Saturday, January 31, 2015

Day 31: The Mission Statement

The Mission Statement:  Day 7 (based on Creating a New Mission Statement from the New York Times).

For the past week I have written blog posts that answered the following seven questions:
  • How do you want to be remembered?
  • How do you want people to describe you?
  • Who do you want to be?
  • Who or what matters most to you?
  • What are your deepest values?
  • How would you define success in your life?
  • What makes your life really worth living?
My reason for answering these questions was to find out what motivates me, what I'd like to achieve in my life, and what things are important to me.  Once I knew these things I would, hopefully, be able to craft a personal mission statement.  The idea being that this mission statement could serve as a guide for how I live my life in the thousands of days that lie between tomorrow and death.  

I admit at first I was skeptical.  I was not sure that I'd finish the week with anything close to resembling a mission statement.  As I answered the questions each day it began to become clear that there were definitely some recurring themes in my responses: art/creating, my relationships with people and my community, attaining intellectual knowledge, and exploring/experiencing as much of the world as I can.  

It also became quite clear that my mission statement would not be a simple one.  However, I have, as of 3:26 PM today, achieved my goal (though I'm pretty sure it won't fit easily onto a cross stitch pillow)...
I want to live my life in a fashion that is true to my self, my values and beliefs.  I want to continue to create and explore art in its infinite variety of forms; to expand my intellectual knowledge and grow my mind; to experience more of the world both at home and abroad; and to cultivate and foster personal connection with individuals and my community.
Tomorrow is my birthday and I think I may have just given myself a pretty neat gift.   I feel as though I am starting this next year of life with a little more self-knowledge than I had eight days ago. 

Today also marks the end of two months of daily blogging. I entertained the idea of doing one more month but my life is very full right now so after today I'll be changing to weekly posts.  

Thank you to everyone has been reading over the past two months.  I'll "see" you later on this week. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Day 30: What makes you life really worth living?

The Mission Statement:  Day 7 (based on Creating a New Mission Statement from the New York Times)

I am down to the last question:   What makes you life really worth living?

It is interesting to me that as the week has progressed the questions have in some ways become easier for me to answer.  Of course, intentional or not, they do seem to build on each other so it may just be that my thoughts have been corralled in this direction all week long.

What makes life really worth living for me?

  • The creative process.  Birthing a new work from idea to creation is a never easy but always worth it.  
  • New experiences.  I love learning new things, exploring new places and discovering things about the world and myself. 
  • People.  My friends, my family and my community bring so much to my life.  I share many of the two things listed above with them. 
Of course this does mean that any of these things are always joyful things.  Goodness knows I have my share of letdowns, failures and upsets but in the long run, these are the three things that really keep me going.  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Day 29: How do you define success in your life?

The Mission Statement:  Day 6 (based on Creating a New Mission Statement from the New York Times)

How do you define success in your life?

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm" - Winston Churchill

"There is only one success - to be able to spend your life in your own way." - Christopher Morely
It is day six of my quest for a personal mission statement.  When I first read today's question I thought it would be difficult for me to answer.  For assistance I turned to Google and did a search for "quotes about success."  I thought I'd be spending a lot of time browsing words of wisdom but suprisingly enough the two quotes above were on the first page I looked at and both resonated with me.

Success for me means living life on my own terms in pursuit of my own purpose.  And it also means a willingness to keep seeking because my purpose today may not be the same tomorrow or a year from now, and there may very well be days that I feel lost.  Success is being able to live the life I choose.

And, well, hopefully having a roof over my head, food in my belly and community of wonderful people around me. That would be a part of success for me too.

One more day to go!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Day 28: What are your deepest values?

The Mission Statement:  Day 5 (based on Creating a New Mission Statement from the New York Times)

The quest for the personal mission statement continues with today's question: What are you deepest values?

Before I answer this question I thought it best to first see exactly what values are.  A Google search brings up the definition "a person's principles or standards of behavior; one's judgment of what is important in life." says that "[w]hen the things that you do and the way you behave match your values, life is usually good – you're satisfied and content. But when these don't align with your values, that's when things feel... wrong. This can be a real source of unhappiness."

Okay.  I think that makes it pretty clear what values are.  So now what are mine and which of those are the 'deepest'?

Well it seems like it's time for a list...
  • Honesty and clear communication
  • Freedom of expression - particularly through art and entertainment
  • Maintaining a healthy body and mind
  • Close and loving friendships
  • Striving to make the world a better place, in particular working to ensure that everyone's basic needs are met while leaving enough for the future (I probably could have just said sustainability right?)
This is one of those things that could be twenty items long but I thought the top five would do.  I'd put integrity, making space for adventure and a quiet down time as a close six, seven and eight.  Ok...maybe those would fall under the umbrella of a few of those top five items.

There are two more days of questions remaining and I'm beginning to wonder just how I am going to boil this all down into a succinct and meaningful mission statement.  So far though the process has been good.  I find that many of the questions are about things I've not thought about all that much, though it seems when I do a bit of digging the answers are there. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Day 27; Who or what matters most to you?

The Mission Statement:  Day 4 (based on Creating a New Mission Statement from the New York Times)

The question for today is:  Who or what matters most to you?

I am not very good at these sorts of things. If you ask me to name the two most important things in my life I'll give you a list of five.  If you ask what person I love the most, I tell you three, and probably give you a lecture about how one can't quantify love so why bother to try to rank it?  I am pretty sure that I could not pick just one thing or person that matters most to me.

So I'm picking three. 
  • My art in all its forms
  • The people that I love and hold dear
  • My community
Without any one of these things I'd feel that a great part of me was missing.  When I have had times in my life that I have neglected any of them I have felt depressed and lonely.  Balancing these things has never been easy, but it has always been vitally important.

These things are a huge part of who I am and who I want to become.  Without them I am simply not me.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Day 26: Who do you want to be?

The Mission Statement:  Day 3 (based on Creating a New Mission Statement from the New York Times)

Today's question is "Who do you want to be?"

Well, they don't go small with this mission statement thing do they?

It is hard for me to think of who I want to be because my mind keeps thinking about what I want to be. I keep thinking of things that I can name like dancer, writer, artist, student, friend, lover, and the list goes on.  I don't feel that what I want to be really answers the question of who I want to be. And really, when you get right down to it there really is only one person I want to be.


Who else am I going to be?  Who else can I be but myself?  Of course maybe the point of this question is to give some thought to just exactly who I am and maybe to consider if I want to be exactly the me I am right now.  I mean right now "me" is far from perfect.

The me that I am right now is the product of her experience and not all of that experience was good, some of it left her hesitant, scarred, and unsure. The me that I am right now is afraid of many things.  She isn't always as accepting of herself that she could be or as she'd like to be.    She lives with a lot of anxiety and she'd really like to be more trusting of her fellow humans.  She is very demanding of herself and others.

Of course she also had experiences that made her as survivor.  She doesn't like to see others in pain or suffering and will do what she can to relieve it.  She tries her best to do the right thing.  Despite being unsure and afraid she still more often than not manages to do the very things she is afraid of.  She believes in her dreams and will pursue them with all of her being even if others may not fully understand just what is she is attempting to achieve.  She loves deeply.  She wants to leave the world a better place.

The me that I am is well aware of her flaws and her mistakes.   Maybe she could learn to be just as aware of her more positive attributes.

Who do I want to be? A better me?  A more evolved me?  A more realized me?   We all know I how feel about those expressions...if you think I'm going to say "a more authentic me" you are going to wait a very long time.

The only thing I really know for sure is that, good or bad,  the person that I am tomorrow will be at least a tiny bit different than the one I am today. it is unavoidable. So maybe I just want to be a me that is not as burdened by her past and a little more willing to face the future without expectation. 

How is that for an answer?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Day 25: How do you want people to describe you?

The Mission Statement:  Day 2 (based on Creating a New Mission Statement from the New York Times)

It is Day 2 of my attempt to craft a personal mission statement.  Today's question is, "How do you want people to describe you?"

Unlike yesterday's question I do not have a string of words popping into my brain. In fact I'm feeling a bit awkward about the whole thing.  I suppose the point of this question, and yesterday's question, is to ask what kind of person you would like to be rather than what kind of person are you right now.  A mission statement is after all supposed to help you to find your "individual sense of purpose" by defining what you want to be and how you might get there. 

The Times article explains that the personal mission statement idea comes from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which I've never read and it's likely the sort of thing that I would dismiss a hokey but it does say this:
"[Your personal mission statement] focuses on what you want to be and do. It is your plan for success. It reaffirms who you are, puts your goals in focus, and moves your ideas into the real world. Your mission statement makes you the leader of your own life. You create your own destiny and secure the future you envision."
Ok, that's a whole to to ask of a few sentences but we are only on step number two.  Now let's take a deep breath (iiiiinhale, eeeeexhale...gooood)...

I want people to describe me as unique and creative.  I definitely want to be described as independent, interesting and adventurous.  I want to be described as loving and honest.  I want to be described as kind.  I'd like to be described as beautiful (is that too superficial?). I'd like to be described as dependable.  I'd also like to be described as being wise, generous and a good listener.  I want to be described as being a good friend. 

Hmmm...I think that covers most of it.  It looks like I pretty much want to be described as an awesome human.  Right now I'm not really sure how I'll get there but then finding my way is a big part of what this process is all about.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Day 24: How do I want to be remembered?

The Mission Statement:  Day 1 (based on Creating a New Mission Statement from the New York Times)

The first question on the list is "How do you want to be remembered?" or as I like to think of it, "What do you want written on your tombstone?"

When I first read this question my first thought was that I wanted to be remembered as someone who was kind, well liked and nice.  My next thought was, "Really?  That's it?"

Here lies Spinster Jane.  She was nice. 

It's not that those are bad things to be remembered for but are they really what I want to strive for?  I'd say yes to being remembered as kind, there is not enough kindness in the world and most of the time being kind isn't difficult. But the others.  I mean do I want to be remembered as well liked or would I rather be remembered as someone who did what was right even if it was not the most popular choice?  There are certainly times that standing up for what you believe in requires some modicum of "not-niceness."

So yes, I want to be remembered as someone who was kind.  And yes, I want to be remembered for doing the right thing even when it was not easy, or the most popular choice.  I also want to be remembered as someone who pursued her dreams, who persevered despite doubt and uncertainty, and showed great strength when it was needed. I want to be remembered as someone who was loving and generous.  I want to be remembered as brave.  I want to be remembered as some one who threw fabulous dinner parties.  I want to be remembered as being someone who was infinitely interesting and never, ever dull.  I want to be remembered as being honest.

That's a bit of a mouthful (and a brainful) and it certainly won't fit on a tombstone.  It's also a heck of a lot to live up to if I want to be remembered as all of these things. 

Tomorrow's question is "How do you want people to describe you?"

Friday, January 23, 2015

Day 23: The Mission Statement

Earlier this month I wrote a post about creating a personal mission statement.  I have not yet done this and if you asked why I'll probably say that I've just been too busy.  While it is true that I've been busy with school, dance, work and life the fact is that my life will probably always be this busy.  I'm not one to sit still for very long at all.  So if I wait until I actually have the time to do this I'll likely never get around to doing it.

It is also terribly convenient that after today there are seven questions that the NYTimes article says I should be asking myself when crafting a mission statement AND that there are eight days left in the month.  Seven days to answer the questions and a day to write the mission statement.

In nine days I will mark 43 years of being alive.  Why not kick off my 44th year with a new mission statement?


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Day 22: Eight Things

Today's blog prompt is courtesy of Facebook and the post of a friend listing five things about herself that few folks knew.  If I liked the post she promised to give me a number with which I was to create my own list.  My number was eight.

I have decided to share a few things that many people, even some of my close friends don't know about me.  I'm sure a few will be a surprise to some and there will be a few who may recoil in horror (see 1 & 8) but hey, what good is a blog if not for putting it all out there for the whole world to see?

It's confession time!!! 

1.  I am a regular watcher of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.  Yes, you read that right (some folks are going WHAT THE FUCK - you must be joking).  I watch nearly every season, though I rarely make it all the way through The Bachelor seasons though because it usually gets just too ridiculous for words.  I'd say I don't know why I watch the show but in fact I'm pretty sure I do know why, it's pure, 100% escapism.  Everything that happens on that show is so far removed form my life that it's a pretty good distraction from my stresses and troubles. 

2. I can eat an entire box of Captain Crunch in one evening.  Sugary cereal is my go to food for intense emotional eating. (If I eat enough it will fill this black hole that is my heart!!!!!) It does not happen often; usually only once a year but when I hit that point it's Captain Crunch or Fruit Loops and there are rarely any left by morning.

3. I am starting to actually enjoy my finance class. This freaks me out.  I don't just like it, I actually look forward to it.  It's finance for Christ's sake!  It's numbers and capital and interest rates and what the heck is wrong with me?

4. I do not enjoy festivals.  You know the kind where you camp for three days to a week, listen to lots of music, smoke a lot of pot, drink to much, dance until 3:00AM, etc.  I mean I enjoy all of these things separately - I love camping, I love music, I love dancing, I love being out late with friends and I enjoy an adult beverage on occasion but I get overwhelmed by the crowds at festivals, and I always feel so gross and dirty and exhausted after.  They just decidedly are not my thing.

5. There are a few foods that I have an excessive amount of love for.  They are: arugula, capers, pepperoni pizza, smoked gouda, fresh cucumbers with black pepper, brie, tourtière, crusty bread and Allagash black.  These are foods that send a happy little tingle to the pleasure centers of my brain.  I often let out a rather naughty sounding sigh at the first nibble. Even thinking of these foods I am experiencing happiness.

6.I am addicted to British and Canadian crime shows/mysteries.  The era, gender or age of the detective does not matter (though I do have a love of anything Agatha Christie or to do with the 1920s).  There just has to be interesting characters and a good old fashioned murder to be solved.  Amercian television just doesn't seem to be serving it up.

7. I get MEGA stage fright before every performance and before speaking in public. Sweaty palms, shaking legs and a dancing knots in my stomach; all of which lead to moment where I have must convince myself to not turn around and walk away.  I long ago learned to get past it, but it's still there.  Every time.

8. I also watch The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (yes...yes, I know.  You are now starting to wonder, "who IS this person??").  Again, escapism...100%.  And it sort of fascinates me that people actually live that way.  I'm also left with the unsettling thought that, aside from the lip injections, botox and in Beverly Hills, I could probably be quite comfortable being a BHHW.  Okay, I'd probably not really be all that down with the married part either but otherwise the lifestyle does seem pretty darn cushy.

And there you have it folks.  Eight things few people know about me...and well, now the whole world is free to know.

I'm feeling  a bit relieved actually.  My dark TV secrets were sort of weighing on me...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Day 21: ....

Today was a blur.  I was short on sleep and had much to do.

A meeting.
Dinner with my mum.

Now bed.

I hope for a more refreshing sleep tonight.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Day 20: Some things were easier in middle school

Step 1: Watch the video...

Step 2: Read the blog post....

So my memory of middle school "dating" went more like:

Act I: Math Class

Me: I think I might like Danny.
Friend: I'm gonna tell Danny you like him at recess.

 Act II: Recess

Me: So, did you tell him?
Friend: Yes.
Me: Well, what did he say?
Friend:  He said he can't like you because you are too tall.
Me: Well, that's okay I didn't really like him anyway.
Friend: Yeah, I hear he picks his butt
(collapse into giggle fits)

The End

My middle school dating attempts were decidedly unsuccessful.  It was not until I was about 15 and experienced the miracle of boobs that I started to have anything resembling success.  High school dating was also full of a lot of rejection, but it seemed far easier to deal with at 10 than it was at 15.

Middle school romance, such as it was, had a lot going for it.  First, your rejection was almost never to your face.  You nearly always had a friend to act as the go between, so even if the answer was a no at least you didn't have to directly absorb the impact. 

Second, it was always pretty direct.  There wasn't a whole lot of awkward flirting and what flirting that did take place usually involved noogies, wedgies or fake boogers being put in your hair, so even if you didn't "know," you knew.  Eventually a note would be passed asking, "Do you like Cindy?  __Yes __No"  or a friend would appear to ask the question.

When the answer was delivered it was accepted and you moved on.  Well, at least if it was a no you did.  A yes...well a yes could be a bit more complicated.

I had a friend in middle school, lets call her Jan, who had a crush on a boy named...let's call him Keith.  And well, I sat next to Keith in science class and Keith and I were friends, of a sort.  We goofed off in class together with a fair amount of frequency. So anyway, it fell to me to ask Keith if he liked Jan.  To which he replied, yes.  After class I told Jan that Keith said he liked her.  She then wanted to know if he "liked" her or if he "LIKE-liked" her.  The next day I asked for Keith to clarify his level of like, it turned out the be of the "LIKE-like" sort.

I was the messenger and note courier for the next couple of weeks until the day came when Jan decided she LIKE-liked Danny instead.  I was left to deliver the news to Keith, who replied that it was okay because he was pretty sure he LIKE-liked  Marsha now anyway.  He confided in me a few weeks later that he kissed Marsha and that it was the first time he'd ever kissed a girl.  I never told Jan.

What I also never told anyone, not even Jan, was that I had a secret crush on Keith the whole time.  I never told him because I thought that if I did, he'd stop goofing around with me in class.  We usually managed to bring each other to the point of uncontrollable giggles and had to be spoken to more than once by the teacher.  I remember on one occasion we were threatened with being separated and we both dropped into absolute silence. We didn't make a peep in class for days.  After that much of our goofing off was done via notes and doodles passed back and forth. 

Eventually the school year ended and I moved away that summer with my middle school crush remaining forever unrequited.  I don't recall being all that bummed out about it though.  I mean even when he LIKE-liked my best friend I still had his nearly undivided attention for an hour out of every school day.  Which seemed to be enough for me at the time.

So I guess middle school romance did have its complications.  Still, wouldn't it be nice if the next time you started to like someone you just had to turn to your friend and say, "I think I might like Reuben" and....

"I'm gonna tell Reuben that you like him at the bar tonight?"

And if he says no, she'll tell you he secretly bites his toenails when he's alone in his office.  You won't ask just how it is that she knows that.  You'll laugh, she'll buy you a beer and you'll move on.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Day 19: Am I up for this challenge?

Daily blogging for two months in a row is proving to be a challenge.  The past few days I am finding that it is late in the evening before I have a chance to sit and write.  I am also still running up against that voice inside of me that says that every post must be perfect and contain some deep and life changing pearl of wisdom.

Right, well most days the best I can come up with is, make sure you check your toilet paper supply on a daily basis because you don't want today to be the day that you find yourself done with your duty with only one remaining square and nothing in the bathroom cabinet.

Pun absolutely intended.  And before you ask, my reason for bringing this up is not because it has happened to me recently.  This lesson I learned long, long ago.

However, I do mention it because so many of us are searching for some powerfully meaningful bit of wisdom to change our lives or set us on the right path when maybe the best piece of advice someone could give us is to make sure the necessities are taken care of.  Because really, how are you ever going to make sense of the shit in your life if you can't remember to make sure you have something to clean the shit off your ass?

And there's the pearl of wisdom for today.  We're still waiting on the perfection. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Day 18: Short and sweet

It is apparently much easier for me to start a month of blogging at the end of a semester than it is to start one at the beginning of a new semester.

Today spent six hours in drum, song and dance workshops.  I'm pretty there is not a single spot on my body that will not be sore tomorrow.  I had a hell of a lot of fun, but I am pooped out from head to toe.

I'm thinking that tonight will be an early night. 

Day 17-ish

Okay.  It happened.  I missed a day of blogging.

Yesterday was a full day.  I spent the first ten hours of it sleeping.  I'd crashed early on Friday, around 8:30, and slept straight through until 10:00am on Saturday.  I had my usual morning routine of coffee and journaling before heading off to teach a workshop at the studio.  Then home to prepare for a dance performance that evening.

(some where in here I stated soup in the crockpot)

The preparation took longer than planned.  It took nearly an hour to iron ten yards of skirt, and then of course there was the hair and make up and actually getting there.  The performance went really well and I was on a bit of a high when the night was over.

Home again.  I chopped veggies to add the to delicious smelling broth in the crock pot.  Poured a glass of wine, watched some Hulu and went to bed.

At some point I do remember thinking that I needed to write a blog post.  I woke up this morning remembering that I didn't.

Well at least I thought about it. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Day 16: ?????

I sat down to write about the Friday that became a Monday.  I've had a very odd and uncomfortable day today, but now I'm sitting here and I have this wonderfully warm and purring kitty in my lap.

I really just want to sit here and enjoy this cozy feeling that is happening right now. 

Until tomorrow then...

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Day 15: Could you go 40 days without being "mean"?

Alright, today's blog post is a bit of a cop-out, but it's late, I'm tired and I really want to just get lost in Netflix. 

However, this article is ACTUALLY interesting.  I love these sorts of experiments, but I'm not so sure that I could do what the author did for 40 days.  Maybe a week....mostly because unless I had it written with a Sharpie on the back of my hand, I'm likely to forget half way through the day that I'm doing this sort of thing to begin with!

Anyway, give it a read.  Could you do this?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Day 14: Waking Up Part III

Yesterday I shared the results of tracking my morning mood for one week.  I'd hoped to find some sort of correlation between my mood in the morning and how the rest of my day turned out.  That did not seem to occur because while nearly every day began with feelings of anxiety and being overwhelmed, with one exception my days turned out to actually be pretty good.

Now one thing that did surprise me was that each morning I awoke with some level of anxiety.  I had other feelings, anticipation, annoyance, resentfulness, excitement, even jealously on one day but always anxiety was there.  You see I've generally always thought of my anxiety as something that was triggered.  There would be one particular event, like an exam, approaching that I'd worry about or maybe it would be set off by something more specific like not hearing from a friend for several days when we usually chat regularly or an sudden health issue causes unanticipated expense.  I didn't realize just how much it was regularly present simmering just below the surface.

Of course maybe I don't notice it usually because apparently I've learned to live with it on some level because in looking back over how the rest of my days were, things went rather smoothly.  Whatever I might have been feeling when I awoke that morning it didn't stop me from accomplishing things I had to do like work or laundry.  It didn't stop me from doing things I love such as dance, write, or spend time with friends.  And as for that, no matter what mood I was in spending time in the company of people I like always raised my spirits regardless of how I was feeling. 

I don't feel I've found many answers.  I've definitely discovered things about myself that I want to explore further.  I would like to know what it is that, despite my mood, makes me push on through the day.  I'd also like to explore this simmering anxiety that is perpetually present in my life.  It seems to have become my white noise, my background hum.  It would be interesting to find out if this anxiety is somehow what motivates me to get things done.  Maybe it's tied to my feelings about death and how we've such limited time to achieve so much, so whatever you do don't waste time...

So far 2015 has sent me down a path of self exploration.  It could prove to be an interesting year...just someone promise me that if you find me hunched over staring at my belly button while seemingly lost in thought that you'll give me a bit of a shake to snap me out of it. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Day 13: Waking Up Part II

Day 7's tasty dinner...
A week ago I wrote this blog post about what my morning thoughts were and how they might impact my day.  I decided that for one week I'd keep track of what I was feeling or thinking each morning and then see how it impacted the rest of my day or if it did at all.  The week is now over so let's see how I did shall we?

Day 1 - Wednesday 1/7: 

I woke up feeling disappointed (though I didn't note about what) and worried about the future.  I also wrote that I was feeling jealousy but thought it might be due to linger feelings from a dream.

I worked that morning.  In the afternoon I went to a meeting about a new local performance space after which I lingered and had a really great conversation about dance.  I then went to a hair appointment (my first in nearly three years), which left me feeling quite awesome.  After that I took myself out to dinner which also lead to conversation about performance art.  After walking home I ended the evening watching a guilty pleasure on Hulu.

Day 2 - Thursday 1/8:

I woke up feeling overwhelmed.  Worried about getting all I needed to do before school started.

The rest of the day?  Well I got a ton of stuff done in the morning.  I worked for an hour on a writing project, started a scholarship application and completed my FAFSA for school  After patting myself on the back for my productive awesomeness I realized that I'd totally spaced on an appointment with my therapist.  I worked through the afternoon and then met with a co-performer about a new project.  A friend came over for a craft night and we listened to a dance podcast.  I ended my evening reading in bed.

Day 3 - Friday, 1/9:

A combination of overwhelmed and ambitious.  I had several anxiety dreams during the prior evening's slumber.  I also noted I was worried about money, funding for Semester at Sea, what to do about work when I get back, and something about time (I can't read the rest of the sentence - my pre-coffee penmanship is apparently not great).

That day I worked six hours and logged off early to help a friend with a costuming emergency.  I did a load of laundry, got in a hour dance practice and then dressed to meet an old friend for cocktails.  We had an awesomely awesome evening.  I arrived home late and watched Hulu in bed until I fell asleep.  I'm pretty sure I also sang I Can't Help Falling in Love with You to the cat.

Day 4 - Saturday, 1/10:

I woke up annoyed and resentful.  I have been feeling for sometime that I was continuing to put too much energy into things I didn't really want to do anymore but that had to be taken care of anyway.  I was resentful that it took time away from my personal pursuits.  I'm quite sure I huffed and sighed a lot.

I slept in and then logged into work for an hour or so to finish a project.  I met up with a friend to go to the gym where for an hour I sweat and tried not to fall off the treadmill.  I had a good time catching up with him.  I got home, showered, did some writing and drumming then dressed for an evening out with yet another friend.  We had a fabulous time eating sushi, sipping martinis and chatting.  We had a couple of tasty beverages at a local bar followed by tea in my kitchen. We said good night.  I sang The Lion Sleeps Tonight to the cat and then watched a murder mystery.

Day 5 - Sunday, 1/11:

Overwhelmed.  At least that's what I wrote in the afternoon as I apparently forgot to write it down in the morning.

That day I had rehearsal for my troupe in the morning which went well and it was nice to see everyone after our holiday break.  I felt rather sad about some things I won't go into but there was thankfully a shoulder to cry on and hugs to be had.  I bought myself some comfort food and spent my afternoon working on craft projects, binging on Netflix and eating.  I may or may not have ingested a certain colorful crunchy cereal full of nothing at all good for my body but decidedly good for my peace of mind. I also drummed for an hour. I did make sure I went to be early as I had school the next day.  Yay for self care!

Day 6 - Monday, 1/12:

Anxious with some lingering sadness.  Also anticipation of the new semester.

I had my eye exam that morning which went as well as eye exams can go I guess, no change in my vision.  I then headed to campus to buy my last remaining text book and then off to class.  Class went far better than expected in two ways: 1.  It turns out the class, which is required for my degree, might actually be interesting and 2. though it requires a group project two of my classmates were people I'd worked with successfully before and we teamed up right away.  I did some shopping and managed to get lucky in the timing of my buses so I arrived home earlier than expected.  I did my reading for school, attempted to learn some samba steps from YouTube videos and then did some writing.  I worked on a craft project and watched the second episode of Downton Abbey on the PBS website

Day 7 - Tuesday, 1/13:

I let myself sleep in a bit.  Woke up somewhat fuzzy headed as I'd taken some allergy medication the night before  becuase I couldn't stop sneezing.  I was in an okay mood but then became super annoyed as the noise of construction from across the street filled the house sending my kitty to hide under the futon.

I worked this morning then headed to school.  Again a class I thought might be awful turned out not to be and my second class turned out to be as amazing as I'd hoped.  I headed home with a stop to pick up sour cream for my planned baked potato dinner.  Once home I fed the kitty, who was no longer in hiding, made myself dinner (which turned out to be AWESOME) and did my reading for school.  I then sat down to write this blog post.

And then...

I plan to write in more detail tomorrow about what I learned form this week long foray into morning mood tracking but I will say this one thing.  Despite waking up anxious nearly every morning with some not so great other  moods tossed in, I not only pretty much enjoyed my days but for the most part they ended on rather up notes.  Tomorrow we'll see if I can figure out why.

See look at clever me I'm getting not just one but TWO blog posts out of this!!!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Day 12: Hey! It's self improvement Monday!

The Lab of Despair
The winter break never feels long enough. I'm always left wishing for just one more week to sleep in, read books of my choosing, binge a bit more on Netflix, and catch up with friends.  One more week of feeling like I can breathe. Instead here I now sit in the computer lab killing time before my first class begins.

The first day of the semester, always a Monday, is a mix of excitement and apprehension.  I enjoy school, I like filling my mind with new things but I have been at this long enough to know just how much work it actually is.  Last semester I was doing homework three to five hours a night.  Add to that holding down two part-time jobs, teaching dance, my artistic endeavors, sleeping, eating and other activities needed to stay alive, all somehow to be accomplished within the 24 hours allotted to us per day.  It's a perfect recipe for crazy.

Being prone to rumination I can quickly find myself going down the thought path of "how would things be different if I'd done this at 25" or "just how out of my head am I going to be come April?"  Also being the anxious sort, this is a path I'd be better off not going down. 

So here we go with one more item on the 2015 Spinster Jane Self Improvement List:  worry more about today than yesterday or tomorrow.

I know, it still has the word worry in it, but if I adhere to it I'll at least be getting worried over things that ARE actually happening right now instead of getting bummed out about what could have been or all full of anxiety over things that may not even happen.  I mean that's gotta be a step in the right direction right?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Day 10: What do you feel right now?

What do you feel right now?

Anticipation.  I'll be having dinner with a friend later this evening and I am very much looking forward to it.  We have good conversations this friend and I.  Conversations that, if we let them, could probably carry us from dinner all the way through to breakfast.  We don't of course, and this makes our conversations all the more cherished.

What do you feel right now?

Hungry.  I am sipping water but fighting the urge to gobble down a snack as I want to leave room in my belly for the tasty vittles soon to be placed before me.  Mixed with my anticipation it is a rather delicious feeling.

What do you feel right now?

Accomplished.  I went to the gym with another friend this afternoon.  We did an hour of cardio on the stair climber, the bike and the treadmill.  I've felt like a slug so far this winter.  It was wonderful to move and to sweat.  

What do you feel right now?

Anxious.  Tomorrow I have rehearsal with my troupe for a show we have coming up in March.  As always I feel the weight of all the planning, listing, doing and keeping track of things that is to come.  I love performing and when I do I feel illuminated on the inside, but all of the other stuff that goes along with producing a show...let's just say it's no longer something I enjoy as much as I used to.  I wish sometimes I was not so good at it.

What do you feel right now?

Anxious (Part II). The new semester begins on Monday.  As I've progressed through school each semester has been more intense and required more of me than the last.  I spend hours each night on homework.  It leaves little time for all of the other things that are important to me.  I manage to do as much as I do by very careful planning and allocation of my time but often, by mid semester, I am tired and my self care begins to slip. 

What do you feel right now?

Hopeful.  Though things have become more difficult and more demands are being made of me, at the same time I have developed better skills for managing those times.  I know when to take a break, when to say I've done enough and when to let go of things that are no longer working for me.  I am far more aware of my own limitations and I can see when I am coming close to the edge of them.

What do you feel right now?

Empty.  The year ahead has many new experiences waiting for me.  I feel ready to be filled up with them all.  The good, the bad, the tough, the easy, the sad, the happy, the eye-opening, the new, the old, the destruction and the creation.  I hope I am paying attention enough to savor as many of these experiences as possible and to bear with grace those that may be more trying.

What do YOU feel right now?

Friday, January 9, 2015

Day 9: A blog post

I had  a plan this morning to write a blog post about a really awesome podcast I listened to last night about establishing a dance practice.  However after a later than anticipated start the day managed to get ahead of me.  After working six hours, helping a friend with a costuming issue and spending a wonderful evening having dinner and drinks with an old friend I now find it is nearly 11:00PM and my post is not yet written.

Well, I regret none of it.  Not a moment.

And what do you know, I still ended up with a blog post.  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Day 8: Best Of

Today's blog prompt is courtesy of "The One Minute Writer:"

"We're a week into 2015 now.  What has been the best thing about the new year for you so far?"

The best thing about 2015 so far is that it has been nothing like 2014 was at this time.  Last year I was coming off a pretty dark and anxiety filled period and I was on the edge of freaking out over everything I had to do in the coming weeks.  I'm not sure that I have any less on my plate today than I did then (in fact I might even have more) but I certainly feel a lot better about managing to deal with all of it.

I guess this means that I've made some sort of progress. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Day 7: Mission Statement

Alright.  With this post I think I'm officially on some sort of self improvement kick.  Writing that almost makes me want to cringe.  I've been witness to so much rude and self righteous bad behavior that was done in the name of 'self-improvement' and 'searching for one's authentic self' that I tend to approach anything that appears to be remotely related to either with a twenty foot pole...with spikes on the end.

However, in looking at the evidence:

1. I made an actual New Years resolution this year.
2. I'm tracking my morning moods for a week.
3. Four months ago I started seeing my therapist again.
4. I'm about to write a blog post about drafting a personal mission statement.
(5. I'm likely going to write about it when it's done...)

Oh dear God, self improvement here I come.  Sigh.

So this personal mission statement. Yesterday I came across an article in the New York Times titled Creating a New Mission Statement.  I'm not even really sure how I got there and I'm quite sure I probably rolled my eyes and thought, "Oh geez, what's this?" before I began to read it, but as I did I realized that it actually sort of made sense.  Particularly when it talked about the difference between a single act of self-improvement and actually seeking out the reason one wants to do it in the first place. 
"While it is common for businesses to define goals and values with mission statements, most people never take the time to identify their individual senses of purpose. Most focus on single acts of self-improvement — exercising more, eating more healthfully, spending more time with family — rather than examining the underlying reasons for the behavior..."
This just seems like a far smarter approach to things.  Having spent many, many hours in therapy it reminds of how when you realize that some bad habit you've developed is really a coping behavior that came out of some tragic event in your past.  Once you know why you do something it's so much easier to stop doing it, so why wouldn't it work the other way as well?  If you can discover the reason for your desire to change or improve upon something, it might be just a bit easier to actually make the changes you want to make.

The process as outlined in the article asks a series of seven questions to help you craft your mission statement.  None of the questions seem to have easy answers, but then I suppose that's the point.  Finding your purpose is not something to take lightly, at least I don't think it is.   And I imagine that for many of us it's deeply hidden.  We tend to bury such things beneath the day to day, 9 to 5 struggle to get by.

Anyway, I may or may not share the process as I go along.  It's tempting.  Those seven questions could mean seven neatly packaged blog posts, but it also seems like it might be just a bit too personal.  In any case, however much I choose to share, I will keep you all posted on the progress. And I'd love to hear from others who have done such things.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Day 6: Waking Up

What are your first thoughts in the morning?  I don't mean the "oh is it morning already." "I have to pee," "what was that crazy dream all about," "where's the coffee," "has the cat been fed" etc. type questions.  I mean what goes through your mind when you are preparing for your day?

Yesterday I had a rather sluggish morning.  I had little motivation to do much of anything and my thoughts were turning very much to how I could spend the day avoiding the world by hiding under the covers all day.  This was not in a "I have a day off let's relax, eat chips and watch horror films in bed all day" sort of feeling.  It was an, "ugh - another day to have to deal with life and the world" sort of feeling.; I just didn't want to be bothered with the prospect of existence.

This changed when  friend stopped by just to say hello and bring me a coffee.  The interaction managed to shift my mind set enough that I ended up  not only in a better mood but also the day took a more productive turn.  I got in a couple of hours of dance practice, did some financial planning, started drafting an essay for a scholarship application and cooked an awesome dinner for myself.  Had I not had that interaction I'd have like spent the day browsing the web and binging on Netflix.  If I was productive at all it likely would have been much, much later in the day.

This morning I woke up with thoughts of getting things done; this blog post, finishing off soup that had been in the crockpot over night, working a bit and then running errands later in the day (so far the soup is bubbling away and the blog post is half written). In the past I have had quite a few mornings, such as when the semester is in full swing, that I wake up feeling overwhelmed.  There are other days, perhaps when I have plans with friends, that I wake up with happier expectations.

It has occurred to me to try to keep track of what my mood is like at the beginning of the day and how I end up feeling when the day is over, or how productive of a day I have, but I've never really been all that good at keeping track of such things over the long haul.  However, I think I could do it for perhaps a week.  School begins on Monday and I've a lot to do over the next few days so it would be a good time to see how my morning thoughts impact the rest of my day.

At the minimum I'll likely at least get another blog post out of it.  :-)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Day 5: Advanced Style

I've not looked at any blog prompts today.  In fact I know exactly what I want to write about.  It is inspired by a post on a friend's FaceBook page.  The post asked for feedback and thoughts on the choices women make when it comes to coloring their hair; specifically whether or not to color the gray hairs.  The conversation of course turned to the more general subject of woman and aging in our culture today and how we don't have enough examples of women who accept themselves no matter what their age.

My response:
"It is difficult being a "woman of a certain age" in the US. It's so easy to say age doesn't matter, but very difficult to live that way because in our world age DOES matter. Particularly if you are female. I am perfectly willing to be out there, to be myself, to say whatever is on my mind and do so without apology or much fear - but damn, I'm afraid of ever looking my age. It's like that first time some young cashier calls you "Ma'am" and you realize that the world suddenly sees you differently. For most of us it comes as a bit of a shock, it's painful because in our minds, or at least in my mind, I don't see myself that way!

That said, I am trying to work towards self acceptance. I agree wholeheartedly with [you] that we are the ones who need to set the example and fearful as I may be, I want to be one of those women.

My new years resolution this year is to learn to be brave. I guess this would fit right in with that plan because to not only allow yourself to look your age but to also embrace it is a pretty brave act in our culture."

In just under a month I will be 43 years old.  I've struggled with body acceptance for much my life for various reasons (weird stick ours, being taller than average, giant feet, too thin, not thin enough...etc.).  Though occasionally I still feel like a lumbering giant, I think I have managed to work through most of them.  Aging though is going to be a tough one.  There is a lot of outside judgment that comes with aging; judgment we have zero control over. However I plan to do my best to embrace myself as I am because I think if I do, I will, in the long run, be far happier.

That said there are some wonderful inspiring older women who are wholeheartedly themselves.  One of my favorite blogs is Advanced Style where Ari Seth Cohen chronicles the stylish older set of New York City.  There is also the website and blog, Accidental Icon, a new find for me, where I came across this fabulous quote:

“It’s about being conscious of who you are and using all the strength you have to communicate that.”

— Ann Demeulemester talking about Patti Smith in the New York Times

On a final note, I am likely to continue to color my hair.  The few silver hairs I have are wonderfully shiny and soft but my mop is still dominated by my mousy, plain Jane color or off-blond.  I do like the red far better and so until more of that fancy gray shows up I'll still be a henna head. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Day 4: How do I feel today?

Today's blog prompt is courtesy of the Imagination Prompt Generator:e  

How do you feel today?

Honestly today I woke up in a grumpy mood.  I couldn't pinpoint exactly why I felt that way.   Things got moderately better as the day progressed but I still feel a bit out of sorts.

Right  now I'm trying to decided if I want to cook the chicken that is in my fridge tonight or if I want to wait until tomorrow night.  Also, do I want to roast it or make smothered chicken which is also totally awesome. I'm not feeling terribly motivated to do either at the moment.  Heck, I'm not feeling all that motivated to write a blog post!  In fact, with the exception of a two and a half hour nap, I've spent much of today here at my computer aimlessly browsing the Internet. 

Maybe it's time to get off my butt and move a little.

EDIT:  I just did an hour of yoga followed by five minutes of meditation.  It was indeed just what I needed.  I'd say that my mood is much improved.

If you are interested the yoga video that I watched can be found HERE.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Day 3: Quiche. It's so damn easy...

Two beautiful and easy quiches!
Today I want to write about quiche.  I currently have two quiches baking in the over (they will likely be done cooking before I'm done writing this post).  I decided to make them because I had left over ham from the holidays and milk from making hot cocoa at my New Year's Eve open house.  I made two quiches because my pie crust recipe makes two crusts and well, I really like quiche!  Which leaves me asking myself why in the world do I not cook quiche more often?

My answer is pretty lame. I just don't think of it.  Which is kind of pathetic because not only is quiche delicious, but I generally always have the basic ingredients for it around.  You can put nearly anything you want into a quiche (today's quiches are ham, kale, cheddar and onion).  Plus, it keeps.  You can freeze it, reheat it, or even eat a slice cold.  And it's easy as fuck to make.

Which leads me to the question of how many other things I could be doing that are enjoyable and easy, but which I don't do because they just slip my mind?  I'd say meditation is likely one.  I like how I feel after giving myself five minutes of just sitting quietly, not doing anything, letting my thoughts just float around.  Yet, how often do I actually do it?  Almost never.

I could probably also add to this list:
  • sketching just for fun
  • writing in my journal 
  • going to watch the sunset (or sunrise for that matter)
  • calling a friend for a chat
  • reading for pleasure (granted this one gets tough during the semester)
  • playing with Miss Pickles
  • taking a destination-less walk
Maybe I should write all of these down and post them somewhere so the next time I find myself feeling like I need a bit of a lift in my spirits I'll have an idea of what to do.  

Right now I'm going to have a slice of quiche!!!!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Day 2: Lost Music

Last night I had a dream in which my job was to sort and pack for storage, the notes of forgotten songs.  I worked in a small shed, with shelves that were lined with large storage bins.  There was a long workbench on one wall and only one door.  There were no windows.

Each morning I would go to the shed and unlock the door. It was always very early as I remember dew and then frost on the grass, and long low shadows form the morning sun.  I'd step inside and I would wait.  Soon after I'd hear the crunch of gravel beneath the tires of the delivery man's truck.  I'd hear him open his door and step out of the truck onto the driveway followed by the sound of the delivery van door sliding open.  His footsteps would approach and then I'd see him silhouetted against the sun as he stepped into the doorway.  We'd exchange pleasantries, I'd sign for the delivery and he'd hand me one plain white number 10 envelope.

I'd wait until he'd gone before opening the envelope.  As soon as I did music would being to pour out of it.  One song at a time I'd hear the last time a piece of music had been played, or sung.  Sometimes it was entire orchestras playing complex symphonies but more often then not it was a single voice humming absentmindedly.  I wondered if the owners of the humming voices ever knew that that they were sharing this song for the very last time.

As each note sounded out into the air it would solidify into a tiny colored bead and fall into my open palm; a forever frozen musical vibration.  One by one I packed them away into tiny padded boxes, like those that expensive jewelry come in.  Each box uniformly gray, and once closed, utterly unremarkable.  They were packed by the hundreds into large plastic bins.  Note after note, song after song.

At the end of the day, when the last song had sounded, I'd write the date on the outside of the envelope and file it away in a cabinet full of thousands of other envelopes.   I'd turn off the single light in the shed, padlock the door and go back into the house to make dinner. 

I didn't know what became of the notes after I packed them away.   I knew I was not the only person doing this.  There were many of us around the world who did this day after day.  Even so, I knew that the shed was not large enough to possibly hold all of the forgotten songs I'd stashed away over the years.  There was some mysterious process that I never witnessed in which they were carried away to their final destination.  I imagined some immense Indiana Jones type gigantic warehouse with sky high shelves full of stacked bins filled with an infinite number of little gray boxes, each holding a tiny gleaming and silent note.   

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Day 1: Happy and Brave New Year

NaBloPoMo January 2015
Today's blog prompt is:

What are your resolutions for the new year?  Tell us how you picked them.

I really only have one thing I resolve to do this year and that is to be brave.  Like most of people, I have have many fears.  I am sure that my fears are likely pretty normal; fear of failure, embarrassment, loss, not being good enough, not being loved, etc.  If I were to list each of my fears and if I were to pick the one that I struggle with the most, I would pick uncertainty.

I have worked to overcome many of my fears and I do many things in spite of them. Public speaking for example, still puts knots in my stomach but I have learned to stand in front of crowds to speak anyway and  to do it well.  Uncertainty however can still stop me in my tracks.  It was only a few days ago that I wrote about wanting to become comfortable living with uncertainty, but I want to to more than just live with it.  I want to be able, as I do with public speaking, to do things despite the outcome being uncertain. 

I suppose in someways I already do this.  None of us know for sure how any day of our lives will turn out which makes getting out of bed every morning an exercise in facing uncertainty.  In my earlier post on uncertainty I referenced my upcoming Semester at Sea opportunity and changes in the direction of my creative path.  Each of these things excite and terrify me. 

The prospect of seeing the world, meeting new people and exploring new realms of study thrills me, but stepping completely out of my life for three months, the uncertainty of what things will be like when I come back...what I'll be like when I come back, fills me with anxiety.   I know that art is something that evolves.  I am combining music and sound into my performances in ways I've never done before.  I love the creative lift this gives me, but sharing it, wondering if it will be accepted or if I will even be able to bring the ideas to life in the ways I'd like are worrisome.

I want to be strong enough, brave enough, to do both of these and to do whatever other opportunities may come up in the future.  I don't want to give in to the fear and worry about all of the possible unknown outcomes as I have in the past. 

So here it is, all official and in writing for everyone to see:

One this day, January 1, 2015, I resolve that this year I will learn to be brave. 

Day 31: Happy New Year

Welcome to 2015.  

I will write a longer post in the morning.  For now I wish everyone the best in the year to come.

Happy New Year!!