Today I watched my son play at 5 PM while my daughter watched math videos on her computer while she ate dinner. We have pizza once a week Friday, so it takes much longer to cook than most meals I serve. I cut fresh tomatoes for myself, I like the tomato even though there is already cooked tomato, my daughter does too. We walked 4.6 miles round trip, from 11 AM to 3:30 through the neighborhood stopping to pick up a picnic lunch, browse at dollar tree and play at the park.
I drew out the day into 24 square blocks earlier and colored them in to try to explain that I asked my daughter to focus only for two hours and I gave her five hours everyday to play.
Somehow the square blocks seem to put life in a certain perspective that I’ve never noticed before.
I use Sketchpad.io a free online drawing app to work out basic models and rough sketches digitally, it’s very user friendly for someone who has never used online drawing programs.
This is my/my kids life right now, the blue is sleep, a lot (but interrupted so…), the red is eating (between cooking – serving – feeding baby – cleaning each meal takes about an hour) and exercise, and bathing – teeth brushing ext. It takes us 15 of our 24 blocks just to serve our body. They yellow is playtime, special play time at 12 (where I do what my daughter wants – kind of bonding) outdoor play time at 2 (supposed to be the very best thing for kid’s brains), crafting play time at 3 (painting or art always seemed to help my daughter with her emotional issues, kind of art therapy more than a class), 5 is bonding time with my son and independent hands free time for my daughter (like Legos in her room, or beads), 6 is electronic play time for my daughter and my son plays independently (in the room with me, but he is happy to play by himself). Green is where I teach school to both kids, but letting my younger son wander to blocks or join us if he wants, pink is the only time my husband joins us on an average work day, it’s really half an hour at 7PM, then he eats, then half an hour at 8PM, then he showers, but it’s pretty much an hour a day that he spends time with us, enjoying the kids, but not actually helping with teeth brushing or anything draining. 8PM we are transitioning to sleep, I do a lot of reading to the kids, teeth brushing ext. What was crazy to me is that I never realized how much time is dedicated to just surviving and staying healthy. 63% for us, I have no real idea how much it is for other people, but that’s what it is for us and it’s actually worse for my husband, since his works feeds us and commute is needed to work his time is spend 92% surviving, 8% free-time.
This is time divided by when I’m serving my body (blue, via sleep, eating, exercise, hygiene) when I feel like I am working (red) and the hours of my life I feel I enjoy. 63% feeding the body – 25% “working” – 12% enjoying life.
In response to reading a comment that life feels meaningless often, no matter my optimism I can’t but completely agree, the green square is the time in my life I “feel” a sense of meaning. 4% of my normal day feels significant to me. It would be so easy to let that time slip away.
This is the same time arranged as a pyramid. Looking at survival, we do what we must: sleep, bathe, eat, exercise and a deep tension exists between work vs enjoyment vs meaning. None of those things are “wrong,” but if you work 8 hours instead of my 6, it’s so possible to imagine enjoyment or meaning being swallowed up, if you commute a long commute… it’s as if your week days are just for survival then.
I know there are the weekends, but I don’t think life is meant to be lived in such a way that the average day of your life isn’t enjoyable or meaningful.
Doing this exercise today was quite mundane, but somehow the visuals, as plain as they are tell me at a really deep level how important this one hour is to me. This is the only time I feel like I make a difference. People would say, and it’s probably true, that I make a difference as a mother in 96% of the day, but the only time I feel a sense of flow, impact, meaning, significance is the 4% that most of my family sees as a waste of time.
It was definitely worth doing this today as a dialogue between myself and myself. Now I can understand both why my husband is so tired on average and also why I need to preserve this time that makes me feel like a human being vs a noble child care robot.
The first thing I thought of is that 4% isn’t enough time, but then I thought, at least I have that 4%. I didn’t always and not everyone does. It was hard won, mostly through better and better time management, which requires better and better boundaries, which is motivated by better and better sense of self, which happened from painful increasing mindfulness and self awareness. I spend a lot of time taking care of my kids, but the ironic thing is that, when I didn’t have them I wasted my time trying to please everyone in my life rather than do what mattered to myself. The kids made me too tired to continue running away from letting others down, then I was broken of the habit, I decided to stop letting myself down and let people find their own way (or not). It sounds cruel, but for an adult it is actually true respect to be given the space to learn to care for yourself. Obviously there is room for teamwork and paying help forward and human kindness, but there should be some limit (a different limit for every relationship, yet always a limit somewhere).
I really enjoyed writing tonight, I think I’ve been afraid my whole life to know who I am, but the more I find myself (nerdy, thoughtful, sensitive) I really don’t hate myself. They call the unknown side the dark side, but for me it’s more like the light side, it’s as if I lost the good of myself, rather than the bad? Hmm.
A wonderful night or day to you my friends! Or horrible! Life at it’s worst always has a certain value, like coffee, a good coffee is better, but a bad coffee first thing in the morning is still a welcome friend.
Poem for the Road
(It wasn’t rainy here, just have this on my mind tonight, for some reason it always struck me as beautiful. Completely reminds me of Thomas’ wonderful post from last autumn.)
The Rainy Day:
The day is cold, and dark, and dreary; It rains, and the wind is never weary; The vine still clings to the mouldering wall, But at every gust the dead leaves fall, And the day is dark and dreary.
My life is cold, and dark, and dreary; It rains, and the wind is never weary; My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past, But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast, And the days are dark and dreary.
Be still, sad heart! and cease repining; Behind the clouds is the sun still shining; Thy fate is the common fate of all, Into each life some rain must fall, Some days must be dark and dreary.
Today I started at 5:30 again, but it was okay because dinner started late and got finished late.
I have the hour ahead of me and I know I can write, but having conquered distraction for now, I still wonder about a nice focused project vs freewriting.
As far as this project I think I’m going to post publicly for 14 days straight, that’s the minimum time it takes to start a habit and it can take up to 2 years depending on what the habit is.
I’m watching my son play in his safe area right in front of where I write, he has a wooden banana. Without him, somehow I wouldn’t have started writing. He can definitely play by himself for an hour. That is so cool about him. Not only does he play by himself, but he does it so well that I don’t have any guilt about it. My son is about to be 1-year-old next month and we don’t have good ideas yet for his birthday, but that’s okay, maybe something will come. His sister is 4 years old playing the next room over with Lego blocks for an hour, then she gets her 1 hour a day on the computer so I have to finish writing to give the computer back to her (it is hers from her grandpa, mine got broken earlier this year by my son). My husband works until after I am done writing so he won’t interrupt me. This is a good time.
I am a morning person, but I would rather work when I can consistently and sleep is still inconsistent with my son’s teeth coming in I wake up some nights with him and not others. Tonight I’m very tranquil, but I’ve been struggling to get to bed if I have caffeinated tea in the afternoon so I switched to guanabana today and I guess I have to find a new rhythm.
Someday I would rather write in the mornings again, but at times I would rather make progress with whatever I can today than wait for a day that may never come.
Usually I know what my values are, using both generic (universal 14 most common values) and specific values (out of everything possible), but I feel like I need a refresh after trying out some new Hawaiian and traditional African values last year.
I’ll check my Life Value Inventory values today, it took about 10 minutes since I’ve done it before. All my past 8 sessions are stored for free online so I can see how I have changed.
This foundation uses 14 values they find to be very common among all people:
“Our research started with over 200 values which were identified from an extensive review of prior values research. Over several additional years of research with a diverse group of people (from emerging adult students to adult workers), these 14 values were found to be the most common and consistent.”
Then the interesting part, you can easily clarify what is getting too much or not enough of your emotional, financial, or time budget.
What strikes me is that the inner peace I feel does match me meeting all the important goals pretty well, however if I lived near my relatives and had safe, high quality help for the kids I would much more easily be able to meet my “objective analysis,” “creative,” and “financial prosperity” goals. Those being a bit under focused is defiantly the price I paid to keep my kids and my health as priorities with lack of sleep of having a baby under 1 year old.
So looking at my values profile this time shows me what I can work on when I do have energy, I can use analysis to ground my mind more often, I do miss my life improvement system, but I need to rename it since I’m not working on improving my life anymore, maybe life balance check or something… Creativity, since I’m teaching it in my home school as the art theme for spring I think I will find ways to express this better in the coming months. Financial prosperity, I just want to keep track of my spending, not even focus on earning, so this should be workable.
“For values in this category, it is recommended to chip away at creating more time to express these values. This process will clarify how much these values reflect preferences or something important enough to fight for. We all have preferences that are about being more skilled at something or being more fit or wishing to spend more time with certain people . . . but at what cost? Values in this category usually represent some kind of personal cost and, therefore, don’t get expressed as much as you would want.”
So, I know what I need to do, just make some time for these values. If I had a specific time to track spending, maybe at night, that would be good ($8 for replacement shorts for new work out shorts since I had none). Creativity actually has an hour from 3PM-4PM, I just haven’t harnessed it in a way that feels effective yet. Objective analysis is hard, I love to wake up alone, but right now it’s not the easiest thing to really do, so maybe if I make a plan I can get my mental bearings while I have a morning coffee, I really miss knowing where I am in life and that kind of thing, I floated through today and get so much done and so well, but I hate that floating feeling, I want to be solidly grounded between my mind, my values and my plan for the day.
I really recommend that Life Value Inventory System to anyone feeling disconnected between their heart vs day to day life it gives you some tools and has more articles that discuss the way certain value combinations are hard (like responsibility plus creativity). I don’t think it would take more than 20 minutes for someone not over-analyzing it (maybe 40 for those people), and it really has some decent tips that aren’t very commonly discussed.
The feeling I have tonight is that, although imperfect, I’ve done a decent job getting more and more used to managing a family/school and transitioning emotionally from a student/worker to wife/mother/teacher/writer. A quote that helped me when I started forgiving my imperfection was “The Man in the Arena” by Theodore Roosevelt (I watched a great documentary about the Roosevelt: Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor that reminded me about how every great life has a lot of mistakes, but the quote has been on my coffee table for a few years because I need it to remind myself not to let my husband’s insults keep me down).
The Man in the Arena: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
Well if nothing else I’m defeating the feeling I can’t write if I’m not sure what the best project is, when my time came I did write, that’s an improvement for me, something to rebuild trust in myself a little each day for now. 🌸
I’ve finally set aside a time to write. 5-6PM. Today I didn’t start immediately, I was thinking that checking Instagram or email would inspire me to write something, rather than writing without inspiration.
It didn’t happen. I saw a beautiful picture of the Fayore Islands and noticed my good friend still hasn’t had their baby due this month, so it wasn’t a waste of time, but nor did it work to inspire me.
Tchaikovsky wrote a song I love “Romance (in piano) or Romance (in violin),” I haven’t listened to it in years, but it’s as if I never stop listening to it in my soul. Because when I hear it, it’s so current. For me it captures all the longings and broken dreams of yesterday and today.
Tchaikovsky wrote a lot of my favorite music, but he was seldom inspired, he hated sitting down and getting to work, but when he did sit down uninspired to work, then inspiration happened and it was a needed precursor to attempt.
Creative work is so subtly complicated for me. It seems easy, sit down at 5PM-6PM, try to write.
Yet, since I write for no agenda, no income, no project, I feel like I should always be inspired. I guess that belief is holding me back towards trying to write consistently.
I’m a little scared of deciding on a large project, because I have thrown out so many and discarded others.
One thing I was thinking about lately was the cycle of transformation and recovery. Last year I was so frustrated with the way I was rushing through life, through no one else’s fault but my own, yet had difficulty switching it off, it took about a year of mindful effort to stop. Now, I think I enjoy at least 25% of each day, which is a lot more than 0%.
I found a beautiful song while writing this post Nocturne Op. 10 No. 1, it’s amazing that from the comfort of my home I can hear almost all the beautiful music from almost all human time and all over the world. When I was growing up I was so limited between my dad’s records, my grandparents records or my mom’s tapes, and even then I was lucky that we had a variety of Beatles, classical. I suppose lucky to have hearing as well, it’s amazing Beethoven composed while deaf better than most people with hearing ever will.
I really love words, but I find that I am lost as a writer. I wonder what my purpose in life is, with some people it’s so crystal clear. With Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Cesar Milan, but not so much with me (at least to me).
I have a good life, I have happiness, I have health, I can serve others (teaching my kids indefinitely since I’m the third generation of teachers in my family it seems right for us), but the one thing I feel I lack is a clear purpose.
After thinking about it for the past four years I think I will have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and take life as it comes without knowing my clear purpose.
It’s possible that all the people I think have a clear purpose didn’t feel that way, or that mine will become clear in time, or that we all decide our purpose every moment and are not locked into anything we don’t choose in our hearts. I don’t presume to know. All I know is that a quiet part of my soul yearns to know, it’s not a void per se, it’s more of an unceasing wondering.
Last year I wanted to improve my life, and I did, and then I hit a kind of plateau of satisfaction and I’m torn between writing more about that to help people or not writing anything at all about it because we are all so different we all find a different way towards life balance.
I wonder if I should be writing at all or rather doing something else to serve humanity or just taking a break myself. But I don’t feel like I need a break, I’m living at a slower pace, yet doing as much as I ever was by not rushing, using notes to keep track instead of trying to remember and having a flexible yet pretty consistent routine.
So I was thinking transformation/growth and recovery need to occur in cycles, I ‘m not to tired to keep pushing myself towards new goals or living my best life, but I can feel that my life is mostly balanced now, so no big adjustments need to be made right now.
I feel like satisfaction is a tricky, underrated skill. Knowing when something should change, a boundary should be drawn or even a revolution should happen is vital to human kind, yet there are many moments when life is optimal the way it is, when a sculpture can be left as is. Perhaps there is nothing missing, but just the human condition to strive for more.
Just found this article looking for a more simple quote that suffering is caused by seeking permanence in an ever changing world:
A man was gifted a plate by his wife. It had beautiful drawings. The man was an antique dealer. Every day at the market, he would eat lunch from his plate.
Soon, his wife passed away. The man was grieving, but he still ate from his favorite plate every day. One day, the plate fell down and broke into a thousand pieces. The man was devastated.
A fellow stall owner told him: “I know someone who can teach you how to fix it. But he lives far away.” The man went to seek the plate fixer. After one year of traveling, he found him. The plate fixer helped the man reassemble the pieces and the man returned home.
At first, he was happy. But the plate never felt quite the same. One day, it broke again and, again, the man was devastated.
Another stall owner told him: “I know someone who makes plates just like this one. But he lives far away.” The man went to seek the plate maker. After one year of traveling, he found him. The plate maker taught him how to make his own plate and, with it, the man went home.
At first, he was happy. But still, the plate never felt quite the same. One day, it broke again. Again, the man was devastated. But he was tired. He could not travel far anymore.
A fellow stall owner told him: “I know someone who sells plates just like this one. He has a new stall on the market.” Happy that he wouldn’t have to travel far, the man went and bought a plate just like his.
At first, he was happy. But that plate, too, never felt quite the same. One day, it broke again.
As the man looked at the broken pieces on the floor, a stranger passed by his stall. He said:
“You are lucky. It was just a plate.”
At that moment the man was enlightened.
The first of the Four Noble Truths in Buddhism is suffering. They call it ‘dukkha.’ It has many definitions, including pain, grief, sorrow, stress, unsatisfactoriness, and misery, but I think the simplest term that captures it in our modern times is ‘unhappiness.’
Our suffering isn’t physical, at least not most of the time. It’s emotional. One way or another, things don’t go how we want them to, and we face emotional pain because of it. This pain isn’t random. We inflict it upon ourselves. That’s the lesson of the above story.
It seems like the last pin in my inner harmony is not finding a purpose, but being at peace with being one of many people who have not yet had that milestone in life. Something settled with me tonight, something from my past visited me when I re-listened to my old favorite song, something from now visited me when I admitted I spent half my writing time not writing (though I wrote an hour by going over half an hour) and something from my future looked upon my with kindness. Every time I look at any picture of myself I always look ridiculously young, I was wondering why I can’t immediately feel that way when I take a picture and maybe I can start?
Good evening or day! I still find it almost unbelievable that people all over the world will read this. I wonder how much it affects people born after that was just normal and in what ways, for me, who never dreamed of being connected the way the internet has allowed humanity to be, it is a beacon of hope that perhaps other things that once seemed impossible could become possible and common place as well.
Today is the second day of me trying to write “off the cuff,” often I have written about topics that are relevant to my life, which I thought about for months or years, but I wanted to see if writing more consistently would make me feel more of a “professional” or be good for my creative process in some way. So far, I feel like it takes more courage to write daily, it makes me confront my internal hesitation. It’s not that I don’t have anything to write about, but it is a bit hard for me to decide what is the “best fit” for today. I feel scattered brained today. Yesterday I had a brain fog and I wondered, if I do write with brain fog, maybe the next time I have brain fog I won’t feel defeated. That worked. So maybe if I write again today while feeling scatter brained I will at least know that that feeling as well can’t stop me from reaching my goals.
I read an article by a blogger who’s courage and clarity inspires me, she said “Be You. Find your voice. Fall in love with your creativity. And then, just do it.” (The Article) -V
Interestingly enough I’ve done step 1 (be authentic), I’m doing step 2 and step 4 (find your voice and just do it), but I still haven’t done step 3 (fall in love with your creativity) because I don’t know my own voice yet, so it is difficult to love it without really knowing it.
Often I read articles by people who already have the habits I want to make, but say they want to make habits I already have, so without thinking my methods will work for everyone I want to offer two things I do everyday to the world and maybe they will be helpful for some.
Today: Forgiveness and Oatmeal
Life is a series of conflicts between people, but conflict resolution is very under taught and under rated. About two years ago I stumbled on Ho’oponopono, (pono means what is right), it is from Hawaii, but having grown up in Hawaii, I know that even there this special ritual is rare there. It’s very easy, free and almost magical, but it has to be experienced to be understood. Since I found it we use it almost everyday in my household.
When one person wrongs another in a small way they say “I’m sorry,” “please forgive me,” “thank you,” “I love you,” it’s crazy how much easier this makes forgiveness. Sorry alone is said too much, so much without a sincere heart that it takes the “please forgive me” just to get the feeling of a sorry, the “thank you” makes the speaker feel better and the “I love you” makes both people feel better.
After a lifetime of being the kind of person who doesn’t forgive I learned that the people who I was “punishing” by being mad at couldn’t care less about me being mad at them, instead it was only harming me and keeping me from peace. I heard the saying, resentment is like drinking a poison and expecting your enemy to die. It really hit home. The people I was resentful towards may not have been “entitled” to forgiveness, but it didn’t matter, because keeping so much of my internal hard drive (mind) occupied with anger and disappointment had poisoned my own “joie de vivire,” so if I wanted to have a free and open mind and enjoy my life I had to learn to let it go for me.
I started little by little letting going off the perfectionistic standards I held myself and others to, at sunset, sunset was my cue to let go of all the bitterness I could for that day, and day by day I got more loving and accepting, happy, but also full of energy to pursue the dreams perfectionism had always kept me from being able to start.
One day I was looking for meditation videos to teach my daughter to meditate and I found a really good one about forgiveness, it is for children, but worth watching for adults too, because I just haven’t found another one for adults that is as good or clear (if you know one please comment).
This video explains the ritual of Ho’oponopono:
I’ve experienced the power of all these words, but also the emptiness of all these words as well. When a heart is aligned with the simplest of words, it’s like they become magical, the same when you couldn’t care less, something is missing in the most elegant phrases. A powerful part of Ho’oponopono is that the other person doesn’t need to be there or forgive you, it’s you forgiving you for wronging them. It can be used person to person, but it can also be used internally from you to yourself. True forgiveness is a powerful thing, it frees your mind towards new mountains to climb rather than keeping yourself imprisoned in an effort to warden the wrongs of the past.
I took it slow, letting go of the very smallest resentment I could, as many as I could day by day, until two years later it feels like I let go of all of my resentments and it’s a great feeling. It cost nothing, but is priceless. It’s a feeling of weighing half as much as before. It makes it easier to love and hope, more mental power is free to do new things. It’s not that I don’t remember the past or have boundaries to keep me safe, it’s just that the bitterness is gone from the memories. Sometimes I run out of coffee and it’s possible to run out of internal bitterness as well, and in my opinion worth it.
So in trying to be myself, here is my breakfast (everyday). Sometimes I have blueberries (in the winter) or strawberries (in the spring) or cinnamon (in the fall), but it’s always about four hand fulls of quick oatmeal, with water, microwaved for 2:40 seconds. Much like forgiveness having simple meals frees me up to do other things I love (more than cooking). It’s really healthy, with a lot of fiber I don’t get in most my food, it lowers cholesterol that my family has a genetic disposition to have problems with (mine was over 200 at age 16 already), it’s inexpensive about $7 for a week or a week and a half (then I get frozen wild berries for about $8 that last a long time as well), it takes less than 5 minutes from start to finish, which I love, and I actually really enjoy eating it. Stirring it when done makes it a lot better just like with rice. Having a deep enough bowl keeps it from spilling when boiling. The fun bowl is my favorite dish I’ve ever owned $9 at Marshall’s, I don’t cook in it, but I cook for my kids and I and portion my oatmeal into the log bowl (unless someone else has stolen it because it is so fun to eat out of).
So that’s something healthy, easy, fast, and cheap to eat, that I really enjoy (that’s a hard combination to find). It’s $1.50 a day ([$7+$8]/10 Days), plus the bowl $547.50/Year. It is carbs, but carbs are not created equal, carbs with fiber are different, since the fiber is hard to digest some of the carbs go towards the body’s digestion. It’s enough energy for me to teach martial arts, exercise and take care of two kids so I think it isn’t too small of a breakfast (many people eat nothing for breakfast) and I am very thin (in my opinion) so it isn’t necessarily too many carbs depending on what the other meals of the day have…
I’m not saying a better meal isn’t better, but I am hoping to kindly help put a death to the myths that 1. There isn’t time for breakfast. 2. Cooked food is too fattening. 3. All carbs are bad (some are needed for energy). 4. Spending less money has to mean eating something you don’t like. 5. Simple meals are fine for singles but not good enough to serve your family.
That’s how I found inner peace and easy breakfast. It may not be your way, but I hope to inspire you that it’s possible and perhaps not as hard as you might imagine.
Some of the quotes that helped me were:
“Change is possible, if you seek it”
– Unknown (to Me)
“It matters that you don’t just give up. There is always something you can do and succeed at. “
– Stephen Hawking
“Life is either a daring adventure of nothing at all.”
– Helen Keller
“The journey of 1000 miles begins with one step.”
– 老子 (Old Master Lao Tzu)
“You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take. Even though there is only a 1-5% probably of scoring”
– Wayne Gretzky
“Probleme kann man niemals mit derselben Denkweise lösen, durch die sie entstanden sind.” (Problems can never be solved by the way of thinking that first created them.)
– Albert Einstein (Disputed)
“I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
– Etienne de Grellet
Thank you to all of my readers, I would not be hurt at all if you unfollow as I am trying to write daily and check in as you have free time, I know that it can be too much to read, but I feel inspired to write daily and see how it does feel different than what I have done before. 🌸
I’ve been reading Mark Manson’s Monday email newsletter (available here) for a few weeks now. Since I have brain fog today, but I didn’t want to give up on trying to create a daily writing habit, I will reply to Mark’s newsletter for the first time.
Today’s topic was regret. Lately I’ve been into strength-based coaching, (the Cliffton 34 strengths include one called “connectedness”) connectedness means “you never regret anything because you see fate as interconnected,” my husband has always held that belief, and I never have. My husband believes that if anything in the past was changed, the future would be different, that if he hypothetically did something before we met, we wouldn’t have met, married, and had our children he loves. I have never believed that (but I realize it doesn’t matter much since it’s hypothetical). I do believe in fate to a certain extent (while knowing it’s not proven and perhaps not provable). The way some people win the lotto multiple times makes me wonder if there is fate? Since it is very improbable, yet we know someone who keeps winning it and have also read about others in newspapers…
How to deal with regrets,
How meaning is prevalent in today’s zeitgeist,
How ideas can be wrong and right at the same time.
First what do I regret? 1. Dating the guys, I dated before my husband (I am not mad at myself, I just wish I had saved the mental energy for the one that mattered to me in the end). I didn’t learn much from my relationships, I hear a lot of people say each relationship “teaches you so much,” but for me, I feel it just took away energy that I could have used for studying, writing, art or martial arts (pretty much following my own dreams and getting to know myself), if I could go back without messing up the future I totally would go back and spend more time focusing on personal growth rather than dating people who would not gain me anything I’m currently aware of having gained. 2. Not saving, I made a lot of money in my college years, but I always believed it wouldn’t be worth saving just a little bit, because I thought I would make much more later and therefore, “save faster” in that time of my life that never ended up happening. I would have liked to have saved half of the “fun” purchases and eating out; even if I didn’t have more now, I would feel better about the way I managed my resources. 3. I regret being rude to my loved ones so much. It’s kind of normal, but normal doesn’t mean the best use of a limited time on Earth. 4. I regret not playing more music, just for fun, I would learn instead to impress people that I doubt were impressed anyway, but I don’t regret the music itself. 5. I regret not recognizing that I loved writing earlier since it had been life long. 6. I regret believing family members say that I couldn’t do X, Y, Z; I crushed my dreams with the rocks of their criticism for many years, but I understand now that it was always by my own hand.
How to Deal with Regrets:
1. I don’t let go of my regrets, they tell me what I would have wanted, what directions my hopes are in, they don’t hurt me, they don’t haunt me, they inspire me to avoid the same mistakes. A reasonable amount of natural shame is a good teacher. I think that regrets are reasonable, and shame is perhaps the slightly different concept that is unnecessary. Regretting a mistake makes sense to me, being ashamed of making mistakes is unneeded because all humans err, that is what it is to be human.
The Quest for Meaning:
2. It seems like many people are seeking meaning (not everyone, in my family it’s less than half, more like a third). I think it is because we, as modern humans, have so much information. We are regularly exposed to many things going wrong, many new things going right, and people who want attention by unethical means such as scare tactics and misinformation. I think it’s normal to want to find the meaning in each new batch of information we find, yet the amount of information we are exposed to jams our brain like an overused office printer (at least it does for me). For me finding meaning isn’t hard, but it lies in action. I find twice the meaning in action as I do in thought, yet thinking elevates the human capacity to improve life in it’s own way, and I highly respect it as well. I think the trap in today’s world is overthinking and not taking enough real sustainable, immediate action, in action, I almost always find meaning under the sweat of experience.
Gray Area (The Idea, that Ideas can be Simultaneously Wrong and Right):
3. There is obviously a lot of gray area in life, but I don’t like the idea that “many experts on both sides are debating something” negates evidence. No prescription fits everyone, but everyone’s lungs get black from smoking. I was listening to “If Our Bodies Could Talk” (James Hamblin) today, and it is very immoral the way public health officials can be bought, and people’s lives are damaged by other people’s greed for a profit from non-functional cures. I understand complex causes and unclear links, but at the same time, there are evil things, toxic things, clear links, and spades in this world that people seem to be afraid to call spades anymore.
In Mark Manson’s newsletter today, he said, “There are few things in this world that are either completely wrong or completely right—especially when it comes to human psychology. With most human knowledge, we seem to be hopelessly relegated to the murky middle.”
I disagree, I think many things like the world being flat are completely wrong, and that even though human psychology is complicated, it is not impossibly complicated. I think there will be a lot of definite information about human psychology soon (because of functional MRIs and other types of advanced technology, including the focus of great minds). I really enjoyed the book “How Emotions are Made” (Lisa Feldman Barrett), documentary “The Life of the Brain” (John Medina) and show “The Brain” (with David Eagleman). Between those three resources, I feel like I deeply understand (at least a basic level) the way human psychology works and that it is evidence-based and accurate.
Wishing you a wonderful week, I think there is a lot of truth and beauty in this world for those with open eyes and open minds! -Sakura 🌸
My history with procrastination and postponing living the life I want to live:
But no matter what it is that we postpone, time doesn’t stand still while we postpone.
I used to procrastinate a lot more. I feared starting because I didn’t know how to take breaks and I didn’t know how to emotionally deal with a finished product less than perfection. It wasn’t that I could work hard, I can handle hard work (sometimes I worked for 126 hours a week and did my best the whole time), so I always wondered why I had trouble getting started.
For me it was fear, if I started something I had to face emotionally both outcomes, a good and a bad outcome, and I wasn’t emotionally robust enough to handle more failure in my life.
I took failure personally, thought it made me a failure, then I found a quote that said “failure is not the opposite of success it is part of success.” – Arianna Huffington
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!‘”
Failure sums up my early life, but I didn’t even begin to understand the value of that failure until about 3 years ago. Slowly my attitude changed and that changed everything significant to me.
Three years ago I was a new mother, and I hated it, my mood sank lower than ever before, so I sought and began practicing new coping mechanisms including ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy), radical acceptance, mindfulness and stoicism.
Last year was the last straw in a positive way, the last coping mechanism I needed to deal with the stress of modern life and uncertainty in an ever changing world was gratitude.
I thought gratitude was something you either were born with or you were not born with, or something you were raised with or not raised with, but I was wrong, I was able to pick it up in a few months after finding a really clear and beautiful post challenging me to try it.
Somewhere along the line I stopped wanting to be happy and started wanting to be good, meaning I wanted to live in a way I wouldn’t regret. Interestingly I became happier anyways, but over a few years I realized that being happy emotionally is like being full physically. It’s not meant to be a consistent state, there isn’t something wrong about it, but it’s not the most important thing, it’s something to be listened to, managed, enjoyed, but it’s not the main point of life to me.
Example a school bully may be happy while bullying another child into suicide, that isn’t worth chasing, it’s not evil to be happy, yet it’s possible to be evil and happy, therefore happiness isn’t the whole picture of a good life.
It sounds cheesy, but I try to live a life of virtue now and happiness comes as a byproduct, but I don’t seek it. Living by my values aligned with good brings me joy and satisfaction.
It was hard to encounter the idea of “valued based living,” since I’m not religious and didn’t know anyone else personally who focuses on values based living.
I encountered Russ Harris by accident in the book “The Confidence Gap,” later I found Stephen Covey, Chris Voss, Rachel Macy Stafford, Dale Carnegie, Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus who all made the case for living based on values and accepting happiness that came without focusing on how much came and when. Martin Luther King is also said to have lived a values focused life, but I haven’t read that part of his philosophy before.
“While we are postponing, life speeds by.”
“Nothing … is ours, except time.”
Most my life I was stuck postponing everything I wanted to do to study (in hindsight I could have balanced studying better), but at the core of the problem wasn’t the studying it was the reason for the studying. I was studying for the wrong underlying reason (fear).
I wasn’t going to medical school because I hoped to work as a doctor or make a difference in that way, rather I felt I had to do it.
My mother had Munchhausen syndrome, she put the idea in my head the world was almost impossible to survive in, to do it we needed pain killers to kill any pain (mom was also a prescription drug addict), money to buy what we deserved to have and to get what we wanted immediately. It was weird and complicated growing up with my mother, but I only very recently considered that it wasn’t originally my idea to go to medical school. I started “wanting to” be a doctor when I was two, my mother had given me books about doctors that made it seem fun among other things (brainwashing = the dark side of the delightful “It’s My Turn Now Doctor”). It’s embarrassing to think I was brainwashed and didn’t figure it out either immediately nor upon adulthood.
Three red flags started alerting me to the idea I didn’t want to be a doctor, 1. I had trouble writing my personal statement saying what made me want to be a doctor. 2. I didn’t think the doctors I followed had a good life that I wanted (family balance was skewed too far towards work) 3. I wasn’t sad when I didn’t go to medical school, I was confused and embarrassed, but not sad at all.
It’s been about five years now and I know that I was more suited to intellectual vs service pursuits and that I have more passion to be a philosophizer and writer, than I ever had towards medical school.
It’s hard to choose your major in college when you are so young that you don’t know who you are nor what options are out there. Or easy, easy to choose poorly…
But here I am today, I am alive, well (thanks to gratitude) and finally have time to do what I want because I didn’t get to do what I thought I wanted to do.
Being stoic started with reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey, he talked about “proactivity” being able to choose how to react if we are angry or not angry, it’s our choice not to hit our spouse, boss, child, friend, computer, dog ext. The moment between when something happens and when we act is the space we have to be proactive “to choose how we respond”.
My 1st Step to Stop Procrastinating: Understanding I Had the Choice
So the stoic response to the “busyness” of modern life is that it is our choice.
We don’t have to postpone what we do because we don’t “have time”. Time is all we ever have.
My 2nd Step to Stop Procrastinating: Understanding My Life Matters (At Least to Me)
When I read this quote from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations (his private journal on the struggle to live a good life, which inspired a lot of my life and habits):
“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.”
I realized that I didn’t love my nature, I didn’t know my own nature very well and I had almost no idea of what it demanded of me. I made a choice to believe that I do matter (without knowing for sure) based on the idea of valuing diversity, mentally letting all animals, plants and people matter to the grand tapestry of all living beings gave me a sense of self worth I had always lacked.
So under the assumption I matter (which is my choice to make and I have no logical evidence against) the issue of taking breaks, self-care, making time to enjoy life at a deep level and taking time to seek inward to answer who I am and what I wanted became valid pursuits. I felt the need to justify if any of it mattered (why do it) before figuring out how to do it (live my best life).
My 3rd Step to Stop Procrastinating: Hoping I Can Stop Procrastinating and Live My Best Life
Being emotionally abandoned by my parents, who both had mental health problems, is what I feel caused me to question if I did or didn’t matter. In the end it’s not that I have proof that I can or will matter to others, yet I can choose to let myself (and or all human life) matter to me or not.
It takes some amount of hope to try something new, to make a change and determining (or deciding) that it matters is where the hope comes from, it may take more than hope to complete a project, but it seems to require some hope to begin one. Hope seems to be the emotional ticket price of going somewhere new.
Stephen Hawking said “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.”
I had a poster of that quote, for years I was always looking for a reason it was true. Today my perspective is that it isn’t true or untrue, that it is simply a choice to fill your heart with hope or despair. Mark Manson wrote an interesting book against hope gone wild Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope. I enjoyed the book, but having read it there was a sense that he was right about extreme cases while at the same time missing the total picture. It’s taken eight months to explain why I refute his principle that hope causes suffering. P>Q, Q≠P. Hope causes suffering sometimes, it’s true. There is suffering, but that doesn’t mean it’s because of hope there are myriad factors. I think entitlement and high expectation are more to blame for suffering and mental inflexibility as well, rather than hope.
No view of the future has evidence, both hope and despair are illogical, or alogical (perhaps not only lacking, but not meant to contain logic). It seems that we trick ourselves into thinking we are psychics who no the future while most of us scorn such people as fake. It seems like we all don’t know the future, not what possibilities there will be, nor which ones we will choose. It seems that both the path of hope and despair are completely free and available to all people at all times. Often I gravitated towards despair, perhaps because both my parents did, perhaps not, but my sister in the same circumstances to hope. She was focused more on others, helping in some small, possible way, I was focused on creating the illusion of stability in an ever changing world. I was much happier, I didn’t know about psychological baseline. I am happier by fate, by DNA than most people, I have a gene for optimism. So perhaps I was wrong that hope belongs to the miserable. There is a power hope has over the inner-world that makes it seem dangerous, but it’s about using the right tool for the right job. Hope doesn’t work as a contraceptive, as a way to prevent STDs, it doesn’t work in place of insulin or driving skills, but nor do any of those things work to make life seem worth living. I’ve been finding that all human emotions have valid uses, but also that like tools the situations they work best for are complex and nuanced.
My 4th Step Stop Procrastinating: Mindfulness Journaling
Julia Cameron is known for “Morning Pages” writing down normal thoughts, I did that for a few years, but eventually switched to Stoic Meditation Journaling like Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Meditations was the name of a book, which was intended as a private diary (much like the Diary of Anne Frank). Some differences would be, it doesn’t matter if it’s private or not, it’s not meant for complaints, but feelings are fine. So I could write “I” get sad when my husband makes jokes about me, rather than ranting about it. It’s a similar, but different mental experience. It’s a good place to work out the landscape of the mind, but there is a sense of control, not complete control, but some control. I would say morning pages is like permissive parenting of yourself, you allow fits, you don’t do anything to get in the way of emotion. In stoic journaling, you don’t hate the fits or the emotion, but you question the validity of the beliefs that lead to the fits or the emotion. You can still validate the feelings, but you don’t view them as you. They are like fish in a pond. You “have” anger, but you “are not” anger, because you are much more than that. So you write about struggles and challenges, but it is different because the overall view is that you are not your struggles nor your triumphs, but instead something larger than both. Not the white chess pieces, not the black chess pieces, but rather the board or the player. Morning pages is writing thoughts on paper, stoic journaling is writing meta-thoughts on paper. Thoughts about thoughts. Ex, I notice I’ve been feeling negative often in my life I wonder if I’m getting enough of a rest or if I’m too over scheduled or if I am not accepting my own anger or sadness ext. Rather than life seems so hopeless today, I’m very busy, it’s my husband’s fault, it’s my fault… Both types of writing are actually great, but for different things. Morning pages is great to complain to yourself, unload your heart of bitterness that keeps lingering and be better conversation with other people so you can listen about them instead of dominating the conversation with your unhappiness. It’s a good mind dump, it’s a good place to validate your feelings of hurt and suffering that everyone goes through. But it’s not the same as meta thinking. Morning pages is like a tool to deal with a chronic illness, stoic journaling is like a cure to change the way you think to what you choose it to be.
My 5th Step Stop Procrastinating: Discipline, Plan, Prioritize
In a perfect world everyone would be emotionally and mentally ready to just make a plan of what they want to do and do it, in my childhood I was like that, but in my adulthood it seems that there are metaphorical weights of priorities that drain people’s resources enough to prevent them from having the energy to do what they plan so that they fail to do what they plan enough to loose faith in their ability to improve their own life or to make plans that will work. At least that what happened for me, but I hope that my failures help others to be able to analyze their failures with no shame, so they can find the small errors that keep them from living their best lives as well. Though I’m sure there are many differences, there may be a common ground between any human and myself in that humans fail and have to deal with change and failure in order to create a better life.
So after roughly 30 years of procrastination based of not knowing that I could control my life, not knowing if it mattered to make my life better, then choosing to decide it matters (while still not knowing for sure), facing the doubt of if I could control my life via my thoughts and beliefs and yet doing so using writing powered by the hope that I did matter and the belief that we can all change, it only took about 4 years to stop procrastinating. To my knowledge I don’t procrastinate any more, somethings are under my radar, when I notice them I adjust, I’m not perfect by any means, but I am playing the piano I wanted to play, loving my kids as much as I’m able to, forgiving the past to live in the moment ext rather than wanting to do those things “someday”.
Thank you readers for all your help, some have offered wisdom when I was stuck, some love when I was hopeless, some company on the road of life when I felt alone, some strength via inspiration when I was tired of struggling. I feel like one chapter has closed in my life today (essentially the prologue) and I’m interested to see what I write in the book of my own life from here. In a way reality is the writer, my life the article and you are welcome editors.
At the end I notice a promise and a choice underlying the ability to believe I can live my best life, a promise from my now self to my future self to try my best and a choice to believe it matters.🕸️
Last year when my son was born, unexpectedly I felt that suddenly with a newborn baby and a four-year-old to take care of I “could” finally start living my best life.
I don’t know why it wasn’t when I left my 9-5 a few years ago, I don’t know why it wasn’t when I turned 18, I don’t know why it wasn’t after I finished my education, I don’t know why but it was March, 10th 2019 when I felt like I could begin to write in the book of my life. It was the moment I felt my son’s hair for the first time, the feeling of his thin, silky hair and the feeling I can start my life will always be linked for me. It was the moment I started breathing with my soul and not just my lungs.
Last year I came upon a really interesting blog post, by Lovie Price, about the labels that define us, part of a larger self determination project that was too ambitious for me the first year with my new baby.
That was 2019, this is 2020. For me things are so much different, something about the decade changing has really allowed me an emotional and mental refresh. I’m finally washing diapers every other day instead of everyday, which means I only have to do one load of laundry a day, I can now alternate clothes, towels, and bedding.
Last year I was recovering my physical stamina, I was struggling to get a rhythm for meal planning, cooking, feeding two kids, balancing the two kids and myself, adapting school to have different aged children at the same time. It was such a struggle I had to start with just staying on top of dishes, then laundry and dishes, then laundry dishes and taking out trash, then laundry, dishes, taking out trash, and putting most things away.
This year I’m so surprised at how I’ve managed to make clean up, cooking, child care and school routines. Somehow I got the basics of life in order in the middle of chaos more than I had ever done so before. I got most my sh*t together surprisingly. I had more work than ever before, but also more love and acceptance, which allows you to unfold your true potential (I’m searching for the quote that says that better, but the down side of reading so much is it’s hard to retrace the inspirations).
So now about four months after I wanted to do follow this process of self determination, I have taken care of the basics enough to be able to do so in an unhurried and enjoyable manner.
“Whoooo are youuu..?”
(The Traditional Kwanzaa Question to Ask on January 1st)
“[This] is about beginning to define and then re defining yourself.”
How I currently define myself:
I am a dreamer/idealist/upholder of my values. (Clifton Strength Finder Name = Responsibility) My values guide my day and emotions.
I am an philosopher/deep thinker/critical thinker. (Clifton Strength Finder Name = Intellection) I process reality to know truth.
I am a teacher and open minded life long learner. (Clifton Strength Finder Name = Learner) I grow my skills and knowledge.
I am a human being. (Clifton Strength Finder Name = Resolver)
I am a writer/blogger. (Clifton Strength Finder Name = Input)
(These are things that have formed islands of my personality, that I had trouble seeing until I took the Clifton Strength Finder Test, it took me a year or two after that to understand what they really meant and how the interacted with each other in my life. These are not what I would want as much as they are my natural temperament, these are the parts of me that are effortless rather than the alliances that formed over my life time outside of my control and personality such as marriage, parenthood. I am “a person” who is married, I am not “a wife” in my own mind that does not define me, not because I don’t want it to, just because it never has existed in my mind that way.)
Let’s move on:
I am extremely optimistic.
I am introverted, I love people, but they drain me rather than fill me.
I am a warrior in my attitude towards my values and duties.
I am deeply peaceful, strengthened by years at a Daoist Temple, but actually starting with a love of nature and visceral connection to nature.
I am easily distracted, money, deadlines, staying on track, feeling grounded are constantly a struggle.
[Define how you feel and what drives your reactions to things]
I struggle with social relationships, I find that people don’t appreciate the way my boundaries affect them and I don’t appreciate expectations that I would know without being told what is expected from me in a group setting. The way I communicate seems to create tension where I wouldn’t have tension by myself. It just feels like there is friction between me and almost any kind of social interaction.
I am tend to hyper focus on details and loose sight of the big picture.
I am a recovering perfectionist, I find it hard to not throw the baby out with the bath water, if someone I love is dishonest at all it’s hard to not stop loving them. That is what protected me against an amusingly abusive mother and it’s really hard to drop the habit of wanting to completely dispose of anyone that shows dishonesty no matter how small, even my toddler, which I have a duty to love, therefore that is a tough situation.
I am not friends enough with my own anger, I still mentally invalidate my own emotions by default without even looking at them without judgement or questioning if they may be valid for the situation.
Whatever I do get done isn’t enough by half, even though I succeed and work hard, it’s never nearly enough.
“And so on…many lists . You can even be silly- “I am a salad eater”. You can be fatalistic – “I am a loser”.. whatever you want. It’s YOUR private list. And if you are truly ready to tackle that baby elephant , you begin here. With brutal honesty. Defining as much of yourself and your psyche as possible. The lists will grow even longer and deeper- like all of the roots and branches of a tree meshing with the vines and weeds. It can become overwhelming- pace yourself. After you have several pages- (yes pages -because we are writing down only labels here, not the why’s , what’s and how’s yet) take a breather- you are going to need it. Review the lists for a few days . Embrace the good and the bad and then accept this is where you are at this moment. There is much growth ahead, if you are willing and committed. Peace!”
When I made my list I didn’t care about it being private because I feel so typical, I feel like so many other middle aged people in my struggles it feels like no one would bother to hunt me down and lynch me, which is a privileged feeling to have, but I find that it unnecessary to feel guilty about what good I do have knowing that I’ve had a decent amount of challenges, no one who has known me would begrudge me the comforts I have.
I’m not sure if my elephant is that I don’t finish projects vs that I do finish projects but it is never enough, both are true to a large extent. I’ve never finished “the book,” but I’ve never had much time, though there was an author who worked an hour a day at lunch, so I suppose I do have time. I suppose my truth is that I am hardworking, but I have trouble allowing myself to work on something that feels significant to myself vs that would help others. I was trained to help others first and do my hobbies second and the amount of help other people would want from me would turn that into 0 minutes a day. So ethically I wonder is it fair to write for three hours a day while the children play instead of cleaning or making my husband lunch or playing with them? Jerry Jenkins says no, he was a writer, he played with his kids and wrote when they were asleep, he made time for his wife too. I have no idea how he did that. But I find as a father, gone all day, coming home and spending two hours or so with his kids, is different from me waking at 2AM with the baby and not being done with the eldest until 8 or 9PM. I suppose I should also add “I am conflicted about priorities and how much break time to take,” to my list.
A summary of the 2020 model of “me:”
I am a dreamer, philosopher, teacher, human, and writer.
I am very optimistic, introverted, diligent towards my values and duties, deeply peaceful, easily distracted, conflicted about how to distribute my time between my loved ones and myself.
I struggle with social relationships, getting stuck on details, tolerating dishonesty, accepting and validating my own anger, feeling that my best effort is enough, and finding a balance in my home life between time spent making my kids life enjoyable and time spent enjoying my life (since I still don’t enjoy 9/10 parenting tasks).
The first time I did this I covered the more superficial labels as well as separating good vs bad, but this time I was already past the superficial labels, I saw marriage and parenthood as gifts of fate more than who I am, since I never pursued either. I also think the good and bad about who I am may be linked, like the ability I have to get everything that needs to get done goes hand and hand with my impatience, so I can turn it down, but both get turned down, I no longer think of my good and bad qualities as separable after reading this article by Mark Manson about how to overcome your demons I no longer see them as demons at all.
Last year I said:
How I currently define myself:
I am a writer.
I am a teacher, gardener/farmer, martial artist, reader.
I am a mother, granddaughter, sister, daughter, etc.
I am a roommate & friend.
I am an artist and a blogger.
I am a minimalist.
I am healthy,
I am sensitive,
I am unconventional,
I am introverted,
I am connected to the Earth,
I am a stoic.
I am impatient,
I am rude,
I am careless with money,
I am forgetful about birthdays,
I am a frequent leaver of many unfinished projects.
This year, as even more of a stoic, I separate that which I can control and that which I can using the metric “Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle. Some things are within your control. And some things are not.” – Epictetus
Metamorphosis Between Last Year and This Year:
I am a writer (became philosopher).
I am a teacher, (gardener/farmer merged with teacher), martial artist (merged with teacher), reader (merged with writer).
I am a mother, granddaughter, sister, daughter, etc. (gifts, I could have been an orphan)
I am a roommate & friend. (gifts, I may not have had friends)
I am an artist and a blogger (became and merged with writer).
I am a minimalist (became human).
I am healthy, (gifts, I was often ill despite eating well and exercise in the past)
I am sensitive, (the gift of being human)
I am unconventional, (I was born this way so strongly it’s not a choice)
I am introverted, (merged with philosopher)
I am connected to the Earth, (merged with human)
I am a stoic. (merged with philosopher)
I am impatient, (I sometimes am impatient, but not so often I define myself like that)
I am rude, (I sometimes am rude, but not so often I define myself like that)
I am careless with money, (I’m not money oriented, but I keep better track about it now)
I am forgetful about birthdays, (Sometimes, but I remember more than I forget, it’s human to forget sometimes)
I am a frequent leaver of many unfinished projects. (merged with human)
Intersection Between Past and Present Identities (Underlined is the Same Across Last Year and This Year)
I am a dreamer, philosopher, teacher, human, and writer.
I am very optimistic, introverted, diligent towards my values and duties, deeply peaceful, easily distracted, conflicted about how to distribute my time between my loved ones and myself.
I struggle with social relationships, getting stuck on details, tolerating dishonesty, accepting and validating my own anger, feeling that my best effort is enough, and finding a balance in my home life between time spent making my kids life enjoyable and time spent enjoying my life (since I still don’t enjoy 9/10 parenting tasks).
It’s clear to me, that most of who I am now, was present last year, but my ability to see myself clearly was worse last year, it’s as if I could only see in myself what someone with a superficial relationship with me could see, as if I was just an acquaintance with my own self.
I think about my exercise coach sometimes, he fell in love with dance, was an athlete, made a his fortune as an exercise coach, became a parent, wrote a book and became an author, was always a motivational speaker and writer. People see him and think exercise coach. But if you exercise with him for awhile you notice how different he is from a typical coach, who is fit, but doesn’t care about or mention your feelings or soul, spending a bit of time you discover he is a motivational speaker as well. But if you read his book you find he is a deep thinker, he is a stoic, he is a real author (not just someone interesting who someone can write a biography about). If you know more about him you know he loved dance and only worked in exercise as a coincidence of fate, you know he went out of his way to become a parent. I’m talking about Shaun T by the way author of “T is for Transformation.”
It was interesting that it was easier for me to get to know and understand different layers of Shaun T, than to get to know and understand myself. Because every time I wanted me to be someone I wasn’t it stopped me, every time I realized I don’t like cooking I hit a wall, a wall where I wanted to be a person who wanted to be a super mom, but I am not that person. I wanted to be my grandma who was the funniest, more loving, open, “balls out” kind of person I’ve ever known and also best cook. But I just am not that person. I had to give up the idea of who I wanted to be that went against my strengths I was born with, my personality to accept who and where I was and it made me rethink where I wanted to go. Sure, I can cook a normal meal, but I’m not interested in the flavor profile like a cook would be… I can say a kind word to people I see on the street and check in with family and friends, but I can’t go from call to call to call to party without being totally depleted. I can develop some traits of my grandmother, but I will not be my grandmother even then. I have skills and talents she didn’t and lack skills and talents she had. Even if over time I become more like her, I don’t think it is healthy or helpful to try to be someone else. I give up, I’d rather be a good me, than a horrible impersonation of someone else.
It’s time to be me as I am and celebrate who I am, even though I accept I may improve, I am getting very close to being completely at peace with who and where I am now.
It’s interesting to give up something unhealthy that you love, I can’t describe the feeling of knowing my grandmother was the perfect person to me and at the same time feeling like she was a beautiful maple tree and I’m a beautiful blue berry bush and it’s okay to grow to my potential instead of trying to prune myself into her.
I remember in the movie Heidi, the villain, shouts “I am what I am and don’t ask me to change!”
Even though we all change, everyday, there is I think a large amount of inner peace in accepting who I am and not demanding that change.
The feeling is like watching a wild tiger in the jungle, seeing it as beautiful and scary, then noticing that you are that tiger. It’s a change of perspective (like the end of the movie “Life of Pi” when the tiger represents the cannibal portion of the character leaving or also the end of “Planet of the Apes” when the astronaut finds he has returned to Earth rather than been stranded on another world). If anyone knows the name of that feeling I would be grateful? I can’t quite find the word for it.
Wishing you all a wonderful afternoon and acceptance of yourself as you are! 1/10 steps done, time to take my kids on our afternoon stoic walk.
Today I purchased Grammarly “premium,” a grammar checker, for about $75. I had received $24 for writing today (a simple amateur review of children’s underwear), so it was a little bit less to take from my husband for my writing “hobby”.
Ever since I watched “Omo’s Child” about the mingi practice in Ethiopia of killing babies and children whos’ top teeth grow in before the bottom ones, I’ve been over-analyzing all my spending.
I’ve always been thrifty; I think that’s normal for someone growing up in an Asian American household. Then being a working college student for a dozen years took me to an even higher level of thriftiness. After college, I took my first baby to work with me for a few years (empowering or exhausting? perhaps both), and now, for the past two years, I’m a stay at home parent with our family of four on one income; I’ve gotten even thriftier. But after watching “Omo’s Child” it’s driven me to a mental place like the end of the movie “Shinlers List” where Shinler wonders how many people he could have saved instead of keeping his wristwatch.
We all have certain issues, charities, groups that are more dear to us than others. For my dad and my sister, it’s dogs. They love dogs more than me. They may deny it, but since I have always had dog allergies, verified by blood tests and hives, and they still choose to have dogs, the evidence is there. I don’t resent it, but I won’t go along with any lies that it isn’t true. I do understand their preference, because there is something wonderful about an animal with the ability to know immediately how you feel, care about it, and comfort you. I won’t do that for my family, I sometimes know how they feel, sometimes care and sometimes comfort them, but so much less than a dog would, so I understand the preference for dogs.
I never thought of myself as someone who loves babies, even though I have had two. I never enjoyed playing with dolls, I also didn’t enjoy menial service towards my own babies, even though I did enjoy watching the mystery of their personalities unfold and seeing how life changed as our family grew. So I don’t quite understand why the particular injustice of mingi haunts me as much as it does, but it does.
Last year I read “Not for Sale,” a book about human slave trafficking. Prior to that book, I had never known how large of a problem it is, but though I feel sympathy for those people, in the end, I didn’t feel called to do anything about it. It didn’t feel as if human slave trafficking was just, but also it didn’t feel as if it was my particular responsibility or within my ability to solve.
I don’t live in or near Ethiopia, I don’t speak the language or know about the culture, there is no reason that I am aware of that I should become involved, but yet I haven’t lost the feeling that “this shouldn’t be allowed to keep falling through the cracks.” That there should be some way to end this peaceably.
In school, Martin Luther King Jr was celebrated (perhaps disproportionately), but I couldn’t resist becoming a fan of his writing. Not only the “I have a dream” speech, but also his letter from Birmingham Jail, or perhaps more so. He spoke of peace, but also of taking immediate action, not waiting for justice, but seeking it today. Knowing social justice is a slow process, but getting started in the now, rather than waiting for society to be ready. I remember him as acting despite not having a clear path, instead of waiting for change to be handed over, carving progress day by day, despite protests from not only enemies but especially from friends and loved ones who don’t understand. I started celebrating Martin Luther King Jr’s Day by carving a baked potato with the face of any civil rights leader I choose (Malcolm X, Gandhi ext). Martin Luther King Jr came to be a symbol more than a human being. He stood up not for African Americans, not for Americans, but for all of humankind. I’ve never been brave enough to learn too much about him, for I’d rather not lose my ideal of him, maybe someday.
There are three things I learned from Martin Luther King Jr’s example: one we humans are all a family regardless of having different preferences or appearances; two what matters more than avoid failure is striving to stand for what is right to the best of our abilities as common people; and three that the though we can’t do everything about everything we can make some difference to something.
So, I am beginning this year with a personal resolution to stop yelling at my daughter. I’ve done very well so far, I’m going to keep checking in with myself and make sure I don’t backslide, but it feels as if it’s already done. Thanks to cookies I used to bribe myself…
But I also hope that I will be able to do something for those other babies someday, perhaps this year, perhaps in the future.
Last year I became aware of and fascinated by the concept of Lokahi, meaning the Hawaiian concept of restoring something broken to wholeness. It also represents a connection between humankind, God (or spirituality) and the land (or nature). It’s a trinity that exists as one, many other people may have been introduced to that by religion, but I’ve never been particularly relgious.
When I first became interested in helping end mingi the first internal criticism was “what about taking better care of your own kids?” So yes that is my responsibility, that is a higher priority, I will do that first, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some time or some way to help the other children later.
I’ve been wanting practically all my life to be more of a real writer, perhaps publish a book or series of articles, but I didn’t have a reason.
Jerry Jenkins, the author of “Left Behind” (an interesting fictional story) and mentor to many beginning writers, had always said that a writer has a message to bring to the world. I didn’t have one. I liked writing for writing, I enjoy words, enjoy the craft of writing, but one day I began to understand. The best-writen books such as “The Book Thief” sometimes fall far behind books less eloquently written that speak of the remarkable truths of humanity such as “9 Habits of a Hands-Free Life” or “How to Win Friends and Influence People” or “Meditations”. Ryan Holiday also describes that it doesn’t matter how good your writing skills are if your story is strong, the story matters more than the writing.
Almost all my life I’ve had too many book ideas, last year I tried to pick one that stood out to me over the others and none did, so in an effort to free my soul of the past and generate new ideas I got rid of all my past book notes. And for the first time, nothing new came to me.
Which is probably good because I have a ten-month-old son and four-year-old and a whole lifetime to write.
Yet, I feel more human when I write. So I prefer to write a bit each day. I prefer to get better, to keep learning, to experience the world in that way which clears my mind best and improves my mood. So since I’m writing anyways I wouldn’t mind a meaningful project.
I contacted the foundation who takes care of the children who were saved and what they are in need of is mostly money, having produced a video for exposure they need money to feed the kids ext. I’m not comfortable taking the money my husband earns for that, I’m not comfortable fundraising for that without having more details and also I’m not an extrovert. But perhaps I can use the motivation to take my writing to the next level. Perhaps I can do some paid articles I otherwise wouldn’t be brave enough to do and be able to donate that money without taking away from someone who doesn’t feel the need to support the same cause that I feel a need to support.
It would fit three needs I have, one motivation to do professional writing, two a feeling I have a deep underlying message behind my writing worth spreading, and three that I have a purpose to my life (whether self-ascribed or ascribed by fate is unknown to me) that is a worthy “ikagai” (reason to get up in the morning).
I took my daughter to see “Frozen II” on December 25th and although I was never very in love with the series, I do resonate with the feeling of knowing there should be more connection to something that I’m passionate about in my life, that even though other people value what I’m currently doing (raising kids, teaching, ext) I don’t, it’s something I don’t resent, yet containing a hollowness that lacks a way for me to use my unique skills in a way valuable to me. I hope that I will be able to change that this year. Even if I can’t do much to change the world for the better, I think trying will change me and allow me to live fully.
Henery David Thoreau said, “I don’t want to die without ever haven fully live.” I think that if I died today that would describe me, I’ve lived, I’ve traveled a little, but I wouldn’t wager that I’ve ever fully lived to my potential. Not that I have to do something that everyone hears about, but there is an internal feeling that although doing everyday chores with love and honor is a wonderful service to my family and somewhat the larger human family, there is some part of me that could be used that is instead languishing.
I’ve like using Grammarly for spelling corrections for the past few months, but this is the first article I’ve written in the Grammarly system and I haven’t enjoyed seeing the assistant that describes my honest soul as “a bit band in engagement”… perhaps I am, but it’s a bit uninspiring to be confronted with that, I’m not sure if I’ll hide the assistant or write somewhere else, but I think what I won’t do is change my truth to gain a higher rating from a computer. For me, writing is so much about being a human being and so little about tricking the computer system for ranking, if it ever becomes the other way, I think that will be the last day I write.
Gratitude towards gratitude itself, this was the first year I found what it is to be grateful, what it feels like, how much it heals. I may have never done that without a special gratitude challenge that I happened upon. I don’t believe in destiny for sure, but it felt like destiny. It felt like “when the student is ready the teacher appears.” No other article has ever changed my life that much, that is why it has to be my article of the year, looking back on it, it was a simple and straightforward post, but it helped me to bridge a gap that I had been waiting to cross all my life. Now most days I write a note about gratitude, one things that inspires me (🌞 1. INSPIRATION), one thing that inspires me about the way are happening in the present moment (⏰ 2. TIMING) and one thing that I’m grateful about some kind of human connection in my life (💞 3. CONNECTION). If I miss a day I don’t mind, but it has really changed my brain to be constantly connecting to positive things in my life as well as looking for unneeded things that could be dropped. Thank you to Nomzamo for the article as well as so many others, her blog is defiantly my blog of the year for 2019!
My son being born, it really is less life changing than becoming grateful, for it affects me in all my moments with him, my relationship with my daughter, with my husband, the way I enjoy being alive, the way I think of myself as I try to establish an mental identity independent of my family. My son was born and from the first second brought me joy and has never stopped.
My daughter being forgiving, I was really sick during my son’s pregnancy and really impatient and mean, it was the same me, but more concentrated, so it showed me all my flaws on steroids and now I can work on them, so in a way it was good to become aware of the problems and also that my daughter is forgiving enough that we can forge a new relationship now and in the future.
My family being together, my husband and I have unresolved bitterness that prevents us from being a happy couple, but I am grateful we are a stable couple, that we are a becoming a supportive couple. The children really enjoy our family being a whole and it gives me hope that in the future there will still be something left to repair.
For life, life is a struggle, it’s full of pain and happiness, more happiness than pain for me, but not a single day goes by without problems and massive compromise about how I would like to live my life. I wonder and don’t know if all family members have to constantly live with compromise about how to use resources, which person’s hobbies get priority, which person’s sleep schedule gets to mess up everyone else’s ext. But every breath is still sweet, every dawn beautiful, the sunshine and the rain equally magnificent to me.
For not being a doctor, my daughter is four, if things had gone differently I would have started and finished medical school and would now be working as a doctor, I would be in debt from school, but with earning power to pay it. But I think I would not have one or both of my children and no price on Earth would have been worth not having them or not having the time to love and protect them. For some people career is their baby, for me, my babies are my babies. I really want an identity separate from them, but not because I don’t treasure them, just because that is the road to sanity for me, to be mentally separate, to have aspirations that I own and pursue not ones I push onto them to own and peruse.
For not having my mother in my life. It’s great that my real mother is not in my life. I would have had to explain drug addiction, pedophilia, bipolar disorder to my daughter already, she may have been hit or choked by her grandmother already before we knew it would be a problem. I would have felt less empowered to make changes, I would have spent a lot of time feeling angry about the past instead of just living in the present. I’m glad for reconciliation where it is healthy, but I’m even more glad for separation where it is not.
For debt, having debt has shown me money is not everything. These have been the happiest years of my life and the poorest as well. I don’t plan to intentionally not save if I can, but the myth of money bringing happiness has been completely and utterly shattered for me this year. I’ve been hammering away at it, but now it’s gone. Money isn’t power, it can be used to buy things, change things, but it can also exist without changing anything. A lot of times money simply stays in the bank and doesn’t even reduce the fear of not having enough money later, because all money can be lost, any bank can close, any government insuring a bank can itself fall, nothing is certain about money. It can be a great tool, but it is the worst master I know.
For safety, there are so many things I don’t love about my country, but it is fairly safe and safety feels great. It’s funny that many people who live here don’t feel safe, and of course it’s not completely safe, but it’s very safe compared to most the world. It is interesting that it’s 49th out of 160 on Safe Around Rankings (we are way less safe than Japan that doesn’t have guns and a bit more than China where people will give you drugs and steal your kidneys) which seems right to me vs 118 out of 163 in the Global Peace Index (which seems to count how people feel more). There is a vibe that a lot of people feel afraid, though I am not one, I notice it. In Mexico a lot of killing is happening, my husband’s family is from there and goes back a lot, people are frequently being decapitated. Overall the safety here is fair, no matter how you scale it or spin it, it’s just obvious many countries are safer, yet there is not constant non-stop violence either. I’m grateful for the amount of safety we have, it’s not that nothing could ever happen, but incidents are spaced out in our average life spans.
For the truth, there are people who lie, information that is wrong, but the truth is the same from all angles, the truth helps heal disease, the truth is slow and doesn’t magically cure injustice, but it allows a discussion, it beings a journey, it rings true in the heart, it changes you over time like a river carves a canyon through rock. The truth makes writing worth it, learning worth it, it makes the pain of being wrong worth it.
I’ve learned that by focusing on what I can do today with what I have towards what I want I can always do something.
Sometimes my heart bleeds, right now about the children born with top teeth before lower teeth in some parts of Ethiopia (the mingi). They get killed for that, or because they are twins, because their mother wasn’t married, or is married, but without the blessings of elders.
I’ve been thinking about it for a week, it stays on my heart. There are so many bad habits I have, my country has, the world has, this is just one, but it really stays on my heart.
My husband and I were watching “Omo Child: The River and The Bush,” produced by John Rowe and Lale Labuko. I really didn’t want to watch it at all, my daughter and son were watching with us and we had just watched “One Child Nation” a movie about many Chinese babies being killed. My daughter saw the Chinese babies in the trash dumps in black plastic bags and she said that she loved them so much, I saw a preserved baby in a jar who looked so much like my own son, the hard thing was his smile, he looked so happy and grateful, yet the ocean of circumstances added up to a beautiful and wonderful and male baby still being killed. It wasn’t just the girls (even though that’s not fine to kill girls either). I was so disappointed in myself, in my people, that they got the math wrong.
China was legitimately worried about everyone starving to death, they were over a billion people, the population was exploding and food production was crawling forward. But it never needed to be one child, two would have worked. They killed so many babies, they force sterilized woman, babies were killed before term, at term, as newborns, they were not always mercy killed, sometimes because their parents hoped they would be rescued they were left in the market and died slowly of exposure, what a horrible thing to have happened. But at least it’s over now. Now there are too many old families with not enough children to care for them, so the equation of how many children could be fed was re-examined and it never made sense for it to be one… the way the population control happened could have been so much more humane, even at the same cost, if only there hadn’t been so much fear that it was done in a panic that overcame all humanity, dignity, reason. If only.
My very good friend was born in China, her family moved to Japan to have a second child and they moved here for work, so I know someone in my very small circle of life who was directly affected by the one-child policy.
So I was disappointed in my own people, that we are all so unquestioning, I didn’t question the policy myself, it didn’t affect me since my ancestors left China for Hawaii, but all the same, it seemed like it made sense to me, I never questioned it.
If I did question it, I thought it was unfair to prefer boys to girls, I didn’t think, killing already born babies is wrong how can it be stopped.
I felt to blame partially, even though I couldn’t have done anything and was born in the wrong time period to do anything. I felt to blame because I didn’t mentally challenge the right of it.
Then I learned for the first time about mingi, killing already born babies for getting teeth in the top before the bottom and other stigmas. It is similar in a way because it’s believed that if they stay the village will starve from a curse. In a way it’s the same dynamic, fear of starvation, causing killings that do affect food consumption, but in a more complicated way.
I don’t know much about Ethiopia, but I really hope there is some way I can support the people who know more than I do to be able to help save those babies.
I don’t want to talk about abortion, I am in favor of abortion, I know that mothers in most places only have the energy to raise a certain amount of children in modern countries, if they can abort unwanted pregnancies including rape pregnancies then they will more likely treat the children they raise later with more love and patience. There is a difference between killing babies unborn vs born.
It seems like everyone would agree it is wrong to kill an already born baby, yet it happens and we don’t stop it.
Lale Labuko did end the mingi practice in his village and saved 37 children, but there are still many other villages doing it.
It’s a hard issue, the government outlawed it, but yet people do it because it is there culture. It calls for not war, not government intervention, but cultural intervention, cultural change.
Removing the children requires supporting them, changing the practice is a more sustainable solution, but it is so ethically twisted.
Who has the right to ask other people to change their cultures? But on the other hand who has the right to practice culture if it kills others (like jihad and the crusades)? If you can’t kill others who are innocent, can you kill ones who have murdered without being guilty of murder as well? Is there a difference between a soldier and an assassin? Is there a difference between murdering people and eating meat? I think so, but I can feel that it’s a fine line.
I think it’s wrong to kill babies that are already born and healthy, (though not ones who need a huge amount of life support that is insanely expensive), but then who gets to define healthy? Does that mean not depressed if depression is an illness? I don’t think so. Does that mean not retarded? I’m not even sure honestly.
I haven’t drawn clear moral maps of all my ethics, but I’m sure killing babies already alive and healthy violates them.
However isn’t that a parenting choice? Or is it? How far are children in their parent’s care? But what of the parents who refuse mingi and can’t protect their babies from the village as a whole.
It’s been about a week of thinking about it and I can’t really decide what to do about it.
I’m not sure if I have the right to judge the situation without knowing more about it, I’m not sure if the model works in a larger way I don’t understand, I’m not able to provide personally for all the orphans who would be saved if they were all taken away from their villages, I’m not able to communicate with the villagers that their babies would not cause plague and if I could if it would matter, I’m not sure how I could help or if I should help. I’m not sure if I shouldn’t have been focusing on teaching my two kids or loving them in all the seconds I was worried about the babies half a world away. But no matter how unsure I am if I can help or how I can help or if I can help, I can’t spin the situation in any way where it is the right thing to let two-year-old children die because their top teeth have grown in before their bottom teeth.
If nothing else it seems like teeth removal should be an option… I wonder if a march of peace and singing would be enough to end the practice. I wonder what could be done, but I don’t know and perhaps that is why other people also hesitate to act on behalf of the innocent.
After watching “One Child Nation” the last thought I had was, at least it’s over (killing live babies in China) and after watching “Omo Child” I don’t have that closure.
It’s something I want to stop, but I have no idea if I will be able to do anything to stop it at all.
However I think the very first thing in any bad situation is awareness, if we all know about this, smarter people than me, kinder people than me, more powerful people than me can take steps, find a way and I’m sure the greater the public awareness the greater the minds and hearts facing a problem, the better odds we have at ending this situation that our distant cousins are still facing.
In 2020 isn’t it time that curses of ourselves on ourselves, curses of one culture on itself and curses of one culture on other ones all end?
At least start to end?
To what extent the human heart is willing to live in a panic of fear, that is what allows the cruelty to happen, what we still have to fear is fear itself. For humanity can overcome change, challenge, and adversity, but the biggest impediment is panic, mob rule, and scarcity mentality.
If I imagine myself as all the world, there are still bad habits within myself as well. In my heart I own that, I own that I’m not perfect.
My goal in 2020 is to stop yelling at my daughter when I get frustrated and overwhelmed, to show her love when I am angry and frustrated. Somehow I hope that ending my cruelty in my own family leads me to a mental place of well being that allows me to find a way to help the larger cruelty of humanity against itself.
But being honest, I don’t yet know the way and I don’t yet feel that I can make a difference in something so large. But since I’m willing to make a small difference, since I’m willing to have no timeline, I have hope that someday I’ll stand on the side of the innocent someday. One thing my daughter did that I can already do is to love those babies, some are loved, but others never know love, I can send them all my love and my apologies that they ended up on the wrong side of fate.
I don’t believe if there is karma that it is a reason to allow this kind of cruelty, I don’t believe that if there is or is not a God it is Gods will, I believe if there is a God he or she left many things in the hands of us humans and this is a human bad habit that I hope will change soon. How can we all move forward into a bright future when we don’t prioritize human life over people’s right to live in fear?
The question I title this article with “How Can We End Mingi in 2020?” is not one I have the answer to, but it is something I am open to finding out, when the time comes. 👼🏿