Miranda’s tenth month: music

I’m happy to say that I didn’t eat any candy or cookies for 22 days in a row. And during all of these days, I did some kind of physical exercise, although on a few days it was only a walk. I have tried zumba and pilates and tai chi, and for once, I’m almost addicted to working out. It does make me cope better with the workload, and I don’t crave sugar anymore. And despite my stress, I’ve been able to read two books, meet some friends and go to two concerts. Because I prioritized what I felt was most important to me, I had the energy to do things in time anyway.

So, because of last month’s success, I’ve decided to go against my plans and choose a focus area that may not help me finish my essay faster. However, it will hopefully keep my mood up and give me some nice breaks from the long hours of studying. This month, I will focus on music.

Last week, I took part in the filming of a documentary, and they wanted a shot of me playing the guitar. First, it hit me that I hadn’t taken my guitar out of its case since my last guitar lesson in December. Secondly, I couldn’t come up with a single song to play. This made me feel really awkward, because here I am, dreaming of making albums that will change people’s lives, and I haven’t even touched my guitar for months. I figured that if I managed to squeeze in up to an hour of exercise every day, I should have time to play some guitar as well.

My first goal is to learn a quite difficult song containing lots of fast picking, which is something I really need to practice. Right now, it seems completely impossible. But if I slow it down and just gradually play it a little faster each day during the month (or at least each day I’m home, because I’m going to London tomorrow), I could make it.

My second goal is to find a new band I like every week. Sounds simple enough, but I’ve had a really difficult time finding bands with more than one or two good songs lately. I cancelled my Spotify subscription last week to save some money, and I still haven’t regretted it. I think Spotify made me lose my patience with music, because there’s too much – it’s so easy to jump to the next song. And some music needs to be listened to a few times before the greatness of it sinks in. Now I’m mostly using 8tracks, a free service where you can only skip songs a limited number of times.

I think these two goals will be enough, considering that this is the month I will (hopefully) finish my essay. It’s kind of hard for me to grasp, but soon my education will be finished. In one month and a few days, I will be free.

signatur

Leave a comment

Filed under Goals, Health, Miranda, Music, Physical exercise, Priorities, Stress

I just did it!

The focus of my April month was Just Do It!, with a hope not to procrastinate as much as usual, and dare to do somewhat scary things. On my list was, for instance, PR, phone calls, albums and my annual accounts. I’m proud to say that I’ve put quite a lot of photos in my album and that my annual accounts were finished today (one whole day before deadline!), whereas there haven’t in fact been any scary phone calls to make, and there hasn’t really been time for PR this month.

photoThe main reason for my lack of time for PR, however, is something that goes very well with the theme Just Do It! When I planned my April month I had no idea that a few weeks later I would be invited as a speaker at a TEDx event in my hometown. Having been a fan of the TED talks site for ages, this was a dream come true, and of course I had to say yes – and just do it! I’ve been giving lectures and talks for several years, but even though this was a local independent TEDx event (not the big conference of course), it felt really big to me. The fact that all talks are filmed and put on YouTube and the minuscule chance that your talk will in fact end up at the REAL TED website makes it extremely exciting to be one of the speakers – and quite scary as well. In spite of some technological problems my talk went well, I had a lot of positive reactions afterwards and the local newspaper wrote about it as well, which was great fun. The talk is being edited at the moment, and I might even dare to put it here later on… 🙂

Another challenge, a just-do-it thing I did this month without thinking about it when I decided upon the theme, was to sing in public. Together with my friend and colleague I made two presentations including talking, reading from our book and leading group discussions, and in both places we decided to finish our event by singing a song that tied in very well with what we had been talking about – time and how we use it. I also played the guitar, and even though singing and playing are things I used to do quite a lot before, it’s been about twenty years since I did it in public. And I so very much enjoyed it – and, it seems, so did our audiences. I think there will be more music in my life in the future… I’ll just do it!

Leave a comment

Filed under Challenge, Titania

Titania’s ninth month: Just do it!

In spite of the fact that I am a doer – one of those people who actually get quite  a lot of things done – and not just an initiator, I also have a tendency to postpone things that I find boring or scary. This is a type of behaviour I dislike, and this month I’ll try to avoid postponing things that are not at the top of my want-to-do list.

Here are some things that I’ll challenge myself to avoid postponing this month:

  • making unpleasant phone calls (even though I’m 44, have four kids and a PhD, I sometimes still feel quite nervous about phoning people I don’t know very well…)
  • sorting bills, documents from authorities and other paperwork
  • doing my annual accounts (I love my new life as self-employed but I hate the book-keeping part…)
  • making PR for my company (I love my new life as self-employed but I hate selling myself…)
  • putting some hundred or so photos from last year in albums (this is something I actually enjoy, but still postpone getting started with)

I may even stop postponing watching those films I wrote about the other day… 😉

Titania

Leave a comment

Filed under Challenge, Postponing

Miranda’s ninth month: Priorities

Inspired by Titania’s thoughts on time and priorities, I have decided to turn this month into an experiment. Since my life gets more and more stressful, I think it is time to start prioritizing the right things. Since I came home from Italy, I have been exercising twice a week, and I notice such a tremendous change in my energy and motivation that it would be stupid not to take time to exercise. It simply gives me so much time in return.

One thing that doesn’t give me energy, however, is sugar. This easter weekend has been crazy, with two family dinners and lots of desserts and candy. I don’t need to lose weight, but stomachaches and tiredness is something I could definitely do without. I’m curious to see how it would affect my body and mind to stay away from sweet things for a whole month. I don’t think I have managed more than a week before, but I think that this perspective will help me. Instead of viewing it as a ban, I will prioritize eating healthy because it makes me feel much better and gives me much more energy.

Finally, because of my stress I almost feel guilty when I spend half an hour reading  before I go to bed.  I haven’t touched my guitar for months, and sometimes I would like to draw or take some photos or bake bread or meet a friend, but I usually end up studying instead. This is not okay! I have to squeeze in some free time and fun activities to be able to cope with the stressful days, and I think that if I can make my days more effective by gaining more energy, I will find time for this as well.

So, my goals for April are:

1. Do some kind of physical exercise every day.

2. Eat no candy or cookies.

3. Take time to do something I really enjoy every day.

signatur

Leave a comment

Filed under Body, Challenge, Diet, Food, Goals, Health, Miranda, Physical exercise, Priorities, Productivity, Stress, Wellbeing

Culture down the drain…

Hm. I gave culture another go. I thought “This time, maybe”. But no, although I try to avoid saying that I don’t have the time to do something (I prefer to talk about priorities), even I have to admit that there are not enough hours in a day for me to do all the things I want to do. My “problem” is that there are simply too many things in life that I really enjoy, which means that no matter how much I prioritize, I cannot do it all.

Work (which is one of those things I do love nowadays…) takes time, although I don’t work full time any longer; downshifting is one of the best things I’ve ever done in order to find more space for other things I also enjoy doing. Our three children of course need time and attention. The dishwasher needs to be emptied and re-filled, clothes have to be washed, dried and sorted (ironing is one of the things I usually unprioritize…), food has to be bought and cooked, the house needs cleaning (although again this is certainly not one of our high-priority areas). And then I have managed to get regular physical exercise and meditation into my life again, ever since those areas were focus months in my Memento Vivere project.

2013-03-31 20.57.27So, I haven’t devoted more time this month to culture than I normally do. I have read one book, I’ve seen two films and I’ve done some singing and guitar playing (practicing for an event with my friend next week), but that’s it. The huge pile of movies next to my TV-set is still very much present and so is the pile of books on my bedside table. I’ll give it a try again in the summer holidays, when I have finished writing my latest book, which I usually spend time on in the evenings.

And the good thing is – again – that it doesn’t matter. When I was younger, I was easily stressed by such things as book piles. Getting older, I have become more patient. Piles of movies I haven’t seen, books and articles I haven’t read instead give me a feeling of wealth. How wonderful having so many pleasant experiences left to enjoy! The same goes for all the projects I want to do in my working-life. Being a creative person I tend to come up with new ideas all the time, but with time I have learnt to put them in a file and wait until the moment is right. I don’t have to fulfill all my dreams at once. That gives me a tremendous sense of joy, and also a reason to take care of my health in order to live a long life.

Tomorrow is April Fools’ Day and time for a new project month, focused on Just do it! I’ll be back!

Titania

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Priorities

Mindfulness in Val Gardena

IMG_4057

I was tired. It was early in the morning, and my fingers were already numb with the cold. It was even snowing inside the cable car. I glared at the other people in their ugly ski clothing, who had pushed me on their way into our car, the first one, to reach the top before anyone else. It was the third day of our ski trip in Italy, and I was irritated. By everything.

It hit me then, how wrong this was. It was supposed to be my mindful month. I was supposed to enjoy each moment. And there I was, sulking away, for no substantial reason. So, I made a simple decision. I was not going to let my stress and bad mood ruin the rest of the trip. From now on, I would enjoy it. I turned my mind away from the other people, and watched the small, perfectly formed snowflakes that fell onto my jacket. I watched them melt. And slowly, I calmed down.

By the time we reached the top, my irritation was gone. When I saw the view, I didn’t mind the other people anymore. Their pushing was justified. How could you not want to struggle a bit for this? To get the first ride down these perfectly soft, newly pisted ski slopes. That morning, I had the best skiing of my life.

When I chose to savour things instead of letting them get on my nerves, there was suddenly so much to enjoy. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the sun for a while, instead of getting irritated by the fact that I had to wait so long for my grandmother at the end of each slope. I sat back and enjoyed the beautiful British accent of the guys in the same chair lift, instead of grumbling about the cold wind in my face. I enjoyed four days of skiing with a newfound friend from the same coach journey, who suddenly started to talk to me, probably because I looked more friendly and open when I wasn’t angry. And when everyone else started to complain that the food wasn’t as good as it used to be, I kept quiet and enjoyed tasting new things.

I also noticed than when I was skiing more mindfully, I was less scared. When I was fourteen, I collided with another skier, and ever since, I have been a bit afraid. However, when I started to pay more attention to what I was doing, to the sound of the snow beneath my skis and the structure of the slope and the shapes that was formed by me and the other skiers, I had so much more control over the situation. I had time to choose my path and avoid risks, and for once, I could ski fast and without fear – even in the black slopes.

Sometimes bad things happen, things that provoke feelings that you cannot, and should not, control. But in everyday life situations, you always have a choice. You can choose where to put your energy, what to focus on and what to ignore.

In that cable car in the Alps of Italy, I chose to be happy. And suddenly I was.

signatur

Leave a comment

Filed under Attention, Fear, Feelings, Letting go, Mind, Mindfulness, Miranda, Physical exercise, Traveling, Uncategorized

Miranda’s eighth month: Mindfulness

Apart from catching a cold a few days ago, I think my wellbeing month went okay. I spent two weeks visiting my dad in France, and although I had to spend most of my time working or studying, I went for several really long walks and a 30 km bike tour. The time away from home also helped me to form some healthier sleeping habits, which has made it a lot easier to tackle everyday stress and lack of motivation.

However, I do have some problem staying positive and focused and getting things done in the pace I need to. I have so many things I have to do, and even more things I want to do, but instead of keeping me motivated, this never-ending to-do list sometimes makes me unmotivated and unable to start or finish anything. I just go numb and end up wasting my time doing absolutely nothing.

This month, my aim is to be more mindful. To focus on one thing at the time. To get things done, and enjoy the process. To meditate (which is the one goal from last month I completely failed to do). And as pretentious as it may sound, I want to find the beauty in each moment. To savour even the smallest of things.

To live, and notice it.

signatur

Leave a comment

Filed under Feelings, Goals, Meditation, Mindfulness, Miranda, Wellbeing