Category: goals

New Moon Intention Setting

My girl Yasmin at Moonology has some good questions for Monday’s New Moon. This is the perfect time for review (it’s also Mercury Retrograde!) as we wind down 2017 and head into 2018.

The New Moon

Yasmin says:

The New Moon in Sagittarius [tomorrow, December 18] Is always great for working out how much FUN you plan to have in the year ahead. Sagittarius is the sign of travel and adventure, after all. However the 2017 New Moon in Sagittarius is also taking place conjunct the planet of hard work, Saturn. So it’s also a very good time of the year for any of us to have a think about where we want our careers to go in 2018.

Careers!? Eep.

Her questions

The things to consider this New Moon are:

1. Did I work hard enough to achieve my ambitions in 2017?

2. Am I willing to work harder in 2018 or do I want more time off?

3. Where do I want to be in my career this time in 12 months?

4. What are the five top things I have to do, to achieve #3?

Name one place you really want to holiday in in 2018


My Answers

1. Did I work hard enough to achieve my ambitions in 2017?

YEP. I’m traveling. My book’s almost done. I quit DC and my job there. I’ve seen a ton of the parts of the US that I wanted to. I think I’m doing pretty well 🙂

2. Am I willing to work harder in 2018, or do I want more time off?

I suppose it depends on how you define this 🙂 Technically, I have “time off” right now, and I’ve had 7 months of it. That’s rare. I will need to make income. This year, I want to get money in a way that is fulfilling, and allows me time to write!

3. Where do I want to be in my career this time in 12 months?

My first book to be published, my second book to be drafted, and my third book proposal accepted.

4. What are the five top things I have to do to achieve #3?

a) Write (b: write. c: write. d: write. e: write.)

b) Reach out to literary agents

c) Persist.

d) Keep up my health

e) Keep up good habits

5. Name one place you really want to holiday in 2018.

Japan or Spain!


No better way to get to where you need to be than the power of positive thinking! Yasmin ends with some affirmations good for any time of year:

1. ‘I know that I am blessed.’

2. ‘Life is an adventure!’

3. ‘The world is my oyster!’

Your Answers

Now, tell me: how did you do in 2017? What do you intend to cultivate in 2018?

T-Minus: Shit, it’s tax day


OK, it’s not *tax day,* but I finally dropped everything and filed my taxes. I’ve been internally prodding myself to do my taxes for, oh, two months now. It was remarkably easy, considering it involved dividends this year. 😛

The impetus was: I was sweating that I have been posting “all this stuff” online and not selling much lately (like, 1 thing per day, which I suppose is okay.) It’s just a big f’ing lift.

Then I remembered I had my tax returns left to do, which should yield a big ROI (chunk of money) for, well, not the kind of time I’ve been investing on this other stuff.


So those are submitted, I have more money coming to me, and I can breathe a sigh of relief. For tonight.

& focus on my abundance mantra: Abundance, abundance, abundance … baby!


Otherwise, today was pretty okay damn productive. Worked on my side hustle, scored for a client, talked to the fam, hit a meditation meeting. Ommm …

Got things done like taxes & looking up tire info for my parents (bday present!) & telling the meeting they’ll need a new chairperson, etc. I also emailed some friends & my former bosses to set up times to meet up. Bought more bubble wrap. Sold my record album frames. (& dealt with her wanting to return them eight hours later! Sigh.)  Got my 10,000 steps in. Texted with friends.

Funny too, bc I woke up so early, with such neck pain that I almost called out sick. I’m kind of glad I didn’t, now that I think about it.

I truly am surprised that in all of this upheaval, I’m able to be pretty chill or zen. There are certain things that will still light me up, but not really anything related to this trip. Except for money, & selling things (bc I don’t want to store them) and the push-pull of selling vs storing things.

The tax refund helps. So does the realization that my three big-ticket items aren’t really up yet (dining table, couch, bed.) I actually have to wait on those! I don’t want to totally give up creature comforts. Yet. Though the dining table could go, TBH. I just like having it, for art & space-filler. My apt really would be empty without that.

OK, let’s see if I can get more than the 6 hours of sleep I’ve been getting since the last 10 days 😛



T-Minus 49 days: Sell everything.

Let’s see if this countdown calendar works. There we go.

Welcome, folks. Oy. It’s been a journey the past few days. I haven’t done my daily updates because I’ve been knee-deep in stuff.

Specifically, my stuff.

I’m working on selling all of my possessions. It’s been an interesting facet of this journey. I’d sort of been plodding along: signing a lease termination here, telling a friend there. But then, I had a breakdown over hiking boots that made me realize I needed to start taking action. So, that night, I touched everything in my apartment and had it sorted into “sell” “store” or “take.”

Take: The optimistic pile with the tag line, “surely all this will fit into my car!” (There will be a separate post on ‘gear.’)

Store: Right now, it’s things like boots*, fancy clothes, office clothes, deep winter clothes, and some tchotchkes that mean too much to sell. I’m kind of proud of my self that it’s not that big of a pile – I think it would fit into a second car, so maybe I won’t have to tackle finding and paying for a storage unit (and could, in theory, store it in my parents’ basement instead …) [*When I was touching each item in my apartment to decide which category it goes in, Kondo-style, I said out loud to my empty apartment, “Boots are non-negotiable. NOPE.” and put them in the store pile. Anyone who knows me will know this is my truth.]

Stuff for mom’s house: Oh, hey, how’d you get in here, extra category not mentioned above? This one is tricky. In theory, these are the items that I will store at my mom’s house in two boxes so she can ship to me when/if I need them (Wild style!) : 1. Winter clothes for my eventual settling point. 2. Work clothes in case I need them. It also has expanded to include some sensitive things like a few dear books & my violin that I don’t want kept in some strange dark box somewhere. I’m not sure it will all fit into my car for the journey home – but my hope is that I can use these items then as a kind of placeholder for some of the supplies I will gear up one when I get home. We’ll see.

I should probably talk to my folks about this … 😉

(I have, I have.)

Sell: OK, let’s hit it.

First of all, let’s just dispel a myth: those hippies who are like, “Yeah, I just sold everything …”

What an understatement. In reality, it’s a lot of work and organization and logistics, coordination and enterprising entrepreneurialship to do that. And in today’s world, tech-savviness.

(for the umpteenth time: I literally cannot imagine doing this trip in the 60s/pre-cell phones. Wow. I definitely would feel scared & isolated!) 

So yes, I’m patting myself on the back, because this was a huge investment of time & energy that I didn’t really anticipate. I also didn’t think I’d be as willing to sell as much of this stuff, but when you start to break down what you need, what you use, and what the alternative is (cash for the trip or paying for storage) … it becomes pretty easy. And also, some of this is up to the gods of Craigslist to see what stays or ends up going.

One whole corner of my apartment is dedicated to the sell pile. So far, I’ve gotten a decent chunk of change for my trip, and it’s only been about 4 days of selling (1/12th of the time I have left. Breathe …) Specifically, so far I have enough to cover the anticipated cost Comcast is going to ding me to get out of my contract early. (Unless I can argue out of that. That’s a fight for another week (specifically, next week, I think.))

Books: I’ve put about 150 books on Amazon since I started using their selling service, about a year ago. I still had about 50 left, which I’ve added to there in the past week. I made $50 overnight the first night, so that was encouraging. (It’s amazing to me that someone is like, “Ah! [Random title]! I’ve been waiting!”) I find their service the easiest/most mindless – it searches by title & auto-fills most of the information for you.

Then on the complete opposite end, there’s the DIY of Craigslist. That’s where I put most of my household goods (for this trip. I’ve also bought all of my furniture and gotten most of my apartments and roommates in the past 10 years off of Craigslist.) Right now, it seems to be best for furniture. I’ve sold two book cases, a chair and some accent pillows (these have freed up a lot of space in my LR, too, which is good.) I feel confident I will sell my couch & dining table & bed once I post those (another 3 weeks, or about 1 month before I leave. It’s a fine line between my anxiety to sell & my desire to savor the final moments of creature comforts I have remaining ;))

LetGo is new to me as of today. I’ve gotten some hits, but it remains to be seen what comes of it. I might switch my location from Alexandria to DC and see how that works out.

The clothing goes on eBay and now Poshmark, which a friend introduced me to. I haven’t sold any on eBay, but those just went up yesterday.

Poshmark, like LetGo, is an app-only photo upload, which is annoying as *(& because I took the photos on my fancy camera originally. It’d be way easier to also have a website that I could upload a bunch of things at once.

Finally, the big variable are the paintings I’ve done. I’m working on an Etsy page, but I don’t have that much ready to sell. As I get over this massive hurdle, I might work on finishing some more pieces & then posting them on Etsy. It’s a harder quandry than the rest of this. Anyway.

Are you exhausted reading this? Cuz I’m exhausted from doing it. Oh well, at least you know where I was, now. There, and Richmond, and brunch, and meeting up with my ex for more talking (that worked out and was nice, though. As were the rest of these things this weekend.)


My timeline right now is to finish posting everything and see who bites, then start bringing the prices down weekly until a week or two out. That’s when the panic sets in, and I will need to figure out what to do with

Unsold Goods

There are a few untapped resources I will start spreading the word to as I get closer to M-Day: friends, local list servs, my apartment complex’s list serv, etc.

I suppose I’ll have a large, general … apartment/balcony sale (in Michigan we call them yard or garage sales, and I have neither. Perhaps a friend will be willing to lend a stoop.) I DO wish I could do it this weekend – I kind of just want this stuff OUT of here.  But, hopefully I’ll get more money this way.

Worst case, I’ll do a “free” posting on Craigslist – that should take care of anything I truly don’t want to store/pack up/take with me.


Overall time: 8+ hours right now (including organizing, taking the photos, posting it, coordinating pick-up, etc. Again: this is like, ALL of my possessions, so it’s a huge lift. Each photo-to-publish probably takes 5 minutes, which is NBD.)

Overall $ earned: I think I’m at about $25/hour so far. And in theory that $ will only go up, as most of my things are now posted.

Overall, I feel MUCH better. I’ve channeled my energy, I have something to occupy my days and it gives me an outlet to think and do things about the trip before I am on the road. Preparation leads to confidence, or “act as if until,” or something like that 🙂 I figure I’ll keep it focused on the present – shutting down my apartment and saying goodbye to friends (and doing my job, my side hustle, gym & GED tutoring … ) – before I start worrying about hiking boots. As basically everyone I’ve told that story to has said: I can buy hiking boots on the road.

And I’ll have much more money if I invest this time now on selling my stuff! 🙂

Next, we turn to packing … dun dun dun. But that’s a task – and post – for another day.

Night, lovers!


Update, 3/31: Just did a little Google. This was both overwhelming, & encouraging.

New Moon in Aries: Start something

It’s the Aries New Moon – the astrological new year of sorts; the real “New Year’s Resolution” intention-setting time. And wow, is it relevant to The Trip!

From Yasmin Boland of Moonology:


If you’re a Moon lover, you’re on the spiritual path, or you want to live consciously – pay attention! Today brings the New Moon in the sign of Aries. Aries is the start of the zodiac and so this New Moon is the start of a new New Moon cycle. If you want to live consciously, tuning into the monthly New Moon is one of the easiest ways. It will hook you into the planet’s rhythms and cycles. Any Moon is a good one but the Aries New Moon really offers you a chance now to commit to connecting with all 13 New Moons of the coming 12 months. That is the same thing as committing to a better life. Do it and you will have worked on all parts of your life as the Moon goes through all the signs.

Be courageous and start something new!

We are never as stuck as we feel we are in our life. If you aren’t sure how to make your dreams come true, here’s an idea; commit to doing a daily 15 minute meditation for the coming 12 months. Make it a priority every single day. Commit to making your New Moon wishes every month, checking in with how your wishes from the previous month unfolded. Do it as soon as possible after each New Moon. You really will start to change your life for the better, if you added these practises to your routines.

Affirmation of the month: “I am free to start all over again!”

::heh, heh:: “Start all over again.” “Be courageous and start something new.” Y’don’t say! 🙂

What’s funny too is last night Aaron & I did a Tarot card reading for me that was spot-bang on – all about letting go of the old to manifest the new and sun-shiny goals I dream of. And, today is the day to start that for the whole next 12 months. How approps!

I also really loved her point that “we are never as stuck as we feel in our life.” AMEN. And she even offers a solution, which resonated. I will commit to trying this 🙂 “If you aren’t sure how to make your dreams come true, here’s an idea; commit to doing a daily 15 minute meditation for the coming 12 months. Make it a priority every single day. Commit to making your New Moon wishes every month, checking in with how your wishes from the previous month unfolded. Do it as soon as possible after each New Moon. You really will start to change your life for the better.”

Finally, from her New Moon Page: here’s her suggested process to help augment the New Moon energies. I’ll be undertaking this tonight:

Here’s a quick, easy-to-use summary of the New Moon wishing process: 

1. Write down your top 10 wishes for the month. 

2. Visualize and feel your wishes in your body. Write down an affi rmation to support them. 

3. Write down how you intend to work towards making each wish happen. 

4. Meditate, and then release attachment to your wishes by saying For the good of all or not at all! and/or Om Namo Narayani.

I hope you do this! What are you wishing for today? I hope it all comes true! <3

Reality Bites: Fears.

A list of my fears, per a convo this weekend that broke some of this open:  

-“Why can’t I just be lobotomized like everyone else & feel content coming home to watch Everybody Loves Raymond, wash-rinse-repeat?” Aka why do I have this drive or this sense of higher purpose or intuition or whatever? (Obviously for a good reason, but I’m sort of at a low in the rollercoaster right now. A la a toddler who does NOT want to clean their room.)

-“OMG, I’m going to be so alone” (Aside from being obviously untrue, I think this is THE THING about this trip. I need to dive into this alone-ness and transmute this “external caring about others'” thing into introspection, writing for myself, etc. That’s the reason I’m doing this: I need to be able to write & meditate & be disconnected – freedom – from any obligations bc I need to get into my own flow/adventure/etc.)

-“Why do I have to leave everything comfortable and everything I know and love to go out into the mountains? It’s going to be sooo uncomfortable!” (That’s exactly the point – I have deep patterns that need to be broken, and realigned – and that by nature is uncomfortable. And I don’t think it will be as physically uncomfortable as I think — and certainly no more so than being stuck at my painful desk in a job that’s not a good fit doing someone else’s bidding all day! [Can you tell I never did a Study Abroad/etc])

-“What if I don’t ‘find’ what I’m looking for?” (I know this untrue, the very nature of this is an adventure, and such a big change means I will find things, but … still.)

-“What if I’m being called to the mountains bc I’m supposed to be there — for something bad to happen [bear attack, the Supervolcano finally explodes, etc]” (Que sera, sera …)

I’m sure there’s a few more, but that’s the gist. SIGH. It’s nice to be able to be honest & be able to articulate the real thing. Thanks for letting me share!

I keep thinking of the Hero’s Journey, that traditional arc in literature. The hero leaves his people behind & trades the comforts of home, goes out, is in uncomfortable situations & definitely ones where “things get worse before they get better” (ie getting stranded on the island of sirens), but comes back a hero, having seen many wondrous and amazing things.


It helps to remember that I’m still not even past the first comma in that path, and that all great stories involve exactly what I’m dealing with, and to expect discomfort/etc. 

So. That’s that. FUCK. Just had to get that out. They usually start the story as the hero’s walking out the door, they never really show you his pre-door therapy sessions. LE SIGH. 




Shame: The Monster in All Our Heads

 Ask Polly is one of my favorite columns right now. Sometimes I’ll flip through and read old ones, just for inspiration to keep going. I appreciate her grounded real talk.
Here’s a recent excerpt that struck me so hard I had to put it down for later: 
First, though, let’s clear away some of the noise in your head. You ask, “But if I really wanted to become my true self and live my life, wouldn’t I be doing it? Wouldn’t I be doing the work that needs to happen?” The answer is no. It takes a lot of time and work to become your true self. It’s not a small thing. Believing that you’re supposed to be experiencing desire in some different, overpowering, inescapable way — the wanting-to-want problem — is a totally paralyzing delusion. You can’t assume that other people want things more than you do, therefore they have no choice but to go out and pursue them. Those other people are just making choices and committing, just like you have to do.


That’s how I know it’s important: When I’m embarrassed, that’s a sign that I’m getting nearer to the center of things.

Lately, I can’t write. I know work will save me from the state I’m in, save me from this mood of despair that comes and goes, save me from how ashamed of myself I am sometimes, just for growing older and being largely powerless and for not being heroic enough. I have deadlines that seem unimportant, so they come and go and I do nothing. I am supposed to be reading one book and starting to write another one. But the world outside seems off-balance and sick to me, and when I take that in, I have trouble not blaming myself for all of it. The news is bad, and it’s getting worse, therefore I must be bad, therefore I must do better. But how?
I know I could exercise more, and that would help. I could try to spend more time with my kids. I could talk to my husband or my friends about how I feel. But these things don’t always bring a real breakthrough, and sometimes no one is available to talk. To work my way through this feeling, I have to slow down time.
I have to close my eyes and admit that I feel broken and that I blame myself for that broken feeling. I have to admit that I always suspect that things will fall apart at some point in the future and that it will be my fault when that happens. People will say, “See, I was right about her. She’s a fucking joke.” And other people will nod along. My future misfortunes always include a jeering Greek chorus.

What’s your list?

As I mentioned yesterday, Neil Gaiman‘s 2012 commencement speech at U Arts Philly contains a number of gems for writers.

One of the best was the reveal that his career was driven by a list of things he wanted to do, which he’d made when he was 15: “I didn’t have a career. I just did the next thing on the list.”
 Fifteen is great, it’s when you’re old enough to have seen some of the world and really imagine the possibilities, but young enough to be in tune with your likes and wants, without all that boring stuff that taints it, like bills and whatnot.

I wonder what 15-year-old me would’ve said? Many of the things I’ve already done – be a journalist, live in a big city, travel. Granted, these things look and feel different than what I envisioned, but I still did them.

And, a better exercise: what would your list look like today? Very appropriate, this first week after New Year’s Intentions/Resolutions, and what with Mercury Retrograde just starting.

Today, my list would look like this:

  • Visit lots of natural places, especially National Parks in the Western US
  • Finish my first novel
  • Write more fiction
  • Have an online presence  
  • Spend more time with my family 
  • Meditate on what I love that could earn me money
  • Paint more  
  • Have more time and space 
  • Lower resting heart rate, less neck pain, more strength

How about yours?

New intentions for a New Year

I hate New Year’s Eve.

I hate going out into the freezing cold. I have always hated, but especially now that I don’t drink, especially hate the idea of paying way too much money to be stuck in a crowd of sloppily drunk people (read: amateurs who didn’t drink like I used to.) On top of that, there was no clear way on how to get home in a cheap, safe, or efficient manner. #Survivor:NYE? No thank you.

A few years ago, in the middle of my yoga teacher training, thanks to some awareness journaling, I realized how much I hated the social side of NYE.

So I decided to stay home and do some intention-setting.

Intention-setting is basically a reframing of “resolutions” by taking the usual self-bashing reflections, ie “I should … but”, and turning them into positives, with concrete actions attached: “I intend to ___ and [will do that by _____.]”

So instead of, “I should lose weight, but I don’t know where to start,” I say, “I intend to become stronger, and will do that by getting on the treadmill this morning.”

This little time-out from the norm has crystallized into a peaceful practice I’ve now done for three years in a row. Over that time, I’ve found the following guided resources for intention-setting that have been very helpful for me:

  • Mike Dooley’s TUT’s Infinite Possibilities Project, at The Universe Talks (home of my beloved Notes from the Universe) 
  • The legendary Scott Dinsmore’s Live Your Legend’s Free Toolkit,
  • Yasmin Boland’s Moonology’s 2016 Guide to Intention Setting:

For more motivation and hacks into achievement: 

  • Tim Ferriss’s Four-Hour franchise, esp the Podcast: 
  • And, for pep talks in the form of curse-peppered blog entries (the tastiest kind), the wonderful Mark Manson:  

Need help getting clear on your goals? Check one of these out, or let me know what works for you. 
Happy goal-reaching!

Jet Lag

Chicago Streetscape | I love the architecture and personality of the shorter buildings crowded onto the streets.

Hiya. Just got back this morning from Chicago, visiting my best friend. I woke up at 4 a.m. their time (5.5 hours of sleep, 5am our time) and landed just after 9 a.m. I barely slept on the plane due to my ongoing anxiety issues with flying and hella turbulence, but I still caught some zzzs. And: today is nothing like any day hungover at work.

It’s always hard to travel.

Over the years I’ve learned that practicing acceptance that there will be some lag time, a readjustment period, combined with having a routine and a grocery plan makes that easier, as does having a notebook by my side to jot down the random crap that pops into my head makes it easier.

There was a net gain:
-Relaxing and having fun. Laura gets major props for doing this very well. There’s not a lot of existential ennui, le phew!
-We walked nearly 26 miles in the 4 days I was there, and hit 20,000 steps two of the days.
-I didn’t eat like total crap, considering how much walking we were doing. It wasn’t all salads and green juice, this is my Midwestern native country and home to deep dish. But still: props to me.
-My friend is an awesome influence in re: drinking enough water, being chill, finding stimulating entertainment, and going to bed at a reasonable time.
-I *did* write 16 handwritten pages and more of an outline for my book.
-The time difference (-1 hour) didn’t totally screw me up, and might jump start my “morning person!” goals (hahahaha)
-I am surprisingly okay today. I haven’t touched caffeine yet, I took time to go to the grocery store at lunch, the first two things I ate were an apple and a salad and I have not caved on crap food yet, and I’ve been trying to drink enough water.

I feel a black cloud over my budgeting/cleaning/week’s goals & orientation. Fortunately I had some time on the computer and phone to catch up on my budgeting (still looking for a good manual-entry app for this. Maybe just notepad?) And I was able to check out my schedule and aim for pockets of time for yoga, house cleaning/unpacking/tidying (why does packing = tornado left behind?) That might mean less social activities, but I have to keep the foundation of the dream house healthy before I invite over dinner guests!

I will close with a favorite tip: change your sheets right before you leave. Coming home to fresh bedding is a blessing & a g4 to Past Self. Also: easier to keep track of when you have to wash them next 😉

I admit, I need to give myself a break. I’m on the precipice of transition, as I finish up my book project, think about moving to more affordable housing closer to my work, and my immediate family deals with two extended family members facing not-so-good diagnoses. (It’s hard to be far away and not feel guilty about that.) There’s a lot going on, and it’s good to be good to yourself, even if you’re not used to it. Act as if until.

And I have to remember my perspective: it’s great to have an awesome long weekend away getting closer to a good friend and the experience IS rejuvenating and inspiring.

Back to life, back to reality

1st Draft of Greatness

I LOVE things like this:

It reminds me that not everyone who’s admired just spits out Pulitzers.

The first time this concept gelled for me was when I saw a photo that George Stephanopoulos, Communications Director for President Bill Clinton, put in his own book, “All Too Human.” It illustrates this concept well. The photo doesn’t even show GS, whose job it was to deliver final drafts of speeches. It’s of Clinton, in the back of the limo, the door open, you can feel the tension as they are waiting for him to get out to get in the Capitol to deliver the State of the Union, already!, and he’s holding his script and a pen, poring over the paper, which is rampantly marked up with notes. There was not going to be any time to reload this into the teleprompter or reprint it, not with that many edits.

When I saw that photo, I thought, “Phew. OK.” 

Because 1, this proves speechwriting is hard, and 2, even what you think is a final draft might not be perfect, or might not ever be “done.”

It’s like they say: a piece of art is only “done” when you walk away.

Sometimes, that’s the hardest part.

Santosha, or: Calm the F*(# Down

Ever have one of those days or weeks where you’re convinced the Universe is trying to tell you something?

The concept of Santosha has appeared in my ears frequently in the last week, between going back to yoga more often and hearing it as a theme, newsletters that pop into my inbox, etc.

The ways in which it applies to my life right now:

  • I’m itching to move. aka my lease is up for renewal. I have moved 8 times in 8 years, I love interior design, minimizing via packing, and bargain hunting.
  • I’m always thinking about making career moves. I’ve never really stayed anywhere longer than 2 years. (Though even I can admit my current place is a joy in comparison to others, & 6 months is a little soon to get any itches.)
  • I’d love to run away and get an MFA. This, of course, means ‘writing the perfect poem’ and ‘overcoming all my issues around higher education metrics and not just taking but studying and getting a perfect score on the GRE.’
  • I hate sitting still. Meditation is a constant struggle for me.
  • If I don’t have something with a zillion steps to work toward achieving (perhaps “unattainable,) I get antsy.
  • I overschedule myself frequently.
  • I hate not having plans or people to talk to.
  • I see routine as a beige landscape that ends at death. (Melodramatic, no?)

Hmm, I wonder if I could use a little contentment.

Santosha is one of the five Niyamas. These are the second of the 8 limbs of the Yoga Sutras (version I use), which I’m slowly winding my way (up?)

To bring us to Santosha in order: first you hit the most egregious stuff, via working the first limb, the Yamas. Now, I know there are shades for all of this, but I call it “egregious” because the Yamas deal with stuff most people who are aware or trying to be ‘good’ generally work toward: non-violence; non-lying; not-stealing; releasing grasping, and commitment to a spiritual path.

Then you hit the first Niyama. This involves cleansing your mind, thoughts, and body, which hopefully the yamas gave you a head start on. I like bargains.

Then, in contentment, you stop working, and ‘work’ on being content. For me, this is a lot of aparigraha, or non-grasping work. My list above is pretty self-evident: can I release goals, can I release an ideal? Job, singleness, body weight, achievements, new house, that I ‘can’t’ do X pose in yoga class, crafting that best seller … on and on ad infinitum.

Can I come to my mat or my cushion, and just sit?

Can I just be?

These are hard questions, deceptive in their simplicity.
I’ve also heard it said as “we are ‘human beings,’ not ‘human doings.'” I really like this.

I also think the idea of contentment goes in with two other favorites: perspective, and gratitude. I’m going to be a lot more content with my job if I gain perspective such as, ‘this isn’t back-breaking work,’ and remember to be grateful for income.

The idea of contentment with present moment, of course, also appears in Hinduism and Buddhism, and the Bible as well. It is also central to the starting place for my journey, Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. Another favorite is Tara Brach’s talks, here is one that I incidentally clicked on last night, which touches on this subject.

PS – this is a cool little website for when you are trying to figure out what the heck the Bible says about something.

Happy Autumn! Traditional Chinese Medicine/Five Elements/Acupuncture on how to kick off the season of metal right

I learned about Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Chinese 5 Elements from my yoga teachers. It treks with the seasons, with the idea that everything is born, flourishes, retreats, and finishes. This cycle is evident pretty much everywhere, from flowers to ideas, so it resonated with me.

I really like Neil Gumenick’s writings about them, because they are straightforward and applicable.

Here is his entry on Metal, or Autumn/Fall:

Cleaning out old negativity … what a time to start an inventory of resentments, old people places and things I’m clinging on to. What a time to clean out my summer wardrobe and put away the light airy clothes and shoes, and bring on the boots and layers. What a time to reevaluate my schedule, who and where I am spending my time. And, finally, to start truly examining my health (my FitBit came in last night.)

To look more closely at what Neil discusses:
“In autumn we learn more about ourselves, perhaps, than in any other season.”

Having provided the harvest, Nature now makes everything bare.

In this season Nature lets go of its abundant creation of the past year in a grand final display.

Autumn marks the end of the growing season – a turning inward, a falling away of outer-directed energy.

Nature instructs us about our own cycles of creating and letting go: Trees in autumn don’t stubbornly hold onto their leaves because they might need them next year. Yet how many of us defy the cycle and hold onto what we’ve produced or collected – those decayed leaves, that old negativity? How can we hope for a harvest next year unless we let go of the old and start afresh?
The energy of this season, more than any other, supports our letting go of the waste, the old and stale in our lives, leaving us receptive to the pure and new, granting us a vision of who we are in our essence. Autumn returns us to our essence, moves us to eliminate what we no longer need, reveals again what is most precious in our lives.
Communing with HP
Outlining values
Where am I grasping?
Grief! I had an epiphany after my meditation intensive that my sadness and the day-after depression came because I have a lot of stored grief, fear of the pain, lack of understanding of how to deal with it.
We all experience loss, separation, and “letting go,” and we appropriately feel grief at those times. Grief cleanses us of what is no longer needed in our lives.
He then goes into some overview discussion about the colon and lungs, not yet discussing the acupuncture points.
The Colon – at first I wanted to wrinkle up my nose: please no more discussion of cleanses or fiber or, ick, elimination. But he’s so eloquent: The Colon, one of the two organs in the Metal element, has the function of eliminating what is unnecessary or toxic from our bodies. But we are more than just physical bodies. Think of the daily onslaught of “garbage” directed at our minds and our spirit. We need to eliminate mental and spiritual rubbish, lest our minds become toxic and constipated, unable to experience the pure and the beautiful that also surround us. The Colon function on the mental and spirit level enables us to let go of all this waste.
This treks with what I learned from Max Strom: if poor sleep is an epidemic (acc’ing to the CDC!), if you are anxious: stop reading the news. Stop drinking caffeine. Acknowledge the source of heightened emotions, and question their necessity.
The Lungs
it is also a time to take in the pure. That crisp autumn air is a favorite, and again, my FitBit pedometer’s arrival is perfectly time.
In classical Chinese medicine, the Lung is described as “the receiver of the pure Chi from the Heavens.” How beautiful is that?
In, Out: The Lung and Colon work together as a team, one taking in the pure, the other eliminating waste. […] But what happens to our mind and spirit if waste keeps building up and we are unable to take in purity? How are we apt to feel? Instead of tranquillity and inspiration, spontaneity and freshness, we feel depression, stubbornness (inability to “let go”), isolation, negativity. We see the dark side in everything, all the things that could go wrong. Of course, we would not choose to act and feel that way any more than we would choose to have constipation – but in this condition of imbalance, that is how we must be.
we can see how foolish it is to simply treat a symptom. We must find the cause. […] we must first restore that function. Then the resulting symptoms will improve, regardless of how they manifest.
Just as metals give value to the earth (gold and silver, minerals and trace elements), the Metal element within us gives our sense of self-worth. Each of us is a miracle of creation, more valuable and special than anything we could ever pursue; each of us has a unique and priceless contribution to make. Yet when our Metal energy is imbalanced, we cannot sense our value; so we compensate by seeking what we think will add to our worth: status, money, power, conquest – none of them bad or wrong of themselves, although our pursuit of them can be a symptom. Once we have acquired these things, however, we remain strangely unfulfilled. Persons with a Metal imbalance seek respect, quality, and recognition from the outside because they feel the lack of worth within. These are people who have difficulty “letting go” because they identify their own worth with “things” – achievements, attachments, collections, possessions, attitudes stored in the cluttered attic of the mind. And the key to this season is letting go ~ or in yoga terms, Aparigraha.
Restoring our Metal
In the season of autumn, the Metal element is at its peak and particularly amenable to treatment. Fortunately, using the system of Chinese medicine, we can resurrect and rebuild the Metal within us – in its physical expression as well as in mind and spirit. Acupuncturists help restore our Metal using needles and their knowledge of energy. We also can help ourselves by learning about the nature of the season and then acting in harmony with its spirit.
As Nature moves into a period of rest, we too must be cautious not to overexert. The time for “putting it all out there” – the summer – has passed. Now is the time to contain ourselves, acting and speaking only when necessary, behaving with economy, exerting our will quietly and calmly. Those of us in the “autumn of our lives” must protect ourselves from the extremes of hot and cold within this season.
His analysis of the meaning of the acupuncture points is quite poignant, further down in the article.

Finally, some suggestions for living in harmony with the autumn season:

  • Declutter and organize physical spaces: I’m going to do this in my clothing and shoes, and could also do it in my personal paperwork, front closet, cupboards, and at-work office files. Donating can bring good to others. Minimalism is best!
  • Mental decluttering: Do a mental inventory: Examine attitudes (prejudices, envies, hatreds, jealousies, resentments) stored within your psyche. When possible, contact those with whom you harbor old “stuff.” Attempt to resolve the hurtful old issues, and then let them go. Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve properly done a full inventory like this. I spot check resentments daily, but I like this.
  • Resolve any outstanding issues | Lord knows I have enough to-dos, but there’s some old attitudes I could resolve.
  • Write unresolved issues on paper and burn them | This seems easy enough! As usual, it’s the “doing the work” part that’s annoying.
  • Inhale some of that crisp autumn air daily. Exhale the old, inhale the new and pure. Then contemplate briefly who you are without these identifications.

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