Friday, December 30, 2016

The Cycle of Habits

I've been thinking about habits a lot recently.  Habits I've slipped into, habits I need to change, this vicious cycle that often keeps me at a low point.  There seems to be a cycle within these habits.  You kinda slip into them without realizing it, and they just become more and more a part of your life until you realize that they aren't habits you should have.  Negative thoughts, too much junk food, sleep deprivation...

In this time of year, when many things are changing, you might be thinking about the past - your younger (maybe better) self, all those memories of how things used to be.  Maybe you're glad they're gone, or maybe you want them back.  We realize quite suddenly that we're not quite where we want to be.  We realize we want to change, and right now, with so many beginnings and endings, seems like a great time to try it.

So we make a plan and try to change everything.  A revolution.  A complete 360. A flurry of promises thicker than the snowflakes (unless you're in Kansas with me, then there's a 50% chance it's actually sunny 63 degrees out.).  Resolutions that may be better suited to all our lives instead of this upcoming year alone...

I want to tell you - you don't have to change it all at once.  When you get to that moment of realization, everything becomes clear and you want to instantly fix it all.  But we don't always have the strength to make all of those life changes at once - remember, those habits are habits because they've built up consistently over time.  You may be super motivated at first, but if you spend all that energy right away, spread out over a bunch of new things, you'll likely run out of resolve before any new habits are really formed.

I read a book recently, "Like Water for Chocolate", that gave a good metaphor for this.  The idea was that we all have matches inside of us, matches that can be lit by various things.  However, it said that if we light them all at once, the fire will be too intense for us to handle.  So this week, when you're thinking about resolutions and changes in your life, don't try to change it all at once.  Significant change takes significant dedication and time.

It's okay to take baby steps.  You don't have to fix it all immediately.  Take it easy, or you might burn out too fast.  Find something (especially something that might affecting everything else), and attack it first.

For me, this has been sleep.  There are a lot of bad habits I'm trying to change right now, but I've realized that being so tired is making all the other things worse.

So, don't put too much pressure on yourself.  :)  Make those resolutions, and let them build on themselves throughout the year.  Make them manageable goals that don't overwhelm you on the first day.

How are you thinking of this new year?  What are some habits you're trying to change?  :)  

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher
(tribute inspired by this amazing actress)

Who do we ask permission to follow our dreams?
Is there someone in charge of the stars that light our galaxies?
No, that fire is inside of us.
It's waiting for us to realize its shy, welcoming existence.
Waiting for the day we accept our own ability and dare to ignite.
That is the day where we stop letting the world drown us in its shallow water
and start swimming out to sea.
In the end, then, it becomes a quest for oneself.  
What is your purpose in life?  
What have you lost in the depths of your own identity, and when will you find it again?
It is waiting for you to find it.
But you will not find the answer in the empty words of these seven continents.
The world will tell you it isn't safe to ride a shooting star into the deep space of your heart
and let it envelop you.
They tell you not to let the ocean sweep you away -
But they forget to mention that they're drowning you too.
Compared to the fear this world tries to instill within you, your oceans are tame.
But at the same time, your waters are the most deep, fierce bodies you could ever drown in.
I think that, in this life, we get to choose what drowns us.
Maybe you don't yet know how to swim,
but stepping out into the waters you've always longed for?
It's not as deadly as the world would like you to think.  
The real danger is on the shore, where you risk drowning
in fear
in regret
that you never washed your soul in courage and discovered that you might just float out there.
The real danger is forfeiting your chance to choose
and defaulting to a mindless life.
What good is a head above water  
if underneath the waves, that head isn't connected to anything?
The real danger is letting them convince you that water isn't supposed to be wet.
They will tell you that
you're supposed to go through life's oceans without ever falling and getting drenched.
This goes beyond fantasy - even science says your feet will get wet.
Let the waves carry you to freedom
Set your eyes on the burning horizon and let the future give you a new hope
for the dreams you've carried so long.
You yourself are the stars and when you realize this,
your sky will be brighter than ever before
and not even the shifting tides can change that.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Sonder, A Word For My Heart

Sonder, my favorite word.

I stare at the faces of the people walking past, the people sitting next to me, the people smiling at me....

And I sonder.

They say that this feeling is a realization, but it is more than that.  I do not merely see the people around me.

I feel what they feel.  I understand their fears and hopes.  I recognize their humanity when they glance up at me for a moment, then quickly look back down.  I hear myself when they tell me their stories. The strangers in the streets may be strangers, but they are not so strange to me.

I sonder, wondering if anyone sees me - really sees me.  Am I as transparent as all these wandering faces?

I cry their tears for them, pick up the dreams they leave on the sidewalk behind them and try to find wings that fit.  I wish I could shield their souls from life's thunderstorm, I wish I could dry their tears a breathe silence into their heads.

To sonder is to place yourself in their shoes and walk their path with them.  I wish I could do it for them.  I wish I could do more than merely walk beside them.  I would trade places if I could.

No, to sonder is not merely to realize that there are other people out there in the world.  To sonder is to love those people so deeply that you feel they are all pieces of your heart.

~ cdm