Monday Motivation and Goals for the Week

This week I will do my best to manage my time better. I can do all the things I want in a day as long as I stay focused. Do not waste time on the things that will get you no where. Don’t waste time on the things that aren’t moving you forward in some way. There is such a thing as “productive procrastination” and time can be made for that but do not forget your goals. Do something everyday that your future self will thank you for.

This week I am going to get go analog! I have a new Moleskine notebook and some pens and sharpies, and a plan to spend a few minutes a day using my hands. The goal is just to put pen on paper rather than stare at a screen. This week I will dump my brain regularly in to my notebook. Everything from artsy ideas, to to-do lists, to things that went well today, to goals for the upcoming week. Everything goes in the notebook!

This week I want to take everything slowly, one step at a time. I will not overwhelm myself or pressure myself. Being creative should be fun and fulfilling, not stressful and frustrating. I want creativity to be a habit, something I just am and do, but that takes building new habits. Small steps, small changes, everyday.

This week I will breathe! I have let my meditation go these last few days and that is not ok! I need to make time for clearing my mind and refocusing. This week I will try mediating everyday during my lunch break. I will refocus and come back to work refreshed. Meditation is needed is I am going to go on trying to do more and grow. Without stopping to clear my head and be present I know I will quickly become stressed and burned out. Go slowly, be present, and breathe.

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I Was Suppose To Be Doing This Writing

I was supposed to be doing this writing, but the words aren’t coming so easily. What does come easily is typing YouTube or Twitter into the address bar and telling myself I am just going to look for inspiration. I know I am lying, but I don’t want to fight with myself, and so I let it happen. I waste an hour, and I have nothing to show for it. I try writing again, and the words are still stuck.

I was supposed to be doing this writing, and I am doing my best, but nothing sounds quite right. I type, then delete, type, then delete until I think maybe a beer and a cigarette will help loosen me up. I get up, get the beer, and go out back to have the cigarette. On the way back in I notice the kitchen needs to be cleaned, so I clean it up. Then I notice the living room is a mess too, so I clean it up. Then I am too tired to write anything and take a nap instead.

I woke up an hour later, and I am disappointed in myself. I was supposed to be doing this writing, so I tell myself no more excuses! I start typing again and this time, I do not delete anything. I write nonsense and break every grammar rule. I write about writing and about not having anything to write about. Slowly some thoughts start to surface, and I sense coherent paragraphs forming.

I keep typing like that until I have a post. It takes me an hour, but I do it, and it feels good like I knew it would. I realize that writing isn’t magic, writing is work. You have to show up and try, and try again, and again until you get it done. Sit down and write about nothing until you find yourself writing about something. I realize I am making excuses to get out of doing something because it is difficult. The next time I am supposed to be doing this writing, I will just do the writing.

This post was inspired but a post on Brevity titledConsider the Prompt. The prompt was the sentence: “I was supposed to be doing this writing, and/but/so….”. I encourage you to read the piece; it was really good!

If We Were Having Coffee

If we were having coffee I would tell you that this past week was good. It was exhausting, but it was also good. I am writing more, which I feel really good about. I have noticed that the the drive to write is becoming stronger and I think about it all the time. Things that aren’t going to move my writing forward are slowly becoming less important. Things like Facebook, games on my phone, endless scrolling through Tumblr or Twitter, ect.

Slowly and almost automatically I have begun to maximize the free time I have. Most of the time I put my headphones in and either type away, learn some new math skills, or catch up on current events and take notes. In the evenings I spend as much time as I can with girlfriend. I write while I sit next to her on the couch, when she doesn’t mind that is. I still do go on Tumblr and Twitter everyday, but it with more purpose now, not just mindless scrolling.

If we were having coffee I would tell you that even though I was embarassed to write about it, it felt good to post about my issues around driving. I am trying so hard to get over this fear and yesterday I went to take my permit test and I PASSED! I was so nervous I was shaking the whole time. It turned out to be super easy BUT it still was a big deal for me and I am proud of myself.

Next up is just to practice until I feel comfortable enough to pass the driving test. I have a feeling it is going to take awhile. Besides my fear holding me back there is an issue of time and energy. Chardonnay and I are both working long hours so there isn’t much time to go out and practice. I am thinking about trying to go out for just a little bit every evening, even if it’s just for 30 minutes. It’s better than nothing. Then on the weekends we’ll practice for an hour or two.

If we were having coffee I’d tell you that yesterday I bought “Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon! I am very excited about this little book and soon I plan to purchase the sequel, “Show Your Work”. I have been wanting to make art and creativity as much a part of my day as writing is now but I just don’t know where to start.

The last time I tried to get do the art thing I failed miserably. I tried to draw things that took too long and I tried to do it when there was nothing but distraction around me. When I try again I will start with simple doodles. That way there isn’t as much pressure to create something perfect everyday. I don’t know how I am fix the issue of distraction yet. I will more than likely be doodling at work and everyone always thinks that is the perfect time to start talking to me. Sigh.

If we were having coffee I would tell you that it was very nice talking to you but, sadly, I have to go. I have a wedding to go to today and more shopping to do and preparations to make. I do hope your week went well too. Please, let me know in the comments. Until next time, good vibes everyone. :)

I Never Learned to Drive

I am 29 years old, and I never learned to drive. This is the first time that I have publicly admitted this. I am very embarrassed about it, but I decided to finally open up and say it out loud because today I am taking the first step to finally moving forward and becoming a real adult. Today I am taking my permit test.

See, my parents never taught me how to drive as a teenager. When I tried at 17 to get my permit for the first time, I found out my eyesight was too bad to drive, and I needed glasses. My mother took me to get glasses, but she never took me back to the DMV to take the permit test. Shortly after that, I moved out and without a car, I saw no need to get my license.

My girlfriend, whom I met around that same time, got her license and drove us everywhere. We were only 17 years old and with her being a new driver I didn’t feel like she was exactly qualified to teach me. It was about this time that I started to get more and more afraid of driving a car. Many people I knew were getting in accidents, and I always thought “man, if they KNOW how to drive, and they got into an accident, then me, someone who is just learning, is bound to get in an accident….and die!”

As the years went by I got more and more afraid and started to feel like I would just never learn. When I was 20, my dad had finally had enough of me stalling and tried to teach me how to drive a stick shift. It was so frustrating that I ended up crying, and he ended up yelling, and we both gave up. I felt like I just couldn’t do it. I was just too stupid and scared to learn how to drive.

For the past 12 years of my relationship with my girlfriend, she has been the sole driver. It has caused a lot of frustration and fights between us but I still just couldn’t get over my fear. I felt so bad knowing she was the only one who could do the grocery shopping and run the errands. I hated knowing that if something happened to her, I couldn’t even get her to the hospital. The fear just kept growing, though, and it felt impossible for me to drive without having an emotional breakdown.

Then Chardonnay got a promotion at work and her hours changed. She is working long hours and is too tired to work all day and still do the grocery shopping and run the errands. It is time for me to step up and face my fear and finally learn how to drive. Last weekend we went out to an empty parking lot so I could start practicing. It went ok, at least I think it did. I did cry, though. I cried because I was frustrated I couldn’t park the car right. I cried because I was embarrassed. I cried because I felt like a loser who didn’t deserve the awesome girlfriend who has put up with my fear and is now trying to help me get over it.

I had my cry then I tried again. I tried again and again and again. I will keep trying too. I have to do this for her, but more importantly, I have to do this for myself. For too long I have carried this fear and felt like less of a person because I can’t do something that seems so simple for other adults. I have to do this so that I can move forward in my life and finally feel like I can help and contribute in my relationship. I have to do this so that I can feel be more independent, be more whole.

I will keep you all posted on how it goes. I wrote this so that you all can hold me accountable. Once I say out loud to the world that I am going to do this, I have to do it. I can’t tell others to face their fears without first facing mine. I can’t tell others to keep trying and never give up when I can’t do the same.

So, wish me luck everyone! I hope each of you can face the fears inside of yourselves too. Do the thing you have never been able to do!

Until next time, good vibes. :)

For You Dear Reader

I am here for you dear reader. I am here for you when you need advice or a shoulder to cry on. I am here for you when you feel alone and small. I am here for you even when you are bored and just wanting to say hello. I am here for you dear reader whenever you are reaching out to find a way in life and need a brief companion for your journey.

I want to get to know you as much as I want you to know me. I want you to know you are special and wonderful and you deserve love and joy. I know that life is hard and finding a place to be content and safe is not easy. I am looking for the same things you are and I want to do the work and show you what is possible. I want to show you there is more than suffering and pain.

Life is a crazy thing and we none of us know why we are here but we do know we only get one shot to do things the best we can. There can be meaning and purpose if you look for it but it is found within each of us, not from outside. The universe has nothing to say about whether you go this way or that so choose the way that feels right for you.

I am here for you dear reader. I am here for you when you don’t know which way to go or what is right or wrong. I want you to see inside yourself and know what you want. I want you to make your decisions consciously and wisely. Do not go through life on auto pilot. Do not go through life with your eyes down, placing one foot in front of the other until the end. Look up! Look around! Find the path that is yours and follow it. I am here with you dear reader, with my eyes up, looking around. I am here choosing the path that is right for me too.

Prompt via WordPress’ Blogging 101 course. The idea was to write a post to your dream reader, and my dream reader is YOU! Thank you for reading, and please, leave me some feedback in the comments. I am always trying to improve. :)

How I Built a Writing Habit

I’ve wanted to start a blog for as long as I can remember having the internet. Over the years I started many but I had issues with people I knew reading about my innermost feelings and angst. Many of the blogs I started ended because someone I knew found out about my blog. The more recent ones failed because I knew what I wanted to say but not how to say it. I never thought I needed to know how to write, i thought I could just do it. Oh how wrong I was! I didn’t know the first thing about how to write anything!

Years ago I found a website called 750 Words that has helped me tremendously in building a better writing habit and learning how to write better. I read about how every writer should be writing three pages a day, which amounts to about 750 words. I have written about the site before and I highly recommend it to everyone who wants to practice writing. I am sad to say that it is no longer free though.

I’ve long been inspired by an idea I first learned about in The Artist’s Way called morning pages. Morning pages are three pages of writing done every day, typically encouraged to be in “long hand”, typically done in the morning, that can be about anything and everything that comes into your head. It’s about getting it all out of your head, and is not supposed to be edited or censored in any way. The idea is that if you can get in the habit of writing three pages a day, that it will help clear your mind and get the ideas flowing for the rest of the day. Unlike many of the other exercises in that book, I found that this one actually worked and was really really useful.

– Excerpt from 750 Words explaining what the website is about.

There are two things I like about the site. One is that it keeps track of how many days in a row you have been writing and tells you what your streak is. The longer your streak is the more you want to keep going. Losing a significant streak, let’s say 50 or 100 days, really makes you feel crappy. So writing becomes more and more of a priority and you work harder and harder to fit it in to your schedule and get it done.

The second is that it is completely private. You can practice everyday and never have to worry about someone reading it. I use this a lot to free write about a topic I’d like to blog about. I free write there where no one can read it and I say whatever I want. Then I will often copy and paste it into the WordPress editor and edit and add images. Bam! A new post. Easy peasy!

If you are unwilling to pay for access to 750 Words the same thing can be accomplished with any word processing program, Microsoft Word or even Google Docs, a calendar, and a red marker. This article on Lifehacker explains the idea but basically everyday that you just sit down and write. Everyday after you write, you put a read X over the date. After you have a few days you have built a chain. Don’t break the chain!

I do have to warn you though, if, or maybe I should say when, you do break the chain it is very hard to get started again. I was working on a 100 day streak and I messed up and forgot to write one day. I was 60 days in and I was devastated! Al that hard work I had done was lost! That’s how I felt at first. That’s how I felt for almost a month!

I finally decided to try again and I realized even though I had broken the chain I had learned something. My writing was better and it was getting easier. Now when I mess up and I break the chain I will start again right away! The point is to make writing something that comes easier and easier. The only way to do that is to practice. I still don’t consider even consider myself a writer, let alone a good writer, but I am getting better everyday. I just have to remember, don’t break the chain!

Image via @ Fran Efless

Prompt inspired by the twist in today’s assignment on WordPress’ Writing 101 course. The twist was to You’ll commit to a writing practice. The frequency and the amount of time you choose to spend today — and moving forward — are up to you, but we recommend a minimum of fifteen uninterrupted minutes per day. Because I already have a god writing habit I decided to write more about that instead and possibly help other new bloggers.

The Zen Paradise in My Bathroom

I am supposed to write something about a place I’d want to be whisked away to but the Zen way to think of things is to be mindful and grateful wherever you are. The Zen way is to appreciate the place I am in in this moment. Thinking about this I decided to write about a place no one thinks of when they are asked where they’d want to go. A place that no one thinks of when they think of Zen. The place I found my paradise is my upstairs bathroom.

This may seem a little weird but please give me a moment to explain. Due to the fact that I need a quiet space to mediate in the mornings and the fact my girlfriend is also getting ready for work in the mornings, she suggested that I meditate in the bathroom after my shower. Well, it wasn’t ideal but it was quiet and secluded, so I gave it a try. After my shower I threw on my robe and I did a few other things to put off the meditation because I was nervous. Eventually, after several minutes of procrastination I decided I just needed to do this before I ran out of time. If I didn’t I would just be disappointed in myself.

The bathroom was still humid but it was comfortably warm from the hot shower water that had been running. I grabbed a towel, one of the old ratty white ones we’ve had since forever ago, and folded over a few times until it was just the right size to put on top of the toilet and use as a cushion. I grabbed my headphones and sat on my towel cushion and pressed play on the first session of my guided meditation videos.

The instructor in my ears started by asking my to just breath in and out while my eyes were open. I wasn’t supposed to be looking at anything in particular. Just maintain a “soft focus” and take in the room around me. I looked around our tiny bathroom and realized it that as much as I hated that room it reflected mine and my girlfriends lives quite nicely.

The whole thing needed to be updated and redone but after 4 years of living in this old house we still hadn’t worked on it. The walls were a very ugly pink color that I refer to as “darker Pepto-Bismol”. The floor is old linoleum that, no matter how many times we mop and bleach, never looks quite clean. The counter to my left is cluttered with various lotions, cleansers, and other beauty supplies. The place is a mess, but so are we, and for some reason we like it this way.

Now the instructor in my ears is telling my to continue breathing and listen to the sounds around me. Background sounds are normally regarded as nothing but distraction that needs to be tuned out but for now I need to listen to them. I close my eyes slowly and listen to the house outside the bathroom. I hear my girlfriend in the living room. I hear the beeping sounds coming from the TV telling me she is about to put on some music. I smile because I can see her in my minds eye, tired and beautiful, focused on starting her day.

I hear the kittens in the spare bedroom, whining to get out. The bedroom is next to the bathroom so I hear the quite clearly. One of them, probably the more outgoing female is jumping at the door. She knows the handle is used to open it but without thumbs she’ll never get it open.

I hear other things too. I hear the dryer downstairs in the laundy room just below me. That room reflects us too. It’s still unfinished, just bare insulation and concrete. the washer and dryer are very nice though. I put my clothes in every morning to get the wrinkles out. I hear the furnace kick on too from the other side of the unfinished laundry room. It is set to turn the heat on when we wake up but I haven’t changed the time since our old schedule last year. I will probably never get around to changing it because our lives are a mess and nothing works the way it should and we like it this way.

The instructor in my ears tells me to scan my own body now and feel myself breathing. In and out, in and out, I fell my body rise while I sit atop the toilet and I think very quickly that this must look so silly. To see a person in a robe sitting on a toilet with head phones in just sitting there, eyes closed and breathing. Yes, it must look very silly. The voice in my ears tells me that it is normal for my mind to wander but I need to gently refocus my mind on my body. Where is my tension? Which way am I leaning? Don’t change it, just feel it. I do as it says and I feel every part of myself. My legs and feet are feeling tingly, I should’t have sat this way.

Breathe, just breathe. And then I feel it. I can’t explain it but I was relaxed and my mind was empty just for a moment there. When the session ends I get up and I feel better. Somehow my mind just feels lighter, more clear. I get ready and I am early, even with having taking the extra 10 minutes to meditate. I haven’t forgotten anything either. I don’t know if it was just a fluke or if those few minutes in my crappy bathroom really helped me refocus. Guess I will just have to keep at it and see.

Do you meditate? If so, when and where? How does it make you feel after?

Image via Headspace, the app I am using to learn how to mediate. The program is called “Take 10”. It consists of 10 individual session, each 10 minutes. I’m hoping at the end of the 10 days I will be meditating with ease.

The prompt is via the WordPress Writing 101 course. The idea was to think of a place, any place I’d like to be whisked away to and describe it. I think the goal was to get better at covey a setting in such a way that the reader could picture the place. I don’t know if I’ve accomplished that here, but I was definitely inspired by the prompt.