(Entry below is an excerpt of a handwritten entry, written on 12/6/14 a little after 1am)
I try not to fear having many regrets in my old age about my life. I feel I’m doing the best I can with what I have been given. It’s not in my nature to be an extrovert with many friends and constant social outings.
It’s not in my nature to be a thrill-seeker. I prefer the quiet and contemplative side of life. I enjoy observing the world and wondering of my place in it, and I need to stop telling myself that there’s something wrong with that, or with me.
I get so happy when I have a free weekend with no social obligation to attend to and no work to do. I can just be free and enjoy being me and doing whatever I want to do. No one can tell me what to do or not, and I don’t have to answer to anyone.
For me, the written word was my first true love, and there are always more books to read, more things to learn, more experiences to write about, more writing topics and prompts to discover that can inspire more reflection.
There are always people around to observe, and to learn from. People complicate things, expect life to be perfect but it never is. So I take note of the little things- the little pleasures and luxuries that are wonderful but are often taken for granted:
Like the gentle beauty of nature, a beautiful song, a delicious meal, a good nap or a good night’s rest, the unconditional love of family, sleeping in, working out, reading a good book or article, watching a movie that makes you think, discovering a new interest or talent, throwing away old junk and clutter, helping other people in some small way, having a healthy mind that can learn and absorb information, having a healthy body to carry you through the world.
I know things are good for me and I have everything I need. So I just need to always remind myself not to compare myself to other people, and just live one day at a time.
Prompt: When I’m depressed…
When I’m depressed, I do whatever I can do to improve my mood and feel better. I’m not someone who enjoys wallowing in depression. That’s something you do as a moody teen, not a mature adult.
When I’m not in the best mood, I remind myself that all states of mind are temporary, and when you’re in one state of mind, it’s hard to remember what it’s like to be in any other state of mind. And I remember how I feel when I’m exercising, or meditating, or writing, or doing something else enjoyable.
Exercising to offset a bad mood always works. You get into your body and the present moment and out of your head where all the misery is. Cardiovascular exercise is invigorating and reminds you that you are alive, you have possibilities and capabilities for change, and that you are in control.
Meditation daily, or as often as possible is also great for relieving depression, at least for me. I get more in touch with the present moment by meditating, and I practice being an observer of my thoughts and emotions. Being an observer allows you to separate yourself, be objective, and notice you emotions and thoughts as things that come and go. This way, you don’t allow your emotions and thoughts to take you over.
When I’m depressed, I also listen to music I love, sometimes while going for a walk. I focus on the music entirely and get lost in it, and forget about whatever else I was feeling. I think about all the things I’m grateful for in my life and that always makes me feel good too. Maybe because I enjoy simple things so it doesn’t take much to make me feel happy.
I feel that there are too many good things in my life, and too many possibilities for me for me to ever wallow in sadness or thinking about things that I lack. I am employed, all my basic needs are covered, and I have support and love from my family. There isn’t much more that a person really needs.
Also, I can write and express myself and be creative. That is a wonderful blessing and something to never take for granted. The miracle of thinking, breathing, observing, having one’s own mind and opinions and impressions; it’s an amazing thing.
Meditation renews your childlike wonder about the world and everything in it. So I would recommend this above all. Meditate, have gratitude, exercise, be creative, read good books, take care of yourself and enjoy the life you’ve been given.
I tend to be a control freak. I’m very aware of this and tend to get pissy when things don’t go the way I want them too. Trying to be in control is so useless in this world that we live in. We can’t control the weather, our job situations, other people, terrorism, traffic, etc.
Everyday things are way out of our control but we like to think that we can manage them and turn the universe to our liking. Often, you get the opposite of what you expect, and you have to maintain the hope that all works out for the best.
It’s definitely not an easy thing to do. Lately I’ve been listening to the short, (15 to 20 minute) guided mediations at the site: mindfulselfcompassion.org. They are very useful, calming, and gentle. These meditations are good for people who feel they have to constantly push themselves to be better, to be smarter, to be perfect, to be stronger. I’ve been that way for most of my life. If things are not going right, I tend to blame myself first and feel that I am awful.
Sometimes it’s OK to take a step back and breathe, re-evaluate life and your place in it. The world will not come to a halt because you decide to take a break, call in sick, or do something selfish every now and then. It’s important to treat yourself with care. And show yourself that you care and have love for yourself.
None of us knows what the future holds, all we can do is our best with what we have right now, and take our time with things if we need to. There’s nothing wrong with taking baby steps when you have a bigger vision of how you want life to be.
It’s easy to let yourself get overwhelmed. But those are the time when its most important to relax, let yourself be and let things unfold as they will. Sometimes the best (and only) thing you can do, is let go. Others will help you if you ask, and then when you are ready, you can emerge and bloom and be fully immersed in the gift of life.
I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who don’t watch tv. But I haven’t been able to try that yet. I still hope to someday. I noticed my cable bill was getting very high so a few months ago I decided I would cancel my basic cable channels, leaving me with only about 22 channels. I am limited to watching mostly news (which I try to avoid anyway because it’s depressing) and that’s about it, unless I choose to watch a home shopping channel.
Sometimes I miss the extra channels, like on Saturdays when I would laze around until the afternoon watching reruns of 90210 or after work when I would watch ‘Celebrity Ghost Stories’ on Bravo, but mostly, it has been a good thing. I have done a lot more writing and kept up this blog where I don’t think that would have been as easy before. And the shows I do follow I just try to catch online after they air, and usually that way there are fewer commercials.
If there is nothing to watch on my limited television channels, it gives me the added motivation to do something creative, or go for a walk or do an exercise DVD, or be still and meditate, or go to the library or a cafe and write. Or get to sleep early. And those are good things. Right now I watch about 3 shows, 1 on channel 2 and two that I need to catch online. And I have the streaming Netflix plan which I should probably cancel, because it does not get used very often.
Television is OK every now and then, as long as you don’t start planning your activities and days and nights around catching certain shows, because then you become enslaved. Something like meditation isn’t as entertaining as a show or a movie, but it is far better for a person’s peace of mind to focus within, rather than always being passive and consuming entertainment. Meditation helps you be more mindful, of who you are, and where you are in life.
This world is loud, insistent and always calling on our attention. But we don’t always have to give in. We can give ourselves space to breathe and enjoy the moment, without having to rely on another distraction.
Prompt: Write about the happiest day of your life
The happiest day of my life was maybe a toss-up. I was happy at many times in my life, when I went to Paris and London, when I moved out on my own and had freedom. When I met a certain person. The greatest memory that stands out to me though was probably when I got to go to Mexico (Cabo San Lucas) for the first time with I— and we meditated together on the beach.
We asked if we could use these beds out on the beach that were used by the staff for giving massages. I felt peaceful and happy and complete because I was sharing something that brought me a lot of joy with someone I love. It was quiet, breezy and serene and I can’t remember ever having another moment that was as perfect as that. The first night we arrived we sat and watched the bonfire pit on the hotel grounds.
I felt amazed that my life had become like a dream. I felt I was at the most secluded spot, the edge of the world, and it was finally my time to have fun. My time to enjoy my life. I felt it was finally moving forward in the direction of my dreams. It was a high like no other.
When you meditate with another person, it makes the meditation process easier. And when you go away someplace tropical with a person you love for the first time, you realize how magical life can be and you remember that trip forever.
One summer night a long time ago, my boyfriend and I were walking through the city. It was rainy and misty outside and I kept fussing about my hair and worrying that it was getting frizzy and messed up. My boyfriend finally got fed up and said to me, ‘Who cares? life’s too short, just enjoy yourself.’ And for some reason, I really got the message. And felt foolish about my constant need for perfection and control of my circumstances.
I learned a big lesson that night. and I think of it often when I find myself fussing and stressing myself out over dumb little things. It’s not the end of the world if things don’t go just right, or just the way I planned or imagined. I really learned that from him. As everything that went wrong before in my life used to be like a big tragedy to me. And I wouldn’t let it go, bemoaning the unfairness of it all.
It was really immature and I’m not sure where I got that mindset from. It used to be (and still is at times) so hard for me to just let go of things and expectations and just relax and go with the flow. It’s something that I’m still working on in fact. And something that I hope I can improve about myself.
I remembered this lesson again recently when my boss asked me what my plans were for the Memorial Day weekend. I didn’t really have any plans so I told her that, and she suggested that I go to the beach. I said I wouldn’t because it was supposed to rain I think it was that sunday, and she said, ‘So who cares? You’ll get wet, just go anyway!’
And I thought, there it is again: the need for something to be perfect, at the expense of doing something just for the hell of it. Just to get away somewhere. And then I thought about the fact that I have never let myself get caught in the rain. I always seem to be prepared. And being so prepared for every little inconvenience in life is probably costing me some living.
So when I feel a deep need for control over something, I have to remind myself to let go and just let things be how they will be. Just because I spend one sunny day at home, it doesn’t mean that will be my last chance ever to enjoy a sunny day.
I could go out and be having the time of my life when I’m 36 or 41 or 47. I tend to have this all-or-nothing type of attitude. It does not do me any good and causes much unneeded stress, but I’m grateful that now at least I am aware of it enough to catch myself when my mind wants to latch on to some outcome, when I pin all my hopes onto trivial things.
“True life is lived when tiny changes occur.”
I believe this quote to be true. It just takes a commitment to making a tiny change, maybe every day, maybe every week, and then you start to see things differently, and your outlook can change. Maybe you decide to meditate for a few minutes each morning, or to do twenty minutes of exercise each evening, or to substitute one unhealthy meal for a healthy one, or cut down on the amount of meat that you consume. Right now I’m going through changes, and so are you. We are affected and altered by everything that we see and everything that we encounter.
And realizing this means that the future can always have possibility. And that the past doesn’t have to repeat itself. Sometimes I really need to strongly remind myself that each day is brand new, and there’s no reason to drag the past into it in any way. Yesterday is done and today you can have new thoughts. You can go someplace different. You can try something new that you’ve always wanted to try. You can always rewrite your story. The choice and the power are always there when you decide to seize them.
In attempting change, I always try to envision myself as the person I want to be, not as the person I am. Or I envision the person I most admire in the world and ask myself: How would they handle this present situation? How would my ideal self handle it? And then you can decide to be the person that you want to become. You can decide that today’s the day for your best self to emerge. And to merge with the world and change it as well. True life is lived when you decide that the time is right to make a change, and you act on that decision.
(Review below was written on 5/20/2000)
I always enjoyed Enya’s music but I had never bought one of her albums. I was so happy I decided to buy this one (Paint the Sky with Stars: The Best of Enya by Enya) because every single song is perfectly melodious and rich to listen to.
This album is a must buy for anyone who loves new age music and anything by Enya. Her voice is one of a kind and her vocals soar and flow with every note. This is a wonderful album with songs unlike anything else you’ve heard. Songs like Orinoco Flow, Caribbean Blue and China Roses are among my favorites. They take you to another place, and are great for relaxation and total calm. The songs are deep, slow and contemplative.
These are great songs to put on when you want to take some time to daydream and drift away in fantasy. Whether the songs have vocals or are instrumental, their beauty is beyond compare. Paint the Sky with Stars: The Best of Enya is a great introduction to this compelling artist and many of her past hits that you might not have known about.
(Entry below was written on 10/11/2011)
I went to a free yoga class tonight, a second one. The first one I went to was last Tuesday and I thought it really helped to relax me and calm my mind because all the focus is on stretching and feeling the body, and breathing through the movements.
I enjoyed it and even got to meet someone there who works in publishing, so we started emailing each other and we decided to go out to eat after tonight’s class so I could ask her about her publishing job. I got a lot of good information and am going to still strive to make the leap into publishing. It’s what I have to do if I am ever going to realize my dream of becoming an editor and editing books for a living.
On our walk from the yoga class to the restaurant we were going to, my yoga friend ran into one of her friends. He was nice and as he said goodbye he told us to enjoy the rest of our stroll and look at the moon. It was a full moon behind a mist of clouds.
During this little exchange I couldn’t help but think of what a relief it was to be out among people again after having not gone to work for a couple of weeks and holing up in my apartment. It was really hard to get myself out to go try the yoga class, but it was worth it in the end.
Even today, I had a bad headache and was lying down but then I realized I had to get up and get ready to leave because the meeting with this lady tonight who works in publishing could lead me later to the job that I have always wanted.
Most jobs are found through contacts and friends, and since I don’t have many friends to ask, I have to try to meet new people and make contacts that way. It is better than staying home and watching as my resume disappears into the abyss of the internet as I apply for jobs that a million other people are also seeing and applying for at the same time.
The bookstore offering the free yoga class that I attended will also be offering a meditation class in November, so I’m looking forward to trying that out as well. meditating with a group of people is a lot easier than meditating alone, at least for me.
(Entry below was written on 1/18/2012)
Today on my way home, I heard two women on the train talking. One was talking about her husband’s sister who is in high school and always complains about having to go to school the next day and her homework and stuff like that. And the woman said, “I say to her, trust me when I tell you- this is easy.” And she was so right.
The other woman replied by saying “Yeah, once you start working, it’s all over.” I totally understood. It reminded me of when I was 16 and off from school over the summer and sad about stupid things like not having a job or many friends to hang out with. I was upset because my life didn’t look like 90210. I didn’t have an attractive group of friends around me who were silly, funny and fun. And I didn’t have a boyfriend.
My grandfather told me on my 16th birthday that I was in the prime of youth. I wish I had really heard him and realized it.
If I could just go back and tell myself to really enjoy that time. To bike ride and write poetry and sleep and meditate and relax and not be sad about anything! I would really do so. If I could only tell myself that summer can hardly be enjoyed once you enter the working world, unless you become a teacher or something.
But working in an office? work doesn’t stop for the summer. It barely stops for holidays or two week’s vacation. It barely gives you a minute to breathe or to think or to plan your dreams, so enjoy it while you can, while you’re young, and don’t take for granted the opportunity to not have any responsibilities, to not have to take care of and support yourself.
Because it’s an amazing luxury that I miss every single day. If any teenagers are reading this, take note. Don’t be in such a rush to grow up.
(Title of this post is a lyric from a Garbage song)