Mindfulness Monday 4/20: You live, you learn, and you still live

Folks, I am determined to not let you down. Today I have been wrapped up in many projects that are all coming to the wondrous head of finals in under two weeks! Throughout that time I would pause and think, “Okay, time to write my post.” And then I would get started on something else completely different. Well here it is, I will not let down a “Mindfulness Monday” post.

This past week has been a whirlwind. On Monday I had a phone interview with the American Planning Association for an internship that I knew I was perfect for and seriously wanted with everything in me. On Wednesday just before my next class, I received the call- I was chosen for this national internship position! This internship will be in D.C. for the entire summer and though there are many things swirling around my head when I think about leaving Amherst for D.C., that I will save for another post. I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity, and know that this internship will open many doors to my education in the planning field and also direct experience in policy and planning related to community health. Well of course then my initial reaction was to find housing (on top of the many things I needed to do for school). Since Wednesday I’ve also secured my housing, and even bought a few second-hand clothes to fit my new body measurements (I’ve made so much progress since the New Year began!)

So now this gets into the “living” part of the post. Recently the feelings of “life” and it being “full” or lacking this sense of “full” have been more and more present with me as the days go on. This past weekend I decided to relax and go against everything I said I would do- work. From Friday evening until Sunday night, I literally didn’t do anything except hangout with friends, sleep, and I even went out dancing for the first time since I can’t remember! I mean for me, this was a lot and on Sunday I really had to have some deep reflection about my “living” over the weekend, along with a few naps. Like I said, finals are in full swing and so honestly this may not have been the best use of my time. However, I’ve come to terms with my actions of this past weekend through acceptance, and that has helped to relieve the almost instantaneous guilt that I’m very used to feeling when I give myself time away from working. Maybe I went overboard on the “living” part of my life, or maybe it was just what I needed to jumpstart my energy to sustain me to the finish-line.

What I’m saying here is that life goes on- even if you decide to put work on hold, stay up late to dance until exhaustion, sleep a lot, and even go to bed early for a few days afterward. I lived my past weekend with no regrets (well those regrets are still trying to pop up but I’m able to accept them with a few deep breaths and then let them go). Regardless, I lived and that’s what matters here. I could have kept trudging through in my efforts to “make it” to the end of finals like some “champion” that I’ve envisioned, who can work all day with no play, no time to step outside of what’s “comfortable”. I wouldn’t say graduate school is comfortable, but it definitely is what I’m used to and so doing anything outside of the graduate school bubble is a bit “uncomfortable”. Did I question my actions? Yes. Did I feel not-so-great physically? Yes. Did I have fun? Heck yes. I lived this past weekend to the fullest happiness levels I could, and though I learned from some of my actions afterward, I’m still here- alive and mostly well. And I’ll keep living, riding the ebb and flow of life’s waves. Balance and unbalance. Full and incomplete. Still trying to live each moment mindfully- no matter what life brings.

Mindfulness Mondays 4/13: Feeling “Full” of Life

Remember last week when I told you I was working on a new habit of waking up earlier- I’ve made progress! Today I was woken up at 5:45 am, though finally got out of bed at 6am. My sleep app showed that I did not enter into deep sleep at all, and so I could feel throughout my body the soreness and indigestion that comes with inadequate sleep. Though I’ve been trying to get right out of bed, it’s been difficult since I’ve been suffering from tendinitis of both shoulders which is making it harder to lift the blankets and bring myself up. Despite all of this I have made huge progress with when I awake and actually get up (I’ve gained a whole 25 minutes since last week)!

I’ve also re-invigorated my practice of some yoga and stretching in the morning, as well as a prioritizing just being alone with my cat before my partner rises. This has been really amazing, since normally I reject alone-time though lately I have been finding I crave it the more I’ve been giving myself that “practice” alone-time in the morning. Today, I was able to watch the sun rise as it peaked through the trees of my wooded backyard while holding my cat calmly- after 5 minutes of me cradling him, we both were still in awe. It was a beautiful moment of peace and I reminded myself out-loud of my intentions for the day and that I was going to let myself shine no matter what. After reflecting on recent events and being mindful of the opportunities I’ve been taking part in, I keep coming back to this feeling of “being full”. What I mean is that I’m actively checking in with my thoughts and emotions on situations in my life more regularly. In this, I’ve noticed there are areas of my life that I feel could improve, and so something is missing and I’m not completely satisfied or “full”. There are other areas where my satisfaction is almost overflowing, and so I have much thanks for the “fullness” that is present, but also recognize that there needs to be a balance.

This past weekend I was able to spend some time with friends I have not seen in a while, as well as meet complete strangers and have lovely conversations. Over the last week I’ve also had times where I have been by myself throughout the day and even at home overnight while my partner was traveling. I’ve realized that I do thrive off of being around others and the engagement that can occur. I also am working through my natural inclination to avoid loneliness at all costs, by giving myself opportunities in the morning and throughout the weekend to be by myself. Though this has not been easy it has been a joy to see my progression, and is my own way of practicing self-care. Yes, I have found joy throughout this process because despite life’s less-than-satisfactory moments, they’re only still moments, moments then that can turn around. This feeling of fullness is more of an appreciation for all of those moments that I’m able to be a part of, as well as the turn-around process. I’m full because I’m experiencing all of what life has to offer: the loneliness and the community, the scary and the fun, and that is truly a fulfilling experience.