Charting life's circuitous path

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Looking up.

My ankles have always been my weak spot.  They were my excuse in PE to opt out of tumbling or sprinting.  I’d cling to my wobbly ankles like a lifeguard to save me from sports and to show the world that “Yes, I deserve to sit it out on the bleachers”.

Lately, though, my ankles have become stronger.  Not that I’m walking like a ballerina.  I still trip, wobble, and make a mess of things as I walk, but I can feel my core muscles tightening and lending a hand.  Rather than falling flat on the floor, I wobble, shriek for theatrics, and then right myself again.

I’ve been getting a few short runs in on sunnier days lately.  The air is crisp, but I’ve been thankful to be out under the blue sky.

As I run, my mind wanders.  I think about how much time I have before I need to head back, the route I’ll be taking, and the conversations I had the previous day.  I plan meals, vacations, and list chores.  From time to time, I look out at the road ahead and enjoy the fallen leaves, the wispy sky and the scattering squirrels.  Mostly, though, I’m running with my head bent, staring blankly at my shoes as the run passes me by with my thoughts still clinging to the future and the past.

I try to remind myself that to truly be present in the moment of the run, I need to focus on my feet.  Each step, each moment of impact grounds me to my being as it exists at that time.  What’s happening around me?  What’s the world like in that instant my worn shoe strikes pavement?

I look up.

My senses open up to the world around me.  I suck in all of the light, color and life with each deep breath as my feet touch the earth.

And then I trip.

My ankle wobbles and my core lends a helping hand to right myself.

My gaze, once again, is brought down to the ground.  And just as quickly, my mind is side-tracked.  I fret about what might have happened, or worse-case scenarios.  It’s like a wrestling match to get my mind back on track.

Being present, noticing and living the moment is incredibly hard.  As easy as it is to say and to pin snappy motivational pins about it, actually doing it runs counter to our trained minds.  We seem primed to focus on the future and past mistakes with only a cursory glance at the present.

But like my core muscles, which help straighten me when I’m about to fall, I need to build up a different set of core “muscles” to set me back gently on the present path when I “fall” too far forward or backward.

For in that small moment when I looked up and felt the world pulsing in and around me, I was truly running.

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Your True Home

10/08/12 – It is important to be mindful even when upset.  Miracles are always there, surrounding us.

(All quotes are my summative thoughts after meditating on a passage from Your True Home.)


Being present in my own life is still a struggle.

There were weeks after I read Flowers’ book where I was steady with my meditating.  I had a half hour before work where I could walk and meditate.  Since my job swap, however,  even with two extra hours, I’ve somehow found time for other things and demoted it as something “extra” to do if “I’m not busy”.

As anyone who’s ever said that to themselves knows, that meant I didn’t do it at all.

It might come as no surprise, therefore, that my sense of being was thrown off kilter thus affecting my mood.  I was beginning to obsess about past mistakes (should have I stopped teaching earlier?) and future bleakness (is this all I’ll be able to do?).  Nothing was adding up properly and even though I was in a happy place with my weight and eating habits, my “happy smile” was decidedly forced.

10/06/12 – Mindfulness gives us energy and is energy.  But by being present, we’re calm.

So, never one to be totally lost at sea without a paddle, I’m “promoting” my meditation and working on being present with a new Happiness Journal! I picked out this beautiful and cheery journal from the shelf at my local bookstore and decided then and there that I had procrastinated enough.  At the end of each day, I was going to write down something that made me smile or feel good.

I’m also beginning each morning by reading a page of Your True Home by thich nhat hanh and meditating on the passage.  I had never heard of the author before, but I had plucked the small, calm text off the shelf and was immediately drawn to the wise and soothing words.  It’s helped ground me throughout the day as I remember the passage and try to bring my attention back to the lesson being taught.  I then write down my own take on the lesson and date it.  I plan to use this book for a long time to come – a collection of thoughts that grows with me.

10/07/12 – You must cultivate your stability every moment to keep your home present.

This framing with mediation at sunrise and remembrance at sunset has also shifted my days away from just being a combination of actions and automatic reactions. I’m actively seeking ways to make my days, and hopefully my future, be more alive, present and fulfilled.

In fact, to close out this post, I want to share with you a few images of things around my home that have definitely made me smile. 🙂


Eat. Live. Be. for a Better 2011 – Meditating with Help (review)

My Update: *yawn*  A soft pillow, a cup of hot tea and a good book sounds like heaven right about now.  I’m beat and this week has really taken a lot out of me.  (Hence the late ELB post.  And the late end of the month photo roundup.  Yikes!) I’m slowly adjusting to my new schedule and it’s taking longer than I thought.

Officially, I’m part time.  I loved my new schedule because it meant one day off a week and a max of 6 hours of work a day.

I envisioned a more care-free workday where my job was just a thing I did during my “down time” (read: surf the net, blog, bake and cook time).  I’d even have loads of extra time where I waited until the hubby was done.

I even worried about having too much time on my hands and played with the idea of buying an iPad.  You know, cause I could keep blogging  busy as I waited.


The reality?

I’m still off one day. Check.

I get a 20 minute break. Check.

Loads of free time and twiddling of thumbs?  In my dreams (course, that’s if I dream…been too tired to do even that lately).

I find myself quickly munching on carrots and trying to down a dry peanut butter sandwich before getting myself back into presentable and working mode during my break.

First day I arrive? They ask me if I can stay later on Fridays to help out.  Did I agree?  Course I did.  It’s money and I’d be there anyways.  Do I regret agreeing?  Ask me when I’m awake.

I spend all the time from when I wake up to before going to work squeezing in my exercise routine and getting things done.  Turns out, all of that “down time” I had before was actually crucial in getting my day nicely spaced out and manageable.

I suppose the upside to this is the increase in pay.  🙂  Still, the days of “luxury” are all but a distant dream.  At least I like what I’m doing and it keeps me busy.  I’d rather work and make money and be happy doing it all than the reverse.

That iPad dream?  On the back burner, cold.  Now?  I’m hoping to gain access to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ site to listen to some hockey.  Apparently, they don’t block all of the net. 😉

iChallenge Week 44 Topic:  Meditating with Help (review of Five Good Minutes in Your Body)

This week, I want to continue the discussion on meditation and give you a review of a book that I’ve found helpful.

Review: Five Good Minutes in Your Body


My meditation attempts are going well.  Actually, let me rephrase that.

My meditation attempts before starting work were going well.

Now?  Not so much.  I’ve got to find the time to really squeeze in even those five minutes.  Because, honestly?  I’d rather be surfing my foodgawker or pinterest account.

Sad.  I know.

Still, during those blissful days where I can meditate, I love it.

Back in the summer when I started for the first time ever, I found it daunting and hard to do.  The most I could sit still for would be a couple of minutes.  Slowly I built up the ability to spend longer periods meditating until I could do it easily for 10 minutes.  Like with all things, it takes practice.

This book is a great way to build up that “stamina”, so to speak.  The book is comprised of four sections: Inhabiting the body, mindful movement, feeling your body’s senses and wise body.  Each section offers you a quick and easy practice that you can do either before bed or even during your normal day’s activities.

I tried a few from each section and my favorites involve meditation.  They give you something to focus on without being directive.  So, for example, one exercise had you bask in the feelings in your body parts and to thank them one at a time.  Another practice had you focus on an area that distressed you.  As you focused on that feeling or part, you directed kindness to it, like you would to a friend in need.

Each practice is easy to understand and doable.  Some of the more movement directed practices were a bit more involved (such as mindful walking or mindful group gathering).  However, the book is set up in such a way that you can pick and choose which practice you want to do at any given time.  The book is also small enough that you can slip it into a bag (although I’d love it if this book came in card format so that it became even more portable).

I really liked this book and it’s going to become part of my collection.  I highly recommend it for those that need a bit of guidance or tips for meditating.

(Disclaimer: As with all of my reviews, I wasn’t compensated or asked to do it.  It’s just me. 🙂 )