This week was a good one – relatively stress-free, healthy and active. I had an exam, received a good grade for my writing portfolio, went to work and did a couple of workouts. I started a new training program with a friend of mine – usually I work out by myself, but having someone that counts on you to be there is so much more motivating than going alone. You can support and challenge each other and push your own limits. Maybe, just maybe, that pull-up that I have been training for will still happen sometime this year. The best moment was when we went training early on Saturday morning – there were yellow and orange leaves everywhere, the water we walked past was dark and ominous, my breath made little clouds in the air. It was such a nice feeling to get a workout done and be outside for a while, before the rest of the world had even woken up.
I want to keep training throughout November, but of course it is also the start of a new Happiness Project month. Every year, November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. The goal of this is that you write a short novel in a month – 50.000 words. It is meant to be just a rough draft and most likely needs lots and lots of editing, but it does get you writing. I have tried NaNoWriMo several times, and every time so far I have given up. My excuses were a lack of time, not knowing what to write about and probably also being afraid to write anything really bad. That is why I decided that this year I am going to try again, but I changed the rules for myself. The goal is still to write 1,667 words a day, but I am not going to be working on one single project. In the word count, I am going to include my blog posts, my blog posts for a mindfulness course that I am doing and any fiction writing – I am going to be writing a story, but also character descriptions, plot developments and so on. I hope that this will motivate me to keep on going. On top of that, a friend of mine is also participating, which is in itself a huge help. Because if she can do it, I should be able to do it too, right?
When planning my Happiness Project from August till December, I kept in mind that November was NaNoWriMo – therefore, I made November my month of ‘Writing and Reading’. I wrote down a couple of resolutions: write every day, write in a coffee shop (I am sitting in Starbucks at the moment so I guess that is one resolution down – although I can imagine I will be spending some more time here), write down one situation that has been bothering you, read a book and try calligraphy. All these things apart from the calligraphy (that I really, really want to try!) are things that I have been doing on occasion already, so my goal is to step it up this month. I have ordered two new books: Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, and The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte. I have started reading the latter – it is about creating goals and achieving them, by focussing instead of mainly on the goal itself, on the feeling that you want to achieve. It’s all about your inner desires.
I ended my October Happiness Month with my first real mindfulness class. A few weeks ago I had an introduction class on my own, but from now on it is a class with four other people, and the teacher. When I walked into the building, the kettle was already boiling and they were wrapping up the previous class. We had to leave our shoes outside the classroom – it felt so homey to step into the room with just your socks on and to be handed a cup of tea. Unlike the previous class that I took, we didn’t start the class with explanations and one legged meditation, but with zen walking. We had to follow the teacher and pay attention to our feet. It felt really strange in the beginning and I couldn’t really focus – I was more thinking about whether I was doing the exercise right. After this, we had to widen our attention, which meant that we were not supposed to focus on anything in specific, but to be aware of what was around us – the room, sounds, sensations… In between exercises we discussed how they went for everyone. I had to get used to sharing that while everyone was listening to me, but because everyone had to share their experiences it became easier. We also did a few minutes of meditation (especially for me, the teacher laughed, because I kept worrying whether I was doing it right). The meditation was really nice; I finally felt relaxed. After this, the rest of the exercises also went better. Instead of trying to do everything right, I just did what felt good and tried not to worry. And of course – this was the right thing to do. We discussed again how it went, and when I explained what I felt and how I experienced the exercise, the teacher laughed and gave me a big thumbs-up.
Tonight I will have my second class and I am really looking forward to it. Apart from it being really relaxing, it is also nice to get out of the house. Of course I will be writing about it again, and hopefully with every week, being ‘mindful’ will become easier.