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CHANGE: Savor the present and live it mindfully, remembering that both past and future are created one second at a time.

If the above looks a little like fluffball Zen metaphysical posturing to you I’m not going to tell you that you’re wrong.  But don’t worry, I’m the type of gal what likes to back up her fancy wordsmithery with substance.  Give me a chance to explain the why’s and wherefore’s and I’m sure you’ll emerge humming a similar tune.

This is change number one because it serves as a foundation.  To live mindfully in the present moment means to be fully aware of the here and now, an ability that most of us have allowed to atrophy.  Yes, the Here and Now: the tonsils and appendix of our modern times.  What does it mean to appreciate them?

Well for starters, it means that you relish the flavor of your McHappyFunMeal instead of robotically shoving it into your face while checking your email and obsessing over how you performed on an exam you took a week ago-  it does have about a billion calories in it after all.  It asks you to listen to the nerve endings in your shoulders sing with pleasure when the first warm water droplets of morning shower hit them instead of getting your stomach in knots over how your boss is going to like the presentation you’ll be delivering in 4 hours.  Because there is going to be a perfect time to worry about the presentation…namely, when you are giving it.  And that exam is over.  You are not going to get extra credit for how much time you spend thinking about it after the fact.

No, I’m not just saying that you should take the time to smell the roses or the coffee or the napalm in the morning.  The time is happening right now whether you pay any attention to it or not- it cannot be taken, saved, or exchanged.  No refunds, no money-back guarantees.  The human problem seems to be that we either keep our heads fixed firmly in the past where regret lives or shove them out into the no man’s land of the future were uncertainty lives.  Both send you packed away with a toxic boxed lunch of fear and despair.  If we could just take a solid breath more often and return to the now, we may find ourselves doing less of the things we end up ultimately regretting and realize that we truly are the architects of our own future, building it with one moment upon the other.

In my previous entry I talked about “cheating” with the timing of our goals to increase the chances of establishing new and effective long term habits.  It is exactly that which I am doing with Week 1’s challenge.  Not only do I think it’s an important precursor to the 51 other changes I want to make, but seeing as how I’m leaving for a long awaited honeymoon vacation tomorrow I figure that there is no better time than the present to start appreciating the present.   “Heck,” I thought to myself, “there’s a pretty hefty price tag on this vacay- what a good way to make sure I get my money’s worth!”

Because it’s important that we get the best possible value for our currency, right?  Be it the dollar bill or the precious hour out of our busy day, we all want our money’s worth.  When we go on vacation we are paying for fun and relaxation,  and we’re going to make damn sure we get it (sometimes in such a stubbornness that it leads to ruination…I saw plenty of guests in my 3 years working at the Walt Disney World resort that were so hell bent on having fun that they never really had any fun, but I digress).  Why, I asked myself, do we not employ this zeal in our regular old workaday lives?  No matter what we do, we’re paying for something with either time or money.  So if we aren’t completely present in everything we do, are we not allowing ourselves to be swindled?

I’ll be touching on the philosophy behind the goal for Week 1 in subsequent entries, including practical strategies I’ve found helpful in achieving a greater mindfullness towards the present.  For now, however, it is quite late and my present self would like to snuggle into bed and drift off to sleep, presently.

– Kimii


With tomorrow being the official ribbon cutting on my year long self-efficacy sojourn you may be finding yourself posing this question: “Kimii, in the lead up to May 1st have you found yourself glutting on the very habits you wish to eventually abstain from?”

Okay, maybe you were not posing that question at all but I’ve posed it for you, kind of like a Socratian straw-mannequin, because asking questions of myself and subsequently answering them is one of my favorite ways to relay pertinent information.  Get used to it.

And the answer is…

Well yeah, duh.

This is human nature we’re talking about, so of course I’ve been last hurrah’ing it up like a naughty Catholic in a pre-lentian fervor.  Wendy’s has never so often seen my grinning mug framed by their drive through window (oh Frosty, how you bedevil me so), and my penultimate shame was the french fry and chocolate chip pancake dinner unabashedly scarfed at IHOP at half past midnight Wednesday last.

It hasn’t all been a fanfare of over indulgence though.  I’ve also been holding dress rehearsals for a few key habits I hope to adopt within the first quarter mile.  For instance, I’ve popped into the gym a time or two to get a feel for how I might like to spend my 30 minute cardio sessions once they become a “must do.”  As a result I’ve crafted a plan of attack for when I start barreling daily (well at least every-other-daily) into Strom Thurmond Fitness Center guns a’blazing.

Speaking of metaphorical weaponry, I do feel that it’s important to have a strategy, or at least an idea of one.  Nothing so stringent that it can’t be modified.  I have my first several weeks of goals outlined in an intuitive and progressive fashion.  In the proud tradition of tom-A-to/tom-MAH-to you may say “cheating” where I say “intuitive and progressive,” but that’s just find and dandy Andy, I don’t mind.  As a matter of fact, I fully condone and endorse a certain measure of “cheating” where timing is concerned.  Employ some forethought.  Make it easier on yourself.  Giving up cookies during Christmas time is a road where madness lies.  I’m timing my challenges to coincide with their most optimal conditions because the path of least resistance is the surest way to integrate a new habit into a chaotic lifescape.  You should “cheat” too.  It’s a lot easier to give up drinking the week you visit your Mormon relatives than when your old college roomie comes to visit for Spring Break Redux, I’m just saying.

And what of that old college roomie anyway?  Are they going to cheer you on when your new leaves start flipping over?  This is probably a good time to address the Human Element,  or more specifically the Humans That Are Not You and Secretly (or not so secretly) Want to See You Fall Flat On Your Face Element.  In my experience we will most likely encounter more of that sort of thinking that the warm fuzzy grandma-knitted-sweater thinking that we want to wrap ourselves up in.  It is a sure reality so be prepared for it.

Maybe it has to do with evolution.  Maybe when another heap of DNA is seen bouncing it’s way up the ladder the prevailing drive is to catch it by the ankle (do double helixes have ankles?  They certainly have a code for them) so that, if it cannot be usurped, it can at least be prevented from excelling itself beyond the present status quo of capability.  Or maybe it’s the tribe psyche that strives to keep all of it’s members huddled around the common pit devouring kill and carrion in equal measure.

I haven’t figured out the remedy for that, particularly when it’s coming from people you cannot readily disentangle yourself from- people you may even know to honestly love you in their own way.  The best I can suggest is to be ready to encounter, recognize, and filter out negative influences as mindfully and peacefully as possible.  In the process it would also be a good idea to  examine our own motives towards those we love, like, or even barely know and consider where we could act as more supportive members of the human race.  As much as we like to roll about in the concept of individuality like plump pink piggies in the end we cannot extricate ourselves from the web of universal existence.  Your deeds will affect and inspire all the threads that touch your own, so make them good ones.  They cannot help but reverberate back.

And in that spirit I close, and wish for good reverberations (a term picked right up off the Beach Boy’s cutting room floor no doubt) throughout the coming year.

– Kimii

turn and face the strange

I’m rubbish with introductory statements, so I’m just going to dig right into the meat of the matter.  If you are vegetarian (and good on you for being so!) envision tofu.

My name is Kimii.  I am a habitual ne’er-do-well with a penchant for extreme behavior and predilection towards addiction.  What I have lacked in self control I have compensated for with a highly refined sense of self-rationalization.  My survival thus far is owed almost exclusively to good luck and fast talking, and as I come up on the midpoint of my 30th year wandering this loopy rock I’m starting to believe that the fortune cookie is getting empty and all the words are just about used up.  In short, I don’t want to be that person anymore.

I wish I could lay claim to some spontaneous epiphany as impetus for my urge towards self renewal, but alas my long overdue enlightenment was more of the hideous earthquake variety than the thunderbolt from the loving arse of Ja variety.  Was it not Tyler Durden, sage pro(an?)tagonist of Chuck Palaniuck’s cinematically adapted tome Fight Club who spake those wise words, “Only when you have lost everything are you free to do anything?”

True, dat.

Just in my case, come the cataclysm I had no taste for gore, squalor, booze or chemical burns.  In the excruciating instance where honest and irrevocable loss walked up and shook my hand, all I really wanted to do was wake up.

You don’t have a job and you owe more than you’ve saved. Wake up.  You’re being forced out of your home and you have no where else to go. Wake up.  You have no more family and your friends are disinterested. Wake up.  You are aching and sick from toxins. Wake up.  The one you love is leaving you. Wake up.

The folks at AA call that a hard bottom.  I never liked AA.  And I don’t really think that a person needs to hit any sort of bottom, be it a cushy and forgiving slap on the wrist Tempurpedic soft bottom or a cold vomiting vodka into a jail cell toilet hard bottom to be motivated to change, though it certainly doesn’t hurt.  The way to my bottom was through my heart (for some that is the opposite, but I crudely digress) and it was breaking.  When I looked around I found that it was me holding the sledgehammer.

Wake up.

And I did.  Call it a 160z can of Redbull for the soul (I take mine sugar-free).  Time to start embracing some of those ch-ch-ch-changes that Mr. Bowie crooned about.  By divine providence or lucky coincidence (I’ll let the theologians sort it out) I came across a nifty book soon after titled Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life by Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Lilian Cheung.  It is billed as a sort of Buddhist weight loss guide but the lessons therein are applicable to every aspect of life.  It was this quote that got my gears spinning:

“Even if you change only one unhealthy habit a week, you will be making twenty-six changes in six months and fifty-two changes in one year.” (p. 34)

Behold, the birth of a blog.

So here I am, and if you’re here too I hope you feel compelled to join me, or at least stick around for the show.  52 changes in 52 weeks.  You can find the details and “rules” here, and the master list of changes I wish to make here.  The list is a work in progress and will doubtlessly be the victim of constant revision as I clear another hurdle week by week.  Also note that my goals run the gamut from little things, like remembering to brush more often, to large things like defeating my tendency to self-rationalize bad behavior.  I would recommend anyone following along also provide themselves with some variety in both difficulty level and area of focus if you would like to retain your sanity.  Besides, it’s smart to attend to the small things; all of my mountains once were molehills after all.

Also on advice from Savor I compiled a list of my conditions for happiness as well as an accounting of the things I’m most thankful for in my life at this time.  Both were edifying exercises and have been valuable in shaping my projected goals.

If you choose to come along, then peace be the journey.

– Kimii