Archive | January, 2014

Day 21: The End

17 Jan

Day 21! The last day of the challenge. I’m going to do one more post, reflecting on the experience. But here is the last day ūüôā

Three Sources of Gratitude:

  • Surprises:¬†I LOVE surprises. Not just the big ones– like a surprise birthday party (though hint hint fwends, nobody has ever thrown me a surprise b-day party!)– but the little ones. An e-mail from someone unexpected, a sunny day during a week of rain, and mail. Well today I got a package from my mom. Now I know I should have seen it coming (she asked me and my sis for our mailing address two days ago) but I didn’t. So too my delight I came home to priority mail box full of on of my most favorite Indian sweet snacks EVER! It’s so yummy that I’m not even going to say what it is lest you come banging on my door wanting some. My roomie got a piece each because for some weird reason I was feeling generous. I shan’t make that mistake twice. Surprises are the best.
  • Other People’s Patience: I’ve been working on my own patience and while I am grateful when it kicks in, the reality is that part of the reason I can be patience at times is because I remember a moment were the roles were reversed and someone was kind to me. ¬†Like when you’re driving in a new part of town and going super slow because you have no clue if the next street is the one you’re supposed to turn on and the buddy behind you doesn’t get ruffled by it. In the past year especially both strangers and loved ones have put up with my blumbering fool of self. So thank you all for your kind patience (at least to my face!). FYI
  • Votes of Confidence:¬†I am extremely, extremely extremely, extremely grateful to every single person who read even one of my blogs kind of, half-way through. Some of you, for unknown reasons, chose to read multiple blogs AND THEN even message me saying how much you enjoyed it! I’m honored enough to tuck my mild skepticism deep into the closet and just smile in gratitude. I was very shocked and pleased when I started to receive kind words and even inspire a few people to do their own 21 Days of Compassion. The messages really helped keep me going on those sleepy days when I just wanted to be lazy! So thanks for the votes of confidence peeps.

Meditation AND Exercise:¬†I tried something different today– Kundalini Yoga. It was part exercise and part meditation, with a focus on awareness and healing. And i have to say I did feel very calm and present almost the entire time were were there. The “instructor” was more of a guru-like figure and was so very joyful. And what point he told us to shake out our hips and then proceeded to tell us a story about watching a YouTube video on meditation by shaking. That’s it, just shake your body. So he encouraged us all to be silly and just shake. It works; you can’t be upset or thinking about anything but the moment when you’re shaking like a little weirdo. ¬†I want to keep going, maybe once a week, as a way to recenter myself and also continuing to work myself into more structured, focused forms of meditation.

One Positive Experience: Today a co-worker sent me the nicest message! I’m going to relay it for you, Mad Libs style.

Super nice co-workers says: Me and [insert your best friend’s name] told [insert very important alive human’s name]¬†how awesome you were to work with this [insert word or phrase for the end of the word].¬†[insert capitalized gendered pronoun of very important alive human’s name] said¬†¬†[repeat gendered pronoun of very important alive human’s name] ¬†knows you’re awesome.

For revised rendition of the complement: “Me and Irene told President Obama how awesome you were to work with this Zombie Apocolypse. He said he knows you’re awesome.”

Conscious Act of Kindness:¬†Mrs. B was my elementary school Librarian. From 2nd through 5th grade, my sis and I would volunteer at the school library once a week. It was the best. I still remember learning the Dewey Decimal to file books away, climbing up into the reading loft to striaghten out the pillows, and my favorite was when I’d graduated enough to be able to use the letter presses and make signs and wall decor for upcomming library events. As a kid I remember the library was this giant vast land of aisles and aisles of books. There were tables to read at, a stage for story time, and even a rocking chair. I have some of the most vivid memories in that library. I loved Tuesdays and hanging with Mrs. B. She was so kind, every Christmas giving us the most wonderful goody bags full of treats. I have yet to track down her contact info, but once I do there is a lovely letter waiting.

Day 20: Unfinished Business

17 Jan

Three Sources of Gratitude AND Exercise:

  • The Moon: I like the moon because I always forget about it. It’s not like the sun, which takes over the sky. The moon is more subtle; gently illuminating¬† but often hidden from sight due to clouds or birds or air-o-planes. But every time I do lay eyes on it, I’m struck by its beauty and mysticism. The moon gets me thinking about the nether and the great big universe out there. It makes me feel small, in a humble comforting way.
  • Unfinished Business: Today I went climbing for the first time and I think I’m hooked! It was so much fun, both harder and less stressful than I imagined. Things I love: (a) you have to let go of your fear, (b) the course is designed to force you to stretch yourself when you feel like you can’t do it (I have a mindset where I like to feel prepared for success going into a situation which holds me back sometimes), (c) you get used to falling, (d) you can climb with people of all skill sets– unlike many other sports a novice never has to fear that they’re holding back an expert, (e) it’s more than the physical, it’s also a puzzle, and (d) there is always unfinished business. Mine was a yellow course that I just, despite multiple attempts, wasn’t able to conquer….THIS time. But oh I shall be back and it’s going to be glorious!
  • Flexibility: I have a lot of flexibility in my schedule to move things around, arrive late or early to work, and accommodate for the general happenings of life. I love this; I’m fortunate to have this. It is was allows me to stay sane and balanced.

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One Positive Experience:¬†My coworker’s corgi was especially cute today. Full of energy, sticking her tongue out, running away like a rug-rat. Really helped bring some joy to your heart.

Meditation/Reflection:¬†I don’t want to go to much at lengths but I have some big decisions to make and my friend E really helped me think through my thoughts. Sometimes you’re uncomfortable with an idea and can’t really pinpoint why exactly but I think, in the next few weeks, more clarity will come. Just talked it out with a good listener already has made my jumbled up head slightly more organized. I also ended the day by reading some of the Bhagavd-Gita in bed. And this excerpt stuck out

Arming himself with discipline,
seeing everything with an equal eye,he sees the self in all creatures
and all creatures in the self.

He who sees me everywhere
and sees everything in me
will not be lost to me,
and I will not be lost to him.

Conscious Act of Kindness: S was my first real friend when I moved out to this corner of the country. She was kind and open when I most needed it. I owe a lot of my current happiness to the generosity she showed 2.25 years ago.

Day 17 & 18 & 19: A Sentence(ish) Each

15 Jan

I’m a little behind in my blogging. I was out of town over the weekend and while I was checking off my tasks, I wasn’t blogging about them primarily because I knew that as important as this project is for me, I only had 2 days with my partner and I needed to prioritize that quality time. But I’m getting back on the bandwagon now, only considering how much content there is, I’m going to try and write only one sentence(ish) to capture each of the different items!

Day 17:

Three Sources of Gratitude:

  • Being American:¬†Originally I intended to dedicate an entire blog just to to this topic, but, in the name of brevity, I have instead a story from my book, which highlights not the usual reasons being American is generally great (standard of living, access to opportunities, long lifespan etc) but the privilege of being American: in the global spectrum, Americans (even as individuals) often have more weight, more power, are taken more seriously.

Dr. Kayode explained that Ramatou probably had eclampsia, a pregnancy complication that kills about fifty thousand women a year in the developing world. So she needed a cesarean section; one the baby was out, the convulsions would end as well. Ramatou was a mother of six, thirty-seven years old, and her life was ebbing away in the little hospital waiting room…

The Zinder clinic, it turned out, was part of a pilot program in Niger arranged by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and AMDD to fight maternal mortality. As a result, all the materials needed for a C-section were kept in sealed plastic bags and available if the family paid $42. That was a great improvement over the previous approach of having the families run all over town, spending far more to buy bandages here, guaze there, scalpels somewhere else. But what if Ramatou’s family didn’t have $42?

In that case, she would probably die. “If the family says they have no money, then you have a problem,” Dr. Kayode acknowledged. “Sometimes you help, with the expectation that you will be paid back. At the beginning, I helped a lot, but then afterward people didn’t pay me back.” He shruged, and aded: “It depends on the mood. If the staff feel they can’t pay out again, then you just wait and watch. And sometimes she dies.” Still the hopspital staff didn’t want Ramatou to die with us watching. The nurse wheeled her into the operating room…

Excerpt From Half The Sky

  • Women’s Organizations: There are a slew of organizations listed in Half the Sky all doing incredible work to help some of the worlds more marginalized and disenfranchised souls.
  • The Appreciation for Art: Investing in art is often controversial, but to me the biggest argument is for the creator. Creating art is a healthy form of expression (my art is my writing but for other’s is maybe more abstract, more tactile, more visual). I’m grateful art exists, and even more grateful that people (like those who have read my blog) are around to appreciate and thereby reinforce its existence.

Exercise: My friend L and I caught up and lifted our spirits by attending a very warm Vinyasa Flow class followed by a trek for smoothies!

One Positive Experience:¬†Walking down Broadway we asked a man for directions, and while he didn’t know where the smoothie shop we were looking for was located, he did stop and chat and even gave us some free samples of Sabon Soap, some of the sweetest smelling bath products I’ve ever come across! Ingredient list included gum drops, bubbles, and fairy dust.

Meditation/Reflection:¬†How do you tell the difference between the lack of interest and the fear of failure? I haven’t settled on the answer yet…

Conscious Act of Kindness: The most important things to know about S: she looks at the world differently, she is passionate about human injustices, and she is brave enough to do something about it.

Day 18:

Three Sources of Gratitude:

  • “Small Word” Moments:¬†I like expanding my bubbles, but sometimes it’s nice to know that all the bubbles in the world aren’t as expansive as you think they are.
  • Meeting your Friend’s Friends: It’s nice meeting people you’ve heard a lot about but never met, and then you see your mutual friend in their company, relaxed and pleased: sheds a new light on an old friendship.
  • A Sense of History: It’s a little bit meta but what if our sense of history, our relationship with time was so short that we didn’t recall anything beyond our individual lifespan? Or what if it was even less than that? I think history helps with perspective, and happiness (as this project explores) is very much about perspective.

Exercise: Yoga with a first-timer, twas special.

One Positive Experience: Cuddles and laughter and watching West Wing with your partner. One day I might get used to these things and fail to appreciate them, but at this point in time, they are rare gifts. So I try to focus on how special the moments become instead of how infrequently they come by.

Meditation/Reflection:¬†At the end of my yoga class I tried to practice stillness for just a few minutes— it was hard, I didn’t do a good job, but I’ll try again next class.

Conscious Act of Kindness: I met some new friends today (friends of friends actually) and had such a wonderful time. So I just sent a little note saying exactly that!

Day 19:

Three Sources of Gratitude:

  • Rest:¬†I take rest for granted by not appreciating how important it is to my focus, my health, and my happiness; so for the rest of the week I’m going to reverse that (go to bed earlier
  • Feeling Dumb:¬†To be frank, I hate the feeling of being dumb. BUT I’m trying to reframe this word…the moments where you feel the lowest, especially dumb, are also the greatest opportunity to rise up and show some grit. Recover, pummel through anyway, just keep going. Let’s see if the reframing works!
  • Hands:¬†Inspired by Kodi Azari’s The Perfect Human Hand from The Moth radio

Exercise:¬†Confession! I didn’t actually exercise today! A friend was feeling down so I skipped the gym and cooked us dinner instead and then fell asleep before doing nightcap yoga. My first “non-travel” day of missing exercise. I’m pretty bummed and am brainstorming what to do to compensate….

One Positive Experience: Ran into a friend on the bus! Blissful little moments.

Meditation/Reflection:¬†I always though if you really wanted something it would crystal clear sans doubt, but I’m learning to accept that it’s not so; the forces of inertia and the sub-conscious can still tug at you (your ropes).

Conscious Act of Kindness:¬†A has been a good friend to me for years– loyal, honest, and generous. Recently we’ve not been talking as much, which is all the more reason to send a little reminder note.

And In Conclusion:

I fail about being concise.

Day 16: Splinter Moments

9 Jan

 Three Sources of Gratitude:

  • Birthdays!¬†Today is my Pop’s birthday. Don’t tell anyone but the old foggy is 60 year’s old! Apparently his co-workers think he’s in his late 40s. Considering that my sister is a doctor, they must think he got married straight out of high school or something. But I digress…birthdays are awesome. Birthdays are awesome because they are completely arbitrary reasons for you and everyone in your life to explicity love yourself. On my birthday I feel like a King! I can do no wrong. Actually I listened to this fabulous Ted Talk by Alain de Botton entitled Atheism 2.0, where he highlights some of the best parts of religion, one of which is a calendar. Sometimes, we need reminders to appreciate the small things, to look at the moon, to cherish our family, to simply celebrate. Birthdays are that reminder (just in case we’ve forgotten) that our life is a precious and remarkable gift, worth celebrating. Our story thus far is worth celebrating. Hence in my book a birthday is always something worth rallying, whether the birthday friend is new or old.
  • Friends You Can Learn From:¬†I love learning something new from friends. Especially old friends, whom you assume you’ve already tapped out; they always surprise you! For example, my friend E has been on the job hunt and has started blogging a mini Job Search Guide¬†to share her learnings and advice. I found it so accessible and full of little tricks that could probably help anyone whose just trying to network better . I highly recommend the read. I also am reminded of my friend J who shared with me this community project he’s working on, stemming from his interest in the Suzuki Physical Theater, which I believe has been created by Japanese theater director Tadashi Suziki. J showed me the below video which I found very interesting. I still don’t know a lot about this form of physical theater but at least I know it exists and maybe one day will get the chance to try it out myself! So many fun things in the world.
  • Access to Transportation:¬†Most days I bus to work. On nice days I bike. And on days when I’m running late I drive. I’ve got options. All of these options enable to get from Point A to Point B in an efficient manner. But this isn’t true for everyone. In fact, even after adding this to my list of gratitude I still made an ignorant comment forgetting this simple fact. It was a splinter moment. A splinter moment is what I call those tiny little actions you take, small decisions, that bring on sharp pains of shame. Last year I was biking and there was an overly aggressive driver being very rude and I flicked him off as I turned on my street. A small burst of anger just swelled up inside me and I made a poor decision. I immediately regretted it. I felt like I represented bikers poorly, I represented my charity organization, whose jersey I was wearing, poorly. I mean what if there was a child in the car and they saw? I still recall this moment and the pangs of shame keep me in line. No matter how far I’ve come, and how hard I’ve worked, there is still further to go. Today’s splinter moment was me laughing over a co-worker’s choice to live in the burbs (he truly does live in the burbs- that’s not the splinter moment!). When I found out where he was moving, I recounted how I’d been chatting with a girl at the checkout counter in Target when I’d first moved here. It was quite apparent I had moved (nobody buys that much kitchen gear in one go) and I mentioned which neighborhood I was living in. She seemed confused and so I used some key landmarks to describe where it’s located. Realizing that I lived in the city, she responded that she’d never been to the city before. I was shocked! I retold that story today to describe how people in the burbs stay in the burbs but almost immediately afterwards I realized I was looking at the world from my perspective of privilege. In my bubble if you don’t go somewhere it’s because you don’t want to. But in the reality many people don’t have access. That 16 year old girl may come from a family that doesn’t have a lot of time or extra income to be taking their car (if they have one) in and out of the city. In jokingly accusing her of living in a bubble, I actually pointed out my own bubble. In this bubble I have easy access to transportation, which I must do a better job appreciating. I’m curious what other people’s splinter moments might be. If you’d like to share please do!

Meditation/Reflection:¬†My friend sent me this post on 3 Minute Meditations. I’d like to test them over the next five days. So for today I chose “The Full Body Scan.” It wasn’t what I expected. I actually got a little claustrophobic feeling when I did it. I think being congested and tired didn’t help. Or perhaps it’s like when you go to a new yoga class for the first time and you feel awful at first. So maybe I just need practice?

One Positive Experience:¬†Up until now most of my positive experiences have involved sometime of interaction with a person. But one of the best things I did today, for myself, was to spend time cleaning up my room. I did my laundry, washed my sheets, vacuumed and tidied. It felt great! I don’t always prioritize keeping a clean space but I do love that sensation of coming home to just a war, clutter free room. I’m glad I knocked it out today.

Random Act of Kindness:¬†I have a relatively new friend J (actually a friend of a friend) who I had some wonderful conversation with last weekend. And I’m going to tell him so. That’s all ūüôā

Exercise: My roommate’s friend finished yoga teacher training last month and sent her a really nice pre-bed yoga series. In her words they’ll help relax your muscles, lower your heartbeat and stimulate your digestive system. I think it’s exactly what the doctor ordered!

Day 15: An Unexpected Turn of Events

9 Jan

Day 15 already- what?? I can’t believe there are less than 6 days left! Okay that’s enough patting myself on the back…

 Three Sources of Gratitude AND Meditation/Reflection:

  • This Blog:¬†I don’t mean my blog! I mean¬†For Sarah, For All of Us¬†by Kelsey from the blog Happyyolks. My friend sent this to me and I fell in love! I think my most favorite quote is:¬†“You must. Remember too, though, that you don‚Äôt need to fling yourself across the globe to shift your perspective. A new place doesn‚Äôt change your life. You change your life. You will, at every moment of the next year, have the extraordinary gift of choice to redirect your sails.” I love when Kelsey describes how she came to the decision of “taking the responsibility, FINALLY holding herself accountable, and deciding that she wanted things to be different in her life.” And it she who gave herself that. It came from inside. This definition of adulthood– taking responsibility, holding ourselves accountable for our own future is not a way of dismissing the impacts of our environment and what we’ve been given. Rather it means that on top of what life has given you there is hard work and responsibility. It’s bearably heavy. These 21 Days of Compassion are my way of acknowledging and committing to my duty.
  • Turning Ideas on Their Head:¬†My Unc and I were talking about life stuff when he gave me a piece of advice, “Figure out what makes you angry.” I interpreted his words to mean that I needed anger-management therapy. So I asked,¬† “Why?” His response totally caught me off-guard: “Because anger is what’s going to fuel you to work harder and give more than you ever expected.” It’s not very Zen advice, but there is a funny logic to it. Rather than viewing all forms of anger as bad, take those issues that most anger you (human slavery, recidivism rates , illiteracy, wealth inequity) and channel that anger into your career, your life’s purpose. Anger and fear are not bad things (as I’ve been treating them to be), I just need to let them make me strong.
  • Fear & Anger:¬†On that note I think I should take the time to acknowledge and be grateful for my fear and anger. I often demonize these qualities in me as being signs of immaturity and impulse. Instead I should think of them as an opportunity. Brother David Steindl-Rast did a wonderful Ted Talk entitled “Want to Be Happy? Be Grateful.” I first listened to it last week and then re-watched it a few days ago. After I started this 21 Days of Compassion project, I found myself wondering, what in fact¬†is¬†gratitude? I feared that my list of gratitudes was indistinguishable from a list “awesome things” or “things I appreciate.” And my gut tells me there is a difference. Steindl-Rast says that gratitude is when (1) something is given to us freely (not bought, earned but a real gift) and (2) it’s valuable to us. He further suggests that there are both¬†grateful experiences, which we all have, but the truly happy are those who practice¬†grateful living. Grateful living is when live as if each moment is a gift, and the way to practice this is by viewing each moment as an opportunity. Some experiences are terrible full of pain and suffering. We don’t have to be grateful for those experiences but we can be grateful for the opportunity encompassed in it. At least this is how I’ve interpreted the Steindl-Rast’s words. And it’s worked! When getting upsetting at others or berating my own self for not working hard enough, I think “OPPORTUNITY! What is the opportunity in this moment?” and my mind shifts from the pain or the feeling of misery to problem-solving mode. All this is to say that my anger and fear encompass some wild opportunities, for which I’m grateful.

One Positive Experience:¬†I made a new friend today! I went to a coffee shop to wait for my friend and the gentleman next to me asked if I’d watch his computer while he went to the restroom. I said of course and proceeded to eagerly read¬†Half The Sky. He got back and struck up a conversation, and I, remembering my new year’s resolution to talk to strangers more, struck back! My new friend is getting his masters in South Asian Studies and was on his way to teach a class at a local church. I’m very excited to attend his next class but couldn’t at the time because I was heading to yoga. I’m super glad he said hello. Yay for making new friends! Yay for expanding bubbles! That’s already two new friends since I started my 21 Days of Compassion! Okay enough exclamation marks.

Exercise:¬†Yoga Class followed by a meal of Rava Dosa all with my friend E. Best combination ever. But man was the yoga class hard. It’s been over a month since my last class. I thought to myself “I’ve been exercising regularly for the past two weeks, why is this so hard?” But then I caught myself, “Not all forms of activity are equal. You can be an overall active person and still find certain workouts or exercises difficult.” Phew, for a moment I was thinking that I was a major failure and the past 14 days had all been for naught! Self-beratement avoided!

Intentional Act of Kindness:¬†I’ve decided I need to start calling my e-mails what they really are, intentional (not random) acts of kindness. And my e-mail goes, for the first time, to an unknown entity: Kelsey the author of the wonderful blog.

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Day 14: Rocky Rollercoaster

8 Jan

Working on the 21 days of gratitude has been significantly harder since going back to work. Yesterday, for example, I managed to check all the boxes but failed to blog about. Likewise, I’m finding it hard to really cover my full day because I don’t feel as comfortable discussing the tribulations and triumphs at work. I don’t think I can blog honestly by excluding 10 hours of my day, but I’m still toying with the format itself…

Three Sources of Gratitude:

  • Those moments you’re dreading doing a task because it’s been a while ad you don’t rmeember exactly what you’re trying to do ONLY then you realize that you took kick ass notes and everything is already organized- basically I love when I actually use foresight/am not lazy and it does pay off later:¬†I think the title covered it all…
  • Happy Hours (i.e. excuses to leave work & go see your friends):¬†I could focus on the fact that it’s terrible I feel that I need an excuse to leave work. OR I could be excited that there are just so many worthy excuses such as happy hours. My friend J set this one up today and it was just lovely to see everyone and laugh about silly things (like my friend’s tea tasting story which I didn’t understand at all and had to ask 50 follow-up questions to) or my other friend’s ¬†awkward encounters with a massage giving co-workers. Twas happy times.
  • The Word Endearing: I don’t think I ever use this word. I’m quite sure I never use this word, but my friend J does and it always makes me giggle a little. There is something a little bit old, a little bit hokey, and little bit sweet about the word endearing. I immediately think of grandmas and apple pies. More than this word itself, I like words that throw you off guard, in a good way. That “Someone still uses this word?” Moment when the chap you’re talking to busts out with a “doohickey” in the middle of his sentence. (This might also be a good time to mention that I’ve really glad for spell check

Exercise AND Meditation/Reflection: I went for a one hour walk today. I realized I needed a way to exercise but not get stuck in my head. So I walked and called my friend E. I had had a semi discouraging day at work today. Without going into the details, I’m continuing to question my current trajectory. Is it really the one for me? Does it embody my identity, interests, and values? I am learning. I am being pushed. And the work is interesting. It kind of feels like when you’ve dawned on a new dress in the fitting room and it fits great, hides your lumpy parts, doesn’t make you seem squatter than you are, but still something isn’t right…so you discard the article of clothing and chalk it up to one of those vague excuses: “just not your style” or “but I wouldn’t never wear it” or “it’s just not me.” ¬†Well while I can afford to be arbitrary in what I wear, vagueries are not nearly as palatable when contemplating larger life decisions. But E got me thinking more positive. She encouraged me to not make the problem so big and contemplated. I can make some changes without changing everything. I have always been more comfortable with the slow and steady route.

One Positive Experience:¬†Today I asked for help. I e-mailed a trusted adviser about the swarm of nagging thoughts in my head to see some feedback. And likewise today a friend sent an e-mail to me, seeking some solace, in his way also asking for some help. I like that circle. I love being part of a network of dependencies. I don’t know if there are any analogies that correctly exemplify how this type of network of dependencies actually makes you more, not less, robust as an individual. Maybe like a woven tapestry, each thread is making you stronger? Oh that was bad. I’ll stop now.

Random Act of Kindness:¬†Half The Sky¬†has got me thinking global. But I also realized I don’t have that strong relations to people who live or work abroad besides my family. It would be interesting to cultivate a more diverse international network (future project). In the meantime, I’m going to send a note to my host family from when I studied abroad in Iceland. It was a beautiful summer, one of the most adventurous things I had done up until that point.¬†¬†And my host family was kind and generous. I still have some small gifts that two little kids made for me and my study abroad companion. Having the experience to travel and live abroad for months at time has been pivotal in how my ideas have been shaped. I want to thank those who helped make the experience happen.

Day 13: Back to Basics

7 Jan

Oh soooo tired. I can’t any frills to tonight’s post. But the essentials are there.

Note: I actually typed the above sentence like that and didn’t even catch! I’m going to leave it as a testament to just how tired I was when I wrote this blog and to remind myself if I want to sound articulate I can’t write when I’m semi-conscious.

Three Sources of Gratitude:

  • Good Health:¬†I read recently in my book that health is one of those things that we only appreciate when we don’t have it or things are going badly. As I’ve been working on this challenge, some of my objectives have more clearly formulated. One is to appreciate the day more; live more in the moment and use this gratitude to feel more light, positive, and joyful. Another goal is to not have regrets. If I were to pass early, I want to make sure that my friends and family know how much I loved them. I want to feel that I’ve put the effort to mend and grow those relationships which are weaker or have suffered. And as part of not having regrets, I want to express my appreciation for life. Having good health, being able to go for a jog or play racquetball or do a dance class, is at its core a respect for life. Life might not have innate value, but it does hold possibility– for joy, laughter, wonder, achievement, love, and even sorrow and sadness. ¬†These possibilities are all the more plentiful when coupled with good health. So today I am going to try and remind myself of that when I walk and move and sit and stand, how mobility itself is a gift.
  • Warmth: It’s cold! I woke up today in the dark and didn’t want to get out of bed because of how cold it was. But when I did eventually scurry out, I turned the heater on in my room and then jumped into the shower where I took a hot shower. By the time I was done, my room was nice and toasty for me to change clothes and get ready. I surveyed my jacket collection and layered up, and then got into my car, where again, I put the heater on. And now I’m sitting at a friends house on an electric blanket typing this blog. In Chicago if you stay out for more than 5 minutes you risk getting frost bite right now. Throughout the country it is cold. And I’m fortunate to have shelter and warmth to shield me from the elements. Not everyone is, but I hope they’ve found at least some way to stay safe and warm this winter season.
  • Sunrises:¬†It was early when I left the house this morning, but on the bright side there was a beautiful, red sunrise peeping up over the mountains. I wish I’d snapped a picture but I didn’t so you’ll just have to take my word for it– it was one¬†hell of a sunrise.

Exercise:¬†I not only managed to get 45 minutes of cycling in but also get 6% through my newest book– Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women¬†by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. It is good, really good. Poignant and emotionally compelling. I can’t wait to keep reading.

One Positive Experience: Today I grabbed lunch with a couple of my friends and it was lovely. We walked to our favorite food truck and then decided to NOT eat our desks! It was a good way to start the week.

Meditation/Reflection:¬†Today was Monday Night Magic– we’re back in 2014! We caught up and talked about careers and how to stay positive. Something I have realized about myself, for example, is that personally I’m very glass half empty even though I’m quite optimistic and confident in other people: The classic great at the pep talk to others but not so great at giving them to myself. Voicing this tendency has helped me catch it in myself. I think, when interpreting other people’s words, I’m especially negative. I’ve practice saying them in my own voice as if I was saying the same words to someone I cared about. BAM! The difference is magnificent. I assume the worst when people are trying to comfort me (judgmental, nagging or false) but if I were comforting others, it’s soothing and encouraging. The common denominator is the value of the recipient of the news. My glass half empty internal perspective assumes that everything coming my way is also negative (along the lines that I don’t deserve it or good things someone say about me can’t possibly be true). This mini exercise is definitely helping me catch myself when I do it because I’m repeating the same exact words as if I were speaking to someone who I think did deserve the encouragement.

Random Act of Kindness: Today I give a shout out to my high school debate coaches. Debate defined my high school experience and shaped who I was as a person. I loved the learning, competition, and the way I pushed myself and grew because of it. And I loved the community. I still talk to so many of those guys and galsРwe were a little family that had so much fun. None of it would have been possible without my coaches guidance, spirit and commitment to this wonderful event.