Archive for December, 2013

Writing prompts

One per week? Per month?

Yes. Per month, starting in January. I’ll give it a shot! Even though I know I’m behind on my milestone posts :/.

How much have you loved? Count the people. Add it up. When it comes to love, I’ve always felt in red numbers. I’ve been so focused on the minuses — all of them based on the not-enoughness, the virus most of us suffer from, the glass half-empty, the “but” – the “won’t” – the “can’t” – the “don’t” — the “what if.”

So if you’re in red numbers too, let’s put the ball back in our court. How much have you loved? Have you loved even when it hurts, when you can’t, when you shouldn’t, when you wouldn’t, when you didn’t – just because love is a verb, not a noun, and it’s the hardest, most beautiful gift of life? If so, you’re richer than you feel.

What do you love doing that you aren’t doing? Furthermore, how could you get paid for doing what you love? Let’s brainstorm. It’s your right to be alive every second of the day. You’re not supposed to spend 8 hours a day in chains and the remaining 4 getting high on mental and physical distraction in order to cope with the depression of not doing what you should, what you really want, what you need to be doing.

What person or type of person would you choose as a life companion? A witness to your life? Forget the shoulds / the can’ts / the won’ts / the impossibles. Who would you love and who would love you back if you could have a say in it? Because see, your say in this makes all the difference. When you say your dreams out loud, you turn on the engine. It’s like this whole unlived, abundant life is waiting to come rushing out of you and in wishing it — out loud — you open the gates and give it permission to happen.

Where do you want to live? Are you happy with your life where you are? Could you be happier somewhere else? It’s true that you can be home wherever you are. But it’s also true that some places are more in tune with the kind of life that comes bursting out of you. There’s nothing more inspiring and motivating than good company and an environment that reflect and support your mission.

What do you want to accomplish? And most importantly, why — what’s your motivation? Be unrealistic. Life itself is unrealistic. Your very existence is as random, impossible and unrealistic as it gets. Only unrealistic people accomplish extraordinary things.

What do you want to be remembered by? Write it down. This is the man / the woman who _______________. Take your time.

What kind of life would make you jealous? And why? If you could start over, what would your life look like, right now? (psst…you can – but shh, don’t let your doubts in on this yet – they’re gonna’ ruin everything).

What adventures do you want to have? Can you list five? Adventures aren’t just for children — or maybe the 10-year old in us never dies. And it’s that inner child that really loves and lives life for what it is: the greatest adventure in the universe.

If you had to add something to humanity, what would your contribution be? List at least one. The world doesn’t owe you. You owe the world. The good news is that whatever the answer to this question, you’ll enjoy doing it. Your mission is encrypted in your blueprint.

What are your ghosts? Your unspoken demons? The stuff you keep in your closet under a lock? What are you most deeply afraid of? Say it out loud. Get real with yourself. It’s how you conquer them.

What are your favorite memories? Can you picture four or five instances in your childhood you are fond of? Do you see a river running through them? What’s that river, that common denominator, the deepest statement about you and life that lies at the core of them? There is usually only one – or two life-altering statements that come up when you dig.

Get to the bottom of it. How can you live from that same belief now? How can you transform your current experiences so they begin with that same idea – that fueled your most cherished childhood memories?

Who do you love the most? What 10 people would you put on a lifeboat in case of a universal tsunami / asteroid / zombie attack or any other realistic end of the world? Make a list. You can have a million friends on Facebook, but at the end of the day, you’re lucky if you can find 10 people you would die for and who would die for you. Email them as soon as you can. Remind them that if the world ends tomorrow, they’d be on your lifeboat.

Truth is…you never know if the world will end tomorrow. At least for you. And human beings are the most forgetful animals. Do you eat, drink and sleep every day? Then love everyday too.

What worries you the most? Why? Worry comes from fear. And most fear is imaginary. Fear of the Thing is not the Thing itself. Learn to distinguish one from the other. It’s as simple as asking Why.

So what are you worried about? List even the most trivial worries, they’re a projection of a deeper fear. And if any of these worries came true, do you think you could survive? And if the answer is No, then all the more reason to enjoy the world before it ends (and not worry about dead or dying ends).

What type of people inspire you and make you come alive? What people — at this point in your life — add to the truest equation of YOU? Reach out to them, get closer, “touch” them, spend time with them, be around them, aliveness is the one virus you always need to catch.

What type of people bring you down and make you hate yourself? Break up with them. Today. It’s not rejection, it’s just selection. Life is short. You can’t invest your love in people who don’t want it and who use it to deplete you.

Love is the most elevated, beautiful transaction between two creatures. But it’s still a transaction. The whole of nature is transaction: a give and take. When one is missing, the cycle is interrupted, the fire swallows all the oxygen and you burn out. We each have a choice – to give and to take love — and whether we are aware of it or not, we choose the people we give to and take from. You are responsible for your heart’s investments.

Who are your mentors? What have they taught you? Can you make a list? If you know them personally, thank them? Writers, thinkers, teachers, people who’ve shown you the way at some point, and the beautiful mystery of life made sense in their hands. Inspiration is contagious. It fuels you up. You owe them a mention on your lips and in your heart; and you must pay it forward and become a way-shower to someone else.

What is your cosmic elevator pitch? Not your job description, not your professional bio, not your resume, not your About page. But if you got in an elevator on a spaceship that tours the galaxy and you could say anything you wanted about yourself, what would you tell your elevator mates?

In short, who are you – raw, unedited, wild, ordinary and extraordinary you? What does it come down to? And why? (Always, that goddamn solid why).

What issues can you help with? We’re in trouble as a planet, as a species, as a global community, and as individuals. It’s not a choice, actually. If you want to live here, you need to pay the toll of helping out, or your so-called-living won’t be more than a selfish idea of living.
Interdependence is the new Independence. In order to make it real, you have to help clean up the mess others have made. Don’t worry, so will others help clean yours. It’s how it goes with humans. They mirror each other, for better or worse.

How can you express yourself creatively? Starting with the belief that we are all creative animals by nature, what’s your medium? Don’t think about profit, think only of how you can recycle your demons and become a channel for truth.

Art (any kind) speaks directly to the heart. It doesn’t go through reason. They are two parallel languages. You need to speak Art if you want to understand Heart. So pick a medium and start practicing.

How do you manage your time? What works for you? If you’re a mess, how can you get it together? Here are some creative tips on productivity. Can you make a schedule, write down your routine (to help you stick to it), come up with a productivity manifesto of some sort?

If you were to leave the world today, what’s your manifesto? What would you tell your children if you were forced to abandon them unexpectedly? Tell them now (even if you don’t have children). You do actually, we’re all inextricably interconnected to each other – in ways beyond our wildest imagination, and every child born on this planet is also a bit yours.

What makes you come alive? What ignites you? What makes you forget time, and space, and love, and food and water and even why – if taken to extreme? As Bukowski put it, “Find out what you love and let it kill you.” (Or resurrect you.)

What are your most painful memories? Are you still replaying them in your mind and using them as an excuse to fuel your fear of getting hurt again? Do you think they might be keeping you from trusting your heart again?

Why do you eat the way you eat and the things you eat? What do you think you should you eat that you’re not eating – and why? What can you put in your body that gives you pleasure and also respects and nourish it? If you don’t know, can you find out? Google it, read books, take a nutrition course, a cooking class, an online support program, hire a health counselor, do whatever it takes to get to know your body’s needs and then give it what it’s really asking for.

Your cells are made from the very food you eat. What you eat is the most important physiological aspect of your aliveness. You can’t honor life through your work, mission, relationships (you name it), if you don’t eat what gives you life.

What ignites your brain? What turns your light bulb on? Can you add more of that to your everyday? Get smarter? Train your brain? Evolve? Don’t waste your precious time on meaningless entertainment that numbs your mind and makes you smaller. It’s later than you think.

What physical exercise makes you sweat it like you mean it and enjoy both, the process and the afterward feeling? If you’re not currently practicing it, can you read more about it, surround yourself with people who practice it, sign up for a class, do whatever will motivate you to practice it?

What does your body need in order to function at its best? Can you make a list of what makes you feel healthiest and function optimally and try to practice it every day? If you’re not sure, start experimenting. Your 100% is just a little higher than your 80% but it makes a lifetime impact.

What feeds your spirit? What gives you goosebumps? What makes you fall down to your knees in awe (and weep)? Is it god? Religion? The universe? Science? Starry nights? Philosophy? Nature? Music? Art? It has to be higher than a person (than you), and surpass your understanding. There is no awe without mystery.

What are you proud of so far? What have you accomplished? Don’t compare yourself to others. There will always be someone who’s done “more” and some who’s done “less.” But what can you, at this point in your life (your circumstances, your reality), give yourself a hug for? Do it.

Fast-forward to your epitaph. What does it say? As a place-holder, let’s paraphrase Jack Kerouac: “They lived and loved and asked, blessed and adventured…and they weren’t sorry.”
Question 31 (I don’t like even numbers): What is the meaning of life?
To sit and have a drink with life, and ask her things, and hear your own heart (usually ignored) echo your larger-than-life answers in your chest? To realize that you’re rich solely because you have a universe inside you, that you can reach at any given moment – a world that will shrink and expand on your command? Yes. That.
There is no meaning outside of You that won’t take Your deepest, greatest truth in consideration. Fuck love, money or fame if they don’t come as a result of your life-driving truth – they’re the roof to your inner house, and to add a roof you must first discover, understand and create that house. And if you don’t know where to start building, just ask.
Life is an endless flow of questions – meaning is always in the making and it is constantly being created as we speak. The ultimate meaning of life then is the One that creates meaning: the traveler (not the journey), the subject (not its objects, ideas, circumstances, possessions), the lover (not the love), the wayseer (not the way), the warrior (not the battle)…

Milestone Monday: 30 Weeks

We’re deep into teething the last few days, and J has been having some very rough nights. We have been giving her a half dose of Tylenol and letting her chew on ice chips in a little mesh bag. Most of her new developments are around crawling.

– She can now move both knees and lift her hand and then put it in front of her, but she topples at that point. She usually army crawls to her goal after that.

– She can push herself from her belly into a sitting position.

– First trip to the grocery store. She was fantastic, and didn’t even fuss at them when two strangers got right up in her face to admire her.

– I’m less proud of this, but I had my very first moment of frustration with her. It was mild. She was fussing and wiggling and my nipples were hurting and I knew she was tired and hungry and that her gums/jaws were really bothering her. I also knew that what she needed to do was nurse and the Tylenol would take effect soon and she could sleep. I said, “Oh sweetie, just go to sleep!” Like I said, it was mild. But since this is a post about firsts this week, I thought I’d mention it.

– Volume. She’s been playing a lot with being loud and soft. Mostly loud.

As usual, there’s something else I wanted to mention but have forgotten.

– Edit: Oh! I remembered one! She’s started flapping her arms when she gets excited. She’ll stick them up in the air like she’s going, “Look what I did!” and then flap them both down hard. Then up and down and up and down! We’ve started saying “Tah dah!” when she hold them up and, “Tah dum!” when she slaps down.


Milestone Monday: 29 Weeks

It’s been a relatively calm week. J has been working so hard on crawling that not much else has been happening.

– Mobility increases. She can now get where she wants to go without (mostly) face planting. She pushes up to her hands and knees and rocks back and forth until she can get one knee moved, then she faceplants.

– First bout of baby constipation. Whee! She went from Saturday through Thursday without pooing, then again until Sunday. I gave her some warm water and I don’t know if that’s what did it, but she’s back to twice a day (it seems)

– Since we’re talking about diapers.. Her farts are starting to stink. I think we won’t have long before god puts odor in the poopoo.

– New foods: raspberry (not sure if any made it to her mouth), pear (yum!), persimmon (no thanks), and cinnamon (on her sweet potatoes. She sucked off the cinnamon then dropped the piece of potato and grabbed the next one)

– Sippy cups: I gave her a sippy cup with warm water. She got the hang of it pretty much immediately. To prevent orthodontic problems, I’ve ordered her a Wow cup. The doidy cup is too hard to hold. I’m hoping to find a way to get handles on the wow cup, since the baby wow cup won’t be released until spring 2014. She may use a sippy cup for the Xmas travel.

– New car seat has arrived! I haven’t un boxed it yet but we have an appointment on Thursday with Austin’s car seat safety group to make sure we’re using it right.

– consonants now include a hard g, d, and th. I think those are all new. So it’s those plus t, b, and m. Also still lots of raspberries and German what is that throat noise called anyway.

Milestone Monday: 28 weeks

– First Thanksgiving! She got to try turkey and pumpkin soup. The turkey turned into a utensil for eating more soup.

– 6 month checkup. This included 5 shots (poor girl, she took it like a champ)which gave her a fever of 103.2. Fortunately she is now old enough to take ibuprofen, and even though she hates it it’s quite effective.

– 6mo stats:

head circumference 43.7cm (85th percentile)
Weight: 20lb 4 oz (97th percentile)
Length: 29″ (off the charts!)

Since her current car seat is only good through 30″ and we will need one she can fly in come Christmas, I bought the next car seat. We got a Radian R120 which, while neither cheap nor lightweight, is our best bet for keeping her rear facing for as long as we can. And with a 10 year expiration and forward facing up to 120lb, it will hopefully be the last car seat we buy.

– Consonants are now part of her babbling. Her favorite so far is the t sound (“ah-TAH! TAH! Ah-TAH!”) but “mm” and “b” and the gurgling “ch” sound of Southern German are also popular. The chchch sound especially, when she’s excited or happy.

– A sad one for mom: today she drank 20oz of milk at school, which exceeds the amount I’ve been pumping recently. Tomorrow will be the first day we have to send her in with milk from our stash because I didn’t produce enough. I am trying very hard to be ok with this. There’s lots of milk in the freezer and I can pump 20oz maybe 2/5 of the time, so it’s not a drastic difference. But after 6 months of stressing about whether I have enough milk, it’s hard to be presented with evidence that I might be coming up short after all my struggles.

– This last one might not be anything yet. She’s been very fussy (for her) since her appointment last Weds. I think the first couple days were from the shots,but now I’m pretty sure we are seeing acute teething! Only time will tell. She might just be feeling fussy because she’s so close to crawling but isn’t yet.

– oh! I almost forgot! She’s now pushing up from her tummy to her hands and knees, and rocking forward and backwards like she knows she’s onto something but isn’t quite sure what to do next.