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Finding Purpose

Hi everyone!

So much has been on my mind lately (what else is new?), and I’ve made multiple attempts to write, only to save my posts as drafts for one reason or another. (Mainly because I think they are all dumb!)

Today I finished up a course called Coretography, which was designed by Tracy Otsuka to help people develop a roadmap for their lives. Of course I already know a lot of things about myself, but I’ve always had trouble figuring out what road I want to travel down, and where exactly I want to end up.  Her course helped me narrow things down a bit. I figured out:

My top 8 core values: Creativity, love, brilliance, humor, authenticity, health, environmentalism and mindfulness.

My passions: Being creative, being authentic and self-improvement.

Combined with my top talents: Empathy, humor and intelligence.

And my skills: Writing, grammar, and teaching.

Plus a few other things… resulting in my PURPOSE: to share my own life experiences in order to help people going through similar things.

At this point I think my best way of doing that is to continue with the blog, so I had better get writing!

The most prominent life experience I am currently experiencing is watching Mom go through chemo. At first it was so scary to know that she had cancer and that the prescribed course of treatment was to pump her full of hazardous chemicals.

Watching her lose her hair, lose weight, become fatigued and worn out has not been fun. I feel pretty helpless, and as a result I worry that I am not being supportive enough. I suppose one positive aspect of the whole thing is that we have been communicating a lot more than we used to.

Her treatment is progressing nicely though. Since February she was one one chemo cocktail, and today she just started a different cocktail. I probably shouldn’t use the word cocktail because that sounds like a fun drink garnished with fruit on a plastic sword. In reality, it’s about as opposite of that as you can get. One of the drugs they gave her today is nicknamed the Red Devil. She was warned to expect nausea, among other things. Fortunately she is only getting 4 doses of that, so I am crossing fingers and toes that she can bear it and get through it as quickly as possible.

It’s so mind boggling to me that in order for a person to fight cancer, they have to take in such toxic chemicals. I suppose there is a metaphor in there somewhere, but I’m not sure what it is. She has been doing what she can with diet and supplements to help her body stay strong, and I am sure that is helping her. I even started taking one of the supplements myself (tumeric cucurmin) and I am about 90% sure it is helping my eyes, but that is a topic for another post.

I hope you, whoever you are who is reading this, is well. Thanks for reading, and please check back soon.

<3

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The Hermit Life

I haven’t felt much like writing lately. I have felt more like burrowing deep into my home and not coming out for an indeterminate amount of time.

I suppose we could blame my melancholy on the time of year, although I am hyper-aware that each successive morning and evening is a little brighter than the one before, thanks to the ever-changing rotation of the earth’s axis. Yeah that’s right, I have a science degree.

Perhaps we can blame it on my mom’s cancer, because you know I’m already milking that for all it’s worth. “Sorry, that thing you invited me to? I can’t go, because… my mom is sick.”

Meanwhile, she’s 300 miles away, so it’s not like I can do much for her from my own home. But, I did go up to visit her last week. At this point my function in visiting her is to bring tidings of comfort and joy. I brought books, magazines, games, and of course, my winning personality.

We shared a hermit-like existence for a few days, which are my favorite kind of days. Introvert life! We sat around reading and drinking tea, slowly plodding away at a puzzle, and when she took her naps, I worked on my artsy things or took the dog out for a walk. In the evenings, we’d enjoy dinner while watching a movie. It’s the lifestyle I wish I could live every day. Except for the cancer part, of course.

WInter_On_Champlain

A blue evening on Lake Champlain

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what to do next. I’ve been trying to nurture my artistic side as much as I can, and my writing, although many days it’s a challenge to come home from work and plop down in front of my laptop, or at my art table, although it pains me more when I neglect to do so.

Lately, I feel like I am frustrated so much of the time. I feel like there’s never enough time to do the things I want to do. (See above paragraph about reading, puzzling, making art and taking long walks…). I feel like there’s got to be a better way to balance my life.

Speaking of balance, one thing I have done to improve my life lately is join Weight Watchers. I lost 2.4 lbs in the first week, so that was cool. I’ll have to write more about that in another post because my eyes are ready for bed now. It looks like tomorrow will be a work-from-home day, thanks to the storm that’s coming.

So stay tuned, friends, and let’s venture into the unknown together… or, we can just hang out in the same old, predictable middle-class lifestyle…  eww, just kidding. Let’s check out the unknown.

Don’t Hate – Meditate

Hello friends!

Yes, it’s been approximately two million seconds since I posted last. I’ve been spending a lot of time with myself.

It started when I got sick after conference, and was lying around recovering and thinking. I realized that I’d been spending less and less time on self-care, and it had been wearing me down and making me a miserable brat. So I resolved to return to doing things to help me feel better and be healthier. Here are a few of them:

Mindfulness Meditation

The first thing I knew I had to do was get back to meditating every day.

For the last 21 days, I’ve been using the Headspace app – and I really like it. It was created by Andy Puddicombe, and I  actually found it and used it briefly a few years ago when I read his book,  Get Some Headspace: 10 Minutes Can Make All the Difference 

Perhaps I was impressed by the fact that he actually trained to be a Buddhist monk, but I really felt like his intentions are to help people learn to meditate. It is a paid app, but it’s less than $100 for a year, whereas I looked into doing Transcendental Meditation and was disappointed to find that it’s like $1500. Namastay away from that one.  

Over the past several years, I’ve read a ton of books about mindfulness and meditation – mostly while flying somewhere on a plane. (Planes are perfect places to meditate!) Some of my favorites are:

Michael A. Singer’s  The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself

Dan Harris’s 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story

Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness 

Sam Harris’s Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion

Taking Sleep Seriously

Since I’ve been using a fitbit, I can see how many hours of sleep I’ve been getting each night. I’ve always known that I’m a night owl, and if left to my own devices, I could easily stay up until midnight or the wee hours of the morning. Which would be fine, if I didn’t need to get up and function the next day. My fitbit was telling me that on average, I wasn’t getting more than 6.5 hours a night.

For some people, that’s probably a decent amount of sleep, but for me, I know I need at least 8 hours to really feel refreshed. I have spoken with others who have ectodermal dysplasias and found that they too need nice, long sleeps, or else they feel sluggish, have more eye problems, and get sick easier. 

So now, I make bedtime a priority, knowing that anything that’s not life or death can just wait until the next day. I’ve also made arrangements to go in to work a little later, which gives me some more time to sleep in the mornings, and also gives me more time for my next life-improving activity:

Getting my walk on!

I truly love taking walks at the beginning and end of the day. Morning walks are nice, because everything and everyone is just waking up. It’s quiet and calm, and you’ll see wildlife – deer, rabbits, tons of birds, squirrels and chipmunks, turkeys – and even the occasional skunk.

I like evening walks even more, because the light after the sun sets turns everything into a Monet painting.  All of the colors and shapes soften and blur – it’s very calming. Plus, I like looking in people’s windows when their lights are on. (Just in passing – not in a creepy way!)

For a while a tried running, but I felt like poop half the time, and I decided that since I don’t actually need to lose weight, and have no plans to run a marathon, I should quit suffering and just go back to walking.

Eating like I give a damn

I have a bumper sticker on my car that says “Eat like you give a damn”.  I’ve always meant for it to remind people to think of where their food comes from, and that you should give a damn about it and not eat crap, and not support factory farms and not eat animal products. Yet, I tend to get lazy about the vegetarian food I eat… I will eat salads for lunch every day for a week, but not really pay attention to whether I’m getting enough of what I need. I will eat bagels for breakfast, because they are easy to throw in the toaster and heat up – but deep down, I know they have very little nutritional value. I will eat more carbs and veggies for dinner, but again, whatever is handy for me to just throw together quickly. I love vegan chick’n and veggie burgers because they are easy to make, but I know that even though it doesn’t contain meat, it doesn’t equal healthy food.

So, I’ve resolved to make a better effort to buy healthy stuff in the first place, and take more time to prepare my meals in advance. It’s going to be the hardest thing for me because I really don’t enjoy food prep. But I have to make the commitment if I want to be healthier… otherwise, what’s going to fuel all that walking? 

The end!

Let’s see how long my resolve to do all of the above lasts. Most of it is normal daily routine stuff, but I tend to fall out of these habits and make excuses about being too busy to be able to fit them in. But that’s just foolishness. I’m going to MAKE the time, baby!

Pro tip:  Not being Facebook is a totally rad way to gain more time in a day. 

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