Christmas is over, now what? Goal Setting 2011!

Suddenly the frenzy of Christmas is over, with shopping, wrapping, and cooking behind me. First I have to deal with the aftermath of cardboard and paper recycling, eating of leftovers and finding places to store all of the kid’s new toys, then I can move on to the next BIG thing. Some people have a hard time trying to figure out what to do with themselves after Christmas besides hitting the after-Christmas sales or buying a new outfit for New Year’s Eve, but I have something much bigger in my sites.

What is next? Annual goal-setting! Last year was the first year I considered such a thing, yet this year it has become a ‘must-do’ activity. With all the accomplishments from last year, I seem to have gained the momentum of a snowball rolling downhill during an avalanche. Now that I have started accomplishing goals, I can’t stop setting them or achieving them. Last year I took the first step on a life-long goal of writing a book. Next year I will be editing, rewriting, and publishing the book. A giant task? Of course! Possible? Absolutely.

I learned many things last year about goal setting:
1) You can’t accomplish goals if you don’t set them.
2) If you think you have no goals, sit in front of hundreds of magazines and cut out pictures that grab your attention – they will just come to you.
3) Dreaming Big = Accomplishing Big
4) When you have friends to support you on you journey, any goal is possible

My biggest challenge for next year is setting achievable goals – because I feel like there are more things I would like to accomplish, than what I reasonably have time to complete.

Here is my first cut at goals for 2011, and now that I wrote them I guess I am committed:
1) Complete editing and formatting of my book “Clocks and Olives” and then find a publisher
2) Buy a new car (my VW Golf is from 2000)
3) Continue a healthy lifestyle of yoga, running, meditation and eating
4) Plan 1-2 vacations for the year to a place outside of Arizona
5) Bring peace, serenity, calm, and creativity into my life.
6) Learn something new like a language (Italian?)

What goals do you have for 2011?

Meditation in Motion?

Over the last 3 months or so I have been doing a lot of yoga. I started taking classes at my health club and now I am hooked. To go along with the yoga I thought I would try meditation. For my meditation, all I was doing was sitting down and trying to calm my mind and relax. You can imagine my surprise when my meditation turned into motion. I thought I was swaying oddly, but then I realized it was almost rhythmic. I am relaxing my mind, yet now my body wants to move?

I realized that I was feeling an energy, like a wave going through me, when I medidate. It takes less than a minute before I start moving. Why when I want to relax do I have to move? What do I do about the movement? Should I ignore it? Or stop meditating? Or call my doctor because it appears I am having a seizure?

I was wondering if the energy I was feeling move my body had somehow tapped into my mode of vibration. Not that I want to get all technical (my engineering side coming out…) but it made me think of a particular video of the famous Galloping Gertie Tacoma Narrows Bridge and its eventual destruction. Was I going to vibrate so hard that I came apart like the bridge? Surprisingly, I didn’t think the vibration itself was so strange (if you understand electricity it makes sense). But then we were talking about my body and electrical waves and the potential to vibrate too much, so it was a bit worrisome.

After a brief engineering refresher via Wikipedia, it seems that I have stored up potential energy that has decided to transfer from one form to another via…me! All this vibration is just an energy exchange. This was a relief, because I was actually enjoying the benefits of the meditation and I didn’t really want to quit. I am suprised to learn that meditation and my past engineering life crossed paths. Maybe the reason I like meditating so much is because it allows me to practice some engineering. Time for me to get moving, I mean meditating!

A new form of meditation: The Oreo cookie

As Paige was eating an Oreo cookie after dinner tonight, she closed her eyes as she savored the taste of the cookie. For a moment it looked like she was meditating. I wondered if it was possible for an Oreo to trigger a meditative state. Seeing her like that made me think about how I feel when I am hiking or even writing. If it was possible that she could meditate eating an Oreo cookie, how many other ways was it possible to meditate?

Yesterday was Sunday, my day to refresh and clear my mind. No, I didn’t go to church, but I do have a place for my own form of prayer as it were. On a Sunday morning or Sunday afternoon I love to head out with the family for a hike (assuming Tucker has not hidden at the neighbor’s house to avoid the hike). Also hiking is seasonal even in Arizona. For some reason I can’t get excited about heading out on a hike at 2 in the afternoon when it is 118 degrees. Maybe if it was only 102, just not 118. I had been waiting weeks for the opportunity to hike (when it wasn’t pouring down rain) and my body was feeling like it had been ‘missing out’ on something these last few weeks. Was it possible that meditation was what my body was missing?

There is something ritualistic about strapping on hiking boots with leather that has been scratched with wear and are so covered with dirt that it is impossible to see the original color of the boots. Boots should be well broken in, and mine certainly were – even for this relatively short hike. For those who know me as a bit of a tomboy, they would be surprised to know that I wear a skirt to hike in Arizona. REI really knows their stuff, so if they sell a quick-dry, brown skirt with numerous pockets, I feel obligated to hike in it. I realize I live in Arizona (and the heat doesn’t require it) but I still wear wool hiking socks. Either I am too cheap or too lazy to buy new ones, but I patiently wait for them to wear out so I can purchase new ones.

Hiking with two kids can be a challenge. The amount of water and snacks required to keep them happy on the journey seems to add up to the same weight as my college engineering books (combined). This is a lot more than I enjoy carrying; however, I have learned from experience that either I carry all the ‘stuff’ or listen to whining and complaining for the full length of the hike. Yesterday’s hike was planned to be over 3 miles, so 3 hours of whining? or a real ‘workout’ from carrying the extra weight? I chose the weight. I guess another option would be earplugs, but that would just defeat the purpose of relaxing to the sounds of nature.

On the hike yesterday I wandered along the narrow and winding path, with Paige shuffling along in front of me, and I felt like I was in another world. It was quiet. The ground was covered in a green carpet rarely seen in Arizona. The wildflowers were amazing. Poppies were a beautiful orange-yellow and everywhere you could find these teeny tiny flowers. I had escaped my busy life and my blackberry for a few hours and all I could focus on was the scenery (and of course keeping the kids moving along and nourished). For me, hiking is so much like meditating because the mind seems to be ‘free’ to finally relax and escape the over-stimulation of daily life. Writing actually has a similar effect on me. I am not sure why, but something happens during both of these activities that is so similar, yet so different.

Whether you go for a hike, sit on your patio to listen to the birds chirp, go to your local church for a sermon, or you have some other tradition you like to do on Sundays (or any other day for that matter) you should savor this meditation time. With the overflow of text messages, e-mails, and mental demands it is nice to escape that for a while. I am looking forward to trying a new form of meditation soon…over an Oreo cookie. I think Paige has something there.