Monday, December 5, 2011

Commitment - to make enduring, meaningful commitments

Is it ironic that the 'Commitment' card sends me away from this blog for 2 months? Maybe, maybe not. What's not ironic is that I have noticed that I'm feeling a little blue, and I haven't been working on this - my pet happiness project. That's no coincidence! 

I've been rolling over what 'commitment' means to me since I pulled this card. The first thoughts I have on this concept are around marriage, which I have automatically gone to as the context for this word. The concept takes on a new flavor now that I'm freshly divorced. Commitment used to mean staying with the same partner, no matter what happened. This was something that came easily to me, sometimes to my own detriment. I was willing to overlook a lot of things in order to remain committed - and I think I grew from the experience.

I am committed to my boyfriend/partner/lover/significant other/main squeeze (I haven't landed on the title that best describes my relationship with him). What I call him doesn't matter, my feelings for him are what they are, and I know we are committed to each other. My commitment to him is different for me, in that I feel I am operating less from impulse and more from a place of deep connection and comfort. It feels like the most natural thing in the world - of course I'm committed to him. 

The act of commitment also extends to my children - I will always commit to things that are good for them, and things I want to do with them. This is another place that is easy for me - of course I'm committed to being a parent.

Just as crazily, I am committed to my pets and their unreasonable needs. Naked cats require a little more commitment than the average kitty, what with bathing them and clothing them. This is a relatively thankless task, but the payback for me is that they crack my shit up constantly.

I get so much out of all the committed relationships in my life, it's a rewarding contemplation.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Achievement - to have important accomplishments

I am a classic list maker/achievement junkie. I thrive on making lists and checking things off when I've completed them.

I never realized how much achievement meant to me until I consciously set a goal and reached it. While my goals have kept getting bigger, the sense of accomplishment has never diminished. I have always felt the same warm satisfaction when I've finished something I've set out to do: I did that. I own it. Me. Not someone else.

Over time, I've found that the satisfaction stays for longer, the more achievements I've accomplished. I've felt more confident and more happy in myself. As someone once told me, accomplishments are portable. No one can take away achievements once they're complete.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Everything is amazing

I was briefly unimpressed with my Facetime feature on my iPhone. And then I remembered this video clip with Louis C.K.

What? The internet connection from my hand-held videophone is slow? Hello? I have a phone in my hand with a video connection! That's f*cking amazing!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Spirituality - to grow and mature spiritually

As I've aged, my spiritual nature has become more focussed. I've always thought of myself as a "spiritual" person, mainly because as I got an early start in a sobriety program I shunned all associations with organized religions. For me, "spirituality" got the work done without having to deal with organized religion.

I found personal success when I put my issues into the care of a higher power not necessarily called God, but nature. Nature is so obviously out of my control, there was no better face to put on the concept of a higher power, and this became my embodiment of 'God as we understood him'. Even so, I would never call myself a nature worshipper.

I could never find an organized religion that made sense to me or felt authentic. Most dogma seemed hollow - it always felt as if I was required to accept someone else's experience as my own and deny my own feelings

As I gravitated to doing athletic things, I grew a real love for the outdoors and re-kindled my respect for nature as a higher power. Running and riding are meditative activities for me. I think of the mountains as my own personal cathedral. I think of riding or running with my athletic community as going to church.

More recently I've found myself totally resonating with Buddhist philosophy. I was advised to go to Buddhist temples to meditate, and have found this to be very fulfilling. Everything I've read and learned about Buddhist philosophy feels utterly at home for me. The concepts of compassion, of loving kindness, training my mind to be open, being mindful and aware, these resonate with me fully. I practice Tonglen breathing when I go to meditation, and it gives me peace. I love living mindfully, open, respectful of others and their experience. I feel good about myself when I practice this philosophy.

I know, right? It sounds like crazy woo-woo, and it feels so grounding.

It is very important to me to share a spiritual framework with others in my life. I'm definitely not a religious person trying to recruit or testify. I believe that all humans are essentially the same creatures, we all want connection. I believe it costs nothing to be compassionate to others. I believe in sharing loving kindness. I believe that mindfulness gives me a greater experience of the world.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Romance - to have intense, exciting love in my life

In my life today, I have romance. I couldn't always say that was true. I think in the past I told myself it was less important, that I didn't need it. That I could function just fine without it. That that part of my life was over.

I believed that, for a long time.

I know now that my standards have gone up. I know now that I love love. I want a partner that I can be intimate with, that I can share my life and be emotionally open with. I want love, and I want to feel loved. I want warmth, and touching, and intensity. I want a full range of emotions. I want to give love unconditionally, and I want to get that back.

For me, this is high on the list of important values. I don't want to forget that. I want to cultivate this every day, and make sure I give it back.

Today I practice a little romance every day. I say what I feel, I am unafraid to express and touch and love.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Srsly? Have you not seen my desk?

Ok, my desk is admittedly the exact opposite of most other spaces in my life. In my real life, my socks are segregated from panties and bras. My shoes are carefully organized. My t-shirts are neatly rolled. My workout clothes are catalogued by sport (run, bike, swim). My running shoes have a month and year of when I started wearing them written inside the footbed (so I know when they're close to done). My car is neat and clean. And based on how much I harass my children to pick up their shit, I think I value order pretty highly.

...where I have control of it, that is.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Moderation which, I suck at finding something meaningful to say, since I seem to be better at extremes.


To maintain a positive and optimistic outlook.

There's a story behind this swollen
ankle.  And it's a good one.
Over the years, I've learned that it's not if something bad might happen, but when.  I could be safe, and go out on a 2-mile run near home and turn my ankle like I’ve never turned it before.  Or i can go climb the mountain behind my house and see something I wouldn't have seen otherwise.   

Over the years, I lost my hope.  I used to be teased for my optimism, but I've become more fearful.  I don't want to live that way. I can’t change anything by worrying, so what’s the point?

I want to have hope again.  Nothing is as bad as I think it will be.  Worrying won't prevent what might happen, and it makes me me feel bad.

I want to go back to where I used to be, believing that no matter how badly things could be, they are never as bad as I imagine, and if things go wrong, well, I’ll have an interesting story to tell. 

So I'll sign up for something difficult, or impossible, and hope that I'm up to the task.  And if I'm not, well, then I'll know what to do differently next time, won't I?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Purpose - to have direction and meaning in my life

Sometimes when I struggle to think of why I'm here, or what I'm supposed to do (if anything), I remind myself that I have a job. I chose this one.

Parts of me that work. (Health)

As a little kid I did many things barefoot - gymnastics, climbing trees, running through thick, cool grass, wading in creeks.  I lost that sense of wonder for a while, until one night in South Dakota I ran outside barefoot in the snow.  I stopped, closed my eyes, and lived in the moment of shock and cold.

When I started running, I complained about how slow my feet were, until I noticed people with neuropathy, in wheelchairs, on crutches.

So I went on a spree and put together a whole kit just for them.
Twice a week I now devote time to caring for the part of me that takes me away when I'm sad, or anxious and makes me happy again.  It's easy to forget the lowest part of my body that covers not even a square foot of space, but does so much and takes me so many places.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Self-Knowledge, to have a deep and honest understanding of myself

I feel this is a place that I am constantly working on. When I'm not happy, or not quite 'there', it is usually related to a need to do further self-exploration to figure out why. What's really bothering me? Why does it bug me? What is it about me that I need to explore? For me, self-knowledge is a constant journey of exploration.

I find, sometimes, that the 'honesty' part of that is a struggle. It sometimes takes me awhile to admit to myself what's really going on, what I really feel, what my inner wise mind is telling me. I am sometimes afraid to acknowledge my inner self, for fear it may cause pain.

As I explore myself today, I need to remember to be fearless and not tie myself to any particular outcome, and to be OK with feeling my feelings. My fearlessness and honesty will help me explore myself most fully, and know and accept myself as deeply as I can. Without truly knowing myself I can't truly be happy. If I hold back on knowing and understanding myself, I hold back on finding and feeling deep happiness and self-acceptance.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wealth - to have plenty of money

I keep forgetting that I live an incredible life, with luxuries that some people will never know. I'm really lucky to live in a house, in a city I choose, to drive my car to my job and do basically whatever I want. I have plenty of money to eat, to live, to shop. To wear pretty clothes.

Today I'm thankful to have enough money to occasionally spoil myself and my family. Especially with shoes.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tolerance - to accept and respect those who differ from me

The cats are a constant lesson in tolerance. I tolerate their litter digging. I tolerate the cat who digs to the bottom of every food bowl, leaving cat food everywhere. I tolerate my geriatric cat who leaves poo and vomit in odd places. The boyfriend tolerates their desire to perch in awkward places. I tolerate them because on the whole, I appreciate their companionship. Also, they crack my shit up. That's worth tolerating.

Tolerance - to accept and respect those who differ from me

Went for a ride today with some of the boyfriend's teammates. Although it was billed as a 'mellow easy' ride, I'm sure they tolerated my somewhat less than awesome speed and ability. I would tolerate the same in any ride companion.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Self acceptance - to accept myself as I am

After today's particular challenges (a three hour run that took most of the day to get done), I also accept that I'm not always efficient, I'm not as fast a runner as I wish I were. This is me, this is who I am. I may not be fast, but I can still run.

Self acceptance - to accept myself as I am

Got a very late start on my run today, laid around in bed and generally went lazy. I tend to be really hard on myself when I'm not doing, or going, or busy-ing. I'm going to accept myself for not getting everything done today. It's ok, those things will be there tomorrow.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pleasure - to feel good

Favorite source of pleasure. My happy is here.

Pleasure - to feel good

Working out gives me a lot of pleasure, especially when I finish.

Pleasure - to feel good

Got an impressive pedicure. I feel good about my toes.

Loving - to give love to others

Made an awesome dessert for my family: sea salt brownies, limoncello sorbet, sugared strawberries.

My Project

This blog/photojournal is to document my exploration of my personal values, in an effort to get better acquainted with gratitude. I'm using the Personal Values cards (W. R. Miller, J. C'de Baca and D.B. Matthews, UNM) found in the attached link. Read about how the cards are used here. The first time I had the cards I sorted them into piles of "Important to me," "Very Important to me" and "Not Important to Me" which was, in itself, a very important exercise (I may label each value that I address here in a similar way). It was evident to me how little I acknowledged my values, and how very important they are to my personal being.

In this blog, I'm going to document an attempt at a Random Act to demonstrate (for myself) each value in the cards. I intend to do this daily, or weekly, or whenever I feel like it. I'll photograph the attempts where I can.  I feel that making a photograph is in itself an act of acknowledging gratitude. I may write a little bit about what I did and what it means to me, in whatever way I'm inspired to do so.

Where certain values are more important to me (like humour), I may elect to do it more than once.