Been entertaining the past two weeks and the morning after I couldn’t find the new instruments for music time, didn’t have a good charge on my daughter’s school computer and in general noticed there are tons of toys everywhere, built up to discard bags in the closet and built up garden supplies waiting to be used. In essence it was time to declutter and clean again.
The main focus was the playroom, which smelled moldy. Behind the bed debris and toys had molded, I had to rotate the bed frame, which I realized was in a bad place as far as accessibility and traffic flow. It’s been a wet winter in our especially wet area, so therefore, mold has to be constantly addressed. I love the mold prevention spray we use now, I notice the places I do spray need to be cleaned a lot less or not for mold. The window sills were molding each week before, my daughter’s wooden desk hasn’t molded after it was applied, the back of the bed frame and the bottom of the mattresses were molding before and aren’t anymore.
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We finally got life vests for everyone and want to try kayaking with the kids, that is exactly the kind of stuff I want to do more in life and I want to be cleaning less (but still have a clean house) so I turn to minimalism where perhaps others would delegate, get help from family or pay someone.
Less stuff > Less cleaning > More Ocean Adventures (Hopefully)
I reread the first of my Konmari Monday articles today, I moved out of my old home of about 6 years since writing it. So much has changed in regards to what I keep and let go of…
Now I have a garden so there is that clutter magnet, now I am not by relatives that would need anything my kids used, now I live somewhere everything you own has to be cleaned because there is no way to store it in good condition otherwise.
It seems I always interpret circumstances as driving me further and further towards minimalism, but again I feel that way. Less stuff around makes cleaning easier, makes mold easier to keep at bay.
In my quanta system:
Level 1 would be hoarding,
Level 2 would be “collecting” that is semi-hording and semi-normal,
Level 3 would be the imaginary normal life with a box in the attic, but clear rooms,
Level 4 would be minimalism,
Level 5 would be the Konmari “Mythical Legendary Master Status.
My home got to a level 2 in just two weeks of ignoring it…
But just about a day of cleaning got me back to level 3, mostly.
The room I cleaned has a better layout now, the organization of toys, books, clothes and the Google Home Screen has changed. I took one video call, it was an easier angle. The kids seemed more happy to play there again. The mold smell is gone. It makes me feel hopeful that I’m going to be able to use it well for a school room and play room.
I blocked the gaps next to the bed with reused foam so no more toys or weird things fall through the cracks where it’s hard to clean, that should help keep the room more fresh than before.
All the stuffed toys got washed and dried, the bedding is drying right now, so once I finish cleaning the window sill and the last 1.5 boxes of clutter, plus the top of the closet shelf, the room should be nice and fresh.
The books all got moved, but it feels like the wrong place still, as does the stuffed animal herd.
So unlike Konmari I did focus on location, but I did check all my daughter’s clothes at the same time, a kind of hybrid approach. As far as my clothes I don’t think I have much extra, maybe some underwear that is too tight and can go (which is the same size as ones that do fit weirdly, poor manufacturing perhaps). My son’s diapers, we are done with them, but I don’t know off hand if anyone will take used cloth diapers in real life… they are cute, but they have elastic that needs to be replaced as it ages and that doesn’t seem worth the effort. Eventually I’ll have to research it… but perhaps I should just let it go.
My old schedule was:
8 Breakfast, 9 Teach School, 10 Exercise, 11 Lunch, 12 Freeplay/Writing, 1 Teach Music, 2 Mum and Me with Daughter, 3 Outside Play Mum and me with Son, 4 Dinner, 5 Video Call with my Sister to Tutor Daughter so I can do ASL with Son, 6 Kids play together I relax, 7 Kids play with dad.
My new one will be:
7 Breakfast, 8 School, 9 Cooking, 10 Exercise, 11 Lunch, 12 Freeplay/Writing, 1 Music, 2 Outside or Building Blocks, 3 Reading or Signing or Language, 4 Dinner, 5 Video Call with Dad for Kids, 6 EQ Journal and Tidy Up, 7 Settle Down.
Schedules and cleaning always seem to go hand and hand, in physics time and space are actually one force like electricity is magnetism, and for me I need less physical clutter to have mental space to be brave enough to make a new schedule.
I have a coffee cart, I think I want to move the books and papers there, and hopefully go through my clothes. I feel like I don’t have an clutter that is clothes or books or paper, but if I actually count everything maybe I will find out I did. Either way I want to approach all those three categories together since I don’t have much of any of them.
I feel better about the future this year than last year, last year there were too many unknowns to really thrive for me, I did my best, but it was just too chaotic to really fully relax.
Reading the past five Konmari sessions I realize I took so many steps backwards last year that I’ve only gotten to the place I was last August, in terms of organizing, in terms of routines, in therms of living my best life, but maybe that’s enough, maybe everything is fine.
Chapter 1: A New Hope; I soaked the seeds in regular room temperature water for about a day and some started germinating in that after that first day (with a tiny light yellow root poking through the pointed end).
Chapter 2: The Nursery; I moved them to the saucer filled with peat moss.
THE NEXT DAY
Chapter 3: A Dangerous World; Slug scare, but as a result took iron poison bait more seriously and started more proactively protecting the garden and weeding to keep the garden more accessible with less refuge for slugs. I realized that although unnecessary, gardening is really enriching and important to me, and I am willing to work through my fears of slugs or in general of loosing the garden to change or nature’s whims to try my hand at a new garden.
TEN DAYS LATER
Chapter 4: Moving Out; It’s February 25th, the morning glories (two at least) got moved out of the “green house” (broken so it doesn’t hold heat, but still has the bones of a green house) and are hopefully going to start vining up our trees in the front garden my kids play near.
Chapter 5: Cold Winter Rain; So, two morning glories are outside, but it’s been really hard rain lately, so they look a bit under the weather… not dead, many are still in the green house, one of which had a slug removed from it. I planted some clover with the morning glories and noticed something had eaten the clover, thus found the baby slug. Looked up slug mating season so I would know when to expect the babies, it’s January, February, March, April, May, June, July (break for August and September) again in October and November (break for December) so… pretty damn often. The iron bait has seemed to work well, but still finding a slug here and there. Today I found a snow white cuban slug… since the poison went out in early February it would need more time to work and then extra time for newly hatched babies.
Hoping to see the flowers this year, but I noticed the last time I planted in summer seemed much easier on the plants.
The first year, I grappled with learning serenity and it led me to focus inward and live a better, more intentional life.
Entry 1; August of 2017,
I have recently begun to find serenity in not worrying about what I cannot change, but to this I would take it further and let me release the burden of judging others at all.
Today I didn’t meet all my personal goals, but I met 5 of them and did the laundry, exercised, cleaned the house and was more patient than ever before with my child… still not a perfect day, but I’m glad I can accept that it was still a great day overall including a nice family walk to the fountain and a delicious protein burger that doesn’t seem to get old.
When I wanted everything perfect, it was nearly impossible to appreciate the good I already had.
A few days later: I designated a Zelda shield to represent quote 9. 🛡️
Entry 2; October of 2017,
I fall into a bad habit of being judgmental. I waste my energy thinking about other people, it may be wrong to judge other’s mistakes or maybe the truth is the truth, but either way focusing on other people means I overlooked myself or didn’t put focus into my goals.
When I focused on others be, it right or wrong, I lost focus on my own life and growth, too much of that was a waste of my life, perspective, and talents.
⚔️ TINY ACTIVITY ⚔️ Try to ask what about me? when I think of things I think other people are doing wrong. Ex, that person’s space is a mess, what about me is my space in order? That person could be doing more with their kids, what about me, am I making time for my kids?
Entry 3; December of 2017,
I stopped judging others when I’m not asked about it, I became focused on judging myself, introspectively (not harshly). Instead thinking about why I’m not able to work on my goals, the things that have been in the way, and what I want to do when I do begin work, and how I’m going to break down the tasks.
When I don’t work on my goals, because I have been sleeping in lately the question is, “it that ok with me right now?” And I guess it is. I feel like it’s natural to get a little extra rest during this part of the winter, if I was in the middle of a big project it may be different, but I am between important projects, and I don’t need to rush myself into the next one without having some time to brainstorm first.
I am starting to learn to feel my limits. For most of my life, I have toggled between working like a dog, than burnt-out procrastinating. It’s not what I want to continue, instead I want to learn to feel when I am worn down and take a break. I don’t want to avoid all work, but I don’t want to run headfirst into projects that aren’t right for me. I want to stop and take a minute and decide what I want to do before I start a project (live intentionally). That’s not the same as doing nothing, it’s doing something that is pretty important, yet hard to show progress in, or say hard to say to someone else exactly what percent is done, or what the time line is…My martial art’s instructor once told me a story about a young bull, who wanted to run down a hill and procreate with a cow, but an older bull told him, “no, let’s walk down the hill and procreate with all the cows.” Still looking for a more PC quote that makes the same point…
⚔️ TINY ACTIVITY ⚔️ Divide my life into two categories: 1. My externals are – my body, my family, my country, my overall wealth, my day job, where I live, and 2. My choices are my self care, my way of speaking to others, my vote, my personal spending, my attitude in my family and at work, my gratitude about the comfort and joy of what I have right now, and what I want to do with my art and writing projects.
Celebrating Growth: I’m glad that I did that, I didn’t do that the first two times around. I find most of the shame I have is already about things I choose, which is good, at least I don’t worry about what I can’t choose, but I struggle to not be ashamed I haven’t done more writing and art this year. I suppose I can celebrate that shame as a compass in my heart trying to steer me away from not writing and drawing. 🎉
I really worry about doing anything without knowing if it was what I was meant to do with my life, but I also don’t care to be idle waiting for a time to come that I am sure, and also I’ve searched as far as I can in books to find out how to find out what I am meant to do… I know I can draw and write, I know not doing those things makes me feel really bad and doing them makes me feels good, so it seems like a good place to start learning how to do mental work, yet I really wish that it felt like it was clearly “my purpose.” It doesn’t. I thought people were born with purpose, but maybe not, maybe they just pick them, the people who live with passion are the ones I thought lived with purpose, but maybe it’s something within your power. Maybe God leaves it to you to decide your purpose. Maybe you can change it to whatever you want and some people never change it. I remember the first thing I really really wanted to do with my life was fight monsters (like Link in Zelda games). I made a card board sword and shield so I would be able to pursue my life’s purpose of being a monster killer. As an adult, I don’t want to be an outlaw hunting criminals, nor do I want to be a parole officer, nor do I want to be a judge, nor do I want to be a lawyer… but if I could hunt monsters. I guess it feels like what I do isn’t enough. I think I have to face the feeling that no matter what I do it won’t be enough and it would be nice to separate that from my productivity and address that separately. Divide and conquer.
When I noticed how I did feel (worried about not knowing my purpose) I felt scared it would never change, but feelings can and do change, sometimes in response to something I intended to change them, sometimes in response to something else, they migrate slowly at times, but they do migrate.
The second year, I examined if I could teach serenity to others (so far no).
Entry 4; December of 2018,
This quote defines serenity for me, and it’s given me a lot of inner peace to practice this mental separation process, but I wonder if it can be taught to children without accidentally teaching them learned helplessness? I worry teaching them some things are out of their control may give them too much a sense of helplessness. (So much is outside of their control for children, I was worried if my daughter listed the extent it would make her feel helpless)
I’m going to try to think of ways to teach this to my three year old, because she seems to get really upset every time something is not her choice, and more than it bothering me I think it would help her have more peace in her mind. (That didn’t happen, my daughter was upset because she had Sensory Processing Disorder and needed treatment for that to be in a normal state of mind to even begin to be able to understand complex mental processes)
I’m celebrating that I have one thing to teach my daughter that my parents didn’t teach me that I believe will help her a lot in enjoying life. 🎉 (It didn’t help her at that time, but I don’t think it hurt her and I enjoyed trying)
I learned that surrendering control of what you never did control is a major, if not the major, component of inner peace.
The third year, I examined the larger context of this quote as a basis of support for other ideas and how it affected my habits of decision making and taking responsibility for my behavior.
Entry 5; March 2019,
I started thinking this quote in a larger context, relating to the one by Marcus Aurelius, where he says of others, “there but for the grace of God go I.” It helps me be less judgmental of other people to know their capacities aren’t mine, just as mine are limited so is everyone else.
Trying to be proactive to find the ways it’s possible to choose a response to situations that can’t be chosen.
Celebrating that I’ve started having an easier time making choices, it’s still not easy, but it’s easier than it once was. I don’t think my parents let me make any small choices, maybe they didn’t know they should, but I have the hardest time with small insignificant choices and I feel like I’m a little child struggling to learn how. 🎉 I thought about it because I was always informed to let my child practice making choices (like blue or red toothbrush?) and she is very strong in making choices, it’s not meant as a complaint, but parents who never give children choices (which does take a bit more time and energy) can expect to have children who struggle to make choices, it’s a skill that gets stronger with exercise. It took me a year or two of practice to get better at making common choices, for awhile I didn’t even want to browse at stores because I found making choices with many options overwhelming.
I’m learning to look at my failures and weaknesses with more kindness, not making excuses, but not shaming myself either.
When I let go of the weight of things that weren’t my responsibility is the first time I had the strength to be responsible for the things that really were my responsibility.
Entry 6; August 2019,
Each time I do the stoic meditations, I divide life into serenity and proactivity.
It takes serenity to accept this truth, and then proactivity to face every choice from then on… but sometimes I slide back into reactivity, and then accept that with serenity, and resume living proactively as best I can.
I’m celebrating that it gets easier and easier to stop living reactively. 🎉
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People talks about proactivity existing in “a space between events and reactions,” I’ve also heard of it described as “the inner citadel,” either way, I’ve gotten better at extending the moment a lot more than when I first started.
Entry 7; November 2019,
This quote is still very helpful at reducing my feeling of needing to react to other people’s negativity and conflict, if I don’t choose to do so.
Still building serenity, there was a small incident of someone being rude to me in front of my kids in public, I got agitated and am still trying to forget what happened, I can see that it was my response that stays with me (it was not a bad response, just not really heroic or anything). I stood my ground in an angry way, but not a strong or elegant way, not with poise or bravery. Still working on letting things go that don’t matter.
I’m celebrating that I understand the truth of this quote more and more over time, that what is beyond our control is beyond our fault and responsibility as well. 🎉
I’m learning that everything I suffered with my abusive mother bothered me more when I chose to allow the situation to continue. I felt so trapped, was trapped for some time, then one day my mother called and I politely spoke my mind to her about how she abused my sister and I, and she instead of apologizing, said she would never talk to me again, and hung up on me, if I had been anything except sincerely civil, I may have regretted our last conversation the rest of my life. But when my response is in the right (to me at least), it’s amazing how fast I can let go of what happens.
After two years of trying to live intentionally, I started being able to do it without being super drained, the first two years I was more thoughtless than thoughtful, but I still tried and now I still have reactive moments, but they are now the exception, instead of the normal modus operandi.
The fourth year, I started understanding the idea of personal power (what is in my control) and serenity to what isn’t in my control at a deeper level, examining the space between my choices and the world.
Entry 8; February of 2020,
It’s interesting how long it took me to understand the deeper nuance of this concept, for a long time I thought events were either or, either inside or outside of our hands, but there is a tiny bit of big events in our hands. Example, the totality of the great ocean garbage patch is not my fault, but it is partially my fault when I throw away 1-use bags, right now I use a backpack at the store, and don’t need more 1-use bags, but every once in awhile we get more, then I save them and at least use them again as trash bags. Using all 1 use plastic bags at least twice, would reduce the trash in the world by 50%, that’s not perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction. Using a bag for shopping 80% of the time is better than 0%, even 1% is better than 0%. We can’t do what we can, when we get to emotionally burdened by wanting to solve more than what we are capable of doing, what we are not capable of doing is outside of our hands.
What can I do to make a better world? Write. I’m trying to start writing books, if I do that I will build skills and confidence, I can either keep doing that or transfer the skills into a different path, as long as I’m doing something towards a better future, I can trust other people to do other things, and hope that the net is enough to handle huge issues, like adapting to the hotter world, which is a reality for our decedents. We survived both ice ages and global warming before with less technology, perhaps it won’t be easy, but I refuse to believe things are hopeless, as long as there is life, there is hope to find balance in life, and nature is more resilient than people imply.
I’m celebrating that we have been able to use less chemicals, eliminate paper such as napkins, use far less plastic, even though my husband doesn’t care, I’m sure my kids will use less of those things, simply from seeing it is possible. It doesn’t have to be 100% of people, nor 100% conversion, simply by making eco friendly choices that do work for us, we have done our small part, and perhaps someone brilliant will start finding new ways to make eco friendly alternatives more cost effective, once they are cheaper they will be the popular option. 🎉
I’m learning as much as I can about finance, it’s obviously not the only thing that matters, but I’m inspired by Elevate Orphan. For a long time I made a lot more money and didn’t have any passion projects to sponsor, now I don’t have much extra, but finding things I care about means that I can either contribute at a later time, or contribute in a different way, money can be helpful, but so can awareness, information, ideas, encouragement, love. Sometimes you are able to fight in the front lines, sometimes you support the fighters, sometimes you make a change in legislation that ends the fighting, there are many ways to help.
This is the fifth year, I’m back to square one of trying to put events into one or the other categories (external or choice).
Today I’m considering this quote vs procrastination. Often there are things I get excited about doing, like writing a book, or something else, then I don’t follow through. So either I don’t really want to, I feel obligated to pretend I want to perhaps, or I can’t. Maybe it’s outside of my control to just finish a big project without having worked on small ones before. Each November other people “just write” with NaNoWriMo but I haven’t. So perhaps I don’t really want to right now that I’m a bit overworked, or perhaps ever, or perhaps I can’t because I’m missing some key ingredient that others may not need or may already have, but either way it brings me all the way back to the beginning of practicing trying to discern when something (in this case being able to write a book) is either within my control or out of my hands and reminds me I’m still a beginner in the arena of self awareness and serenity.
Tiny Plan: Rebuilding the daily activity schedule 8 AM Music, 9 AM Engineering, 10 AM Outside, 11 Martial Arts.
🗹 Connect with Other Humans – Email works, writing works, family doesn’t fill my cup so I have to be mindful of my limits.
🗹 Take Breaks – Mostly the garden, but whatever works, I need to…
🗹 Seek and Discuss Healing – We are talking about starting family counseling, we really should at least try it.
🚧 Take More Consistent Breaks
🚧 Let the New Schedule Sink in Without Adding too Much
💡 Life Time Goal:Live intentionally so the things that matter are the ones that don’t fall through the cracks.
🛠️ Tools: Gratitude, Self Leadership.
Tiny Plan: Take a bit more time to think, I feel like I’m living behind rather than ahead of life.
🗹 Radical Acceptance – Going well, kind of detaching from “everything” that needs to be done and doing some stuff that is possible.
“In life our first job is this, to divide and distinguish things into two categories: externals I cannot control, but the choices I make with regard to them I do control. Where will I find good and bad? In me, in my choices.”
🗹 Create your own reality consciously. – Going surprisingly well, gardening helps, it helps to see something I can physically see changing, martial arts is fun too I can see the kids improving vs academics take longer and are less noticeable.
🗹 Clarify my Dreams, Intentions, Goals, and Plans Here – I still have trouble feeling that it’s important, justifying taking the time, but yet I know it helps so I don’t understand the disconnect, though I feel it.
🗹 Cleaning – It’s getting easier and easier, it’s still not detail cleaned, but it’s sanitary and better organized than before and I’m not hating life. I only clean an amount I can tolerate on a given day if that means the bathrooms or the fridge isn’t cleaned, then they aren’t. But always the kitchen, the trash, the laundry, the bedrooms, the kid’s toys and equipment. Sometimes the patio or garden is a mess, but the more I get a routine the faster the routine stuff gets and they I could theoretically tackle something extra on the weekend.
🚧 Make More Time to Think
🌱 Life Time Goal: Leave my kids a beautiful garden or at least gardening skills or at least fond memories of outside.
🛠️ Tools: Permaculture Gardening.
Tiny Plan: Work towards tiny pockets of usable garden, for music, for produce we eat, for beautiful flowers by watering and checking what there already is growing.
🗹 Malama Pono – Be forthright and proactive in your life – Going well.
🗹 Aloha ʻĀina – Going well, connecting with the garden, sourced cheap and high quality local steer manure compost and organic worm casting compost, that makes me feel like larger scale projects are within my reach. Finding scrubby pads to keep slugs off makes me feel like gardening is a bit safer with the Rat Lung infection of the slugs so prevalent in my area, I have baited with iron slug poison (that doesn’t affect other wildlife) and it seems to have finally worked because I was a lot smarter about baiting in dry areas and many areas instead of only a few that got wet and therefore didn’t work as intended. Not sure if it’s the cold weather, but it’s been the least slugs in the garden ever, still jarring about 1-3 a day, but there were days I jarred over 100 in the same day (over 200 was the record day).
🪓 Life Time Goal: Become mindful and bold about maintaining myself preventatively with respect towards myself and excitement towards what it allows me to do in my life.
🛠️ Tools: Stoic Living, Kaizen
Tiny Plan: Try to find more time for fun things during the average day.
🚧 Let yourself play games sometimes or otherwise enjoy life a bit.
9 Points of 13 Points = 69% this week real life responsibilities really presented challenges to taking breaks that were above my pay grade to deal with, for now. Sometimes defeats are really insightful though, I can see that I really must find a new way of making time for myself and that it really is a need to take care of myself before burnout rather than after when it’s harder, uglier, and costlier.
Thank you, reader, for joining me today, it seems a bit redundant to be burnt out of child care starting a new garden, it must have been at least the third time if not the fourth, but each time I learn a lot about gardening and how to stop making the same mistakes in general, I’m a slow learner…
Preface: I’m continuing a thread from before the pandemic, from a year and three months ago… it seems like I’ve taken enough steps back in life that I can retrace my old advice, perhaps that was the reason I was motivated to write it back then? I always was writing to be helpful to just one person, perhaps that person was always meant to be myself?
Mission: restore harmony to my mind/myself /my life by breaking modern life down into the three arenas of 1. Connection – how I treat and enjoy people, 2. Acceptance – how I treat and enjoy myself, clearing my mind and accepting my emotions “as is” with no justification, 3. Action – my service to the world, currently tutoring my kids, cleaning my physical home ext, and 4. Harmony – the balance between the three areas of life and how to spend limited energy, time, and money with mindful intention.
Arena 1: Connection – Life Time Goal: Don’t be a complete jerk. Tools: Assertive Communication, Tactical Empathy, Observation, Sports Casting, Look Up, Look In.
Tiny Plan: Try to take the high road once a day (I used to have higher expectations but I’m a little pandemic fatigued still).
🗹 Connect with Other Humans – Saw a friend in person, it was amazing, very much worth it after so long, so deeply wish the pandemic had been managed in a different more targeted way so unaffected areas or people who had tested already could have lived with less isolation. It’s really invaluable to be with other people, I would almost trade 5 years of pandemic life for 1 year of regular life, life is really much richer with friends (in person friends).
🗹 Read books or Articles – Online friends or colleges, they are a welcome addition to life, they just kind of fill a different cup than in person support, they inspire me, they do uplift me as well, it’s just somehow not a substitute for in person support in the same way. Doctor’s visits have been okay online, music lessons are great, martial art’s lessons are okay, preschool hasn’t been as rewarding or easy, somethings translate very well, other things don’t.
🗹 Seek and Discuss Healing – I am doing my best to try to help my sister as just a sounding board for her own ideas to get out of her depression a little bit, I think it helps a lot that I’m not rushing her out or giving many suggestions, counter-intuitively wanting someone to get better or giving ideas can slow down their healing.
Arena 2: Acceptance – Life Time Goal: Live intentionally so the things that matter are the ones that don’t fall through the cracks. Tools: Gratitude, Kaizen.
Tiny Plan: Stop being over critical and don’t beat myself up for small mistakes or other people’s mistakes.
🗹 Radical Acceptance – Still a work in progress, but going well especially with cleaning and cooking, I clean and never finish the whole house, but I am keeping the basic health hazards completely under control and making more progress with the gross looking stuff and even slow progress towards making things look “elegant”. Cooking is going well too, we eat mostly healthy, mostly tasty stuff, it’s a bit redundant, but I was never a cook so it’s pretty decent from where I started.
“In life our first job is this, to divide and distinguish things into two categories: externals I cannot control, but the choices I make with regard to them I do control. Where will I find good and bad? In me, in my choices.”
🗹 See problems as opportunities. – I don’t do this 100% but I do look for at least one thing each week to work smarter at… so I did do this for Japanese language learning and restarted my journey with Kanjidamage which is an awesome funny, but really explicit website to learn Japanese easily in a fun way.
🗹 Create your own reality consciously. – I know it’s possible, I do it a little, but I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered it, definitely baby steps, like drinking tea instead of coffee in 2021 to prove to myself I can make life less redundant in the 2021 pandemic than the 2020 pandemic was by being a different person myself.
🗹 Clarify my Dreams, Intentions, Goals, and Plans Here – It’s been a large break, but it feels grounding to be back after about a year off.
Arena 3: Action – Life Time Goal: Do the right thing. Tools: Permaculture Gardening, Martial Arts, Stoic Living, Self Leadership, KonMari, Minimalism.
Tiny Plan: Teach martial arts weekdays 3 PM.
🗹 Malama Pono – Be forthright and proactive in your life. – I’ve feel like that honest part of me I had as a child has synced up with the adult me to produce and overly honest adult, but I’m good with that, that’s how I feel well.
🗹 Aloha ʻĀina, Teaching Martial Arts – Going okay, second class post pandemic, it’s just my kids, but they are still kids and they are having fun so perhaps that’s enough.
🗹 Cleaning – Starting to know how to clean and have good (but not necessarily expensive) tools (such as a steam mop, enough towels, not broken spray bottles, vinegar, blue dawn soap). Cleaning gets easier when you know how to do it and can do it in the same flow as normal, easier and faster and less draining.
Balance Between Arenas: Harmony – Life Time Goal: Allow myself to guard and restore my own well being for no other reason than it’s the right way to live. #mumlivesmatter
Tiny Plan: Try to find more time for fun things during the average day.
🗹 Money: Be reasonable, but joyful about using what we have wisely. – Read “Happy Money” and I’ll hopefully never go back to the old way of thinking about money as a limited resource that runs out, money is more like renewable energy than oil, people can always make more money with service, with policy, with savings, in so many ways.
🗹 Creative Endeavors: Brainstorming, Drawing, Painting, Sculpting, Writing, Architecture. – I would want to do a bit more, but did do a pretty reasonable amount, did write and publish instead of just keeping another draft, did draw recently, not a ton, but a little, did a lot of garden design choices hanging the strawberries ext, doing a lot of brainstorming with curriculum and parenting choices, never thought about how much that drains my mental energy until now, but it really does. Designed and printed a math lesson “recognition” chart and a martial arts chart, little things like that aren’t so easy, to go from the idea to hanging the finished product in the same hour is a record turn around for me. Did a bit of ocarina sheet music in Inkscape too and learned a new song on ocarina.
12 Points of 12 Points = 100% this week though real life is never perfect I did have a medium amount of energy to bring to the table and that helped me restart martial arts, the only exercise I’ve done this year (rare for me) as well as doing a bit better at making music time fun, reading story books instead of showing movies at night and being calmer for language and math lessons.
Thank you readers for joining me today, it’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these weekly reviews, but it feels good to be back because it’s interesting to see how much has changed. Notably lowered expectations of myself and more patience with my family, especially my daughter who I didn’t always know was a special needs child. I didn’t expect it to happen so fast, but I’ve made peace with being a special needs mum, it’s been about two months since she got her diagnosis and at first I was very resistant to identifying that way, to owning the amount of effort and patience I would need to put forth to be able to thrive as an individual in that situation or to help her in her situation, but I’m starting to be at peace with it, since it’s always been there whether I resist it or embrace it.
January 31st I spent about $10 on morning glory seeds, I had started to grow them once before, sprouted a ton of them (like 40-100) and then they all died… I want to vine up our thin ‘Ohi’a trees with a little bit of color. It took me a long time observing the garden and neighborhood to decide if I think the flowers will become invasive in this climate, I doubt it due to the overgrown ginger and groundcover types already here… also I wanted to think about if they are harmonious with the landscape, I think they are, also I wanted to think about if they make a part of my ideal life, I also think they are.
Some people may find morning glories old fashioned or ramshackle, but I like that, very much. I’ve grown white before, and LOVED them, but since we have slugs (huge brain eating parasite carrying ones) here, I don’t imagine frolicking under the moonlight where white really looks amazing, so no moon garden plans right now.
If you want to join me morning glories can be indoor kitchen plants and are a great beginner plant because they are very strong to start.
Here are what the seeds look like, they are hard, dark black, shiny, pointy, they feel strong.
I soaked the seeds in regular water (our home filtered rainwater) I used to use chamomile tea, but didn’t have any on hand.
After a day indoors the seeds had opened (I started 11) with a tiny light yellow root poking through the pointed end.
I moved them to the trey that goes under the pots we got for strawberries.
I’m hoping that I can get the morning glories to vine up our trees, including the dead ones that I leave because dead trees are supposed to be very good for garden microbe and animal diversity.
Sometimes I think I want to be a farmer and I’m in a location where a few special things can grow, but I don’t have any background in gardening or farming and thus growing a few simple plants seems like the next step towards either taking it to the next level or just enjoying the garden again.
Morning glories remind me of Marcus Aurelius since he wrote about the struggle to get out of bed in his book Meditations, and especially of the quote which is not verified to be him…
When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive-to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.
– Marcus Aurelius (Probably not verbatim though… but Meditations did say a lot like that)
THE NEXT DAY
I was preparing a kind of flat area around a fern to start having strawberries once the cuttings I recently got (Seascape) are ready to move out of the green house, when my daughter told me she may have a slug on her foot.
She did, it was super gross, she moved it off her foot onto her hand and it was actually two slugs, mating by both putting their penises into the other’s vaginas… slugs are like that… so it was very gross.
But also stressful, because they carry a lethal parasite, rat lung (Angiostrongylus cantonensis)… which only got 1 person in 2020, but I don’t want that one person to be my daughter… so we put three slugs into the slug jar which has salt (squishing them would just cause the parasite to leave their body and find a new host…).
Anyways… that’s something we have to deal with in our district, the worst in the country as far as high infected slug population.
Why weed out brain eating slugs to garden? Because I want to play the ocarina, and of course I don’t want to play the ocarina inside, I want to play outdoors in a beautiful forest garden.
I’ve always wanted to play specifically on a log chair thing in the woods, now I live in the forest, but still want a log chair and still want to make the garden the kind of place that would resonate with the music.
The garden is pretty much weeds with some good “bones”, since the lot is on the edge of the forest preserve it comes with some trees, high ferns and moss, but also dead ferns, over grown ginger and parasite hosting ridiculously large slugs of many types.
I sometimes prefer a break from gardening, or feel like I have to take one because I’m pregnant and it’s not good to be too involved in soils at times like during miscarriage risk – though sometimes and for some people it would be fine. But now that I’ve been back gardening it’s been great.
One thing that kept me not gardening is that I take care of my two kids mostly alone, so that I have to let go of the guilt of letting the younger one watch math videos “all alone” while I garden and I do need to check in with the older child about slug safety, pretty much on an ongoing basis. Then the slug anxiety that I have pretty much got over much to my surprise.
If we didn’t have slugs I would want to grow all our own produce, which financially we don’t need to do. But since we do have a ton of slugs I don’t know if I will eat our produce more than a token amount or not, because I don’t know if I will get the slug population down, deal with the slugs crawling over my stuff at night (which they do) and still be able to eat it after washing it in the day (harder after actually seeing them on it), or perhaps I will get rid of the slugs mostly and still not really eat my own produce, but no matter what I do enjoy the process of gardening and I don’t want to stop that.
In a lot of building games houses don’t “evolve” until they are beautiful and gardens are the usual way of making the houses beautiful, I would put a garden in our house in a game, so why not in real life?
Gardening does a lot for me, I socialize with the plants, weird or not I enjoy it, the book Square Foot Garden got me started, it said ask the plants if they are thirsty and listen and it has become fun, even though I still can’t tell if yellow leaves are too much or not enough water… gardening is a bit of activity during times I’m on an exercise break, gardening is a fun way to get some sun which in small amounts is really healthy.
Gardening gets me out of the house and helps give me small things to look forward to, something sprouting or blooming or fruiting or just staying alive is usually exciting.
Gardening is fun with or without a good produce yield and I like to imagine that getting more skilled in it will let me start a farm someday, maybe on another property, or maybe indoors in a vertical aeroponic kind of set up… I like hydroponic a lot, but my dad kind of took over that set up and I like to do my own thing more than working with two chefs in the kitchen…
One thing I don’t love about gardening is that everyone in my family loves and hates different plants, so one person’s win isn’t a win win. My sister likes lantana, I find it very over used and uninspiring, I love moss, my dad prefers grass to moss, unfortunately we don’t have similar tastes, one person’s favorite is someone else’s least favorite seemingly without exception… if my sister gardened alone it would be very European, if I did it would be more Japanese and my father would have orchids. But right now I’m not even thinking about the landscaping or overall garden just a tiny pocket of it to put the strawberries I just started into.
So as of now I’m gardening more as a therapy, more as a way to go forest bathing and less as a way to become self sufficient, though that always seems like a spiritually cool thing to do I don’t think its logistically or economically the best thing. Because of climate type, I live in a pretty cold place that does get nicely warm, but not hot. So, many things won’t thrive and I don’t think I want to go without them just to reach a point of being self sustaining. Papaya will probably never thrive, but berries seem like they will. But do I want to eat slug berries? I’m not sure. It’s quite rambling, as usual right? But I do kind of need to know internally, why am I putting my kids at risk to take them into the garden, why am I spending my small amount of free energy there, why am I spending my husband’s money there? For what? For joy? Or for relaxation? So the kids will understand we eat from the Earth beyond the economic system? Or to heal my own soul? To fill a silly aspiration to taste the seascape strawberry I was growing before I left on vacation and the plant died? To connect to my ancestors? To connect to nature, something larger than myself and all life? To have something to do that I can succeed at for pride? I’m not 100% sure yet, it’s a journey I can feel myself drawn to without a complete explanation about why I do it.
More Reading: Scientific Study of Slugs and Rat Lung Parasite: “Control Measures for Slug and Snail Hosts of Angiostrongylus cantonensis, with Special Reference to the Semi-slug Parmarion martensi” by Robert G Hollingsworth, PhD, Kathleen Howe, BA, and Susan I Jarvi, PhD
Stop Reading if You Don’t Want to See a Slug
A Five Minute Video about the Rat Lung Parasite and Gardening Interventions:
I’m looking at all the posts from January, and just musing about January in particular. A long time ago March started the year, it still feels that way somewhat… January is like the alarm that is intended to be snoozed (a bad habit), February is the years get up and get ready alarm and March is like the alarm that says actually leave the house to be on time.
I want to look at problems I used to have that I resolved and other changes:
In the past: Wanted to feel like a writer (Tried Grammarly Premium, it did not help, followed a casual better writing course with the Writing Under the Olive Tree blog, it did help, Did a lot of writing, it did help).
In the past: Poverty Mentality (Video by David Lee helped, Book “Happy Money” by Ken Honda helped).
In the past: I felt bad for not helping out every charity or good cause, but now I’ve come to find one that resonates with my heart. (Found Elevate Orphan charity, it does help cheer me up to help them, and read “Fu*k No” by Sarah Knight, it did help me set better boundaries in many aspects of life).
Reflections from last year: One we humans are all a family regardless of having different preferences or appearances; two what matters more than avoiding failure, is striving to stand for what is right to the best of our abilities as common people; and three, though we can’t do everything about everything, we can make some difference in some way.
In the past: My resolution was to never yell at my kids, now I don’t think it has to be never, if someone is throwing a rock or if they are just repeatedly throwing fits and I yell, I no longer think any yelling = verbal abuse and I’m no longer going to beat myself up for occasional yelling. It may not be the most effective communication, but I’m human and it’s not fair to expect me to constantly forgive my kids and others their human error and deny myself the same courtesy, I’m not going to hold that double standard against myself anymore.
In the past: I was really inspired by Lokahi, the Hawaiian concept of restoring something broken to wholeness and life balance, since last year I’ve learned that it is a concept the ancient Egyptians lived by as well, and is the top value of both China and Japan (under the name harmony or wa). I’m still striving for life balance using Russ Harris’s free worksheets right now to work on aligning my values and life balance and in the past used Michael Sheridan’s dream interpretation from his book and also from taking his amazing class in Seattle.
In the past: I wanted to find a way to help charity more, and I did that’s to Fun Raising, I’m still at the beginning of that journey, but taking a few first steps is the right direction.
In the past: I really hated not knowing my purpose in life, now I still don’t know, but it isn’t bothering me as much. I’m doing good things for others and I’m doing things I enjoy that are just simple things like playing music, having tea, playing building games, both those things make it seem like I’m living a pretty good life even without knowing my purpose. I also am taking a purpose workshop this Thursday, so hopefully that will help.
In the past: I felt like I was not really living at all, just doing mindless chores and childcare, I don’t feel that way anymore (as much), playing music helped, getting CES treatment helped a lot, taking more time to look at chicken artwork helped a lot, basically the antidote to feeling not alive was doing fun things even if they didn’t seem important to other people in my life. It was really hard to make it happen, no one took care of my kids more, I just let them play independently and was much more flexible about taking breaks that were at weird times and not caring as much that their dad thought they could be doing more (going out, doing class with me) and turning down people who wanted support from video chat or who wanted me to go on errands with them so they would avoid feelings of loneliness. Not only did I have to step back from my kids, but I had to tenaciously defend my break time and emotionally deal with the fact other people (in my family) look down on my very reasonable amount of break taking when it doesn’t suit their agenda.
In the past: I struggled really, really hard to adapt from 1 child to 2. Dishes, trash, laundry, putting most things away, school, family dynamics, discipline ext. I was ill for a time, that meant doing much more, on much less energy. When I could exercise I did, but that didn’t help me on the front of taking back my life, focusing on expecting nothing at all and than adding back in what I could in a prioritized way was more important than eating well or exercise to a sense of control over my life. Making a schedule was really hard, so I just wrote down what really happened as a back dated schedule and that helped me trick my mind to believing I could follow a schedule and than I really made one, things got shifted, skipped and adapted, but having a schedule gave me some torque to take back the day out of chaos… into semi-order.
Last January it was hard to answer the “who are you, are you really who you say you are, are you doing all that you can for humanity?” questions that are part of Kwanzaa’s January 1st reflections. This year it wasn’t as hard:
I live by my values, upholding them matters to me, it somehow gets me through the day inspired instead of worn down. I keep my eyes open to the truth. I am make mistakes, but I believe in trying anyways. I am surrender my children’s learning goals and results to them, but I still try to create a learning environment.
I am as far as I know who I say I am and in general I am doing all I can, I donated the cost of some sneakers for orphans and that’s about right for the mental and emotional reserves I currently have, not because it sounds like a lot or not because I’m tooting my own horn, but because this time I could feel it, it felt right and it made me happy, but I also left a pair of shoes in Cuba once and it was symbolic to donate one pair to Africa as well… I hope it helps the person who gets them, but it also helps me be happy and I’m okay with both sides of that.
There are some parts of me I still don’t understand, like the intersection of who I am as a parent and an individual, but I do notice the childcare workload is getting more manageable as my son approaches 2, (my daughter is 5 going on crazy), they are both learning coping skills regarding the pandemic stress (which I never wanted them to have to deal with at those ages…) and as they calm down and play independently I can breathe and clean (which are related when you have allergies to pets, and also pets).
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!'”
In the past: I needed new coping mechanisms ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy), radical acceptance, mindfulness and stoicism to deal with the transition to motherhood which was unspeakably difficult and unnatural for me. Gratitude also helped a ton, much more than I expected before practicing it. Stoic philosophy, and values based living also helped me feel like I had the power to make my life matter and decide if I had a positive impact on the world or not based on my actions in my small (but real) realm of control (my mind, my choices).
In the past: I had trouble getting out of bed, not because I was a late riser, but because I was scared of another day of dealing with my daughter, screaming, crying, yelling, kicking, asking, demanding, refusing, questioning me non-stop (only much later found out she was not normal). Marcus Aurelius really helped me shift my mindset about getting out of bed:
“At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: “I have to go to work — as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for — 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 “nice”? 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
In the past: Marcus Aurelius wasn’t enough to give me hope on the darker days, but Stephen Hawking was, because of who he was. Marcus Aurelius was the Emperor of Rome, he was wealthy, well educated, had family, had helpers, but Stephen Hawking had been through divorce, the debilitating physical conditions of advancing multiple sclerosis, and problems at work, so for him to keep getting up and working on his projects and motoring his electric chair out of bed everyday instead of telling the nurses just leave me alone, that made me feel like I could do it too.
“Remember 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.”
– Stephen Hawking
Old Me > Current Me
Felt desperately wanted to feel like a writer > Am a writer, but noticed it’s not all leather jackets and book signings, it’s mostly writing.
Felt so guilty over not being able to help all good causes and not being able to be nice to my kids 24/7 > Am doing the best I can in real ways, but have let the pressure to be perfect leave and told it not to let the door hit it on the way out…
Felt guilty about my student loan > Am not guilty, paying interest on the loan when I can pay for it should be punishment enough without me beating myself up over it and if I can never pay it, then I don’t need to be guilty for what I can’t even do.
Was desperately seeking life balance > Am interested in increasing balance, but I’ve been able to do noticeably better and seeing results helps me keep moving forward.
Was desperately seeking impact > Am really satisfied with the few people who reached out to thank me for some of the work I’ve already done that had a positive impact on them, one chalk drawing in particular and a comment on Coach.Me for some reason were enough for me. I wanted to know I was making a difference “at all” more than I wanted to know I was or could make a “big” difference. So two small moments, two individuals taking the time to say thank you, really made a huge difference to me, made me feel like I can check the “do something good in life” box.
Felt like a failure because I don’t know my life purpose > Am okay with knowing or not knowing what my life purpose is, but I’m not desperate to find out, because I’m okay with just doing my best to live in harmony with myself and help others when I have a pretty good opportunity to do so.
Felt like the day was going to be horrible before it even started > Am waking up happy and then sometimes get annoyed that my kids woke up at 6:30 and I don’t get alone time, yet at least I let bad things happen before getting annoyed instead of just assuming each day will be horrible.
Felt like a failure because I struggled immensely to parent my daughter and I hated myself for struggling with it when it seemed like everyone around me could do better than I could > Am okay with knowing I did my best, especially because my daughter has always had Sensory Processing Disorder and I never knew, I’ve been struggling with something that was hard the whole time and I never gave up, I never hit my daughter and I did the best I could even though most people would have medicated someone like my daughter, I kept trying “normal parenting” tips and classes and seeing them fail and fail and fail and I found “several thousand things that won’t work!” Sometimes it’s me not you, but this time it really is her and not me, and I won’t lie that’s nicer than feeling like I’m inherently dysfunctional as a parent.
My mantra for this year is: “If you really want to escape the things that harass you, what you’re needing is not to be in a different place but to be a different person.” – Seneca
I look back and see that I’ve already taken many steps forward, but I can feel that my life isn’t in balance as much as I would like it to be still, so it will be a work in progress, but each day that I notice more about what I really, silently want in life, not exactly what I say out loud, or even what I can put words to, but what is silently in my heart, after that recognition, it doesn’t take longer than a week to start discussing it, start finding ways to make preliminary steps happen, ways to push past the seemingly inevitable first failure. Between the dream and the blue print is the longer wait, between the blue print and the building is surprisingly doable, maybe not easy, but doable.
The journey of 1000 steps begins with 1 realization:
There is a book about our emotional world called “Permission to Feel,” it uses RULER (Recognize, Understand, Label, Express and Regulate) to teach people how to cope with emotions in a healthy way. Long before I read that I was looking for a way to increase my EQ, which I was pretty detached from in a repressive, PTSD-ish kind of way.
Recognizing my feelings was almost impossible for me, even still after a few years of practice it takes me the longest to express how I feel in my family. I encourage my daughter to look for her feelings and save a “captain’s log” Google Keep note with how she felt that day, sometimes my sister or husband join in. I seem to always need the longest, but it’s gotten easier over time. I started in a place where weeks would go by and I couldn’t notice anything expect apathy, my emotions would surface in my dreams and I would analyze my dreams to know how I felt rather than to learn what they were guiding me towards.
It was at first hard to know how I felt in the moment, than after a long time I knew in a given moment, but to decide what the dominant feeling of the day seemed impossible. It was hard to see the forest for the trees… but over time that got easier. It helped knowing it was okay if I made a mistake, no one was grading me, no one really cared (in a good way though). It felt silly and it was hard to justify to myself why I was taking the little time I had after work, cleaning ext to capture a little slice of each day.
But it gave me a sense that I owned at least a small sliver of my day, every day, even on work days.
I noticed I was getting better and that made me feel good about myself, a tiny bit, but sometimes a tiny bit helps a lot.
Sometimes I went a long time without making time for it, or I lost my phone or my computer broke ext.
I use Bitmoji, it’s a free app, you sent it up on a cell phone with the Google Play App, then it’s able to be used on a computer with Google Chrome as an extension.
This is the first year I haven’t missed a day so far… which is kind of cool, a small amount of consistency.
When I pick my meta feeling for the day that’s Recognizing how I feel and Expressing it, somewhere along the line I also validate myself that it was fine to feel however I felt, but I haven’t been Labeling or Understanding on an average day, a few days ago I decided to try to work on that also.
So working labeling for this week, starting with the basic 4 from Yale’s Mood Meter App:
I had thought I was sad Tuesday, but the scale says mad, which makes sense since I was pretty high energy. I had thought I was happy Thursday, but the scale says calm, which seems like it could be right.
I haven’t often used this scale, but it’s the one my daughter uses so I feel like it’s good to know some of the same vocabulary to help us be on the same page.
I kind of know how I feel, but on most of these days if I had to say how I felt in 3 seconds, I wouldn’t be able to say correctly… my labeling skills haven’t caught up with my recognition yet. I’m surprised at how much the lag between them is.
I think only on Monday would I have been able to say Tranquil, the rain was really soothing that day and I felt really deeply tranquil, which was nice after many stressful days lately.
My quote of 2021 is:
“If you really want to escape the things that harass you, what you’re needing is not to be in a different place but to be a different person.”
That was happening to me Tuesday, it’s also called “metanoia” in Greek, a journey of the mind, soul and heart turning away from darkness. In a game I didn’t play, but my daughter did, Paper Mario (the Origami version) the princess has become an origami, she asks “Will you crease yourself and be reborn, like me?” Despite what you answer she puts you in prison, it’s a bit scary for a Mario game.
The stoic quote of this week was:
“Nothing, to my way of thinking, is a better proof of a well ordered mind than a man’s ability to stop just where he is and pass some time in his own company.”
So immediately I thought of meditation (which I don’t really enjoy), but I read a great article, by Neriman K from Reading Under the Olive Tree about creative introspection specifically from the poet Rainer Maria Rilke.
You ask whether your verses are good. You ask me. You have asked others before. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you are disturbed when certain editors reject your efforts. Now (since you have allowed me to advise you) I beg you to give up all that.
You are looking outward, and that above all you should not do now. Nobody can counsel and help you, nobody.
There is only one single way. Go into yourself. Search for the reason that bids you write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write. This above all-ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: must I write? Delve into yourself for a deep answer. And if this should be affirmative, if you may meet this earnest question with a strong and simple “I must,” then build your life according to this necessity; your life even into its most indifferent and slightest hour must be a sign of this urge and a testimony to it.
– A letter from Rainer Maria Rilke to a friend.
Meditation can be so many things, sometimes I use ACT meditation or mindfulness meditation, but it seems to take the time and energy I would have much much rather used to have a tea, or play cello, or look out at the rain without in a casual way. Often I find it more draining or frustrating to do meditation than to do something else that is more joyful or more of a flow activity for me. I also don’t like yoga… but I can sit with myself with writing or doodling or music or questioning my mind in a way that I have never equated with meditation… Meditation is at the moment muddy puddle for me with a lot of different kinds of things going on, why I have always preferred something quite clear and simple.
For me questioning, is not meditation, questioning is a very energetic and active process and meditation is more subtle and calm.
I think we all want to live with balance, and I’m already usually fairly calm, but almost too much, almost stagnant, such that questioning brings me in touch with myself and lets me sort out my cognitive dissonance with a certain vigor and excitement that brings me towards a lively normal that I’m usually out of sync with…
Meditation may be what some people need to slow down, but sometimes I need questioning to speed up.
I re-evaluated my values for the year using Russ Harris worksheets, but I decided to work on all 83 pages instead of just the 2 pages of values I usually work with (23 and 24). One thing I found interesting that I had never noticed is that both Chinese and Japanese values are not there in a list of 58 values. How different Western and Eastern values are for the Eastern values to not even rank 58th… also the Latin value of Family is not there as a value, but as a section of life.
I still find it is a good system to work with, but the traditional African values that match well with Hawaiian values as well as Asian or Latin values have to be added by the individual as needed.
My top 7 for this year are:
Harmony Self Awareness Gratitude Humor Persistence Sincerity Joy
I was very proud of my daughter, she struggles with some things, but one thing she doesn’t struggle with is knowing her own mind and opinion, she ranked what was not important, quite important, very important and of the top importance very quickly and accurately and when something had changed she told me why and it made sense to me.
Her values for this year are:
Creativity Honesty Love Respect Fun Patience Assertiveness
Two were the same as last year, fun and assertiveness, but many are different. One interesting thing is that she had been lied to and now she values honesty, so that in bad experiences, wisdom develops… I had always been honest with her and she lied to me and didn’t think it mattered, but when she was hurt by dishonesty, honesty became important to her for the first time.
Perhaps values are like college classes, you can only study a few at a time and really learn well.
I can understand some of what drives her choices, being loved and loving is a major focus behind the scenes until a certain security forms and it takes a back seat without being absent. She is just beginning to have a lot of control over her hands (she is 5) with a brush and a computer so creativity is ever more interesting, because it’s less frustrating, honesty and respect and patience are good values that for her grew from bad experiences in 2020. Assertiveness is interesting because she both values it and also struggles with it, she told me so, and I also see it… she yells for something rather than say please, doesn’t get it and then is frustrated by the whole situation.
It’s harder for me to see myself from the outside in, but a lot of this year is based on the feeling of struggling too hard last year, the gratitude, humor, persistence and joy help me make it through tough moments of parenting through parental burn out, self awareness is hopefully going to let me take enough breaks to climb out of burn out and harmony is both what I need now, but also feels like a deep value that I want to learn more about anyways.
Sun: I was thoughtful because I was able to resume my “stoic meditation” (which doesn’t feel like meditation, it feels like a quandary) of reviewing the quote of the week.
Mon: I was tranquil because I was deeply at one with the rain and nature in a way that pluviophiles would understand.
Tue: I was uneasy because I recognized that I kept participating in little habits that made my life horrible for me that I was in charge of and yet repeating and I wanted to somehow make a new life.
Wed: I was frustrated because even though I wanted to make good habits my brain was quite fuzzy and it wasn’t working well.
Thr: I felt really good and balanced not because I fixed my problems, but because I accepted that I couldn’t make life not how it was in the moment nor could I have what I wanted that I didn’t have.
Fri: I felt inspired because I did 30 pages of self work from Russ Harris’ worksheets, something I didn’t think I would have been able to do and many of the ideas about trying new solutions and expansion rather than avoiding negative feelings seemed like it could change some of the issues that led to my burnout as a parent.
Sat: I feel hopeful (it’s today) because I am writing my first article about this years values, something that almost always feels good. I guess it’s not the most sexy, but I really find values enjoyable. They do get stale when they aren’t the ones that resonate with me in the moment, but when they match me where I am in life, they energize me and what I’m doing with them, writing or drawing ext, becomes a passion project.
I’ve been going through a lot of negativity lately, not sure if it comes through or not in writing, but at least every other day I’ve been going through hating the kids when they yell, or feeling guilty about something or angry about something that usually wouldn’t get me angry. But I think it’s because I feel better, that some of the things I was afraid to feel before, when I was already overwhelmed are venting.
It’s supposed to be my lucky year this year coming up (Feb 12th), sometimes I mark people based on their Chinese Zodiac animal, Marcus Aurelius was a rooster, Seneca a snake, Epictetus a dog and I am a cow. I know people are all different, but I always found the animal zodiac fun, and even had my two kids based on their zodiacs, I had a sheep and a pig to try to promote harmony between them (and they do get along amazingly).
So, I’ll conclude the first of the “Self Awareness Saturdays” Series, but what I will say is that it’s a decent mental exercise to go through the day and at least once try to know how you feel (whether it’s bitter or frustrated or tired or happy ext) because it’s not only going to help you live a more balanced life, but it’s something that helps you notice when your loved ones are repressing their emotions or when they could really use a helping hand, or you could teach someone who doesn’t know where to start (by example), mindsight and EQ start with you, but they don’t end there, it’s a small way towards a better world.
I didn’t always know it was possible to love a mountain. This one is the one that gets to me… Half Dome in Yosemite. It used to have trees, but now it doesn’t, I can only imagine it with trees. As you go up you sometimes pass by eagles flying below you. That’s wonderful.
One thing about eagles is that they never look up, other birds like hawks do, because they get eaten by eagles, or finches get eaten by hawks, but eagles don’t look up, such is their confidence in themselves.
The first time I heard that, it reminded me of being young. I was kind of a falcon who imagined there were no eagles.
Anyways, things feel like they are lightening up in the world. Like the sun coming back to my hemisphere bit by bit each day, life seems like it will be easier this year (I hope).
I’m doing little things to change my attitude and environment to a new year: changed my wallpapers to the above image, changed my passwords, changed my “color or the year” to red (pink was last year).
Changing from pink to red represents to me, really diving deep into the fundamentals of life, I’ve been very ungrounded for a long time and I’m starting to keep a new agenda, make 1-3-5 priorities, get a bit organized, check in on Coach.me again, make goals again, try to feel like an adult again.
Basically I want to live an INTENTIONAL LIFE, rather than a reactive one, I want to feel like I’m the captain of my soul, instead of saying it, but not feeling it, I want to feel ahead of or in the moment instead of a week or two behind…
I signed up for a cool “stop negative self-talk” presentation that I’m struggling to get through, the kids enrichment actives and daily routines are pretty scattered and chaotic, the family meetings have been abandoned for a few weeks, and I have a (free) workshop about life purpose (ikegai) coming up Thursday that I already felt guilty for missing, because I thought it was two Saturdays ago.
So my life feels a bit too chaotic to me right now, I’ve been trying to take breaks for over a year and it didn’t work out YET.
I recently watched “Less is Now” on Netflix, about Minimalism, it gave a metric for thinking about items, “what is necessary?”, “what is essential?”, “what adds value to my life?”
As opposed to “what sparks joy?” provided by Marie Kondo.
It’s useful to find what sparks joy, but I found I needed more, most of my stuff doesn’t spark joy.
I wanted to take more notes from the movie, but it’s going to take awhile.
An educational game I was playing today about building Rome (Cesar 3) said on level 2, if there is a problem, pay attention to it and fix it, there is no warfare in this area so your success will depend entirely on your management skills.
This is pretty true of my life in general… but there was the feeling of synchronicity that the presentation was saying the same thing.
It was nice that Heather kept talking about the feeling of the problem being the problem more than the event, I often act like it’s stupid what my kids are crying about, because it is usually stupid. Ex my son wants to throw rocks at me and I gently hold his hand and don’t let him… It’s a bit stupid to cry for that, but whatever he feels, betrayal, powerlessness is just as valid as any betrayal or powerlessness that I’ve ever felt on its own. Feelings are valid, but actions can be restricted. Kids can’t be controlled, but they can be guided. There are very fine lines that are tricky and I appreciate Heather telling me about what really works and what doesn’t.
Heather does something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time in finding where neuroscience of the amygdala taking over the mind meets ethics and stoic philosophy.
Ethics being that mom lives matter, that I don’t have to find solutions for my kids problems (though I can try to help them build tools to generate them).
Stoic philosophy being that you “paint your own cloth” (found a great article about that and the pandemic on Daily Stoic today)
A wise man dyes events with his own color.
Heather mentioned a more modern take:
It’s the way we react to circumstances that determines our feelings, not the circumstances themselves.
– Dale Carnegie
What if being stuck isn’t a problem, what if it’s how the problem is perceived that is the problem?
Our kids get stuck when they think they should be something that they are not. Or that life should be different than it is.
– Heather Davis
So, Heather mentions a lot of things I’ve heard before, such as “the obstacle is the way”, “problems are opportunities”, but she really wraps it up tighter with action plans such as the above redirect your mind slides that I was working with earlier.
I want to help my kids make their own charts to redirect their behavior, but I felt I really had to make my own first and really own it, really walk the walk. And that got my mind spinning as to what am I doing now? What did I used to do when things were worse? What did and didn’t work?
The reason I had never redirected their behavior is that I didn’t want to distract or invalidate their feelings, but sometimes they get stuck, so sometimes you let them vent, they vent, it’s over, but other times it becomes more than it has to… sometimes they handle their own feelings, sometimes I try to “name it to tame it” and validate and verbally label what they feel (but it doesn’t work well in our family as of now), I think that you could say “you are feeling bad, it’s okay, but here are some options to try to shift your mind if you want/when you are ready”… I didn’t think of a way that said your feelings are okay and valid, but we could try to shift them if you want.
Which looking back seems silly, but that’s what kept me from trying before, I thought it would somehow invalidate the feeling and be disrespectful, which I think I picked up from RIE parenting, which says don’t jump in all the time, it didn’t say none of the time, but somehow that’s the message I got. RIE is all about “your child is a whole person, they are capable of handling more than you think” but I think I push my little ones too hard like the story of the lion who throws the cub down the mountain to teach them the strength to climb up… sometimes I think I don’t guide them because I don’t know how or how much to guide them.
I’ll mention one last thing she said, because it was helpful for me as a person, she mentioned the skill of “Flexible Habit of Mind” understanding it’s okay to be stuck, it’s not about “them” (you), it’s about having the right “tools” or “strategies”. That was exactly what I was pondering in my last post and I find it interesting for it to resurface exactly at the right time for me to pick it up. Kind of “when the student is ready the teacher appears”-ish.
So, I’ll try to end this extra windy post, but I’ll end with a metaphor I always think about. When I hiked Half Dome, the first time snow stopped me, the second time I was alone and it was a thunderstorm, the third time with my husband, each time it was a special hike. One special thing about that particular 14 mile hike is you have a hard hike to the hike, there is a small but super steep trail that takes you from the nearest parking lot to the start of the hike. The prehike is harder in a way than what follows. Another interesting thing is that the forest is so thick for a long way you can’t see any progress, you move along seeing similar pines and flowers until suddenly it’s almost over when you reach the rock. The rock section has a metal ladder that was put there from the first climbers, which is what made it possible for a novice climber like me to easily get to the top (you don’t have to be a climber at all, it’s a hike with handrails basically).
It’s all very metaphorical for my learning process, the very beginning is the hardest struggle, like the initial decision to try something or drop a bad habit is the hardest part for me, I always feel like I’m not improving as I’m improving (I’m blind to progress), and through the shared work of others greater than myself I am able to do things that otherwise I never would be able to do.
The chickens we eat are therapods, descended from the same family as T-Rex. When times get tough someone who needs “a lot” struggles and someone who needs less suddenly thrives, or at least survives.
In life, the moments we expect to be great, graduations, careers, weddings, births, parties, often let us down, they are often unexpectedly of small significance to our life overall. Whereas the small moments are sometimes the great ones that stay in our hearts like treasures.
My wedding was not the biggest, but it was a lot of planning and stress and some money, conversely, there was a day my husband and I took our dog to a golf course and let her run free and played with her, she ran in wild circles, happy as a bird on the wing. I wouldn’t trade my memory of being free and relaxed and happy with my husband (when we took the dog to play) for anything, but I wouldn’t mind forgetting our actual wedding day…
Real life is a mystery and real people behind the mask become interesting and subtly unique.
I’ve been wanting to live an intentional life this year, been wanting to clear my head, ground myself in the Earth, in the vast universe, in the beautiful ancient starlight that bathes the plants at night, but I haven’t really.
My head is just clearing again, not the clearest, but at least with some amount of clarity above 0%.
What I intended to do was review the same stoic quotes I did last year, one each week.
But I couldn’t even. I didn’t forget, I just couldn’t even.
But it’s not horrible, because I didn’t do what I wanted because I was giving the mental energy and time I had to a worthy cause.
Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Yeah, realistically sometimes what doesn’t matter more comes first, yet since reading this, the words give me power to try harder to get my priorities correct for me and live by my own values.
That’s one thing Martin Luther King Jr and I have in common, he lived by his values everyday, his were not mine, and I am not him. But I also do my best to LIVE my values not just TALK or THINK about them. It’s not always a huge event, but internally it makes a huge difference to me.
I’m always exploring new values, because my values are not static, I learn about life, I try something new, it works or it doesn’t. It’s a free life, it’s expansive, but it’s also turbulent and draining. Not having a pattern to sew a dress or pants usually means wasting a lot of fabric and I waste/use a lot of effort compared to other people who are more “set in their ways” but I’m also happier with a really low amount of anxiety on average. Because I “lay off” a lot of things that cause anxiety when I can as soon as I can (sometimes I can’t, but often I can).
In an ideal year I would have reflected on these four quotes already, maybe talked about them with my kids already brainstorming how to explain them to a 1 and 5 year old, preferably with visual or kinetic examples…
But in real life I’m starting where I wanted to be mentally 17 days late.
Because I wanted to get my daughter some treatment for her neurological condition and that took so much energy it’s not easy to explain, time wise it didn’t affect us so much, but getting and meeting a new doctor, exploring 9 different options, going over her life with a fine toothed comb to help determine what is going on, getting a diagnosis I had never heard of before (sensory processing disorder), adjusting myself to knowing what to expect and what my daughter goes through, adjusting myself to the rest of the family, trying to fill them in on what I know without them having had physiology or any neurology background, trying to make life work with 2 kids who want more than I can give in a burnt out state… I protected what mattered to me, for once my priorities were straight, and even though exhausted, it’s a triumphant kind of exhausted, even though burnt out it’s a hopeful for the future kind of burnt out…
I’m not perfect, I won’t be EVER, learning this at a visceral level has set part of my soul free.
I also want to set the past on fire and forget it, but I don’t know if it’s true the past has important lessons or if it’s just a weight that holds me underwater? I don’t know my own answer about that yet.
1. “While we are postponing, life speeds by. Nothing … is ours, except time.”
– Seneca (the Senator Philosopher)
2. “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
– Marcus Aurelius (the Emperor Philosopher)
3. “Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle. Some things are within your control. And some things are not.”
– Epictetus (the Slave Philosopher)
4. “Nothing, to my way of thinking, is a better proof of a well ordered mind than a man’s ability to stop just where he is and pass some time in his own company.”
– Seneca (the Senator Philosopher)
1. “While we are postponing, life speeds by. Nothing … is ours, except time.” – Seneca
The first quote is a good fit for New Years, sometimes one can rush through life feeling like our jobs or someone else owns our time (in my case it feels like my kids own it, since I spend it choosing to care for them).
Sometimes it feels like we don’t have time, but “time is all we have” in that we can’t buy things with money without spending the time to browse and buy, we can’t use the things we own simply because we own them, without having the “free time” off of work and then using the time to use those things. Time is a key that all things are accessed with, it’s like insulin that allows sugar into our cells to feed us. To buy we need money and time both, to dance we need energy and time both. Time is kind of the most precious thing we will ever have, but it’s so overwhelming to live with that gravity that it’s easier to turn away from that truth and think either we have all the time in the world or no time at all, both of which are wrong. Those of us living still have 24 hours each day. Not 0, not a life time. Each day we have 24 cubes of time. Our body needs most of it back, sleeping takes a third more or less, working takes a third more or less, of the last third eating and washing, laundry and dishes take some, what is left becomes scarce… different than money, because it isn’t interchangeable. No one can loan you time to live in a normal scenario and you can’t gift someone else time to live in a normal scenario. Do parents give life to children or does God? That I’m not sure. Because some people want children so much and never have them… it seems outside the hands of parents, but I’m not sure. As a parent it felt like it wasn’t me giving anything, but more of being a witness to a miracle that is pretty far from being fully described as of now by science.
I probably needed that lesson, but reviewing it today was the best I could do this year. I’ve been missing things left and right and forgetting things and avoiding making a new set of daily habits for quite sometime. Sometimes parenting gets harder and I take 2 steps back, other times it gets easier and I load up so many “enrichment” activities that when it gets harder again, I can’t bear the same load.
Anyways, summary of quote 1, “in one sense, time is ALL you ever really have.”
January Week 1 in Summary:
2. “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” – Marcus Aurelius
This quote was meant for the second week 1-3 to 1-9, it has been the overarching source of emotional strength I turn to when things go wrong. When a family member takes something the wrong way and sulks, when I cut my finger in the beginning of the day, when my kids tell me to die if I can’t get them a pet golden dragon (which I can’t), when a boisterous lady feels like cursing at me while my child has a fit downtown when the baby dragon toy she wanted to buy is gone… and I have to carry her out screaming and kicking and I’m telling her to stop, because it is more than enough for me and I have the parental choice of saying stop or sitting in the middle of the sidewalk and trying to talk someone through a melt down that has never and may never respond like some street lady expects her to respond. The misunderstandings, small cuts, annoying “townies”, childhood meltdowns, culture clashes, the stress of my husband moving, the stress of social distancing, those things are out of my hands. What I have power over is if I take a moment to see how I feel (using Bitmoji to journal it easily), if I beat myself up for not being what I or other people want me to be, if I make a healthy metric for what I can even really do in a given day with two kids (yes some other mom can do X with 2 kids, but what I can do is not necessarily what she can do).
I have power over, if I’m on my side, if I take a moment to see how I feel so I can at least monitor burn out since I was too late to prevent it, if I enjoy the small enjoyable moments that pepper most days despite the winter or despite the drama of politics in my country being a bit “extra” right now.
I was thinking when I was a kid I would have loved to get an ocarina and play it, now we have one, and I don’t play it. I still didn’t, I wasn’t in the mood, didn’t have the energy, but I got thinking about doing it, about doing the things right in my own home that I want to, but don’t do.
I would have liked to remember to check into this quote, but it wasn’t vital, because it never leaves me, this one has gotten down to my bones sometime in the past 5 years that I’ve been reviewing the stoic quotes often.
Quote 2 Summary: Knowing what is out of your hands leaves you the strength to care for what IS in your hands.
January Week 2 in Summary:
So starting week 2, I felt so weak, I looked for strength in music, in nature, and I found it instead in my own attitude towards life, and I didn’t communicate kindly, but I did communicate effectively at least, I returned a lot of baggage my father had put on me throughout the years back to him, it was ugly in the way it aged him so much in an instant, but actually it was uglier for him to expect me as a child and adult to somehow soothe his anxiety rather than him getting professional help or taking action such as meditation or yoga or just facing harsh truths and making changes to his life. Really that was uglier. It’s hard enough to be a child without your parents asking you to do their homework on top of yours.
3. “Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle. Some things are within your control. And some things are not.” – Epictetus
This quote was meant for 1-10 to 1-16, this seems really similar to quote 2, but it isn’t really the same. Quote 2 talks of strength to do things in your own mind and own life, power, quote 3 talks about happiness and freedom. Strength lies directly within knowing you have power over some things and not others, the martial art of jiu jitsu is almost entirely a meditation on that fact, it relies on leverage and torque ie changing what you can (your position) and not what you can’t (the strength of the opponent). Happiness and freedom are not found from this understanding, but instead understanding proactivity is the beginning towards them, a foundation to build upon. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey is very much a longer meditation of the same theme of building happiness on a foundation of proactivity. That book was life changing for me because it gives a breakdown of how to stop being reactive to life that I needed to be able to apply some of the advice (from Never Get Angry Again by David J. Lieberman) that was right, but above my proactivity pay grade at the time.
Quote 3 Summary: Happiness is surrendering what you can’t hold and freedom is owning what is truly yours.
January Week 3 in Summary:
4. “Nothing, to my way of thinking, is a better proof of a well ordered mind than a man’s ability to stop just where he is and pass some time in his own company.” – Seneca
This is the quote for today and the upcoming week, so now I am “synced” between where I wanted to be and where I am, which is nice. It’s okay to be late, but it’s nice to be on time once in awhile.
Challenges I faced while writing just this article remind me why I haven’t finished a book yet, an article is a bit of a river raft and a book is a ship for sea…
Not being able to install a night light app into the new Linux even though I tried… having to decide to risk getting wired at bedtime due to blue light vs red light on the screen.
Worried the typing would wake my kids. But it didn’t.
Gnawingly uncertain as always that it doesn’t matter what I write, so why write at all rather than read or take a break or play a game.
You, the reader, it’s inspiring to write in today’s world, where maybe what I wrote was meaningful or helpful or uplifting or helped someone remember a word they were thinking of to someone out there.
My persistent readers, having so many cool writers that read and comment (and also kind individuals) is very uplifting. It inspires me to write freely, this or maybe someday a book, and also to be more kind. Receiving kindness seems to give me a little more patience, in a way that simply being commanded to be more kind never replicated.
My sister, she worked really hard fixing this computer on January 2nd, without her, I wouldn’t have most of the problems solved I have solved because she is an excellent problem solver.
The Gallium OS team, they are Linux, which supports my Chromebook which is so old it’s operating system is no longer supported, meaning it was abandoned by Google and Chrome OS, but that Linux team supported it so that I can use my same physical computer as a new computer instead of scraping it.
David Attenborough, he made a new show in 2020 at 94… so kind of shamed my unproductivity, but at the same time comforted me to see his new documentary “A Life on Our Planet” (on Netflix right now).
Jean Craighead George author of Julie of the Wolves and The Talking Earth. (from 1972)
Laura Ingalls Wilder of the Little House books. (from 1871)
Scott O’ Dell author of Island of the Blue Dolphins. (from 1960)
Marcus Aurelius author of Meditations. (from 180)
Rachel Macy Stafford, an author, but kind of a blogger first in a way. She runs Hands Free Mama she kept going throughout her tough times and is very honest and open and it inspires me that it’s possible to do all those things.
Actually many more bloggers, Lovie Price, Mark Manson, Nomzamo Madide and Thomas “the Happiness Nerd”. Lovie because she has really interesting insights into everyday life I haven’t seen anywhere else, she also always inspires me to take action towards change.
Mark because he covers intellectual debates and philosophy in a current way and covers a lot of habit change and values based living struggle points.
Nomzamo because her writing opens my eyes to a different level of reflection and social responsibility that widens my horizons externally and internally.
Thomas because he gives me so many suggestions that I eventually try and enjoy, so many solutions to adding mindfulness, or simple joy or shifting perspective to enjoy life more that I always end up with a few that work for me.
I wanted to explore what I love about the authors that inspire me, not as a compliment primarily, but because it tells me a lot about myself, what I like to explore and what matters to me as a reader is not exactly who I am as a writer, but it gives me some clues about perhaps where I am headed.
I guess when support outweighs challenges something difficult like writing/publishing becomes enjoyable and possible and perhaps instead of beating myself up that I haven’t finished something major like a book, I can instead wonder how much support I need to find and accept before I have the capacity to do that, and also be grateful for the time to meditate on where I fit in the world without rushing into a project that turns something I love (writing) into a 9-5 kind of job that leeches the passion out of what I once enjoyed?