This week I’ve noticed a foreign sense of calm within myself. Once I realized it, I looked back to see if I could pinpoint when it began. I can’t pinpoint a date, but I do know it’s been building for the last few weeks. I say it’s foreign because my mind is usually racing, my nerves tied up with plans and worry, and something else – perhaps a heightened negative sense of some sort. Now, my mind is still functioning, but it feels like it’s gently flowing, not racing. My nerves? I think of nerves as stress – again, flowing, not stressful. And the “something else” is now this overall sense of calm.
I wonder if this is simply a matter of aging. I’ve read that people tend to feel happier as they get older. Is this new sense of calm simply me getting older? As I read the research on this phenomenon, I really don’t think it applies to me right now. One of the reasons people tend to get happier as they age is because they lower their expectations and accept their achievements. Here I am, in the midst of my 366 Somedays tackling new goals every month, so I haven’t really lowered my expectations and accepted my past achievements as all inclusive.
I’m almost afraid to say it, but I think my new calm stems from the activities of my 366 Somedays. I think my meditation practice, especially the loving kindness meditation, is having a positive effect on me. I know daily exercise makes me feel good, but adding in the singing last week has changed my walks from exercise to a spiritual experience. And yesterday I noticed that, when I’m not singing, I’m humming and humming also has therapeutic benefits.
I hoped the challenges of my 366 Somedays would bring satisfaction, but I wasn’t expecting calm. This is another sign that stepping out and trying something new is good for us. Now, if I could just whistle. I read that whistling is also good for the body and mind. Maybe learning to whistle should be one of my “somedays”. No, let’s not push it! I’ll meditate, I’ll sing a happy song, and I’ll hum a tune, but I don’t need to also whistle while I work. Especially since, with all due respect to Lauren Bacall, there seems to be a lot more to it than “just put your lips together and blow.”
This morning I hit the internet looking for quotes on how hard it is for some people to learn languages. I learned some people’s brains communicate in a way that better facilitates learning languages. I learned (or was reminded) Italian is one of the Romance languages. That’s because it’s of Latin (Roman) origin, not having anything to do with love, though I still thinks it’s fun I chose learning a Romance language for my February “someday”. I also learned about growth and fixed mindsets (Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck, PhD). I didn’t read the book; I just read a synopsis. Here is an even briefer synopsis: people who have a growth mindset believe their abilities can be developed; people who have a fixed mindset believe they have a certain amount of abilities and nothing more. The example given in the article, Why Some People Find Language Learning Harder Than Others was:
For example, telling yourself that “you’re not talented at languages” and essentially doing no effort whatsoever to improve your foreign language abilities is a classic example of a fixed mindset, and it can have devastating consequences.
Hit me over the head! Was the writer talking directly to me? I don’t want to think about how many times this month I’ve said, “I’m smart, but my brain just doesn’t learn languages well.” I’ve saddled myself with a fixed mindset – so utterly not my normal modus operandi! Sure, it may be true my brain doesn’t have the language facilitating way of communicating, but that ability is just an indicator of the ease of learning a language. If your brain doesn’t communicate that way, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn the language. However, having a fixed mindset, as I’ve had – lots of negative self-talk – can be a real hindrance. So, starting today, I’m going to do what I do in other situations. I’m going to fake it till I feel it. I’m going to stop saying my ability to learn Italian is cattivo (bad); I’m going to start saying my Italian is buona (good). And, I’ll get out my new Italian for Dummies book and really start putting in some effort. Too bad the book isn’t titled, Italian for Those Who Are Willing to Work Hard – that’s a much more growth mindset title.
Month One’s goal was to write and publish a book in 30 days. Failed to finish, but still working on the book. It’s only a fail in terms of the timeframe.
Month Two’s goal is to develop a meditation practice. I am meditating every morning, but don’t seem to be getting any better at keeping my mind reigned in.
Month Three’s goal (next month) is to set off on a challenge to walk or run 1200 exercise miles in 2016. Thoughts on that? Total fear!
I’ve been sick for two weeks and other than a short one-mile walk with the dogs a week ago, I haven’t exercised at all. As the days pile up and I struggle to get through the basics of what has to be done each day, I’m beginning to feel a little panicky about the idea of trying to maintain an average four-mile/day, six days/week schedule starting January 1st. I wrote about “resistance” early on and I now know to identify this type of fear as simply resistance, but I must admit to feeling discouraged about the amount of fear I’m able to generate. I wake up in the morning with my head and chest congested, my body aching, and I think, What if I get sick after January 1st? How would I maintain my running/walking schedule? Two weeks of missed workouts is 48 missed miles!
Part of challenging myself to “366 Somedays” is the exploration of why we put off so many goals and desires to “someday”. There’s the excuses of lack of time, limited resources, other commitments, but I have realized perhaps the biggest reason, excuse, rationalization, whatever you want to call it, is FEAR. Fear of failing. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of “what if?” FEAR. I’ve also realized most of my FEAR comes from inside my head. I’m beginning to think perhaps the most substantial growth I’ll experience this year is learning to quiet the Voice of Fear inside my head. My goal can be summed up in a quote from Yanni: I don’t have a You Can’t Do This voice in my head.
I haven’t yet told anyone except my husband the topic of the non-fiction book I’m working on this month for my first “someday” and during the WNFIN challenge, but I’m revealing it now. My book is about marriage and how to do it right. My husband and I married when we were only 19-years-old (too young to get married), but we’ve been very happily married for 38 years and I think we’ve done a lot of things right along the way. So, I want to share our experience. I’d love for every married or long-term committed couple to have what we have; to know what we now know. But remember back to one of my first entries about “Resistance”? Well, Resistance is back and it’s talking smack to me. “You’re not a marriage expert. You don’t know enough to tell people how to be married. Hell, you’re not even a writer!”
I’m not one to crawl back in my hole, but I must admit to giving Resistance’s resistance a bit of a listen. My project has stalled and I realized this morning the stall has been caused by Resistance. So, once again, it’s time to smack Resistance upside the head and get back to what my soul is telling me to do. Yes, it’s true: Resistance does not live in one’s soul. Resistance is the opposite of soul. Resistance is the enemy of soul.
Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.
There are seven days in a week and someday is not one of them.
November is a busy month. In addition to having two national holidays, November is also National Adoption Month (a recognition near and dear to my heart), No Shave November (which I just learned is a way to raise cancer awareness since many cancer patients lose their hair), and it’s also the month of two writing challenges: NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and WNFIN (Write Non-fiction in November) aka NaNonFiWriMo (National Non-fiction Writing Month). That’s a mouthful!
I began writing in earnest seven years ago with the launch of my blog, Debbie Does 50! At first I wrote several days a week, then my writing became less and less frequent to the point where I haven’t really been writing at all this past year. I knew I needed to get back to writing regularly. I like what writing does for me personally and I have things to say. I knew I needed to set aside time in my day to write and to organize my writing if I was ever to actually write a book – something I have always thought I’d do someday.
A couple months ago I started receiving information about WNFIN and my interest was piqued. Perhaps this was the impetus I needed to get my fingers back on the keyboard. I spent several weeks rolling the idea around in my head and having multiple conversations with myself about my writing abilities (or lack thereof), my available time (or lack thereof), and general naysaying (of which there was a great deal). We all have these conversations with ourselves (at least I hope I’m not the only one talking to myself inside my head). I recently listened to the book Do the Work by Steven Pressfield. He refers to the other half of these conversations as “Resistance”. Let me just say, Resistance was alive and well in my brain, but I’m a strong person and after much discussion, I put Resistance in its place and signed up for WNFIN.
November has 30 days. For me, someday is one of them. Someday is Now!