#Cultivate2012 Time

Time: Time is a valuable resource. Did you spend your time wisely this year? What can you do to cultivate more quality in your time during 2013?

Looking back on my time during 2012, I know I took the time to make necessary life changes that have given me a better quality of life. I didn’t spend every waking moment in the best ways possible, but I did think more carefully about my choices when I did. I made time for fun and recreation, too.

During 2013, I can choose to work around my variable schedules. I’ve done well enough to manage the basics this year — now I need to add in other activities. On some days, I need to focus more on my sleep, my marriage, and my children when the work day is over. Other days I’ll have more time to add in gentle movement. On days off, I shouldn’t waste my time sitting around being lazy. I will be more mindful of how I’m spending my time. And if I feel like sitting around being lazy, I’ll take that as my cue for a nap. I don’t need to stare at a screen when my body craves closed eyelids.


#Reverb11: Time

Time: Time is a valuable resource. Did you spend 2011 wisely? What can you do to maximize your time during 2012?

Many memories of 2011 lead me to feel like I didn’t spend most of my year wisely. I missed many opportunities, but I think that towards the second half of the year I began to realize that I had opportunities where I hadn’t seen them before. And while I lost time that I can never get back, the lessons of those moments weren’t lost on me. Those moments taught me to see the possibilities in even the most desperate of times. It’s because of those “wasted” moments that I’ve developed ways to maximize my time.

In 2012, I plan to spend a lot more time conjuring ways in which to reach my goals. I plan to schedule more family outings — and naps! I plan to stop saying “I should” and starting doing. If I should post fliers, then I will post fliers. If I should write, then I will write. If I should, I will. If I don’t do it, I’m only hurting myself. I plan to visit my favorite little sanctuary to spend more time reading, writing, and living the dream. I can maximize my time if I simply manage myself and my time better. No more whining about The Man Trying to Keep Me Down. No more whining that there isn’t enough time. No more whining and wasting away the relatively short amount of time I have to enjoy this life. Now is the time to make my dreams come true — forget those circles of mints! I will not haste any longer!


[Monday Meditations] The Value of Time

Over the past few years I’ve become very conscious of time. I got a fortune cookie once that said: “Minutes are worth more than money. Spend them wisely.” I absolutely believe in spending my minutes wisely. I get rather annoyed when I feel that someone or something is wasting my time — it’s akin to stealing in my book. What’s worse is that you’re not stealing something I can replace. We can never get back time once we’ve spent it. This is why I value my time.

As I write this post today, I’m very aware that I have less than a hour before I want this to publish. I know I have about two and a half hours to finish my morning and go to work. In between thought processes, I’m working on other tasks to make the best use of my time. I see little point in staring blankly at the screen as my mind draws blanks. And at this very moment, I realize that no more words need to be written because my point has been made very clear…

Time is too precious to waste.


Mindful Monday: Digital Sabbaticals

Recently I’ve been noticing a pattern of escapist activity permeating my daily routine. As such, I had begun considering a digital sabbatical — and when Gwen Bell asked for feedback about digital sabbaticals, I knew it was time to get serious. She asked several key questions:

Describe the moment at which you decided you needed to unplug.
In the past, I have taken a few weekend sabbaticals because I was tired of wasting time on the Internet on my days off of work. I wanted to enhance the quality of my time and get a break from the glowing screen. Now, I’ve got way too much noise — digital and otherwise — in my life at the moment. I plug in, and I’m assaulting with all sorts of noise. Some of the noise is good, some of the noise is bad, and some of the noise is just noise. Sometimes, the digital noise serves as a means to escape the real life noise. Shutting off the digital noise will give me time to sort through offline noise — and to find ways to minimize or better manage it.

How long were you unplugged?
Previously, I only unplugged for two to three days at a time. When I say “a weekend sabbatical,” I absolutely mean it was a weekend deal. I’m considering a full week this time around — I really don’t feel comfortable going longer than seven days at this given point in time, and I feel that seven days should be sufficient for me to get my head straight.

Were there moments you cheated?
Oh, definitely! The first digital sabbatical I took, I popped into my Gmail because I was expecting an email from my mother. I didn’t plan to answer it, but I wanted to read it before the weekend was over. I think I also snuck onto Facebook to respond to a private message — but I didn’t scroll through my feed. Also, I still signed in to complete my daily online sudoku and crossword puzzles — I treated those the way I would have treated their printed newspaper versions.

Who supported you during your digital sabbatical?
Basically, my husband was my support. I wasn’t taking the sabbatical for anyone other than my husband and kids, and the kids weren’t particularly conscious of their indirect support. My husband, however, knew I was intending to stay offline and provided encouragement.

What do you wish you’d done differently during the sabbatical?
I wish I’d been completely faithful and stayed out of my inbox. Trust me when I say that during this seven day sabbatical I have no intentions of entering my inbox. When I say it’s been too noisy, I absolutely mean it. Really, I can’t go outside without being bombarded by noise. The current cicada invasion can get rather loud, in fact.

Will you take another one? Why?
I’m planning one within the next few days because I’ve become far too dependent upon digital activities to fill my day. However, said activities aren’t producing results — said activities only serve to distract me and waste my precious time. Each rabbit hole adds to my internal thought processes, and much like a computer I’m beginning to run sluggish with all my running processes.

What surprised you most about unplugging?
Actually, it was like going through withdrawals from any other addiction (or at least, from what I’ve read — my vice of choice is chocolate, I can stop any time I want, but I simply choose not to). After a day, though, it was much easier than I expected.

What insights did you gain about yourself by taking a digital sabbatical?
Honestly, I didn’t gain any of insights I didn’t already know — I already knew back in 2004 that I have an Internet addiction. This was before Twitter. This was when Facebook was so exclusive, not every university or college was available on it yet. You definitely needed a .edu email address in order to sign up. This was when LiveJournal was still all the rage (actually, it was one of my time suckers). I do notice my habits and patterns, but the Internet itself is a useful tool. I just need to moderate myself better. I can’t spend hours on end researching and reading about a subject that fascinates me, nor can I spend hours on end socializing via binary. There are walks to be taken, sunshine to be absorbed, dreams to be dreamt, water to be drunk, books to be read, and all sorts of wonderful offline activities in which to partake.

Expect an announcement within the next few days — of course, it may not be much different to my blog readers, but my friends list and Twitter followers will definitely notice my absence.


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.


Reverb 10: Final Batch

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.


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!


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?!”


Reverb 10: 5 Minutes

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.


Reverb 10: Appreciate

Prompt: Appreciate. What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

If you’re a follower of my blog, you know I’m no stranger to gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation. I think it’s incredibly important for everyone to reflect on all the reasons they have to be thankful and grateful in life. From the tiniest to the most impactful, we have so much to appreciate. Yet when I first read today’s Reverb 10 prompt, I locked up — one thing? Just one? I had to stop and meditate on the prompt, which is the point of this series after all. So, I picked up a good old fashioned pen and a notepad to jot down thoughts as they came to me. I don’t believe enough people value brainstorming nearly as much as they should. Oh! That’s a good one… and I’d scribble notes hurriedly. Then finally, I had an “aha!” moment. The one thing I’ve come to appreciate the most in this past year: T.I.M.E. Really, it ties together just about every single thing — big to small — that I’m grateful for.

I’ve tracked how I spend my time with a goal of managing myself better within the confines of a 24 hour day. I watched as time seemed to fly by me at an exponential rate. I’ve also stopped to realize that my youth has begun to wane. A few gray hairs have sprouted on my head. Fine lines show that I smile with my whole face, that I think quite a bit. My oldest no longer retains any “baby” qualities — in fact, he looks entirely like a little boy. My daughter, who still felt like my baby at the start of the year, has grown quite a vocabulary and become rather adept. And that sweet baby boy who I fought so hard to give the very best start? He’s only a baby by the technicality of the term. Otherwise? He should more appropriately be considered a toddler. He strings together two to three words. He’s completely mobile — in fact, I’ll bet he’d climb down the stairs if we gave him the opportunity. Then in a week from today, Brian and I will have known each other for ten years. Ten years! An entire decade! Where is time going? Why is it going by so fast? And why do I feel like I should be doing so much more with what little time I have, relatively speaking?

I think this year has been about time and meditating on what I’d really like to be doing with mine. I’d rather do things that bring me joy. In fact, in the past few months I’ve been given the opportunity to reflect on what I’d prefer to do. I’ve had the opportunity to choose what I’d like to do and when. While of course there are constraints to just about everything, I’ve had the leisure to start my day when I’m ready. To sip tea while reading my usual morning reads. To make breakfast for my family and snuggle with the kids. I’ve had the opportunity to contemplate my career path and where I’d like to go next. I’ve been given a gift this year — the gift of more time for me to spend as I choose.

I’ve spent time doing trivial matters, such as watching TV. Earlier this year the Cooking Channel went live, followed by the premiere of the Next Food Network Star, season six. The time spent watching select programming led to some creativity in the kitchen. I enjoy cooking and baking, and I’ve enjoyed learning new ideas to incorporate into my repertoire. Additionally, I’ve had the blessing to interact with Aarti Sequera and Herb Mesa. Did you know Aarti is more than great Indian food? I recommend checking out her blog. And oh, Nadia G — serious inspiration for someone who wants to make something out of herself through this intangible thing called the World Wide Web. I don’t necessarily want to get my own TV show or become super famous, but I do want to achieve success. And I certainly don’t want to “pretend to look for work on Craigslist.” (Best. Line. EVER!)

Oh, but it doesn’t stop at foodie inspiration. No, sir. Something old was made new again, ala Dragon Ball Z Kai. Yes, that’s right. I’m one of those people. You couldn’t possibly have been oblivious to my anime-loving ways, though — sailorscorpio.com? As in Sailor Scorpio? As in I once wrote trite Sailor Moon fanfiction? I maintained a minimal boundary from the dreaded “mary sue,” but my goodness… I’m slightly embarrassed of myself. 😉 However, my husband and I bonded over our love of anime — hence why I feel compelled to mention its impact on my time this year. I’ve come to realize that I don’t enjoy nearly enough anime, and that was mostly due in part to my time spent working for someone else. Of course, it’s also because I’ve found most anime is now socially irrelevant to me. High schoolers? I’m keeping my ear to the ground for a ten year high school reunion! That’s how irrelevant most anime is to me. Anyhow, I have enjoyed watching DBZ Kai, even if it’s dubbed. Even if it’s been censored. Actually, I don’t believe I’d have been okay with my eight-year-old watching it had it not been censored. The uncut version does feature rather gratuitous violence, after all.

I don’t believe enough people spend time doing things they enjoy. I certainly don’t think our society allows for us to do so, either. Most employers only give you a measly two weeks to recharge before expecting you to grind yourself into dust for another 50 years. And some employers aren’t even willing to give that much anymore. Why should they? We’re all so desperate in this job market, aren’t we? And this is why I choose to walk away from my search. They value my time only in the terms of which I spend it doing their bidding. Off the clock? They could care less if I’m being fulfilled. However, I care quite a bit about fulfilling myself. Over the past three years, I’ve found myself wishing I had more time to devote to the things that mattered, rather than the things that put a roof over our heads. Too many days had passed as though I operated on auto-pilot. I didn’t have to think — I just did. It wasn’t until I made the conscious effort to be more mindful that I realized I’d been walking past a beautiful cherry blossom tree without ever really giving it a second thought. I began to appreciate the littler things so much more. The bigger picture hasn’t always looked so bright and cheery, but I began to realize it’s what you do about it — what you see — that matters most. It’s how you spend your days. It’s with whom you spend time. We only have a finite time on this planet. Why waste that precious gift being miserable when we can aspire to so much more?