Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Good Morning!

I've written in a journal almost every day since I was 18. I'll admit I go through phases where I write very little or not at all, but that hardly lasts more than a couple weeks. I've got boxes tucked away in a closet that hold all the notebooks I've filled over the years. Generally, I don't like to read my old entries but every once in a great while I'll flip through one looking for something specific. It's comforting to have them all together. I like the fact that I've recorded so much of my life on paper. My habit has almost always been to write in the evenings, reflecting on the day's events. Sometimes I have little scraps of paper I've tucked into my purse or pocket during the day, where I've jotted down a great thought or funny incident. I'll tape them onto my journal pages or transcribe them in with my other writings.

Although I'm a creature of habit, last month I made a switch. On the advice of my life coach, I've been writing in the mornings. She suggested I strengthen my gratitude practice by making time each morning to write before I start my day. Now that I've started working again, I set my alarm extra early (previously unheard of!) so that I have time for myself, without feeling rushed, before the rest of my morning routine. Initially, I thought I'd be too groggy to be productive right after rolling out of bed. Now, I will admit that I don't sit down without a cup of coffee but I've been surprised at how easily the words start flowing. I also have a great tool that I highly recommend. It's a book called Good Morning: 365 Positive Ways To Start Your Day by Brook Noel. I've had this book for a few years and I've read it intermittently but obviously I wasn't making time for it and I hadn't looked at it in a long time. So I dusted it off and have made it a part of my daily reflection. For each day of the year there is a topic for which there is an entry by the author that's related to the quote she has chosen for the day. Next, there's "Your Turn", which guides you on how to apply today's message to your life and a daily affirmation. Each day is filled with positive messages and reminders to help the reader slow down, identify and focus on the important things in life. I write down each day's affirmation as part of my journal entry. Then when I'm all finished writing, I slide off the recliner onto the floor and meditate for a few moments, usually on that affirmation along with my specific personal intentions for the day. I'm not sure why this hadn't occurred to me before, since I'm a planner! I paired this new habit with my return to the work force last month and I honestly can't believe how good I feel leaving my house each morning. I used to dread getting up for work. I'd set the alarm as late as possible, rush around trying to get everything together,  stumble out the door, then spend my commute figuring out what I forgot at home. I'm sure the fact that I wasn't happy at that job was a big factor in all of this, but of all the things I've learned in the last few months, it all comes back to making time for myself and showing myself kindness.

I know I've suggested this before (and I'll probably suggest it in future posts!), but if you don't already keep a journal, give it a try. It doesn't have to be a "diary", just jot down your thoughts or goals, make a list of things you are thankful for, or if you're feeling inspired, get a copy of this book and make it a part of your day. I guarantee you will notice a difference in your days! If you already have a practice similar to mine, please tell me about it! I love to hear what techniques people use to show gratitude!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Big Picture

As I mentioned in my last post, I entered a new chapter of my life in August when I started working for a temp agency. So far I've completed my first assignment and start my second one tomorrow. About half way through my first day of work, I noticed something happening that I'd experienced before. When I enter into a new chapter of my life, I'll sometimes meet a person who reminds me of someone from a previous chapter. For example if I'd once had a negative experience with a person named X, I'll find myself  having a positive experience with someone of the same name. Other times I'll meet someone who reminds me of a person I cared about in a previous chapter (or just someone who I'm a great physical distance from now) and it makes me happy to be around them. It's as if The Universe is balancing things out for me, bringing me full circle through an experience. It's a reminder that all of my experiences are connected, that everything happens for a reason.

A few days into my first temp assignment, my supervisor and I were chatting about our pets. I mentioned I was looking for a Boston Terrier puppy but they were proving difficult to find. She perked up in her seat and said "I have a friend who just had a litter of puppies!" The full story was a bit more involved and the puppies turned out to be four hours away, but the owner was willing to meet me half way and so I brought my new buddy home last Friday.

This is a wonderful example of how our lives are full of tiny connections that create the big picture that is our journey. If I didn't play roller derby I would probably never have met my good friend A, whose in-laws own the temp agency which gave me the job with the supervisor who connected me to my new puppy. Whew!

When it first occurred to me to get a new puppy I dismissed the idea. A puppy is a big expense, a huge time commitment and a lifestyle change. Did I even really want a new puppy or was I just wanting back my dog who had passed away? Was it even fair to get a puppy if he'd constantly be compared to Ritz? "I think you're over thinking this" said my life coach. "Of course you want Ritz back but you can't have that and you also want a new puppy." That made sense. I tossed the idea around for a bit, meditated on it and discussed it with my other half. Then I decided I wanted a boy Boston Terrier puppy and I put it out to The Universe. Within a few weeks, the connections were made and now I have an adorable little dog who I already love with my whole heart. On his first morning home, I took him outside and sprinkled some of Ritz's ashes along the fence in our back yard, where he loved to patrol and woof at any passerby. All the guilt I was carrying for wanting another dog seemed to lift away. I felt a sense of closure around Ritz's death that I hadn't in the three months since. I'm not trying to replace him. No dog could ever fill his role because I'll never be in exactly the same place I was emotionally when he came into my life eight years ago. However I did need to feel the void I've felt since his passing. Already the new puppy is doing exactly that. He's a bold, noisy, wiggly, cuddly creature and he's brought a lot of joy into our household. I needed him even more than I'd realized.