Tag Archives: focus

About them 2019 resolutions…

Okay, so I did all right. I won’t be crossing quite everything off the lists but I’m basically satisfied. In both 2018 and 2019 I made highly specific “kinda, sorta resolutions” tailored to me. It’s worked out well.
I read 33 books. The goal was 20. I did most of my reading in the early part of the year. I put check marks by 13 of them, indicating which ones I really appreciated.  I can’t read the way I used to; it takes more to hold my attention, more to get me to sit in a spot for hours with a book. Because of that, six of my 33 were books I’d read in years past and wanted to read again. Sometimes I just need a sure thing. I have little patience these days for trying to get into a book, trying to relate to characters, or trying to care about the subject matter. I get restless. And I KNOW there are books – like all things – which can hold me; it’s a matter of finding them.

A year ago I bought a yoga mat and a DVD player for the TV in the living room, the only place (other than outside!) where I have space for doing yoga. As with the reading, most of my yoga was done earlier in the year. I am very active outdoors most of the year and didn’t need more exercise of any stripe. Because I hadn’t totally factored that in I fell somewhat short of my intentions. I’ve done the five-minute “sun salutation” 38 of 50 planned times and the 30-minutes of yoga just half of 25 planned times. That said, when I DID do yoga it was usually in 40-45 minute increments per the instructional DVDs.

I like yoga. I don’t worry much about fussy breathing or learning all the poses’ names, or anything that might daunt, bore, or intimidate me. To me, yoga is exercise. Exercise focused on strength, balance, and stretch. It’ll make your body move in ways it wouldn’t in the normal course of a day which is an especially good idea for anyone who is aging. Otherwise you end up like the tin man!😯 I want to be strong, agile, and spry as long as possible. The way I live is dependent on it at many levels. I will not go down easily. I know I’ll be doing yoga over the winter.

I did ZIPPO with learning Italian from cds. That fell off the map in short order because I wasn’t enjoying it and I wasn’t learning Italian. All I can say is I recently heard “piazza” somewhere or other and knew it meant plaza.😐 I think I ‘d like to learn – or try to learn – key phrases and words at least as a starting-off point rather than attempt the language itself. That, or I need different cds. I felt inept very quickly with the set I was using. Other than English, I have never felt I had an aptitude for languages and my opinion after this year hasn’t changed a whit.

Thai cooking wasn’t a success either. Thai cooking, it seems, requires a lot of ingredients I don’t typically have and more trouble than I wanted to invest. I did attempt spring rolls because I love them when I have them out but mine, which I decided to bake since I cook NOTHING in pots of oil, were okay, not great.  Instead, I continued to make this Thai-inspired cole slaw. If I can find more recipes like it, I’d definitely try them. Lime, peanuts, cilantro, be still my heart!

I watched a lot of DVDs, both movies and series. I had wanted an idea of the number since I’d never kept track. The thing I realized is that as with books, I need the right movies or series to hold me. I ADORE movies, as I adore books and music. But a lot of each is just average, nothing special, not to me. I want the gems, the ones I get excited about, the ones that thrill me, and make me sit back in awe of someone else’s brilliance and accomplishment. How did they do that?! That’s the feeling I want. That’s why I read, watch movies/series, and listen to music.  I want to have that O-MI-GOD feeling. Am I demanding? Do I expect too much? Yeah, well maybe. But once you’ve had that feeling, it’s Continue reading

What’s on my mind lately (Sept 2018)

Summer is more or less over. It passed quickly for me. Summer is when I feel most alive, because it’s such a sensory, sensual time of year. So much to see and do! And here, I don’t mean anything grand as much as the connection to the outside world, the natural world – sun on your skin, breezes in the air, hummingbirds, dragonflies, and butterflies. Water; pools, oceans, rivers, lakes, tall cold drinks of it. Rain nurturing the flowers, the vegetables, the perennials. Baby animals; birds, squirrels, chipmunks, ducklings, fawns. Windows open, long days, blue skies, summer clothes. It’s my time.

Beyond the pleasures of the natural world, more activities are possible and people tend to congregate, slowing down to relate, be it in formal settings (picnics, parties, weddings, festivals, reunions, etc) or casual ones, where they’re just more willing to interact when their paths cross.  (They’re not cold-as-shit hustling to their next destination. Or maybe that’s just me.)

I’m immersed in both my micro and macro lives. In the micro, I’ve continued on my path of mild self-improvement in 2018.  I have but two more lake visits to finish off what I planned.  I am reading – books – again. Nonfiction has dominated. I hadn’t planned that and somehow vaguely thought fiction would be the bulk of it but that’s not how it’s been. Maybe because I feel (or felt) this need to jump-start to mind, I’m drawn more to nonfiction. Not sure. I still have this nagging sense of trying to catch up, to read books I missed. I continue to be taken aback – chagrinned – that I’m picking up titles from years ago, ones I never read. I’ve switched back and forth between older and newer books.

As a middle-aged person, I am very, very interested in keeping my mind sharp as I age, for as long as I can. Not only do I love reading, but I miss challenging my mind. The years in which the internet has been in my life have changed how I spend my time and where I put my focus. Many good things have come to me because of the internet, but I lament those I dropped or gave less time to. I’m working to remedy that primarily by reading but not only.

WordPress – blogging and interacting with other bloggers – still is very important to me. I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating: WordPress is one of, if not the most valuable way I spend time online. It isn’t frivolous. It isn’t a waste of time. It isn’t a mindless diversion. It isn’t something I have nothing to show for after participating. WordPress has depth.

Oh – I’m off coffee for the last 3 (almost 4) weeks. I was a moderate but habituated drinker. I drank some coffee every day for decades. For many recent years I’ve had no more than one cup per day and frequently less than that (I always start with only half a cup but sometimes allow myself a tad more).  Because of how I’m wired, even one cup packs a wallop. I never drink coffee out. I hadn’t planned to give it up but I got sick for a couple days and didn’t drink it (or eat anything much either). Once off it, I decided to see how it would be to try to stay off. A main reason is I want nothing between me and my sleep. Residual coffee can affect a person many hours after drinking it and I have to figure, with my makeup, that must certainly be true for me. Quieting my busy mind to sleep soundly all night is a struggle. Yet I know that sleep or lack thereof rules my personality. I don’t take anything stronger to help me sleep than an occasional Valerian (an herb) and I don’t want to. I miss coffee – the little ritual and the little buzz – and can’t say I’ll stay off but right now, I feel like I’m doing something good for myself, particularly when I replace it with a healthy drink.

Giving myself permission to treat myself well is the singular best thing I’m doing in my life at this moment. It’s a struggle and does not come naturally to me. But I’m better, undeniably so.  I’m a bit more generous with myself. I’ve stopped taking crap from other people and I’ve mostly stopped from taking it from myself. This is an ongoing theme.  Other people might not like it – the ways I consider myself improved – because it may not be to their advantage (if they’re looking for advantage). I’m less tolerant, waste less time, and don’t offer as much, and not as quickly, not where it isn’t merited.

Also– I’d like to believe that when you start living better and treating yourself better, the people who aren’t interested in much the same no longer enter your orbit or if they do, they don’t stay or you don’t keep them. And– you’re freed up to draw people who also are choosing or trying to live better lives, who want meaning and substance and validity. And please know, if you don’t know me, that I’m not talking about any kind of fake, quoting, affected, pollyanish, faux, passing, insincere, flash-in-the-pan, b.s. but those things which are genuine, true, and withstand time. Give me the people who are headed up, not spiraling down. And if my theory is wrong, well, I’ll just keep putting my energy into myself because I’m damn sure a far way from being anything near self-indulgent.

I have pushed myself and importantly, I have something to show for it. That’s how it feels.

So far as the macro world, let me give you an analogy. When Barack Obama was elected president, I told a friend that I felt like a kid does when their father is behind the wheel on a family road trip; safe and in good hands, free to sit in the back seat, look out the window, play games or look at books, relaxed and unworried. Now however, I feel tense and constantly vigilant with this new fellow behind the wheel. The car is careening around on mountainous roads, speeding and out of control. I am stomping the floor boards trying to hit the imaginary breaks in the back seat, gripping the arm rest fiercely, as if that would do any good. Road rage with other drivers could escalate on a dime and lead to something very ugly. I can’t take my eyes away.  I know this won’t last but I’m afraid of what could happen before there’s a new driver.  I have never felt quite this way about a president before.

In the end – or the middle or wherever – it always comes down to controlling what you can control. Doing what you can to make your life and the lives of the people you care about, good or better. To draw meaning from the ways you spend your waking hours, however that might be. What’s important to you? This is what I ask myself, this is where I constantly direct (and redirect when necessary) my attention. They say we have many competitors for our attention now. I am susceptible, at times too easily distracted. I’ve gotten better at noticing when it happens and pulling myself up short: Do I really care about this? Is it important? Is this a good way to spend my time? Why am I getting involved in this?

A key part is not letting other people’s priorities become my priorities. Not unless I choose it. EVERYBODY WANTS YOU TO TAKE UP AND INVEST IN THEIR CAUSE. Be it with your attention, your time, or your cash. And I DON’T CARE. More often than not, I just don’t.  People who know nothing or very little about you are so certain that what’s important to them – whatever they’re promoting – should also be important to you.  It’s hard to get away from this so long as you’re a nice member of society and continue to interact with others (which I am and I do! Maybe on my own terms but still).

So, I guess it’s fair to say I am liking where my head is at but I do have some gripes. Or I have some gripes but I am liking where my head is at. I can work with this.

Focusing….

Winter lends itself to reflection.

I’ve been thinking about what I let enter my consciousness. Like a lot of you I get very torn between feeling I should know what’s going on in the world – no matter how ugly – versus feeling that my attention would be better served elsewhere. I am so sick of politics. I am sick of terrorism. I am sick of crime. I am sick of drugs. I am sick of focusing on everything bad, both micro and macro.

I really do believe that what you focus on is what you get more of in life. We’re made to feel guilty if we want to focus on ourselves, on enjoyment, on little things (or god forbid, nothing at all). How can we sit around and watch TV when the terrorists are planning horrendous crimes? How can I watch old Twin Peaks DVDs when every day there seems to be another national or world crisis demanding my attention?

I don’t have the answer but I am leaning a certain way lately. I am tired of letting my energy be siphoned off of me by unworthy sources. THAT’S what it is. I get sucked in too easily and for what? To what end? I’m talking primarily about the space that gets taken up in my head. I find myself getting worked up about things I really don’t even care about! If I stop and think about them. I do this on small local matters and larger world matters.

Too much time passes after which I neither feel satisfied nor fulfilled nor enriched. It’s my own doing. It’s where I’m putting my time, it’s where I’m allowing my focus to rest. I have a lot of say in that. I want to be more conscious about this.

There are certain shows I watch on TV, not habitually but sometimes, after which I feel kind of icky. Sometimes I read things on Facebook, posts with lots of comments, mostly local fare, and I regret it. I find myself getting all reactive (inside) as if it really mattered. I think: Why am I reading this? Why do I feel an urge to jump in (one I usually squelch)? Will it change anything? Will I be more enlightened? Will anything be solved?

Sometimes it seems like you have to wade through 70-80% crap to ferret out 20-30% good. And this ratio can be found in so many places: entertainment, online, in gatherings, etcetera. Those aren’t good odds. I want better ones. It’s kind of my mission at the moment to seek out those things (people, places, events, social media) that pay off regularly and to lessen or eliminate those which are hit and miss.

I’ve said it before. WordPress – blogging and reading other blogs and interacting in comments – is one of the best ways I spend time online. If I’m going to be online – and I am! – I want to read more of what benefits me and less of what mainly passes my time. Right now I’m looking for and following a variety of public people on Facebook  – authors, etc. – who I’ve liked in the past. If I think they’re adding something to my life (knowledge, wit, whatever) I’ll keep following. If not, that’s what the “unfollow” button is for. I’m ditching what aggravates or annoys me. I want to open up space for people who have something to tell me, something I need to hear.

Because I’ve been snoozing at the wheel I’m discovering that authors I’ve liked have published books – some several years ago and I didn’t know it. Where have I been?? I need to catch up. I’ve allowed my focus to become jumbled and fragmented in ways that don’t sit right. My last post about my “Kinda sorta New Year’s Resolutions”  is one concrete step (20 books, 10 visits to local lake, 10 new recipes) in that direction. The course needs slight correcting. I feel as if I AM steering a ship and am now throwing my weight and resolve into turning the wheel a few degrees. I can almost hear the creaking and heaving. 

 

Note: p!ease forgive a day or two delay in responding to comments, thanks.

Telling other people the right things

I mentioned in a recent post that I have a tendency to become distracted. I was referring before to being overly attentive to other people’s agendas, issues, concerns, problems, etcetera. For example, historically, when asked for help, particularly by intimates but others too, I responded immediately, whether it was in my best interest or not. I have been the drop-everything person and at times there’s been a price for that. But I’m not blaming other people, I don’t mean that. At the worst, I may have been – okay, likely was – vulnerable to people who were pushy or needy or aggressive, but then again, I let it happen.

I think that I lean toward distraction generally, maybe more as I’ve aged. I’ve got a lot on my mind, always (not all meritorious, but still). It’s not that I can’t pay attention to one thing at a time or don’t follow through on tasks and commitments. I can and I do. In fact, I like to get things done ahead of deadline whenever possible (yes, I was the little girl who always turned in her book report first and that trait is still there). And yet, I sit down in my screen tent to relax and next thing you know I’ve hopped up to trim a shrub or dig up a plant. I’ll start a project in one room, leave the room and not come back till later after I’ve forgotten about it. I will read a book, get distracted by something, possibly in the book but maybe in the room, and hop up (I hop a lot) to pay attention to something else. I’ve also allowed other people to cause me, not major detriment – I don’t hand out money or otherwise get in over my head – but both aggravations and inconveniences because I sometimes get distracted by them and put their apparent needs ahead of my own. I didn’t always think about in that light. But it is a kind of distraction.

Being easily distracted or pulled off course when it comes to my own business, is something in me. I observe other people, many of them anyway, and I see that they don’t do this. Or rather I’m intentionally looking at people who stay focused and on track for their concerns and priorities, in order to see how it’s done. They do what they need to for themselves, their priorities are first. When they need to go, they don’t mince words, they just go. They offer minimal or fleeting attention to other people’s business or problems. They don’t go out of their way in any sense of the phrase. While not necessarily cold or antisocial, they don’t appear to worry a lot about other people’s feelings and wants. They simply aren’t distracted by these things.

To tell you the truth, I’m not so certain I’d want to be like those people, but I could sure stand to borrow a page from their repertoire. For awhile now, I’ve been in the process of doing that. I’m reflecting to you ground already covered and the direction I’m heading. As with other things in this blog, I doubt I’d write about it if I hadn’t made progress. I use phrases with people I rarely or never used to:

  • I can’t do that now.
  • That will have to wait till next week.
  • This isn’t the right time (and “X” is).
  • I’m not interested.
  • That’s not right for me/that’s not something I do.
  • I need to go.

These may sound like simple phrases that you, or everybody, uses. They did not for me. In the past, instead of using them when I meant them, I may have namby-pambyed around, insinuating them and/or hoping the other person would (politely) get the message. But that’s not how it works, not much of the time. I’ve learned that these are magic phrases. Because other people don’t take you seriously until you can say them (and mean them). It’s still open season. If you say “No, I can’t” and proceed to let the other person goad or otherwise talk you into something, then the phrases are useless. For me, I couldn’t say them till I meant them. It doesn’t always come easy; sometimes for example, I’ll give myself a little talking-to in advance: Don’t let such-and-so hold you up and make you late. Or, if Person X asks for Thing Y, say “No” and let it go at that. I’ll even talk myself through things (in my head I mean, although doing it aloud might have interesting consequences) in the moment when necessary.


If your goal is never to disappoint people, from intimates to strangers; if it is to be liked; if it is to gain approval: if it is not to rock the boat; if it is to pay attention to anyone who wants it; if it is to uphold the highest levels of kindly virtue; if it is to be everybody’s friend; if it is to not make people mad — then you take comes with that. That is, better understand that your interests take a back seat. Hell, sometimes they ride in the trunk! Because nobody hands out prizes, not that I’ve noticed, to people who, in one form or another, have the aforementioned as their goals. And if I’m not being obvious enough, these are some of the reasons (I believe) you might permit yourself to be so easily distracted by other people, even to your disadvantage.

There’s one last part to this. As I suggested, it can be pushy, needy or aggressive people who are the most distracting. I reckon they get a lot of what they want that way too, not just from me, but from LOTS of people. They are the ones making noise and grabbing attention. And here’s what I think. I don’t want to reward that, not anymore. Not with my time, attention, and efforts. I’m not saying I won’t do squat for them, because knowing myself I probably will. But I want to be AWARE when I’m doing it, to say to myself: “Yes, this person is pushing and distracting me from my own affairs, but I don’t mind to do this one thing they want. I have no obligation beyond that no matter WHAT they think.” (Or how put out or indignant they act.) Also, and this is important, I want to make sure I’m giving my attention and efforts to people who aren’t demanding it or cajoling me for one thing or another. It’s easy to overlook the quieter people, the unassuming people, the ones not leaping up in your face, or maybe not knock yourself out so much on their behalf. After all, THEY won’t say anything. But they are the ones who will likely really appreciate it. And in any case, I don’t want to give them short-shrift because I’m so distracted by more aggressive types. Seems like a worthier goal.