Procrastination and I

My history with procrastination and postponing living the life I want to live:

I’m Sure I’ll Spend Time with My Kids Someday
I’m Sure I’ll Get a Cooking/Exercise/Cleaning Routine Started Someday
I’m Sure I’ll Find Out What my Spouse Is Into Someday

But no matter what it is that we postpone, time doesn’t stand still while we postpone.

Death Gives Life Value in that it Creates Limited Supply of Time

I used to procrastinate a lot more. I feared starting because I didn’t know how to take breaks and I didn’t know how to emotionally deal with a finished product less than perfection. It wasn’t that I could work hard, I can handle hard work (sometimes I worked for 126 hours a week and did my best the whole time), so I always wondered why I had trouble getting started.

Me Most My Life = I Hate Everything Imperfect, Especially Myself, I Can Only Work on Something 100% Free from Risk of Failure

For me it was fear, if I started something I had to face emotionally both outcomes, a good and a bad outcome, and I wasn’t emotionally robust enough to handle more failure in my life.

I’m Suffocating with My Own Expectations for Myself

I took failure personally, thought it made me a failure, then I found a quote that said “failure is not the opposite of success it is part of success.” – Arianna Huffington

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Failure Not the Opposite of Success… If that Is True I’m Avoiding Success.

I had heard of Edison testing thousands of light bulb materials that didn’t work, his friend Walter S. Mallory asked “ ‘Isn’t it a shame that with the tremendous amount of work you have done you haven’t been able to get any results?’ Edison turned on me like a flash, and with a smile replied: ‘Results! Why, man, I have gotten lots of results! I know several thousand things that won’t work!‘”


Volume 8 The Thomas Edison Papers at Rutgers University

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Trying – Failure = Remaining Success

Failure sums up my early life, but I didn’t even begin to understand the value of that failure until about 3 years ago. Slowly my attitude changed and that changed everything significant to me.

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Each Day Has Good, If You Look for It You Can See It

Three years ago I was a new mother, and I hated it, my mood sank lower than ever before, so I sought and began practicing new coping mechanisms including ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy), radical acceptance, mindfulness and stoicism.

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Baby Doesn’t Respect My Vacation Day Request

Last year was the last straw in a positive way, the last coping mechanism I needed to deal with the stress of modern life and uncertainty in an ever changing world was gratitude.

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Before Gratitude
what a life
After Gratitude

I thought gratitude was something you either were born with or you were not born with, or something you were raised with or not raised with, but I was wrong, I was able to pick it up in a few months after finding a really clear and beautiful post challenging me to try it.

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Still Feel Lucky I Found the Gratitude Challenge

Somewhere along the line I stopped wanting to be happy and started wanting to be good, meaning I wanted to live in a way I wouldn’t regret. Interestingly I became happier anyways, but over a few years I realized that being happy emotionally is like being full physically. It’s not meant to be a consistent state, there isn’t something wrong about it, but it’s not the most important thing, it’s something to be listened to, managed, enjoyed, but it’s not the main point of life to me.

live your best life
In Your Own Way, to Your Own Standards, Don’t Be Evil!

Example a school bully may be happy while bullying another child into suicide, that isn’t worth chasing, it’s not evil to be happy, yet it’s possible to be evil and happy, therefore happiness isn’t the whole picture of a good life.

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Seeking Happiness While Being a Parent
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Seeking Growth, Patience, Learning and Teaching Opportunities While Being a Parent

It sounds cheesy, but I try to live a life of virtue now and happiness comes as a byproduct, but I don’t seek it. Living by my values aligned with good brings me joy and satisfaction.

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I’m in Debt, a Bad Person, and a Failure in both Career and Parenting…
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I’m in Debt, a Good Heated Person, and a “Beginner” in both Career and Parenting!

It was hard to encounter the idea of “valued based living,” since I’m not religious and didn’t know anyone else personally who focuses on values based living.

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Is Life Supposed to Feel Like Non-Stop Effort with No Progress?

I encountered Russ Harris by accident in the book “The Confidence Gap,” later I found Stephen Covey, Chris Voss, Rachel Macy Stafford, Dale Carnegie, Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus who all made the case for living based on values and accepting happiness that came without focusing on how much came and when. Martin Luther King is also said to have lived a values focused life, but I haven’t read that part of his philosophy before.

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The Power of Books Has Always Helped Me in My Darkest Hours
  1. “While we are postponing, life speeds by.”
  2. “Nothing … is ours, except time.”

Most my life I was stuck postponing everything I wanted to do to study (in hindsight I could have balanced studying better), but at the core of the problem wasn’t the studying it was the reason for the studying. I was studying for the wrong underlying reason (fear).

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In Middle Age You Start to Have the Questions for the Answers of Youth

I wasn’t going to medical school because I hoped to work as a doctor or make a difference in that way, rather I felt I had to do it.

Back to the grind
If $70,000 Wasn’t Enough for Our Family to Live a Good Life I Guess I Need More Than That to Live a Good Life

My mother had Munchhausen syndrome, she put the idea in my head the world was almost impossible to survive in, to do it we needed pain killers to kill any pain (mom was also a prescription drug addict), money to buy what we deserved to have and to get what we wanted immediately. It was weird and complicated growing up with my mother, but I only very recently considered that it wasn’t originally my idea to go to medical school. I started “wanting to” be a doctor when I was two, my mother had given me books about doctors that made it seem fun among other things (brainwashing = the dark side of the delightful “It’s My Turn Now Doctor”). It’s embarrassing to think I was brainwashed and didn’t figure it out either immediately nor upon adulthood.

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Yeah, I’ll Just Stay Here Without Thinking About It (My Most Costly Personal Mistake So Far)

Three red flags started alerting me to the idea I didn’t want to be a doctor, 1. I had trouble writing my personal statement saying what made me want to be a doctor. 2. I didn’t think the doctors I followed had a good life that I wanted (family balance was skewed too far towards work) 3. I wasn’t sad when I didn’t go to medical school, I was confused and embarrassed, but not sad at all.

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Usually I Do What I Say I Will, But Not This Time…

It’s been about five years now and I know that I was more suited to intellectual vs service pursuits and that I have more passion to be a philosophizer and writer, than I ever had towards medical school.

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My True Passion is Philosophy

It’s hard to choose your major in college when you are so young that you don’t know who you are nor what options are out there. Or easy, easy to choose poorly…

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My Drug Addict Parent as Well as the One Career Aptitude Test Both Said “Surgeon” So It’s Medical School for Me I Guess!

But here I am today, I am alive, well (thanks to gratitude) and finally have time to do what I want because I didn’t get to do what I thought I wanted to do.

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Stoicism Gives Me a Satisfaction in Being Alive, a Belief I Have Power to Make a Difference in My Own Way, a Belief I Have Intrinsic Value as a Living Being, and a Belief in a Unity of Humankind

Being stoic started with reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey, he talked about “proactivity” being able to choose how to react if we are angry or not angry, it’s our choice not to hit our spouse, boss, child, friend, computer, dog ext. The moment between when something happens and when we act is the space we have to be proactive “to choose how we respond”.

My 1st Step to Stop Procrastinating: Understanding I Had the Choice

So the stoic response to the “busyness” of modern life is that it is our choice.

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“Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle. Some things are within your control. And some things are not.” – Epictetus

We don’t have to postpone what we do because we don’t “have time”. Time is all we ever have.

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Why Am I Choosing This?
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Because I Care Too Little For My Own Well Being

My 2nd Step to Stop Procrastinating: Understanding My Life Matters (At Least to Me)

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“If you want something you’ve never had. You must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” -Thomas Jefferson

When I read this quote from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations (his private journal on the struggle to live a good life, which inspired a lot of my life and habits):

β€œAt dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: β€œI have to go to work β€” as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for β€” the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?”

So you were born to feel β€œnice”? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands?

You don’t love yourself enough. Or you’d love your nature too, and what it demands of you.”

-Marcus Aurelius

I realized that I didn’t love my nature, I didn’t know my own nature very well and I had almost no idea of what it demanded of me. I made a choice to believe that I do matter (without knowing for sure) based on the idea of valuing diversity, mentally letting all animals, plants and people matter to the grand tapestry of all living beings gave me a sense of self worth I had always lacked.

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Why? Because Mom Lives Matter (All Lives)

So under the assumption I matter (which is my choice to make and I have no logical evidence against) the issue of taking breaks, self-care, making time to enjoy life at a deep level and taking time to seek inward to answer who I am and what I wanted became valid pursuits. I felt the need to justify if any of it mattered (why do it) before figuring out how to do it (live my best life).

My 3rd Step to Stop Procrastinating: Hoping I Can Stop Procrastinating and Live My Best Life

Being emotionally abandoned by my parents, who both had mental health problems, is what I feel caused me to question if I did or didn’t matter. In the end it’s not that I have proof that I can or will matter to others, yet I can choose to let myself (and or all human life) matter to me or not.

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Knowing “Why” Gives You Strength to Find “How”

It takes some amount of hope to try something new, to make a change and determining (or deciding) that it matters is where the hope comes from, it may take more than hope to complete a project, but it seems to require some hope to begin one. Hope seems to be the emotional ticket price of going somewhere new.

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You Can Choose Your Mental Destinations

Stephen Hawking said β€œRemember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the Universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”

you've changed my life
Rest in Peace Stephen; Entropy of Black Hole = [(kc^3)/(4Δ§G)]A

I had a poster of that quote, for years I was always looking for a reason it was true. Today my perspective is that it isn’t true or untrue, that it is simply a choice to fill your heart with hope or despair. Mark Manson wrote an interesting book against hope gone wild Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope. I enjoyed the book, but having read it there was a sense that he was right about extreme cases while at the same time missing the total picture. It’s taken eight months to explain why I refute his principle that hope causes suffering. P>Q, Qβ‰ P. Hope causes suffering sometimes, it’s true. There is suffering, but that doesn’t mean it’s because of hope there are myriad factors. I think entitlement and high expectation are more to blame for suffering and mental inflexibility as well, rather than hope.

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Loved Your Book Mark, It’s Wrong Due to Over Simplification of an Open System

No view of the future has evidence, both hope and despair are illogical, or alogical (perhaps not only lacking, but not meant to contain logic). It seems that we trick ourselves into thinking we are psychics who no the future while most of us scorn such people as fake. It seems like we all don’t know the future, not what possibilities there will be, nor which ones we will choose. It seems that both the path of hope and despair are completely free and available to all people at all times. Often I gravitated towards despair, perhaps because both my parents did, perhaps not, but my sister in the same circumstances to hope. She was focused more on others, helping in some small, possible way, I was focused on creating the illusion of stability in an ever changing world. I was much happier, I didn’t know about psychological baseline. I am happier by fate, by DNA than most people, I have a gene for optimism. So perhaps I was wrong that hope belongs to the miserable. There is a power hope has over the inner-world that makes it seem dangerous, but it’s about using the right tool for the right job. Hope doesn’t work as a contraceptive, as a way to prevent STDs, it doesn’t work in place of insulin or driving skills, but nor do any of those things work to make life seem worth living. I’ve been finding that all human emotions have valid uses, but also that like tools the situations they work best for are complex and nuanced.

My 4th Step Stop Procrastinating: Mindfulness Journaling

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Writing Helps Me to View my Mistakes without Judgement, Analyze Them, and Change.

Julia Cameron is known for “Morning Pages” writing down normal thoughts, I did that for a few years, but eventually switched to Stoic Meditation Journaling like Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Meditations was the name of a book, which was intended as a private diary (much like the Diary of Anne Frank). Some differences would be, it doesn’t matter if it’s private or not, it’s not meant for complaints, but feelings are fine. So I could write “I” get sad when my husband makes jokes about me, rather than ranting about it. It’s a similar, but different mental experience. It’s a good place to work out the landscape of the mind, but there is a sense of control, not complete control, but some control. I would say morning pages is like permissive parenting of yourself, you allow fits, you don’t do anything to get in the way of emotion. In stoic journaling, you don’t hate the fits or the emotion, but you question the validity of the beliefs that lead to the fits or the emotion. You can still validate the feelings, but you don’t view them as you. They are like fish in a pond. You “have” anger, but you “are not” anger, because you are much more than that. So you write about struggles and challenges, but it is different because the overall view is that you are not your struggles nor your triumphs, but instead something larger than both. Not the white chess pieces, not the black chess pieces, but rather the board or the player. Morning pages is writing thoughts on paper, stoic journaling is writing meta-thoughts on paper. Thoughts about thoughts. Ex, I notice I’ve been feeling negative often in my life I wonder if I’m getting enough of a rest or if I’m too over scheduled or if I am not accepting my own anger or sadness ext. Rather than life seems so hopeless today, I’m very busy, it’s my husband’s fault, it’s my fault… Both types of writing are actually great, but for different things. Morning pages is great to complain to yourself, unload your heart of bitterness that keeps lingering and be better conversation with other people so you can listen about them instead of dominating the conversation with your unhappiness. It’s a good mind dump, it’s a good place to validate your feelings of hurt and suffering that everyone goes through. But it’s not the same as meta thinking. Morning pages is like a tool to deal with a chronic illness, stoic journaling is like a cure to change the way you think to what you choose it to be.

My 5th Step Stop Procrastinating: Discipline, Plan, Prioritize

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With a Plan With No Emotional Stamina
I'm lost
With Some Emotional Stamina But No Plan
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With a Plan and Emotional Stamina

In a perfect world everyone would be emotionally and mentally ready to just make a plan of what they want to do and do it, in my childhood I was like that, but in my adulthood it seems that there are metaphorical weights of priorities that drain people’s resources enough to prevent them from having the energy to do what they plan so that they fail to do what they plan enough to loose faith in their ability to improve their own life or to make plans that will work. At least that what happened for me, but I hope that my failures help others to be able to analyze their failures with no shame, so they can find the small errors that keep them from living their best lives as well. Though I’m sure there are many differences, there may be a common ground between any human and myself in that humans fail and have to deal with change and failure in order to create a better life.

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We Are Different; Yet In Some Ways the Same, In Some Ways We Can Learn Together

So after roughly 30 years of procrastination based of not knowing that I could control my life, not knowing if it mattered to make my life better, then choosing to decide it matters (while still not knowing for sure), facing the doubt of if I could control my life via my thoughts and beliefs and yet doing so using writing powered by the hope that I did matter and the belief that we can all change, it only took about 4 years to stop procrastinating. To my knowledge I don’t procrastinate any more, somethings are under my radar, when I notice them I adjust, I’m not perfect by any means, but I am playing the piano I wanted to play, loving my kids as much as I’m able to, forgiving the past to live in the moment ext rather than wanting to do those things “someday”.

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Thank you readers for all your help, some have offered wisdom when I was stuck, some love when I was hopeless, some company on the road of life when I felt alone, some strength via inspiration when I was tired of struggling. I feel like one chapter has closed in my life today (essentially the prologue) and I’m interested to see what I write in the book of my own life from here. In a way reality is the writer, my life the article and you are welcome editors.

promise?

At the end I notice a promise and a choice underlying the ability to believe I can live my best life, a promise from my now self to my future self to try my best and a choice to believe it matters.πŸ•ΈοΈ

πŸ’ Journey of Kujichagulia (Self Determination) πŸŒ»

My Happiest Day

Last year when my son was born, unexpectedly I felt that suddenly with a newborn baby and a four-year-old to take care of I “could” finally start living my best life.

I don’t know why it wasn’t when I left my 9-5 a few years ago, I don’t know why it wasn’t when I turned 18, I don’t know why it wasn’t after I finished my education, I don’t know why but it was March, 10th 2019 when I felt like I could begin to write in the book of my life. It was the moment I felt my son’s hair for the first time, the feeling of his thin, silky hair and the feeling I can start my life will always be linked for me. It was the moment I started breathing with my soul and not just my lungs.

Last year I came upon a really interesting blog post, by Lovie Price, about the labels that define us, part of a larger self determination project that was too ambitious for me the first year with my new baby.

For Lovie Price

That was 2019, this is 2020. For me things are so much different, something about the decade changing has really allowed me an emotional and mental refresh. I’m finally washing diapers every other day instead of everyday, which means I only have to do one load of laundry a day, I can now alternate clothes, towels, and bedding.

Life with One Load of Laundry to Do

Last year I was recovering my physical stamina, I was struggling to get a rhythm for meal planning, cooking, feeding two kids, balancing the two kids and myself, adapting school to have different aged children at the same time. It was such a struggle I had to start with just staying on top of dishes, then laundry and dishes, then laundry dishes and taking out trash, then laundry, dishes, taking out trash, and putting most things away.

This year I’m so surprised at how I’ve managed to make clean up, cooking, child care and school routines. Somehow I got the basics of life in order in the middle of chaos more than I had ever done so before. I got most my sh*t together surprisingly. I had more work than ever before, but also more love and acceptance, which allows you to unfold your true potential (I’m searching for the quote that says that better, but the down side of reading so much is it’s hard to retrace the inspirations).

What’s Hard Becomes Easy with Practice

So now about four months after I wanted to do follow this process of self determination, I have taken care of the basics enough to be able to do so in an unhurried and enjoyable manner.

“Whoooo are youuu..?”

(The Traditional Kwanzaa Question to Ask on January 1st)

“[This] is about beginning to define and then re defining yourself.”

How I currently define myself:

  1. I am a dreamer/idealist/upholder of my values. (Clifton Strength Finder Name = Responsibility) My values guide my day and emotions.
  2. I am an philosopher/deep thinker/critical thinker. (Clifton Strength Finder Name = Intellection) I process reality to know truth.
  3. I am a teacher and open minded life long learner. (Clifton Strength Finder Name = Learner) I grow my skills and knowledge.
  4. I am a human being. (Clifton Strength Finder Name = Resolver)
  5. I am a writer/blogger. (Clifton Strength Finder Name = Input)

(These are thingsΒ that have formed islands of my personality, that I had trouble seeing until I took the Clifton Strength Finder Test, it took me a year or two after that to understand what they really meant and how the interacted with each other in my life. These are not what I would want as much as they are my natural temperament, these are the parts of me that are effortless rather than the alliances that formed over my life time outside of my control and personality such as marriage, parenthood. I am “a person” who is married, I am not “a wife” in my own mind that does not define me, not because I don’t want it to, just because it never has existed in my mind that way.)

I Needed a Test to Tell Me Who I Am…

Let’s move on:

  • I am extremely optimistic.
  • I am introverted, I love people, but they drain me rather than fill me.
  • I am a warrior in my attitude towards my values and duties.
  • I am deeply peaceful, strengthened by years at a Daoist Temple, but actually starting with a love of nature and visceral connection to nature.
  • I am easily distracted, money, deadlines, staying on track, feeling grounded are constantly a struggle.

[Define how you feel and what drives your reactions to things]

  1. I struggle with social relationships, I find that people don’t appreciate the way my boundaries affect them and I don’t appreciate expectations that I would know without being told what is expected from me in a group setting. The way I communicate seems to create tension where I wouldn’t have tension by myself. It just feels like there is friction between me and almost any kind of social interaction.
  2. I am tend to hyper focus on details and loose sight of the big picture.
  3. I am a recovering perfectionist, I find it hard to not throw the baby out with the bath water, if someone I love is dishonest at all it’s hard to not stop loving them. That is what protected me against an amusingly abusive mother and it’s really hard to drop the habit of wanting to completely dispose of anyone that shows dishonesty no matter how small, even my toddler, which I have a duty to love, therefore that is a tough situation.
  4. I am not friends enough with my own anger, I still mentally invalidate my own emotions by default without even looking at them without judgement or questioning if they may be valid for the situation.
  5. Whatever I do get done isn’t enough by half, even though I succeed and work hard, it’s never nearly enough.

“And so on…many lists . You can even be silly- β€œI am a salad eater”. You can be fatalistic – β€œI am a loser”.. whatever you want. It’s YOUR private list. And if you are truly ready to tackle that baby elephant , you begin here. With brutal honesty. Defining as much of yourself and your psyche as possible. The lists will grow even longer and deeper- like all of the roots and branches of a tree meshing with the vines and weeds. It can become overwhelming- pace yourself. After you have several pages- (yes pages -because we are writing down only labels here, not the why’s , what’s and how’s yet) take a breather- you are going to need it. Review the lists for a few days . Embrace the good and the bad and then accept this is where you are at this moment. There is much growth ahead, if you are willing and committed. Peace!”

Quotes Taken From Lovie Price’s Article “Let’s Start with Labels” (the first of a 10 Step Series of Self Determination).

When I made my list I didn’t care about it being private because I feel so typical, I feel like so many other middle aged people in my struggles it feels like no one would bother to hunt me down and lynch me, which is a privileged feeling to have, but I find that it unnecessary to feel guilty about what good I do have knowing that I’ve had a decent amount of challenges, no one who has known me would begrudge me the comforts I have.

I’m not sure if my elephant is that I don’t finish projects vs that I do finish projects but it is never enough, both are true to a large extent. I’ve never finished “the book,” but I’ve never had much time, though there was an author who worked an hour a day at lunch, so I suppose I do have time. I suppose my truth is that I am hardworking, but I have trouble allowing myself to work on something that feels significant to myself vs that would help others. I was trained to help others first and do my hobbies second and the amount of help other people would want from me would turn that into 0 minutes a day. So ethically I wonder is it fair to write for three hours a day while the children play instead of cleaning or making my husband lunch or playing with them? Jerry Jenkins says no, he was a writer, he played with his kids and wrote when they were asleep, he made time for his wife too. I have no idea how he did that. But I find as a father, gone all day, coming home and spending two hours or so with his kids, is different from me waking at 2AM with the baby and not being done with the eldest until 8 or 9PM. I suppose I should also add “I am conflicted about priorities and how much break time to take,” to my list.

A summary of the 2020 model of “me:”

  1. I am a dreamer, philosopher, teacher, human, and writer.
  2. I am very optimistic, introverted, diligent towards my values and duties, deeply peaceful, easily distracted, conflicted about how to distribute my time between my loved ones and myself.
  3. I struggle with social relationships, getting stuck on details, tolerating dishonesty, accepting and validating my own anger, feeling that my best effort is enough, and finding a balance in my home life between time spent making my kids life enjoyable and time spent enjoying my life (since I still don’t enjoy 9/10 parenting tasks).

The first time I did this I covered the more superficial labels as well as separating good vs bad, but this time I was already past the superficial labels, I saw marriage and parenthood as gifts of fate more than who I am, since I never pursued either. I also think the good and bad about who I am may be linked, like the ability I have to get everything that needs to get done goes hand and hand with my impatience, so I can turn it down, but both get turned down, I no longer think of my good and bad qualities as separable after reading this article by Mark Manson about how to overcome your demons I no longer see them as demons at all.

Last year I said:

  • How I currently define myself:
  • I am a writer.
  • I am a teacher, gardener/farmer, martial artist, reader.
  • I am a mother, granddaughter, sister, daughter, etc.
  • I am a roommate & friend.
  • I am an artist and a blogger.
  • I am a minimalist.
  • I am healthy,
  • I am sensitive,
  • I am unconventional,
  • I am introverted,
  • I am connected to the Earth,
  • I am a stoic.
  • I am impatient,
  • I am rude,
  • I am careless with money,
  • I am forgetful about birthdays,
  • I am a frequent leaver of many unfinished projects.

This year, as even more of a stoic, I separate that which I can control and that which I can using the metric “Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle. Some things are within your control. And some things are not.” – Epictetus

Metamorphosis Between Last Year and This Year:

  • I am a writer (became philosopher).
  • I am a teacher, (gardener/farmer merged with teacher), martial artist (merged with teacher), reader (merged with writer).
  • I am a mother, granddaughter, sister, daughter, etc. (gifts, I could have been an orphan)
  • I am a roommate & friend. (gifts, I may not have had friends)
  • I am an artist and a blogger (became and merged with writer).
  • I am a minimalist (became human).
  • I am healthy, (gifts, I was often ill despite eating well and exercise in the past)
  • I am sensitive, (the gift of being human)
  • I am unconventional, (I was born this way so strongly it’s not a choice)
  • I am introverted, (merged with philosopher)
  • I am connected to the Earth, (merged with human)
  • I am a stoic. (merged with philosopher)
  • I am impatient, (I sometimes am impatient, but not so often I define myself like that)
  • I am rude, (I sometimes am rude, but not so often I define myself like that)
  • I am careless with money, (I’m not money oriented, but I keep better track about it now)
  • I am forgetful about birthdays, (Sometimes, but I remember more than I forget, it’s human to forget sometimes)
  • I am a frequent leaver of many unfinished projects. (merged with human)

Intersection Between Past and Present Identities (Underlined is the Same Across Last Year and This Year)

  • I am a dreamer, philosopher, teacher, human, and writer.
  • I am very optimistic, introverted, diligent towards my values and duties, deeply peaceful, easily distracted, conflicted about how to distribute my time between my loved ones and myself.
  • I struggle with social relationships, getting stuck on details, tolerating dishonesty, accepting and validating my own anger, feeling that my best effort is enough, and finding a balance in my home life between time spent making my kids life enjoyable and time spent enjoying my life (since I still don’t enjoy 9/10 parenting tasks).

It’s clear to me, that most of who I am now, was present last year, but my ability to see myself clearly was worse last year, it’s as if I could only see in myself what someone with a superficial relationship with me could see, as if I was just an acquaintance with my own self.

I think about my exercise coach sometimes, he fell in love with dance, was an athlete, made a his fortune as an exercise coach, became a parent, wrote a book and became an author, was always a motivational speaker and writer. People see him and think exercise coach. But if you exercise with him for awhile you notice how different he is from a typical coach, who is fit, but doesn’t care about or mention your feelings or soul, spending a bit of time you discover he is a motivational speaker as well. But if you read his book you find he is a deep thinker, he is a stoic, he is a real author (not just someone interesting who someone can write a biography about). If you know more about him you know he loved dance and only worked in exercise as a coincidence of fate, you know he went out of his way to become a parent. I’m talking about Shaun T by the way author of “T is for Transformation.”

It was interesting that it was easier for me to get to know and understand different layers of Shaun T, than to get to know and understand myself. Because every time I wanted me to be someone I wasn’t it stopped me, every time I realized I don’t like cooking I hit a wall, a wall where I wanted to be a person who wanted to be a super mom, but I am not that person. I wanted to be my grandma who was the funniest, more loving, open, “balls out” kind of person I’ve ever known and also best cook. But I just am not that person. I had to give up the idea of who I wanted to be that went against my strengths I was born with, my personality to accept who and where I was and it made me rethink where I wanted to go. Sure, I can cook a normal meal, but I’m not interested in the flavor profile like a cook would be… I can say a kind word to people I see on the street and check in with family and friends, but I can’t go from call to call to call to party without being totally depleted. I can develop some traits of my grandmother, but I will not be my grandmother even then. I have skills and talents she didn’t and lack skills and talents she had. Even if over time I become more like her, I don’t think it is healthy or helpful to try to be someone else. I give up, I’d rather be a good me, than a horrible impersonation of someone else.

It’s time to be me as I am and celebrate who I am, even though I accept I may improve, I am getting very close to being completely at peace with who and where I am now.

It’s interesting to give up something unhealthy that you love, I can’t describe the feeling of knowing my grandmother was the perfect person to me and at the same time feeling like she was a beautiful maple tree and I’m a beautiful blue berry bush and it’s okay to grow to my potential instead of trying to prune myself into her.

I remember in the movie Heidi, the villain, shouts “I am what I am and don’t ask me to change!”

Even though we all change, everyday, there is I think a large amount of inner peace in accepting who I am and not demanding that change.

The feeling is like watching a wild tiger in the jungle, seeing it as beautiful and scary, then noticing that you are that tiger. It’s a change of perspective (like the end of the movie “Life of Pi” when the tiger represents the cannibal portion of the character leaving or also the end of “Planet of the Apes” when the astronaut finds he has returned to Earth rather than been stranded on another world). If anyone knows the name of that feeling I would be grateful? I can’t quite find the word for it.

Wishing you all a wonderful afternoon and acceptance of yourself as you are! 1/10 steps done, time to take my kids on our afternoon stoic walk.

✍️ The Day I Became a Profession Writer πŸŒ»

Today I purchased Grammarly “premium,” a grammar checker, for about $75. I had received $24 for writing today (a simple amateur review of children’s underwear), so it was a little bit less to take from my husband for my writing “hobby”.

Ever since I watched “Omo’s Child” about the mingi practice in Ethiopia of killing babies and children whos’ top teeth grow in before the bottom ones, I’ve been over-analyzing all my spending.

I’ve always been thrifty; I think that’s normal for someone growing up in an Asian American household. Then being a working college student for a dozen years took me to an even higher level of thriftiness. After college, I took my first baby to work with me for a few years (empowering or exhausting? perhaps both), and now, for the past two years, I’m a stay at home parent with our family of four on one income; I’ve gotten even thriftier. But after watching “Omo’s Child” it’s driven me to a mental place like the end of the movie “Shinlers List” where Shinler wonders how many people he could have saved instead of keeping his wristwatch.

We all have certain issues, charities, groups that are more dear to us than others. For my dad and my sister, it’s dogs. They love dogs more than me. They may deny it, but since I have always had dog allergies, verified by blood tests and hives, and they still choose to have dogs, the evidence is there. I don’t resent it, but I won’t go along with any lies that it isn’t true. I do understand their preference, because there is something wonderful about an animal with the ability to know immediately how you feel, care about it, and comfort you. I won’t do that for my family, I sometimes know how they feel, sometimes care and sometimes comfort them, but so much less than a dog would, so I understand the preference for dogs.

I never thought of myself as someone who loves babies, even though I have had two. I never enjoyed playing with dolls, I also didn’t enjoy menial service towards my own babies, even though I did enjoy watching the mystery of their personalities unfold and seeing how life changed as our family grew. So I don’t quite understand why the particular injustice of mingi haunts me as much as it does, but it does.

Last year I read “Not for Sale,” a book about human slave trafficking. Prior to that book, I had never known how large of a problem it is, but though I feel sympathy for those people, in the end, I didn’t feel called to do anything about it. It didn’t feel as if human slave trafficking was just, but also it didn’t feel as if it was my particular responsibility or within my ability to solve.

I don’t live in or near Ethiopia, I don’t speak the language or know about the culture, there is no reason that I am aware of that I should become involved, but yet I haven’t lost the feeling that “this shouldn’t be allowed to keep falling through the cracks.” That there should be some way to end this peaceably.

In school, Martin Luther King Jr was celebrated (perhaps disproportionately), but I couldn’t resist becoming a fan of his writing. Not only the “I have a dream” speech, but also his letter from Birmingham Jail, or perhaps more so. He spoke of peace, but also of taking immediate action, not waiting for justice, but seeking it today. Knowing social justice is a slow process, but getting started in the now, rather than waiting for society to be ready. I remember him as acting despite not having a clear path, instead of waiting for change to be handed over, carving progress day by day, despite protests from not only enemies but especially from friends and loved ones who don’t understand. I started celebrating Martin Luther King Jr’s Day by carving a baked potato with the face of any civil rights leader I choose (Malcolm X, Gandhi ext). Martin Luther King Jr came to be a symbol more than a human being. He stood up not for African Americans, not for Americans, but for all of humankind. I’ve never been brave enough to learn too much about him, for I’d rather not lose my ideal of him, maybe someday.

There are three things I learned from Martin Luther King Jr’s example: one we humans are all a family regardless of having different preferences or appearances; two what matters more than avoid failure is striving to stand for what is right to the best of our abilities as common people; and three that the though we can’t do everything about everything we can make some difference to something.

So, I am beginning this year with a personal resolution to stop yelling at my daughter. I’ve done very well so far, I’m going to keep checking in with myself and make sure I don’t backslide, but it feels as if it’s already done. Thanks to cookies I used to bribe myself…

But I also hope that I will be able to do something for those other babies someday, perhaps this year, perhaps in the future.

Last year I became aware of and fascinated by the concept of Lokahi, meaning the Hawaiian concept of restoring something broken to wholeness. It also represents a connection between humankind, God (or spirituality) and the land (or nature). It’s a trinity that exists as one, many other people may have been introduced to that by religion, but I’ve never been particularly relgious.

When I first became interested in helping end mingi the first internal criticism was “what about taking better care of your own kids?” So yes that is my responsibility, that is a higher priority, I will do that first, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some time or some way to help the other children later.

I’ve been wanting practically all my life to be more of a real writer, perhaps publish a book or series of articles, but I didn’t have a reason.

Jerry Jenkins, the author of “Left Behind” (an interesting fictional story) and mentor to many beginning writers, had always said that a writer has a message to bring to the world. I didn’t have one. I liked writing for writing, I enjoy words, enjoy the craft of writing, but one day I began to understand. The best-writen books such as “The Book Thief” sometimes fall far behind books less eloquently written that speak of the remarkable truths of humanity such as “9 Habits of a Hands-Free Life” or “How to Win Friends and Influence People” or “Meditations”. Ryan Holiday also describes that it doesn’t matter how good your writing skills are if your story is strong, the story matters more than the writing.

Almost all my life I’ve had too many book ideas, last year I tried to pick one that stood out to me over the others and none did, so in an effort to free my soul of the past and generate new ideas I got rid of all my past book notes. And for the first time, nothing new came to me.

Which is probably good because I have a ten-month-old son and four-year-old and a whole lifetime to write.

Yet, I feel more human when I write. So I prefer to write a bit each day. I prefer to get better, to keep learning, to experience the world in that way which clears my mind best and improves my mood. So since I’m writing anyways I wouldn’t mind a meaningful project.

I contacted the foundation who takes care of the children who were saved and what they are in need of is mostly money, having produced a video for exposure they need money to feed the kids ext. I’m not comfortable taking the money my husband earns for that, I’m not comfortable fundraising for that without having more details and also I’m not an extrovert. But perhaps I can use the motivation to take my writing to the next level. Perhaps I can do some paid articles I otherwise wouldn’t be brave enough to do and be able to donate that money without taking away from someone who doesn’t feel the need to support the same cause that I feel a need to support.

It would fit three needs I have, one motivation to do professional writing, two a feeling I have a deep underlying message behind my writing worth spreading, and three that I have a purpose to my life (whether self-ascribed or ascribed by fate is unknown to me) that is a worthy “ikagai” (reason to get up in the morning).

I took my daughter to see “Frozen II” on December 25th and although I was never very in love with the series, I do resonate with the feeling of knowing there should be more connection to something that I’m passionate about in my life, that even though other people value what I’m currently doing (raising kids, teaching, ext) I don’t, it’s something I don’t resent, yet containing a hollowness that lacks a way for me to use my unique skills in a way valuable to me. I hope that I will be able to change that this year. Even if I can’t do much to change the world for the better, I think trying will change me and allow me to live fully.

Henery David Thoreau said, “I don’t want to die without ever haven fully live.” I think that if I died today that would describe me, I’ve lived, I’ve traveled a little, but I wouldn’t wager that I’ve ever fully lived to my potential. Not that I have to do something that everyone hears about, but there is an internal feeling that although doing everyday chores with love and honor is a wonderful service to my family and somewhat the larger human family, there is some part of me that could be used that is instead languishing.

I’ve like using Grammarly for spelling corrections for the past few months, but this is the first article I’ve written in the Grammarly system and I haven’t enjoyed seeing the assistant that describes my honest soul as “a bit band in engagement”… perhaps I am, but it’s a bit uninspiring to be confronted with that, I’m not sure if I’ll hide the assistant or write somewhere else, but I think what I won’t do is change my truth to gain a higher rating from a computer. For me, writing is so much about being a human being and so little about tricking the computer system for ranking, if it ever becomes the other way, I think that will be the last day I write.

🌟 10 Points of Gratitude in 2019! πŸŽ‰

Thank you for my son 2019!
  1. Gratitude towards gratitude itself, this was the first year I found what it is to be grateful, what it feels like, how much it heals. I may have never done that without a special gratitude challenge that I happened upon. I don’t believe in destiny for sure, but it felt like destiny. It felt like “when the student is ready the teacher appears.” No other article has ever changed my life that much, that is why it has to be my article of the year, looking back on it, it was a simple and straightforward post, but it helped me to bridge a gap that I had been waiting to cross all my life. Now most days I write a note about gratitude, one things that inspires me (🌞 1. INSPIRATION), one thing that inspires me about the way are happening in the present moment (⏰ 2. TIMING) and one thing that I’m grateful about some kind of human connection in my life (πŸ’ž 3. CONNECTION). If I miss a day I don’t mind, but it has really changed my brain to be constantly connecting to positive things in my life as well as looking for unneeded things that could be dropped. Thank you to Nomzamo for the article as well as so many others, her blog is defiantly my blog of the year for 2019!
  2. My son being born, it really is less life changing than becoming grateful, for it affects me in all my moments with him, my relationship with my daughter, with my husband, the way I enjoy being alive, the way I think of myself as I try to establish an mental identity independent of my family. My son was born and from the first second brought me joy and has never stopped.
  3. My daughter being forgiving, I was really sick during my son’s pregnancy and really impatient and mean, it was the same me, but more concentrated, so it showed me all my flaws on steroids and now I can work on them, so in a way it was good to become aware of the problems and also that my daughter is forgiving enough that we can forge a new relationship now and in the future.
  4. My family being together, my husband and I have unresolved bitterness that prevents us from being a happy couple, but I am grateful we are a stable couple, that we are a becoming a supportive couple. The children really enjoy our family being a whole and it gives me hope that in the future there will still be something left to repair.
  5. For life, life is a struggle, it’s full of pain and happiness, more happiness than pain for me, but not a single day goes by without problems and massive compromise about how I would like to live my life. I wonder and don’t know if all family members have to constantly live with compromise about how to use resources, which person’s hobbies get priority, which person’s sleep schedule gets to mess up everyone else’s ext. But every breath is still sweet, every dawn beautiful, the sunshine and the rain equally magnificent to me.
  6. For not being a doctor, my daughter is four, if things had gone differently I would have started and finished medical school and would now be working as a doctor, I would be in debt from school, but with earning power to pay it. But I think I would not have one or both of my children and no price on Earth would have been worth not having them or not having the time to love and protect them. For some people career is their baby, for me, my babies are my babies. I really want an identity separate from them, but not because I don’t treasure them, just because that is the road to sanity for me, to be mentally separate, to have aspirations that I own and pursue not ones I push onto them to own and peruse.
  7. For not having my mother in my life. It’s great that my real mother is not in my life. I would have had to explain drug addiction, pedophilia, bipolar disorder to my daughter already, she may have been hit or choked by her grandmother already before we knew it would be a problem. I would have felt less empowered to make changes, I would have spent a lot of time feeling angry about the past instead of just living in the present. I’m glad for reconciliation where it is healthy, but I’m even more glad for separation where it is not.
  8. For debt, having debt has shown me money is not everything. These have been the happiest years of my life and the poorest as well. I don’t plan to intentionally not save if I can, but the myth of money bringing happiness has been completely and utterly shattered for me this year. I’ve been hammering away at it, but now it’s gone. Money isn’t power, it can be used to buy things, change things, but it can also exist without changing anything. A lot of times money simply stays in the bank and doesn’t even reduce the fear of not having enough money later, because all money can be lost, any bank can close, any government insuring a bank can itself fall, nothing is certain about money. It can be a great tool, but it is the worst master I know.
  9. For safety, there are so many things I don’t love about my country, but it is fairly safe and safety feels great. It’s funny that many people who live here don’t feel safe, and of course it’s not completely safe, but it’s very safe compared to most the world. It is interesting that it’s 49th out of 160 on Safe Around Rankings (we are way less safe than Japan that doesn’t have guns and a bit more than China where people will give you drugs and steal your kidneys) which seems right to me vs 118 out of 163 in the Global Peace Index (which seems to count how people feel more). There is a vibe that a lot of people feel afraid, though I am not one, I notice it. In Mexico a lot of killing is happening, my husband’s family is from there and goes back a lot, people are frequently being decapitated. Overall the safety here is fair, no matter how you scale it or spin it, it’s just obvious many countries are safer, yet there is not constant non-stop violence either. I’m grateful for the amount of safety we have, it’s not that nothing could ever happen, but incidents are spaced out in our average life spans.
  10. For the truth, there are people who lie, information that is wrong, but the truth is the same from all angles, the truth helps heal disease, the truth is slow and doesn’t magically cure injustice, but it allows a discussion, it beings a journey, it rings true in the heart, it changes you over time like a river carves a canyon through rock. The truth makes writing worth it, learning worth it, it makes the pain of being wrong worth it.
After Writing This My Son Broke My Computer and My Daughter Shared Hers With Me and Encouraged Me To Write… Life Is So Extremely Up and Down Lately. Love and Best Wishes for 2020 to You! πŸ’