My word is calm, and I’m keeping my goals simple and realistic, while ensuring they still pose a challenge:
1, Run 10k during local running festival in September
2, Juice daily
3, Read the 10 Aussie Books to Read Before You Die
4, Take part in 52 Week of Grateful again, but this time posting 52/52
I have a couple of others but they’re not really specific and measureable, as we all know goals should be! I shall mention them regardless, however, as they run within everything else I do:
a, I still get resentful at times, mostly of my husband. I need to work on that, as I did last year. I am much better than I was but we begin this year with massive change as we now have a newborn plus a toddler and well, in all honesty it’s hard dealing with the constant exhaustion, incessant demands, and 24/7 responsibilities of managing my family, much as I love them! And sometimes I don’t deal well with it all and I take it out on my beloved. I’m recognising that. Which is a start, right? 😉
b, Stay on my Mindful path – keep learning, practicing, working on it. Because I know it works!
Happy New Year! X
What word did you select to be your travelling companion in 2012? What gifts did this word bring?
The concept of choosing a word for the coming year is a new one for me, so I didn’t actively select one last year. However, had I chosen, it would without a doubt have been Mindful. I’ve done my best in 2012 to learn to be more mindful in every aspect of my life and I’ve learned so much along the way. I know that I’ve weathered a few storms a lot better than I would have done had I not embarked upon my quest to live a more mindful existance. It’s a lifelong journey and I look forward to honing my mindfulness skills in 2013. Certainly I now have a great many resources from which to draw inspiration and knowledge moving into the new year. Blogroll coming!
What word will you choose to guide you through 2013? What do you hope it will bring into your life?
Calm. Being a stay at home mum is a joy in so many, many ways, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But it’s also bloody tough work – emotionally, mentally and right now 5 weeks post-caesar with a toddler to care for as well demand breastfeeding, physically. It’s 24/7. There is no let up. I have to stay calm in the face of it all, for the sake of me, my girls and my husband. I must remain smiling (albeit doubtless a bit maniacally at times) in the midst of the madness and remember that it will get easier. That way I’ll be sure to enjoy the precious moments, of which I know there will be many.
What was the most important thing you learned in 2012? How does this learning shape the path going forward?
Without a doubt the most important thing I have learned in 2012 is the value of making a concerted effort to live Mindfully, which to me means being in the moment, cherishing each moment, really noticing each moment and all it entails. Especially in relation to really looking at and interacting with my daughters and my husband, not just rushing through the days and tasks and always thinking about the next thing on my To Do list.
Mindfulness doesn’t have to be considered from a Buddhist perspective but for me it’s not only a psychological pursuit – I do find myself drawn towards Buddhism. In my hardest times this year, particularly recently, I have been able to grab hold of what I have learned about Mindfulness and about other aspects of Buddhism since starting this blog in January, and it has helped me beyond measure. From when I was having a spinal block prior to c-section and when the pain during surgery scared me, to when I feared for my marriage and when tragic news came from overseas, to more simple things like when I need to take a step back and realise that I just need to eat something to get centred again…I have learned to focus on the moment, to not catastrophise, and to breathe my way through.
I don’t always manage this, I get carried away with things, I forget. But when the proverbial has hit the fan, this year I have had something to hold on to. I have found my saviour in Mindful practice. I don’t know what I would have done at times without it. Words of The Buddha relating to Mindfulness have given me great comfort at times and I know that going forward my learning will be in that direction. I want to learn more about Buddhism, and about Mindfulness. I have gathered many tools and resources this year and I want to keep learning, and putting that learning into practice as I go forward into the New Year ahead.
My c-section recovery is going remarkably well but I still ache quite a bit and have to take it relatively easy. It’s hard not to do too much – I’m impatient! In my head I’m more than ready for long walks, mega household organisation and de-cluttering, marathon cooking sessions in preparation for my husband returning to work (how does one prepare food with a tiny baby and a toddler underfoot?! I will soon see…or not!). However, my body still has other ideas. I need to lower my expectations a little with regard to the home and cut myself some slack in other areas. I’ve done a few 2km walks and I do pay for it afterward. But it’s manageable, and it makes a world of difference to my outlook when I get out there and smell the salty air and watch the waves crashing on the shore. When I’m down by the water, I feel calm and centred. It’s so good for me. The rest of the time I guess I’m just a bit wired and frustrated with my current physical limitations! So, this morning was a good time to find the Mudita Institute for Mindfulness Training & Ayurvedic Medicine‘s shared picture, shown below. It’s time to slow down, mama!
Fortunately #reverb12 doesn’t involve a commitment / goal to blog every day or even to blog at all, as my time at present does not permit! However, I have been reading the daily prompts and pondering upon them as I go about my day, and I’ve tweeted a little in response. It’s good to reflect on the past year as December with all its busyness begins, and I’ve found the prompts to date to be most thought-provoking. Today the question is:
Compare the “you” from the beginning of 2012 to the “you” that you are now. What new skills or talents have you learned or discovered this year?
I like this one very much as it is perfect timing for me to look back and consider how things have changed within me, given that I started this blog back in January with the express intention of making some changes in my thinking and living. By the end of 2011 I wasn’t in a good place mentally. I’d stopped counting my blessings and appreciating the little things, and my lack of perspective was making me miserable. I’d become very resentful of my lot, and having had a few brushes with some Buddhist teachings, and the concept of mindfulness in particular, I decided that some changes were required for the sake of my own happiness and that of my little family. My mission was:
I am not my best self, and my family deserves my best self. I will find out what is missing, one post at a time. I will become a Mindful Mum!
I’ve been blogging on and off since then, following my quiet path, learning along the way from a variety of sources. I’ve found a lot of great blogs that have been an enormous, inspirational help to me on this journey (sidebar blogroll is next on my To Do list!). I’ve also learned by doing. That is, I have tried very hard when in the thick of things to be Mindful, that is, (to me), to stay in the present moment, to fully experience it, to just Be. Not allowing past or future worries cloud the present. Not getting ground down by the more mundane aspects of stay at home Motherhood but learning to appreciate the beautiful little moments, of which there are many. I don’t manage this all of the time, obviously! But I have learned the skill of taking that step back. I am a whole lot more likely to hear the birds singing even while the toddler tantrum goes on. I take a breath nowadays, more often than not – my husband might not fully appreciate this but the fact is there would be a LOT more meltdowns if I hadn’t learned a few lessons in the past year!
Learning to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude” has also been invaluable to me in improving my thinking.
I’ve learned that I’m a work in progress 🙂
I’m also definitely a LOT less resentful, which was my biggest, most destructive issue at the start of the year. I’ve learned to get over and around that by adjusting my thinking. I recently came across this poem by the 14th Century Sufi poet Hafiz which kind of sums it up for me in relation to both my marriage and my children, if that makes sense:
All this time
The Sun never says
To the Earth
“You owe me.”
With a love like that.
It lights the
It’s all about love at the end of the day, isn’t it?
It’s well researched and reported that sewing and other crafts are good for one’s mental health and general well-being (for example, this study: The Relationship Between Quilting and Wellbeing). The simple (or not so simple!) act of making the time, dedicating a bit of space in your life to doing something creative and satisfying of itself, something completely different from the often mundane tasks of daily life…it all contributes to a balanced, healthy life perspective. Simply being engrossed in the task of creating something with no distractions is a Mindful process, and Mindfulness – the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment, and accepting it without judgment – increases both mental and physical health, as outlined here.
I got my first sewing machine in April of last year and for about 8 months I taught myself and blogged my sewing antics here. Then I found I was still enjoying the sewing very much but I just couldn’t find the time to blog about it any more, so I wound up the blog and just kept going with the sewing. About six months ago, however, I found that without really realising it, the demands of my growing toddler and second pregnancy little by little encroached on my sewing time more and more, and it dwindled into nothing. I have missed it though – missed the time just spent doing something different, just for me, the whole process of pottering about with my sewing books and patterns and fabrics.
So, in a spirit of positivity and best intentions, I am creating a whole new “Sewing” blog category here and hope that come the new year I will be regularly posting something sewing-related. For this first post I am able to share a mug rug (pattern source here) that I started last Christmas and have finally finished this week (I’m choosing to call it early Christmas project completion rather than late 🙂 ); and a doll (pattern source here) that I’ve made in the last week or so as a present for my new baby girl who arrives on Friday. Time will be even shorter soon enough as there will be two little people to care for but I’m promising myself that I’ll somehow make the time to sew again. I know from experience that it’s so good for my mental health and general well-being to have that creative outlet and time out. I just need to perhaps get a little more creative about how I make that time!
Until I’m 6 feet under
Baby I don’t need a bed
Gonna live while I’m alive
I’ll sleep when I’m dead
Till they roll me over
And lay my bones to rest
Gonna live while I’m alive
I’ll sleep when I’m dead
Ahhh how I loved Bon Jovi, back in the day! Still do. Apparently they are coming to Australia late next year. This ol’ mama hopes to be there! Meantime I can only be amused at how the meaning of these lyrics has changed for me in the space of twenty years. I was a bit of a wild child in my teens and twenties, and I passionately felt that sleep was highly over-rated. Far too much else to be doing with my time! Right now though it really does feel like I’ll sleep when I’m dead and not before, simply cos there sure ain’t much sleep going on around here, and it’s not voluntary deprivation! Miss M is still having her nightly carryings on, and while her Papa is dealing with her, my other baby girl is here on the inside keeping me up as well. Bless! But also, arghhhhhh…how I crave a full eight hours of deep uninterrupted sleep. Six, even!
Last night as I lay awake in a silent house (no fair!), my mind was buzzing. Only nine days to go! This pregnancy has seemed sooooo long, but now it’s speeding up soooo fast! I feared I would never drift off, and I badly needed to, but then I remembered this beautiful photograph (credit: @SharonSalzberg) that came up on my news feed yesterday.
The Buddha looks so rested, calm and content. I visualised the photograph and concentrated only on the feelings of peace and contentment that it stirs in me, and on my breathing. In…and out…in…and out…and it worked, I fell asleep! Not really meditation per se I guess but definitely a Mindful start! I find my mind racing quite a lot at the moment, only natural of course at this stage, but it would be easy to let things spiral. I am really focusing on being Mindful to get me through this time. I’m
staying trying to stay in the moment, remembering to breathe if I get anxious, noticing the little things around me – birds singing, the sound of Miss M’s laughter coming through the open window as she plays with her Papa…all will be well.
…simply wait awhile, another one will be along in a minute ~ Dr Danny Penman
Toward the end of the week before last I challenged myself to manage just five minutes of meditation for seven consecutive days. Alas, it did not go well. Days 3 and 4 didn’t even actually happen and by Day 5 it was abundantly clear that independent meditation was not working for me. Or I was not working for it? It’s only five minutes, after all! Day 6 I managed but Day 7 was forgotten as Life got in the way once again. In my defence we have had a lot going on at home in addition to my being almost 36 weeks pregnant and in sole charge of a very energetic and willful toddler for the best part of most days. Perhaps this is not the best time to begin my meditative journey? And yet, I believe that the coming weeks and months are when I am most going to need it. Quandary!
We have a tendency to think that meditation is something we’ve got to achieve, another thing we‘ve got to do and get, but Ajahn Chah would put it in terms of a holiday. Try that, try seeing meditation in that way.
The author also suggests that meditation can be seen:
… as awakened-ness and awareness, mindfulness, so that it actually is something you develop throughout your daily life in whatever way you have to live it, in whatever conditions.
This seems to be a much more constructive and indeed manageable approach to take. I’ve decided that I do really, really want to try to start meditating with at least some regularity and that guided meditation is perhaps a better idea for me right now. Some soothing music and a calming voice telling me what to do and when my time is up sounds appealing. I don’t have time to conduct extensive research at present so I am just going to go with what Spotify gives me and see how I go. Anything that gives me a little oasis of calm and helps me to recharge at least every day or two would be most welcome!
However, as suggested in the article mentioned above, I’m not going to put pressure on myself and have meditation on my list of Things To Do. I’ll do the guided stuff as and when I can, and then rest of the time I’ll just focus on being Mindful and practicing exercises I have read about that suggest that even small daily tasks such as doing the dishes can be approached as a minor meditation by just carefully noticing and appreciating every tiny little aspect of the process – the smell, sounds, feel of the action being undertaken. Manageable goals that will hopefully be enjoyable and beneficial. No pressure!
Blogtoberfest 2012, 30/31