February 2018: Learning How to Learn

 

Hi, everybody! K. A. Parker here with another monthly update.

As one might glean from the title, I learned a lot the past few days, and I expect to learn more in the future.

Allow me to show you.

From January 15…

Nightly Reflections

So, in early January, I decided to do a nightly reflection. Basically, I’d get out a piece of paper, pen, and write down things in three sections denoted by three symbols: the plus (+), the minus (-), and the star (*). In the plus section, I’d try to list at least three things that I was grateful for or any other good things that happened that day. In the minus section, I wrote down things I didn’t get to during the day, things that bothered me, or things that didn’t turn out so well. And in the star section, I would address the minuses by writing out potential solutions and action items as if I were talking to a friend.

And what’s been fascinating about look back at some of these reflections I’ve written in bullet-point style and with tough kindness, is that while doing these reflections hasn’t stopped me from being a major procrastinator on some tasks, I think it’s helped me feel a lot more centered and mindful. Put another way, I might not get to a thing on the minus section the next day, but the simple act of writing down good things that happened that day helps remind me that things do change from day to day.

‘Cause I’ll be honest. There were days when I’d get frustrated because I thought nothing was changing. And I’d get further frustrated at that supposed monotony, blaming myself for not doing anything to change my circumstances. But after doing these nightly reflections, I’ve come to see that some times, a change of circumstance isn’t always need. Sometimes, one just need a change of perspective and a few moments to be attentive.

Speaking of mindfulness and attentiveness…

Meditation: Year Two!

On February 1st this year, I successfully meditated for 365 days consecutively (thanks, Headspace!). And, uh, one would think that it gets easier after 365 days.

Oh, no, friends. This is only the beginning.

I started on the Headspace Pro pack a few days ago, and it is exactly what I expected and more. Less guidance, more silence, and a lot more epiphanies. It turns out that for a little bit last year, I was treating meditation like a coping mechanism. Whenever I’d get anxious, I’d try to meditate more, only to find that the anxieties wouldn’t go away.

That’s when I picked up The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety by John P. Forsyth and Georg H. Eifert. And I realized that meditation, when used correctly, wasn’t a coping device at all. It’s an exercise. It teaches one how to accept what is rather than what was or what might be. There’s nothing to do–no goal, no overall expected outcome. There is only what is. And that feels both liberating and scary–liberating because it takes so much pressure off my brain, scary because I’ve grown so used to having that pressure that I’m concerned about what I’d do without it.

But that’s the fun part, isn’t it? This time, my mind isn’t the one calling the shots for me. I am.

Which is good, because I’m also a year older now.

My Birthday

Last Sunday, I spent my twenty-fourth birthday going for a walk up my local hill, making cheesy chicken enchilada soup, and eating pecan pie for dessert. Again, following my nightly reflections, there were minuses that happened that day, too, and said minuses caused me to spiral into ridiculous, irrational thoughts. But after talking to my best friend and my sister about it and getting happy birthday messages from them, I now feel much better about said minuses.

Gotta keep things in perspective!

Which brings me…

…to February 15 and Beyond

I’m writing this update on Valentine’s Day so it can go out tomorrow, and while I have no date or significant other to speak of (yet), I’m taking this week especially to give myself a little more love.

Yesterday, as a sort of belated birthday present, I bought a Dungeons and Dragons Starter Set so that I can learn to play–you guessed it–Dungeons and Dragons. I’ve been watching a fabulous show called Critical Role for the past few months, and it’s brought my attention to this equally fabulous game to the point where I’d love to be a game master or player in the future. But first, I need to learn the rules.

In addition to thinking about what kind of author/entrepreneur I want to be, I’m also getting back into the swing of applying for jobs again and recently applied to two. Part-time to start, but we’ll see where they lead.

Self-love and adventure are in the air, my dear readers. May you find them, and may you have the change in perspective or circumstance you currently seek.

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