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We needed to take some time to adjust to a new change in our household. After a blogging hiatus, we’re back and ready to share more of our adventures and ideas with you. To our loyal readers, thank you for your continuing support. And if you’re new to our site, welcome! We hope you will enjoy its content and will share it with your friends.

My older son and I were sitting at a local coffee and doughnut shop yesterday in the evening after dinner, enjoying a mini escape from the house, a mom-and-son date. While I waited for my mint tea to chill, I watched my son and answered his questions about the various signs he kept noticing in the small shop, advertising sandwich combos, a new roast, and free WiFi (“What is WiFi, Mommy?”). He was sipping his hot chocolate, slowly at first, until he started to take bigger slurps and finally finished it before reaching for his double chocolate doughnut. Like me, my son has a sweet tooth. I have often wondered whether in our family, we all have a sweet tooth gene that continues to be passed on from generation to generation. When I started to introduce my son to ‘real’ foods as a baby, I offered him pureed beans alongside pureed yams. Guess which one he relished, seated in his high chair with a smile full of sweet-tasting orange-coloured happiness. The other vegetable was promptly spat out, as soon as the BPA-free teaspoon touched his lips.

As a student of Mindfulness, I have a profound interest in how we can utilize Mindfulness practices to change negative habits into lasting positive ones. Particularly, I have been applying the practice to my personal eating patterns by observing my emotions and thoughts during stressful/challenging times, noticing the foods I crave during those times: anything made with sugar.

I am also a fan of Gretchen Rubin’s work, the author of The Happiness Project and Happier at Home. Her new book, Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, to be released on March 17th, explores the science behind habit-forming behaviour. Visiting Rubin’s website, I came across this quiz and as I read the post, I had to pause to listen to the ‘ding ding ding’ sound coming closer toward me from a distance.

It turns out that some people are natural moderators while others are abstainers. As much as I don’t enjoy labels, what this means is that for some people, like me, it’s easier to give up sugar cold-turkey and after struggling through the initial 14 days or so, to abstain from sugar altogether. Others more easily take the approach that ‘life is too short to miss out on treats,’ and are able to stop eating dessert after the first two bites. Rubin mentions yet another fascinating fact, that moderators often try – unsuccessfully – to turn into abstainers, and abstainers – again, unsuccessfully – attempt to become moderators.

This information provides a different perspective for my practice. It also leads me to wonder whether, perhaps, Mindfulness practices that relate to food consumption come more easily to people who are naturally better at moderating. On the other hand, a daily seated or walking mindfulness meditation practice might come more easily to a person who takes the ‘all or nothing’ attitude. I would assume that people who are able to effectively abstain from consuming certain foods would also be naturally better than others at repeating the same behaviour every day. I might be wrong, but to learn more, I will just have to read Rubin’s new book and continue practising.

What are your thoughts? Would you say you tend to choose the ‘all or nothing’ or the ‘you only live once, so let’s enjoy the treat’ approach? Please feel free to comment.

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“I’m going to do it,” I enthusiastically announced to Pawel about a month ago. “Now is a great time to go ahead with a project like that. After all, there might never be a ‘perfect time’ to pursue it.”

As always, he supported me in my plan. Without deadlines, I could spend the entire day hovering in the land of daydreams, without producing anything. A deadline was going to be great for me.

Fueled by this spark of optimism, I headed over to the NaNoWriMo website and created an account. Then, I came up with my plan of action, choosing the month of October to prepare the plot, character development, and other details of my novel in preparation for the first day of November, when I was to sit down and write approximately 1,670 words. The idea of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, is simple: sit down every day from the 1st to the 30th of November and write a novel. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but after November 30th, I would have written 50,000 words.

The month of October turned out to be an interesting one, and without going into too many personal details, I will say that the only time I managed to carve out for writing was the weekly online writing class I’m currently taking through Firefly Creative Writing Studio, as well as a few minutes, here and there, to work on the homework projects assigned.

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About a week and a half ago, I started to have doubts. I confided to Pawel that I was no longer feeling the rush of excitement at the prospect of sitting down every day to write a certain number of words.

“I have been running off my feet since the beginning of September. When am I going to make the time to take on another project?”

“You’d have to write late at night, after the kids have gone to bed,” was his simple reply.

“But I can’t keep my eyes open or think clearly past 9 p.m. on most nights.” I stated this without a hint of complaint in my voice. This is a fact to which I can finally, after many years of denial, confess with ease.

And that’s when I realized that I would need to back out of the NaNoWriMo idea. Feeling deflated, I headed over to the website and with a loud sigh, deleted my account.

The wave of relief that flooded a few minutes later was a surprise to me. Was I not supposed to feel sad and disappointed that I had let something drop? Instead, I realized I freed up my time to focus on what has already been set in motion and on which I have been working, in my own subtle way, for a while.

Then, I read a post last week on Facebook, by Elizabeth Gilbert, that helped me to make clear sense of my feelings regarding this failed project. In her post, she writes about living her dream and letting go of what did not serve her. In E. Gilbert’s words:

I was thinking today about all the other paths that I did not take in life, no matter how shiny and appealing they may have looked. I’ve had the possibility of living so many different kinds of life that could have been a dream for somebody else. I never choose those lives. I’ve never lived the dreams that other people wanted for themselves — nor have I lived the dreams that other people may have wanted for me.”

It has always been my dream to write a novel. But at this point in my life, I am not prepared to sacrifice my much-needed sleep to work on this project every day for a month. You may judge me for this, dear reader, and I am also okay with that.

Instead of taking on a project that might push me past the Type-A edge, I am choosing to focus my energy during the month of November on leading new yoga classes that have just been added to my schedule (I will update our website with this information shortly), playing outside with my family, recommitting to my daily meditation practice, working on Christmas gifts that I am making, and getting as much rest as possible.

As for my novel, I have found a medium that I think will work well for me. I have one more writing class in the series, scheduled this week, and to keep my creative momentum on the go, I have made a commitment to continue to reserve the same evening each week, the same two hours, to sit down and write, write, write my heart out. It might take me two years to finish my book at this pace. That’s fine. I’m setting my own deadline.

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As E. Gilbert continues in the same post:

Ask yourself this question, whenever you are given any choice or opportunity. Ask: “Will saying YES to this path bring me closer to the source that brings me to life? Or will it take me further away?”

So, here’s to being more gentle with ourselves and choosing to move away from stress, continuing to challenge ourselves, but in a sustainable way, without ever allowing ourselves to deplete our precious reserves.

I’m curious to know how you create the delicate balance between setting challenging deadlines for yourself and working diligently while also making more space in your life for what truly matters. If you would like to share your ideas, please leave a comment.

Katia

Dharma Wanderlust