A vision for 2012

idea

Tons of ideas. Zero motivation. Image by orkboi via Flickr

This is the first post of this year. Almost a month into 2012. Over a month after my previous post.

After spending most of 2010 posting four times a week, week after week, I kinda dried out in 2011. I didn’t run out of ideas. I ran out of steam. Out of motivation.

That was my story for 2011. Not just for my blog – for my life. I slowed down. Despite myself. Notwithstanding all my good intentions.  I just didn’t have the will to do anything. But I want to change that.

The world is going to end in 2012, or so the Mayans said. I don’t believe that means the doom and gloom that Hollywood would have us believe. It means the end of a cycle. And the end of a cycle heralds the beginning of a new one. So this year, I intend to start anew. To begin afresh.

investing_in_me

Investing in me. Image via Flickr

I’m not in a hurry. I want to do things slow – and get them right. So I’m going to take my time. To analyze the year that was. To examine where I am and determine where I want to be. To plan. To take one step, and then another and another. To start the journey. Because that’s what’s important. The destination will come. Or it won’t.

What’s important is moving forward. Learning. Growing. Challenging yourself. Being fresh.

As I analyze, learn, and grow, I will share some of my insights with you, my wonderful readers. So if you find yourself stuck in a rut, or in need of some motivation, stay tuned. The best way to keep up with posts – through my RSS feed.

If you’ve been stuck in a rut and broken free – do share your advice in the comments. I’m on the lookout for all the help and inspiration I can find!

The reading deprivation challenge

Books

Image by henry… via Flickr

Books have taken over my life.

In The Artist’s Way (which, by the way, I have never managed to finish…discipline has fled the house!) Julia Cameron recommends a week of reading deprivation – she bans books, newspapers, magazines, everything – for at least one whole week. When I first read that, I balked at the very thought of it. And needless to say, didn’t follow through with the rest of the program.

But now, as I think about it, it makes a lot of sense – at least for me. It boggles the mind to think of the amount of time I would have to pursue other activities if I wasn’t compulsively stuck with my nose in a book every free second of every single day. I finish one book, sit back, inhale, and then wander over to my bookshelf to pull out the next book and start reading again.

book and coffee

Image by Josh Russell via Flickr

It’s starting to get freakish, this obsession I have with books. It starts in the morning – I curl up on the sofa with my cup of java to kick me awake and a book in my hand, reading at a feverish pace. I have to keep reminding myself that I need to move my butt and get ready for work. Once I’m back home in the evening, I rush through the chores (of changing and washing my face) and sit down to read. And read until well past bedtime, with mini breaks in between to welcome the husband home, squeeze in some small talk so he doesn’t think I’m insane, and during dinner.

Pathetic. Unhealthy. Irrational.

I’m beginning to see the sense in Julia Cameron’s approach. It’s time to bite the bullet. For someone as addicted it as me, it calls for serious measures. SO…reading deprivation for a month!

….

….

Wait! Did I just write that? Think that? What the hell is wrong with me? I’m never going to be able to stick with that! So…a compromise….How about…umm…a week? Every month? Reasonable enough, don’t you think?

But first, I have to finish the book I’m currently reading. And the one I’ve already decided to read after I finish this one. (I told you I was obsessive.) Then, a week of no reading. At all.

I’m freaking out already!

Preserved memories: On keeping a hand-written journal

Oh, the smell of fresh paper. The feel of the rough page beneath my hand. The sense of possibilities expanding before me, as I gathered together my thoughts, put pen to paper, and wrote.

20110914-015202.jpgGone are those good old days of keeping a hand-written journal. Of carrying around a diary everywhere I went, so I was never stumped if inspiration struck, or if I saw a particularly good quote that I wanted to note down forever, or just wanted to ruminate.

Gone are those days spent flicking through old journals. Looking at ticket stubs from that movie I went for on my first date. Of the restaurant bill from the last time I met up with my gang. The coffee spill that put so much more atmosphere into the story of me that I was writing.

20110914-013659.jpgAll of that has been replaced with my iPhone. True, it’s much smaller and lighter than my diary. It’s with me everywhere I go. The chances of my forgetting it anywhere are slim. But it’s just not the same as my dear diary.

There are no pages to rifle through. No coffee spills to highlight passages of my life. No drunken scrawls that I cannot decipher the morning after. It’s too neat. Too structured. Too…cold.

20110914-015125.jpgMaybe its time for me to go and buy myself a new diary. A leather-bound one this time, maybe. To doodle. To write. To keep for posterity. So that years later, when I am dust scattered over the earth, someone can come across it and say “Oh, so that’s what writing looked like in those ancient days!”

What do you think? Do you miss your hand-written diary? Or are you happy recording your thoughts digitally?

Lessons from Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is probably one of the most influential poet alive. She certainly is one of my favorite. I remember watching an episode on Oprah where she interviewed Maya Angelou, and one of the things she said that day, that stayed with me throughout the years, was that she never allowed people to talk negatively in her house. She said it created disharmonious vibrations that disturbed the peace and tranquility of her living space.

Today, I share with you a short clip, where Oprah talks to Maya Angelou, recounting the most important life lessons she heard from her.

Click here to watch the video

Hope you enjoy the video!

(Click to read older Spiritual Sunday posts)

Osho on Courage

Set boldly forth, conquering your fears, overcoming them, to achieve your goals, to live your life fully. Take heart in these words from Osho:

To accept the challenge of the unknown in spite of all fears, is courage. The fears are there, but if you go on accepting the challenge again and again, slowly slowly those fears disappear. The experience of the joy that the unknown brings, the great ecstasy that starts happening with the unknown, makes you strong enough, gives you a certain integrity, makes your intelligence sharp. For the first time you start feeling that life is not just a boredom but an adventure. Then slowly slowly fears disappear; then you are always seeking and searching for some adventure. Courage is risking the known for the unknown, the familiar for the unfamiliar some unknown destination. One never knows whether one will be able to make it or not. It is gambling, but only the gamblers know what life is. – Osho

To courage!

(Click to read older Spiritual Sunday posts)

Formula for a great start to a new week

Here’s a formula to start your week on a good note:

Make peace with your past. If there is anything you’re holding on to from the past week (or even the past year or earlier), release it. Put the baggage down. Lighten your load. Allow yourself to move forward. Forgive others who you think may have slighted you. Forgive yourself too. Breathe in light, love and peace. Breathe out stress, hurt and pain. Give thanks for each moment. Welcome new experiences and joys into your life. Take a few moments and visualize your perfect week. If that’s too far ahead for you, image your perfect day. Smile.

Here’s to a great week ahead!

(Click to read older Spiritual Sunday posts)

Build up your self-control

It turns out that our capacity for self-control is surprisingly like a muscle — like a bicep or tricep. And like any muscle, self-control can vary in its strength, not only from person to person, but from moment to moment. Spend all day dealing with distractions, hassles and stressors at work, and it’s awfully hard to summon up the willpower to resist the allure of the cocktail, the cigarette or the fully-loaded nacho platter. – The Relationship Between Exercise And Self Control by Heidi Grant Halvorson

That simple paragraph was a Eureka moment for me. I’m finally in a job where I get to reach home around 6:00 pm, giving me ample time to pursue other interests. I’ve been wanting to get back to exercising, learn Italian and the tarot – and now I have more than enough time to do all of these things.

But I’ve lacked the motivation. I’ve been unable to exert any kind of willpower or self-control over my slothful ways.

I reach home and I feel exhausted, I don’t want to do anything or go anywhere – unless it’s out for dinner or drinks with friends.

Exercising self controlEveryday I’ve been telling myself that I’m over-thinking things…that before even sitting down or doing anything else once I’m home, I should change into tracks and go for a walk. It. Does. Not. Work.

Then I figured it’s probably best that I finish my workout before I get home – which means join a gym and get in a workout on my way back from work. It took me an incalculably long time to get around to going and finding out about the membership, taking a trial session, and finally joining.

Italian and the tarot – I look at the books and download podcasts, but don’t read or listen.

So that little paragraph up there just hit me. Hard. It was the exhaustion on some days and sheer boredom on others that was translating into this total lack of will power on my part.

The great news is that if you want more self-control in general, you can get more. And you get more self-control the same way you get bigger muscles: you’ve got to give it regular workouts.

So how do you do this? By making yourself do something you don’t much like doing, each and every day. Within a few weeks, not only would you have built up your will power, you’ll be much better at other tasks where you need to exert some self-control.

There’s actual science behind this.

In a study, psychologists Megan Oaten and Ken Cheng gave participants a free gym membership and individually-tailored exercise programs that included aerobics, free-weights and resistance training. After exercising regularly over the course of two months, the participants had not only increased their ability to do a variety of laboratory self-control tasks, but also reported that almost every aspect of their lives that involved using some self-control seemed to have improved dramatically.

Cool, isn’t it?

So, what are you going to work on to improve your self-control muscle?

Me? I’m exercising regularly!

Life = Risk

If you’ve ever tried to learn something new, achieve a goal, set a resolution, you’ve been met with failure somewhere along the way. Hopefully it isn’t too often. Hopefully you’ve managed to pull yourself up, dust yourself off, and go on to achieve greater heights, like these individuals, who never said never.

Don’t lose heart. You can do it!

(Click to read older Spiritual Sunday posts)

Four things I learnt from Dexter

List of Dexter characters

Image via Wikipedia

As season 5 of Dexter draws to a close and I get Dexter withdrawal symptoms, I thought I’d pen down the 4 things I learnt from my favorite serial killer.

Plan: Dexter followed a code when it came to choosing targets for his dark passenger. Once he zeroed in on his victim, he did some thorough planning and surveillance to plan the kill.

Translated to real life: Once you’ve got a goal in mind, do some planning, and draw up some tips and strategies to ensure that you don’t get derailed. For e.g., if you decide to go on a diet, do some research on meal plans, purchase the right foods, draw up weekly menus and prepare as much as you can beforehand.

Focus: When Dexter is on the prowl, he has his eye firmly on the target. So much so that his dates are planned around stalking schedules. It’s all about focus until he has his victim on the kill table and disposes of the body.

Translated to real life: When you want to achieve something, you got to schedule time to devote to the goal each and every day. Some days may be busy, when you may be able to spend just about 10 minutes on working towards your goal. Other days you might be able to devote a couple of hours. No matter how much time you have on hand, constant steps – big or small – will help you achieve your target. For e.g., diet and exercise go hand in hand. If you can’t devote an hour to the gym everyday, try going for a 30 minute (or even two 15 minute) walk on the days you can’t hit the gym.

Dexter Morgan

Image via Wikipedia

Cover all bases: Dexter had all his bases covered when he was out for a kill. A strong alibi, ensuring he got his target without being seen, cleaning up the kill room and disposing the body in the Gulf stream.

Translated to real life: No matter what our grandiose plans or how much we prepare, life happens. Be prepared to get derailed occasionally, but then get right back on to it! Again, taking the example of the diet, if you indulge in a sinful chocolate pastry one day, don’t beat yourself up or just give up. Go back to your plan the next day and keep on working on it with single-minded devotion. Better still, throw out all the foods that are not on your “allowed” list. so you don’t get tempted.

Constant check-in: Dexter’s constant companion and voice of caution was his adoptive father, Harry. Whenever he seemed to deviate from the path, his father appeared to offer words of advise and steer him back on course.

Translated to real life: Involve one or two people who are close to you and will support you in achieving  your dreams. Schedule a check-in at least once a week, when you give them an update on your progress and discuss any road blocks you might be encountering. It’s always easier to go for goal when you have your very own cheerleaders encouraging you along!

Now, I wonder when Season 6 will air in India!

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