Time for Some Resolutions!

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That’s right.  I’m rocking it old school this year and making resolutions.

For the past two years, I’ve chosen a one-word theme, in lieu of resolutions.  Two years ago, it was “love.”  At that time I was just learning to accept love from those around me, and my mind was beginning to entertain the notion that I might be deserving of it. 2013 turned out to be a year of big changes, and I learned about love in so many different ways.  In fact, love has continued to be my guiding light, and it really could be my one-word theme every year.

My word for 2014 was “surrender,” and this was also very appropriate for the year.  In accepting myself as I am and in accepting life as it is, I’ve been able to grow more than I ever knew I could.  Surrender is really just an extension of love.

And so love will be my focus once again, but I will be making some concrete goals to guide me through this journey to love.  In 2012 I made 5 resolutions.  While I wasn’t perfect in meeting these goals, they did lead us closer to creating the lifestyle we wanted.

At that time, my goals were to eat less poison, get off the grid completely, generate one plastic shopping bag of garbage per month, put together a 12-piece wardrobe for myself, and have Christmas shopping done by January 1.  Some of these goals can be elaborated upon to help me meet my goals now, some of them are not irrelevant, and some are things I will work on later.

These are my resolutions for 2015:

1.  Lose 35 pounds.  Weight-loss had eluded me for years, but this will be the year I make it happen.  I’ve learned that willpower is a limited tool that can be counter-productive in the end, so I will be relying on other strategies.  I will work on staying organized with my meal planning and food preparation–and this includes delegating and using convenience foods (such as pre-made salads) when life gets in the way.  I will also look deeply when I am wanting to snack, so that I can learn to address the emotional need that is leading me to overeat.   I will join the gym that is walking distance from the marina, and begin attending classes there 3 times a week, eventually moving up to 5.

2.  Amass $10,000 in savings.  Living on Breaking Tradition is great, but we will eventually want something with a more comfortable layout.  Our plan is to save up for a center cockpit boat, which we will live on until we are ready to cruise full-time.  Then we will need something faster and more practical for long runs (our dream is to get a cruising catamaran!).  I don’t have a great history with money management, due to disorganization, feeling mentally overwhelmed, and fear of knowing our true financial situation.  There is less pressure now, so I am going to take baby-steps to get more comfortable in this area.

3.  Develop small income sources outside of my job.  If we’re going to cruise full time, we will need income.  We won’t need as much money as I make now, but we will need something.  So I will be experimenting with ways to make money through my writing.  I’m piloting an e-course and will try self-publishing, simplicity coaching, and other creative ideas.

4.  Spend structured time with Beanie.  My happiest memories have been of outings and art projects with her.  I actually joined Pinterest, so that I can find more potential activities!  My ultimate goal is to do an activity with her everyday, but we’ll start with 3 times a week.

5.  Do something social once a month.  I’ve always felt like establishing community was important, but the truth is that I’m kind of shy about actually getting together with people IRL.  So this year, I’m going to do something with a friend–have them over for dinner, go out or coffee, etc. once a month, at the very least.

January is an excellent time to start new habits, and I will be updating you on my progress on each of these goals, at least once a month.

May this be a new year where we all learn to love ourselves better!

36 Lessons I’ve Unlearned

Last year, on my birthday, I wrote 35 lessons that I learned in 35 years.  This year, I will share my 36th lesson that I learned, but first I wanted to share 36 “lessons” that I have unlearned.

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I have learned that all of these are not true at all:

1.  I need to “matter.”

2.  “Others” and “myself” are two separate categories.

3.  There is a wrong way to live.

4.  The things other people say should be taken at face value.

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5.  It is possible to have my needs met through another person.

6.  My actions don’t affect those around me.

7.  It is possible for love not to exist.

8.  Hierarchies exist.

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9.  Selfishness is caused my giving yourself too much attention.

10.  Narcissism is caused by loving yourself too much.

11. The “smoothest” relationships are the most beneficial.

12.  Experiencing fear makes me a failure.

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13.  It is not possible for me to experience inner peace.

14.  There is a such things as a coward.

15.  Character flaws exist.

16.  There are people who have it all together and never experience (or act upon) fear.

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17.  Having fewer possessions is virtuous.

18.  Willpower can solve problems.

19.  There is a such thing as “negative” thoughts and emotions.

20. It is necessary to fight some things in life.

21.  If someone really cares, they will be a part of our life forever.

22.  What we see, is what is real.

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23.  Autism is a hindrance.

24.  I have a “past.”

25.  The past exists.

26.  Judgement exists.

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27.  Hate exists.

28.  It is possible to lose weight without loving your body.

29.  We should always give advice to help those around us.

30. Talking about problems makes them more manageable.

31.  Drama is inevitable.

32.  Conflict is a part of being in a relationship.

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33.  There are dark and light times in our lives.

34.  Strong emotions add color to life.

35.  I am my thoughts and emotions.

36.   There is a such thing as unworthiness.

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It’s been an exciting trip around the sun, to be sure!  What are some lessons in life that you have unlearned?

Cha-cha-cha-changes!

There was a warm breeze today, and I decided to leave my balcony door open, so that the fresh smell of the outdoors could fill my home.

 I sit out on the balcony tonight, with a pot of chili cooking inside, sipping my wine and watching life unfold around me.

There’s life in the lily plant, that we had rescued from the discount rack at Wal Mart, only to have it wither, encased in ice after Friday’s freak storm (and subsequent day off of work); it is slowly bouncing back once again. Life is tough like that.

There’s life in the children, riding their bikes in the parking lot. There’s life in the wind, in the sunshine, in the clouds. I sit, quietly observing—playing a passive role in the moment but a part of it all nonetheless.

I took some time away from blogging, so that I could look for answers. What was I supposed to do next? Why did I still struggle at times? Why did I still experience fear? Why couldn’t I let go of last winter? Why were so many people by my side, without asking anything in return? Why? Why? Why?

I spent some time examining these questions, and looking deeply within. I began to understand myself better, and I found that, rather than answering the questions, I began to gradually let go of them. Life isn’t a big drama, and it really all is okay. Things don’t need to be picked apart and dissected—they just need to be experienced.

I began this blog to tell my story, and I have done that. You were there as I began questioning “the script,” as I fell in love with the sea, and as I emerged from the storms of last winter, realizing that true reality was much more beautiful than the world I had been seeing and living in. I’ve shared with you the lessons that I’ve learned along the way—both my questions and my answers.

The telling of my story is over. It concludes as I awaken to the beauty within me, and the beauty that surrounds me. It concludes as I understand that imperfection is okay, and that backsliding is actually fake anyway.

I know that it is time to move on, when it is time to move on—that clinging is not helpful in the least. And I have a number of friends—dear friends who would be welcome at my table any day—who have either formally ended their blogs or taken extended breaks from them. And I know it would be better to stop writing, than to continue with the minimalism or personal development genres. I have no more to say in either area.

But, this evening, I look across the room at that goofy young (to my eyes, at least!) man, with the handlebar mustache. He’s become quite a figure in Clear Lake, riding his tall bike. We’ve spent a lot of time apart, as I’ve been working on myself and growing in my own way. It’s fine; it needed to be that way. We were relying on each other to meet our needs, and that really isn’t what love is.

Love can be shared more easily when you both become strong. And that’s where we are now. Our life has taken some exciting turns. While away for Christmas, we won a 22 foot sailboat for $200 on ebay, and that has gotten us involved with marina life once again. Being back on the water, we’ve become very eager to establish a permanent residence in that community. We’ve begun the process of finding a boat to live on permanently. It is time to move on.

So, I am changing the name of this blog, in order to reflect my new direction—our new direction. I am done telling my story, so it is now time to tell our story. You will be reading posts by both of us, detailing our new adventures (and anything else we want to talk about!).  Expect a lighter tone, more slices of our life, and one important element that my life has been missing, after such a difficult period–good, old-fashioned fun!

We hope you will join us on Our journey to Ithaca. We’re glad to have you on board.

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Lessons from the Past 365 Days

A year ago today, my journey began.

I actually don’t want to share the details here, but it all began a year ago, in my basement, in front of that space heater, tonight.

I began questioning.  I began to consider that I could trust, and that my life had worth.

Life began, fragile and tentative, in that windowless room, this night.

Today I am a year old.

And here are the lessons I have learned in that year:

  • We are only limited by our perceptions.
  • We are loved.  All of us.  All the time.
  • Every one of us has within us the ability to change–and save–many lives.
  • If we’re suffering, it is by our own choice, whether we see it or not.
  • There are more honorable goals than martyrdom.
  • Change is inevitable.  And a hard pill to swallow.  Swallow it, and you will find peace.
  • We are all capable of infinite kindness.  But we must first find it within ourselves.
  • You will backslide, no matter what.  You will fall flat on your face again.  Get back up, and carry on.  It just means you’re human.
  • More than anything we THINK we need, we need rest.  And lots of it.
  • Happiness lies in learning to turn off our brains for awhile.
  • We need to learn to find joy and love within ourselves.  And we need to learn to ask for help and support from others.  Those two truths are not mutually exclusive.
  • Gratitude is a state of mind.  We can’t pick and choose what to be grateful for.
  • Life is beautiful, even when it isn’t.

Tonight, I am grateful to be here, in my new life.  The whole journey was a miracle, and it is all beautiful.  I am glad to have experienced every step of it.

What beautiful anniversaries do you see each year, in your life?

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Less Muscle, and More Compassion

Why do we do the things we do?

Why do we gorge ourselves on sweets, when we’re trying to lose weight?  Why do we have that extra glass of wine, when we know we shouldn’t?  Why do we spend so much time glued to that computer, when there is a real world out there?

I used to think that I didn’t need to know why.  I used to think that all it took was more muscle.  If I could just will myself to give all that up, things would be better for it.

But we need to know why, because all of those things serve a purpose.  What if we’re overeating for comfort, because there is something stressful we haven’t wanted to deal with?  What if we’re having that extra glass of wine, because we want to forget about something?

Changing our habits, and improving ourselves requires more than just muscle.  And that’s why it’s so hard.  Making lasting change requires understanding and compassion, and it takes time.

I have realized this, in my efforts to spend less time online.  The community we’ve all created here, is safe.  For years, I had put up walls.  I felt alone and unworthy, and I was constantly running from what I believed to be a shameful past.

Whatever it was, I thought I was the only one.

Through your friendship, you’ve helped me to open up and to let love in.  My message now is, that we are not alone.  That there is no reason to be ashamed of the lessons we’ve learned, and that not a one of us is the only one.

You’ve created a safe place for me to learn and grow and share my message.  And that’s why it sucks me in.  That’s why I find it irresistible.

If you met someone on the street, who had been fearful for years, and had finally found somewhere safe, would you force them to never go back?  Would you tell them to will their fears away and leave?  Certainly not.

Moving forward from here is a process.  My journey now is to find the same safety and the same love in the “real” world.  Everything I’ve found here has been positive, but it’s time to find that positive outside of that computer screen.

Every single one of us is real.  We all live in communities.  So I know that love exists out there.

Do you struggle with online time, for the same reason?  What habits have you discovered in yourself, that you should view with compassion, in trying to change?

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My Advent Calendar is still for sale, and I will continue to give 2 of them away every day this week!

The Conversation: Where to Go Next?

Like me, a lot of bloggers have been examining where they are, and planning where they will go next.  Here are a few posts on the topic:

Breaks or Brakes
Brooke re-examines her reasons for writing. Be sure the read the following post, where she introduces her next project!

Blogging Matters
Dan shares the meaning that blogging has brought into his life.

Keep Writing
Ginny gives a good old-fashioned pep talk.

Air
Linda deals with the question we all ask: Am I a hypocrite?

Living Simply
After a blogging break in January, Rachel examine where blogging fits into her life, and shows what her simple life ACTUALLY looks like.

A Writer in Residence
Sandra lives very simply to begin her next project: a novella.


Honoring the Special Turning Points in Our Lives

Kathy reflects on her writing and changes that she has made in her life.

The Book the Could Have Saved Us
It didn’t exist, so CJ and Tammy had to write it!

Lost in Transition
Mark and Jess prepare for some changes, in their creative pursuits.

I hope you’ve found some inspiration here, and please feel free to share any link to other posts you’ve found (or written) on writing, changes, or creative endeavors!

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The Joy of Being Wrong

There is nothing more invigorating that realizing that I am wrong about something.  Learning that you are wrong means that there is room to grow, that there are new lessons to discover.

Never be afraid of being wrong.

I have been reminded of this lesson, numerous times over the past year.  I’ll think I have it all figured out, then learn that I really knew nothing, or only a partial-truth, and the slate is wiped clean.  It’s time to discover something even more amazing.

Recently, I found something I had written a year ago, with my questions and ideas on religion and spirituality.  When I wrote it, I didn’t know that my answers would be more questions, and that I what I would discover would be more amazing than I imagined.

And I still know so little.

I also recently commented on a blog that was discussing a political issue.  I generally stay out of politics (here are my thoughts on politics).  I voiced a rather strong opinion, and soon after someone else voiced an opposing opinion.  They had some good points.  I then mentally toned down my opinion, at least, and gave consideration to their views.  Most political discussions leave me with a headache, and a great big “I don’t know.”

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that it’s important not to identify myself with my beliefs.  They’re just ideas, just my hypotheses for the meaning of life.  If they never changed, I would go at least 35 more years, without anything exciting and wonderful happening.

To disagree with my opinion, is not to disagree with me.  I am not my interpretation of the world.

So, in the spirit of embracing change, I found some posts that I wrote, that I no longer wholly agree with:

  • My nutritional theories have evolved.  I now follow a somewhat paleo diet and avoid artificial sweeteners.
  • In some places, air conditioning may well be necessary for maintaining sanity.
  • My morning routine has evolved as well, many times and in many ways. I find that it’s best to let it change, when my needs change.  It now consists of my bike ride to work (preceeded by some quiet time, when I get up early enough!).
  • Instead of following housework routines, I delegate most of it to Rob (and live in such a way that less housework is required).
  • I thought some simple steps could prepare you for crazy, stressful times.  I didn’t know what crazy stressful times were!
  • Instead of finding diversions from arguments, we listen to each other and reach understanding (with no winner or loser).
  • Rather than tolerating others’ views, I try to find a place of understanding.  (Also anti-materialism is no longer my “dominant characteristic!”)
  • Rather than relying on small adventures to get us away from a life that didn’t work, we have made our life one big adventure.
  • Instead of waiting a couple years to unveil our secret plan–which was to move to a town on Lake Michigan and live aboard a little longer into the fall–we took the plunge into a new life a LOT sooner!
  • I no longer believe that happiness lies in finding the right amount of possessions.  Neither consuming nor minimizing can bring happiness.  It’s a lot deeper than that.

Wonderful things have come out of the knowledge that I know nothing.  And I am sure that there is much more, waiting to be discovered.

What views have you had, that you have decided to abandon?

(Feel free to include links to posts, if you have any!)
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