Ivy is really interesting. On the one hand we encourage it to grow on our buildings. On the other hand it can rip away and destroy those same buildings. I love looking at ivy and other such climbing plants. I think they perfectly show how things are interdependent and how suffering ( or the natural highs and lows) of life is innate and beautiful. Most Ivy don’t have a support structure. They rely on the other plants and buildings around them to climb toward the light. Some even feed off the nutrients of their host tree to survive. When I look at an ivy covered wall, I also see the natural world trying to reclaim and re-integrate with the man-made structures. We are all connected. We rely on each other. Our actions are also destructive. We create the things that cause us suffering. We are all like the ivy. Clinging to this world, trying to survive, and potentially destroying the things we need. Step back and realize where you are clinging in your life. Maybe we are choking something by clinging to it. Maybe we need to recognize our piece of the infinite workings of the universe. We are the ivy, we are the wall, we are the universe.
Today I start my new day job. I'm excited that I get this opportunity and this fresh start. I'm nervous, but that's just my anxiety around the anticipation. This is the next step along the path of my life. I'm so thankful that I am here and I'm growing as a person. I'm so thankful for everyone that helped me asking the way. I'm so thankful for this beautiful new day.
A lot of changes have happened in the last few weeks. I think they are about to come to a head, and I'll restablize on my new path. It isn't really a new path, as much as a next step. A step that I'm hoping will be more healthy, more balanced, and more joyful.
These last few weeks have been full of stress, but it's a stress that had a goal, it's a stress that moved me forward. Like The Alchemist said, the universe will push you towards your personal destiny. It may not be fun, but when you are on the correct path the things will start to allign.
I've been trying to swim upstream for so long because that felt “safe”. This was exactly the push I needed to start living my life.
I recently picked up a new hobby of bouldering. I appreciate the meditative aspect in climbing. When you come up to a wall, you first have to inspect it closely to see how you can climb it. Then you just put your hands and feet on the starting holds and go.
You only move one limb at a time, so it forces you to focus all your energy in the moment, shifting weight back and forth, pulling and pushing, carefully placing each limb to make the next movement possible, and listening to your body when it tells you your limitations.
There's no room for the dukkha when you're on the wall. There's no room for stressing about the future. There's no room for ruminating on the past. There is just you and the wall in this moment.
Being one in the moment is life. The more time you can spend wholely present, the more life you get to live. Find an activity that makes you happy. Spend time living. Namo Amida Bustu.
I recently attended the World Buddhist Women’s convention in San Francisco. I’ve been processing a lot of what inspired me at the conference by writing about it. I realized that I hadn’t really spoke about my relationship with Buddhism on this blog. And honestly, I think I’ve been avoiding mentioning it. The reasoning was two fold. First, I don’t feel like a qualified person to discuss it since I’m actually fairly new to the practice and teaching of Buddhism. And Secondly, I wanted to make the life advice in this blog accessible to everyone and to not scare off anyone by getting too deep into Buddhist philosophy.
But I realize I was being disingenuous. All the ideas I’m discussing, struggling with, and exploring come from my continued practice and experimentation in Buddhism. Shying away from that fact, or obscuring it, isn’t helpful to anyone. So I’m going to be more open about the Buddhist-y things I’m doing and learning. I will still strive to connect things outside of Buddhist Philosophy and explain things so that you don’t need to be an expert in Buddhist scripture to understand what I’m trying to say.
Sometimes I can’t seem to break out of my mental spinning. I will get trapped in the endless intrusive thoughts. I’ll get so spun up that I can’t seem to break out of my own mind. Sometimes I’ll find I’ve started crying. Recently I’ve been trying to use Zen thought and breathing focused meditation to try to keep my mind in the moment, in the present, and stop spinning in the past and future.
Spinning in the future is anxiety for a world that doesn’t exist. Spinning in the past is depression over things you have no control over. Your life is in the present. Your whole life is only right now.
Now I just need to practice.
Finally convincing myself to log back in.
I’m finally at a point where the guilt and anxiety about how long I’ve been gone is manageable, and I can log back in an start trying again.
I really do enjoy writing. This space lets me workshop ideas and contemplate deep thoughts. It helps me play with and explore my beliefs, even the ones I might not realize I have. So I’m going to try to be back more regularly again.
This space makes me happy. This space brings me joy. This space is a comfort.
The last few days have been a struggle. I know that, generally, when you hear the word struggle, you automatically think about obstacles or setbacks. But I'm taking about emotional or psychological struggles. I find these harder to deal with because with an external struggle, I can pull myself up and start making a plan on what to do next. I can keep going, I can change course, I can make changes. With emotional struggles, I often get overwhelmed. I just feel bad, and no amount of boot strap pulling is going to get me out of this. In fact I've found that the guilt and shame my brain starts pumping out makes the situation worse.
Me: I'm struggling so, I can't even get out of bed.
Brain: You're lazy and bad. Just get up!!!
Me: * doesn't get up*
Repeat and scene.
I was asked what I was planning on doing differently this year to make it successful. I'm doing even more than I was doing during my Year of Discipline, but this year I've dedicated myself to supporting my relationships. Essentially, I'm making time and prioritizing the people in my life over my obligations.
I'm a little worried that I'm going to burnout this year. We'll just have to see. So far I've done more and felt more connected to the people in my life. Simply put, the answer to the question is I'm putting people over things.
When I started down this path of choosing my Core Values, the second one I picked was "Impermanence". I thought about how I really needed to work on letting thing change and go. How I clinged so much to a reality that will always be in flux. The next day after I officially picked Impermanence, my favorite pint glass, a gift from my best friend, shattered. It was all my fault. It was the universe showing my what is had committed to, letting go of things.
My favorite glass was part of set of pint glasses. Yesterday, the last of the set broke. It's just an interesting closure. Got me thinking about the past. When I broke the first one, I was really sad. My partner offered to try to fix it, but it was broken into far too many little pieces. It was hard to let go. Yesterday, when I was informed that the last glass had broken, I was sad too, but it was more a sense of remeniscent, a quick thought about all the time I enjoyed the glasses, not just the one that broke, but the whole set. And then I moved on.
I took a step back where I realized how much less painful the loss of the last cup was. In the last few years I have improved in my value of Impermanence. And that's something to celebrate. So, Goodbye Cup. Thank you for all the fun we had. Thank you for being there for me for so long. Thank you for helping me see my improvements. Goodbye Cup.
Legacy is a strange concept. I believe it comes from our inate fear of death. I believe we look for how we will be remembered to ensure we will not be forgotten. If that's the definition, I don't think I have a legacy, because nothing I affect will last.
The solar pv projects I design need to be replaced in 20-30 year's. I will probably out live them. The words on this site will disappear as soon as the address expires. And I will eventually die.
I do have a dream of a building a charitable foundation and giving money to young minority people who want to go into STEM fields. But currently that's my pipe dream. My hope is that will be my Legacy... Someday.
Today is the first day of the quarter. I am excited, but like always I've overcommitted myself and my new average day is a little crazy.
I'm still starting my day with writing. Just a quick 30 minute brain dump. Then I'm getting up to make lunches and to get ready. After I get that all together, I'm running to my office on campus. It's only about 3 miles away, so that helps my get my daily run in. I stashed a change of clothes and my work stuff on campus last night.
I'm planning to put a couple hours of work in before I head to a class I'm taking. I then catch a bus to my day job office and work the rear of my shift there. On the days where I don't have the morning class, I leave my day job a little early to get to campus in time to teach my lab classes.
This next quarter is going to be exciting.
Some time things seem to go wrong or not our way. This can be especially hard for me because I fixate on what went wrong and what I did wrong. One of my core values is Impermanence. It's not my core value because I've mastered it. I'm by no means free of clinging desperately to the things I can change and the things that have changed. It's my value, because I want to value it. I'm intentionally trying to improve my reaction to the thing out is my control.
The first step to work towards Impermanence when things go wrong is simply acceptance. I have to step back, reconzie that this is the path I'm walking down now. If I try to fight it, I'll just prolong the suffering. Once you accept the path, then you can start to adapt.
Gratitude is one of the most important things to do to improve your life. Just taking some time and thinking about and writing down a few things you are grateful for every day can really affect how content you are. The act of reconzining the positive things you have in your life can pull it all into focus. Most of us fixate on the negative things and that creates a world where only bad things seem to happen. But the reality is the world is what you make it. Your interpretation of what you experience are what makes you happy or sad or angry.
I'm in no way saying that we don't need to change anything or try to make the world better. What I mean is you shape how the day to day annoyances and slights are interpreted. You decide on how you are going to react. Choose gratitude. Choose contentment.
Negativity is all around us. From the people who honk at intersections to the co-worker that won’t stop complaining about their work load. We have to put up with angry, bitter, or just sad people all the time. If you are anything like me, it’s not even the external negativity that is the problem. It’s the internal voices and intrusive thoughts that can be overwhelming.
My intrusive thoughts and negativity is something that I struggle with everyday. I have a few methods of coping, but honestly, sometimes they are not enough.
Cuddling/Physical Contact - Just having someone hold me tight when I’m not doing great usually helps, but that’s not really an option all the time.
Music - Especially late at night, I’ll put in earphones and try to drown out the voices with music or podcasts.
Movement - Going for a walk or run, deep stretching, or an exercise class, just getting my blood moving and stop being physically stagnant can push the intrusive thoughts along.
I'm sitting in a coffee shop before 6am by a cozy fire. Sipping on a warm peppermint mocha. The sun still hasn't peeked over the horizon, so there is a quiet stillness. The stillness is making me retrospective.
As the year drags itself to a close, I wonder how well I've done. I wonder what do I want to do next year. I wonder where I'm going.
One thing is clear, I do not spend enough time just sitting thinking. I need more time to just sit and reflect. To just be for a few minutes.
Soon I'm going to have to start frantically prepping for New year's. I'm going to be so busy with all the things that I won't even realize I haven't had a moment to just be in my self.
Every year, I throw a large party at my home. I essentially invite everyone I know over and serve food from sunrise to evening. Leading up to the new year, I spend all my available time preparing food and cleaning my house. When I talk about my New Years philosophy, many people seem to really like it.
Essentially, you should start the year like you want the entire year to go. You should have a clean home. You should fill your home with food. You should share with the people you love. Shape your new year.
In the past, I've made monthly resolutions for the new year. Basically, I would pick a theme for each month, and then I would try to add something or remove something from my life to see how and if it made it better. The issue is I've run out of ideas on what to work on, so I start repeating. And generally that doesn't help me grow it improve.
This year, I've decided to focus more on an annual theme in my life. Something I want to direct my life towards or improve. Last year, I was so busy, I neglected many of my relationships. This year is my year of Friends. I'm going to try to interact and have quality time regularly with as many people as I can. This year, I'm going to prioritize my relationships.
Oops. Well that didn’t happen like I was planning. I had a big exam at the end of October, so I stopped writing for a little bit to focus on studying, but then I looked up, and it’s almost November. All my grand plans for writing a novel this month have not come to pass. That’s okay though. I’m trying to focus more on white space in my life. And taking a break after my exam and focusing on my own self care was important to really getting a handle on things.
All that said, I’m back on here and I’m planning to keep chugging along for the foreseeable future.
So my plan is to have approximately 60k words in the first draft of this novel. So if I divide that by the 30 days in November, that is averaging 2k words a day or 14k works a week. The typical NaNoWriMo goal is 50k works which would be approximately 1670 words a day or 11.7k words a week. I am also planning to have 24 scenes in the novel, for approximately 2080 to 2500 words per scene. Basically, I'm planning to write the rough draft of a scene a day. That should put me right into the middle of my goal words for the month.