Monday, January 23, 2012

The Perfect Question?

Buddhists believe that "one should establish mindfulness in one's day-to-day life maintaining as much as possible a calm awareness of one's bodily functions, sensations (feelings), objects of consciousness (thoughts and perceptions), and consciousness itself." Modern Western psychology has successfully used the practice of mindfulness - focusing full awareness on the present - to reduce pain, stress and anxiety. 

Calm sounds good. And who wouldn't want less pain, stress and anxiety? According to studies, the form of mindfulness with the greatest impact is mindful meditation. A calm, pain-free, stress-free, anxiety-free life for a mere fifteen minutes a day? Sign me up! I've got a ton of self-discipline so fifteen minutes a day should be a cinch. Well... Apparently I don't have as much self-discipline as I'd like to believe. I tried. I mean really tried. But I can't turn my crazy brain off for even one minute (tried that too... see here), let alone fifteen. The commitment to sit and try lasted about a week (I'm being generous).

The way I have been able to incorporate mindfulness into my life with pretty good success is by acknowledging and savoring the good moments that wander into my life on a regular basis. And then remembering to be consciously grateful for them. Those practices have made a huge difference in the quality of my life. In case you skimmed those last three sentences, let me repeat the key parts of them. Acknowledge and savor the good moments. Consciously grateful. Made a HUGE difference. Got it? Good. 

So I'm already acknowledging and appreciating the good moments - and I'm fortunate that I've been doing that for a while because it kind of works like a magnet; the more I acknowledge, the more there are. Consequently, I'm in a pretty good place most of the time. But what about the ho-hum parts of my day? Or the not-so-great moments when I fret about what we're going to do now that our house is sold or worry about where we'll be a year from now... 

"What, at this moment, is lacking?" The power of this question, posed by a Zen master to his students, is in it's simplicity. At this moment. Not what might be lacking six months from now or what was lacking two years ago. At this moment. Mindfulness in a nutshell. So I started asking myself at various points in my day, "What, at this moment, is lacking?" I'm happy to report the answer is usually, "Absolutely nothing." If something is lacking, the absence is, more often than not, easily remedied. A hat to keep my ears warm, a glass of water to quench my thirst, food because my stomach is growling. I'm fortunate, I get to take for granted a comfortable, safe home and enough money to buy food and clothing. Add to those the right companionship at the right time, and, at any given moment, I'm in good shape.

Simple? Yes. Powerful? Incredibly. The Perfect Question? I'm beginning to think so.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

White Knights & Pink Pigs

Sylvia Dickey Smith, who interviewed me last week (interview is posted on my website), asked me to write a guest post for her blog. I wrote the post, she added the great title - White Knights & Pink Pigs.

To read the post, simply click here. And as always, if you like it, please share it!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Friday, January 6, 2012

Writing Strong Women Interview

Hey all, I wanted to let you know about my first interview since I published The Pig & Me. The interview will be conducted by Sylvia Dickey Smith for her Blog Radio show, Writing Strong Women. Sylvia's blog and radio shows "peek into the minds of bestselling authors writing strong women." I'm not sure I qualify for the "bestselling" part - at least not yet - but I'm honored that she read The Pig & Me and wanted to chat! The interview is scheduled for Monday morning (the 9th) at 11 a.m. eastern and will last 30 minutes. Listeners are welcome to call-in with questions. To listen click here. And please tell your friends!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Mindful Gratitude Reminder

I occasionally need a reminder to be grateful and have a feeling I'm not the only one... So, with some minor changes (I'm a serial "tinkerer") and a new, written-today last paragraph, the following is a re-post from August 2010.


About a year ago I decided I needed to be more mindfully grateful.  I have a whole lot to be grateful for, but it's easy to lose sight of that fact when shlogging through the daily grind.  So I started taking the time, just before I fall asleep, to review the things I'm grateful for on that particular day.  Some nights it's easy, others a lot more difficult.  But no matter how tough a day it seems at the time, when it is over, there is always - and I mean always - something I can be grateful for: making it to an appointment on time, finding that perfectly ripe avocado, the delicious moment when the bra comes off and the sweats go on, the first sip of wine at the end of a long day.  After reminding myself of the little things I'm grateful for, I list the Big Stuff: a husband who has faced a terminal illness and is healthy, two happy, gainfully employed and self-supporting sons, my own good health, friends.

This little ritual has become a habit and I often drift off in the middle of my Big Stuff list.  I sleep better, dream happier and wake with a much more positive attitude.  And in times of crisis, this can be a life-saver.

One thing on my grateful list these past few nights has been the fact that our New Hampshire house is in contract. If all goes well, we will be handing the keys to our beautiful home over on March 15th. The house has been on the market for two years, which sounds like such a long time, but now I understand that it was the right amount of time. An amount of time for which I am now very grateful. We've had time to adjust to the new life we've made in Brooklyn. We have an apartment we love with a view that stuns us with it's beauty every day. We are not panicked about what to do or where to go. We will pass the keys on to a couple who will love and care for our dream home and make it their own. And we will breathe.