My last post, "Before you notice, you will have settled", raised questions on one level and resonated on another. Cabrera mentions Tuesday evenings at the library, and ironically, Mycala and I have been going to the library on Tuesdays. Last evening Zippy joined us and then we enjoyed gazpacho with guacamole at an outdoor cafe. New dish, favorite restaurant. If we are truly grateful for our experiences, that seems to the antithesis of settling, even if they are routine! On the other hand, I'm the first to admit at times I settle. And yes, as rich and full as my life is, it could be much more vibrant if I would move from automatic pilot to a greater awareness and appreciation of the present moment.
Habits create a valuable structure for accomplishing more in less time. My mornings are spent journaling, meditating, and creating a to do list highlighting the three most important things to accomplish based on my values. Creativity is a value I actively weave into projects, problem solving and time with family and friends. The last habitual morning task is walking Zippy. If I took time to decide daily if I really wanted to do those things, it would take much more time and effort than moving quickly through the steps on automatic pilot!
Yet Isabella Cabrera raises an excellent point - could there be more? Are there areas where we are settling? Could we be happier? Undoubtedly.
When I was in junior high a girl in the class ahead of me won an essay contest with a composition called Variety is the Spice of Life. I never read the actual paper but the title, which I had heard before (in William Cowper's quote, "Variety is the spice of life, that gives it all it's flavor") captured my attention in a new way!
Years later I was reminded of the essay during a speech about making memorable moments by using a variety of senses. The speaker shared stories about surprising loved ones with creative gift giving from small tokens to grand gestures, all based on incorporating imagination and variety.
In both approaches, creativity is the key. Erin, from the award winning blog Daisies and Bruises, credits SARK for the quote "The opposite of depression is expression." That may seem simplistic, and there have been times I've been depressed in the midst of expressing, but ultimately we are all here to share our gifts. There is satisfaction and value when we are expressing our life's purpose; as close as we'll get to Dharma.
Day to day, there are questions we can ask that can lead us away from settling. These are some of mine, framed around my values, and hopefully they will inspire you to consider your own.
1. Are there ways to enhance the way I exercise? Ballet or belly dancing instead of calisthenics? Finding new places to walk Zippy?
2. Can nutrition be more interesting? Could I create a stained glass mandala fruit salad or a vegetable pin wheel? Make my own vinaigrettes and marinades to have on hand to give my daily intake of raw fruits and vegetables more vibrance and flavor without the artificial colors, syrups, sugars and preservatives in commercial brands?
3.Relationships. Am I surrounding myself with caring, positive, compassionate people who share my values? Do they have warmth and empathy for people from all cultures, education and socio-economic backgrounds Do they solve problems instead of blaming people? Are they joyful and do we laugh together often? Do they share some of my interests in art, music, travel, education, nature, sports? Are we open to learning from each other? Do the people in my life understand that thoughts become things and give their attention to assets rather than deficits? Compassion instead judgement? One of the best gauges for relationships it our energy level. If your energy is depleted, ask why.
4. Creativity - Do I weave creativity in all aspects of my daily life from how i garnish a plate, wrap a present, arrange an herbal bouquet, write a blog or sympathy card or solve a problem? Am I actively seeking ways inspiration? Making artist's dates to refill the well?
5. Learning/Education - Am I always taking at least one on line course? Do I have an ongoing list of topics that truly excite me that I'd like to take or research to teach? Do I keep pen and paper with me to capture ideas and inspiration that will slip away if not captured? Do I do further research on things that interest me? Am I capturing ideas in my illustrated journals?
6. Beauty/Order - We have long known that beauty soothes the soul, through nature, music, art, architecture, for example.Thomas Moore's book Care of the Soul is an eloquent testimonial. Clutter, lack of order, and tarnish can detract. Hoarding represents a lack of faith. Do I have enough space around things I love to highlight them? Do I see cleaning and polishing a gift?
Asking questions can lead us in the right direction. There are so many ways to add gratitude, variety and memorable moments as antidotes to settling.
"My mission is
to help others see and cherish the beauty,
romance and treasures within and around them
that are often dismissed or completely overlooked."
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