Monday, February 14, 2011

A Secret Goal

I set another goal for myself at the beginning of February - but I didn't tell anyone about it. Until now that is. I meant to blog about it but simply never got around to it. Or maybe I kind of liked having a "secret" goal. Who knows? Either way - here it is now.

I decided to write three pages a day each day in February as suggested in the book The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. She talks about writing "Morning Pages" in this book, three pages of stream of consciousness writing - pen to paper, not typing at a computer - first thing each morning. The practice or writing Morning Pages, she says,  helps with creativity.

I've always liked the idea of writing Morning Pages and have made many attempts to make them a regular practice but have never kept them up. Part of my struggle with Morning Pages has been the "morning" part. Writing first thing in the morning for me is a challenge. So, even though I know that writing these pages in the afternoon or late at night doesn't really fit the "assignment" I have decided that I don't care. My challenge has simply been to write three pages a day sometime during the day. Sounds easy, I suppose, but just like snowshoeing every day for 30 days or riding my bike for 30 Days of Biking, there are days when it's easier than others.

I'm technically on day 14 of my writing challenge. I missed a day, though. Whoops. Totally forgot to write on the first Sunday in February. Oh well. I haven't missed a day since.

At this point I have no idea if writing has helped my creativity or not. I do know that if you read my stream of consciousness journal writing you'd be bored out of your mind. But the content is not the point. It's the practice of writing. It's about creating a habit. It's about clearing the brain of whatever is in there to make room for other writing to happen.

Let's hope my brain is clear now that I've written my Morning Pages because I have a story due. So, Morning Pages and a blog entry done, it's time to get to work.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Just what I needed

I just started reading a book, Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. The book was recommended to me and I like it so far.  In case you don't already know, I have a hard time liking myself sometimes. Okay, lots of times. At this moment I'm not going to get into the "why" I struggle with with liking myself or anything like that. It's simply a statement of fact - I struggle with liking me.


I'm working on it.
And I'm making progress.


I have several close friends who know that I struggle with this liking me thing. One is my friend, writer and blogger, Joy (check out her blog - My Musical Family) And this morning Joy emailed me a link to a blog, "The Extraordinary Ordinary" written by a blogger named Heather. Joy saw her entry from yesterday, "Focus," and liked it, she said, and thought I might, too.


I wonder if she saw the Focus entry and thought of me because my Facebook status update yesterday was "focusfocusfocusfocus - it would be easier if the old dog didn't keep barking and the pup didn't keep eating socks." Yeah. It was hard to work in my home office yesterday. And I have a deadline looming over me. And focus is not my strong point to begin with. Add a deadline, crazy dogs and a house that's begging me to clean it and, oh look. Squirrel!! Yeah. Working from home is great fun some days and yesterday was one of them.


More than reminding her of my facebook status, though, I think Joy read the Focus blog and knew it would mean something to me.


Here's a snippet:
"I am sometimes out of focus and sometimes that's led me into life things that took my breath away with their bad. And sometimes I just can't get myself to change and maybe I should just know that I'm okay, just like I am and be more gentle and patient with myself."
And here's some more:
"There's not always something wrong with me, something glaringly awful to fix. Maybe I'm just me, living my story, and maybe the changes will come in their own time and even if they don't, I'm good."


Do yourself a favor and read the whole blog entry. It's short so will just take a minute. When you have more time read more of the blog. It's a good one.


There's not a whole lot more I'm going to say here. Just that I read the blog entry, I loved it, and I cried. And felt better. And less goofy. And more accepting of the times when I do feel out of focus. And more accepting of me.


Most of all, though, I felt overwhelmed that I am so lucky to have a wise friend who somehow knew, consciously or unconsciously, that  I needed to read that blog entry today.


Because it was just what I needed.
Thanks :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snowshoe Memories - 30 Days Done!

I finished off my last two days of 30 Days of Snowshoeing in a perfect setting!! My friends, Paul, Jodie and Morgan, invited me and my family up to their cabin on Lake Ossawinnamakee, near Brainerd, Minnesota, where we enjoyed a mini-break from work and school.

Though some lakes are busy with snowmobile traffic in the winter, this corner of Lake Ossie was almost snowmobile free. It was quiet up there and most of the time we felt like we had the whole lake to ourselves. We had a great time. We talked. We attempted ice fishing. We read books. We ate and talked some more. We relaxed. We had fun.

And I snowshoed.
Four times in two days!

On Saturday, Day 29 of my 30 Days of Snowshoeing, I snowshoed out to an island where I found signs of deer and places where they had bedded down. I found a rope swing and managed to swing on it a few times though I had to hold my snowshoed feet way up in the air so they wouldn't hit the ice. I'm sure I looked ridiculous but I didn't care.
Owen joined me on a second trip to the island. We followed deer paths through the snow and talked. We never once talked about work or household tasks left undone. We simply enjoyed our time together in the great outdoors.

On Sunday morning I woke before Owen and headed out on my snowshoes to "help" Paul bring in the portable ice house. Paul gave me tips on where to snowshoe in the surrounding woods so I trekked out and found deer tracks and prints of the feet of little woodland creatures. I took pictures of the trees, of the tracks, but I know they will never capture the real beauty of the woods. Nor will the pictures capture the way I felt - alone but still a part of my surroundings - or the sound that my snowshoes made while I walked through the silence and perfect snow.
Shortly before it was time to head home Rose said she wanted to snowshoe to the island with me. So we did. I showed her where the deer had been. The rope swing. We stopped to make snow angels on the lake. I helped Rose up and we walked hand in hand a bit then stopped to look at our ice fishing holes and observed our only catch of the weekend - a small clump of seaweed. We laughed as we remembered sitting out in the little ice house the night before. Of how we both were tired and decided to do synchronized ice fishing to stay awake and warm. Of how we giggled so much at our silly antics that we were sure we scared all the fish away.
All too soon it was time to head back. We needed to finish packing. To load the van. To drive the long way home and get on with our normal lives.

Can a life be normal again, though, after snowshoeing 30 days in a row? I suppose normal isn't the right word. Ordinary, perhaps? Average? It's not like snowshoeing 30 days in a row changed my life in some big way but doing it made me feel like I accomplished something big. Sticking to my goal, some of my friends tell me, helped them get out and exercise more. That makes me feel good. And maybe when a person sets a goal and keeps it life is never the same. I'm not really sure.
I do know, though, that every time I strapped on my snowshoes and got outside I felt wonderful. That I have a good memory from each of my 30 days of snowshoeing. And that my favorite memory was the few sweet moments on that 30th day when Rose and I snowshoed hand in hand.