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Posts Tagged ‘mindfulness’

I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions. However, as someone who’s been developing software for thirty-five years, I am one for retrospective reviews, and just like deploying a new app to a production environment, hanging up a new calendar on the kitchen wall has always seemed an appropriate time for retrospection. After all, by this time the holiday hubbub has dissipated, the gardens are still asleep, kids are back in school, the days are short, the nights cold and lengthy. What better time to look back with an eye toward the future?

But, rather than setting goals, I look at trends in my past behavior and decide whether I’m on the right path, or want to implement a course correction.

For instance, last year I read a pitifully small number of books, less than one a month. Looking further, I see that this is a downward trend, and I want to correct it. But why did I read fewer books in ’22? The simple fact is, I was busy. With all the renovations and events and projects I had on my plate, I simply did not have enough time to sit back and relax with a book. Also, ’21 was COVID Lockdown year, with nothing in it by way of travel, family events, or DIY, so I had plenty of time then.

Unfortunately, this year is going to be a busy one, too. We’re still consolidating parts of our life, still fixing up the house, the gardens need upkeep. And I have to get serious about my coming retirement, figuring out what I need to do with Medicare, talk to our financial advisors, and wade through tons of info from HR. We’re also taking care of some medical stuff while we still have top-grade insurance.

So, seeing all that ahead, am I going to make a resolution to read a book (or more) a month? No. That’s setting myself up for failure, as too much can happen that might devour my free time. However, I am going to try to correct that trend, which means I need to apply a bit more discipline as regards my unstructured time.

This will seem silly to some, and as serious anal-retentive overkill to others. I don’t mind, though, because another trendline I’m fostering is not giving a damn about the opinion of others. It works for me, and I’m the only one for whom this needs to work.

Despite what Yoda says, I think trying is a worthy endeavor because life is rarely binary, and incremental progress is still progress. So while I’m not going to “resolve” to lose weight, learn Italian, or give up playing video games, I am going to encourage myself in certain directions, to wit:

  • Continue to Improve
    • Weight loss program
    • Healthier food choices
    • Regular exercise (workouts or garden)
    • Household improvements
    • Writing letters closer to monthly than quarterly
  • Course Corrections
    • Read more books
    • Read less news
    • Employ more social media “fasts”
    • Visit more with people IRL

May the new year bring you all much happiness.

Onward.

k

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With my posts here, I attempt to include (or find) at least a smidgen of hope or goodness, even when the topic is difficult or life gets me under its boot. Lately, this has been a challenge. (OK, it’s been a challenge for at least a couple of years, but this year has presented me with exceptional challenges.)

At times, the best I can do is show you my distress, thinking that (if nothing else) readers may empathize and see that they’re not alone in their own near-despair.

This doesn’t always work. Not for me, and undoubtedly not for you.

In such times, I need outside help to encourage me to keep treading water. For this help, I keep a small list of “inspirers”—so much more than an “influencer,” whose goal is merely to be seen and sell stuff, an “inspirer” is someone who rejuvenates my desire to keep breathing, just by being who they are.

I limit my list* to about three names and I pull them from realms such as education, art, science, and (surprisingly) even politics. To make it on the list, the sole requirement is that, by the person’s actions and attitudes, I find myself feeling grateful to be alive at the same time as they.

Think about that for a second. Who, in your experience, makes you glad you’re alive to experience their presence, even if you have no real connection? Who—famous or not—makes you feel good about being alive? Who, when you’re faced with the tragedies and brutalities and existential crises that we all face these days, can make you stop, reflect, and perhaps say, “Yeah, life sucks, but at least we’ve got them.” Pick three names from all the teachers, relations, friends, public figures, celebrities, activists, and others you know or know of; who makes you glad that you’re alive?

Admittedly, I don’t look too deeply into who these “inspirers” are on a personal level. We’re all humans and, thus, flawed in myriad ways. If you look for perfection you will be disappointed. And so, the list changes over time, as people rise and recede from public view, and as their activities move from the inspirational to the merely admirable.

But having these names, keeping them near to mind, has helped me through darker days, so if this rings any bells for you, give it a shot. Or, if you already have a few names you keep close by for this purpose, please share who they are and why, as there are many people worthy of this title, and we can’t know of them all.

k

*For the record, my current list of three “inspirers” is:

  • Sir David Attenborough
    • The man’s love of the intricacies of the natural world is unbelievably infectious, like “sense-of-wonder measles,” and I catch it each time I see one of his productions.
  • Lady Gaga
    • I don’t listen to her music (generally) but every time I see her—in interview or speaking at some event—her ineffable kindness and love for others fills me with joy and gratitude.
  • Jon Batiste
    • This gentle man exudes an incredible vibe of peace and love and acceptance and honesty; he’s hard to resist, and I choose not to make the attempt.

–k

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