Towards a More Beautiful Life

I’m heads-down on my revision. It is going well, and I am having fun again with my writing. There are several factors that contribute to the positive flow I’m experiencing. I believe  they are all things that can apply equally well to any endeavor – including the all-important endeavor of living a good life.

Witness Joy

In no particular order:

 Witness Joy

Earlier this week, I got to sit in on a Geology for non-Geologists class.  I’ll kick a rock down the road when I walk, but I don’t crouch down to check it out. The presenter at this class was a crouch-down-and-check-out-that-rock type of guy. He is passionate about geology. He is funny, knowledgeable, and a good presenter, but what shone brighter than all of those was his joy. It is a wonderful experience to witness someone talk about the things they love. It gives me hope that there is something warm at the core of what seems to be an inconsiderate and cruel existence. It makes me want to do things that matter to me. Witnessing joy enlivens my soul.

Give Back

At the beginning of the year, I decided I would write a GoodReads review for every book I finish in 2012. The reasoning was that not only would this help me be a better writer by learning from others, but it would also be a way to give back to the reading community.  In July, I was struggling with my WIP and falling behind in my book reviews. When I counted up the number of books I needed to review, I was stressed. Epictetus says, “Everything has two handles, one by which it may be borne, the other by which it may not.” I was grabbing my book review backlog by the wrong handle. I was looking at it as just another task, and not viewing it through the lens of my intentions. I am not just writing reviews: I am giving back to a community that I have belonged to for almost three decades. Sharing feels good. The simple fact is that feeling good is more beneficial to getting into a creative flow than feeling bad, so why not choose to frame situations in a way that make me feel good?

Fill Your Belly with KINDness

I am the Kind Bar evangelist! I love the sesame chocolate bar. I love the nutty crunch of the seeds enrobed in rich chocolate. It is a bit o’ rectangular heaven. It’s also healthy. I don’t live on Kind bars (mmm, to be so lucky!), but I do eat five small meals throughout the day, and include generous helpings of fresh veggies, seasonal fruit, yogurt – and yes, Kind bars. I have found that eating smaller meals more frequently has an amazing effect on my mood, concentration, and creativity. The sugar highs and subsequent crashes are bad memories. The late afternoon downslide of my mood due to hunger is a thing of the past. When I eat matters as much as what I eat. By sustaining my body thoughtfully, I can take on a lot more and still smile.

Be Intense

My time is fractured by demands that come in from all directions. Over the course of July, I realized that I was spending just as much time trying to switch between different tasks than I was spending actually doing the tasks. None of the tasks were things I was willing to drop, so I had to find a better way to manage my time. I tried blocking out sections of time within the day dedicated to different tasks, but the stress of working under constant mini-deadlines was stalling my productivity. What finally worked for me was to batch up similar tasks and pick a day in the future that would be dedicated to working through those tasks. The feeling of constantly struggling to keep up was replaced with a sense of control over how – and when – I get things done. I work, write, blog, love, laugh, read, and practice friendship in intense, single-minded bursts. When I go all in, the results are better than when I’m frazzled and fragmented. I hope this is a lesson I don’t forget.

Embrace Pandora

I was a write-in-silence kind of girl until I got stuck trying to figure out this WIP. All of my writer friends report great experiences writing while listening to music, and I bought some tracks from Amazon to play in the cloud (neat stuff). Those tracks came out of my book budget, so I can’t do that very often and still read. I ended up revisiting Pandora, the internet radio. I am not new to Pandora; I’ve listened to it for things like repainting my sunroom or scrubbing the house, but I’d never tried it while writing. It turns out that music does help me write. It pulls me through those dread blank pages, carrying me on the inspirations of other artists.

I’m working on learning to live a beautiful life. If I were one to believe in signs (and I am!), I’d believe I was on the right track. What else could seeing three shooting stars in one week mean?

May all your portents be good!

-aniko

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17 thoughts on “Towards a More Beautiful Life

  1. I love what you said about how feeling good helps your creative flow more than feeling bad, and it is a choice of how you see the situation. I struggle with that in regard to my writing job quite, quite often. It seems like you are on a super great track, I hope that I can remember everything you wrote here!
    And, you should check out the sky for the next few nights. We are approaching a bunch of little asteroids and there will be many, many more shooting stars for you!

    • I’m glad that you found the post, and that it said something meaningful to you. 2012 has been a year of reflection for me, but it has also been an incredibly dynamic and busy year. I think being more mindful at the same time that there was this incredible rush of events has helped me reach a new level of understanding of how I want to live my life; if I can share any of that joy with others, then so much the better!

      I will be looking for those shooting stars – thanks for the literal ‘heads up!’

      -aniko

      • I just noticed your email address – that is very, very awesome!!

        A bit more on topic… Yes, mindfulness has amazing power to alter any normal space or experience into something more meaningful. Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere and can be achieved by anyone who is willing to encounter their own thoughts and emotions without fear or censorship. It isn’t always easy to let go of the mental frameworks we construct around our daily interactions and try on some new ways of being, but it is beneficial and necessary for growth.

  2. What a positive post! This put a real smile on my face – a nice capper to my day, and it actually reminds me of how I need to cultivate joy while I’m creating. Quite timely, and I’m really glad to hear you’re so happy. I was about to shoot you an email and make sure everything was going okay. Now I know!

    • You’re a good friend, Jonathan! I’m sorry I worried you. I am happy and things are going well, although I have not been around on the internets as much in the past couple of weeks.

      I’m glad that you liked this post. I was almost going to skip this week’s, but I realized that I wanted to share these thoughts. And, of course, get everyone hooked on Kind bars! ;)

      -aniko

  3. Ah, reading this blog has reminded me too how interesting/funny my writing times can be. Each WIP I’ve ever written has come with its own unique quirks. From binges on replaying the same Regina Spector c.d.s over and over again, to absolute silence with iced coffees till 4 in the morning, oh those Ramen’s-Noodles-nights, you name it! Great post.

    • I foolishly presumed my current WIP would behave like my first novel. I suppose that is a bit like a woman expecting her second child to be a lot like her first. My novels are adamant about being as different from one another as they can be, which leaves me guessing.

      “Ramen-noodle-nights” is an awesome phrase!!!

      Happy Writing!

  4. I’ve been thinking along the same lines lately. Find joy in what you’re doing. My shared blog helps me with that, forcing me to take a harder, longer look at things I usually only enjoy fleetingly.

    Also, there is actual research showing that working intensely on one task for a longer period is more efficient than multitasking, so it sounds like you’re on the right track. (I keep trying, but life interrupts.)

    • It makes sense that concentrating on one task would be more effective than trying to do several at a time. We are a society deliberately schooled in multitasking, and I suspect that’s why we’re also a society that feels tired and overburdened. I want to feel alive, not feel anxious that I’m not keeping up with some arbitrary standard.

      “Find joy in what you’re doing.” –> I like that, and I’m going to make it my mantra for the day.

      Thanks for stopping by, Marie!

  5. What a wonderful post. I studied Buddhism for years and reading this takes me back to the simlpe elegance of my teacher’s constant advice. And music is a wonderful source of inspiration. I actually have ‘writing music’, with different discs to match the tone of the piece I’m writing. Keep working on your book and stay positive!

    • I love the idea of a writer’s music library, with different CDs to match the mood or tone of the scene being written. I wonder if the music I am listening to when I write is having any effect on the the form or substance of what I am crafting? I know that it is helping me write through some tough patches, and I guess I’ll never know how it might have been otherwise.

      I haven’t formally studied Buddhism, but I have read a lot about it. Of all the life philosophies I have encountered, Buddhism comes closest to expressing my personal philosophies. I haven’t ruled out committing to it fully one day, but I am not there yet.

      Thanks for the encouragement!!!

  6. Very zen for a horror writer.

    I love Pandora. Helps me power through writing, content edits, um, life in general. All the stations end up sort of alike after a while, no matter how different they start out.

    • Hi, Michelle! I was just over at Red Adept the other day & thought of you. I hope you’re doing well & enjoying this august August!

      I have noticed that one ill-chosen song seed can throw off the tone of an entire station. I like the randomness, but I suppose every time I click “like,” the random factor is decreased. At some point, every station will zero in on the same subset of music and stop being surprising. Have you ever created a station and avoided the “like” button? I wonder if that would keep the randomness factor higher.

      Hmmm…. Off to visit Pandora! :)

  7. I totally missed this post earlier… (I’ve been almost completely in my own world for the last week or so.)

    I remember having a few professors who were passionate about what they were teaching, and just listening to them speak was an awesome experience. I wish all teachers could be like that!

    This is a great list. Kudos on your goal to write all those Goodreads reviews. :)

    • Hopefully by “being in your own world” you mean that you’ve been writing up a storm! That is the best kind of reason for a writer to be away from the internet. I know that’s why I missed putting up a post last week. :)

      It is a wonderful thing to listen to a person talk about the subject they love. It’s inspirational. And it’s a reminder that there can be so much joy in following our curiosity.

      Nice to see you!!

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