Try-This Tuesday: Figure Out What Makes You Jump Out Of Bed!

*New on this site:  All of the posts that contain Tuesday Tasks are now located in one handy spot for you to visit whenever you feel like you could use a little creative or reflective jolt.  Look over to the right and you will find their new home!*

I wasn’t always what someone might call a happy morning person.  I’d hit snooze several times before letting my legs fall out of bed and then slowly sit up, sigh and resign to the next task ahead of me.  Standing up.  That was Monday to Friday, and before I had children.  Can’t hit snooze on children.  On the weekends, however, in that hazy moment at 6:30 am when my body felt itself rousing from slumber, I’d realize it was Saturday and my eyes would fly open.  I’d turn to my husband, deep in la-la land, wait patiently for a few minutes and then tap, tap, tap…”Are you up?”  Suddenly, I was the child and you couldn’t hit snooze on me!

What was it about Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday that made 8 am feel like the middle of the night?  I still got out of bed and got my stuff done, but I was less than thrilled.  WHY BE LESS THAN THRILLED?

Until I started writing again on a daily basis and until I recognized it as my purpose, I didn’t know what it was to feel like it was Saturday every day.  Last summer when I started this blog, I got a taste of what it would be like to have writing be up front and centre in my life.  It was decadent.  I volunteered to be a contributing writer for South Asian Woman magazine and now have regular assignments.  I started submitting my work to calls on Places for Writers.  I’m also saying yes whenever I’m asked to read my poetry at a Pandora’s Collective event (a non-profit organization for which I fundraise).  I had a reading last week, another one in April and another one in May.  Which means, more writing for me to do!

I’m like a kid who claps gleefully at the prospect of chocolate ice cream!!  When my eyes open in the morning, it doesn’t matter what day it is because I know it’s always going to start off with writing.  In fact, my weekdays give me more guaranteed time to write so I look forward to Monday mornings like I never have in my life!

One more note before I get you to do some work here.  Julia Cameron, in The Artist’s Way, speaks about enthusiasm.  She says, “Enthusiasm (from the Greek, ‘filled with God’) is an ongoing energy supply tapped into the flow of life itself.”  This is how she explains an artist’s so-called discipline at their craft.  Like when people ask me, “How do you write every day?” and wonder if I’m crazy for adding work to my life when I have two young children.  I totally don’t see it as work.  But shhhh, that’s a secret, because that’s what I tell the kids I’m doing.  “Mommy has to work now.”  As Julia Cameron says, “What other people may view as discipline is actually a play date that we make with our artist child.”

OK!  Now, YOUR turn!  Get out a piece of paper and write down “I would jump out of bed every morning if I could_______!”

Don’t think – just write!  And if you have 10 things that tumble out of you, good, write them all down.  If it’s one thing, that’s OK, too.  There is something, even one thing, out there for each of us. 

When we remove the layers of logic, practicality and insecurity we get right at the root of what we simply don’t want to hit snooze on!

 

Try-This Tuesday: Get Your Happy Self On Paper

Here’s a suggestion I gave a coaching client a couple of weeks ago.  Funny thing is, last week when I was talking to a good friend of mine, I realized that this is a suggestion I need to consider for myself.

Most days I’m feeling pretty good about things, and when the sun is shining like it is this beautiful morning it is hard to believe anything could ever bring me down.  But it happens.  Maybe a recurrent negative thought, or an anxiety, just kind of creeps up out of nowhere.  Or maybe there’s  a trigger and you know it’s going to take some work to keep your head above the water.  In those moments, it can feel like everything is so terrible.  And yet, everything is not terrible and I think it’s really important to remember that especially when you’re caught up in a negative space.  It may help pull you out of it faster.

*note:  This does not replace the work that goes along with blasting negative underlying beliefs or treating anxieties or phobias.  This is just meant to help pick you up and get you to a space where you feel happier.  Happy thoughts fuel the body with energy to do what needs to be done.

 

So here it is.  Write yourself a letter when you are feeling happy.  Write down why you are feeling happy, what is so great about your life, all the things you are excited about…basically grab this happy, positive moment with your open, receiving hand and pin it down on paper.  Add the colours you relate to positive emotions like happiness and joy (remember the feelings poem?).  Doodle, or decorate with stickers.  Whatever you think will help make your letter as cheery as possible.

The most important part is your words.  Think about this.  Instead of trying to regurgitate someone else’s affirmations or listen to someone else give you a pep talk…you are going to be listening to yourself – the person who knows you best!   

Today feels like a great day to write this letter to myself and I hope you join me.  Hopefully it’s not needed for awhile, but hey, we all have those days or those moments.  There’s no shame in that.  If this helps turn it around a little quicker, that would be great!

Happy writing!

Try-This Tuesday: Forget About Yourself

How much time do you devote to serving others?  And I mean over and above caring for your loved ones.  How much of your conscious awareness includes sharing your resources (love, hope, time, energy, money) with people you don’t know personally?  How much of your life is spent in selfless giving outside of your core community (your close family and friends)?

Most of us perform acts on a regular basis that give to others we are not closely affiliated with.  Ever buy a box of Girl Guide cookies?  Or those chocolate covered almonds to support an elementary school?  How about donated cans and bottles to the local soccer team so they can keep the proceeds for their tournaments?  Sometimes we drop coins in a can at the till at the grocery store or bank to support whatever charity is on pictured on the can.

But how many times do you consciously set aside resources to deliver to a cause that really calls to your heart?

There’s a difference here that I’m hoping to call attention to.  There is nothing wrong with doing the former.  In fact, as someone who used to canvass door-to-door for the Scouting movement and for school clubs, THANK YOU for supporting all of these extremely worth-while causes.  In addition to doing those things, there is another kind of service that calls for an additional step or two.  Those steps are research and awareness.

The first thing you have to do is ask yourself, what is something you really care about?  The literary arts?  Animal rights?  Women’s safety?  Sports?  Health?  Something else?

For this task, choose one (but by all means, explore all of the ones that interest you at some point!).  Then do some research into initiatives of your heart’s interest and see how you can support them with whatever means you are willing and able to donate.

Are you an animal lover?  Does your local animal shelter need volunteers to walk dogs or play with the bunnies?  I know a 9 year old girl who came up with this idea on her own because she was bothered by the fact that her favourite beings in the world didn’t have playmates.

Do you think it’s important that everyone on this planet should be able to have access to proper vision?  Check with your optometrist – they probably have something set up where they donate used eyeglasses to third world countries.  Can you ask your friends and family to help you by donating their old eyeglasses?  Spreading awareness can set so much in motion to an extent which you may never fully realize.

The point is that you are aware of a planet in need and that you know that you have the capacity to do something to ease that need. Look outside of your core community.  You will find inspiration for so many projects in which you can involve your children.  What a legacy that would be.

And if you’re a step ahead of the words of this post, you have realized by now that although the initial phase of this task requires you to forget about yourself and look beyond your own world, there is this law about giving that states that the giver is never excluded from the gifts. 

Today I encourage you to set this in motion and if you’d like to share what you are doing or what you plan to do, we would all benefit from your thoughts.

Try-This Tuesday: Know Your Quirks

I did it yesterday.  Your turn!  Today’s task encourages you to look at YOU with all your quirks.  Really think about what makes you different, a little off-beat.  Perhaps you have a keen interest in something that others might not think are really exciting (like my husband’s passion for finance).  Or you have a unique characteristic that people really admire (like you go out of your way to do random acts of kindness).  These may be things you take for granted; so take a step back and look at yourself from the lens of a complete stranger.  Run through your typical day, go over your interests, the thoughts that live in your head, how you relate to others…examine them from the outside.

What’s different about you?  And why is it important to even know yourself this way?

It is usually the things that set us apart from others that are platforms for our greatness. 

You know this is true because you see this when other people tap into their talents and become successful bakers, writers, accountants, etc.  Or you see this when someone uses their organizational abilities, people skills and compassionate nature to set up a non-profit organization.  These are very limited examples – get in the practice of recognizing these accomplishments in your environment.  Note how the person you are admiring is really an ordinary person who has pursued and made something of their special skills set or obsession.

These quirks, or knacks, when utilized can bring an enormous sense of joy to ourselves, our families and our communities.  What I’m asking you to do today is look at yours.  Get out a piece of paper, set aside 15 minutes of quiet time and do a quick scan of YOU.  Make a list.

Need help?  Sometimes asking someone who is on the outside and knows you really well can be helpful.  But remember, if you give yourself enough time, you’ll be able to come up with these on your own.  It’s good practice to get to know yourself and listen to your own inner wisdom.

Have fun – and if you want to share, we’d love to hear about what makes you YOU!

Try-This Tuesday: Honour MLK, Jr. And Think Of Your Dreams #MLKJr #MLKDay

Yesterday was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and to honour him and his well-known speech, I Have A Dream, I’d like to dedicate this task to this great man’s courage, faith and dreams.  I have a copy of King’s speech in my studio – I bought it in Atlanta, GA last summer when my family and I spent a week there.  We visited the home that King grew up in, the Ebenezer Baptist Church where he preached, and his and his dear wife’s mausoleum.  It was a humbling experience.

The house where King grew up on Auburn Ave, Atlanta GA

In honour of the man who had a dream that his “four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character,”  let’s spend some time today with our dreams.

Grab a piece of paper, or your journal, and write down the following:

1.  I have a dream

2.  I have a dream

3.  I have a dream

4.  I have a dream

5.  I have a dream

Then, finish off the sentences.  Your dreams can be global, personal, humourous, or solemn.  They could change the world or change YOUR world.  Whatever flows from the tip of your pen is really what I want you to put down.  Nobody’s going to read this.  You will not stand in front of hundreds of thousands of people and declare your words to a crowd hungry for faith.  They’re just for you, for your own purposes – be they entertainment, or the first steps toward a huge goal.

Leave a comment below if you want to share a dream or your favourite MLK, Jr. quote.

Side by side, always

 

Ebenezer Baptist Church
Ebenezer Baptist Church

Try-This Tuesday: Play With Your Feelings

Every morning in grade 6, we would file into the classroom, sit at our desks like the perfect angels we were, pull out our journal books and write to a prompt written in that beautiful cursive that only elementary school teachers seem to have mastered.  That and “silent reading” after lunch were my two favourite times of the day.

It was during this activity that I was introduced to the Feeling Poem.  My teacher would give us a feeling and the following template and we had to spend journal time constructing a poem.

Here’s the template:

__(feeling)________ is a __(colour)_________.

It smells like ___________________________.

It tastes like ___________________________.

And reminds me of ______________________.

It sounds like __________________________.

_(feeling)______ makes me want to _________.

Here are my examples from 1990:

Joy is a bright pink.

It smells like a fresh bouquet of flowers.

Photo Credit: Taslim Jaffer

It tastes like a delicious watermelon.

And reminds me of vacations.

It sounds like a sweet melody on the piano.

Joy makes me want to sing.

****

Anger is bright red.

It smells like the City Dump.

It tastes like hot, hot pepper.

And reminds me of a kettle boiling.

It sounds like a huge wave hitting the rocks.

Anger makes me want to scream real loud.

****

Today I might write about those feelings a little differently, having gained a few years of experience with joy and anger since then.  In fact, there are endless poems about each feeling waiting to be written.  So, your task this week is to sit with a feeling – maybe the one you are feeling in the moment – and consider it with each of your senses as this poem prompts you to do. 

The benefits of this simple task are numerous.  Here are some:

  • It will give you a chance to explore an emotion that you may otherwise overlook, bury or pay little attention to.
  • Spending time with your emotions is one part of a balanced, healthy life.
  • It will bring out your creative side as you dive into that part of you that is bursting to express itself.
  • It can give you some insight into the sights, sounds, smells etc that you attach to a particular feeling.
  • It is FUN!  Isn’t that enough of a reason?

If you have a school-aged child, why not try this activity with them?  You can each write your own poems and share them.

I’ll log this task with the other Tuesday Tasks.  Have fun with it and do it often – they can be a healthy, creative addiction!

Try-This Tuesday: Let Your Word Be Your Guide

I know this title sounds a little bit a la Jiminy Cricket but that’s just how it came to me and it’s sticking!  Last week, a reader asked me how I come up with these Tuesday Tasks.  Well, I don’t really come up with them so much as they come up to me.  And usually, they show their faces on the previous day.  This particular task is a shout out to reader, Tina Lane, who inspired me by her comment on Sunday’s post.

When I started this blog and decided to post a weekly task to help you balance, organize, de-clutter and create I wondered how it was all going to work out.  Turns out it’s working out just like everything else in life.  Put out the intention, do your work, and let the magic happen.

For those of you just tuning in, you can find all of the previous Tuesday Tasks here.

And now, for the FIRST TUESDAY TASK OF 2012!!!  I’d like you to answer the following question with one word.  Let it be the first word that springs to mind. 

What do you want to see more of in 2012?

Let that word be your guide.  Write it out everywhere you can.  Jot it down on a post-it note and stick it on your computer screen.  Tack it to your bulletin board.  Paint it on a canvas and prop it up in your creative space.  Break out your crayons and set the word loose in colour – put it up on your fridge, or any other household appliance for that matter.  Keep it in a desk drawer at your office so every time  you reach for your stapler you remember what you are really looking for this new year.       

Can your word change throughout the year?  I hope so!  I think change indicates movement and it’s always more fun to move than be stagnant.  Follow the first word and see where it leads.  If your word changes, be sure to do this task again!

My word is happiness.  I want happiness to permeate every cell of my being, every item on my to-do list, every relationship, every moment.  What about you?  Care to share your word?  We’d love to hear it!

Have a great Tuesday, everyone!

Try-This Tuesday: Take A Breath And Add Some Love

I know, you’re thinking, how can I take a breath when I have a shopping list to get to, supplies to buy for gingerbread houses to be made at school, appointments to rearrange so I can get to the school to help make the gingerbread houses, the staff Christmas party to attend (after finding childcare and something suitable to wear) and regular life to contend with?

Well, I ask you then, if this is what your life looks like right now, how can you not

It’s a crazy time of year, even for those who don’t necessarily celebrate Christmas or Hannukah or Kwanzaa in a big way.  It’s still a time of year when people appreciate the holiday from work, the coziness that blankets the city, to get together with family and friends.  Rituals spring up in homes throughout the neighbourhood – they may be religous-based, season-based or just born from the basic human need to share and receive love.  It’s a wonderful time but for many it’s also an intensely stressful time.

There are several ways you can de-stress that don’t take a lot of energy but that can support you throughout your day.  Here are my two favourites:

1.  Roll out your yoga mat or pull up a pillow or otherwise just sit comfortably on the floor or a chair.  Roll your shoulders up to your ears as you inhale then on to your back as you exhale.  Close your eyes.  Breathe in for 4 counts (fill your belly!), breathe out for 4 counts.  Repeat 4 times.  Those may be the deepest breaths you take all day – enjoy them!

2.  Love what you don’t love.  For example, is dealing with a large crowd at WalMart giving you anxiety?  Is it frustrating trying to find a parking spot at the mall?  Tune in to something more positive and let that be the forefront of your experience.  Crank up the tunes in the car or sing a song to yourself while you try to snag a parking spot.  Are you annoyed that you had to run back to the store because you forgot to buy candy for the gingerbread house project?  While you’re scanning the bulk candy remember what these candies meant to you as a child.  (I did this yesterday!  I forgot about the fact that I dislike grocery shopping as I remembered the excitement my brother and I felt over gummy bears!)

So today, being the last Tuesday Task of 2011, feels like a good day to say “Take a breath and add some love.”

Do you have de-stressing tricks you want to share?

Try-This Tuesday: Take Your Pick

It’s Tuesday again!  For those of you who have recently connected with this blog, every Tuesday I post a Tuesday Task.  As suggested by the title of each post, these tasks are something for you to try.  My hope behind them is that they will resonate with you, encourage you to look at things differently, open your eyes or just plain allow you to have fun. I know that doing a task every week may not be feasible in your lives; I also know that you may read a Tuesday Task and feel it’s not something you are ready to try or the interest in a particular concept may not be there.  That’s OK!  These tasks are really about YOU and only YOU can decide what and when.

So, to practice allowing your Self to make some decisions and to give your ego a bit of a break, I’d like you to head over to the Tuesday Tasks page.  Once there, allow your eyes to travel down the list – if anything jumps out at you, STOP!  Click on the link.  That will be your task this week.

As you scan the list, don’t think about what you can or cannot do.  Push aside thoughts of feeling ridiculous.  Allow yourself to do this!  Many missed opportunities in our lives are simply a result of us not giving ourselves permission to try.

Which task did YOU choose?  Share it in a comment below – it would be really interesting to see if we had a variety or if there seems to be a common theme in the air today!

Try-This Tuesday: Laugh At Yourself!

As I’m learning to be mindful of my thoughts and my behaviour patterns, I am finding it easier to identify my little quirks in the tiniest of situations.  Yesterday I wrote about how I often seek external answers before realizing that the best answer for me lies within.  And yet, twice yesterday I almost went through the whole ringamarole again, seeking validation and opinion from an outside source.

In the end, in both situations, I went with my instinct.  And in both situations I ended up laughing at myself!  Not a mean ridiculing laugh, but a gentle “A-ha, I caught you!” kind of laugh.  Kind of like the laugh that escapes your mouth when you discover your toddler hiding behind the couch with a smile on his face!  It made me feel light, made me feel good that I recognized a familiar pattern and the laugh was good-natured and comfortable.

When was the last time YOU laughed at yourself?  Do you take yourself lightly or do you burden yourself with negative thoughts about your little quirks?  Today I invite you to have a giggle on you.

Let the laugh remind you that there is no shame in your thoughts or your behaviour patterns; they’re just a result of time and experience.  Let the laugh remind you that you are more than these thoughts and patterns – that you can take a step back and be an observer, a student.  Let the laugh fill you with love for yourself with all your idiosyncrasies and weirdness.  Let the laugh remind you that you are a spiritual being having a human experience (Teilhard de Chardin).

Let the laugh be a hug to your Self.