We talk about love and happiness, but what we mean, can vary.
Love can be an act, the process of tapping someone with kindness, smiling to say everything that needs to be said, or it can be simply not hitting someone who just bit you.
For me separating love into “connection” and “care” helps. My father cared for me so much but didn’t connect with me ever. I am grateful for the care. I remember him brushing a huge knott out of the hair hidden behind my other back of the head hair (that looking back probably should have always been thinned or cut), I remember him stroking my painful stomach all night as I lay in pain one night, even though he had to go to work the next day. He picked up dinner on the way home, and it was great, he made sure I had everything I needed most of my life and that was great, but it wasn’t connection. He gave me everything he could, I understand, I’m okay with that. But I had to learn connection, these past few years, to give my kids, what I feel is right to give them. Connection means knowing someone else’s hopes and dreams, fears, and preferences a little bit, keeping it current instead of just substituting outdated information… It means more, but I just wanted to distinguish between connection love and duty love.
I believe it isn’t an either-or, but a gradient, meaning too much in, either way, is worse than a mix.
I believe imagination and sanity are like that too. I define sanity as being able to recognize and accept the world as it is. If you stick your hand in a fire, it burns, no matter if you are attracting positive or negative ideas in your mind. The power of attitude and the power of the mind are amazing, they have some control over life, I don’t know how much, maybe 30%, maybe 99%, but I don’t believe it’s 100%.
If you 100% don’t believe in AIDS, and get HIV, please don’t test that on other people. If you 100% think you can drive drunk, please don’t. A positive attitude is no substitute for contraceptive or food or a healthy living situation. But on the other hand, it can change the world, the key is balance.
Without imagination, we would live in the world the same way each day, or as close as we could. We wouldn’t be able to be a better person over time before we improve it takes some sanity to see our flaws honestly and heal from that pain, but it also takes some imagination to dream of something that isn’t yet in existence, then make it so.
I have stayed away from existentialism, the idea we make ourselves with our own minds, because I am a stoic. I believe in things outside and inside our control, but there is a value to being able to imagine a better future than the one in which we were or are living.
I’ve been thinking about what makes a good life, lately I’ve also been living it and I decided to share because I know I didn’t find my own formula very easily.
Some people said service (duty), others said love (connection), others that everything was in your head (imagination), but what I have found from my life so far is that there is excess possible for anything good.
Eating is super esential to life, but the excess is obviously harmful in extremes. Another excess is caring for children alone, we weren’t meant to do it, it is possible, but it’s extreme an extreme I live through, but I remember being raised with my grandmother able to help my parents and my aunts as well, and even spending the summer with my grandfather.
I was lucky in that my grandfather never molested me or did anything wrong to me, he had molested his children very often, so looking back, I find it surprising my mom sent me to live with him in the summers, even though I did enjoy the forest. It was strange, he was a good cook and helped me with algebra (previous NASA engineer), but my mother and her siblings were so damaged by his abuse that I had heard about hundreds of times. In general, I don’t choose to associate with any people who abuse children, but as a child, I didn’t get to choose where my mother took me or where I lived. The courts gave her full custody, so if my dad wanted to see me at all, he had to stay on my mother’s better side. But it was weird having such a mixed picture of my grandfather, someone who was fine financially and intellectually but so broken mentally. I think it was the beginning of me knowing that you can fail at life with every outward appearance being “normal”. That only you really know how you are doing, short or long term.
I kind of idealized my father’s family, because “no pedophiles” was like “the perfect family” compared to a family with pretty much all pedophiles. I still love my father’s family more (actually, my mother’s family doesn’t even exist anymore, a small family that fragmented even further and dissolved). But my father’s family isn’t perfect, we were multigenerational hoarders (at least 3, but maybe more).
So, I’m from a comically messed up family, as many people are, and finding out how to live the good life I promised myself I would find when I left my mother took longer than I thought it would.
I have it now, I’m very lucky and very grateful, it was part opportunity, part work and a large part mental.
It wasn’t only mental, but it was very mental.
I wouldn’t have expected my mom, being raped often, starting at age 5, to use her mental power to enjoy her life then or find balance despite the hard circumstances. Whatever she someday is able to do is probably a good job considering her opportunities, but I refuse to set the bar low for myself because of what she believed the bar was for her.
Often people tell you what you want or are isn’t possible, because it isn’t possible for them. They may want you to fail or may want you not to get hurt trying.
I got a cup cover I love, it says “don’t be afraid to fail, the moments I spend with you are the best moments in my life.”
Sure, it would be nice to hear from a spouse, but I’ll take it from a plastic cup cover.
If we want things in life and they come, it’s best to take them from where they come (of course not immorally).
I always find the chakra system interesting, but I think just like Traditional Chinese Medicine (eating human flesh and pangolins), there are thousands of years of bad ideas mixed into thousands of years of truths.
The Chakra system is a life balance system though, it says your life and body/mind can be divided into 7 areas to make it easier to understand life and life balance. The idea a chakra, like love – the heart chakra – can be too open or too closed is not new, but what I find true for me is that the over balances directly affect another “axis”, meaning that being over imaginative doesn’t happen at the same time as being overly sane, being overly concerned for getting the check list done doesn’t happen at the same time as being open to a heart to heart conversation.
I propose a mind and heart axis that when they meet in moderation, produce a very fine life quality.
Right now I’m living in that balance and it feels great, it may not be anything new to you the reader, but for me it was new and if it isn’t your life balance formula, perhaps it’s a tool to help you discover yours.
Thank you for entertaining the ideas, I’m sorry if the past of my family disturbs your day I appologize for the vulgarity of it, it’s the past of a lot of families and even disturbing as it is, if the world changes to a place it can be talked about, 1. victims won’t need to be ashamed and 2. victimizers will think just a bit more about not doing what they already should be as to not be publicly shamed.
When I read The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg, he explained how science shows habits are made, even by people with brain damage due to surgery.
It’s different than what public perseption leads us to imagine. Willpower is something that gets depleated from the actions of the day, it’s not infinate, some people do have more, but it is trainable.
The book describes, 1. Cue, 2. Routine, 3. Reward, but in the appendix describes a process for how to check if the habit process needs to be adjusted.
I’ve tried the method described by the book of noting how the habit is going, and tweaking any of those three ingredients.
Later I came across another habit change system from Coach.Me:
1. Start with Assessment. What is the person’s larger goal and why? What do they expect from their coach? You need this assessment in order to identify and initial practice and to be able to personalize your coaching.
2. Use the assessment to move on to Habituation. Find a regular practice that will support your client’s larger goal. Then focus on building consistency.
3. Once there is consistency, you can work on Growth. This where you can expand the difficulty of the practice, build skills, identify and solve challenges, and introduce optimizations.
4. You and your client should look for Graduation milestones where you can re-assess and either end the coaching relationship or restart the momentum cycle based on what you and your client learned the first time through. It’s much better to do multiple trips through the Momentum Cycle than it is to be bogged down in one phase.
I also learned there were some internal, kind of “invisible steps” that happened along the way.
My process has become the combination of cue-routine-reward and the momentum framework with some other mindfullness steps. I don’t like to make it longer, but I feel like I’d rather have it have as many steps that it needs to work.
). Evalutaion, when I think about something for the first time in a deeper way, there are millions of thoughts everyday so it would be too hard to question everything and still get survival needs accomplished, but sometimes something calls the mind towards a habit or part of a life style or thought process, without that the whole thing can’t start. It’s the seed that has the potential to bloom, but not all seeds need to be planted in a given season of life, sometimes it’s not the right time to allocate resources towards the project.
1. Decide, it can be hard to decide, because sometimes the wanted data can’t be given to prove the choice will be safe or productive, so some choices are a leap of faith, not neccisarily 100% leap, but some kind of leap, ultimately the decision making is done on a best guess.
2. Plan, let’s say you want to live by cue, routine, reward, but they have to be picked in the planning step. Also thinking ahead of roadblocks and metrics for success may help. I like to make sure I align one of my values with the goal so that I don’t run out of meaning, the growth of the value can go a long way to make the drudgery seem like it has impact or value to me.
3. Cue, this can be a time like 8AM, or an alarm or a sequence of events like “when we are done with dinner”.
4. Routine, the is steps of what has to be done, “both my kids and I brush our teeth to the song “Eye of the Tiger” and we give my toddler a 1-10 point score so she can have fun with the game of “Tooth Brushing Competition”, we floss after brushing and then move on.
5. Reward, for my daughter it is “winning”, for my son it is “dancing to the song together as we brush” for me it is “not having to brush the kids teeth when I am already exausted right before sleep”.
6. Graduation, this is when the habit is solid, that means the reward doesn’t affect the habit anymore. It takes longer depending on how new the habit is, how natural it is, how aligned with the habit your nature is. Right now I am writing with no cookie, I didn’t take away my cookie for a month, because I prefer to leave the reward for longer than I feel it is needed rather than to have to redo the habit loop. It doesn’t need to be a cookie, but food works the best, it can be healthy food, but after about four years of making habit loops on myself and others I have noticed food is the strongest because it connects the body and mind to the goal rather than just the mind. Sometimes, like with brushing teeth, it’s not a good option. The reward is strongest closest to the activity so giving food the next day for teeth brushing today doesn’t work as well as a reward tonight.
7. Observe, this is “is it worth it?” “is it for me?” “what’s the next step?” Usually I like getting up at 5AM to write, but right now I wake up at 7AM, because when I get up my son wakes up and I would rather he get enough sleep. My husband comes home late, because his job lets him out late, my son loves playing with his dad. Sleep books say my son should be sleeping more than he is, so I don’t want to kill myself to make him sleep what a book says he should, but I also don’t want him to sleep less. So for me it isn’t worth it waking up early, because it wakes up my son, he gets less sleep, I get less sleep that way also, but I find I have an easier time falling asleep and sleep better if I wake up on my natural early cycle, so the main issue right now is my son’s sleep, which is pretty temporary I think.
A summary of my habit change system:
). Evalutaion, is this my best life? What do I have the resources and desire to change right now?
1. Decide, I usually want to do too many things, the least amount of changes the odds are they will have resources to succeed.
2. Plan, decide on a way to have a new cue, routine, reward that is possible today and upgrade it as possible, possibly plan a Plan A and Plan B and use Plan A until items for Plan B arrive.
3. Cue, usually just a hour for me like 7AM, 8AM, but alarms can work well too.
4. Routine, the more detailed the steps means no decisions have to be made on a “bad day” so it’s helpful to decide everything before hand and have it noted.
5. Reward, it really matters what you like, when habits don’t work this is usually the key issue.
6. Graduation, the good part of habits is yes you fall off, but each time you go through the cycle some of the past makes it easier, getting in shape the first time tends to be harder and the second time, a bit less ext.
7. Observe, this is “is it worth it?” “is it for me?” “what’s the next step?” Some time just doing all the things that sound good make your life worse if it costs you something like family harmony or your own well being, sometimes a habit that is good at one time is not at another, it’s important to check if it’s worth it. Not just putting a latter on a building, but putting it on “the burning building” this is the difference between management and leadership.
I was doing some research today for the book, I was hoping not to choose something that needed research, not because I don’t like it, but because I didn’t want to get stuck.
The unease about the research probably started when discarded my second to last project. I had finished about half of what I think would have been a good historical fiction novel set in Italy, but I hadn’t been to Italy and the lack of feeling comfortable about writing about something I didn’t know about undermined my confidence in the project and I scrapped it. I know male writers write male and female characters, I know people write about places they haven’t been and often well, but I just didn’t feel comfortable with the extend of unknown.
I’m trying to use the same hour to work on my articles as well as the book, so hypothetically the articles will be shorter, I feel like they are a really good way to check in with myself about the project vs just spending the time working on the book could be like building a house without a project manager.
I’ve always wanted to have a kind of daily article theme, this is the rough draft I’m trying this week:
MON Self Leadership TUE Organization (Digital or Home) WED Emotional Acceptance or Educational THR Book or Game Review FRI Week Review or Habits SAT Satire or Inspiration
My Monday: Exploring Self Leadership
For me, self leadership starts with values and aligning them to my daily activities or goals.
I don’t really remember my values since they have changed so recently, that’s kind of embarrassing to say, but true. I suppose it’s partially because the family grew though, adding a new person really changed the dynamic of all our lives. It hasn’t been so long that I started the “stay at home” life, it’s been about two years, but with a pregnancy and new baby, and new house in Hawaii, and new migratory living situation, there has been so much change in my life that it makes since that my values would have changed too. Internally I’ve changes as much or more than those kind of external changes, I’ve defined myself differently as a writer, then perhaps as more of a philosopher and teacher and less of a writer. It’s interesting to me that the more I distance myself from being “just a mother” the more I enjoy being a mother.
My values right now are in no order: Restoration (ie Break Taking), Emotional Courage, Routine Building, Gratitude, Grace, Patience, Connection (Gentle-Curious-Kind Communication).
I can see a theme between connection, courage, grace and patience, which seems like it will continue to build my core family relationships to be more healthy and mutually enjoyable. I perhaps had known those were things people that choice to be married or parents should do, but knowing you “should” do something and being ready to do it are two different things.
But grace, patience, gratitude, courage, routine building and restoration I think were in response to trying to create an identity of my own. I won’t blame motherhood for my lack of an identity, but I will say that the amount of change that has happened in the last 10 years added to a speed of change faster than acquisition of self knowledge so that I lost touch with who I am. Also the possibilities for what I can do from home with two kids have shifted in those 10 years so that I can potentially teach English or start a business or write professionally from home so that home and work could potentially fuse, not sure if that is what I want yet, but the possibilities of what I can do affect what I want to choose, so it’s as if the world is expanding at the same time as I try to find my place in it and that although positive is also daunting.
If I had to break my current values down into groups I see kindness for myself, kindness for my family and a challenge to grow existentially.
It’s amusing to me that I am largely grounded as a stoic, but I find myself wanting to be more grounded in some kind of identity, which requires some existentialism and I often think that existentialism is something I don’t want to deal with at this point in life.
Kind of like when I knew algebra and not geometry, but I needed to combine them to pass trigonometry. I may need to team up with a philosophy branch that isn’t my favorite to become whole to a greater extent than before.
There is the idea of treating people (myself and others) with dignity and also of trying to define myself in a new way. Those two ideas are what I believe will mark this year.
“I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
Etienne de Grellet
One thing to think about at night is did I live by my values, not necessarily all my values everyday, but when I think of today I know I showed more grace and patience with my daughter. But I am at a place where I could, only because I no longer feel ashamed to punish her in a reasonable way for bad habits, she hit and kicked me today, she is getting old enough to be taught not to in a kind way. Not feeling out of line to discipline her (which has really become frowned upon by public opinion lately) allows me to pardon her when she has learned (for learning is the objective) but also to discipline with love. It’s a muddy topic and I’m not a fan of writing about parenting, but there is definitely discipline with love, once my grandmother gave me two pork buns and I ate both instead of giving my sister hers, when my grandmother found out I think I asked her if she was mad and she said, “no, I’m just know not to give you the one for your sister next time.” It was life changing, because my parents were so afraid of discipline in any way that it was the first time I had been held accountable for my actions in any way and the fact it was respectful and reasonable gave me absolutely nothing for me to rebel against. It gave me a sense of shame at who I was, but also safety that my grandmother still loved me, and also power that I could in the future act differently, I wasn’t locked into a bad identity by a mistake. I got the sense that I wasn’t good or bad, but that I would be trusted to have integrity when I merited the trust in the future.
So tonight I look back on the day with a satisfaction that even though I’ve changed my values so many times recently, it is a legitimate reflection of a time of change in my life and perhaps very hopeful to be a better fit for the life I have now that is so different than the life I had before.
I worked, I supported myself in every way, now things are different, now I am part of a team, I am supported financially, emotionally, I also am the main care taker for two other human beings and a kind of supporting character to my husband (meaning that his job defines where we live and invest and his permission lets my kids travel with me for half of the year). In the past all the decisions of my life were my own, but they also didn’t affect so many others, and my life wasn’t as happy. I’m not saying an independent life isn’t of equal potential, just that in my case all the sacrifices of freedom were worth their weight in gold.
So, a bit scared about if I made the right choice on book topics and if I will have the will power to do “enough” research, but without “wasting time” endlessly researching. I still really enjoy writing articles, which is amusing because a year ago I thought (without trying it) that I would hate it.
So, I hope to get the writing process a bit more organized, develop a new habit of splitting my writing time between article writing, book research and book writing. I feel that by doing writing and research rather than research followed by writing it will keep me from getting stuck on the research, but I’m very unsure of what “the right way” will be, just sure I want to take a few steps forward in the name of “resolution” fixing the ideas of who I was and who I am into a new cohesive identity.
Yesterday at the Ikea furniture store cafe and restaurant, I had a great conversation with my husband about wanting to write a book and what books the world was lacking vs what my interests were.
When my husband left to pick up my daughter from Small Land downstairs I came to the conclusion that if I ever get abandoned by my family, divorced or face a significant death I want to be told at the Ikea cafe and restaurant because for whatever reason it’s very calming for me, it’s kind of creative and kind of generic, kind of public but kind of intimate, it’s interesting and industrial at the same time, maybe like a public school in a way.
But while I was talking with my husband about books I came up with the idea I want to try for my first “book”. Technically I finished my first book already when I learned how to make ebooks via Google slides after watching this 2 minute video from Ellen Cordeiro. Or perhaps when I wrote a biography about Abraham Lincoln in third grade. You may think it’s silly, but it helps to have this longer book, not be my first book. Something about the first book creates pressure, if I think of it as my third book than that’s not so bad.
I’m not really interested in publishing right now, maybe someday I will be, but I think creating an ebook, which I now know how to do and uploading to the openlibrary.org meets my personal needs and aspirations.
To me it’s about the world being able to access and read my book if they want to, not about finance, not about fame, not about numbers of people who don’t want to read the book reading it from pity or hype.
Maybe someday things will be different, but that’s the place I’m in right now.
So, I didn’t miss my writing yesterday, I just switched from writing an article to doing the work on the book. I did a complete first outline. Not a lot of words, but it was well worth.
I was telling my husband there are so many new kinds of books now, books with a lot of humor, actually Shakespeare was pretty humorous, but it became very outdated for most readers and even if it wasn’t then there is room for more, like Sarah Knight. Mark Manson is interesting in the way he writes about whatever combination of ideas that he wants to and it works, like a dinner party of philosophy. Rereading the Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, I can see a ton of ideas that moved onward into recent movies and books. When I was a child I thought that the writer had a burden to make something new, completely new, now as an adult I see a writer more like a cook. If you cook eggs, they are always different, your best job, yes isn’t plagiarism, but it doesn’t need to depart from all other cooked eggs of the past, eggs can be scrambled, Mexican style with onion and tomato, or become a cookie or a flan. It isn’t impossible to write something completely different like Edwin Abbott Abbott’s Flatland, but nor is it required to do something good.
Since there are so many billions of people now and in the future, a particular style of writing may be the right way to connect with a reader.
I’ve heard powerful messages again and again in my life, that fell on deaf ears, I’m not sure if the messages got through because the voice of the author was the right match for me or because the energy of the author came though to my heart or because at the right time, when the student is ready the teacher appears, but for whatever reason I think there does exist plenty of space to tell more similar stories and breathe life into the beloved ideas in new ways like “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” brings one of Mr. Roger’s puppets (Daniel Tiger) to life in a new generation.
I was talking to my husband yesterday about Jerry Jenkins who has to my knowledge 199 books (16 best sellers). I’m sure he is working on the 200th. I like that author, he is Christian but in a non-dogmatic way. He was the first writer I ever read who wrote about their own religion as a kind of thought experiment vs as set in concrete with no room for error or descent.
I attended one of his seminars and he said if you had young children or adult family members to care for that was wonderful and your priority and therefore you may not be able to write without feeling guilty.
Jerry worked a traditional job, came home, saw his kids until they fell asleep, which is great. But me, as a stay at home mom, I’m with these kids from the moment I wake up to the moment they go to sleep with 0-1 hours of help at night from my husband. It’s a different situation, it’s not only good, but nearly essential for me to get a mental break, I can do that with or without my husband by creating independent play that is safe and rewarding for my kids.
I do believe what Jerry Jenkins said was true for him in his situation, but it is not true for me in my situation.
But I think that is when I realized that I couldn’t follow Immanuel Kant’s writing process, Jerry Jenkins writing process, Steven King’s writing process ext. But reading about them has helped me brainstorm how my process could possible work.
One thing Jerry Jenkins talked about was having a message, he says his books start with an idea he wants to communicate, Steven King talks about feeling like he is channeling the idea from within the world of the story, but both discus starting with the idea and allowing it to unfold.
I’m not sure if it has to be done that way, but for the past few weeks I was waiting for an idea to stand out from the crowd of my mind so I could try.
Yesterday I picked one, inspired by Milo and the Magical Stones (Abenteuer von Mats), Marcus Pfister. That was a children’s book my husband read to my daughter on vacation at the library. It had a split ending, you could pick a sad or happy ending and both were beautifully done and it worked.
In the 1990s kids books were trying the multiple ending idea for books, but it was poorly executed in my opinion, it felt like the route you picked didn’t matter because all routes met up later.
I don’t really know if there is fate, if our choices do matter or don’t matter, or sometimes matter.
But since I don’t know, and I know that I don’t know, I choose to believe some of our choices do matter.
So as I write my book the message to this book is the idea that the choices we make do matter and that we affect each other in profound ways, that as humans we are not islands (or if we are islands we are interconnected ones).
They all touched something in me that brought to life a part of me, even though obviously their experiences are not my experiences.
Maybe that’s something other people go through all the time, when they watch movies they cry with the sad scenes or laugh with the funny scenes, but not me, I’m not autistic (no offense to those people, but sometimes if I don’t feel exactly how other people react others try to label me that way incorrectly kind of like if you don’t find a guy attractive he may think you are a lesbian, my husband thinks something is abnormal about my brain development if I don’t laugh at his bullying his coworker jokes…), sometimes I can laugh at jokes (I’ve been finding Bill Burr very funny, though not in complete agreement with my particular ethics). But for me, it’s not everyday I feel that connection with others, it’s not every article, but in these three stories I feel like, “that’s our story,” obviously theirs, less obviously mine, but even more so “ours” ours as a people, ours as humans. Sometimes a sad story, sometimes a courageous story, sometimes a work in progress, but a “human” story, a story of flaws and redemption, in everyday heros.
The three quotes that inspire this book are:
“If nobody speaks of remarkable things, how can they be called remarkable?” -Jon McGregor
“Don’t ask for an easy life, ask for the strength to deal with a hard one.”
– Bruce Lee
“When you know better do better.”
– Maya Angelou
The book may be short or long, I haven’t determined that but it will branch into 3 levels, so it will have three books in it.
I used Google Keep notes, like post it notes on computers and phones, to keep my book notes, that way they don’t get lost. When the note gets really long it converts itself to a document via Google Docs, but that doesn’t happen much to me. Using bitmoji images on the top let me know what the notes are as do the color options.
I use Google Keep, which is free to share our shopping list between my husband and I, brainstorm school material, keep track of a rough hourly agenda, save quotes that inspire me, keep a list of how I do my stoic meditations and gratitude journaling, remember my values (it’s not that easy as they change), and for the first time in a long time store book ideas.
You can pin important notes to a top row, normal notes on a second level and achieved notes will be unseen, but find-able. It’s better than paper notes because it doesn’t get lost, it is shareable, and searchable. It’s something that I couldn’t do without, yes I could do it differently, but I couldn’t live my best life without notes to help me keep track of my thoughts, because having my thoughts in words gives me torque to control them (ie gratitude rather than “too much” negativity – some is healthy), writing cash spending to add to the automatic tracking that works for credit and debit ext.
I’m not sure if it was three or four years ago I found Dan Siegel’s healthy mind platter there are so many good things to do in a day that it became very overwhelming. I was overwhelmed by good and healthy options, it sound nice, but it didn’t feel nice.
Dan Siegel’s healthy mind platter helped me visualize the good things to do in a day, such as mindfulness (time-in) and down time. When I first found it, it was difficult to imagine being able to really have time for everything.
When I became a new mother, laundry, dishes, meals, seemed like such a struggle, but I was working full time and taking my baby with me, so that’s part of why it was difficult, but it may just always be difficult anyways.
The first thing I added was exercise, that took a few months to be able to do and imaging being able to do anything more, then about two months later, sleeping enough meaning sleep training, which is what worked for us, then after two weeks of that I may have added something else, but to this day I don’t give myself much play time.
There are about four hours I don’t need to micromanage my 4 year old now (the green and yellow ones), or perhaps I should say I don’t choose to, but it feels right.
I’m lucky my son is very anti-clinging so he plays most of the day around us, but without micromanaging. I make sure to appreciate him and connect with him at least an hour after the whole day of him just enjoying what activities we are doing or free playing as he chooses.
The three hours that remain are for relaxing in the morning to wake up, perhaps checking email, which is my connection to the world I don’t own a cell phone for personal use, at night I decompress and on a good day I’m done with my writing and simply relax with the family or alone depending on the day, the most enjoyable hour is the writing hour. Today I’m late, but my husband seems okay with me writing.
I think the healthy mind platter has some good ideas, it’s very hard to work all those things into the time remaining after a job, a commute and meal prep and responsibilities, but one thing that helped me was not worrying about an hour, just doing 10 minutes, or 5 minutes, or one activity such as a short (2:29 second) guided meditation video (this one has satirical profanity, but it was the one I started with because it seemed approachable and made me laugh). Looking at the platter again for the first time in years, I’m surprised it doesn’t have gratitude and humor, both of those things improved my life quality more than some of the things that made the platter, also reflecting on purpose (ikagai) isn’t the same as focus, time management check in, and values based living alignment or self-leadership time are also worth more to me than many things on this platter.
I am still working on our day being more relaxed, but I also have a genuine enthusiasm for early learning so those two things have a bit of natural tension between them.
Another tip that helped me is halving or quartering activities instead of skipping them. Like to get a break if I need one or someone threw up and I need to clean I can have a shorter music time rather than none, because if I have none my daughter gets thrown off and throws a fit, but it we do a shorter one we are all more at peace with that change.
Rachel Macy Stafford’s idea that it only takes six seconds to make a connection helped me, I literally started with six seconds of connection and when my life changed I got more time due to not having commutes. But the difference from relaxing with deep breathing or giving someone a “real hug” for six seconds seems to be more important than going from six seconds to ten minutes, it’s the idea that there is any importance at all in relaxation or connection or exercise that shifts the way planning goes that is more important than hitting a certain amount of minutes.
Today I started listening to Michael Pollan’s new book “Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World. Michael Pollan is the first author that I have experienced as a book author, a narrator of his audio book on Audible and also on a series of documentaries about plants that have conquered the world “The Botany of Desire” and a series of documentaries about the way cooking changed the world in modern times.
I’m sure there are other people, but for me Michael Pollan was the first author to do that idea triathlon of written book, audio book, and TV series/video book.
Shaun T would have been the first if I had read his book instead of listening to the Audible version of T for Transformation.
Sometimes I wonder if the writers of today are like the philosophers of Greece or if there is a distinction.
Certainly journalists remind me more of historians, and comedy writers of entertainers. But I don’t know the role of the average writer, are we story tellers or are we philosophers or both, can the two be separated?
I don’t know, but I do know that I have always loved books and enjoyed reading and it feels like a natural process to be a writer as well.
To me it feels like our souls eat ideas and desire more and when we digest what we have eaten we write or dance or do something to output the idea we have processed internally. It feels like all art is the same process of finding the path of creativity that we have the least resistance to in response to the inspiration of a world of ideas either from the natural world, the modern world, or in response to the ideas of others.
I find that I write more easily if I haven’t been reading, but I can also write if I have been reading.
I just feel a bit more grounded in my own ideas after some mental and physical solitude. I enjoy reading, but I can take long breaks without reading as well and kind of listen to the symphony of silence.
In such a loud, busy world, silence can be welcome, at least to me as an introvert.
It’s funny that it depends on if it is expected or unexpected, if I want silence and get it, I may not like it, what matters more if I expected to have it or didn’t expect to have it. At night if something disturbs the silence, I may or may not appreciate it. I remember a tuba player decided to suddenly play a song near by at 4AM on a Thursday one night and I was very amused by the event, it was very well played and kind of interesting. Before it happened I would have guessed that I wouldn’t have liked it, but when it happened I actually found it a bit interesting and it was nice to know the world was more magical than all the things I imagined were probably going to happen. My husband usually doesn’t take both kids, one weekend afternoon he did, it was unexpectedly quiet, I would have thought I would love that, but I didn’t that time.
If anything still interests me about life, the most interesting thing is how wrong I am about myself.
I’ve been watching some cool history series lately, Mankind The Story of All of Us, and some about neanderthals (the relatives we don’t invite to dinner – just a joke) and sure there is a ton I didn’t know, but it doesn’t surprise me since I was never a history major or enthusiast, but what surprises me more is how I continue to not know about myself, not only my past, but my present.
So I wonder about what I am as a writer as a human and if I could become like Michael Pollan, if he is the future of what authors are to be (someone who can write, narrate, or film a series that explains his findings). Or if there are authors who are too introverted to live that way? I don’t have any pressure right now to find that answer, but as more authors run retreats (Rachel Macy Stafford) or sell out venues to talk (Mark Manson) it makes me wonder if things change that way if I will be able to adjust.
Michael Pollan is such a plant lover, and so am I, it’s very enjoyable to read his writing, the way he both acknowledges plants are not people, yet then proceeds to anthropomorphize plants anyways. Kind of like the movie “The Good Dinosaur” which starts by saying dinosaurs didn’t exist at the same time as people, but then makes a fictional story line where the large asteroid that wiped out the large dinosaurs with climate change (the small ones still live as our birds). There is something adorable about the way Michael Pollan retains the joy and wonder of a child, yet has the writing and research skills of an adult. His curiosity of things I’m wasn’t curious about is a bit contagious. I’ll never look at another apple without thinking of Kazakhstan. I like his writing, but the main reason I read his books is because my sister buys them. She has a strength called “ideation” (from the Clifton Strength Finder System) which means connecting dots between very different ideas.
It’s a cool skill, many times when different scientist work together they solve problems they couldn’t solve alone due to a lack of perspective. Like with the age of the world, Clair Patterson, a geochemist who pinpointed Earth’s age for the first time who needed to first isolate the lead contamination from gasoline pollution potentially poisoning children and adults. Or the periodic table of elements, made by Dimitri Mendeleev, that was defiantly connecting a lot of dots where other people had never seen them before.
I don’t share that skill of “ideation” or making new connections between ideas to the extent my sister does. But we do share a lot of strengths, we share “restoration” wanting to run towards problems and find solutions for them, we share “intellection” liking to think.
I wonder if we enjoy reading from authors with the same strengths that we have? I don’t know. I know that I have read books that I thought were the key to a good life and worth their weight in gold and when my father or sister (both avid readers) pick up the book they can’t bear to read it. If it was my husband I would just think, he doesn’t care to read. But with my dad and sister they will have read 10 other books, but can’t bear to read the ones that I thoroughly enjoyed.
I also don’t like reading my dad’s books, I did as a child, because any book was better than nothing and there were not ebooks. My dad’s favorite book’s plot line was, “cool, but everyday down to earth cop, solves murder and is cool, develops a relationship with an attractive female, but it doesn’t work out because she dies.” I would love to read any other variation of that story, like “nerdy cop solves murder” or “uptight, upper class cop solves murder,” or “gay cop solves murder and marries male love interest” or “female cop solves murder before cool, everyday down to earth male cop can,” or “cop tries and can’t solve murder” or “cop solvers murder, wins girl, but then goes through marital problems, and resolves them into a normal marriage.” I wonder if my dad would like any of the other variations? I would find them hilarious.
I guess my books can be kind of the same story as well. I like Scifi and fantasy, but many of my favorite books can be summed up as “true love conquers all” in a space or made up environment, and violence on the part of the heroes solves almost all problems, whichever problems it doesn’t solve are solved by being super smart, all problems get solved.
My sister has the most diverse taste in books of anyone I’ve ever met, she reads everything we read, but much more.
So as I read Michael Pollan’s new book, I’m enjoying his ideas, his voice, he is a captivating story teller, but I’m a little uneasy that I don’t know if he will present me information that will try to convince me to stop drinking coffee, which I love.
I have stopped when I was pregnant, twice, and those were some of the worst months of my life. Possibly because I was pregnant and I have the extra vomit kind of pregnancy that most people will never fully understand unless they saw it or had it.
I’m at once open minded about living without coffee, because I enjoy being control of what I put in my body, and also terrified I will come across some reason that makes sense to stop drinking coffee.
I also have a coffee plant, so if the problem becomes environmental I can perhaps grow my own coffee. I used to grow my own green tea until my tea plant dried out and died.
Most likely I will just enjoy the book and keep drinking a 12 pack of coffee a week, but there is a small fear any time I read something about something I enjoy consuming that there will be valid evidence that puts what I want with what I think is healthy into a civil war with one another.
I’m surprised that having written only 1 book, just an ebook, just for my daughter, last week, that now I am already having fears about what something that lies about 14 years further on a writing journey may possibly hold, but I guess I am.
I can’t thank you guys enough, for sharing your thoughts and encouragement with me since September last year, the feedback has been helpful and I hope to be transitioning into more cohesive and more challenging this year that I wouldn’t have the courage to be thinking about if not for all the kindness and also inspiration from reading many of the writing from you guys. Thank you so much. I would say happy spring, but some people are in winter, happy beginning of 2020! 🌸
For awhile I was interested in “improving my life, but finally, I broke through to another level where I really enjoy my life more than ever before, so much so that I don’t choose to call it life improvement anymore, now it’s fine tunning until someday will be time to climb another mountain or perhaps crawl out of a future ditch. Either way, this is time to enjoy life and keep track of the recipe that works for me in case I or my kids someday need it.
Being mindful is a really valuable way to make sure the limited resources of time, energy, patience, and money, that I am lucky enough to have, get spend in the best way to restore myself mentally, physically, spiritually so that I can “mālama pono” (protect what is good in myself and the world).
Today I moved some time slots around and felt like it worked out better, having play breaks in a long school day (vs doing a lot of school in a row), moving “special time” with my daughter to right after lunch, making outside play an option instead of something I “must do”, making lego play at night an option instead of something I “must do”. I splurged on a planner I love so I actually have somewhere to write down those changes, it took me a while to allow myself to write notes with my fast, ugly handwriting in my beloved planner, but that is what it is for after the dates expire it becomes trash…
The master spring theme for our family is creativity, as nature seems to create flowers and music in overdrive in the spring after a rest in winter.
This is the first time I was able to select my values using my “gut” intuition rather than choosing from a list, it’s powerful. I didn’t use the lists because I preferred too, I used the lists when that was the only way I could.
This is the list I used to use from author Russ Harris:
1. Acceptance: to be open to and accepting of myself, others, life, etc. 2. Adventure: to be adventurous; to actively seek, create, or explore novel or stimulating experiences. 3. Assertiveness: to respectfully stand up for my rights and request what I want. 4. Authenticity: to be authentic, genuine, real; to be true to myself. 5. Beauty: to appreciate, create, nurture or cultivate beauty in myself, others, the environment etc. 6. Caring: to be caring towards myself, others, the environment etc. 7. Challenge: to keep challenging myself to grow, learn, improve. 8. Compassion: to act with kindness towards those who are suffering. 9. Connection: to engage fully in whatever I am doing, and be fully present with others. 10. Contribution: to contribute, help, assist, or make a positive difference to myself or others. 11. Conformity: to be respectful and obedient of rules and obligations. 12. Cooperation: to be cooperative and collaborative with others. 13. Courage: to be courageous or brave; to persist in the face of fear, threat, or difficulty. 14. Creativity: to be creative or innovative. 15. Curiosity: to be curious, open-minded and interested; to explore and discover. 16. Encouragement: to encourage and reward behavior that I value in myself or others. 17. Equality: to treat others as equal to myself, and vice-versa. 18. Excitement: to seek, create and engage in activities that are exciting, stimulating or thrilling. 19. Fairness: to be fair to myself or others. 20. Fitness: to maintain or improve my fitness; to look after my physical and mental health and wellbeing. 21. Flexibility: to adjust and adapt readily to changing circumstances. 22. Freedom: to live freely; to choose how I live and behave, or help others do likewise. 23. Friendliness: to be friendly, companionable, or agreeable towards others. 24. Forgiveness: to be forgiving towards myself or others. 25. Fun: to be fun-loving; to seek, create, and engage in fun-filled activities. 26. Generosity: to be generous, sharing and giving, to myself or others. 27. Gratitude: to be grateful for and appreciative of the positive aspects of myself, others and life. 28. Honesty: to be honest, truthful, and sincere with myself and others. 29. Humour: to see and appreciate the humorous side of life. 30. Humility: to be humble or modest; to let my achievements speak for themselves. 31. Industry: to be industrious, hard-working, dedicated. 32. Independence: to be self-supportive, and choose my own way of doing things. 33. Intimacy: to open up, reveal, and share myself — emotionally or physically – in my close personal relationships. 34. Justice: to uphold justice and fairness. 35. Kindness: to be kind, compassionate, considerate, nurturing or caring towards myself or others. 36. Love: to act lovingly or affectionately towards myself or others. 37. Mindfulness: to be conscious of, open to, and curious about my here-and-now experience. 38. Order: to be orderly and organized. 39. Open-mindedness: to think things through, see things from other’s points of view, and weigh evidence fairly. 40. Patience: to wait calmly for what I want. 41. Persistence: to continue resolutely, despite problems or difficulties. 42. Pleasure: to create and give pleasure to myself or others. 43. Power: to strongly influence or wield authority over others, e.g. taking charge, leading, organizing. 44. Reciprocity: to build relationships in which there is a fair balance of giving and taking. 45. Respect: to be respectful towards myself or others; to be polite, considerate and show positive regard. 46. Responsibility: to be responsible and accountable for my actions. 47. Romance: to be romantic; to display and express love or strong affection. 48. Safety: to secure, protect, or ensure safety of myself or others 49. Self-awareness: to be aware of my own thoughts, feelings and actions 50. Self-care: to look after my health and wellbeing, and get my needs met 51. Self-development: to keep growing, advancing or improving in knowledge, skills, character, or life experience. 52. Self-control: to act in accordance with my own ideals. 53. Sensuality: to create, explore and enjoy experiences that stimulate the five senses. 54. Sexuality: to explore or express my sexuality. 55. Spirituality: to connect with things bigger than myself. 56. Skilfulness: to continually practice and improve my skills, and apply myself fully when using them. 57. Supportiveness: to be supportive, helpful, encouraging, and available to myself or others. 58. Trust: to be trustworthy; to be loyal, faithful, sincere, and reliable
– Russ Harris
If you only keep 3 or 7 values they say a lot about who you are or who you want to be, you can also look over the list and see who your mom or dad or society wanted you to be, the slight or great difference between what other want for you and what you want for you is quite painful. If anyone knew the pain they caused you they would be happy to free you to be yourself, but it’s something that no one else know except the individual.
Thinking about the changes:
Undertaking > Restoration: I don’t want my kids to see me working frantically and make that a habit, I enjoy making the most of the day, but things are going well and I would rather slow down. I can’t help think of my martial art’s instructor telling me a story of an old bull and a young bull on top of a hill, they look down the hill and see a lot of female cows, the young bull says “oh look at that cow, let’s run and mate with that cow,” the old bull says “no, let’s walk and mate with all those cows.” If I had a better idiom, I would use it, but for some reason, I don’t have a better one yet for this concept.
Prudence > Emotional Courage: I want to take small risks of being myself with my family, letting them hurt me and perhaps hurting them in order to know each other.
Proactivity > Routine Building: I have some habits now I’ve waited a lifetime to have, but it hasn’t been for even a month yet, so I really want to keep checking in and make sure I build good habits into something permanent, specifically not yelling at the kids, writing everyday for now, being a little brave towards being myself, thinking about the way I live at least once a week to see if it could use an alignment.
Resilience > Gratitude: Health, good times, good company, these are gifts that are received rather than built, gratitude doubles my joy from the good moments of life, so why throw that away?
Awareness > Grace: If I notice things going wrong, sometimes it seems I could go further and respond as someone who has made many mistakes in the past rather than impatiently, at least as much as possible.
Kindness > Patience: I’m sleeping a little better, I have everything I need, I think I should give the extra energy to those people who I didn’t have patience with when I didn’t have the sleep or energy I needed. Now I can. I was only human with a newborn, but now I can make it a focus.
Assertiveness > Gentle-Curious-Kind Communication: It’s important to be assertive, but it’s just a start, communication is between two people, assertiveness is creating internal safety, but connection is the higher goal and the way I’m experimenting with is by being gentle, curious and kind with my family who I’ve been too rude with for too long.
Arena 1: Interaction with Human Kind – Life Time Goal: Kind Connection
“I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
-Etienne de Grellet
Tools: Assertive Communication, Acceptance, Gentle, Curiosity, Kind Communication
Tiny Plan: make routines to check in with friends more.
🗹 Share and Recieve Kindness – Thank you readers, you guys support me so much. In a world where friends move out of state, it’s also nice to have perspective of so many friends from around the world. It’s a different kind of friendship, but the world is changing so I’ll take what good I can from where I can.
Arena 2: Spirituality – Life Time Goal: Finding my voice and purpose in due time.
☐ Someday is someday.
Tiny Plan: Keep Clarifying My Dreams, Intentions, Goals, and Plans with this Check-In.
🗹 See problems as opportunities. – Going fine. When I started thinking it was right and just to reasonably discipline my daughter the discipline stopped being emotionally draining. I want her to learn to curb her rule-breaking glee with my safe punishment not in the wider world whenever possible, and whatever pain is hers to find later, that is far beyond my control.
🗹 Clarify my Dreams, Intentions, Goals, and Plans Here – It’s been a long time, since December. I wrote a post, didn’t publish it and that made my process stuck, perhaps guilt or just not knowing if I should publish or delete the outdated post.
Arena 3: The World – Life Time Goal: Responsibility to take action towards my inner callings as they become known to me.
Tiny Plan: Keep writing every day until I feel stronger in the habit.
Balance Between Arenas: Harmony – Life Time Goal: Make sure I safeguard my production capacity not just produce as much as I can with no kindness for myself or thought of quality or enjoying the small, beautiful moments of life.
Tiny Plan: Keep Kon Mari decluttering.
🗹 Money: Keep Careful Track of Your Income and Expenses. – Doing better, mentally hating finances less, all the logins are fixed, discussing purchases before making them, need to check two accounts, one to see if it is open and another to check interest rates, but almost all the accounts are in order. Recording spending now.
🗹 Cleaning – Cleaned the bathroom for the first time since my son was born almost a year ago, not bad, it’s not perfect, but it’s naturally sanitized with four thieves oil, no hair or large debris.
🗹 Creative Endeavors: Brainstorming, Drawing, Painting, Sculpting, Writing, Architecture. – Going okay, I’m doing small drawings without deciding to do big projects that are out of reach.
6 Points of 7 Points = 86% this week, it feels right, which means a lot to me because it means this thought experiment is matching my internal cognitive dissidence and that the system is valid, not just words, but a way of extending my thoughts and life into words in a way that helps me sculpt my life better than if I didn’t do this.
You guys are so supportive, some comment (thank you for that), some write articles I check out and that breaks me out of feeling stuck, and I have no way of proving, but it feels like others contribute in the overall momentum of joining me in the zeitgeist of wanting to transform the digital world into being full of more love than hate, more understanding then attacking and more useful than fake. We may be from different places, different religions, different genders, different ages, but it seems like all my readers (based on the comments and articles I read from you guys) are highly honest people who use writing in different ways to tell the truth, whether it is emotional truth in poetry, real truths from everyday life, from traveling, from medicine, it seems like we are on a journey of truth and being human together and I’m eternally grateful for the kindness I’ve experienced from you guys, which is unlike everything people complain about the digital age being like. I wish all of you guys a great night’s sleep, it’s something so wonderful if you don’t have it and something that can be forgotten if you always have it. Much love. 🤟
Today we changed our small space quite a bit, we have a bathroom attached to one room, then a short hall with a small and regular room. I changed the room on the end to a bedroom, which means blocking out light, I changed the room near the bathroom to a school, my son moved into the small room with my daughter and I moved the books and toys out of the hallway.
I don’t know yet if my husband will love it, hate it or somewhere in between. I just needed to move things to clean behind and organize and got carried away with spring cleaning fever. (He did like it actually!)
I almost completely finish cleaning our living area, school area, and sleeping areas, but the kitchen and bathrooms are not all the way decluttered yet.
I’ve been through the Kon Mari process a few times, but I think this time I will finally get to the set point where everything is useful or sparks joy.
Kon Mari organizing is a Shinto approach to home organization from a Japanese author who was a life long organizing enthusiast and also Shinto priestess. Made popular in the book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”
Clothing (45 Total)
The first category is clothing, right now, all my clothing, jewelry and bags are pretty well managed. I have 1 pair of sandals (1) I can wear for everything, willing to get more shoes but so far don’t need to, I have a new work out shorts and shirt (3), I have a marital art’s uniform that is four pieces (7), I have my wedding dress I wear on Chinese New Years once a year plus two jackets that are a set with it (10), I have the dress my grandmother had her funeral in (11), I have a pink dress, a red dress, a yellow dress, a green dress, two blue dresses, two purple dresses (19), I have one hat (20), I have underwear to change after a workout (40). I have two pairs of earnings hoops and small flower studs (42), I have a small coin purse, a small bad and a drawstring backpack. (45 items, 12 outfits). That feels right for me.
My husband doesn’t have many clothes, but what he has I made peace with and don’t worry about. He isn’t a minimalist, but what he has is very close to what a minimalist would have without having to re-buy formal clothes or interview clothes. Women’s clothes are in a way easier because a simple dress can be used for everyday or for work or for an interview, I think so anyways.
My daughter has a few dresses two yellow, one black with dinosaurs (which is the only one she wants to wear), a school uniform, a toga she likes to wear, and a blue dress (6), two jackets, one light and one heavy (8), a few socks and underwear (20), about a dozen earrings (32), a few necklaces (34), pink shoes, blue shoes, indoor slippers (37), a few bracelets (41), a butterfly purse (42), a few rings (44) and some dress up clothes that I consider as play clothes more than clothes which fit in a bus box play chest. Her favorite PJ shirt (45).
My son has about three pairs of shoes (3), maybe 8 pairs of socks (11), warm PJs (12), a polo shirt (13), a collar shirt (14), a vest (15), two pairs of pants (17), two jackets (19) and cloth diapers (39).
We live in a pretty small foot print, but I’m not 100% if it is “tiny home size”. I’m pretty interested in living in an alternative home such as a container home or perhaps a converted bus or tree house, but I’m not sure about a tiny house, it seems claustrophobic. We live “small” but not necessarily tiny as far as I know. I’ll measure soon.
Kids Clothing Hack
Designating some clothes as play clothes was nice, it took the space of a box we already had that doubles as a seat and that means that my daughter can have some dramatic play materials without stressing over each item as if they were normal clothes items.
We have a lot of shoes to donate on our next walk, I really hope I remember to take them, some of the clothes I would want to donate were really too beat up, stained or ripped so, that is not really realistic in our area there is an abundance of used clothes in better condition and the cost of transporting the clothes as far as they would need to go to be appreciated would be far more than paying for clothes to be purchased in those far locations instead. Once I wanted very much to send my old martial arts gis to a school I visited in Brazil, but for the same cost as shipping I could buy new gis or double the amount, it just didn’t make sense in the end.
Location Based Kon Mari Fusion
I always do a combination of location based organizing and Kon Mari organizing at the same time, because that’s what works for me. I started with toys, school supplies, clothes, cleaning supplies.
I mostly use the one touch rule, grab one thing and put it away, and I mostly mess up one room at a time and pick up that room until it is clean, I put away things one at a time, I have to make many more trips, but it’s much easier mentally and I don’t have to make a lot of different staging areas.
I separate trash, recyclables, grab a large blue trash bag for extra sized trash, move donations to the hall closet as they come up and have only one table top staging area for clutter and items.
Since I am watching my kids while I do this I can’t use the floor or that wouldn’t be safe because my son is less than 1 so he wants to eat small items. I like doing it as a family though I can ask right away if I pick up something that isn’t mine.
Most my clothes are right behind a door on a hanging rack, some on a shelf right next to that, my daughters in her room, my son in the school room near the bathroom where we change and dress him since he is not yet 1, my husband has everyday stuff in an end table and formals in a quarter of the hall closet. His backpacks are nested, our family luggage set is nested, it takes very little space that way, so that our seasonal LED trees fit in that small closet as well. For a Kon Mari enthusiast it’s interesting to realize a lot of our clothes are hung, we just don’t have much. I find folding isn’t as good for dresses and my daughter and I wear dresses, my husband and son have much more folded clothing than us.
For years I’ve been trying to get rid of that 80% of unworn clothing and for myself and my daughter I have. My husband has a reasonable amount and is not a minimalist, so it’s not my place to hassle him about reducing his things, he has the right to decide that for himself (as long as his storage isn’t over flowing then it becomes a family issue that I try to be as tactful as possible with).
Today was a school day for our home-school preschool, but inspired by Japan having the students clean the school I thought what better way to have a school day than by organizing our school so it is easier to use.
Since last October I felt my new baby didn’t give me a chance to organize between feeding both kids, keeping up with laundry, teaching, being tired, but now that I have more energy it went well and also because I wasn’t trying to do it on the weekend in “borrowed” baby sitting time, but rather just all together with the kids having fun playing around me and being amused by the sight of me.
I often don’t realize when I’m not being proactive until I’m ready to stop.
I think I would like to write a book about organizing and minimalism and also hoarding (since I come from that background on both my father and mothers side). But I’m not yet sure if it will be a “later” project vs the “next” project.
My life has been improved by organization, being a minimalist allows me to live as a writer vs wage slave, lets me enjoy my kids instead of always cleaning too many things, it suits me well kind of keeping my spirit at peace and mind more clear for writing, I don’t know how much is the right amount for anyone else, but I know living about one’s right amount is such a burden and although it maybe a long road to declutter no one at all can stop you if you want to, they may look hurt that you discarded their gift, but they can’t stop you, they can’t force you to live with a closet filled only with the gifts they wanted you to have. Hurt feelings can be repaired by spending some time doing something fun together, but wasted space makes cleaning harder, makes you more crowded, takes the room you could use for something you love. Example we have a keyboard now to play piano, it takes just a bit of room that an unwanted extra blanket could have taken up or a long unused toy… My daughter learned Fur Elise on the keyboard, I hope to relax on it sometime soon, that doesn’t happen with the same volume of extra blanket or unused toy.
The next Kon Mari category after clothes is books. Clothes was supposed to be the easiest, but I’m not sure it is, but it’s easier for me to go in order than debate what would be easier in a process that is not that easy no matter the order. Books may be my hardest category, right now there are board books for my son in front of the music basket where he can get them, he has the perfect amount 5 or 6 (but all good ones he is interested in looking through), my daughter has too many gifted books she doesn’t ever try to read, but I am going to allow her to decide which to keep, they don’t take up too much space, but something about the unwanted books makes going through the books less fun. There is a leave a book take a book, free trading area by the nature center, I will ask her to take as many as she can there to get more that are actually interesting. For me, I have a book I want to let go of, but I’m having trouble. It’s out of print. I don’t need it, but because it’s out of print I am worried to let go of it. It’s a good book, “The Love Project Way,” I got it because it is the real origin of my favorite quote “Be the change you want to see in the world,” Ghandi said something longer and similar, but not that, it is very often attributed to Ghandi, but it is Arleen Lorrance who said it in the way that has become very popular lately. My martial art’s green belt to me means “Be the change you want to see in the world,” in my school we pick our own color and we define our own value to it. A tribute to Bruce Lee, my martial art’s hero, who said a belt just keeps your pants from falling down. To have the belt matter, we define our own value we want to strive towards and explain the color ourselves to each other in a self leadership exercise.
I won’t have an updated count until later.
I haven’t counted my ebooks, because we share a family library it seems silly to delete ebooks that someone else may want to read, therefore, I won’t. Perhaps I will make my own “book list” page someday and delete the ones there that I wouldn’t need anymore, but deleting them from the family account doesn’t make sense since my father and sister like to read, and someday my kids might.
I’m sure I don’t have too many physical books right now, they are scattered though some in the school, some in the hall closet. I suppose I should move them all to the same place when I count them. My husband beats me at books he has zero books.
This one is a mess, we don’t have a good system for the mail, between what is awaiting action vs being kept. It would help if I kept post it notes and a highlighter by the incoming mail so I could mark my husband’s mail for him without filing it away where he doesn’t see it. For me my school notes tend to get messy. I digitize a lot of projects, but then I have to face organizing my ideas on Google Keep because if I want to use that system to organize my mind and life and it has too much trash clogging it, it will make searching for what I do want harder (and also there is limited data for free and even though I’m okay for now I don’t want to use the space unwisely or unmindfully).
Summary (February, 17th 2020)
Usually I only organize once a week, so I prefer to make a note of where I was this week to get back into the flow faster next week:
School Room 👌 (Clutter on Top Shelf)
Kid’s Bedroom 💖
My Bedroom 👌 (Clutter Behind Electric Fire Place & Tape Cords for Safety)
In ancient Greece in Stoic philosophy there were three levels of learning a new concept.
The first one an upside down hand open palm up, willingness to entertain an idea with an open mind.
The next a closed hand (holding onto that idea).
The third the left hand holding the closed right hand guarding the idea.
In martial arts (Kung Fu) holding the left hand over the closed right fist indicates “I come in peace” before a friendly sparing match.
It’s interesting that it’s the same gesture, I have no proof, but I feel that the came from Greece and transformed along the way.
Most martial arts seem to come form Greece, the statues of the Buddhas have curly hair as a stylistic influence of the Greek sculpture. Amphora (vases) from Greece have a lot of “modern” MMA moves such as arm bars.
A lot of ideas have moved from China outwards, printing press, gun powder, silk, many things, many out of Africa math, cooking, weapon making, art, dance, music, many out of Greece Pankration (a wrestling style), Stoicism, some out of the U.S. computers, Ireland toilets, Egypt beer, but it seems that when ideas are moved outside their origin is often when they transform to the next level.
Also sometimes something good is lost in translation.
Spring came early to our area this year, and all spring I’ve been thinking about creativity (kumba). It’s something so universal as a child and so rare as an adult.
The very successful often posses creativity, because the right mix of creativity is an advantage, but the wrong mix can also be crippling.
It’s like poison, used “correctly” for medicine or hunting it saves lives, used “incorrectly” it costs them or fails to work.
To loose touch with reality can allow us to think outside our current world and change things that were thought impossible to change, but not if we don’t get back in touch with reality and make it happen.
These past 14 days I’ve been writing for an hour each day, getting interrupted a bit and going back to writing just fine, I thought that was impossible.
Writing is such a flow state for me, at least free writing, that I find I enjoy it more than a movie and maybe close to how much I enjoy reading.
But writing isn’t the same as completing a project, the way I’ve been writing is like an extension of thinking, but it’s still different than completing projects.
There were so many fears I found to be unfounded this past two weeks, fears of time management, fears of ethics, maybe of my capacities, I don’t know why after being able to write for so long throughout a lot of academic years I began to wonder if I could write or not? I don’t know when my doubts started growing, but I do find that working on a challenge that was scary for me did instill a respect for myself that had been diminished somewhere along the way.
Perhaps I need to use the marriage triangle not applied to marriage, but applied to myself.
Committing to writing this past 14 days brought me into a kind of magic that increased my trust in myself. I am most often calm, when I did feel fears it was almost refreshing, because I’ve been so unhealthy in repressing my feelings that I’ve gone years without a high or low.
I broke down in tears today, my husband had criticized me for writing too much and it was painful, because it was very unexpected after a few months of him being very encouraging about me writing.
I actually asked if he was joking or being mean and he admitted he was being mean. I told him it was like him encouraging me to grow seeds and then stomping out my little sprouts (our daughter has tiny flower sprouts we moved outside today) he understood only after that metaphor and apologized.
Conflict isn’t as bad once you have some kind of conflict management skills and resolution doesn’t take much time and effort.
I think only from writing more was I able to re-frame my thoughts in a different way as easily as I did and therefore be able to communicate better to my husband. That’s defiantly a good thing about this process.
I told my husband that I could easily not care what he said, but in doing so I also didn’t care about him, if I am open and trying to care for him than I also am hurt by him putting down me trying to improve myself.
The same thing has happened every time I improve myself in any way.
After both my babies my husband encouraged me to workout, but once I did, he discouraged me. In the past he would deny being mean and I felt insane to think he was being mean when he said he wasn’t. I’m grateful that he was honest today.
Even cruel honesty is better to me than nice lies, because when you face one reality and are told of a second it makes you doubt your sanity.
I’m glad that I so soon recognized that this is a pattern, it probably has to do more with my husband than me, and also I realized something about myself I never had.
I can easily not be affected by most people, because I tend not to allow most people into my heart to begin with.
Possibly because my mother left me, it never hurt me, I never let it, but it did handicap many parts of my personality.
For me, most of my life, I never let people in, so they never bothered me, but also I didn’t benefit from crowd wisdom, solidarity, camaraderie, love.
I was in my own side, in the middle there are a lot of valuable skills to learn, not only networking for money, EQ for healthy relationships and therefore good healthy in general (physical health is partially social health), but many things integral towards really being a human being.
Like emergent properties of water being different than hydrogen and oxygen, we in a group or groups have such capacity for evil or greatness that we don’t have as individuals.
To stay in your side of the circle, it limits everything you can do, it’s fine to reflect there, to be there, but if you stay there it’s like living in a cave with a beautiful world just outside.
When I told my husband I was angry and hurt, at first he didn’t care, when I cried at first he didn’t care, when I explained myself in a different way that he understood he sincerely apologized for the first time in what feels like forever and hugged me and we really reconciled.
I suppose it doesn’t matter how many times you say something or how loud or clear you say it until the person you want to understand you is able to understand you. That clarity exists in the transfer of the idea, not in how polished the first person feels there words are.
When I felt I lost my husbands support I was still very driven to continue writing, but I was so hurt by the idea that I had been wrong all the days I thought he had supported me. I was mostly hurt by the thought I couldn’t trust my interpretation of reality, afraid that we are all islands that can never be connected.
To an extent we have relationships with ourselves, at the same time and call it friendship or marriage, but I believe there is something real, something shared, and that something is the source of the difficulty, but also the beauty of relationships.
I’ve got an interesting headache just now, lowering the brightness seemed to help. I read a book “The Yellow World” by Albert Espinosa
“Albert Espinosa never wanted to write a book about surviving cancer, so he didn’t. He wrote a book instead about the Yellow World. What is the yellow world? The yellow world is a world that’s within everyone’s reach, a world the colour of the sun. It is the name of a way of living, of seeing life, of nourishing yourself with the lessons that you learn from good moments as well as bad ones. It is the world that makes you happy, the world you like living in. The yellow world has no rules; it is made of discoveries.
In these 23 Discoveries Albert shows us how to connect daily reality with our most distant dreams. He tells us that ‘losses are positive’, ‘the word “pain” doesn’t exist’, and ‘what you hide the most reveals the most about you'”
– Good Reads Review of the Yellow World
This was the only book I’ve read based on the recommendation of a personality quiz by Visual DNA, (I almost said a computer, but that would be wrong, because I sometimes read books recommended by Good Reads which uses other books you like to recommend books that actually worked very well for me).
What I found very interesting was the belief that pain does not exist I don’t agree, but at the same time am a curious open minded person, so I tried his activities out to re-frame pain. They work well, like this head ache, when I think I have pain it hurts more, when I think of it as a “pressure” or “pinching” it hurts less. Each time I wonder “does pain even exist” it seems to drop the pain level, to a point. I don’t know if that point is my limit of controlling my opinion or perhaps pain just really exists, but the interesting thing is that I can drop my pain level some amount.
When my husband came home I asked him if he had ibuprofen or Excedrin, he didn’t but I asked for a kiss and noticed that dropped the pain about 2%.
Right now I find it funny that I’m that analytical that I take note of those things as they happen, but I am and I’m also noticing the humor takes a lot of the pain away.
Of course the pain could also be passing and I am just perceiving it as going away, but I don’t think so, because I’ve had this headache for about four hours and it didn’t shift at all until just now.
My goal right now is to make peace with all the excuses that I blamed for preventing me from writing in the past, it didn’t start that way, but that is what this habit from day 1 – day 14 of constant writing for an hour has now become for me. So when something “bad” does come up, like Monday I was sick, I in a twisted way am getting all excited over the challenge.
If I hadn’t been sick Monday I wouldn’t know I enjoy writing pretty well when I am sick. If I hadn’t been tired one day I wouldn’t know it’s not too terrible writing when tired, better than driving! If I hadn’t of had brain fog I wouldn’t believe it was possible to write through brain fog. I was also afraid one or two days. Worried about loosing followers if I wrote my honest opinion one. Writing to a screaming baby once, I tried to settle the baby, made sure nothing crazy was going on, like hair tourniquet, the baby was clean, fed, warm, safe, but even being rocked wasn’t helping so there was no point to not writing since my full attention wasn’t helping the baby.
I’ve noticed so many things during the past 12 days, about reasons I thought I had for not writing not actually being able to stop me from writing.
Fears about not knowing what the perfect thing to write were the hardest, wanting a rotating scheme of topics to already be a habit, when they are not was the second hardest, wondering if it mattered at all for me to write in a world with so much great writing already available.
One thing that helped me was how many people live and die each day.
150,000 people die each day, if I like writing why not write?
360,000 people are born each day and roughly 8 billion people are alive (I think some people don’t get counted because like human trafficking ext they wouldn’t be counted). Ok, 7.53 billion, but who know the real number when so many people are being born and dying each day?
Anyways, 360,000 people born each day, it doesn’t matter (too much) what I do. I have the freedom to fail, plenty of other people can make up for my failure or possibly my effort will inspire people more than what I am actually working on?
With nearly 8 billion people, maybe my writing will be just the right thing for one of them, also in the future people have access to the past. I read Marcus Aurelius from ancient Rome as much as anyone modern, I think in the future people will find an interest in knowing about our era, no one knows yet for what the writing we write today will be used. For history, for information, for curiosity, inspiration, humor, to save a life, to improve a life, to torture students with outdated prose (hopefully a joke).
I guess I am facing my own biggest writers block, which is that I don’t know what my writing will be used for, if it will be useful at all, if it will be lost with time or saved, if it will have been a waste of my life, if by not doing another line of service or craft the down fall of all sentient beings ensues (kind of a joke).
Too often I put too much pressure on myself to try to use my limited time in the best possible way, that sometimes it doesn’t allow me to move forward in the best possible way.
“One often meets their destiny on the road they take to avoid it.”
– Jean de La Fontaine
Something I will never regret about writing is the way it seems to elevate my thoughts. I always hated writing essays for school because I wasn’t allowed to pick the topic I was passionate about, now that I can pick anything, it’s kind of mentally daunting. I hated how much of school was writing essays, citing information (which almost eliminates and discourages innovate thoughts in my opinion), but now what I enjoy doing is writing essays.
It’s very funny to me.
What I once hated most, became one of the things I love most. But a big difference is choice.
Here in the U.S. some kids cry because they have to go to school and in China some kids cry because they can’t go to school.
Stress is caused by adverse events especially when you lack control and knowledge about when the stress will end (uncertainty).
Getting surprise cookies you can’t control and have no idea when they will end wouldn’t be too stressful (unless you don’t like cookies than it could very well be).
Getting surprise beating you can’t control and have no idea when they will end was really stressful, it happened to me. My mother had untreated bipolar disorder, she beat me seemingly at random vs in response to house rules, my husband’s mother beat him as much or more, but in an understandable pattern. He knew when his beatings would happen and when they would stop, I had no idea. My mom looked fine, her face didn’t redden, I walked in her direction to use the hall on the way for a book or something and suddenly she would block me and punch my face or grab my throat, or not. Most of my life I was very against the idea of using violence to discipline children, but recently I’ve seen there is a big difference between parents who do it like a cue, like a very slight touch to call attention to the situation vs what my sister and I grew up with. I’m not advocating for hitting children, but I’ve very recently seen that reasonable force isn’t always violence.
Today my daughter head butted my hard three times, the third I pulled her head off mine by her hair, it wasn’t done in anger, it wasn’t done hard, but it didn’t feel good on her end and she sulked. I had already asked her to stop, but sometimes my words seem to fall on deaf ears. It’s not what I wanted to happen, but I don’t think it was unfair, I don’t think it was shameful to not try to be more gentle in moving her and I don’t think it would have taught a beautiful lesson of love to keep letting her head butt me until one or both of us had a slight or moderate concussion. I think unfortunately force sometimes begets force and although I would use restrictive force to respond to violence, I think as a parent you sometimes find these bad situations that hypothetical parenting tips or general philosophy or ethics doesn’t address in a realistic way.
We are born with a beautiful soul, but there is a phase of life where kids are dangerous to themselves or each other, validating the potential and wanting to respect them as adults sometimes leads to wanting to be able to give children more respect than they can safely handle.
There is a saying not to cast pearls before swine, I think meaning that the swine would not appreciate them, but it would be worse to cast pearls before toddlers for they would probably choke.
I was told my parents called the fire department for a bead I had stuck up my nose at 2 years old, I can’t recall it.
Some kids are exceptions, but mine were not. They liked to experiment and both wanted to chew electrical cords.
My headache is completely gone now. Somehow it feels like writing soothed it, but who knows when it would have just passed anyways.
So, sometimes treating some one you love with more respect than they deserves is bad for all parties.
I think one case was when my husband went on a bachelors party in Costa Rica two months before our wedding that still needed to be planned. I really wanted him to stay, I was going through some health trouble, was hoping to get a ride to a procedure that required anesthesia with him vs someone else, really wanted to plan our wedding basics that everyone was asking me about before and not after he went. I couldn’t have controlled his decision, but I could have controlled mine. I could have said, if you don’t want to work together with me on this wedding that you asked to have (I had wanted a private wedding with just us two in Yosemite) than I don’t feel comfortable having the wedding. But I didn’t. I hoped he would read my mind, I hoped more than anything that he would decide on his own to support me, and he didn’t. We shopped for my wedding dress two weeks before the wedding (me with a broken ankle), got a color that I didn’t think went well with his suit and over all rushed choices that were not reflective of us being a team or of either of our values or preferences.
As much as I want it to be water under the bridge now, it was the beginning of an uncomfortable acceptance of an unhappy marriage probably for both of us.
I love my husband, I loved my husband, I’m grateful to my husband, but if you had a sports team and the team wasn’t performing well together you can say, they aren’t doing so well, it’s okay to say that. We are not doing horrible, but since we had “the magic” for so long in the beginning and since I’ve seen so many old couple’s still in love I know it’s possible. It may not happen again for us, but I know it’s possible because I’ve seen it a few times.
Yesterday I watched some Ted Talks about relationships (this applies to all relationships I think):
John Gottman who made the 5:1 rule (5 positive interactions to each negative is enough to buffer the bad and keep a stable relationship). That’s interesting to any math fans because he has data and formula and quadrants and can tell accurately if people will or will not get divorced from many things including stonewalling and how people argue.
1. Be curious, not critical. 2. Be careful not crushing. 3. Ask don’t assume. 4. Connect before correcting.
And there was one more that I can’t find that covered “emotional responsiveness,” this was the moment where I found fault with myself.
My husband likes to gossip about work, I hate gossip, so I hit this bad part of the day where he comes home and wants to talk and I don’t want to hear about his coworkers lives. He wants me to want to, I think maybe sometimes I want to want to, but I never want to. I was told it’s not nice to gossip, at some point it became ingrained, I don’t know if it’s a belief I should or shouldn’t keep, but it definitely created a problem in my marriage over time.
My biggest complaint on a daily basis is my husband either being mean or making mean jokes about me and I know his is my lack of enthusiasm for what he wants to talk about (celebrity gossip, work place gossip, political slander based very little on facts).
We love each other, but today was the first day in as long as I can remember that we had a conversation I enjoyed.
I think it’s largely my fault, because I don’t know how to say nicely the problems I have in our team dynamic, it seems taboo to even voice any complaints, but if we were a sports team it would be okay. I could say, hey you could use some time working on defense or free throws or pretty much anything and I could take the critique as well, bring up your speed, work on you left side ext.
It’s so taboo to me to discuss having problems with my marriage it’s the last thing I wrote about when my ideas were done. But I don’t in any way want to slander my husband, I think we are pretty typical and I wonder how things could be better.
I’m so comfortable talking about habit change in any other realm of life, perhaps the discomfort about talking about relationships is part of the reason I don’t communicate better to my husband directly? I feel like I have and it didn’t work, but usually I don’t let anything stop me so easily from making my life better.
There was a wonderful painting I think called “The Wall Between Us” with a hand reaching through a brick wall with a small hole, I wanted to find it, but I can’t find it tonight… too much U.S. Mexico wall “news,” ironically my husband was born in Mexico and I in California so there was literally a wall between us…
Anyways I am always trying to be a better person and restore to wholeness the broken things in my life, bit by bit, so I am going to try the eight things that I have learned. Calm, trust, commitment form John Gottman, curiosity, being thoughtful of other’s feelings, asking questions, adding more connection and the one I don’t like to do “emotional responsiveness” and see what I can do, if anything, I say that not out of defeatism, but because a marriage like a team is not controllable by one person alone. I can do my part, but I can’t have my way over something bigger than me alone. I’ve gotten marriage counseling without my husband once and worked on all the homework and it didn’t improve the relationship, so that is a reason my normal optimism is a bit tempered in this matter.
To all of you who take the time to read this or any of my writing, thank you so much, if any of you are happily married and have tips I would not mind the advice! And too all of you thank you so much for helping me grow as a writer, I would go on with no one watching, but the support changes the process and gives me a feeling of connection to the world that I’m very grateful for. 💐