mindfulness

Everyday Adventures

I’m sitting here, on a slightly sunny, slightly cloudy Monday morning in Marin County, California. I’m slightly rested, and slightly tired. But I’ve made a commitment to myself to write every single day. Even if it’s terrible. Even if I don’t share it publicly.

I’ve attempted this before, but I’ve never committed to it. And I never had my energy in the right place in order to accomplish it before. I usually have plenty of things on my mind that I can write about, but this morning as I opened up my empty Word document, I had no idea what words would come out.

As I muse, I’m thinking about where my personal evolution has led me. A few years ago, when I first started this blog, I was on a determined mission. My life, and the work I wanted to do, was devoted to mindfulness and personal growth, and how to share and spread those lessons.

Part of the healing I’ve experienced in the work that I do has been letting go of perfectionism. As I’ve released the tight grip that perfectionism had around my neck, I feel like I’ve shifted direction quite a bit.

My work seems a bit less fixated, and a lot more authentic. Not that it wasn’t authentic before, it’s just that now it showcases a more full spectrum of who I am and where I’m at.

I have long considered my number one job to be: doing my work and telling my stories about it. That means it is also my job to tell my truth. The more work I’ve done, the more relaxed and vulnerable I have become in showing you who I am. Not just certain parts of me, but all of me.

Instead of just revealing the part of me that loves mindfulness and personal development and wants to help others heal and grow, I am now revealing the Julia who is passionate about women’s rights, LGBT rights, Black Lives Matter, and the atrocities that have been happening to the Native Americans at Standing Rock. The Julia who is silly and messy and real and raw. The Julia who loves hip hop and comedy and nature and art. The Julia who is still unfolding and evolving every day.

I can’t just be a one faceted person, nor do I want to be. As I get more honest with who I am, I also get more honest with you.

In my travels, both globally and internally, I have continued to learn, grow, and evolve, which has shifted my focus and re-framed my mission a little bit.

Although I think I will always consider my job to be doing my work and telling my stories about it, I think, as a Writer and Truth Seeker, the emphasis has become more on telling my stories.

When I saw the enthusiastic response I received from sharing my adventures in Bali, I saw how beautiful it was to be able to take you all with me wherever I go, and how much people seem to enjoy feeling like they are on the ride with me.

Since I’ve been back in The States, I continue to tell my stories about my experiences, but I try to think of it less as telling my stories about my personal issues that I have to overcome, and more sharing my everyday travels with you. Whether those travels are the journey self-discovery, exploring life without anxiety for the first time, my experiences walking around town or in the woods, or whatever new adventure I plan to embark on (I have a few in the works right now), there are always lessons to learn from the experience. And there is an opportunity to share those lessons by taking you on my journey with me, which draws upon one of my favorite aspects of life- human connection.

I feel much more connected to all of you this way. It’s like I’ve broken the fourth wall. In fact a lot of my walls have come down. And I’m just here, showing you Who I Am, in various circumstances.

Another way in which I feel this new approach brings you inside the experience with me, is because instead of just generally talking about how I may have worked through a certain issue, let’s say insecurity for example, I can actually give real life, real time, examples of which insecurities I am working through and the who, what, where, when, why of it all.

I can talk about my fears, as a general concept. Or I can talk about my fears of getting money exchanged in a foreign country or riding a motorbike for the first time. I’m still confronting fears, and I’m still showing you my process and my lessons, but I’m giving life to the lessons and letting you feel the wind in your hair as you ride the motorbike with me.

I’m also allowing myself to share something else I love with you- taking photographs. In our device driven, selfie-obsessed world, I have shied away from whipping out my phone to snap a picture of everything all the time. Plus, as a mindfulness practitioner, I feel like it often takes us out of the moment. But I have always loved taking photographs. So now, I am thoroughly (and mindfully) enjoying capturing the moments of my life, and instead of just stock piling my own collection of images, I think of it more as providing you with visuals to go along with the stories I tell.

I love my life, and I love getting to share my experiences with you!

Maybe my next story will be about the answers to life questions that came to me in meditation, or maybe it will be about that incredible time I had at a Mos Def show the other night. Both experiences brought me closer to my truth. And both are opportunities to bring you inside the experience with me.

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

“STUFFED”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it many times again- personal growth is my number one passion and my number one job. I love this work and I know that my purpose, and my job, is to do the work, and tell my stories about it.

My current assignment is dissecting and dismantling my long ingrained pattern of procrastination, and forming a new, healthier pattern. But the more I work on it, the more I see how ingrained this pattern really is.

These issues that we all have, it’s easier to see where they have a big presence and create larger impediments, but if we really look closely, get the microscope and tweezers out, we can see how they actually show up all over the place in our lives, sometimes in very small and subtle ways. And this makes the work a lot more challenging.

It’s not like we can just zap it in one area of our lives and boom, we’re fixed. If we really want to change ourselves for the better it takes continual, at times intense, work- noticing all of the little ways in which these patterns show up in our lives- doing the dishes, making the phone calls and appointments, having the difficult conversations, confronting people who hurt us, doing the good deed, taking big leaps of faith and courage… writing the blog post.

Sometimes procrastination shows up for me in putting off positive things too- having the glass of wine, eating the piece of chocolate… sometimes even going to the bathroom– I’ll wait. Til commercial. Til there’s a break in conversation. Til after I eat. Til I’m finished with this or that task… Sometimes that makes sense and is important, but a lot of the time, for me, it’s just a way of putting another thing off.

I truly believe that how we do one thing is how we do everything. Procrastination is just a form of pushing things away. And if I am pushing away all of the little things in life, then I am probably pushing away the big things in life too- money, success, great love, dreams, adventures, growth. I put those things out of my own reach, because I’ve made sure that everything happens later.

Ironically,  paying the bill now, actually brings me closer to my money- even if it is being paid out. When I put off paying bills I am pushing my money, and what I do with it, away from me. Doing the dishes right now, brings me closer to freedom. If I wait to do the dishes later they pile up, they create a block in the space I have available, literally, yes, the physical space, but also in the space I have available to do other things with my time- because the dishes and the bills have to be paid. So somewhere in my time frame I will have to stop and do that. I limit my free time and space. Doing it now, gets it out of the way. Writing the blog post now, gets what I have to say out my head and onto the page. It allows for the catharsis to happen now, instead of later. Because if I put off catharsis, what I have to release may end up shifting shape and get internalized in other ways. Writing the blog post now allows for an opportunity to connect with people in this moment, instead of thinking of it as a future event that may or may not ever happen.

I’ve been gaining a lot of insight with this current work, but the insight is just the fun part. The AHA moments are like little shots of euphoria. But they mean nothing without the, often grueling, work to back it up.

I love this work more than anything, but it sure as hell ain’t easy.

I’m doing my best, but my best, right now, in this subject, isn’t as great as I would like it to be. My success rate for catching myself in the old patterns, and making the choice and taking the action to do things differently, is probably around 60%. Yeah, not great. But I’m growing, and stretching,  and that’s what learning is all about. You don’t arrive in a classroom already having the knowledge you came to learn, already knowing how to do the things you are being taught. It takes time and practice.

And it is not easy. It is not comfortable. When we stretch in new ways, there’s usually a period of feeling sore. When we really roll up our sleeves and get to work, it brings all our “stuff” to the surface, all the stuff that normally we try to snuff out with whatever our vice of the moment is- TV, video games, social media. Sex, drugs, Rock’n’ roll. Work, exercise, cleaning. None of those things are inherently bad, per se, but they are often used as a form of escape, and can become unhealthy habits when they get out of balance and become obsessive. And none of those things makes any of the “stuff” go away. So the sooner we can bring it to the surface, allow ourselves to writhe in and through the discomfort, the more quickly it can run its course and teach our lessons.

And I believe the core of all self-improvement is mindfulness. Getting present helps to unravel all of the twisted and tangled habits and patterns we become entrenched in. It help us to become aware of the choices we make, and choose differently if that’s what’s best. It helps us to respond instead of react. It helps us to live with intention and create a more fulfilling way of life for ourselves.

Mindfulness is just one of the many tools to help us do this work. I’ve been doing this work long enough that I have this tool box, filled with all kinds of shiny, golden, gem encrusted tools (and some gnarly looking ones as well), and I want to share them, to help people build more beautiful, fulfilling lives for themselves.

So while I’m over here doing this work, I am offering to share these tools with you, because part of this work that I love so much, is helping others to their work. So when you’re ready, Grasshopper, I’ll be here.

~Maktub~

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