Winter Diary: What Worked Last Year

Painting by Cathy Wilkes--exhibiting now at MoMA PS1

HAPPI HAPPI 2018! Of which January is no more. How are you? Not as fly as a fly but kicking it like you were born to be kicking it like a fly? Here, how are you feeling about the new year? What three words would describe your 2018 so far? My words are reflective, cost-of-living-in-NYC-is-way-too-high, and content. But how I am feeling now, has something to do with my practices of the previous year. Here are my favorite five:

+ Decemnuary
It is really really nice to create space and time between an old and new year to meditate on that which is past, the now and that which might come. It sounds luxurious but it is actually a basic necessity for a healthy transitioning from one cycle to the other. Also it is not very comfortable because there is a lot of soul searching, self facing, feelings of rawness and you will probably find yourself curling up often and crying your eyes out but you also have a lot of forgiveness ceremonies––of yourself and other selves, dancing like crazy to the sound of traffic, saying YAY! every time your mother comes home from work––just in case you, too, have yet to move out––so she knows you are glad she has yet to kick you out! Well, you get the point. 

+ Relationships
Having a healthy relationship with others is important. But having a healthy relationship with your being is essential. Be your friend and a great friend as such. It means to be gentle always with yourself by practicing love in yourself, practicing forgiveness, practicing patience, peace, truthfulness, gratitude and happiness. These practices might one day bring you to a state in which you start to recognize within you a source of gentleness that feeds you strength, protects you from yourself and other selves, comforts you, advises you and guides you. This feeling within you, this inner friend would then start to merge with that which is outside you and you start to feel it in the air, see it in the movement of the trees, feel it in the rays of the sun, the beam of the moon, in the colors of the sky, in the depth of eyes, in the notes of voices, everywhere. You start to realize that this essence is more than you; it is stronger than you and it is more beautiful than you but it is part of you because…so when beauty visits with you, you feel and think with gratitude why me? And when ugliness beats you, you feel and think in gratitude why not me?    

+ Self-Care
Put it on your daily to do list! And please dig a nice deep grave for any guilt that comes to you in this state because it is probably just an inversion of the ego. Who told you you are so strong you can’t use a few breaks in a day to catch up with your being? Worry not––in fact, push worry into the grave too––the world will go on just fine in your little time of reflection and meditation. Besides, what do you think will happen when you die? Exactly.  Also with some attention, one realizes that one’s best ideas find them in these moments and so does the energy needed to work enthusiastically on the insight.

+ Mindful Consumption

If you have only one head, you probably only need just one summer hat at a time. Buying less is wicked fun. It means respecting your time and money and stopping to think about what you bring into your space. For instance I do the groceries with a list of what I need for three to seven days––buying for more days might be a waste of money, because I really might just die at the end of the week. ^_^ Giving up my excessive and mindless accumulation of materials is one of the best experiences I am having now. The empty space it has generated feels wonderful. But mindful consumption hasn’t only to do with physical goods, but also electronic content. One question I have been asking myself a lot lately is how am I being used and am I Ok with it? Every time we share on several, if not all social media platforms, we are not only providing free content for their enterprises, we also gift them our time and creativity as products which they sell to companies who want more access to us. The enterprises then invite other companies, for a fee, to manipulate us into chasing and acquiring more of what we neither need nor want. It doesn’t stop there. The electronic spaces we inhabit and contribute to also shape our sense of the world and manipulate our concept of place within it. Thus they affect our decision making, our stance on significant issues and our productivity. The bottom line is we often, mindlessly, allow ourselves to be ridiculously exploited by these mediums and those who run them. So I am trying to make more efforts in being mindful in using these electronic spaces and devices. Last year, I turned off all notifications on my phone and tried to use my devices and apps when I wanted to rather than when they beckoned. This year I am working on creating and maintaining a schedule for when to use my phone and check my emails.

+ Daily Routine 
If you were to ask me a few years ago what I thought of routines, I would say routines are for lifeless-beings. But I must confess that I have been wrong. The purpose of the daily routine is not to reduce us into robots––as I thought––but to help us to be more mindful of time and how to use it productively. It helps us stay mindful of where we are, how we have arrived there and what we could do there. Of course, every day brings its own challenges so one learns to be flexible. But the point is, if your resolution is to read a bit more you can decide to reserve 9pm to 10pm everyday for reading. For good flow you may consider the before and after of your appointments. Perhaps you mean to go to bed at 10pm, so you can plan to shower at 8pm, journal at 8:30pm, read from 9pm to 9:55pm then get into bed. And you may show up for these appointments or not, but if you write down a routine, you start to think about it, and if you know that you can be losing yourself in an interesting work and learning something interesting about your own thoughts as you learn about another's, you might actually show up for the trip. My favorite thing about successfully following a day's routine is that I climb into bed with a nice smile and a heart full of gratitude for having made good use of my gift of strength and time. Maintaining a daily routine helps me get a lot done. Last year it helped me get some features––links below––for my poetry and visual art:

= Postcard Series featured in CALAMITY 
= A Calling featured in Firewords
= Postcard Series featured in Verity La
= Postcard Series featured in The Indianapolis Review

May our year be a loving and caring adventurous journey into our being,
JAO

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