mindful#52: clearing the static

At the beginning of each year, there all these news reports and hints and guides about simplifying your life. Many of them are unrealistic, in my opinion because really, our lives are not simple but complex and full of people and places and chaos. However, I certainly do think I certainly weigh myself down with unnecessary stuff, particularly mental stuff like anxious thoughts and worry.

I wrote a bit about this during reverb10 and the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that I carry too much mental and emotional baggage. Often, it clouds the reality of any situation and once I see things clearly I'm able to handle whatever comes more fully, with more strength and presence. I want to see this sooner, to acknowledge that I'm experiencing this clutter and embrace it for what it is so I can move past the clouds.

Whenever I hear "simplify your life," I cringe, knowing how full and complex and cluttered my own life is, knowing that no amount of folders, boxes or other typical solutions can help me. Here's what can:

Writing every day. Writing, whether in my journal or on my blog, helps clear my mind. It gives me something to consider, besides the static.

Planning ahead. I'm pretty bad at doing things ahead of time and often end up scrambling to pull something together, which leaves my mind pretty cluttered with all I need to be doing. So once we return from vacation I'm focusing on getting work done that paves the way for my success.

Believing the best. I would like to approach situations with a sense of hope, believing that everything will work out instead of assuming it won't. I think there is power to preparing for the best and I need some of that strength.

I also want to continue to set boundaries in my professional life including office hours, email and the times I am accessible. I'll continue with virtual office hours at least one day a week.

Most importantly, I want to fill my mind with hope and beauty and my soul with love. I want to remain open and vulnerable and accepting of whatever wonder waits for me because I believe deep down I am meant for great things.

2010 blog year-in-review

I really love this meme because it's a one-shot year in review and because I like to see if my own impressions of the year that has gone by are mirrored by what I wrote here on the blog. This year, I've tried to choose the post excerpt that most represents the month. You can read previous years in review: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005.

January: ...tension is exactly what my "live in the moment" phrase is combating. I spent much of my 20's conflicted. I was conflicted about pretty much everything but really it all boiled down to the tension of who I should be.

February: There are many kinds of love, all equally important to our lives but not always represented in our cultural texts. I've been thinking about the importance of my grandmother in my life, particularly the time when I lived with her, but also throughout my childhood.

March: Believe; Embrace the unknown. This is about trusting myself, about going out on a limb, about leaping. I was very close to having my word for 2010 be believe because I felt I needed to remind myself to be me own cheering section.

April: There are moments when you feel pulled in one direction and then everything changes. I find myself at a kind of crossroads feeling confused about which fork in the road to take. I keep waiting for some kind of message from the universe, something that will make me feel confident about my decisions. I realize doing nothing is also a choice, just a passive one.

May: So, last week I wrote a bit about what it means, to me, to be present and the challenges and struggles I face to be more aware of what's going on around me. This means being aware of my surroundings, yes but it also means being aware of other people's feelings and listening, really listening to what they say.

June: When I think about how many times in my life I've silenced my own voice by not participating or not speaking up, or letting doubt work its way into my soul, I'm amazed at how little it takes to feel small, reduced to screaming without a sound. In Letters to Lucilius Seneca, a Roman stoic philosopher said,

Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.

July: I want to publicly acknowledge the women who blog daily and put themselves out on the page, laying themselves raw and bare for readers, readers like me.

August: In the process of moving, things shift, jostle; you go through your stuff, make decisions about what to take, what to give away. Then you unpack and go through your stuff again. I feel exhausted from examining my life in increments.

September: ...despite my usual love affair with Fall, I am afraid. I'm afraid that I'll get too busy to remember how to breathe, how to remain in the moment. I'm afraid I'll get caught up again or that I haven't really changed as much as it feels like I have.

October: Lines from poems I wrote in my early and mid-twenties are floating around my head this week. I don't know if it's the season or the conversations I've been having with students, but lately I feel incredibly connected to, like I'm communicating through time, with the 20 something version of myself. I'm nostalgic and busy.

November: I couldn't find anything on the radio to listen to and I don't have a book to listen to right now, so I plugged in the iPod and the first few songs were right off what could only be called a nostalgia playlist: those songs that take you to specific moments in time, moments and feelings so clear, you could swear you're there again.

December: Ultimately, I was shaped by my practices: that I set my intention for 2010 to live in moments and I worked at appreciating the world and people in my life. I said yes to dinners and opportunities to nights out and quiet nights in; I pushed myself to let people into my thoughts here on the blog and in conversations. I tried new things; I failed at some of them and learned a helluva lot.