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The last day of 2020 has already arrived. I kept telling myself I’d have time to make more detailed plans for the new year, but it looks like I’ve completely run out. I didn’t even have time to set up my new bullet journal yet. I guess I can try to do what I can with the time I have left before I go to my friend’s house for her new year’s party tonight.

It feels like I always get so excited at the vague idea of change, of transitional periods in my life, but then when the time comes, I’m so scared. I haven’t felt much like writing for the last week or so. I don’t feel very inspired about anything. I haven’t been brave enough to take the time to sit down with myself and figure out how I’m feeling. I just feel numb instead.

I want today to be a celebration though. I can worry about change and planning and details tomorrow. Tonight is for me and my friends. I want to celebrate how much I have grown this year. I may have struggled a lot, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t any positives. One way I am going to show myself that progress tonight is by not getting ridiculously drunk and by keeping my hands to myself. Then at the very least I can wake up tomorrow with some semblance of dignity and have it together enough to get things done later.

No more running. I’ve reached the end of the pier. It’s time for me to turn around and face myself. I know I can do this. I don’t need to be afraid. Planning for my future isn’t an ultimatum. I’m not writing up strict laws for myself to follow. There are no self-punishments if I fail. Instead I am drawing a map of self-love. Exploring the virgin territory of my heart and mind. It’s okay to take some wrong turns. I’m still just getting a sense of my surroundings. Learning about the ecosystem of my soul. Trial and error. Learning how to love myself again. There is nothing to fear. I am going to be here supporting myself no matter what I find.

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Time Wasted?

Today, like everyday, I had a lot I planned to do. I had to come into work instead of working from home. I still manage to do a lot of my personal tasks even while at work. Except today was a little different than I planned for it to be. I came back into my office after we completed today’s forensic interview, and just as I was about to get started on my to-do list, my coworker came into my office. He had brought his coffee, took a seat, and began to talk to me about a myriad of different topics. I closed my notebook reluctantly.

I had planned on finishing up a few things and rushing out the door once I was finished with my work for the day. However, we ended up talking for nearly three hours. Now the workday is nearly finished. Not only did I not get to head home early, but I also haven’t finished any of the things I set out to. As someone who sticks to a very rigorous, personal schedule, this causes me a lot of anxiety.

It is hard for me to deal with days like today. I feel as though time spent chatting, even with interesting people that I really like, is time wasted. Nothing quantitative was accomplished in those three hours we spent talking. I now have less time left in the day to do my “important” things. It is difficult for me to convince myself that I didn’t just waste time today by talking so much with a friend.

I think most people would find this mindset fairly bizarre. I enjoyed myself. We talked about a lot of fun, interesting things. We laughed. We smiled. And I probably developed a slightly deeper friendship in the process. But on paper, I have nothing to show for those hours. My anxiety is not pleased. I feel rushed to make up for lost time.

Yet because of the way I feel about these kinds of days, I think I cause myself to miss out on some of the parts of life that are truly valuable. I miss time with people in my life that I will never be able to reclaim. How could I value writing on this blog, journaling, reading, or drawing over genuine connection with loved ones? I don’t even understand this myself. Yet there are many days I miss opportunities to hangout because I am “too busy.” But when I really think about it, my time would probably be better spent do these “less important” activities. I am going to try hard to be grateful for the time I spent talking with my friend today. It was important to me. Even if it wasn’t necessarily productive.

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Time to Surrender

One of the interesting things I’ve noticed since I began meditating is the importance of the length of time set aside for it. I began with a timer set for 15 minutes. I kept my meditations limited to that amount of time for years. Every now and then I would do 20 minutes. Never longer. When I’m running short on time, I’ll just sit for 5 minutes. However, this short of a meditation feels more like going through the motions to check off a box than actually being meditative.

It’s fascinating how terrifying the idea of sitting in silence with yourself can be. There are many days when I would be anxious at the prospect of beginning a simple 15 minute session. It doesn’t seem like a long time, but knowing I’d be alone with myself with no distractions was daunting. I knew the time could fly by or seem like an eternity. Most times I would feel myself relaxing into the meditation just as the time was up. Reluctantly letting my eyes open to continue on with my day.

Over a year ago, I finally worked up the courage to set a goal of daily 30 minute meditations for myself. 15 minutes just wasn’t cutting it anymore. I knew I needed to push myself to sit for longer if I really wanted to see a difference in my mental state. At first it was ridiculously difficult to commit to this length of time. It seemed so long. I felt afraid I wouldn’t be able to justify “wasting” this amount of time everyday “doing nothing.” Yet it quickly became one of my favorite parts of the day.

I’ve learned quite a bit from this decision to extend my meditation sessions. One of the most important things I particularly noticed from being too busy to sit for more than 5 minutes a day this past week is how important it is to set aside a significant amount of time. After such a long time sitting in meditation for 30 minutes every day, 5 minutes felt like a joke. It didn’t feel like I came anywhere close to a meditative state. My mind was racing the entire time. Wondering how close I was to being finished. Planning out my to-do list for the day. Running over earlier conversations in my head. At most I only achieved a few brief moments of actual concentration and mindfulness.

I want to be clear, though, I am not discrediting starting out with a short amount of time like this as an introduction to meditation. In the beginning even 5 minutes can feel scary and challenging. It’s a good way to begin integrating a meditation practice into your daily routine. And it will still make a difference. However, if you’ve been meditating for awhile already, I highly recommend trying to lengthen your sessions.

It may seem difficult at first, but I guarantee it’s worth it. When you have a long period of time to meditate, there is a different atmosphere. It seems less possible to just run out the clock by allowing your mind to run wild for a few minutes. Half-heartedly trying to reign it back in. Instead you are forced to face your fear, your anxiety, yourself.

At first my mind tries all it’s normal tricks. Attempting to escape or convince me to give up, worrying about how much time is left, dreading that time, trying to latch onto distractions, resisting. However, while this stage may consume the entire meditation when only given 5 minutes, it will eventually subside if given the more time. Eventually the mind has to accept the reality that there is nowhere to go. Eventually it accepts that the only thing to do is to surrender.

And what a beautiful feeling it is when you finally soften into that total surrender. There is nothing better. This is where the true meditation begins. Often my body will even begin to buzz and feel blurred around the edges. Just breathing feels so good. Feeling what it’s truly like to just exist. Realizing that it’s okay to surrender. Realizing there is in fact peace afterwards. Accepting that it’s okay to merely be.

Now, I still have a long way to go with my meditations. There are still plenty of days where I’ll doze off or still manage to get lost in thought the entire time. But it’s always worth it for those few moments of bliss I’ve found. Often when I notice myself finding that peace, I’ll remind myself: This is always here. This is inside of me. I can come back here, to this inner peace, whenever I need to. It is always with me. It is me.

Many times now instead of feeling anxious to begin my meditation, I’ll feel anxious as my body begins to sense my time is almost up. The last few moments are often spent fighting with my desire to cling to that internal bliss. I hope to one day soon begin giving myself even more time every day for meditation. I can only imagine what new insights, what new depths, are still waiting to be discovered within. I sincerely hope you’ll decide to give yourself the chance to discover your own. Give yourself the gift of time. Time to surrender. Time to just be. I promise you it’s not a waste. It may even find it’s the most important time you have during the day. You may find that it is the best gift you can give yourself. A true act of self-love. You deserve it.

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Four Years

I can’t believe it has already been four years. Four years since my hopes were shattered. Four years since I lost everything just as I thought I was about to finally craft my own happily ever after. Four years since that long silence, since the day that still grips my heart and burns my eyes.

Yet also four years since I submerged myself in my yoga practice. Four years since my practice saved me, since I saved me. Four years since I decided to be my own happily ever after, since I decided to stop waiting for someone else to bring happiness to me. When I finally decided it was always mine to take.

Time can be a scary thing. How is it that I can feel hardly anything has changed and so much has changed simultaneously? How can it feel so long ago yet also so recent? When I was younger each day seemed to be stacked up neatly in my mind. Each moment so powerful and poignant. It feels like many more significant things happened within the three years I was in middle school than have happened in the last four. Is that an accurate perception? Or is it distorted somehow as more years pile up behind me? Have the years smeared together naturally due to aging, or am I losing the clarity I once had due to drug use? Perhaps both?

How am I already turning 27-years-old next month? It makes me want to laugh and cry all at the same time. Who even am I now? Do I even accurately remember who I’ve been? How much more will my perception of time be altered as more years pass? I can’t bear for it to become any faster or murkier. Yet I fear it will. I don’t want to forget. I don’t want to keep changing. I had never envisioned myself even getting this far. And the rest of the road ahead seems less clear than ever.

Four years… a few blips in my memory. And what of the spaces in between them? Were they not worth remembering? Have I really wasted so much time already? Yet I remember that fall four years ago so well. It is sharp and sour. A drop in an ever-open wound. However, it is also sweet. It was that fall that taught me I would be there to catch myself. And that was enough. I was enough. I finally committed to myself, to my practice.

Nothing has changed since that day. Everything has changed because of that day. I am different. And I am the same. I have withered, and I have grown. Time marches on, relentless. A burden and a gift.