It feels good

It feels good to feel good. Why do we forget this? Or neglect it? Or choose to stay in an unhappy state, avoiding the things we know will help us to feel good?

There are a lot of really complicated answers for those questions. Some have to do with habit, some with depression, some with disease, fear, outside pressure. Who knows.

The truth is, though, that we can feel good if we choose to.

I forget that too often. Right now I remember.

So I am reminding you. Go do something that makes you feel good. Not because I said so, but because you deserve it. And because you really do have the power to choose.

Waiting

never wait

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Craft Fair

Today I was a vendor at a craft fair, for the first time ever. It was a small affair, hosted in a home, with seven vendors in all. A little crowded, to be sure, but well set up. Small tables, all with white tablecloths, one with snacks and goodies to share with guests.Plenty of room to walk. It was a lighthearted, relaxed event.

Never would have known that if you’d asked me as recently as last night. I was so freaked out about whether I had forgotten anything, and if I would have enough sizes and styles of jewelry (I have plenty), and how I would arrange them, and were my prices reasonable… I went on for days, actually, stressing about it. It was exhausting, but it paid off. When I showed up this morning to set up, I knew exactly what I had, knew I had checked everything off my list in one way or another, and knew that even if I sold nothing, I get to give myself credit for showing up.

I was not outrageously successful, but I did sell several pieces of jewelry and generate some interest in custom work. Therefore, still successful. It was wonderful to see the creative works that others brought to share, and very gratifying to have my own work admired and purchased. And tomorrow, I will do it again, with even less stress. It sounds like a good plan to me.

The Power of Words

In our monthly staff meetings, my coworkers and I have all chosen to end the meeting with a hope or goal for the coming month. It is an effort to end the meeting on a positive note. We share these hopes to inspire each other, and to encourage a little bit of accountability for ourselves.

Yesterday’s meeting had tempers running high, because we were discussing many changes to the rules. We were all pretty worn out by the end of it. We also have a big transition coming up in a few weeks as we change classrooms for our new school year. This has everyone pretty stressed. As we went around the table, I heard many variations on the hope for a smooth transition. By the time it came to my turn, I knew I had to say something special. I was hearing words that expressed hope, but voices that spoke only of defeat. So I took  a deep breath, leaned forward, and this is (roughly) what came out of my mouth:

“I do sincerely hope that we have a smooth and easy transition. But much more importantly, I hope that each of you will take a few minutes every day to be mindful. Get in touch with yourself, with how you feel and where you are. Be wholly present in the moment, just for a bit. Because in the end, if you take care of right now, then three weeks from now will take care of itself.”

I stopped there because I didn’t want it to turn into a rant, as some of my more passionate thoughts tend to do. But as I looked around the table, I knew I had said exactly the right words. People began to relax. Some even looked hopeful. The strongest and least sentimental person on my team was wiping away tears. My supervisor said “thank you” in an uncharacteristically soft voice. And as we continued around the table, I could hear the strength and vision that usually define my team creep back into their voices.

I am far from perfect when it comes to ideas like mindfulness. Usually, I’m so good at ignoring myself and my emotions that I don’t notice something is wrong until it is too overwhelming to ignore. But I try. Not always. Not even as much as I could. But I do try. And moments like that one tell me that I am doing something right. If I hadn’t been mindful of myself and my environment at that moment, I wouldn’t have said anything close to that. We would have just kept on the way we were, and all gone home stressed and a little defeated. But because I made the choice to be aware, to pay attention, I had the power to speak words that could change that. It’s an incredible feeling.

We all have that power. Every minute of every day, if we are paying attention, we have the chance to do or say something to change a life. Recognizing that is exhilarating and uplifting. Remembering it is challenging. But now that I have a fresh reminder, I am going to try a little harder. I wonder how much change I can encourage if I can be mindful, truly present, for just five minutes a day.

The Joy of Letting Go

I mentioned a few days ago that I’m working on cleaning out my apartment. Today was a very successful day for this project. Got through all of my clothes (believe me, there are lots of those). Did it in less than half the time I had allotted for the project. Then I took everything I’ve collected to donate over the last couple of weeks to Goodwill. I have now reclaimed a portion of my apartment. I am so relieved.

I’ve always been very inclined to hold on to things – I might need this later, it was a gift, I’ve always wanted this. Lately, though, not so much. Sure, I still have lots of stuff. I really do. But what I have is less than half of what I owned 5 years ago. And it feels amazing. I still have a few places to go through, things that I will be minimizing even more. I’m so excited to do it, too. I can open all of my closets, and find what I’m looking for at a glance. There aren’t stacks of boxes on the floor anymore. I’m pretty sure I now know exactly where to find anything I own – and I can get to it without moving a hundred other things. (Exaggeration, I promise.) It makes me feel lighter.

And beyond even the great satisfaction and joy of knowing I was able to let go of all those things is the knowledge of what that leaves me. Everything I am keeping means more to me, in one way or another, than the things I’ve given away. Some have higher practical value, some have higher sentimental value. But they are all things that really are important to me. Sorting through my material possessions is helping to me reach a better understanding of myself. I can say now why things are important to me, or why they used to be. I’ve even begun to understand that my value judgments will change over time. Things that are important to me now might not be later. And that’s okay, because there will be other things that are important to me.

Like a clean and open living space. I’m so tired of clutter, and I am surrounded by it. This is why I started cleaning out in the first place. And why I will keep going. Bit by bit, I am reclaiming my space. I am making it more my own, by making my surroundings suit me. It feels amazing. And honestly, feels like a good first step in making me more…well, me.