Tag Archives: intentions

Happy August!

Hello August!

Hello to my brand new niece, born today!

Hello to a month where I will be in town the ENTIRE month. This might have happened in March? And perhaps the previous October? In other words, this is rare.

What do I hope for this fine month?

1. Relaxed Motivation toward Work

There’s a lot to do at work. I even want to do much of it, as we’ve just dreamed up a cool project that weaves together so much of what we’ve been dreaming about since I started a year ago.  I want to find both motivation and relaxation – not striving too hard, not lazing around too much. Remember the 7 Factors of Enlightenment as a tool for balancing relaxation and motivation!

2. Refrain from judging things as “good” or “bad” – especially when it comes to dating

Because I’m no longer clear what I want from online dating, it’s felt kind of confusing as some people I was excited about fall away and other people I found so-so seem more interesting. It’s hard to know whether some of these things are temporary or permanent, whether they are good or bad in the long term.

I’m reminded of this great story from Buddhism:

Once upon the time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.

“Maybe,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

“Maybe,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

“Maybe,” said the farmer.

3. Get Everything Settled for Italy

I leave for Italy September 13! I need to brush up on my language skills, reserve a rental car for part of our trip, get a new suitcase, and probably a hundred other details I’m not even thinking about yet. It’s time to think about all the tiny details!

4. Have a BBQ

I’ve been slowly working on the back yard. It’s time to get some patio furniture finally, and pick a date to host a little party.

This makes me panic a little – what if I pick a date where no one can show up? Ahhhhh! Get a couple of people lined up, and the rest will fall into place. It will be fun even as a small party.

If I could only do one thing well this month, I’m glad it’s online dating

In May, I decided I wanted to be diving deep. I wanted to explore more of what brought me out to the Bay Area, and discard anything that wasn’t fulfilling my needs. And I wanted to play with proxies for things that felt hard.

I did one of these things well, and the rest got brushed aside, forgotten in the rush of online dating energy. I can’t decide if this is fine, or the root problem of one of my patterns.

1. Practice the energy of destruction

I forgot about finishing my project of cleaning out my iTunes library.

It feels like a pattern for me. Things get screwed up, I freak out, and my brain just erases any reminders that I should be working on a project.

Or maybe not. I did leave town for a week, which didn’t help matters. I also made progress on other goals (like getting an online dating profile), which is a WAY MORE FUN project than deleting music files.

But this is the pattern, yes? Leaving messes behind so I can go get distracted by pretty shiny things!

I feel lost about how to resolve this.

2. Play with online dating

I am rocking online dating. Who cares that I left a mess of an iTunes library when I can go find cute people to date?

So far, I’ve mostly responded to people who have messaged me first. Luckily, they have not all asked me about Richard Gere.

I do want to spend some time looking for people I’m interested in. Just the practice of identifying what I desire feels important!

3. Do what I love at work

I feel like I lost sight of this since I’ve mostly been grumpy about work this week.

I’m pretty sure my grumpiness is only partly work related, but now that I read this admonishment to “do what I love” at work, I’m not sure that’s what I’m spending most of my time doing.

Instead, I’m sending email responses to people who sent me pretty snarky, and sometimes offensive notes. I’m doing my best to be on point and not feed the trolls. But I wonder if  I need to remember what I really want to be working on?

4. Play with incorporating other activities

I was outside all week while visiting Colorado. It was lovely.

Now that I’m back in the Bay, I am not getting outside nearly enough. I blame it on living all the way up in the attic (two flights of stairs before I can get outside!). I blame it on not having good patio furniture.

But really, I just need to do it. Walk more. Go sit in the sun more. Have breakfast and coffee on the back patio instead of at my desk. Lunch too. Enjoy the warm sun while it’s here.

Diving Deep

New insights on what I’m up to right now!

I’m diving in deeper with the things that brought me to the Bay Area – Buddhism, activism, and hanging out with queer folks. I’m getting more precise about exactly what I do and don’t want to be doing, who I want and don’t want to be hanging out with, how I want and don’t want to be doing it.

(Precision isn’t exactly a new thing in my world. But I’m diving deeper into precision).

 

 

 

 

 

Fig. 1: My post-it note reminder to seek precision while I’m diving in to explore things!

What does this look like specifically with this month’s goals?

1. Practice the energy of destruction

Destruction is an important part of precision. I have to be willing to cut away what’s not right to focus on what is right.

I cancelled some plans with folks – things I thought I would enjoy doing, but am realizing are not precisely what I want. I decided I would rather spend the evening on my own, reading and journaling, then doing something with others that wasn’t precisely right.

My initial project – fixing my iTunes library that is an organized mess – had a major hiccup when I deleted most of my library accidentally. Thank goddess for back up!

Part of getting comfortable with destroyer energy is getting comfortable with that hiccup of, “OMG, I totally just screwed that up.” To stay calm and present and able to look at options for remedying the situation.

I’m glad to say the music is back (Ani DiFranco! Aimee Mann!), but I’m feeling cautious about jumping back in to deleting music. There’s a lot more confusion about multiple folders than I thought. It’s turning into a project that needs thought about, not just one I can do mindlessly.

I do think the next steps are to keep deleting the songs I know are duplicates. That feels like it will keep the energy for this moving.

2. Play with online dating

So, I found a couple of people I’m interested in messaging. But I haven’t finished my profile yet! How will they evaluate me if my profile is incomplete?

In the meantime, I’ve just left tabs open with their profiles. It feels like so many steps to message them!

  1. Finish my profile
  2. Worry over and edit my profile some more
  3. Re-read their profile 429 times
  4. Draft a message to them
  5. Send it to 3 friends, asking “Would you want to meet me if you only read this message?”
  6. Edit my profile some more
  7. Edit the message some more
  8. Get drunk and finally hit send

I have to remember that I will be more interesting than this d00d, who just wrote me, “hi im horny.”

Oy, welcome to online dating.

3. Do what I love at work

I am not sure that happened this week. I put some fun projects near the top of my list, but they got sideswiped by meetings and emails and a push for fundraising.

I did some interest writing on Tuesday. While at the beach, trying not to work. Part of my dilemma is that I want to do more than I’m actually getting paid for.

Part of this is resolved by my decision to dive deep, including into Buddhism & activism. I’ve decided not to count my work hours so closely, to not stress out so much about keeping things to 30 hours per week. To think of my pay as a stipend, and do what work I can and want to during the week. To track my work loosely, so I know how much I’m working and to make sure I’m at least working 30 hours. But to embrace the work as all part of what I love.

I think in that, there will also be precision about what I don’t love, and either ending or changing it.

4. Play with incorporating other activities

I noticed this week that I have the most ease in having a balanced life when I’m busy.  This week, I have been writing blog posts, getting to dance class, reading, getting outside a lot. Meditation has been part of the week too. And it’s felt rather easy instead of strained.

Bringing Back the Goals

Last month, there were no goals.

That worked well to give me some spaciousness, but it also left me feeling adrift. My suspicion is that I did nothing last month, but I’m pretty sure I actually took two vacations, wrote an article for an anthology, trained a new staff member, dealt with more transition at work, and let life catch up to me.

Overall the month was about remembering how to feel what I wanted, and act on that. It was about dropping other people’s agendas to make space for my own agenda.

This month, I have already set some light goals.

1. Practice the energy of destruction

I love to grow new projects and ideas. But when things get overgrown, it’s necessary to prune back. If pruning hasn’t been done for awhile, sometimes there’s a much bigger ripping out that is needed.

I have a hard time with pruning as I go, often waiting until I’m being choked off before I make a move. Then I’m flailing, destroying things in my path in an attempt to survive.

So I’m practicing destroyer energy this month, pruning things that have been neglected. Like my actual back yard. And my iTunes library that got corrupted at some point, and now has 6 copies of each song.

2. Play with online dating

I just set up a profile on OK Cupid. I want to meet some new, interesting people and go on dates as a way to explore new people and places.

I feel overwhelmed already – how do I decide who to message? Who do I respond to? How do I keep it fun and playful, rather than another task?

3. Do what I love at work

There are so many things I feel like I *must* do. What happens if I do the things I love first? And then tell people about those things as fundraising & communications strategies?

What happens if I minimize the administration even more? Anything I don’t love, anything that feels complicated – gets dropped. Invoke more destroyer energy!

4. Play with incorporating other activities

Fundraising for Catalyst, planning the trip to Italy, writing projects. Plus the ongoing meditation, walks, dance, connecting with friends.

For awhile, I liked setting weekly goals. Then I liked having randomized to do lists. Then I liked dropping all pressure and only doing what I wanted to do.

I would like to play with different ways of doing this. How do I keep motivated to do the projects in my life, particularly ones with timelines or parts that feel hard to complete?

No goals

I feel adrift this month.

I haven’t set any goals this month.

Coincidence?

I still feel resistant to setting goals this month.

What is the benefit of not setting goals?

I can relax.

I don’t have to feel bad about what I’m not doing.

I can just do what feels like the right thing to do next (like taking an impromptu weekend trip, or writing a complicated submission for survivors in solidarity with prison abolition, or catching up on The Voice).

Not having goals helps clarify the difference between what I *want* to do and what I think I *should* do.

What is the shadow side of not setting goals?

Even when I’m doing things, I feel like I’m not doing anything.

Some things that would feel helpful are not getting done.

Especially daily practices that are helpful, but easy to not do (walking, meditation).

No goals

This will be the month of no goals. I want to get a full month’s worth of feeling of freedom. We will see if goals return for May, or if I need more spaciousness around goals still.

It’s Good Not to Achieve the Goal

This month, wanted to get off Facebook.

Facebook is just one of many indicators that I am feeling lonely or overwhelmed or stuck. It’s an easy one to notice, and one that I don’t have a lot of guilt or shame around. While my progress on specific goals below has been spotty, I’ve made a lot of progress on noticing when I’m turning to Facebook and choosing to do something different instead.

As happens with practice, the more I notice my habit with Facebook, the more I start to notice my other, more complicated habits as well.

1. Nurture local friendships

When I checked in mid-month, I was sure I was doing poorly on this one. I’ve been sitting a lot with loneliness the month, so it seemed like a sure thing that I had not spent time with anyone. I was wrong.

Again, I feel like I have not been nurturing local friendships. There’s both a sense of loneliness, and a sense that I’ve spent a lot of time engaging with people who don’t live here.

But. I spent last weekend hanging out with three different sets of people I know locally. I also had dinner with a friend, and connected with several people at various gatherings.

I am coming to realize that the people I feel most at home with are the people I’m connecting with around engaged Buddhism. I am resisting this, since I want some amount of work/life balance and I work all day on engaged Buddhist issues.

I want to find some resolution to this, where I can both connect deeply with folks and feel balanced. So far, it seems like I need to establish that balance moment to moment, rather than switching to a new mode at 5pm.

2. Walk or meditate in the morning before getting online

The rain continued to make walking difficult. I often headed for a shower or breakfast as a way to start my morning without Facebook.

Meditation has not been as solid this month. Instead, I’ve been really focused on ease. I’d like to find a balance next month of easeful meditation. I’m not sure if that means shorter sits, more walking or guided meditation, or perhaps trying out a few sanghas.

Even though it’s been hard, I’ve still been sitting 2-5 times per week for 30 minutes. I continue to celebrate this as a success.

3. Writing 5 minutes every day

Tracking two daily goals (meditation & writing) seemed to make both of them hard. I didn’t work on tracking this at all, though I did some writing 21 of 31 days this month.

I wonder about:

  • Tracking these two together – 30 minutes of meditation + 10 minutes of writing happens at the same time. (Ahhh! It will take too much time!)
  • Focusing on only meditation for awhile, until it feels more solid

I totally forgot that I did some focused writing in response to a call for articles. It actually felt like the kind of writing I would like to be doing. Perhaps setting this goal created more movement than I realize?

Sometimes achieving the goal is less important than setting the intention. Especially when the goal is a baby step like “write for 5 minutes.” This really isn’t my long term intent. I wouldn’t be happy if I spent the rest of my life writing for 5 minutes every day.

What would it mean to set a writing goal I would be excited and energetic about? But would still have the spirit of doable within my current capacity?

4. Practicing restoration when I’m tired

This month has been all about rest and restoration. I feel fantastic that I have ended a busy, busy month at work still feeling excited about my job and not in a space of burnout. This is so important, as I didn’t want to bring a new co-worker in to a culture of burnout and exhaustion.

I want to track my need for rest this next month. Will I still need completely and total restoration in the same way? Can I recognize that need quickly, and get myself what I need? Do my needs change as my social energy at work changes? How does the weather affect my needs for rest?

I am Surprised I am Not Failing

This month, I’m trying to get off Facebook. I am not planning to delete my account. But I want to spend less time turning to Facebook as a way to distract myself from loneliness and hard work.

1. Nurture local friendships

At first blush, I wasn’t sure I was doing very well at this. But looking at my calendar, I’ve had 3 coffee dates in the last 4 days with a mix of new people and people I’ve been getting to know. Last Monday, I had dinner with some friends I hadn’t seen in 3 months (they were kind enough to only give me a small guilt trip). Earlier this month, I went to a couple of events where I was open to connecting with new people – and did.

This is where setting goals and checking in is so important. According to my internal sense, nothing had changed. I was pretty sure I hadn’t hung out with anyone. As often happens, I was wrong.

2. Walk or meditate in the morning before getting online

This was going awesome, until it rained for a week straight. When I didn’t have walking as an option, I fell back in to old patterns.

I felt especially hard hit with the combo of rain, daylight savings time, Mercury retrograde, and changes at work that finally are giving me some space to breathe. I didn’t want to get out of bed all week, and when I did get out of bed, I wanted to do something soothing and mind numbing.

Even with the challenges, I felt more conscious of switching to Facebook this week. Awareness is the first step of behavior change!

When it’s raining out, my morning routine will now include time in front of the light box.

3. Writing 5 minutes every day

I am not sure how to evaluate this goal.

I certainly have spent a ton of time writing at work. But I think this is for personal writing.

I have written something nearly every day either in my journal or online at the Floating Playground. It feels like a secret, sneaky way to count up the writing I have done.

Yet, I think this should count toward my goal: “I want to be writing more. I have so much to reflect on right now, tons of blogging material …. In setting this small goal, I get worried that there is not enough time.”

The goal is to get me reflecting on my life, in some small but measurable way. To prove that this is doable, even with everything else going on. And I have – at least 14 of the first 17 days of the month. Given that I’ve turned so much of my attention to rest and restoration, this is actually pretty amazing.

4. Practicing restoration when I’m tired

This month has been a lot of practice in saying, “I’m tired! Of course I’m tired! Anyone would be tired if they had been doing everything I have been doing. It’s time to rest!”

Rest has meant:

  • Reading fiction while relaxing in a warm bath
  • Creating safe rooms for the part of me that’s super tired and overwhelmed
  • Getting some new bedding that helps my bed look like the safe room I keep envisioning – super soft feathery bed, covered in piles of white pillows and the softest blankets
  • Faking a nap
  • Sleeping in
  • Not worrying about any of these goals, or meditating, or anything else that I remotely feel like I’m supposed to do

I felt especially worried about not meditating. It has been such a stabilizing force for me, and I worried it was gone forever.

My catastrophizing mind is surprised to see that I just had 2 days where I didn’t meditate at all, and 4 days where I meditated less than my 30 minutes per day. But over the course of the last week, I’ve meditated for 30 minutes 3 out of 7 days. Not bad.

I am seeing a pattern where I’ve done limited meditation on Thursday and Friday the past two weeks. I may want to be more intentional this upcoming week about incorporating at least a small sit on these days. And notice what is making sitting hard. The end of the work week? A perception that I need to let loose?