Mindlessly Mindful

I have a morning routine. Wake up, check the plant light on my aerogarden, turn on electric kettle, go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, open my computer, check by email, calendar and to do list, steep tea, meditate as tea steeps, etc, etc, etc….

You get the gist.

I get out of bed and then I automatically do about twenty five things.

Am I doing them mindlessly, or am I actually doing them mindfully?

When you do things by rote, it’s just automatic. We set these patterns in our head…we attach one thing to another and before you know it we have a series of habits that get us through our day. And one could argue that once we’ve established a pattern, our brains stops working. We become automatons:

But by doing things that are routine, are we allowing our brains to rest? And isn’t letting the brain rest part of being mindful?

I know. I appear to be making no sense. How can something be mindless and mindful at the same time? Am I saying that we are multitasking and we don’t even know it?

Madness…

I once told my Doctor that I wondered why I am able to retrieve all sorts of useless information, yet I never remember anyone’s phone number (this was in the olden days when we actually had to dial a number on a landline) My Doctor said that this sort of information retrieval was good: he said that the intelligent use of storing information in our heads was to take note of things not easily accessible, the random facts so to speak. He said that instinctively my brain knew that I could always open up my phone book and get the number. My brain was being mindlessly mindful. It was allowing me to use my brain to its greatest potential.

Isn’t that the whole point of mindfulness?

Isn’t the goal to give us inner peace and clarity? If we do things by rote, doesn’t that give us a sense of peace, because we don’t have to actually think about it?

Am I making any sense? Or am I just writing the preface to a new sort of self help book that won’t actually help anyone?

This is my out of the box theory on the whole mindfulness craze. I figured it was my turn to come up with a new theory to add to the thousand or so mindful theories that are already out there…Who is to say that we don’t need another?

What do you think?

Can we be mindlessly mindful?

Five Star

Do you read reviews?

How religiously do you follow them?

When New York City began to reopen in April, one of the first things to get the go ahead was comedy clubs. I found some inexpensive tickets on a discount ticket website to a comedy club in the village. I asked my daughter if she wanted to go- she responded “Yes” so I bought the tickets.

Fine.

Except… my daughter began to read reviews of the club and started to freak out. The reviews were terrible… I rationalized that the reviews were obviously a year old. Is it fair to judge something on reviews that are way out of date?

My daughter, ever the persistent arguer, really made a case for eating the cost of the tickets that I’d bought, because it just wasn’t worth it to go. She was completely paralyzed by the bad reviews. She was letting the opinion of others color her thoughts.

Now that everyone with a device and internet access can give a rating to anything they want, have we become a society unwilling to try something unless there’s a four star review attached? Do we let the words of people we don’t know decide what we should and shouldn’t do? Do we really care that much about the opinions of others?

After much back and forth, my daughter and I attended the comedy show. It was neither bad nor good: just average. We did manage to have a really good time though- we were able to talk about the comics we didn’t like and why we didn’t. We managed to make the crowd laugh when the headliner asked if my daughter and I were just friends (he had been asking the crowd how they’d met the people they were there with) because of our body language and I simply said that she was my daughter…I’m guessing my inflection and my daughter’s shoulder shrug made it funny…biggest laugh of the night FYI…

I’m thinking that sometimes, in the case of reviews, that too much information is not necessarily good. I don’t know if we have the proper filters to ascertain which things are helpful and which aren’t…

For your homework: Give me a review about reviews…

Big Small World

I’m going to quote a book…

The book: A Most Beautiful Thing: The True Story of America’s First All Black High School Rowing Team

The Author: Arshay Cooper

The Premise: Memoir by one of the members of America’s first all black rowing team

The back story to the quote: Cooper is in a barber shop and begins a conversation with the gentleman next to him

The Quote: (as said by the older gentleman to Cooper)- “Listen to me, young man. I went to Europe and while I was there I saw somebody from the West Side of Chicago. He was blown away to see me. That man told me this is really a small world, but I told him he was wrong. I said ‘If you look at the map, it’s huge. This is a big world we live in, but you and I chose to expand.'”

Do you choose to expand?

Or do you choose to stay the same?

For the record, I have no problem with doing things the same way. I have lived in the same place for 20+ years. I wear the same type of clothes, I don’t constantly need to buy the most new and updated things…

However…

I’m constantly trying to expand my mind.

I try different foods. Read different genres. Go to places that I’ve never been. I am a student of the world around me and I plan to continually learn and grow and adapt and, if necessary, change…I am not the same person I was when I was 18. I am not the same person I was at 37. I am not the same person I was at 56. I have no doubt that a year from now I will be a different person.

I’m OK with all of that.

I embrace growth. I embrace learning new things. I am very willing to change my mind if I learn enough about another way of doing things. You read that here first: I will change my opinion if given good information about doing things another way.

So my question to you is:

Do you seek to expand your mind? (or like me, your waistline because you try new foods…)

Why or why not?

Is there something you were unsure about doing but ended up enjoying it? For me, I am scared of falling, so I was unsure about taking a ride in a hot air balloon. But, I will tell you that it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Scared? Sure. Glad I did it? 100%.

To expand or not to expand…what’s the actual question…

Balance is Bull

Ever heard anyone talking about work/life balance? Use the word “balance’ when it came to describing how to multi task and juggle multiple things?

I cry fowl on balance.

I think the concept of balance is a load of ____________. When I watch someone walk across a balance beam, I often see them stumble. I see them just make it by. I see them fall. Very few people have perfected balance.

I recently read a book Your Fully Charged Life: A Radically Simple Approach to Having Endless Energy and Filling Every Day With Yay by Meaghan B. Murphy. Murphy has a philosophy that I found quite refreshing. Though Murphy has a time consuming job and a family, she doesn’t praise balance as her mantra. She is a fan of the word SYNERGY.

Synergy allows for separation and the combining or sharing of resources or elements when doing so adds even greater value. That’s what I strive for; I want different parts of my life to understand the others so they can cooperate, not only play together in the same orchestra.

Meghan B Murphy

Synergy more closely describes the very intimate dance that all the parts of our world must do to coexist. Sometimes your kid can’t be sitting on your lap while you are in a meeting. Sometimes you can’t have a conversation with your Mother’s doctor while you’re at your kids soccer game. You have to be able to give each task full focus. You can’t always multi task. And everyone in your life needs to understand the boundaries that are in place.

I know it’s hard to have kids and parents and spouse and job and household responsibilities and friends and hobbies AND take care of yourself.

Yet- we must.

We can delegate and outsource, but sometimes it gets overwhelming. We need to figure out how to make our lives go as smoothly as possible. We need to find the right combo.

I think synergy is the answer, but what do you think? Synergy? Harmony? Or are you a balance person?

How do you get by?

What inspired me: July 25

1) I was fortunate to spend a few days at the shore with my two best friends!!

2) Dominique Ansel, a ridiculous pastry chef, opened up a spot not far from our house…this could be bad for my waistline…

3) one more gallery in Egypt is done

4) Roadrunner. Anthony Bourdain. The original Les Halles was in our neighborhood…still sad about this, but well done doc

5) we went to classical concert at park again. While it’s always lovely to hear music at the park, they’ve chosen very sad pieces…would love more vibrant music in the summer

Gratitude Saturday- July 24

I took Betty to the dog park on Tuesday.

The dog park has the double gate system. The people at the dog park use the system properly.

However.

There is a gap under one of the gates. It is apparently large enough for Betty to sneak through.

Insert heart attack emoji here…

I am SOOOOO eternally grateful to the woman who managed to grab Betty when she saw her running loose.

I am grateful to all those at the dog park who took the time to calm me down.

It was the worst feeling in the world to worry that something bad is going to happen to your dog- a thousand horrible scenarios popped into my head. I’m still a bit freaked out.

Anything Can Happen Friday: Cable

The back story: We used to have a bulk rate cable package for our building. When the contract came up for renewal, there just weren’t enough people in the building using cable for us to get a good bulk rate anymore. Bottom line: as of last week we now pay for services that we don’t want/need, but we used to get for free.

Knowing that I didn’t want to pay extra for services we don’t want, I called up the cable company the other day. I supplied them with all the necessary info, told them I wanted to eliminate X and Y.

With me so far?

Ok- the cable guy says:

“Can you get your husband on the line because only his name is on the account.”

Meanwhile, I’m calling from the number that is listed on the account. MY NUMBER IS LISTED AS THE CONTACT NUMBER ON THE ACCOUNT.

I am able to give him all the information for the account because THE BILLS ALL GO TO MY EMAIL. I literally read him all the lines from the most recent bill- every single code and word etc.

Nope. Need to talk to the husband. Which I understand in theory, but I”M GIVING YOU ALL THE INFORMATION AND I’M CALLING FROM THE NUMBER ASSOCIATED WITH THE ACCOUNT. FOR TWENTY YEARS I AM THE PERSON WHO HAS BEEN DOING EVERYTHING WITH THE CABLE INCLUDING SETTING UP THE NEW BOXES WHEN NEEDED.

I mean really, is there some nefarious trickster out there calling the cable company and having Showtime and Starz removed from random people?

I’M TAKING STUFF OFF NOT ADDING ON.. THE BILL IS GOING TO GO DOWN…

I may or may not have been rude to the cable guy…

So I get off the phone frustrated.

I pulled up our bill online and I saw a “Chat Now” thing.

So I went on the “Chat Now” and I asked them to take off Showtime and Starz (FYI- didn’t know we had Starz) and I ask how much my new monthly bill will be.

And ever so quickly Showtime and Starz were taken off my account.

So here’s the thing: is it really security if I can bypass the system pretty easily?

The Stages

Speech: “All the world’s a stage”

BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE(from As You Like It, spoken by Jaques)
                                        All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin’d,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,

Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

The above passage might be my very favorite Shakespeare. I love how he breaks down the stages of life. Pretty accurately I think.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the five stages of womanhood- (I only wrote five because I’ve yet to reach the others) I think that each decade adds new dimensions and layers to our lives, we learn and grow: adapt and change.

I highlighted the words that were most descriptive for Shakespeare as he broke down the ages. I used computer speak naming then 1.0, 2.0 etc.

What do you think the stages of life are?

How would you name them?

I Took a Walk

The past few days you’ve read about things that happened when I took a walk.

A walk.

To the Farmer’s Market.

Down the streets of my neighborhood, streets that I walk along all the time.

When you stop to actually look at your surroundings, when you pause and look up or look down, you never know what you are actually going to find…or see…or experience…

You probably aren’t going to see someone get hit by a van…but who knows what you will see when you open your eyes?

Inspiration is all around you…sights, sounds, colors, experiences…

How do these things make you feel? Sad? Happy? Intrigued?

Can you see the makings of a story? Poem? Novel? Play?

Or did it just make you think about things in a different way?

Here’s your assignment:

Take a walk. You can choose the destination. Really use all your senses as you walk: What does the sky look like? What does the air smell like? Pause and look down at the ground- look left, look right. How does what you are experiencing make you feel?

Write it down.

Think about it.

Then do something creative with it.

Inspiration is all around us if we are open to the possibilities. I know how easy it is to be in a rut. I was in one a few weeks ago. I looked at the page and I didn’t care that it was blank. I was perfectly content leaving it that way.

So I took a day. I had a pity party. All the teeny tiny violins were there. Then I shook it off like raindrops that you are unprepared for and got on with it.

We are all allowed to have bad days. And if you believe the Friends theme song, it can be a month or even a year…but eventually we do need to snap out of it…

We are too important to have bad days every day ad infinitum…

We are too important to leave the page, or the canvas, or whatever blank…

We are surrounded by inspiration. We just have to allow ourselves to see it: allow ourselves the latitude to explore it.

Put your phone in your pocket.

Take a walk.

Consider this your prescription: put one foot in front of the other.

Newspapers

So I was out on a walk…

I walked by a townhouse.

I know that in most of America, the single family dwelling reigns supreme. However, in a place as tightly packed as Manhattan, most people reside in multiple family dwellings. Yet, there are still some homes in Manhattan that only house one family…

Townhouses.

There happen to be some in my neighborhood. They are just gorgeous, and I admit to coveting them…so when I walk the dog I look at the stately townhouses and daydream just a little. But on this particular day, I noticed that at least a week’s worth of newspapers sat on the front step.

So when you see a week’s worth of newspapers stacked in front of someone’s house, what do you think?

Do you think that the person went on vacation and forgot to cancel the paper for the week?

Or do you think that something bad happened to the person who lives there?

Are they in the hospital?

Are they still inside their home, unable to get out?

Are they being held for ransom?

This is when my mind goes into overdrive. This is why I like writing and storytelling and anything that can take a single snapshot and make it into something. This is where I love being somewhat creative. I may not write the story, but my imagination still gets a workout.

Some of you are now thinking, what about the people that reside in the house? What actually happened?

Alas, I can’t give you any more details. I don’t know who lives in the house. I don’t know why their papers are outside. I didn’t call or ring the doorbell or anything as to ascertain what happened. Whereas I like to think of myself as a good concerned citizen, I also don’t want to become Mrs. Kravitz, the neighbor who always butts in. In a world of see something, say something I have to decide what is worth intervening. Is this worth calling the police about when it is probably a case of forgetting to cancel the paper?

So here’s todays points to consider:

  1. Do you ever see a scene and just imagine all the who, what, when, where and why?
  2. Would you have tried to find out if the inhabitants were OK?

Discuss