourage me to get into the kitchen to bring you glorious pictures of delicious food. It might not be anything like Smitten Kitchen or The Parsley Thief, but I do enjoy food.

I had several ideas for Tuesdays, but none of them really seem exciting. The most viable Tuesday theme was Taboo Tuesday, which would essentially be my day to discuss more serious topics – to treat this platform as my soap box. I may still instate that theme, but for now Tuesdays will be open. Perhaps Typical Tuesdays will work? Saturdays and Sundays are also open-ended. If I don’t have anything worthwhile to say, I probably just won’t post. However, I do need a set schedule in order to encourage myself to write and be creative. I’m looking forward to my posting schedule.

Moving onto today’s theme – gratitude – I’m very grateful to have come up with this schedule. I’ve been lacking in the creativity department lately, and it feels wonderful to finally get some creative ideas flowing again. When your livelihood is based off of creativity, it can be very stressful to loss that creative touch.