I’ve completed 1/12th of my intentional LIFE project, and I can already say that it’s been a moving journey – one in which I feel like I’ve “activated” (for lack of a better word) a series of events, ideas and challenges that – on a deep level – I know are going to change my life.
I got goosebumps writing that just now.
But it’s true.
Before I delve into what May is going to look like, I need to recap what happened in April, summarize the numbers, and relate what I got to and what I didn’t. Overall, the month was a smashing success for hitting all my intentions – even ones that I might not have completed fully.
If you don’t want to read about April’s outcomes, you can just jump down to May:
Or, if you don’t feel like reading, I recap everything in this video:
April – Focus Inward
- 60 minutes of meditation, daily, for a total of 1,800 minutes of meditation
- journal 250 words, daily, for a monthly total of 13, 417 words (some days I wrote extra)
- recite 108 mantras, daily, for a monthly total of 3,240 mantras recited, though that number is higher because I’d recite it to myself during the day
- recite daily affirmations
- 10,000 steps every day (unless another physical activity takes its place) for a monthly total of 240,413 steps (see photo below) and 100 miles walked
- finish coloring book
- Read, The Power of Silence by Castaneda
Every morning upon waking, I drank a glass of water before heading to my meditation cushion. I set my timer for 60 minutes, inserted ear plugs and assumed a half lotus pose.
And every single day, I meditated for 60 minutes without fail.
Unlike the binaural beats experiment, meditating in silence for 60 minutes all at once – for me – is really profound.
Here’s what I feel as a result of 30 hours (1 hour each day) of meditation:
- more optimism
- evermore compassion for every living thing
- sometimes things get a “glowy tinge” to them, which equates to a higher degree of happiness at the sight of it. For example, sometimes the flowers, trees and leaves in my garden take on an almost ethereal flair and I just feel a sense of ebullience that all is right in the world – at least in that moment
- I remember to go into a deeper state of breathing when life gets stressful
- my level of intuition is higher. For example, I got some news at work (which I will talk about more in another post), but for two days beforehand, I had this sense of “knowing”
I figured out how to connect my meditation app to my phone’s mindful minutes health measurement app – but only on April 29th. I hope to include a photo of all the meditation minutes I’ve done next month.
And, yes, the idea that I’ve spent 1,800 minutes meditating is staggering to me. It is changing my life.
I journaled 250 words a day, almost every day. There were some days that I just had to get moving in the morning before I could get to my journal. So, I would double-up the next day.
Some days I wrote 800 words, but the minimum was 250.
I wrote mostly about this project.
Some of the themes I touched upon were managing my time to fit everything in, the way I think about energy now, the walking marathon, how I will change, how I am changing, and more.
I plan to publish the journal at the end of this project.
So far, I have 13, 417 words. The equivalent of a novella.
Each morning after meditation, I recited my “success” mantra 108 times.
I’ve also found that saying it during the day is quite meditative – even on my daily walks (to get all my steps in), I’d often recite it then to myself, too.
I can’t say what direct changes this mantra is helping me with, but it is neat to have something to recite as I go about the tasks in my day.
Every activity (well, almost) turns into an opportunity to slow down, become contemplative and focus intently on what I’m doing.
It’s pretty incredible, actually.
I appreciate the silence!
After reciting the mantras each morning, I’d assume a power pose and recite my affirmations to myself.
There’s something incredibly empowering and mind-changing about reciting positive and power-packed words of affirmations before starting my day.
It’s like I’m ready to take on the world and accomplish whatever I set my mind on doing.
I feel surges of motivation, the peacefulness of contemplation, and the desire to change the world all at once.
10,000 Daily Steps
If you look at the photo below, you’ll see that I accomplished 10K steps most days of the month. The days where I didn’t were because I substituted another activity (such as biking or gardening) in for those steps.
Not only is it good to cross-train, but working in the garden is such a mindful, contemplative activity. It’s incredibly fun and rewarding.
Prior to April 7, I used my phone to help me calculate daily steps. However, I’d been wanting a regular pedometer and thought if it had a clock, too, I’d be set.
I’d fiddled with possibly getting a FitBit or something like that, but in the end, I just really wanted a watch and pedometer. So, for $30 on Amazon, I got one called “MoreFit” (and, no, this isn’t an endorsement for them, but their product has me pleasantly surprised).
It’s worked really well. I don’t know how long it’ll last, but for all its functionality and low price, I can easily see how many steps I’ve done, see the date and time, see how much I’ve walked (10,000 steps is roughly 4 miles), see how many calories I’ve burned, and it’s all summarized in the free app that you can download after purchase.
You can even set alarms for waking and other needs, and you can see your sleep patterns in the app.
I had no idea how much this little gadget would motivate me to check my steps and progress AND to get good night’s sleep!
The funny thing about the 10K steps, though, is that some days were REALLY easy to achieve that number. Other days, though, such as days where I did a lot of writing, those have been harder to get those numbers in. So, I’ve had to run in circles around my house and yard sometimes to get all the steps registered.
Walking has become a secondary meditation activity and I quite enjoy it! Not only that, now my doggie expects a good long walk as soon as I get home from work – usually just a couple of miles, though, because normally I have over half my steps completed by the time I get home in the evenings (as of right now, anyways).
The Tree of Life Coloring Book
Yes, I finished it!! I finished the drawings and already have them compiled into one document.
I had hoped to already have all the writing done and everything ready to send to CreateSpace by the time May 1 rolled around, but I’m not attached to a final date.
If it takes longer than I expect, then I will practice the idea of detachment and accept that all this will happen in its own time.
I haven’t published on CreateSpace before and I figure this first time will yield the steepest learning curve and I’m ready for that.
I am so excited to finally publish this labor of love, though. It really does represent a journey.
If you would like a free copy, in exchange for an Amazon Review, send me an email. I will let that stand until the official publication date. All you need to do is to let me know you’re interested. When it comes to publication time, I will ask you for your mailing address to get it over to you.
The Power of Silence by Carlos Castaneda
This book. Wow.
At first, I admit, I wasn’t as “into it” as I thought I’d be. For whatever reason, I found the stories a little hard to follow.
But then, after the first few chapters, this book captured my attention and I just wanted to read and read and read.
I would love to do a whole book review, but in the interests of time, let’s just say that anyone interested in a personal, spiritual journey should read this.
The themes inherent throughout the book are all reminiscent of not only the Yaqui journey, but it echoes those of all the masters we know.
Castaneda speaks of his training with Don Juan and how the most important thing was to “move the assemblage point.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but I felt like that was the equivalent of reaching an enlightened state.
Things happen when the assemblage point moves.
Other themes throughout the book talk about that “inner knowing” or silent knowledge and how one has to find a place of silence to really be able to learn the lessons.
This book reinforced my LIFE journey here by affirming that amazing things happen when you get in touch with Spirit (or God, or the Universe, etc.).
When you are hyperfocused, filled with good intent, you expand into a multidimensional universe where you can do anything – at least that’s my takeaway from the end of the book.
Regardless, it’s a good read and I highly recommend it.
It was always my intention to keep doing the things I started in April throughout the project: meditation, mantras, affirmations, journaling, steps and reading a book of the month.
I will keep doing all these things.
But now, in May, I begin add a little more, namely, decluttering and training.
- Declutter living space (closets, basement, and papers)
- See if I can simplify any monthly expenses
- Launch coloring book
- Begin new book (either create a journal or visionary fiction book)
- Begin training for Marathon March for Humanity
- Read Living Well, Spending Less
For this intention, I was inspired by watching a Ted Talk on paring down to a 10-Item Wardrobe.
I actually don’t want to pare down that much.
I’m thinking 33 items is good – it’s a number that keeps recurring in my life and has so many meanings.
I’ll strive to have 33 items total of shirts, skirts, pants, sweaters, blazers, dresses and shorts.
For now, pajamas, socks, undergarments, accessories and coats won’t count – though I will wean out items of clothing I don’t use or need anymore.
Why would I bother with something like this?
Well, decluttering has many benefits. These benefits all tie in with what I’m trying to accomplish with this project:
- you can find things more easily
- everything I have in my life is there because I intend it to be
- I don’t have to spend precious brain power in the mornings thinking about what I want to wear
- “clearing out” makes more room physically – and lends itself to working mentally, too
- less to deal with in terms of cleaning clothes
There is a lot of documented evidence that a simple wardrobe works. These folks effectively wore the same outfit every day:
Steve Jobs: black mock turtleneck and jeans
Barack Obama: navy or black suits
Angela Merkel (Germany’s presiden): blazers
Vera Wang: leggings
Mark Zuckerberg: gray shirt and jeans
Another reason? In the US, people think nothing of having closets stuffed full of clothes: last year’s styles, next year’s styles, stuff for summer, a new outfit for a date, a new work outfit, etc., etc.
Okay, I’ve never been one to have to go out and spend all kinds of money on clothes. It’s just not in my DNA. But, I still have a closet full of clothes. Clothes people have given to me. Clothes I’ve found on consignment. Hand me downs. Something I absentmindedly picked up on sale.
Phase 1 – which will last until I need to get more clothes, so this could be awhile:
Pare down to 33 items and everything has to match everything else. That way, in the wee hours of the morning (and I’m not a get-up-and-go kind of morning person), I can pull a top (such as a t-shirt) and a bottom (such as a skirt or pants) and have them match – even if I did this in the dark.
Indeed, in order to move into Phase 2, it doesn’t make sense to me to declutter and then go out and buy 20 purple shirts.
Adopt a uniform. Yes, something simple. But, I have to chuckle here: I’m not going to go around looking like a monk, or a nun.
I’ll probably choose something purple – it’s my favorite color.
But when I do, I want to choose clothing that was sustainably made, is from consignment shops, or existed in my wardrobe already.
I plan on working on this the first 1-2 weekends in May.
For the following weekends, I’ll work on other areas: the basement (that just seems to collect clutter), the hall closet, the mound of papers that relentlessly arrive each day in the mail.
By the end of the month, I hope that the majority of things I own will be “intentional.”
Simplify Monthly Expenses
With this intention, all I want to do is look at spending habits and begin to pare down unnecessary (and mindless) spending.
Yes, in full disclosure, I was at the hardware store two weeks ago and went in for a kitchen light fixture that was supposed to cost $35.
I walked out $250 later with plants, mulch, seeds, soil, the kitchen fixture, energy efficient bulbs for said fixture, pots, a gazing glass (for the garden) and a stand.
I was happy. Until I realized what happened, and…well, I was happy anyways: we’ll get a lot of food from those seeds and a lot of beautiful plants and flowers.
But still, the idea is to be more mindful about spending.
And…I want to see if there are any bills or things I can get rid of, or just pay off.
It’s not to be “minimalist.” It’s just to simplify.
There’s a HUGE difference between decluttering to make room for more space, clarity and energy in one’s life and there’s the minimalism mindset where it’s based on scarcity. That’s exactly what I don’t want to do.
The Tree of Life Coloring Book Launch
You know, this entire LIFE project was born from the intentions of creating the real Tree of Life in my house, where it’s still happily standing.
My intentions hang there and are a daily reminder of what I want to do.
The coloring book is an extension of that.
I’m hoping to launch in mid-May, but we’ll see how it goes.
There’s one thing I won’t do: stress over some deadline I’ve given myself. It’ll all happen in its own due time.
Begin New Book
I’ve been dreaming and daydreaming about the visionary fiction book I want to write. And maybe I still will.
But, I am thinking about my precarious work situation (you know…grant-funded) and it might be prudent to see about creating things that I know will be of great benefit to others, and that might sell a little better than a book (at least at first).
Many folks keep a journal. For most of my life, I’ve written in an actual book or notebook (though I’ve gone digital in that regard, too). Many people still do.
I will have to see where my heart leads me on this one. I’m not sure which I will do just yet. After the coloring book launch, I’ll begin this new project.
Marathon March for Humanity, or the MMH
I start training for this in mid-May. It’s earlier than the 3 months needed, but I will have a two-week hiatus from training in early July for traveling (that’s part of this project, too).
I’m using the advice of two different sites to help me with my training schedule:
Earlier in April, I started researching dates and places to do a marathon walk.
I found a few, but all were so far away or at the wrong time of year, or were geared toward marathon runners, but not necessarily walkers.
The few that I did find all represented causes that I’d contribute to, but didn’t have a personal connection to march for – which is for intent.
What do I mean by that? I want to do this marathon march for social justice. For everything I stand for. For this project.
To that end, I think eventually I’ll create a “pledge” page here on the website (still figuring all this out) in which, if I complete the walk, people will pay their pledge to one of the charities for whom I would like to march:
ACLU – civil rights
SPLC – fights hate groups by using education, litigation, advocacy
Anti-Defamation League – for Jewish citizens
Border Angels – immigration
Boys and Girls Clubs – safe places for boys/girls out of school
Council on American-Islamist Relations
The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
National Immigration Law Center – immigrants
National Organization for women
PEN America – works to prevent free and open expression in the US
The Union of Concerned Scientists – works on planet’s most pressing scientific problems
The Sierra Club
Human Rights Campaign
These organizations work for justice for all: for equality of women, minorities, the LGBTQ community, the disabled, for immigrants, for the environment.
This march is definitely an extension of the compassion I feel for any person or group that I feel is striving for equal rights.
It’s also an extension of my desire to help the planet.
I want to call attention to all these groups and help in any way I can.
I plan on doing the march in Asheville, NC on September 4. Folks can join me if they’d like, or they can march (however long) right where they are.
The charities above are primarily US-based organizations. You can donate to them if you’d like, OR, if you are elsewhere, you can donate in the name of the MMH march to a comparable organization.
Living Well, Spending Less
This is my “May book.” I’m excited about seeing the possibilities and ideas that Ruth Soukup will share.
The book is subtitled, “twelve secrets to a good life.”
While I have many ideas of my own (ha!), it’ll be interesting to see her perspective. She includes some biblical terminology in it, as well as some life experience.
I look forward to summarizing it here in the first part of June.
Thank you for reading this far – if you have, then that means that you’re really interested in this project!