Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December Sanity Challenge for 2012: Embracing the Here & Now with Love


Wow.  Is it really already halfway through December and are we mere weeks from a new year?  Yup, it is.  And with that knowledge comes the pressure to tie up loose ends, to check everything off our multitude of lists, to buy this, that, and the things we hope people won't want to return, and to run a tight ship as we seek to cram the home stretch to 2013 full of Holiday "cheer." And amidst all that, where do we fit taking care of our bodies and minds, having compassion for ourselves, and taking time to slow down and truly enjoy the meaning of the Holiday season?  

Unfortunately, even with our best intentions, many of us simply don't.  And I am no exception.  With the Holidays being the busiest time of the year at both the restaurant and the gym, my goal of attending to others' needs and providing guidance and motivation can sometimes leave little room for me to do the same for myself.  So thank goodness for the December Sanity Challenge.


Coined by Cheryl Harris, the author of the wonderful blog, Gluten Free Goodness, she recognized that as our days become full to the nth degree during December, our lives can often be anything but.  And with that imbalance, Happiness and Health can become afterthoughts, leaving us frustrated, worn down, and exhausted.  Things I have absolutely no experience with.  [Clearing throat, eyes cast downward...]

It was extremely gratifying to participate in 2011, and my goal of setting aside at least 15 minutes daily to read something printed (as opposed to something on a computer or phone screen) made a huge difference.  So when I received an email from Cheryl inviting me to participate again, I was both honored and excited.  I think sanity is something we can always stand to have more of, and to get it, one must make both a conscious and motivated effort.

But before sharing my goals to help me remain Happy and Healthy for the remaining weeks of 2012, allow me to give you a little back story.


When I was younger, I used to journal like a madman.  And the self-appointed status of "madman" was the precise reason for the journaling.  From poetry to screenplays to the everyday rants and confessions that are typical fodder for a diary, I had so much going on in my head and so much to say, but I didn't trust anyone else to want to hear me.  So I kept it private and tucked away, a daily cathartic cleanse to get me through some truly trying times.  However, in the last decade or so, I've only journaled on occasion.  And it's not because there's less stuff going on in my head or that there's no longer a need - it's because I no longer make time for it.  And without that cleanse, things can get quite hoarder-esque in my head.

But luckily, a few weeks ago when I began rehearsals with a new theatre collective, we were given blank journals and asked to write for at least 10 minutes every day.  And while it was difficult at first, mostly in terms of writing fast enough to keep up with my torrential stream-of-consciousness, pretty soon I was riding that bike again.  [Look Ma - no hands!]

Another part of our homework as we seek to become more honest actors and collaborative art-makers is to share something from our journals at every rehearsal with the group.  It's an option, to share a little, a lot, or nothing at all, and the first time we did it, I was pretty set on just listening.  Who would want to hear my silly venting?  But when I began to hear stories and experiences uncannily close to mine, I found courage to share and to let down my guard.  I no longer wanted to be selfish with my thoughts, and just as I was inspired and emboldened by others, I wanted to return the favor.  And over the past few weeks, I've come to understand that the risk of being vulnerable is one of the greatest and most gratifying challenges of being human.  

Being one of many isn't so bad.

Now I am journaling multiple times daily, and the way it has helped to release my mind from the burden of corralling all my thoughts while stimulating my creative spirit has me feeling more inspired than ever.  And experiencing how sharing what I see as "dark and gloomy" can actually create light and communion as others find the opportunity to connect and resonate with my story has been liberating to say the least.  Which now brings me to my first two goals:

1.  Maintain my practice of writing in my journal on a daily basis.
2.  Share something "private" at least twice daily with people, regardless of familiarity.

I definitely don't want to lose sight of my daily cleanse again, as I see how much freer and focused my mind can be.  From not being able to keep up, I'm now able to run alongside my thoughts and see them for what they are, not just a nonsensical blur.  And from sharing in a closed, "safe" space, I now feel inspired to take it to the next level and pay it forward "out in the open."  At work, as my Facebook status or a tweet, with the person cashing me out at the grocery, here on The Canary Files, etc.  When we realize that we are not alone, that others feel as we do, whether it's happy, sad, frustrated, or excited, it can break down the walls and force fields we use to isolate ourselves.  And while those can have their purpose, they can also keep both us and others from fully experiencing the beauty of who we are.  So when I feel that instinct to hold something back, because it's too personal, too deep, sounds too irrational, or whatever judgement I choose to cast on it, instead of saying, "Nothing" or "Never mind," I will choose to say what I feel.  And regardless of how it's received, the act of sharing will be enough.  Which brings me to my final goal:

3.  Tell people that I love them at every opportunity.

Especially with the insanity of the last week and the tragic reminders of impermanence all around us, I feel called to help restore balance with acts of love, compassion, and everyday kindness.  This goal was inspired by a very close friend, Lupe, who in a very short time convinced me of the importance of living in the moment and embracing the here and now.  I often think that showing my love through my actions is enough, but it really isn't.  The act of saying, "I love you"or "You are loved" is extremely powerful, and I hope to wield that power in a loving and nurturing manner to bring me closer to the world around me.  It's definitely scary, as we tend to load those three words with so much meaning and significance.  But at their root, those words can not be said enough, as they speak to the common desire to both be loved and to love in return, whether it's platonic, romantic, or as a simple but compelling gesture of loving kindness.  

I may be here tomorrow, I may not be, and the same goes for every living being that shares this Earth.  And whether I know them well, as an acquaintance, or don't know them at all, I would like to celebrate and honor the gift of what it is to be alive, here and now.  And that is what I hope to achieve with my three goals: to rediscover myself, to share my discoveries with others (the good, the bad, and even what I think is ugly), and to love fearlessly and without regret.

That is what will truly keep me Happy, Healthy, and living life to the fullest heading into 2013 and beyond.

Daily wisdom to live a life by.

Huge Thanks to Cheryl for making the Sanity Challenge possible and graciously inviting me to be involved once again.  To read her posts and the posts of the other wonderful Sanity Challenge co-hosts/contributors, please follow the links below:


We can all learn something beautiful from one another.

16 comments:

  1. This is so great Jonathan, you wright so personable in a way that the reader can relate. Thanks for the shout out and please remember, you are loved, and not just by me either. HEY FRIENDS OF JONATHAN, if you love him, let him know, leave a comment!

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    1. Dear Lupe - You make me smile with all my spirit. Thank You for that gift. And please trust that you are loved as well, and not just by me. :)

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    1. I love you, too, Master Mooface!!! Your support has been invaluable - Thank you so much. :)

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  3. Jonathan,
    I love your posts! And you, of course. Many thanks to Lupe to point out how seldom we think to add that in. I think it's fantastic that your theater group supports your introspection and expression. I'm so glad you joined us again.

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    1. As am I, Cheryl! I wasn't kidding when I said how honored I felt to have you contact me personally to participate again. Thank you so much for your inspiring leadership and your positive spirit - it is a bright, bright light. You are loved, more than you can know. :)

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  4. A lovely thoughtful post. It's always good to recalibrate our beings.
    Mahal kita, kuya <3 Jess

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  5. Wonderful post, Jonathan. Thank you! I think sharing/showing one's vulnerability is often the best thing we can do for ourselves and others.

    Love and happy holidays to you!
    Shirley

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    1. And while it is one of the best things we can do, it is also one of the most difficult until we can learn to step out of our own way. Love and Happy Holidays to you, too, Shirley!

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  6. Beautiful! SO glad you joined in! You've reminded me why journaling has always been so good for me...Like you, I've always kept a lot of thoughts in, and they tend to get a bit crazy in there. I have trouble sticking with a journaling routine, but your post has given me motivation to start again.

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    1. Another reminder of how similar our paths in life are, Iris. Much love to you!

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  7. jonathan, this is beautiful! thank you for such lovely reminders during such a hard time. I love reading your posts!

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    1. Indeed, they are hard. So much confusion, disillusionment, anger, and fear right now. But rather than give in, I hope we can be strong and continue to believe in basic human goodness and the limitless potential we all have to love. Thank you for reading, Carrie. Happy Holidays to you and yours. Know that you are loved.

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  8. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I swear, you really are my missing sock...

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    1. Agreed. One day we will find each other again. Love you, Debi!

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Thank you so much for visiting The Canary Files. I hope you have enjoyed what you have read and seen. Your feedback is valuable to me and I read and reply to every single comment. So sincere thanks in advance for sharing not only your thoughts, but your time as well.

All the Best,
Jonathan

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