Intentions & Goal Setting

There is a lot that I would like to do in my life. I am constantly thinking about ways I’d like to improve and change things, but I can never seem to find time to actually take action. It’s hard to move forward without clear intentions. I’ve got to find time to organize my life plan on paper before I can start to implement it. I have a lot of vacation time coming up this month. Now seems like the perfect time to start making concrete plans of what I want to do with all of my free time. It will be awhile before I get another opportunity like this. First I want to start off by making a list of things I want to achieve this month and the steps I need to take to reach those goals. Then I’ll go about scheduling precise days to complete different tasks. Hopefully this will help relieve some of my stress and quiet the noise inside my head for awhile.

June Goals

  1. Stop smoking cigarettes
  2. Clean out moths in kitchen
  3. Update cover letter/resume
  4. Apply to local schools
  5. Schedule therapy appointment
  6. Schedule vet appointment

Goal Breakdown

Stop Smoking Cigarettes:

  1. Order nicotine salts for vape
  2. Slowly replace cigarette habit with vaping again
  3. Write about why I want to stop

Clean Out Moths in Kitchen:

  1. Clean all food out of pantry
  2. Buy large plastic/glass containers
  3. Place all pantry foods in thick plastic/glass containers
  4. Monitor for moths/larvae
  5. Put out moth repellant

Update Cover Letter/Resume/CV:

  1. Brainstorm ideas for references that won’t tip off anyone that I’m applying other places.
  2. Ask Kaytlyn, Scott, & Jay if I can use them as references
  3. Research how to make a CV
  4. Write a new cover letter based on experience at Harmony House

Apply to Local Schools:

  1. Make a list of all local high schools
  2. Make a list of all local middle schools
  3. Make a list of all local elementary schools
  4. Craft different cover letters based on school level
  5. Call school/send out resume
  6. Check indeed for schools hiring (student services?)
  7. Compile applications
  8. Send applications

Schedule Therapy Appointment:

  1. Write about why you want to start therapy
  2. Make a list of places to call
  3. Set up bi-weekly appointments

Schedule Vet Appointment:

  1. Call Redwood Veterinary Clinic
  2. Make appointment for Sybil and Lucy
  3. Update shots, clip nails, heartworm medicine (?)
Cute June 2021 Calendar Design Printable Template - Set Your Plan & Tasks  With Best Ideas Cute June 2021 Calendar Design Printable Template

Setting a Date

Fist Days Off (3-9)

  • 2nd – Buy food storage containers
  • 3rd – Schedule vet appointment
    • Order nicotine salts
    • Write about why you want to start therapy
  • 4th – Schedule therapy appointment
    • Clean out pantry/store food in containers
    • Make a list of local high schools
  • 5th – Write about why you want to stop smoking
    • Make a list of middle schools
    • Check Indeed
  • 6th – Write a new cover letter for high schools
    • Put out new moth repellent
  • 7th – Write a cover letter for middle schools
    • Research CVs
    • Make a list of local elementary schools
  • 8th – Write a cover letter for elementary schools
    • Update resume
    • Make CV
  • 9th – Compile at least 2 applications

That seems like enough planning for me today. I feel much more hopeful that I will actually be able to get more accomplished this month already. Now all I have to do is try to stick to my schedule as best I can. At the very least, I won’t have to think about all of these things anymore today. I won’t have to be constantly wondering and worrying about when I’ll ever find time to get started. Setting intentions and writing things out is always helpful. Feel free to use this little brainstorming post as an outline to help you work towards your own goals.

Why I Write

I feel like I’ve been struggling to come up with anything to write about for quite a long time now. When I first started writing every day, it was something I looked forward to. Now it’s nearly become something to dread. I can’t think of anything that I want to say. Even looking up writing prompts hasn’t been much help. Today I’ve finally decided to just write about the reason I write in the first place.

I let myself get too caught up in the details. It doesn’t really matter what I decide to write about. It’s the process itself that I enjoy. Sure often a certain topic I’m passionate about in the moment makes it easier to get into that flow state, but it isn’t necessary. More than anything, I just like spending some quiet time alone with my thoughts. Writing gives my brain something specific to focus on. It’s a chance to let the rest of the world fade away for an hour or so.

I love the way it feels rapidly hitting the keys on my laptop. I love the sound they make. I love watching the words magically appear on my screen. It doesn’t matter what those words are or whether anyone will read them. There doesn’t always need to be a lofty purpose for everything that I do. Sometimes it’s nice just to do something anything, with focused attention. This is the real reason that I write. It doesn’t make a difference if I have nothing to say.

Living with anxiety for so long has taught me that most of the time those anxious feelings come from trying to live in the future. Anything that can consume your attention and ground you in the here and now is wonderfully calming. The hard part is getting yourself to sit down and focus when you’re worrying about something. I’ll often find myself desperately trying not to worry about something in the future. What would be more helpful is finding something in the present to give my full attention. I don’t spend time trying to find the most productive or important thing to focus on. I just have to pick something.

This is why intentions can be so helpful. It’s easy to lose your center as your move through your day. Today my intention is to be present and enjoy myself. Nothing more, nothing less. I don’t always have to take life so seriously. It’s okay to just be happy about the little silly things like seeing those baby geese by the pond on my way to work or snuggling with my dog for a few minutes on the couch this morning. Everything is just fine. Life is beautiful and I’m grateful to be here.

You Should Be Writing Every Day. Here's Why (and How to Do It)

Remember Why You Started

As you know, I’ve been thinking a lot about exactly how I ended up so enmeshed in the repetitive behaviors I now perform daily. I thought back to the first time I remember giving myself a similar list of tasks. In the beginning, I remember it being so exciting. I had big plans about bettering myself and working towards becoming the person I wanted to be. I’ve come a long way since then. I’ve made a lot of progress towards those goals. However, sadly I seem to have lost the passion that drove me to start this journey in the first place.

It feels like in the last few years, I’ve started to stagnate. These efforts at self-improvement were supposed to be fun. I want to get back to that passion that I once had. I was energized by these activities rather than exasperated by them. I believed in myself, in my potential. I was excited at the idea of reaching my goals. Somewhere along the line I seem to have lost all that faith in myself. I lost sight of the self love that once spurred me onward.

Thankfully, spring always reawakens something inside of me. I feel filled with a new energy as the air begins to heat back up and the sun reemerges. And with the coming spring, I’ve also had an important realization. I’ve been scrambling around inside my head trying to figure out a way to make time to meet a new vegan friend I met online. I’ve been ridiculously stressed out by the effort of trying to cram yet another activity into my already busy schedule. Only after a few days of this psychotic planning did it suddenly dawn on me, it doesn’t even matter if I miss doing all of my usual things for ONE day. How obvious.

The whole point of the things I make myself do everyday is self-improvement. Doing them every day was just a way to get into the habit. It was just supposed to give me direction and a way to feel productive on days when I had nothing else to do. I don’t know at what point it started to dominate my life instead. It seems like for years now, I have been prioritizing these “hobbies” over everything else in my life. I don’t make plans with friends and family because I tell myself I don’t have time for it. I neglect other, more important things, in favor of completing my these rituals. Only very recently have I realized how absurd that is.

These activities were supposed to help me become a better person, not prevent me from living a normal life. The ultimate goal isn’t 365 consecutive days of checking off these arbitrary boxes, the goal was to use my time wisely and learn new things. It completely defeats the purpose if in the end these habits inhibit my life rather than compliment it.

This is why it is so important to have clear intentions for yourself. My intention somehow got lost along the way. Luckily I’m finding my way back to it. Maybe a few years ago, what I needed was to have a more structured routine, but needs change. It’s time I allow myself to change with them. These habits were meant to serve me, but instead they’ve consumed me. Now what I need is learn how to give myself a break. I need to remind myself that it’s okay to rest. I don’t want to look back on my life one day just to see hundreds of checked off to-do lists. I want to give myself the freedom to have spontaneous adventures and make meaningful memories as well.

Tomorrow I want to give myself a long over due gift. I want to have a day off, a day free from my own demands. I want to meet someone new, get to know them. I want to explore and be curious and flexible. I want to not worry about whether or not I’ll have time to read later or write in my gratitude journal. How silly that the act of writing down a list of things I’m grateful for everyday became more important than allowing myself the time to enjoy what I’m grateful for. It’s no wonder I’ve lost all of my drive and passion. I’ve burnt myself out a long time ago. I’ve been running on fumes. It’s time to stop and recharge. It’s time to take a day just to breathe, to reflect, to enjoy the progress I’ve made, and to share my new and improved self with new people and with the ones I love, the ones that have stuck with me through all of these years of being distant and uninvolved. It’s time for me to thank them for that. It’s time for my to thank myself and enjoy how far I’ve come, how strong I’ve been. Time to refocus on my intention and reignite that excitement, that passion for my life.

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The Monotony of Life

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Some days I start to feel really overwhelmed by the way it seems like I am living nearly the same day over and over again. I wake up, I let my dog out, I feed my cat, I make coffee, I pick up clumps of white cat fur from every room, I collect up several lady bugs from the windowsills, etc. I start to feel weighed down by these mundane maintenance activities. The idea of doing something you’ll just have to do again tomorrow or at the end of the day or even an hour from now has always frustrated me.

Maybe it’s just that same idea of feeling forced to do something over and over that I don’t want to do. It’s hard to accept in the moment, but in reality I do want to do those things. Maybe not directly, but I want the results. I want my pets to be comfortable and happy. I want my house to look clean and orderly. I definitely want to drink that morning coffee. Focusing on the giving myself the result rather than being burdened by the process might be helpful. Instead of thinking: Ugh, here I am filling this dog bowl for the hundredth time, I can think about the love I have for my sweet dog daughter and how grateful I am to have her in my life to care for. But even that takes mindful awareness and lots of practice.

I’ve been experiencing mild physical pain the last few days. Although it’s quite aggravating, it has also been helping me understand something bigger. I’m very fortunate in the sense that I don’t experience pain or illness very frequently. However, in the times I do, especially thinking back to being sick more often as a child, it almost feels like my whole body is in a panicked revolt against the area that is experiencing distress. I so desperately want to isolate and separate from that area of my body, to numb it, to detach it. I’ve even heard other people express this idea by wishing they could just remove their head when they have a migraine or head cold. It seems counterintuitive to actually embrace that troubled part of our bodies instead. Yet that is exactly what we need to do.

It only increases our suffering to try to avoid pain, physical or otherwise. Last night as I was trying to fall asleep, I remembered this tidbit of yogic wisdom. I allowed my awareness to caress that painful place. I sent my breath there. I sent loving kindness there. It must have worked well because the next thing I knew I was waking up to a bright new morning. I think this principle can also work in the other difficult parts of life.

Instead of resisting my monotonous morning routine, I’ll practice embracing it. Sure, maybe I’ve done these things a million times before and will probably do them another million in the future, but what does it feel like to do them today? And I don’t have to lie to myself and pretend it’s fun. Maybe it does feel frustrating. What does frustration feel like? Can I allow myself to experience that?What does my body feel like? Can I move mindfully? Can I find something new even in these repetitive tasks, just like I do in my yoga practice? Does my body feel stiff and achy from hours of sleep? Am I feeling sleepy or awake? What does it feel like to be experiencing these things? Can I practice gratitude and mindfulness even in the dullest moments? Can I remember to breathe deeply in discomfort? Can I experiment and find new ways to be kind to myself with my thoughts and movements?

All of these things are obviously easier said than done. Usually when we are feeling tired and irritated, the last thing we want to do is pause and be mindful or grateful. But I think just taking a few moments now and then to set these intentions for my everyday life helps me to remember to at least try. Even though I may not “succeed” I’ll know that today I can at least give myself some credit for trying. And those small moments of practice add up.

Seeking Redemption

Last night I dreamt about possibly the biggest mistake I ever made in my past. I woke up feeling weighed down by all those heavy memories. All morning I have been feeling ashamed and unworthy of redemption. When I think about terrible, selfish things I’ve done there are at least a handful of things that readily come to mind. Yet when I try to think of caring, kind, selfless acts, my mind goes blank. Am I really this awful person that I perceive myself to be? Or is my perception skewed?

I think most people make justifications and excuses for the wrong they’ve done. They allow these rationalizations to comfort their conscience. My mind tries to tell me that everyone makes mistakes, that I was young and naïve, that I would never want to hurt anyone. But I refuse these ideas outright. I feel at my core that I deserve condemnation for my actions, that if anyone knew me like I know myself, they would cast me out, and rightfully so.

Some people argue that altruism doesn’t really exist. Even kind acts are beneficial to the bearer. Yet most people, I imagine, still feel confident in their goodness after performing a good dead. I on the other hand, view the kind things I’ve done as others view their misdeeds. I minimize them. I explain them away. I tell myself that I’ve done these things out of my own self-interest. I deny any altruistic intentions.

What I’m left with is the guilt and blame of all the wrong I’ve done and none of the credit for anything decent in my past. Most people are shocked when they discover that I think so little of myself. “You are a good person,” they tell me, “You are so kind and compassionate!” But I shrink away from these reassurances. They don’t really know me, I tell myself. Then I feel even more guilty for deceiving them. It is a very lonely life, feeling unknown and unknowable.

I suppose there is really no way for me to truly know if the image I hold of myself is accurate. It might all come back to the grey areas I struggle so much with. Perhaps I am a bad, selfish person, but also a caring, loving one. Even so, I desperately want to atone for all the wrong that I have done, even though I am the only one who knows about a lot of it. I want to live a life that I can be proud of. I don’t want to keep lamenting these mistakes. I want to be freed from the sins of my past. I want redemption for myself, from myself.

I am grateful that I have the principles of yoga to guide me. Even though I feel a lot of the Yamas and Niyamas are out of my reach, beyond my capabilities, I still want to try to embody them. I want to become honest and upright, truthful and generous, thoughtful and helpful. I know that happiness lies within these virtues. I must believe that, regardless of my past failings, I am strong enough, I am intelligent enough, to change.

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I Am Brave

My intention for today is “I am brave.” There is just so much going on in the world and inside of myself this year. I really want to find strength and courage from within to keep me grounded. Over half-way through the day and I still am not really feeling much weight behind this intention that I’ve been reciting.

I noticed a while ago that my inner voice often repeats “I’m scared. I’m scared. I am scared.” I don’t know when this began to be an unconscious mantra of mine. However, I’m sure it has been just as harmful as an intentional mantra can be helpful.

There seems to be a fine line separating simply shifting your focus and denying yourself all together. There is an entirely different feeling between the two. Yet for me it can be hard to find the right one sometimes. Instead of reassuring myself that I am strong and capable and brave, I often find myself just refusing to acknowledge my emotional state entirely. Pushing away, resisting, denying what I’m experiencing. It is difficult to allow feelings of fear and anxiety while simultaneously encouraging and bolstering more positive feelings to emerge.

I have to keep reminding myself that saying “I am brave” is not a lie. It is not a denial of the fears I still have. It is an affirmation of the courage that resides within me despite those fears. It is the whisper of a kind friend saying “I know you are scared, but we can get through it together. Give me your hand.” I have to remember that it isn’t an attempt to shut out the truth of my emotion. I am not ignoring the precious, though uncomfortable, signals my body is sending me. Rather, I am saying to my anxious heart “Yes, dear. I hear you. Come into my arms. Let me show you this feeling is not all that remains inside of us. You are brave despite your fear. You are strong even in moments of weakness. Don’t forget the stillness that rests in the ocean’s depths even as the surface shakes.”

Fear and bravery are not mutually exclusive. I am scared. But I am also brave in the face of fear. I am weary. But I am also filled with fire yet. I am anxious and agitated. But I am also full of love and gratitude.

For too much of my life, I severely underestimated the power of what we say to ourselves. It is not enough to try to avoid harmful self-talk. We need to actively speak kindly to ourselves each day. And even though it may seem like it’s the same, writing these things down or speaking them aloud to yourself is immensely more powerful than simply thinking it. Speaking gentle words of encouragement, intentions, and self-affirmations into a mirror is even better. You might feel silly at first (I still do), but just these small acts make all the difference. Writing or preferably, speaking engages so much more of your brain. It helps us put more focus and energy behind the words. It helps to strengthen these new mental connections we are building.

So even though I am feeling fearful of the future, even though I’ve been feeling out of control, even though I want to run, to escape, I will remain. Because I am brave. I can do this.

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Season of Self-Care

I am someone who dearly loves the summertime. I often start to feel the effects of seasonal effective disorder as the days grow shorter and colder. Already I sense the long dark winter looming on the horizon. I feel a desperation begin to settle over me as the green hues of hot summer days give way gracefully to the orange and red undertones of autumn.

This year has me especially worried since I haven’t been doing so well even during the summer months. That’s why I’d like to set some intentions to be gentle with myself as this year of inner and outer turmoil comes to a close. I am always so hard on myself. I never seem to give myself credit for all that I do. I am always focusing on the ways I’m falling short of my own expectations.

Before the lack of sunlight starts to sap all of my energy, fall does seem rather inviting and cozy to me. Cuddling up with my fur children with a cup of hot tea of chilly evenings, making hearty stews, enjoying the return of pumpkin spice everything. It all seems rather nostalgic and comforting. I want the changing of seasons this year to be just another chance for me to practice being grateful for what is in front of me rather than anxious about what I don’t have or have lost.

I have to keep reminding myself that I deserve to rest. I deserve to simply enjoy the stillness between each moment. To savor every sweet breath.

Setting Clear Intentions

I have always been a very logical person. I never really bought into things like the law of attraction or summoning certain scenarios into being through your thoughts alone. It always seemed too good to be true. However, once my mind started to wrap around the way that such things could actually occur I became very curious. For many people it is enough just to hear that their positive thoughts and wild dreams will come to fruition as long as they believe them and keep their focus on them. In my case that always just seemed unfounded and foolish. This false perception kept my from allowing myself to fully believe in the power of my own will.

When you lay out the idea logically, though, it holds true. If you focus your energy on cultivating a more grateful existence, your mind will naturally begin to find more things to be grateful for. If spent time everyday on a certain goal, you will inevitably reach it. Even if only your perception has changed rather than the world around you, it is still certainly worth the effort. I don’t usually put too much weight in anecdotal evidence, but never-the-less I have seen the power of my positive intentions manifested this past year. The hardest part is setting clear intentions and keeping your focus.

Most of us, I’d imagine, would say that we know what we want out of life, that we have a set of goals. However, once you actually start to organize and verbalize these things it becomes apparent that it may not be as clear as you thought. It’s important to take a step back once and a while to evaluate. There may be things that we are putting energy into that really isn’t that important to us in the long run. There may be goals we aspire to meet that we haven’t really been taking steps towards achieving. It can help to create some means to record your progress in different areas so that you can see how far you have come. Before I began recording my efforts in different areas I would often lose sight of how much I had already achieved in the shadow of how far I felt there still was to go. Another way this can be helpful is to reevaluate a habit that maybe in hindsight isn’t realistic or isn’t helping you to reach your goals.

I am grateful for this shiny new year that has just arrived to give me the inspiration to keep pushing forward. It is an interesting and confusing feeling to know exactly what you need to do to cultivate happiness and fulfillment while at the same time being resistant to the change that requires. I need to remember to be patient with myself. Instead of pausing, paralyzed in the face of the huge changes ahead of me, I need to press onward one step at a time. I need to lean into the tension of knowing that this will take a long time and be mindful as I implement more and more small changes into my daily experience.

I want this year to be even more transformative than the last few have been. I want to calm my chaotic mind be setting clear intentions regarding what I would like to learn, experience, and create in the coming months. For once I feel confident that I will reach my goals and gain so much insight and happiness in the process. My mantra for this first month of a great new year is going to be a Buddhist quote that I stumbled upon a few days ago. I hope that it can inspire us all to be present, grateful, and joyous in each moment that this year has to give us.

“It is better to travel well than to arrive.” – Buddha

March: A Month of Minimalism

minimalism+quote

For awhile now I have been extremely interested in the idea of a minimalist lifestyle. My parents both have the tendency to hoard random items they will probably never need or have the urge to look at again. My mother has always baffled me with her massive stacks of old magazines. She would also say that she “wanted to look at them someday when she retired.” (She’s been retired for two years now and hasn’t touched them.) My father has filled a good portion of the yard with broken down old cars “in case he needs the spare parts someday.” With my background in psychology I know the potential being raised in this environment could have on me. I am always hyper vigilant of when I am accumulating too many unnecessary items.

I have always been a person that finds comfort in neat and orderly spaces. If my coffee table begins to get cluttered or the dishes start to pile up it has a noticeable effect on my mood and anxiety level. I always feel so light and refreshed after cleaning and organizing my home. When I realized that there was a popular trend known as minimalism, I was immediately interested.

I stumbled upon a video on Youtube a few days ago laying out the framework for a 30-day minimalism challenge. That is why I decided that this month was going to be my first calculated attempt at downsizing my possessions. So far I have gone through my bags, wallets, clothes, shoes, and beauty products. It isn’t even the end of the first week and already I have thrown away and donated a ridiculous amount of stuff. And I feel so good!

Just the thought of having less is so liberating to me. Eventually I plan on buying a tiny house and owning even less than I will at the end of this month. There is just something so pleasing about not being physically and emotionally attached to so many different objects. It is also satisfying to know that the few items that remain are actually very special and important to me. I cannot wait to see how the rest of this month turns out. I am excited to someday live a life free from attachment, embracing each new moment and having more time to spend experiencing and cherishing my life rather than being buried under things.

Wish me luck!