Life Is Short

I actually didn’t know if I was going to write this post or not. I hemmed and hawed and finally decided to write it out because keeping it inside helps no one, myself included.

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By now you all have heard the events that transpired in Las Vegas this past Sunday night. As a nation, we are still reeling from the tragedy and the news continues to bombard our psyches and our heart.

Well, for our family, Sunday night was a difficult one.

My husband went to Las Vegas Sunday evening for a business trip. He had meetings scheduled there for the next day. My daughter and I were home here in California.

And then I received a phone call, a phone call no one ever wants to get.

My husband called me and told me that there were shootings going on and that there was chaos and no one knew where the shots were coming from, and that him and his boss, were literally running for their lives.

I can’t even begin to describe my feelings in that moment. I am at home with my daughter, 7 months pregnant with our second daughter, and feeling like my world was starting to slip away from me.

To make matters worse, my husband didn’t have that much battery life in his phone so he had to call me in like, 30 second intervals. At one point, him and his boss were hiding in the bushes, not knowing where the shots were even coming from. There was panic and everyone was running and fleeing. A lady who was running in front of my husband tripped and fell, and then my husband tripped and fell over her. Everyone helped each other up, and everyone kept running.

I also was on the phone back and forth with my husband’s boss’s wife, because his boss lost his cell phone and had no way to get into contact with his wife. Since my husband’s cell phone battery was getting lower and lower, I ended up calling/texting her with updates.

Sometime in the wee hours of Monday morning, the Las Vegas police stated that there was only one gunman and that he was dead. I let my husband know, as I had been attached to my phone for all the latest updates.

At that point, him and his boss were able to make their way back to their hotel rooms without further incident.

Needless to say, I was very emotional and gave my husband the biggest hug I could when he came home Monday evening.

My story has a happy ending, but there are so many families hurting right now, that cannot say the same thing. My heart breaks for all the victims and their families.

I am not going to get super political here, but as a country we need to do better. WE NEED TO BE BETTER. These mass shootings have to STOP. We have to come together and pass better legislation.

This hit too close to home for me…

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Difficult Roads Often Lead To Beautiful Destinations

14 months.

14 long months if I am being truthful.

I moved to the state of Oregon from my home state of California in July of 2014 and packed up the car and left in September of 2015 and moved back to California. Two vehicles filled with my husband, myself, our daughter, our cat, and whatever we could squash into the cars that would be taking us on our new adventure.

Living in Oregon didn’t start off difficult or even unhappily. This was our new road and we were ready for our new undertaking. We thought we were in it for the long haul.

But soon the road became burdensome.

As someone who already suffers from depression, I had no idea the toll that the endless days and months of gray weather would take on my already suffering psyche. There were other deeply personal issues that we were dealing with, that were also making life difficult in our newly adapted surroundings. My husband and I felt that this environment was truly taking a toll on our little family. We both had gained an inordinate amount of weight using food as coping mechanisms. He wasn’t happy either and wasn’t looking forward to spending another winter there.

That summer we decided enough was enough and we were going to move back to California that September.

And it truly has been the best decision.

I posted this on Instagram the other day because it reminded me of my life the past couple of years.

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Oregon was indeed a difficult road. For me. This is nothing against that beautiful state. Oregon is indeed gorgeous and I honestly and truly get why people live there and make it their forever home. I absolutely do.

But it wasn’t the right fit for me. Or my little family.

Living in Oregon was a difficult road but I believe it led us to a truly beautiful destination.

I am back in my home state in a city I love. My daughter is absolutely thriving in her local school. My husband has a job that he loves and that he truly gets fulfillment out of. We have made friends here in our local community and we have bonded.

And we have a baby on the way!  🙂

I feel that sometimes you have to go through the bull**** to get to the good stuff. Is everything absolutely perfect? Of course not. No one’s life is perfect. That is a fallacy. But I am happy, happier than I have been in a very long time.

And that’s gotta count for something, right?

Currently…The End of Summer Edition

Hellooooooo September!  🙂

I can’t believe we have reached this point in the calendar year, yet here we are! Although, the temperatures here in Southern California were undeniably hot and yucky. Yes, yucky. We had a crazy heat wave here every day with absurd temperatures. Lots of 100°days and grouchy people everywhere. See, our summers here are pretty normal but around this time of year, Mother Nature doesn’t get the memo that the thermostat is supposed to go in the other direction. Ahhhhhhh life…

Oh well, it has cooled off from the insanity of last week, but the month is still young and I am guessing we will be back to praising whomever created air conditioning once again  🙂

What I Enjoyed This Past Month: The book Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner.

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I loved this book and I get why everyone raves about it  I had to wait a few weeks until my request came in at the library but it was worth it. Definitely a must-read!

What I Am Absolutely Over: Every single day, there being a news story concerning the person occupying the White House. Not going to get political here but I am exhausted by the sheer madness of what continues to headline our news stories. *sigh*

On The Healthy Living/Pregnancy Front: Trying to eat as healthfully as possible and to drink enough water and stay hydrated. Pregnancy is one of those things where something sounds good one day, and then the next day, you’re like “bleh!”  🙂 Cherry frozen yogurt has been my newest craving, and in this warm weather, it hits the spot!

Also, a friend gifted us some baby clothing that they were no longer using as their daughter is now in the toddler stage. This gift was truly a blessing!

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We are literally starting over with this baby and all the accoutrements that they need and require as my daughter is 7 years old and any baby stuff she had has long since found another home.

And yes, I am having a girl!!!

On The Minimalism/Decluttering Front: I am trying to, on days when I actually have energy, to organize and declutter things because once the baby arrives, there will be zero time for any of that.

I needed a container to hold some things but I didn’t want to purchase one. So I took a shoebox and covered it with scrapbook paper to make it pretty and voila! I have a container that didn’t cost me any extra money out-of-pocket! #frugal

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In Other News: School is back in session which has been an adjustment to say the least. We are back to a schedule which after the looseness of summer, has taken all of us some getting used to. I figure by the end of the month, we should be doing all of this, easy-peasy, lemon squeezy   😉

How is life going for you these days? Are you ready to transition into Fall?  🙂

Does It Even Matter?

Why are we humans so attached to things? Serious question and I want to explore an answer.

Several years ago, my dad decided to clean out his storage unit and get rid of stuff and get rid of the storage unit entirely. Yay dad, right? Well, as he was cleaning out the randomness that accumulates in these facilities, he came across a bag that was full of my stuff. He dropped it off at my place and I went through the bag dutifully, thinking I was going to throw out whatever was in the bag. I mean, if I hadn’t seen what was in the bag in years, why would I need any of it now? Right? Sort of…

Amongst the debris of my life contained in this bag were sorority t-shirts and sweatshirts, my college sweatshirt, newspaper articles from when I was on the school newspaper in high school, and letterman patches from high school as well.

I got rid of my sorority t-shirts and sweatshirts because once you are not in college anymore, you don’t wear any of these items. Ever. So they went out the door. I sold my college sweatshirt online and the newspaper articles that contained my stories there in black and white… I read them, smiled remembering that time long  ago, and tossed them in the recycling bin.

But the letterman patches from high school? Here they are in all their glory:

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This particular patch, I received from being on the school paper. Simple enough.

This next patch I received, well you can see what it was for…

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I received these patches and I never had the desire to own a letterman jacket. Even in my teen years, I foresaw the actuality of wearing a high school jacket with all these random patches on it beyond high school as futile. A huge waste of money for something I would never wear past graduation day.

So I never purchased a letterman jacket for my random letterman patches. And yet, I still have these patches.

WHY DO I STILL HAVE THESE PATCHES?

Seriously, why?

Am I going to be in conversation with someone and we are speaking about high school and what a terrible great time it was, and I am somehow going to talk about my letterman patches and produce them out of my purse, like some absurd version of “show and tell”?

Am I going to have to prove to someone, anyone, that although I am older and have “mom-brain”, once upon a time I used to be smart? Smart enough for academic honors?

Who cares? Why does it matter? And yet, does it matter?

Even as I am writing this post, I still haven’t thrown away these patches and I have to ask myself why. It’s not because I have fond memories of high school because I don’t. Sure there are some fun memories I have with friends, but being a teenager isn’t the easiest thing under even normal circumstances, and my 9th through 12th grade years were extremely difficult for personal reasons. So no, I do not look at ages 14 through 18 through rose-colored glasses.

Do I miss the days of studying or being a part of something as tense and yet exciting as working on the school paper? No, not really.

I am going to play armchair psychiatrist on myself and give an answer that I believe to be the right one: I have held on to these patches because deep down, it proves to myself that I made it. I made it through the turmoil that was my life at that time and I didn’t let it break me. It is somehow a personal accomplishment for me that I was able to compartmentalize the crap that was threatening to bring me under, and get a spot on the high school paper. I was able to push through the chaos and still get good grades.

I. Made. It.

I made it. I survived. And these stupid letterman patches that continue to follow me into every place we move to, remind me of that.

So does it matter? Sometimes it does.

These patches are, for the time being, staying put until I am able to look objectively at them minus all the emotion that continues to swirl around in the lifeblood that makes up me.

I am not quite ready to get rid of my letterman patches just yet…

The Tomboy All Grown Up

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Yup, I was a tomboy when I was a girl. In the land of princesses and Barbie dream houses, I was the one playing tether ball and running around the playground. Looking at me now you wouldn’t know it, but I loved playing sports and playing outside…at least until Junior High happened…

I was raised by my father and some may attribute my tomboyishness to that one fact. But the truth is, I never liked girly stuff. I hated wearing dresses and skirts because I couldn’t run around. If I’m going to wear shorts under my dress in order to play on the jungle gym, why can’t I wear just the shorts? I got dirty and messy. Scrapes, bumps, and bruises were just a part of the day. Bike riding, roller skating, and kickball were what made the world go round, and I loved it.

Things that were pink or purple were not allowed in my room. Anything with ribbons, forget it. Someone bought me a Barbie when I was in elementary school; I didn’t know what I was supposed to do with her. So I cut off her hair. I received a Barbie Corvette one year for my birthday and I spent that first week rolling the car down the hallway in our house & watching gleefully as it kept crashing into the wall.

As I grew out of childhood, some of my tomboy tendencies began to fade. Apparently around 13 or so, you are no longer allowed to play sports with boys. You are now supposed to giggle and blush at even the most mundane things that they say. Tetherball gave way to talking on the phone for hours on end. And roller skating was no longer to be done outside but at the local roller rink where you met up with your friends to…yes, that’s right. Giggle and blush at the boys.

Now that I am a mom to a young daughter, I wonder what kinds of things will she be interested in. Dinosaurs or Barbies? Maybe both? Will I be throwing princess-themed birthday parties? I know she’s not even 2 yet but already I see glimpses of a young me. She doesn’t like dolls or stuffed animals. She loves books, building blocks, and puzzles. She hates when you try to put a barrette in her hair and the few times I have tried to put her in a dress, it was a losing battle.

I believe my not-so-girly childhood has served me well in my adult life. I didn’t like the mall then and I don’t like it now. Sure I like nice clothes and what girl doesn’t like the M.A.C. counter, but the thought of setting foot in an actual mall gives me anxiety. Playing outdoor activities has fueled my love of sports and to this day I still watch football and hockey, rooting on my favorite teams. My Hubby often jokes about the fact that when the game is on, we never have to fight over the remote. And playing sports also taught me that sometimes you have to play with people you don’t like. As an adult, this translates into “being a team player”, the cornerstone of many a corporate jargon.

Yes, the tomboy has transitioned to an adult woman. But if you want to play a round of kickball, you just let me know.

**** Sidenote: I wrote this post originally on my old blog 5 years ago. My daughter is now 7 years old and still loves books, building blocks, and puzzles. However, dolls have made their way into the house  😉 Elsa and Anna from the movie Frozen and of course Wonder Woman, because helloooooo, it’s Wonder Woman!!! She likes playing dress-up but if given the option, she would rather play outside instead  🙂

Find The Words To Help You Find Your Way

As most of you know, I am a huge bookworm. I am also a fan of quotes and the accompanying verbiage that motivates. Let’s face it: life is hard. We are all swimming in the same ocean trying to avoid the eventual tidal wave that comes our way and knocks us off our feet for awhile. Once that proverbial tidal wave recedes, we remember that we can swim, and we paddle out into the ocean once again.

If you happen to be in the midst of a tidal wave and you are looking for some help, here are some books that I think are awesome and may help you get the earth back under your feet  🙂

Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life by The Minimalists

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If your life is spinning out of control and you feel overwhelmed by the clutter in not just your life, but your mind, this book is for you. And don’t worry, it is not a book that tells you to get rid of everything you own and sleep on the floor! But it will help you sort out the values that you feel are important and make adjustments accordingly.

Yoga Girl by Rachel Brathen

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If you are looking to get healthier, look no further than this book. For the record, I cannot do a handstand to save my life, nor does Rachel make you try to do one. This story gives voice to Rachel’s story about how yoga saved her from a life that was on a complete downward spiral. She shares simple yoga poses, meditation practices, and some super healthy recipes to get you going on your way!

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

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This book. I loooooved this book! For a complete review of my love of this tome, and why I think EVERYONE needs to read it, click here.

10% Happier by Dan Harris

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Amazing book. If anxiety is getting the best of you and you’ve heard about meditation and aren’t sure what exactly it’s all about, check out Dan’s book. He is a broadcaster for ABC who had a panic attack on national television and this is his story about how meditation helped him.

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

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This book, just wow. Lysa writes about how broken we can feel and get as women and how we can overcome that. Although Lysa does have bible verses sprinkled throughout, please don’t let it deter you if that’s not your thing. This book will break open your heart and put it right back together again. In a good way 🙂

Everything That Remains by The Minimalists

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I know I have two books listed here by The Minimalists but this one is my absolute favorite! It basically chronicles how Joshua hit rock bottom in his life (his mom died and his marriage ended in the same month), and with the help of the concept of minimalism, he shed which didn’t matter in his life and began to focus on his relationships and what was actually important. In turn, his best friend Ryan saw how changed Joshua’s life was and embraced lifestyle changes of his own. Want to know how The Minimalists became The Minimalists? Read this book. Some life-changing stuff here that you can totally apply to your own life.

Are there any books that you have read that you feel have helped you overcame obstacles in your life? Let me know in the comments!  🙂

I Remember

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I remember this day… this day four years ago, like it was yesterday.

I remember being stuck at work in meeting after meeting.

I remember finally getting a break and checking my phone for messages.

I remember hearing a voicemail from my dad, not liking what I heard in his voice.

I remember calling him back and hearing him tell me the inevitable: my grandmother had died… and my whole world shifted.

I remember trying to keep my composure at work, but failing miserably.

I remember telling my co-worker, I had to leave because of an emergency. I gripped the steering wheel the entire way home, vaguely aware that the brake pedal had been applied, and I was now sitting in my garage.

I remember my husband, then fiancée, holding me as my body was racked with uncontrollable sobbing.

I remember the funeral, but not the days in between. It’s all a blur, still.

I remember how many people came to say good-bye and I was moved to tears again, by how many lives you touched Grandma, with your grace and quiet humility.

I remember trying to be strong for my dad.

I remember coming back home after the funeral and collapsing on the kitchen floor, because the tears would not subside.

They say time heals all wounds, but that is a lie. My wounds are still open, raw, and full of salt.

I remember all the time.

It’s been four years and all it takes is hearing a certain word or seeing your picture and I sob incoherently for minutes on end.

It still hurts and I don’t forget.

I remember you being an instrumental part of my childhood, the mother I didn’t have, the female figure to aspire to.

I remember you being one with your faith and instilling that faith into me.

I hate the fact that you never got to hold your great-granddaughter, but I know you see her. And see that her smile, is your smile.

I don’t forget, and on days like today and your birthday, the awareness that you are really gone, is even more heightened.

I miss you Grandma and I cry as I write this. You live on through my father, through me, and through my daughter.

I will always remember…

**Sidenote: I wrote this post originally on my old blog 5 years ago. It has now been 9 years since my grandma passed away and I still miss her more than ever. I love you, my sweet guardian angel

 

Living a Life That Is True To You

Along with several other words in today’s lexicon, the word “values” has sprung up in more conversations and blog posts over the past few months. “What are my values?” and “What do I value in life?” seem to be the springboards onto which fraught conversations are run.

Value can be what you esteem to be worth relative merit or importance; what you consider to be essential or important. What you won’t back down on.

But are you backing down? Are your values taking a back seat to the monotony of life or the frenzied clamor of life and its draining entities?

Are you living a life that is true to you?

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“I’ve started asking myself: What type of person do I want to be? How do I express my interests and values? Am I living a life that’s true to myself and not the life others expect of me? By spending more time dreaming about what I want for the future, I’ve started to form a better idea of who I want to be and where I want to go”. -Sarah Moss

I am utterly enamored of this quotation by Sarah Moss because it causes one to step back from the hustle and bustle of daily life and really examine what is adding value to our lives and what is not. It causes one to think about the things that they are doing and wondering introspectively if these things are being done for someone else because it is what is expected or are they being done because we want them to be?

You are never too old to re-imagine the direction of your life and decide that things aren’t going quite the way you expected. It is also okay to feel a certain way about things and not feel guilty about them.

For example, I value my time with my daughter as sacred. If something is going to impinge on that time with her, I say no to other requests of my time. My child is only young once; there will be a point where as she gets older, Mom is no longer “cool” and friends will become her end-all, be-all. Children grow so fast; before you know it, they are out of the house and on their way to college. So for me, my daughter and our quality time come first. I place a high value on that.

While not related per se, minimalism helps me in this capacity. If I had to spend my time constantly arranging, organizing, and taking care of all of our things, I would have less time to spend with my daughter. Instead of snuggling together and watching a Charlie Brown cartoon, or baking cookies together, I would be cleaning, organizing, and taking care of our stuff.

And that is just not okay with me.

My life is a simple one, because I have made it so. That is not to say that I don’t experience heartache or have difficulties that I continue to overcome, it means that I choose a simple life because it aligns with my values. I strive for a minimalist lifestyle because spending time with loved ones is important to me and spending time taking care of stuff, is not. A simpler life helps keep me on my way to having more fullness in my life.

I still have dreams that I can’t wait to bring to fruition. Approaching a new decade in my life has brought home to me so many things, and I still continue to learn and grow and remind myself to stay true to the essence of who I am.

Are you living a life that is true to you?

Make Room For Things That Matter

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“Make room for things that matter by removing everything that doesn’t”. -Brian Gardner

As I have mentioned previously, my word for 2017 is Well. Wellness applies not only to the physical and emotional but also to the mental. So in addition to eating right, working out, and my introduction to meditation, I am also working on sorting out what I need and want in my life and what I don’t.

This fantastic quote from Brian Gardner really resonated with me because I feel that minimizing or getting rid of completely what has no business being a part of my life, has been in a word… refreshing.

Doing things or being a part of things that are not good for my soul are just not going to cut it anymore. Lighter and freer are two beautiful adjectives that I feel are working their way into my heart. Although I continue to work on what makes me happy, that work… it’s a good thing.

Make room for things that matter by removing everything that doesn’t.

Here is how I am applying this to my life:

♦ I make time to work out in the mornings. This is important not only for my physical health but my mental health as well. Studies point to exercise helping with forms of depression and anxiety.

♦ I eat what makes me feel good. I have a gluten intolerance and when I inadvertently eat it, I pay for it big time. I drink my green juices, try to eat as many vegetables as I can, and I recently started drinking kombucha which has probiotics which is good for my gut.

♦ I have started meditating. You can read more about that here.

♦ I have minimized my wardrobe. I have found that there are only a few colors that I really enjoy wearing and it is much easier to get dressed and mix and match items. My daily attire usually consists of a t-shirt and jeans or pants, and a cardigan. Some days, I am wearing Converse. Other days it’s boots. When it warms up, shorts and flip-flops will be added back in. This is what I wear literally every day. There is truly something to be said for not owning a ton of clothing that needs to be sorted through every morning. Whew!  🙂

♦ I watch less television. I do enjoy my favorite shows like Sherlock, Elementary, old episodes of Murder She Wrote, Victoria on PBS, and sports games like football and hockey. Luckily they don’t all come on at the same time! However, the endless scrolling through a zillion channels trying to find something to watch? No, I do not do that anymore. If I am watching television, it is for a specific show like Jeopardy. My daughter and I watch this every night without fail  🙂 I read more books now (if that is indeed possible) or read blogs about health, wellness, and/or minimalism. So the television is still here. It is just not a supreme focus.

♦ I have cut out the negativity. Whether that is in the form of people (energy vampires), certain people online, certain blogs, or certain time-wasting endeavors, I have let it go. I want more of the good and less of the bad. If I feel like something is not adding value to how I live my life, I eliminate it from my every day.

♦ I am continuing to de-clutter. I live in a very small apartment and if one is not careful, it can feel like the walls are closing in. I make an effort to really examine items and ask if they truly have a purpose in our modest abode.

♦ I am making the present moment more important. We all get caught up in the day-to-day minutiae and it is easy to keep our face focused on what lies ahead. But I am working on being more mindful of my surroundings and noticing all the little things that may have escaped my vision before. The deep green on the leaves of a tree. The beauty of a 72 degree day in February. The first sip of coffee on a really cold morning. You get the picture. The present is important and it is up to us to be intentional with it.

Are you making room for what truly matters in your life? Let me know in the comments!  🙂

Diving Headfirst Into Meditation

Or an alternate title would be: What I have learned after meditating for 10 days straight  🙂

I am not going to say I am some sort of Zen maven now, or that absolutely nothing bothers me, or that I can calm my mind down without even giving it a second thought. Those would be untrue statements and it is nonsense to think that someone can be some sort of mindfulness expert after a mere 10 days.

Meditation is not easy. In fact, there are days when your mind does not want to do what you would like it to do.

But that’s okay because that is what meditating helps you do: notice your thoughts.

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I’d been thinking about meditation as a practice and I kept meaning to get around to actually planting my bottom on a pillow and just doing the darn thing already. It finally got to a point where I just needed to push myself to do it. That push for me to jump in the meditation swimming pool came in the form of Dan Harris’ book 10% Happier. While the book and subject matter are not for everyone, I enjoyed what Harris had to say. Harris is an ABC newscaster who had a panic attack on national television which as you can imagine, was quite devastating for him. He then went on a journey, often hilariously, of finding a way to help him “combat the voice in his head” and found his way to meditation which to this day, he still espouses the virtues of.

Now I am not a newscaster, nor do I have a hankering to be on television, but I do suffer from bouts of anxiety and Harris’ book was the nudge that I needed to start my meditation journey.

“We spend a lot of time judging ourselves harshly for feelings that we had no role in summoning. The only thing you can control is how you handle it” – Dan Harris

Eye-opening, right?

So, I downloaded the app Calm onto my phone which offers free meditations for you to utilize. They also have ones that are more in depth that you can access, but those come with a fee. I utilize the free ones. And as a side note, I have absolutely no affiliation with Calm. It just happens to be the app that I downloaded  🙂

So ten days ago, I did my first 10 minute meditation. My mind wandered as it is want to do, but the point is, I recognized it, and tried to bring it back to the present. I focused on my breathing. I listened to the lady with the soothing voice tell me to let go and notice the inhale and the exhale.

And I continued for the next several days after that, trying to do my meditation around the same time every day because I am a creature of habit. #babyiwasbornthisway

So what have I learned so far?

♦ The weekends are hard for me to do meditation. This past Saturday, my cat jumped on my lap while I was sitting meditating and completely threw me off my game. Then at another point, my daughter interrupted my session to ask me a question about Scooby-Doo. No joke  🙂 I realized it really is easier to meditate when she is at school and the cat is napping, preferably not where he can see my lap and jump on it.

♦ As I stated earlier, I am not in a zone where nothing bothers me (I wish I was though!) But I can say that when I feel a particular emotion bubble up, if I am able to, I notice the thought and ask myself “Is this helpful?” If the thought is not helpful, I try to change my thinking. I am still a novice at this whole mindfulness thing, for reals, but that one phrase “Is this helpful?” has helped me sooooo much. Try it for yourself when a thought that is trying to burrow itself into your brain that you know has no reason being there.

♦ I have realized that I look forward to my meditation sessions. If I can only do 5 minutes, that’s okay. 10 minutes a day is what I aim for and I have hit that goal consistently.

♦ I have noticed that I am much calmer after meditating. Like I said, I am no Zen maven. But I really do feel better after a 10 minute session.

So, bottom line is that I am going to keep going with this whole meditating thing. Now if I could just get my cat to understand that when mommy is sitting on her pillow, now is not the time for kitty snuggles. But when I am done? It’s totally kitty snuggle time!  🙂