Posted in #RevofKindness, Blogfest Entries, Challenges and Contests, Life Writing, Mindful Monday

A Lovelier Form of Frenzy? Mindful Monday and #RevOfKindness

Note:

This post was written a week ago; I’m running each post the week following its drafting, so I can reflect on each again as I prepare it for posting.

About a week ago, I wrote about how frenzied my life can at times become, and declared my intention to attend to what I term my “Frenzy Stance” and learn some new techniques to employ before the things I’m trying to do start to feel like they’ll chew me up and swallow me whole if I’m not vigilant.

How did I do with that goal?

Well, it might help to start with a bullet summary of some moments and incidents that stood out to me:

  • I realized that the moon was nearing full (a time of both intense creativity and a distinct lack of sleep, for me; I call myself a Full Moon Creative).

  • When my Accomplice rushed me to finish his label project before I had cleared the time and mental space to focus on it, and before I had an idea of how to address the obstacles I was struggling to scale, I let him know, calmly but decisively, that my mind works best when it can simmer ideas for a bit. Once he gave me the time I needed, it was about a day and a half before I had a completed template ready for his approval. A couple of very minor fixes, and the first label was a go!

  • I am currently volunteering as a #JuNoWriMo Twitter Sprint leader. When I saw that there was a need to write pep talk introductions for the challenge newsletter, I agreed, and have been moving through the process at a pace that works for me, being honest about what would be too much to expect of me. I did the same thing when asked to host an extra hour of sprints on one of my “days off.” I set the schedule to allow me space and time not to be hosting, where I could spend that time with family or my own thoughts. On the other hand, when I realized that I’ve been scheduled for a three-hour stretch on Saturday that I didn’t sign up for, I weighed the time against the benefits, and decided that I’ll accept that shift.

  • I’ve reduced the number of things I focus on at one time. My brain is generally happiest when it has a diverse selection of goals to pursue, but, over the last few months, I’ve come to see, more and more clearly, that when I allow it to simply bounce between all of them, I dilute my efforts sometimes to the point where I feel I’m exerting a tremendous amount of energy to get nowhere. So I’ve begun choosing two main projects (this month, the #JuNoWriMo Challenge is the primary goal, along with something like labels; StoryFest participation; homeschool reporting; or the like as a secondary). Other less intensive goals round out my day, offfering progress with minimal dilution of effort, and a change of pace when needed from the main projects. Because they’re less intensive, they allow the main projects to simmer while I’m not actively pursuing them.

Those are the major things. It was a busy week, and there were other moments when I felt I was attentive to the goal in positive ways. There were also times when I was less mindful, and less successful – I snapped impatiently at my daughter, slept very little, pushed myself mentally and physically, didn’t drink as much water, journal, meditate, exercise, or do as much home and yardtending as I might have preferred for my overall well-being. Even there, though, the fact that I can recognize the lack is a sign that I am paying more attention.

It’s not a solution, or even, yet, a plan to get to the point of resolution. But as I move into my belated Week 2’s theme of Self-Compassion, I’ll be considering how to apply it to my Frenzy Stance, and see where that leads me.

Sometimes, mindfulness takes time to develop. I’m giving myself time to become mindful of the things that tend to overwhelm, the symptoms that overwhelm is on the way, and the beginning glimmers of ways to deal with those symptoms before they escalate.

Find more Mindful Monday here.

And more Kindness Challenge, Week One, right here.

How does overwhelm manifest in your life?

Do you have techniques to deal with it?

Will you share?

The suggestion you make might be exactly what someone else needs.

 

Posted in #RevofKindness, Blog Hops and Fests, Mindful Monday, slices of life, Social Consciousness

Frenzy Stance: Easing Overwhelm for Mindful Monday/ #RevOfKindness Week 2

Yes, I know. #RevOfKindness is almost over… but I was absorbed with life, these last weeks, and it was kinder to myself to set the challenge aside until I was more ready for it, and tend to what was in front of me.

Now things have settled down into a more peaceful rhythm, and I’ve come back to the challenge, because kindness always matters. I’ll be off-schedule with the challenge proper, but that might actually be a good thing. Spreading the kindness out over a few extra weeks can’t hurt, can it?

I don’t think so.

So, here we go…my Week One post, and an expansion of self-kindness through frenzied times.

Have you ever been here?

You set out to list your goals for the day as you sip your favorite morning beverage – or maybe, you’ve let that beverage get cold three times already, and you can’t even begin to imagine being able to sit down long enough to make a physical list. Yours is whirling around in loose sticky notes in your brain, as though all the things you need to do are leaves being blown around on a blustery day.

I have definitely been there.

When I saw a clip of The Big Bang Theory, I heard a phrase that seemed to sum it up perfectly.

Frenzy Stance.

Okay, so it was a game move – but it fits.

That’s exactly how I feel when I’m overwhelmed. As though I’m in Frenzy Stance. Without knowing the move, it makes me imagine being partially crouched, maybe in Bow Stance, but not steadily. My body is tense rather than relaxed, my eyes shifting from side to side as though all the things I haven’t gotten to are going to breed, grow sharp fangs, and chew me up….

Needless to say, that feeling really doesn’t help me to be kind – not to myself, and not to anyone else, either. It’s a feeling that is more likely to lead to panic, impatience, snappiness, or worse.

Frenzy Stance doesn’t make me very nice to live with – not for my family, or for me.

I mentioned in my previous post that I’m attempting to be kinder to myself, especially where overwhelm is concerned.

A big part of that kindness is considering how Frenzy Stance happens, how it becomes overwhelming, I need to know those things in order to find the best ways of relieving it, short-circuiting it before it takes me over – or, better yet, how to prevent it in the first place.

That’s something I’m going to be exploring through this week – getting up close and personal with Frenzy Stance, figuring it out – and, maybe, beginning to form some strategies to deal with it. There are some things I know calm me – tai chi, meditation, long walks, cleaning or organizing a personal space, going for a swim, hanging out with good friends, hot coffee, a hot shower, journaling, and writing.

The thing is, it can be harder to remember those techniques when I’m already stressed…

And that’s what this week is going to be about for me – coming up with enough understanding of the first inklings of Frenzy Stance’s onset to develop a strategy to defuse it before it gets a foothold on my soul….
 

Do you have a Frenzy Stance?

Have you learned how to defuse it?

How did you manage that?

Or are you like me, looking for ways to get a handle on your overwhelm before you get to Frenzy Stance?

Either way, you can share in the comments below!

This post is my Week One Self-Love Kindness Challenge entry – belated and well-intentioned. Click the icon above, or the link, to visit Week One’s reflection post, and visit other participants.

This is also part of Colleen Chesebro’s Mindful Monday. Click the icon or the link to visit more Mindful Monday posts.

Posted in #RevofKindness, Blog Hops and Fests, Mindful Monday, slices of life

Mindfully Kind: My #RevofKindness 3017 Intentions Post for Mindful Monday

Hello there!

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted a Mindful Monday post. It wasn’t exactly intentional; I was drafting a new novel in April, and there was the matter of computers and phones to swap out as upgrades were made (phones are done, but the computers still need to be wrapped up. I hope to get back to it and finish by the end of next week).

I also kicked up my fitness goals by a few notches. I was feeling as though things were getting stagnant, and my new phone has the Samsung Health app, which I’m using to more accurately gauge my active time and intensity, among other things. I’ve even started a Baby Steps to 5K program!

Today, though, we’ve kicked off a new month, and I’m embarking on two new challenges. One is Story a Day May, wherein I’ll write a new story every day (OK, actually, two, since I decided to have some fan fiction fun). I’ll be using the main challenge to explore the concept for the novel I will be drafting in July.

The second challenge is the focus of this post, and this is the second year I’ve participated in it. It’s the Kindness Challenge, created by Niki Meadows. It’s a way to be mindful of kindness – not only to others, but also to oneself.

Each week, there is a new focus:

  • Week 1 | Self-love

  • Week 2 | Self-compassion

  • Week 3 | Self-acceptance

  • Week 4 | Kindness role model

  • Week 5 |Choosing kindness

  • Week 6 |Kindness without expectation

  • Week 7 | Grateful for kindness

Now, I’m running a bit later than I wanted to, but I’m here tonight to share my intentions for this challenge: Mindful Kindness.

What do I mean by that?

I firmly believe the theme of this year’s challenge:

So I’m going to focus on being a rising tide of kindness. I will strive to be mindful, and to look for and attend to the chances to share a simple act of kindness wherever I can…and that includes kindnesses to myself.

What will that look like?
 

  • Well, today, I spent some time listening to an audiobook I’ve had in my library for a few months: The Power of Vulnerability by Brene Brown. I finished setting my May goals, and wrote my two stories for Story A Day May. I did some hometending, and took my Baby Steps to 5K walk – up to 1.44 miles (but I did better than that, at 1.67, a lot of it briskly).

  • When my daughter’s bagel finished in the toaster oven while she was playing a game, I went ahead and put the cream cheese on according to her taste, even though I’d been going to do something else, and, at almost 13, she totally could have done that herself.

  • Later, during my walk, there was a tortoiseshell cat sitting in a driveway, and she looked nervous about my being there, so I talked to her softly, so she wouldn’t feel the need to run away.

  • I also spent some time discussing aspects of my Accomplice’s business – branding and labeling are the current focuses, and giving him this time and my attention while I’ve got a lot of personal things going on myself is a kindness – to him and his dreams, to our relationship, and to our family.

 

So that’s what I’ll be focusing on for the next seven weeks…and here’s the good news:

You can join me, and the others participating in this challenge. Check out the #RevofKindness hashtag, stop by the Kindness Challenge sign up page, or get extra kind and do both!

One more kindness for today: for more Mindful Monday goodness, visit Colleen Chesebro at A Mindful Journey!

Posted in #atozchallenge, Blog Hops and Fests, Mindful Monday, Occasional Features, Parenting, poetry, Social Consciousness, Unschooling, writing

Slices of an Unschooling Life: A #Mindful Monday #atozchallenge Theme Reveal

This is a bit of a different Mindful Monday post; more of a directory than an individual essay. That’s because today is the kickoff of Blogging From A-Z April Challenge  season. The #atozchallenge is a month-long annual blog hop that focuses on the alphabet. Participants aim to post each day, excepting Sundays, on any topic that is, in any way, related to the letter of the day.

Although it’s not necessary, many people choose to use a theme. The first year I participated, I didn’t have one, and I floundered, even though I also wrote some posts I’m quite proud of.

Since then, I’ve always chosen a theme. Twice, I’ve written Star Trek fan fiction; once with original interwoven fantasy. Two years ago I explored a travel theme that took many paths, some of them completely unexpected.

I like having a theme, because it allows me to plan far ahead, and develop it over the course of 26 posts – which both gives me a framework to work within, and the freedom to go far wider and deeper.

Overall, it’s a more mindful way to approach the challenge.

So, why unschooling?

When I was considering this year’s theme last summer, there was one that kept teasing at me – something I’ve wanted to write on at length for some time, but couldn’t quite find the way that didn’t sound like I was preaching. While I believe strongly in unschooling, and know the joy and benefits it brings my family, I realize that most parents won’t want to do what we do.

So what is my point? Mostly, I just want to share some slices of a life I love. People are often curious about homeschooling in general and unschooling in specific. There’s also a lot of misconception when some people learn that we live together in partnership with our children.

This series of posts will be peeks and musings into our lives, offered freely for whatever my readers might take from it.

Each entry will begin with a poem. Partly, this is because I love words and wordplay, and I wanted to explore some new types of poetry – and April is also National Poetry Month,  which I seem to have always missed because I was doing this challenge and writing a novel for April CampNaNoWriMo

I used ShadowPoetry’s Invented Forms  for most of these posts, so all are experimental. That’s rather the nature of unschooling – experimenting and playing with ideas, and sharing them. So I’ve linked to the description and examples of every type I’ve used.

    These poems are the entry portal for the short essays that follow. They give a different perspective on the same theme.

    Each essay will be followed by question (or a few). These are meant to encourage mindful conversation and reflection. Sometimes, they’re intended as a suggestion of ways of thinking differently or making changes. Just suggestions, never rules or demands. What you do with them, if anything, is entirely up to you. I offer them freely.

     

    List of posts I’ll add the links and icon for each post as it goes live, to take the guesswork out of following along, or browsing. Clicking the post title or the icon will take you to that letter’s post.

    Week One:

    April 1: Autodidacts Artfully Acquiring Alliterative Acumen

    Week Two:

    April 3: Borders, Boundaries, and Beyond (Mindful Monday post)

    April 4: Creative Chaos

    April 5: Dabbling, Delving, and Daring Deeply

    April 6: Exuberantly Exploring Everything

    April 7: Freedom From “F’s”

    April 8: Growth, Gains, and Gaps

    Week Three:

    April 10: Hamilton, History, and Hitting the Highway (Mindful Monday post)

    April 11: Inspiration is Swift and Shy

    April 12: Jettisoning Judgment

    April 13: Kittens Kindling Knowledge

    April 14: Love, Laughter, Learning, Life

     

     April 15: Minecraft, Makeup, Music…and Security

    Week Four:

    April 17: Nocturnal Namaste (Mindful Monday post didn’t happen).

    April 18: Openness, Not “’Onarchy”

    April 19: Podcasts, Presence, and Potential

     April 20: Quietudes and Queries

     

    April 21: Reality and Relating

    April 22: Storms and Skeletons

     

    Week Five:

    April 24: Television and Trust (Mindful Monday post once again, didn’t happen…)

     

    April 25: Understanding Uniqueness Universally

     

    April 26:Variety and Verification

     

    April 27: Who What Where When Why (and How)

    • April 28: Xavier and the Xylophonists

    • April 29: You Never Know

    • April 30: Zero, Zilch, and Zestiness

    Why is this post here on Mindful Monday? Well, I’ll also be drafting a novel in April, so, to conserve a bit of time and creative energy, I’ll be sharing my B, H, N, and T posts here on Mindful Monday throughout April.

    So, come visit once, weekly, or daily…whatever you choose, I aim to have content that will inspire thought and nurture change, if you wish to make it. Until then, don’t forget to stop by the Blogging from A-Z Theme Reveal, and Colleen Cheseboro’s A Mindful Journey for more Monday mindfulness!

     

      Posted in Commentary, Mindful Monday, Occasional Features

      A Mindful Monday ReRun: “I Am, and Ever Shall Be, Your Friend”

      Greetings. On alternate weeks, I usually post a new Mindful Monday essay in this space. But I have a special post in the works for next week, to celebrate International Women’s Day. Still, I didn’t want to just post nothing this week, and today is a day with deep personal meaning, so I’m instead going to share a post I wrote on February 28, 2015.

      Today, you see, is Leonard Nimoy’s second yahrziet.  Since he was Jewish, it seems fitting to share this, as my symbolic lighting of a candle in honor of a man who changed the course of my life without even knowing it.

      I was ready to get on a plane in Portland, Oregon yesterday morning when I read this. I didn’t have time to absorb before I was embroiled in a cross-country marathon journey with my family.

      Today, there’s only one topic for me to write about…

      This is likely to be a scattered bit of writing. I’m full of thoughts and emotions that don’t translate so well into language. Oceans and tides are moving within me, swelling and ebbing. I’m simply allowing them to flow, and I’ll do the same with these words.

      I feel I’ve lost a friend today. No. It’s more than a feeling. I have lost a friend.

      Maybe we all have, even if we don’t know it.

      Let me go back a bit…
       

      To read more Mondful Monday posts, click the icon below!

      Posted in Mindful Monday, Parenting, Unschooling, Weekly Features, writing

      Building Blocks for Mindful Monday

      Some of the best experiences of mindfulness have come from my children. Because they’ve enjoyed lives of autonomy, with a great deal of freedom to choose what to do with their time, I’ve had the benefit of seeing how their skills and passions blend and change as they grow. Some things are transient, passing through our lives. Others have become part of the fabric of our lives, as constant as breath.

      For our daughter, now 12.5, building blocks have been one of these constants. She began, as most babies do, by chewing on the blocks, then crashing her brother’s towers. One of my oft-repeated consolations, back then, was, “One-year-olds will do that.” It helped him to understand that her purpose wasn’t malicious, he had done the same at her age, and she would eventually outgrow it.

      She did.

      By the time she was two, she was building structures of her own. At four, she’d added in tangram patterns, Lego, Lincoln logs, Cuisennaire (sp)? rods, as well as other materials to serve as her building blocks, like a stack of videocassettes, and, by her sixth birthday, the blocks were being used to create games.

      When we went to museums, she always wanted to explore the hands-on building opportunities. Her building play revealed an inventive mind and a natural sense of balance.

      The past few years have been rich in increasingly sophisticated virtual building, as she builds and designs her way through the endless worlds of Minecraft. She’s created mansions, stables, zoos, towns, palaces, amusement parks, and much more. She’s built friendships right along with her imagination.

      And for me, witnessing her growth, there is learning to be had here.

      I can emulate her pleasure in building, and practice her balance and ability to begin with a strong and solid foundation. I can take inspiration from her willingness to innovate, to challenge preconceived notions of lines and angles as she makes her imagination real. Like her, I can explore diverse materials and methods to make the structure stronger, more nuanced, or even surprising.

      I can scaffold my learning and experimentation on the base of what I’ve already constructed, within the framework of what’s possible, given the reality within which I live.

      I’ve found a blueprint that suits my skills, my goals, and my nature – and lets me adapt, innovate, and create in a way that builds a unique structure – one that only I can shape.

      I belong to a writing community built around A Round of Words in 80 Days, billed as “the writing challenge that knows you have a life.” Some folks come and go, more like transient interests. But there is a core group that endures, and we maintain a pattern of accountability, setting writing and sometimes life goals during four 80 day rounds each year, then account for our progress twice weekly.

      Setting my goals, and reporting on them regularly, keeps me focused and mindful. Some participants opt for simple goals, or only one.

      For me, though, the challenge works better when I set goals that match my intentions for my life. I blend short-term and long-term goals; one-time and ongoing tasks; steps that will help me to take others later; and those that are the pinnacle of years of attention and energy.

      I’ve belonged to this group for five years now, and I’ve built many structures in that time. Some, like my daughter’s first block towers, were so shaky they crashed immediately to earth. I learned, from those early failures, how to create structures that balanced creativity, time, effort and focus – and I learned to build them mindfully, developing a sequence of skills that let me climb closer and closer to the apex.

      Would I have learned these things, if I hadn’t been mindful to my daughter and her play over many years?

      Maybe. I’ll admit it’s possible.

      But, just like the Littlest Pet Shop birthday party food my daughter made from craft foam just prior to her own twelfth birthday, I don’t think it would be nearly as much fun!

      This post is linked to  Colleen Chesebro’s Mindful Monday. For an even more mindful Monday, or any day, click the icon below to visit Colleen and other participants.

      Posted in Blog Hops and Fests, Just Jot It January, Mindful Monday, Occasional Features, Parenting

      I Am Penetrable: #mindfulmonday and #JusJoJan Day 16 | shanjeniah’s Lovely Chaos

      Welcome to Day Sixteen of Just Jot It January, where the prompt is: “impenetrable,”  used any way we wish. Today, I offer you a rare peek into my journal, where I mused on impenetrability and its opposite.

      This is also a Mindful Monday post, particularly since I journal after meditating.

      As I was jotting down ideas for what I want to be impenetrable in the world/in my reality, the word broke up in my head, and I heard it as “I’m Penetrable.”

      And I am – or, at least, I’m far more so than I once was.

      The ever-present sense of impending danger I lived with, growing up in an emotionally volatile home forced me to take survival measures – and one of them was building armor over my emotional sensitivity.

      You see, every time I didn’t, my mother, father, sister, or brothers would find the open and vulnerable place, and attack it.

      My childhood was emotionally bloody, and I only survived by building an imperfectly impenetrable fortress around myself and my feelings.

      Read more of this post – Click the image!