I have started a new blog in addition to this one that has more current blog posts.  Check it out for some thoughtful reading!

http://prettycheerful.wordpress.com/

Feel free to leave a comment at either blog if something you read generates a thought you would like to share!

Hope this day finds you well.  : )

I’ve been settling into a new era of my life recently.  I’ll be turning 30 in a little over a year from now.  The actual number doesn’t bother me that much.  The transition is in what my goals are and how I see myself enjoying life.

In my early twenties, I had the strange idea that I had to run out and “conquer” something in the world.  I have no idea what I thought I needed to conquer.  It was an epic feeling of adventure, and it was really overwhelming.

These days, I typically enjoy a lot of quiet time at home with my husband and on my own.  I like to study during a semester, and I enjoy reading and knitting.  The loudest I get is when I sit at the electric piano and work on songwriting.  I am also very practical recently, and I’m reaching toward different ways of staying healthy, such as jogging and yoga.

Part of me had still not let go of the push toward constant adventure.  I thought I was unhappy when I really wasn’t, I just needed to adjust my expectations.

I’ve written quite a few pages of a story this summer.  It is an epic tale.  I’ve been disenchanted with the direction of the story, because I feel like it unleashes too much stress into the world somehow.  I really value peace, quiet, calm ways of living healthfully and enjoyably.  Approaching thirty seems quite appropriate for the era of life that I am in anyway.

The morning began with crippling aches of anxiety.  Pangs of worry and everything that cannot be planned or reassured.  I felt bent-over with my back broken, except it was “merely” lack of confidence.  Every other person in the world, my imaged version of the world, seemed to know what they were doing.  I was the exception, the person who knew nothing, no authority on anything.

Yet I was equally human.  I knew what it was like to live on planet Earth as a human being as well as anyone else.

I sat down for a soul-searching meditation session.  This time, I did not try to place the blame on anyone from the past.  This time I just wanted to get to the root of my issue myself.

I realized that I was afraid to walk on the beach because I didn’t want to disturb the grains of sand.  I didn’t want to walk across a grassy field because I didn’t want to crush any blades of grass.  This was my crippling anxiety and feeling of inaction.

It is impossible to live as a human on this planet without “causing trouble.”  I almost feel as if the environmental movement is misleading.  I almost feel as if complete nonviolent movements are misleading.  There seems to be the idea out there, or maybe just in my own mind, that there is some perfect way to get through life without disturbing or troubling anything at all.  In fact it is just the opposite.  It is impossible to do anything without offending some people and without causing some trouble and disturbance.

In my absolute quest for what I considered “peace,” I was attempting to create calm in the outside world by trying to be nonexistent myself.  I didn’t want to leave any footprints on the trampled grass, I didn’t want to stand out in any way that would cause an argument.

My confidence came roaring back.  I went outside and jogged along the sidewalks proudly.  I decided that I would play bass, electric guitar, drums.  I decided I wanted to learn how to fight from some type of martial arts.  I reaffirmed my passion for living strongly.  Shrinking from life would no longer be acceptable.

There’s a Liz Phair song about life being one big war to fight against others.  The album did not get reviewed well, but I enjoyed a lot of the catchy songs.  I think the war song is pessimistic, but sometimes it is true.  If you are not going to let people walk all over you, you might have to do a little bit of pushing and shoving yourself.  I want to release an album one day too.  Maybe it won’t get reviewed well, probably no one will listen to it, but I can’t crush my sense of self.  I must live proudly and give myself room to breathe and move as I am inspired to move.

I still have a daydream of how life “should” be.  I still want individuals to always be kind and respectful of each other, and that is what I want to spend my career working on.  But the respect that each person deserves can occasionally come into conflict with others.  Or, there can just be a pushy person that needs to be stood up to.

I’ll never be a heavenly saint.  I’ll never be the person who can float through life in some kind of sparkling, hazy atmosphere.  I think I wanted that.  I wanted “perfection.”  I didn’t want to admit to myself what life can really be like.

It’s going to be a balance.  I want to keep being a sweet and gentle person.  But at the same time, I am going to be standing strong and not letting anyone shove me around.

Feeling wonderful today!  Thanks to some cool resources that got me going this morning.  I love the website http://myinnerworld.com/ .  The vibe from that cheerful website is amazing.  I also began reading again the book The Creative License, which has inspired me to learn how to draw.  I just feel really amazing.  I’m wearing a fun outfit.  I got out the bag that I made to take with me.  I was enjoying knitting.  I just feel really lighthearted and amazing.

I do think of myself as an artist now, as in, everyone is creative and should seek out cool inspiration.  I also want to be a happy wellness advisor one day.  I feel like it’s the type of work that kind of comes naturally to me.  I’m really interested in how people can best enjoy and live their lives fully with the least amount of bad feelings.

My good day continues:  Real sushi for lunch with my hubby and a friend.  Iced coffee.  Fun trip to Sam’s Club where I got a lot done.  Music blasting in the car in an awesome way. Got home, my cool book from Amazon was here already.  Yay!

The pleasant and blissful atmosphere today is effortless and airy.  It is almost like yesterday’s bad feelings were carving out space for today to be so magnificent.

Wishing everyone out there many surprisingly happy days!  : )

It is a rainy day.  The rain pours down from the sky, making the day darkened and mysterious.  Puddles of rain water collect on the roads.  The soil of the flowers and trees is dampened.

In my own mind, I fight to be kind to myself.  Years of listening too often to toxic people in my life have turned into me beating myself up.  I imagine that I am some kind of monster.

When I look at the reality of it, I am not a monster at all, I am a good person with lots of good fortune.  My warm home shines and glimmers brightly against the rainy day outside.

I have been working on nurturing and nourishing my own soul recently.  The part of me that has been thoroughly traumatized is having trouble adapting to so much nurturing and good fortune.

I also imagine my past lurching around like a zombie, following me and grabbing at my ankles.

I will continue to enjoy quiet time at home.  I will knit good cheer into a scarf and stay warm against life’s chills.  I’ve had some good and some bad in my life.  Now that I am able, I will cultivate a sense of warmth, love, and pleasant living for myself.

As I attempt to live well these days, it is difficult for me to come to terms with how ineptly and misguidedly I have lived in the past.  I’m only 28, but I still cringe when I think of how foolish I was for the past 10 years.  Years cannot be re-done.  But the past does need to be released, like a snake slithering out of an old, dead skin that no longer does her any good.

My focus has certainly been very centered on myself and what I want, rather than going with the flow and observing what a sensible course of action might be.  I feel like since I have not been living my life fluidly and well, I keep hitting brick walls and falling with a huge thud.  I do keep getting back up and continuing, but my negative experiences have left me nervous and expecting the worst.  Expecting the worst is no way to cultivate a cheerful present and future.

I guess it may be interesting to stop thinking of my life crumbling as a failure.  Life kind of tends to break everything down eventually.  Maybe the Buddhists do have it right.  Maybe it is just a question of how you perceive the inevitable crumbling of life.

I’ve started doing a lot of Yoga for the past week or so.  It’s really nourishing.  It is also a goal I have had for quite some time now, so it feels good to finally live pleasant days in the way that I would like to.

I think new age spirituality may be right.  I’ve been fighting it:  Acceptance.  I’ve been thinking I could participate in life in entirely my own way, with no regard to how things actually are.  Surprisingly, haha, that hasn’t been working for me.  There is nothing I can do to entirely change the powerful tides of life’s ocean.  I think it’s time to accept that I am a speck in the Universe.  A compassionate, thoughtful speck who tries her best, but a small part of a huge world nonetheless.  It’s not even depressing, it’s just time to admit it.  I don’t feel insignificant, but at the same time, it feels good to relinquish my Napoleon complex.

I have calmed down now.  I’m not taking down my “practical rage” post because it has worked wonders on my psyche.  I’m feeling much stronger and braver now.  The past week or so has been incredible.  I have gone from crippling self-consciousness and timidness to feeling strong and proud of myself in each moment of each day.  It was a transformation that was a long time coming.

One of the most important things was to go from having a very vocal inner critic, to having confidence in my own decision making without any inner critic whatsoever.  Unfortunately, meeting a few toxic people over the years and also my own sense of creepy perfectionism had been taking its toll on me.

One important moment came when I noticed how much guilt I felt when looking at a nice present my husband had gotten me by surprise.  He bought me an expensive digital recorder so that I won’t forget the songs I write.  Completely thoughtful and caring of him.  Instead of feeling so good that I have a thoughtful husband who knows me well and cares about me, I felt guilt and I felt as if I did not deserve to own such a lovely recorder.

I had the unfortunate, and I believe incorrect, belief that there was something more moral about not “wasting” nice things on yourself.  I think it’s a tricky issue.  Obviously greed is bad.  But at the same time, living comfortably and enjoying yourself in life, I now know, is not bad.  For instance, Bill Gates is an over-the-top example.  I’m sure he lives a luxurious life.  But he and his wife also want to help others, so the Gates Foundation does help out around the world in huge ways.  It wouldn’t do anyone any good if Bill Gates gave away absolutely all of his money.  It’s okay to live well and enjoy your life.

I think I had this weird idea lurking in the back of my mind that if I denied myself enough pleasures and enough happiness, somewhere people in a far off corner of the world would somehow be better off.  Yeah, it is weird when I bring the idea into the light and put it in words like that.

I still think financially sound countries can do more to help countries and cultures that are really struggling.  I still want to help people when I can (which at this point means earning more degrees and hopefully being a psychologist one day).  But recently I am realizing that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.  I can’t control how other people act or how other people may choose to see me.  But I can know that I am cheerfully living my days in the way that works best for me.

The past week or so has been a pleasant surprise of delightful life transformations.  The transformations are details, but significant details that really affect my quality of life each day.

List of fun stuff recently:

–          Power Yoga success felt really good

–          Feeling much more confident recently

–          Struggling to only live in the present

–          Releasing a lot of bitterness and negativity these days

–          Going to meditate and let things be open-ended

–          Sometimes life’s glitches help you out before you even know you need the help

–          Nature does its own thing, without paying attention to how humans think things should be:  Extreme thunderstorms, power out, geese meandering across the road, holding up the cars that want to speed by.

–          Finally realizing, kind of, how people get the guts to be artistic and creative without holding back, which is awesome because I didn’t know I’d ever be able to see that

–          Wrote pages of my story for many consecutive days, which I also didn’t know would ever be possible

–          Having trouble settling down and patiently following my life’s route forward.  Keep wanting to fly off in any other direction, run away, timidly slouch from planned expectations.

–          Slowly learning to keep my harsh, bitter inner critic silent.  Which is very important, because my inner critic can be quite devastating.

–          Letting myself enjoy my own sense of stylishness, which is tons of fun and also brand new for me.

I woke up this morning feeling tired and anxious and weak.  I knew I needed to find a creative way to build up my strength.  I wanted to feel a sense of my own strength and confidence.

I decided physical activity would be the best way to feel stronger.  I thought that my feeling of strength during exercise would be a great way to feel strong in general about myself.

First, I tried a new Power Yoga dvd that I got recently.  It is a really great introduction to Power Yoga for me.  I did the first few minutes.  But I felt that I would need to work on it over a period of time and see my progress incrementally.  Strength progress is something I’m looking forward to observing, with patience.

Next, I decided to do something bold.  Although it is already late morning, I checked the weather and it was still only 77 degrees outside so far.  I knew that I would be able to tolerate that amount of heat.  So, I went on a run by myself.  Usually I run with my husband, but we have been having trouble finding the time for it every day of the week.

I took my small ipod and a spare key to the house.  I got ready and tied my running shoes.

I amazed myself by being able to run the whole route on my own.  I thought there was a chance I would get discouraged since I was by myself.  The music in the headphones did a bit to keep me company.  It also helped that my husband and I have been running off and on the past few months, so I knew that technically I would be able to run the whole route if I pushed myself to keep going.

Running is quite strenuous, so I feel very proud of myself for running our route completely.  As I walked back during my cool down, the details of nature all around me were very pleasant and nourishing to experience.  [On a side note:  I live in a safe neighborhood and went running during the middle of the day.  I would encourage everyone, especially women, to be cautious about your surroundings when running or exercising on your own.  Go out and exercise with a friend if you have any concerns about safety.]

I am also proud of myself for starting good new habits.  It can be challenging to begin a new, fresh course of action.

I do not agree with the mainstream ideas about women, fitness, and weight.  I feel like women should always feel good about themselves, and their body size and body image, and that how they feel about their bodies is none of anyone else’s business.  I don’t like the pushiness and judgmentalness of today’s mainstream culture.  If an individual is living well in their own way and not hurting anyone else, which is the case for most people I think, then there should be no opinions developed by others about who they are and how they carry themselves.  Many people are kind, but some people can be vicious and judgmental.

I think having an idea that women “should” carry themselves a certain way has been a huge hurdle for me.  As I exercise for my own reasons and for my own sake, I do so in a hearty, healthy, wholesome way that strengthens my whole being.  I have respect for my body because it is quite healthy.  Even though I may end up toning my muscles as I make gradual progress, I want physical fitness to be a positive and healthful experience on its own.  In that way, I exercise on my own terms without being obsessed with superficial body issues, such as aiming for a too-skinny size and shape.

Back to my original cheerful perspective:  I welcome the strength that comes from challenging  myself through exercise.  Perhaps there will be a release of good endorphins.  Perhaps there will be a new-found sense of strength and confidence in my mind as well.

I started reorganizing my books last night.  I wanted certain subjects to show more prominence on the visible shelves.  I wanted the placement of my many books to demonstrate something about what was going on in my head.

First I put my Buddhism and spirituality books in a box to store for a while.  Then I decided to just move them from a visible shelf to a more out-of-the-way shelf.

I think Buddhism is just a place-holder for me.  I think my interest in Buddhism and spirituality creates an open space for my curiosity and not-knowing about life.

I stayed up late, watching random musicians’ performances on youtube videos.  Everyone was very polished in their musicianship, but also very raw and brave.  No apologies were made for personality quirks.  The poetry of the lyrics and music and performance were noble and starkly shimmering with artistic yearning and fervor.

People say that creativity is one of the best aspects of life.  I think it must be true.  The elegant creativity of each person’s dignified individuality is shining and brightly beautiful.

It was so late at night at this point, my inner critic must have been asleep for the night already.  So I wrote a six page free association poem.  It was pretty nonsensical, but expressed how I was feeling at that time quite freely and refreshingly.

So Buddhism is a place-holder for my reaction to life as a muddle of weirdness.  I don’t think the organization of current Buddhist groups and spiritual groups really works for me at all.  I have to go solo in my adventure of life.  But as proper society goes, Buddhism and spirituality are my labels for that unknown, bizarre quality that life is immersed in.

Some people can just let the big life questions be.  Not me.  I would be more relaxed if I could let go and admit I will never be able to neatly compartmentalize life.  But I do love getting tossed around in life’s ocean waves and currents of mystery.  So for me spirituality becomes a sense of unknowing wonder and incredulous awe-struck pondering.

The freedom of life is so broad and wide open.  I have been too caught up in fake ideas of how polite society should be and my relationship to that polite society.  Even though we all must communicate with each other, there is a side to life that is unique and bold and not easily communicated.  My brain’s landscape shifts and twists and changes.  Only my own personal awareness has my unique perspective on life.  I’m weird, but we’re all equally weird in a really beautiful and undefinable way.

My mistake has been to attempt to categorize life.  I wanted the Natural History Museum version of life:  everything fossilized and stagnant and easy to observe and comprehend.  What I get when I observe life, as is the constant, is a sense of things that defies the word “paradox.”  Life defies the neat pages of dictionaries and encyclopedias.

Meanings and definitions shimmer like hazy heat mirages above the desert road.  The tangible and intangible intertwine and weave around each other in dizzying non-patterns.  (smile.) (sigh.)  Life is really amazing, and even though I’m lost and wandering, I’m still really enjoying my time.

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