Word(s) of 2015 … Intentional Breath, Time, Consumption, Production

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I like this idea that’s come about of choosing a word for the year. I did this for the first time at the start of 2014, choosing the word story. I thought that I would purposefully consider this word but instead I just let it linger in the background of my life, informing me throughout the months. I didn’t focus specifically on finding or telling or revising my story but I consistently remembered to think about my story during different activities of my days. I feel like it taught me a lot, informed me in ways that I wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t set attention on it at the beginning of the year.

And so, as we wrap up 2014, I’ve been thinking about my word for the new year. At first I was thinking “breath” because so much of 2014 felt like I was trying to catch my breath. Then I thought of looking up the synonyms of breath because that word didn’t feel quite right. But I sat with that, gave it some space, let it breathe so to speak.

Ultimately, what I determined was that focusing on my breath is an important thing right now but it’s not the focus of 2015. Instead, I have chosen the word “intentional” because I really just want to have more intention around everything that I’m doing in my life. I don’t want to continue to be swept along by the randomness of life and the habits I’ve rutted into. I want to think about what I’m doing and why I’m doing it, to consider it without judgment but to make choices intentionally. Maybe I’ll watch TV for 12 hours a day but I want to do so consciously, conscientiously, with awareness, with intention.

While I was still in the middle of deciding between “breath” and “intentional”, I realized that I could focus my intentional energy on specific areas such as breath. I’ve literally been having trouble breathing and I’ve figuratively felt breathless as well. Giving intentionality to my days will help, I hope, with the latter. Intentionally working to attend to my physical respiration is important for the former. I don’t want breath to be my only focus but I do want it to be a focus this year.

So then I was thinking that it could be a quarterly thing … intention around breathing for the first quarter, for example. That didn’t feel quite right but the focus on four different areas of intentionality does feel right, so here’s what I’ve determined. In 2015, I want to intentionally consider:

  1. Breath
  2. Time
  3. Consumption
  4. Production

With breath, I include all aspects of health, starting with the breath. I want to explore and examine some of my history with asthma, medically but also holistically.

With time, I want to increase my awareness of what I’m doing with my time. I want to make intentional choices instead of just letting it slip by, instead of just letting things slip into my calendar that I don’t actually want there. A lot of my struggle to catch up this year was because I agreed haphazardly to things that were fine but weren’t juicy, rich, meaningful.

I want to intentionally consume – food, yes, with attention to its impact on me but also media and anything else that goes into me. I want to select the things that are filtering through my body and mind and not just mindlessly allow them to enter.

In reverse, I want to be more intentional with what I produce, particularly in terms of creativity. I’ve got a lot of habitual writing patterns and some of them are out of date and need to be revisited. I need to look at them with intentionality. I seek to make choices around them so that I feel more fulfilled in what I’m sending out into the world around me.

These things all go hand-in-hand … what I choose to consume and produce is related to how I spend my time, for example. That’s why breaking it down into quarters doesn’t feel right but still having these four focal areas of intention does feel right. So there it is. My 2015 word is “intentional” with a subtitle of Breath, Time, Consumption and Production.

What is your word for 2015?

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Happy New Year and My Hopes for 2014

Happy New Year!

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2013 turned out magical in ways I couldn’t have anticipated although they make sense looking backwards. I started the year by diving fearlessly into the ocean with my sister, setting the tone for a year of taking chances on doing things that scared me by seemed good for me. I found a new relationship. I started grad school. I set to work on my next book. I started plans for the book after that. I flailed and I stumbled and I soared and I skipped. It was a big year and yet a lot of it seemed to be spent resting between burst of activity, re-centering, re-finding myself. And that makes me wonder curiously what 2014 holds for me.

Here are some of my hopes for 2014:

  • I hope to re-focus on my own creativity. It’s not so much that I want to create specific things but that I want to re-establish a solid daily ritual of honoring and practicing my creativity. Creative practice can be a form of spirituality and I want to treat it as such in this new year.
  •  I hope to re-connect with my closest loved ones. I did experience some terrific bonding in 2014. I had some great conversations with a close friend. I developed a new romantic relationship. I created unique connections with my new classmates on both the individual and group level. But now I’m kind of missing some of my other relationships that fell to the wayside a bit. I hope to talk more regularly with my immediate family members. I hope to resume the monthly dinners with friends that I’ve always done but let slide in 2013. I hope to have some good friend time with my few close friends here in the city, more than just text messages!
  • I hope to read lots. I recently re-discovered my love of reading. Not that I’d forgotten it exactly but I was doing so much reading for work and for school that I had stopped considering reading to be a good relaxation activity. I want to take hours each week to just read for pleasure.
  • I hope to celebrate life. It’s easy to get lost in the difficulties and the details but I hope to keep remembering to celebrate what is right here in front of me each moment.

Mostly I hope to be open to all of the surprises and possibilities that the new year may bring to me that I can’t even imagine right now on the first day of the year.

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Learning from the Bucket List

Yesterday on the blog I talked about a big bucket list I’d read online and how I’d accomplished some of the things on that list already. I also learned a lot about my own goals from checking out the list ideas that others have.

I Learned That I Don’t Have Huge Travel Goals

It isn’t that I don’t want to travel or that I don’t want to go to some really cool places because I do. But there are a lot of big travel goals and plans that other people had, and even some that I had once, that I just don’t care about that much anymore. For example, a lot of people want to visit all seven continents and/ or all 50 states and I don’t want to do either of those things. A lot of people want to live in a foreign country and although I’m not opposed to that it’s not a goal of mine because I love where I live. A lot of people want to go to huge events like Burning Man or Carnival or Mardi Gras and I don’t really care to do that. And there are a lot of major attractions and things to see that are on big life lists and they aren’t on mine.

What are my travel goals then? Some of the places I really want to visit someday include New Zealand, Iceland, Paris, Costa Rica, Mexico City and a Greek or Italian island. Mostly there are just specific experiences I’d like to have such as seeing The Northern Lights from inside of an ice hotel. I’ve seen a lot of the United States but haven’t yet been to Canada so I’d like to do that at some point.

I Have More Athletic/ Adventure Goals Than I Thought

I’m not much of an athlete and there are definitely some goals that aren’t anywhere near my lists (like running a marathon or doing an Ironman). But there are a lot of sporty things I want to try in my life including learning archery, going fishing, trying ice skating, learning to ski, learning to sail and trying surging. I’d also like to take a martial arts class someday, do more dancing, try kitesurfing and go stand up paddling. In line with the travel goals, there are specific experiences I’d like to have including kayaking the sea caves in Southern California and doing a zipline somewhere that feels exotic.

As for as non-athletic adventures, there are plenty of common ones I’m not at all interested in (skydiving, for example) but some that I’d like to do at some point include hot air ballooning, mechanical bull riding, fire walking, white water rafting, rock climbing, firing a gun, and doing a major world train ride.

There Are Hobbies I Want to Try Just To Have Tried Them

I know myself well enough to be about 99% certain that I wouldn’t like sculpting but I’d still like to try it just because I’ve never tried it and I kind of want to check it off of my list. Candle making, model building and antique restoration all fall into that category. I’m really not much of a hobbies person actually but I’m someone who does like to try different things.’

I Don’t Care at all About Meeting Famous People

So what I did was I printed out the big list of 500+ ideas and crossed off all of the ones that I absolutely wasn’t interested in. There is a section called “People to Meet Bucket List” and includes specifics (Al Gore) and general (your childhood hero). I crossed off every single one on the list so apparently I don’t care that much about meeting famous people. I also don’t care that much about being famous as I corossed off most of the ones on the “hit the big time” bucket list. I don’t want to be interviewed by Oprah or awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Some Other Things I Do Want To Do

A few of the other things that were on the big bucket list that are also on my personal life list include:

  • Get a PhD
  • Learn sign language
  • Make a list of 100 books to read and another of 100 movies to watch (and read/watch them)
  • Be an extra in a film
  • Go to an auction at Christie’s or Sotheby’s
  • Attend a designer fashion show
  • Go to the Kentucky Derby
  • See a play on Broadway
  • Own a private jet (okay, this one isn’t really an aspiration but I wouldn’t mind …)

There are also other things on my personal list that aren’t from the big 500+ list but I’ll post about those on another day.

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Things I’ve Done From the Bucket Lists

I make lists all of the time including what most people would call a bucket list (although I’ve always just called it a life list). I’ve been in the mood to update that list lately. I’ve added some things that came out of my own thoughts but I figured I’d check out what was on the various bucket lists that people post online to get some fresh ideas. What I discovered was that I’ve done a lot of the things on other people’s bucket lists!

For example, some of the ones I’ve checked off that are on the big list of 525+ ideas for your bucket list include:

  • Go canoeing or kayaking (I’ve done both of those, actually)
  • Helicopter ride
  • Take horseback riding lessons
  • Learn conversational Spanish
  • Learn to play the piano
  • Compose a song
  • Enroll in a music appreciation class
  • Salsa
  • Waltz
  • Visit The Grand Canyon
  • Go to The Smithsonian in DC
  • See the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Learn to play poker
  • Learn to play pool
  • Learn astrology
  • Scrapbook
  • Crochet
  • Make a list of 100 books you want to read
  • Make a list of 100 movies you want to watch
  • allow yourself to make mistakes
  • Figure out your priorities
  • Learn to say no without feeling guilty
  • Get your GED
  • Get a college degree
  • Make a difference in at least one person’s life
  • Write an eBook
  • Earn enough from your writing to be able to quit your day jo
  • Be recognized as an authority in your field
  • Leave a valueable contribution in your area of expertise
  • Start your own business
  • Become a freelance writer
  • Become a teacher
  • Create a website
  • Start a blog
  • Make a YouTube video
  • Become financially literate
  • Create a home with an inviting, joyous. comfortable, loving atmosphere
  • Have a pet
  • Go whale-watching
  • Visit the San Diego Zoo
  • Have a fireplace in your home
  • Have a large kitchen with wood floors
  • Heal your past
  • Take up yoga
  • Have a past life regression
  • Learn to meditate
  • Go to a concert by your favorite entertainer
  • And eat cheese fondue, oysters, baklava, chicken ticca masala, churros and caviar

Of course, there are still plenty of things on this list and others that I want to try but it’s kind of interesting to see what I’ve accomplished that other people may have on their lists.

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Trading “To Do”s for Overarching Goals

Sometimes people who know me well are surprised to find out that I love “To Do” lists. On the one hand, I love a really free unstructured life and schedule. On the other hand, I find that there’s a benefit to imposing some self-structure. One of the ways that I have always done that is with To Do lists. However, I have been moving towards a shift lately in which the To Do list is beginning to serve a different purpose in my life than it has up to this point.

I use versions of the To Do list in many different ways. Each week I make my To Do list for work which includes when I plan to do different writing jobs. It also includes items that aren’t deadlined but that I’d like to do such as researching writing contests or looking for new clients, etc.

I often make a weekly To Do list (in calendar form) of the other things that I want to do with my week. Sometimes this is very structured. I get these ideas in my head about what I should be doing in order to have the life that I want. Then I create To Do lists that reflect these ideas. For example, I decide that I should be going to yoga three times per week, hiking once a week, attending at least one cultural/educational event per week, doing something artsy once per week, etc. Then I make a calendar-based list of specifically what activities I’m going to do that week and when.

I also sometimes make monthly To Do lists. These reflect the same types of things as the weekly list but Continue reading

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10 Things I Want to Learn More About in 2010

I think one of the most important things that you can do to keep yourself happy is to keep learning new things. This inspires you. It motivates you. It gives you a reason to wake up in the morning. It stretches your boundaries and makes life more interesting.

I try to learn new things all of the time. Most of what I learn comes from random experiences and ends up being about stuff I never planned on learning. However I do think it’s good to think about the things that you want to learn more about.

10 things I plan to learn more about in 2010 are:

  1. Crochet. I just barely learned how to crochet over Thanksgiving weekend and have completely fallen in love with it. It’s the first craft that I absolutely can not get enough of. I want to learn new stitches, new projects, new use of yarns and fabrics. (The photo above was made from an old sweater and some black cotton yarn.)
  2. Lomography. I recently learned about this interesting type of photography. I want to know more about it.
  3. Photoshop. I FINALLY took a photoshop class late last year and started to learn the basics. I really want to actually start using this program and learning how to do stuff with it which I haven’t really done yet.
  4. Pilates machines. I really like my pilates mat class but I want to branch out and learn more about how to do pilates using machines. Haven’t tried that yet but will have tried it by this time next year!
  5. Celebrity fashion. This isn’t a topic that I thought I’d ever be interested in. However I’ve started exploring it for a new blog I’m helping out with (the blog for super cool Bay Area clothing company Edgi). I’m actually taking a keen interesting in this and want to learn more.
  6. Pandora. I just started using this online radio program (behind the times, I know) and think it’s something I’ll be exploring a lot in 2010. Any suggestions from people who already like it?
  7. Various types of dance. There are a couple of workout-style dance classes that I want to take this year. I want to learn fire dancing. I want to learn hula hoop dancing. We’ll see if that leads to any other dance interests.
  8. Snow and Water Sports. This is a hands-on goal. I know a bit about things like skiing and tubing down rivers but I want to learn to actually do them.
  9. Buenos Aires. I’ve read a lot about this city and have wanted to visit for awhile. I don’t know if I’ll actually get the chance to explore it in person this year or not but it’s definitely a 2010 goal to aim for.
  10. San Francisco. I know a lot about this city that I live in and love but there is always more to learn here. I definitely plan to keep exploring and learning more about it!
What do you want to learn more about in 2010? Leave it in the comments here to help make your goals public and make you more likely to stay committed to them!
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