the 4 m’s

June 17th, 2013

I often joke that my moods as an adult are dictated in the same manner they were when I was a toddler. If I’m ever discombobulated, I can check in on whether I need to eat, take a nap, go outside and play, or even poop—base-level Maslow hierarchy kind of stuff. More often than not, it’s a quick fix for what ails me.

But what about the bigger stuff?

Since I can’t nap (or excrete) all of my woes away, I’ve come up with a handy system for life improvement: the 4 m’s. It’s something I’m using as a foundation for my day-to-day happiness, living a more creative life, and simplifying my priorities. To follow them feels both core to who I am and aspirational.

Here are the 4 m’s:

  • move: self-propelled (often sweaty) body-based actions
  • make: something-out-of-nothing manifestations
  • mingle: social engagements
  • marvel: care & feeding of inspiration & gratitude

move
When I need to get out of my head, there’s nothing like going for a run to knock me back down into my body. Moving forces me to be present to that activity. Run, walk, ride, swim, yoga, and dance—these modalities of motion make me more mindful. Shake a leg, start breathing, and get the blood flowing.

make
It could be my own value judgement that the doing is more important that thinking or talking about or a long-burning desire to be an artist. Realizing ideas just takes doing. Now, I’m not exclusively referring to final product, or demanding originality. Process works just fine. Writing, drawing, designing, cooking, baking, knitting—it’s about creating a practice of creation.

mingle
Not only do friends just make life more enjoyable, social connections could save your life (or at least, influence your mortality). When my stress level rises, it’s easy for me to isolate or use a lack of energy as an excuse to avoid hanging out with people. In whatever form it takes (spontaneous run-in, coffee, dinner party, show, etc.), some time with others is better than none. Homo alone-o = no bueno.

marvel
There is so much to take in, so much out there in the whole wild world, so much to learn. Museums, nature, meditation, reading, art, music, and all that jazz can replenish the soul and stoke the fire of creativity. Opening myself up to any part of it and bearing witness to its beauty is a duty and an indulgence. Take a moment, or take a few.

Since I came up with the 4 m’s, I’ve carried them in the back of my mind for the past year. They function as a diagnostic tool for my woes, as well as a means to plan or prioritize my time. If anything feels out of whack, on (or all!) of the 4 m’s can recalibrate a fellow. A life well lived could be built around them.

Besides the original list I doodled, the only other time I’ve written about them was in a letter to a friend. (Hi, Clara). They feel a bit more real typing them here in a blog lain fallow for three months. Here’s hoping the seeds of the 4 m’s take root. Who knows, perhaps they could breathe a bit more life into this here virtual scribble pad.

National Day of Unplugging

March 1st, 2013

Heading offline for the National Day of Unplugging.

Do you have multiple cell phones? Take your ipad to the beach on vacation? Ever find it hard to get through a conversation without posting an update to Facebook? Is your computer always on?

We increasingly miss out on the important moments of our lives as we pass the hours with our noses buried in our iPhones and BlackBerry’s, chronicling our every move through Facebook and Twitter and shielding ourselves from the outside world with the bubble of “silence” that our earphones create.

If you recognize that in yourself – or your friends, families or colleagues— join us for the National Day of Unplugging, sign the Unplug pledge and start living a different life: connect with the people in your street, neighborhood and city, have an uninterrupted meal or read a book to your child.

The National Day of Unplugging is a 24 hour period – running from sunset to sunset – and starts on the first Friday in March. The project is an outgrowth of The Sabbath Manifesto, an adaption of our ancestors’ ritual of carving out one day per week to unwind, unplug, relax, reflect, get outdoors, and connect with loved ones.

See you tomorrow.

An hour of Owen

February 28th, 2013

When I don’t have the time or energy or ideas to type here, I often put up an image or a video. Forget about a two-minute distraction. How about an hour-long concert of my favorite one-man band from Toronto in Paris?

Enjoy the relentless beauty, creative precision, and fusion of classic instrument and modern technology of Owen Pallett.

Last night’s activity

February 27th, 2013

Oven-dried tomatoes for today’s lunch. Sweet smelling bedtime.

52 weeks of happy 2/52

February 26th, 2013

Who said they had to be 52 weeks in a row, right?

  • The cool air, clear light and the soft buzz of the wind on my morning bike commute.
  • Seeing the San Francisco skyline at night as I drive down from Twin Peaks
  • The smell of slowly roasting tomatoes, thyme and balsamic vinegar for tomorrow’s lentil lunch.

Clicked off

February 25th, 2013

I don’t pretend to be all high and mighty and shun the television. We have basic cable and I enjoy my fair share of crappy so-called reality train wrecks and the culturally-acceptable Downton Abbey. I usually wind down in front of the screen and disengage with the world. It’s like a mind clutch.

After dinner I was relaxing on the couch with a lump of dog on my chest. After exhausting my phone’s social (media) validation, I was about to use the remote and see what was on. For whatever reason, a tiny “no” rang in my head. No. No, I won’t feel better after watching mindless tv. No, I won’t sleep better. No, I won’t feel more rested by “relaxing” on the couch.

So, I’m going to step away from this tiny screen and stick my nose into a book. It’s like a bicycle for your brain—no helmet required.

Decibelle’s pupdate

February 24th, 2013

Dessa seems to be doing OK. Vet believes it could be a UTI, so he took a sample and we’ll get results back from the culture in the next week or so. In the meantime, she’s on antibiotics.

In unrelated news, I did get in a scamper yesterday, seven miles strong.

Out of synch

February 23rd, 2013

So another day and another missed posting. I realize I’m only trying to show myself that I can type into a box once every twenty-four hours (which is a different goal than writing). All of yesterday felt off.

It started with a four a.m. dog walk for a suddenly not well puppy. (I’ve deleted the details.) She slept through last night very well, but the day was full of worry, out-of-character personality, and enough bodily fluids to consider whether taking her to the ER was wiser than waiting until today. (We opted for today. She does not appear to be in any discomfort.) I know I am abnormally attached to my dogs, but I understand life is finite and unexpected things can happen. This seems like a passing thing, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

The second not typical thing about yesterday was my working from home and a work field trip to Stitches West. I was showing a knitting newbie the overwhelming-ness of a trade show cum massive yarny pop-up in Santa Clara. It was great to see Kristine and Adrienne (and mom Michelle) from A Verb For Keeping Warm. Of course I hung out (always too briefly) with Debbi at the BMFA booth (my stomping ground for a year). And I got to meet Jeanne and Julie from CreativeBug and hear how the sock knitting flash mob we put on was included in their investor presentations. It’s impossible to do a quick drive-by at Stitches, but we had to rush back to the City because work email and network servers were going to be shut off at 4pm. So much for working from home through the night.

Discombobulated is a better description of me and time yesterday. The unsettled anxiety about a four-legged friend haunted me. The rampant consumerism combined with the joyful gathering of kindred spirits is dizzying. (I could write at length on my ethical conflicts of stash hoarding.) The ever-present stress of work and the whispering (oft-neglected) call of personal passion projects tore me from being present.

There’s no easy fix, but I can’t help but think this could be helped with a simple scamper. I’ve fallen completely off my training plan for the past two weeks, save last Saturday. It’s more fuel for my head’s nagging negative fire. (See, you still can’t train properly! You’re lazy.) An hour or two pounding myself out of my brain and into my body could be a step toward the grounding that was missing yesterday.

But now it’s Saturday. An new day. A vet visit. A return to Stitches for after-hours communion with a few friends. And maybe a run.

To This Day

February 21st, 2013

“As if broken bones hurt more than the names we got called, and we got called them all…”

Thank you, Shane Koyczan.

This space left blank intentionally

February 21st, 2013

The day switched into tomorrow without a moment set aside to type. A pet peeve of mine is complaining about not writing, yet it seems to be a crutch of late. My whole schedule needs to be reconsidered. I come home too late and too grumpy from the office that all I have room for is some leftover pizza and Dance Moms. Runs have been skipped for at least two weeks. Knitting wasn’t touched for days on end. Rut would be an understatement, but I’m in it.