Posted by: devonellington | October 18, 2021

Mon. Oct. 18, 2021: October Mid-Month Check-in

image courtesy of olia danilevich via pexels.com

It’s already the halfway point of October. How do you feel about your progress?

I feel I’ve mismanaged my time a bit, although I’ve kept up with all my deadlines. In fact, I have a big deadline today on a project, and that’s going in right on schedule. I would have felt better had I gotten it in on Friday, but it’s still in on deadline.

I’ve kept up with all my deadlines.

I’ve sent out LOIs, although fewer than usual.

I’ve written fiction every day.

I started attending again, the Sundance Collab on Mondays and Fridays (Wednesdays I’m booked with Remote Chat) in order to have specific time blocked off to work on the plays. While I skip the networking breakout sessions, because it is detrimental for me to talk about work moments after I’ve drafted it, the actual writing time is beneficial.

I made the big decision to do National Novel Writing Month this year, in order to get my daily rhythm back. I’ve started, rhythmically, with the first writing session of the day, but I want to really focus and get back into a productive rhythm for whatever I deem my “primary project” in any given month. Nano has been useful for that in the past. So, I’m signed up, started a group called “Enchanted Wordsmiths” and have been working on my outline. It’s going to be a mystery, has a working title, and contains a group of characters who started chatting to me a few weeks ago, but were in search of a plot. I think I’ve found one for them.

I attended my first in-person event since the pandemic started, a local nature walk. It was outdoors, we were all masked, even when vaccinated. It was a small group, and it was a good way to ease back into being around other people. I enjoyed it, but it was still exhausting.

I signed up for a workshop on soul work, which I hope will help me use the Chiron retrograde healing energy to resolve a few things still lingering from the move. It starts today, for the coming week. I did my prep work last week, and stayed on track with that, which feels good.

With Mercury and Jupiter going direct today, it takes a huge weight off, and opens more possibilities.

One of the things I want to work on in the coming months is being more aware of possibilities. I’ve been so shut down since the pandemic started, and with my own surgeries last year, that I need to hone that awareness again. Possibilities appear in unusual ways, and I need to be able to discern them, and tell the different between a genuine opportunity, and someone trying to get me to do something that only serves them, not both of us.

The next two weeks will be about keeping up with deadlines, sending out LOIs, prepping for Nano, and preparing for a friend to visit, the first company we’ve had since before the pandemic.

This update has been less about lists and more about carefully considered decisions. Which, for me, is a better way to function right now.

How do you feel about your October so far? Do you have any questions on the questions posed for 2022?

Posted by: devonellington | October 11, 2021

Mon. Oct. 11, 2021: Anonymous Kindness

image courtesy of Sharon McCutcheon via Unsplash.com

I get so tired of “naming rights” and faux philanthropy. My strong belief is that genuine philanthropy is anonymous. It’s giving without expecting public praise.

Too often, we are told that we have to tell others about our acts of kindness or “if there’s no photo, it didn’t happen.”

Which is complete nonsense.

We’re in a waxing moon, time for the new. I challenge people to do at least one random act of kindness per day, and DON’T TELL ANYONE ABOUT IT. Keep track of it in a private journal, but don’t talk about it or share it on social media, or all the things we’re told we “have” to do to “prove” it.

Do it for yourself (I won’t ask about it here). It’s astonishing how different it feels when you do something out of the joy of doing it versus doing it in order to post about it.

Posted by: devonellington | October 4, 2021

Mon. Oct. 4, 2021: Questions for 2022

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It’s time to start pondering some goals, dreams, and resolutions for 2022.

Most of our goals and dreams were tossed in 2020, thanks to the pandemic, and the biggest resolution was to stay alive.

Most of this year’s hopes were crashed, thanks to selfish anti-vaxxers, who believe their right to walk around as murderous biological weapons is greater than anyone else’s right to survival.

Now, it’s time to take what we’ve learned from both those years and start reshaping our goals, dreams, and resolutions to make 2022 a better year both personally and collectively.

I’ve posted some questions I am pondering, and am sharing them in hopes it will help you. On January 1 or 2nd, I will share what I’ve come up with, and I hope you will, too.

First of all, you’ve survived. That’s a huge achievement in the circumstances. If you feel you’ve accomplished nothing in the past year, you’ve achieved that, and it’s major, and it’s enough. Congratulations.

  1. What are the frustrations that have crept up over the past year? What steps can you take next year to alleviate them?
  • What have you learned about trust since the start of the pandemic? What people or institutions do you feel have broken your trust? How can it be mended? How can you move forward without it being mended?
  • What have you learned about your relationship to silence, solitude, and isolation? How did you make use of these three elements of life? Did you enjoy any portions of it? Feel frustrated, angry, or depressed by any of it? How did you handle those emotions? How will you incorporation silence and solitude into your life moving forward? What have you learned about personal flexibility?
  • What have you learned about the frictions of the social contract? Where do you feel society, as a whole, has failed in keeping with it? What is one thing you can do in the coming year that serves you as an individual, while also serving the greater social contract?
  • How have you redefined work? Instead of work/life balance, have you decided that work in one element of your life and you want a more holistic approach to your whole life? Have you changed jobs or careers? Are you thinking about such changes in the coming year?

Now that you’ve pondered on what you learned, think about how to apply that to the coming year.

  1.  Pick one new thing you want to try or learn in this coming year, and list three practical steps to make it happen.
  • Plan a trip, whether it’s a long vacation or a short day trip. Plan it so that you can implement it once it is safe so to do, but you are not locked in, should situations change. What kind of trip is it? Feel free to share as much or as little you wish. If it’s a trip you feel can’t happen for two or three years, it’s still fun to start planning now.
  • What new type of social interaction will you try this year, once it’s safe to socialize? How will you make this happen?
  • How will you implement the changes you want in your work life? What three practical steps can you take over the course of the year to make it happen?
  • What positive changes can you make to support your health, both mental and physical? What three practical steps can you take to make that happen?
  • It’s been a long time since we dared to dream. Start exploring your dreams again, slowly. You might not have formed new dreams by the beginning of the new year, but build in time every day and every week, to work on dreaming. Then, when you feel ready, you can start thinking about the practicalities of manifesting the dream. But give yourself room, this coming year, to dream without the pressure to go beyond the dream.
  • What will you do for joy this year? So much joy has been drained out of our lives for the past two years. How will you bring joy back in?

The above questions are different from the usual list-making and goal-setting, but I think we need a slower, gentler approach so that we can give ourselves permission to dream again.

In a week or so, I will put these questions up on a separate page, so that you can revisit them at any time over the next few months, and over the next year.

Peace and blessings to you, friends.

Posted by: devonellington | September 27, 2021

Mon. Sept. 27, 2021: Why?

image courtesy of Arek Socha from pixabay.com

For those of you who followed The Move From Hell this past summer over on my daily blog, Ink in My Coffee, you know that I spiraled into a bad cycle of self-criticism and self-loathing. I felt like a failure for struggling with the move, struggling to find people to hire, struggling to get the money together and to get everything done on everyone else’s schedules.

I assumed that, once the move was complete, the negative self-talk would stop, because I was out of the stressful situation and into a good situation.

But it didn’t. If anything, I got more self-critical, not less.

So I had to really look at what I was doing, how I was hurting myself, and make different choices.

One of the techniques I’ve started doing, anytime I start getting self-critical of myself or someone else, is stopping, taking a breath, and asking “why?” This is, of course, provided it’s not a life-and-death situation that requires immediate response.

I ask, “Why am I doing this to myself? Why does this situation warrant such a response? Is there a better way to respond?”

Taking the time to stop, assess, and make a better choice gives a chance for the reflexive anger to melt away and more positive solution to come forward.

In the case of “Why am I doing this to myself?” it’s often the dregs from the self-criticism and sense of failure I felt around the move (although the move itself has been to a better, happier situation all the way around).

Most of time, whether it’s a mistake I’ve made, or annoyance at something someone else has done, it doesn’t warrant a gigantic, angry response. Small annoyances, which don’t really affect me directly, or aren’t any of my business, can be let go. It’s not denying the feeling of annoyance, but it’s accepting that everyone is doing the best they can, and, in the scheme of the universe, it is not about ME.

When it’s something like an anti-vaxxer/anti-masker putting people at risk, that’s something different. That’s putting lives in danger. That DOES warrant a strong response, and it is our collective responsibility to respond.

“Is there a better way to respond?” Often, the answer is yes. Taking time to figure out that “better response” often works out better for everybody involved.

When it comes to most of the small annoyances, most of the time, the other individual has no idea they even had that impact. And that’s fine.

Because not everything is about me.

Discerning when it’s appropriate to be about me and to stand up for myself, and when it’s not about me, doesn’t really affect me, and should be let go, makes a huge, positive difference.

These ties into the theory of “sacred pause” in the book RADICAL ACCEPTANCE by Tara Brach. This book was brought to my attention in the Thursday online Meditation group I attend, sponsored by Concord Public Library, and guided by the amazing and inspiring Lara Wilson of Be Well Be Here. We practiced the pause and the self-compassion in our practice, and I wanted to learn more. So, I got the book and am working my way through it, and learning that, what I’d been drawn to instinctively is actually both a spiritual and psychotherapy tool.

For me, this “sacred pause” works better than the “flip the script” that’s so often touted, where, for every negative piece of self-talk, you give yourself three positive self-talks. In the moment of self-criticism, I can’t FIND three positives.

But taking the pause, acknowledging what I feel, but not letting it define or punish me, allows me to find a healthier solution.

What are some of your favorite tools when you fall into the rabbit hole of self-criticism?

Posted by: devonellington | September 20, 2021

Mon. Sept. 20, 2021: Experiential Equinox

image courtesy of Comfreak via pixabay.com

On Wednesday is the Autumn Equinox, where the hours of daylight and dark are in balance.

After the Equinox, in the Northern Hemisphere, the darkness lengthens until the Winter Solstice, which is the shortest day and longest night of the year, and then the light grows until the Spring Equinox, where day and night are equal again, and then daylight grows until the Summer Solstice.

How can we use those changes in the light experientially, and as useful tools in our goals, dreams, and resolutions?

We can use those days to reset ourselves.

As a yoga practitioner, on the Equinoxes, I do an additional sequence of balancing poses. It’s not like the story of balancing an egg at the exact moment of the Equinox; it’s still not easy for me to do some of the poses! But I do the poses to remind myself that the Equinoxes are about balance. How have I come unbalanced? How can I re-balance?

This year has been very unbalanced for me, because of the move. Since I am home-and-hearth-oriented (even though I love to travel), if my home situation is uncertain, everything else is way out of balance.

I love where I live now; even though I’m not yet fully unpacked, I am happy, and it feels like home.

This helps stabilize me when it comes to my work, be it my own writing or contracted writing.

I also want to make sure I don’t fall down the remote rabbit hole of all-work all the time. I’m carving out time off, be it a few hours midweek to do something when the weather is still gorgeous, or there’s something wonderful happening. I can then decide if I want to work longer weekdays around it and still take off the weekend, or if it makes more sense to redefine what my “weekend” is for that week, and work through the traditional weekend.

Having this flexibility helps keep me balanced. So do my yoga, meditation, and journal writing practices. That gives me the foundation to do creative work, which is both my job and my passion.

A new place requires new routines, and I’m giving myself the gift of letting them shape organically, and being flexible when I need to make changes. Flexibility gives me more stability than rigid timeframes. But that flexibility needs to be MINE, not dictated by an outside force. Yes, I use outside circumstances to shape the week, such as weather (which is even a bigger deal here than it was on Cape Cod), deadlines, and the needs of each assignment. But the final decision, and the final shaping is MINE.

That gives me a far greater sense of balance than To Do Lists, regimented work hours, and the rest.

On Wednesday, I will take extra time with my rituals and practices, and concentrate on the sense of balance. By discovering what structures and flexes give me that sense of balance, I can continue to build a more wholistic life that encompasses both work and life in a healthy way, instead of accepting that the two portions of my life are separate and need to fight each other.

How will you experience balance this equinox? What makes you feel balanced and whole?

I am working on the questions for 2022, and hope to post them soon.

Posted by: devonellington | September 13, 2021

Sept. 13, 2021: Compassionate Pondering

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A few weeks ago, I bemoaned that it would take me a long time to heal from particular wounds and challenges that I accumulated over the past decade.

In the middle of my pity party, I suddenly thought, “Why? Why will it take a long time? It’s in the past. I made the best decisions I could at the time. Some of them served, at least in the short term. So WHY will it HAVE to take a long time?”

Once I decided it wouldn’t take a long time, I could start the process of letting it go. How many instances where I felt stupid or inept aren’t even remembered by others who were there? When I made a poor decision that negatively affected someone else, I apologized and tried to set things right, and not repeat that action.

Of course, when it was something that hurt me, it took me longer to forgive myself and move on.

That’s something on which I’m working.

Last week, I attended a virtual event at my old alma mater, NYU. The guest speaker was a psychotherapist, with techniques for coping with the enormous amount of grief with which we’ve all been dealing.

Suddenly, a series of realizations clicked into place, like when you make the bits fit on a Rubik’s cube. More things made sense, the root causes, and there was a clear path forward.

The series of retrogrades in which we currently find ourselves slow things down. Chiron, in particular, is associated with deep healing. With Chiron in retrograde until the Winter Solstice, it’s a good stretch of time to make time in one’s daily practice to work on what needs to be healed.

The past is past. It influences the present and the future, but can be used as a building block rather than a prison. But how to do that?

What I’m finding most useful is being honest (sometimes brutally) with myself about what didn’t work, and then looking as to why it didn’t work, and why I waited so long to make changes. What can I learn from those patterns that did not serve me well, and how can I make sure not to repeat them? What positives came out of the experiences and how can I apply those moving on?

For me, it takes a great deal of quiet time. Fortunately, since I work remotely, and I’m in a new area I’m trying to learn, I can carve out the time without feeling guilty.  And, you know, the whole pandemic thing so I’m not socializing. We shouldn’t feel guilty about carving out time we need, but it’s so ingrained that we are supposed to be constantly productive for other people’s gain, that it’s something to tackle daily.

Contemplation time after meditation time is a big factor in this.

In my meditation time, I sit quietly, and try to empty my mind. It wanders, I pull it back by following my breath. I try to sit for 10-20 minutes at least twice a day.  If I can sit for a third session, mid-day, I try to do that as often as possible.

After the meditation time is finished, I continue to sit for another stretch in something I call “contemplation time.” This is when the mind is free to wander. Not just wander, but ponder different items that need attention.

The trick in this contemplation time is that no self-flagellation is allowed. It’s not about avoiding mistakes. It is about avoiding self-battering about them.

Instead of “how could I be that stupid?” it’s “why did that choice/action seem the right one at the time, and how can I make better choices in the future?”

Compassionate pondering, after already spending time quieting the mind and body, has allowed far more clarity, which then allows for more positive action.

It’s allowed me to get out of my own way. The world throws enough obstacles in our path. The fewer we self-create, the more positive our journey.

I also mull over my thoughts in my private, handwritten journal. I’ve kept a journal for about fifty years at this point, and that has been one of the best mental health tools and creative tools in shaping my life.

These are some of the techniques that are helping me. Feel free to share any you’ve found helpful, too.

Posted by: devonellington | September 6, 2021

Take Time To Recharge

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It’s a holiday Monday here in the US. I hope you are able to take your days to recharge. It’s so important. If you had to work over this weekend, may you receive a day off to do as you please soon.

Posted by: devonellington | August 23, 2021

Mon. Aug. 23: Realignment

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Part of growing and learning, and, most importantly, healing (which is part of this Chiron retrograde transition we are in until this year’s Winter Solstice) is re-alignment.

We need to re-align what we want, what we need, and what is in the moment.

When we look at what’s out of alignment, we can make decisions and choices to change.

Among the most difficult choices right now are how to keep ourselves and our families safe, when there are so many factions pressuring us to put them at risk. It puts many people in terrible positions. The factions putting us at risk believe their own egos (and personal profits) are more important than the safety of those in their communities.

Instead of just saying, “I have to go along with X because I have no choice” start thinking about ways you CAN have choices by creating change, both on personal levels, and in the larger landscape. Then start taking actions to support it.

Even though you’re tired. Even though you’re overwhelmed.

Create change.

Decide WHAT is important to you. Then, go that extra step and be honest about WHY it’s important.

Once the What and the Why are sorted, you can start making informed decisions on the How.

Corporate profiteers are trying to rebrand the first waves of the pandemic as “time off” or “sabbatical” — which it was not. It was survival. Plenty of people learned that the work they do does not need to be in someone else’s space, under the supervision of mediocre (or worse) individuals with “manager” in their titles and paychecks. They learned that their work has value, and their lives have value, and if their former bosses (many of whom showed no loyalty during these first pandemic waves, but now expect loyalty in return, and often at lower wages) don’t value them, others do. People are searching out better work situations. On top of that, people are getting bolder about creating their own work. And insisting on fair pay for it.

All of that is positive.

To figure out what you want, why you want it, and how to get there, you need mental and emotional space. Some people find that through physical activity (running, swimming, etc.). Others find it through stillness and solitude, such as meditation and exploring their interior lives in journals.

Try different things. See what works for you. Maybe it’s a mix. You don’t have to stick with one thing forever. Your needs will change as you do, and that’s a positive.

Don’t rush. Unless you are in a situation that needs quick action, take time to think things through, and to mentally investigate various options and opportunities. But do carve out some time for yourself every day to spend in quiet contemplation as to how you want to re-align various aspects of your life to support the abundance, health, and happiness we all deserve.

There’s a meditation quote that’s been around for a good long while, attributed to a variety of sources. It goes “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”

The mere thought of this week is overwhelming to me; therefore, I am building in extra meditation time to work on my own re-alignment. I’m in a much better place, physical and mentally, than I was a few months ago; but there’s still work to do, and decisions to make.

Posted by: devonellington | August 16, 2021

Mon. Aug. 16: Mid-Month Check-In

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We’re back to check-ins and progress, slow as it may sometimes seem. Frustrated as we often get.

The first, most important success for the mid-month check-n: Still surviving during a pandemic.  Everything else is built around that.

If that is the ONLY thing any of us achieved this month, the entire month is a win.

We need to hold that perspective, even as too many expect us (and, now, especially our children) to die on the altar of capitalism.

So, the big win: survival.

On my part, this month, I’ve:

–written nearly 50 pages of a new novel in longhand;

–kept up my daily personal journal (longhand):

–returned to this blog;

–returned to Gratitude and Growth;

–kept up with my freelance work;

–worked on the articles for the 2023 Almanac;

–worked semi-steadily unpacking;

–re-instated Artist Dates;

–worked with the cats, to get them comfortable in the new space;

–joined a local food co-op;

–got a library card at the local public library AND a community card at the college library across the street;

–started participating in Remote Chat and Freelance Chat again;

–started learning my new neighborhood and region;

–got in a storage run to Cape Cod, to switch out some things.

There’s a lot of “starting” on this list, and that’s okay, because this move is a new “start.”

How is your month going?

I forgot to mention that I also got back to my daily yoga practice, and that’s made a huge positive difference.

Posted by: devonellington | August 9, 2021

Mon. Aug. 9, 2021: Re-instating the Artist Date

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One of the most useful tools to stay connected with my creativity is a regular Artist Date. Julia Cameron encourages this in her book THE ARTIST’S WAY, and in her subsequent books.

An Artist Date is something you do, once a week, for yourself.

You schedule it, and, even when you’re busy, you do it.

Cameron talks about the need to do it alone. It’s a pandemic, so yeah, alone is good. But for many of us, who spend so much time alone in our work, connection is important. In non-pandemic times, I sometimes used my Artist Date time to meet with a friend who was also in the arts, so we could do something, like take a walk together or go to a museum, and also talk about our work, our process, etc.

Try different types of dates, and see what works for you.

Because I recently moved to a new area and I’m in the process of learning it, almost everything can become an Artist Date. I’d stopped doing them last year, during the pandemic and when I was sick, and didn’t reinstate them earlier this year, because all my energy was consumed in moving.

But now, I’m re-instating the Artist Date.

I’m lucky that some weeks, I have more than one. I’ve visited a local farm; I’ve become a member at a local food co-op; I’ve visited a local herbal apothecary; I’ve gotten my library cards at the local public library and at the academic library across the street; I’ve visited a nearby lake, nestled in the mountain above us.

There’s s a new local bookstore to explore, parks and gardens, museums, and local businesses. I have a lot of delight in store.

Part of me wonders if I should limit myself to only one new thing a week; but I will do that once I’ve learned the area, and then start going farther afield for the Artist Dates.

Getting out of the house to go someplace new (even if it’s less than a mile away) provides me a sense of adventure. Experiencing a new place or spending time with art or textiles or books or a local artisan’s small business, fills me with contentment AND provides inspiration to go back to my own work.

So the Artist Date is back, and I’m delighted about it.

How will you re-ignite your creativity with Artist Dates?

Posted by: devonellington | August 2, 2021

Mon. Aug. 2, 2021: Rebuilding

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To Begin August: Rebuilding

It has been a long time since I posted on this blog. Everything went cattywumpus and all my energy was taken up, for too many months, in moving.

But we’ve moved.

We’ve left the sea for the mountains.

We’ve left what no longer worked for something we hope will work better.

Instead of emerging from the pandemic, we are about to be swept into a next wave, thanks to selfish and stupid people who are walking biological weapons and aren’t facing consequences, putting even more burden on those of us who’ve been acting beyond ourselves for well over a year.

So what’s on my list for August?

Rebuilding.

I need to rebuild and restructure my day on a basic level for my current work, and my life on a larger level for the direction in which I want to head.

On the practical, list level, I’m focusing on:

–Unpacking

–Teaching at the CCWC Conference on Aug. 6

–Getting back into the daily yoga/meditation practice and upping it (the yoga suffered during eh move; I kept meditating, although it wasn’t always as often or as long as I needed)

–Reconnecting with my creativity

Where are you on your year’s journey?

More important, HOW are you? What do you need to take your next steps? What kind of support do you need right now?

Posted by: devonellington | April 14, 2021

Temporary Hiatus

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This blog is on temporary hiatus, until after the move.

Thank you for your patience.

Posted by: devonellington | March 1, 2021

March

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March

For me, March will be a tumultuous month of big changes. I have to be ready for anything.

I feel like this tiny seedling, struggling to find light, warmth, support.

What are your plans for March?

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