The year of mindful living

yoga-167062_1280So. I have decided to something really really good for myself. I have signed up for yoga teacher training – the basic 200 hours certification. I am so excited! We start on Friday, and it’ll be three and a half months of yoga training every weekend, plus my own practice. I’m expecting I’ll come out of it healthier and much more self-aware.

I used to make New Year’s Resolutions. Every time I’d set goals with the intention of developing good habits. Some I managed to maintain, while other goals just weren’t realistic. I tend to set really high goals that are hard to achieve and even harder to keep up with, so the last couple of years I didn’t even bother with making resolutions. It’s also quite silly to say that you’ll start a habit only on that one specific day. It’s like my uncle who has decided to quit smoking but went out to buy his last pack of cigarettes. Not that I don’t understand, but ultimately you’re better of just starting when you actually make the decision that you want to change something. A new beginning can happen any time, January 1st or February 12th.

I think the harder part is to actually establish a habit. I’ve heard people say that it takes about three weeks of doing something consistently to develop a habit. I know that for the first couple of weeks that I went to work out at 5:30am (!), it was very hard to drag myself out of bed that early. But once my body (and my mind) got used to being up early, it was normal to go work out, and by 7:30am I’d be done with my morning routine and ready to tackle the world. It’s pretty amazing what all you can get done in the morning when you get up so early. (I do have to say that the people who went to personal training sessions at 4am – well, I don’t know about that. It was a 24-hour gym, and one of the personal trainers actually worked from midnight to 9am. He said that he was pretty much booked most of the time).

So, this year, I didn’t set any goals for the New Year, nor am I planning to fast or give up chocolate or something like that for Lent etc. I’m not planning to do 100 pushups a day like my cousin who then sent us a multiple page treatise about how and why to do them. They’re all good goals, but I really want to do something else. I want to go through life more aware of myself and others around me: I want to be more mindful.

In some ways, mindfulness has become a hip word. You’ll find it bandied around in all kinds of articles, comments and blog posts. Search on Pinterest for mindful or mindfulness and you’ll find lots of pins and boards on the topic. Ultimately it’s something that any and all of us can apply to ourselves. For me, it means that I want to concentrate more on being in the moment, of enjoying lives little pleasures – and face the challenges as they happen. It’s so easy to waste a lot of time on anticipating and worrying what lies ahead that it’s easy to miss what’s going around you.

It’s funny, if I know ahead of time that a stressful decision or event is coming up I can worry and fret and completely psych myself out. I think through all the possibilities and it’s just so easy to focus on all the negative consequences, which can then almost paralyze the decision-making process. I tend to do better when decisions have to be made on a short notice – I’m more focused on what needs to be done right now, and I just do it. No chance to overthink things.

half-empty half-full glass

A good reminder for occasional pessimists like myself… (via iflscience.com)

So, what am I planning to do? Well, the yoga teacher training is going to be huge benefit. It’ll really help me to be in the moment and listen to my body. I’ll end up being more aware of what I can and can’t do and how to push my boundaries without overextending myself. I’ve also started up singing which is another thing I love. In that moment, you’re concentrating on what you’re doing and all those cares and worries fall away. You’re in harmony with all those around you. There are all kinds of studies on how singing is good for you and how singers’ heartbeats align. I’ll try to dig up that article and write a blog post on it.

And apart from that, I want to make sure to really spend some quality time with friends and family that are near and dear to me. It’s been a rough year (more on that another time), and it’s really driven home how important it is to appreciate the people you love and to tell them that you care. You never know how life turns out, and you don’t want life to be full of regrets and what-ifs. It’s so common nowadays to meet up with friends and then everyone is checking their phones or taking time away. Family evenings where everyone is glued to their computer and/or the TV – well, let’s just say that this is not real quality time.

So I’ll end my comments on lifestyle and digital distractions with this simple summary: I want to be good to myself and others. I think that’s a really good goal, and it’s something that I can always – always – work on. It’s not one that I can just accomplish. By its very nature it’s aspirational and will remain aspirational and so I don’t have to be frustrated with myself that I didn’t make it. Let’s see how it goes.

Om

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Playing with your food

sweet potato cubes with Tegu blocks

Thank you all for the well wishes! I’m pretty much back to normal, which is good since I had another homework assignment for the photography homework. This time our idea was to do something more abstract, to play around and to not photograph food as food per se. The inspiration was the photography of Annabelle Breakey – a San Francisco photographer who e.g. made QR codes out of lemons and avocados for Taco Bell. Check out this awesome behind the scenes video: http://www.annabellebreakey.com/behind-the-scenes/

The first thing that popped into my head was sweet potatoes. I’d bought some to continue to pursue my quest of finally creating the perfect sweet potato fry (at least to my taste), and, well, I now had an ingredient on hand that would stand up to some manipulation. I first thought of making a Jenga tower out of sweet potato fries. I would have liked to mix the actual Jenga pieces with sweet potato pieces. But, I’m short on time and I couldn’t find any friends who had a Jenga puzzle. Pffft. Well, some browsing at a few kid toy stores later I found these little wooden blocks with magnets in them. They’re by Tegu – a really cute little on-the-go toy for little kids. Well, I meant to get a Easter gift for the younger munchkin anyway, and while this was on the more expensive side, I figured I’d get someone else to pitch in. Hence, my photography session of toys, with a sweet potato slices and cubes inserted. It should be pretty obvious which ones are the sweet potato pieces. Btw, it’s really hard to cut the pieces into exact squares and rectangles! I should have made some kind of stencil.

Tegu blocks and sweet potato pieces

Crafting along

Hello! It’s Wednesday, so it’s time to check in and see what’s going on with my knitting. I have put in some more time on my Indian Red scarf, and if I can get in some more knitting time then I’ll actually manage to finish the scarf over the course of the next week. I really want to get some of my wips finished up, so another finished object will be very very exciting. And have I mentioned how much I like the construction? It’s so unusual! I’m sure it’ll drape just great around my neck.

Apart from my Indian Red scarf, I’ve also started a new project. I’m making another pair of Germany socks, this time for my nephew (the junior one), just in time for the Euro 2012. This one will knit up quickly – baby socks are so much fun, since you can whip them up so quickly. Actually, that’s true for any type of baby projects. I’m knitting this pair of socks 2 at a time, on two circular needles. I used Judy’s Magical Cast On since that’s my preferred method of toe-up knitting. I did the toes each individually, and now I’m put them on the needles together. I just couldn’t figure out how to do the JMCO cast on for both socks at the same time.

The remainder of the socks will be a spiral – k4, p4 for four rows, then shifting by a stitch, and so on. I know that sounds weird – I’ll take some more detailed photographs to make it clearer. The socks will basically be knit like the spiral socks I knit before, except that those were knit cuff down. The great part of that construction is that you don’t have to worry about fitting the heel – the spiral fits around your heel. Of course, you could still knit a heel, but the whole point of the spiral socks is that it’s a super easy way to make sure the socks fit, without actually doing any fitting. And I figure that knitting the socks as spiral socks will make sure that they’ll fit the munchkin longer. I’ll knit the socks until I complete two set of stripes – I’ll have complete sets of the flag that way.

Oh, and as to reading? My reading is currently limited to street signs, baby picture books, and a few blogs. There’s just so much going on that I’m just not getting around to actually reading. Oh, and then there’s the occasional Curious George story, of course.

Now for the blog hop part: I’m linking up with this week’s Yarn Along, this week’s Tami’s Amis WIP Wednesday, through Ambassador Crochet’s Wip Wednesday and Frontier Dreams’ Keep Calm and Craft on (KCCO) blog-a-long. Check out some of the other awesome wip posts.

Featured image is a magnet from I love my shirt

NaBloPoMo

Well, guess what. As if I haven’t already had enough of blogging every day, I’ve decided to join this month’s NaBloPoMo – National Blog Posting Month. The idea is to blog every day of the month, and to support your fellow bloggers. Challenging, right? I mean the writing part, of course. Well, at least to me it’s challenging, given that I’ve been blogging pretty sporadically in the past six months. I’d been traveling and helping my sister with her new baby, but really, I should be able to get up at least a short post every day. So let’s see how this goes!

You can still sign up for this month until May 5, and the website also offers you daily prompts for the weekdays, but they’re just a guide to provide you structure. You can totally do your own thing too. The theme for May is Play. That’s just perfect! Play can be all kinds of things – and to me, play is closely linked to creativity.

So come and join me – sign up for the blog roll, and let’s have some fun!