This week has been pretty uneventful due to the fact that I was ill. I laid in bed most of Monday till Thursday – I did go to university 2 hours per day but even that exhausted me and when I got home, I went straight back to bed. Although I, like most people, hate being ill because you cannot do much, it gave me some time to catch up on sleep and think about things that I usually do not have time for. Apparently there is something good about lying in bed all day.
Besides resting, being home all day also gave me the opportunity to practise my mindfulness exercises. Although I missed class this week, I did spend a lot of time trying to be mindful and be mindful about my actions. I cleaned the house and did the dishes, all the while trying to keep in mind that the goal was not to be finished as quickly as possible but to just feel everything I was doing. To feel the hot water, smell the soap, hear the sound of the plates clink against each other… It felt odd at first to pay attention to things that are routine, things you normally would rather just get done as fast as possible, but the longer I tried, the better it went. I was so much more aware of everything around me, and although on the inside I felt miserable, having a wider attention helps to get your mind off things. Instead of focussing on the nausea, I used all my senses which helped me not to pay attention to it too much. Another area where I could – or rather, was forced to – be mindful, was food. In the beginning of the week, I injured my lip (something with a fall and a tooth and lots of blood – it was not pretty) and because of that I had trouble eating. I had to cut my food into tiny pieces and chew on them one by one. So different from how I usually eat – I do not really pay attention to my food and am done in around ten to fifteen minutes. Being forced to eat this slowly was actually quite nice because you are able to appreciate the taste and the smell much better and as a result, also eat less. Quite a new experience.
November is coming to a close and when I think back, it has been quite an eventful month. I have been very busy with exams, homework and writing – but it feels good. I did fail one of my exams, but after discussing it with my lecturer I understood why so I am going to try my hardest to pass the resit. My other exam, the one where I chose to write the poetry about lying, I passed with 90%. The happiness I felt when I heard that grade by far outshone my sadness and insecurity when I heard about the failed exam. I am even starting to like writing poetry, so I might do it more often. The writing for #nanowrimo is going fairly well. I missed a few days in the beginning due to circumstances and now an additional two days because of illness, but I decided to keep going. I did adjust the goal for myself – going from 50.000 to 40.000. I figured I had two options: 1) give up because catching up on nearly ten thousand words in around ten days is not an attainable goal because of university and work, or 2) keep going but with a different goal. Even with my word count now, I have already ‘won’ the battle against myself – last year I wrote 5000 words for #nanowrimo and the year before 8000. I have over tripled that amount and I am going to keep on going until the 30th of November, without being too hard on myself.
The only goal I really still had to give a go was trying calligraphy, so that I what I did yesterday. A friend of mine, who lives on the other side of the country, visited me and because of me being ill we had to adjust our plans a bit. So instead of going clubbing, we decided to do something that every normal student does on a friday evening – calligraphy. We went to town in the afternoon and hunted down all the different attributes we needed for calligraphy. We ended up in this wonderful art shop and all I could do was stare. In awe. All the products were so beautiful and colourful – pencils and brushes and paint and more paint and even more different sorts of paint. And there, somewhere between all those things I wanted desperately to buy, were some sets of calligraphy pens and Indian ink. I was tempted to buy a set with a pen with one of those long feathers (and included in the set was gold wax and a seal) but I figured I should start small. I thought that, if I liked it, I could always go back and buy a nice set to treat myself. Turns out that I loved it. It has been a while since I have done something that was so, so relaxing. We did some quick research on calligraphy and then just started trying. Like a real student of English, I practised with names from Shakespearean plays and quotations from poems (Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken) and novels (Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings). There is still a lot to learn, obviously, but I know how I am going to be spending much of my time from now on.
So far, I feel like the goals I set myself are pretty helpful. Although of course they are not on my mind 24/7, having a clearer focus helps me to enjoy all those short and sweet moments of happiness – moments that I would otherwise probably just let go by. I know that I would not have tried calligraphy had it not been on my list of November goals. It may seem strange to organise your life in such a way – to make yourself do specific things every month, even when you do not want to. I do not see it this way, though – all the goals that are on my list are things I wanted to anyway, but just never found (or never made) the time for. In the past few months, I have learned to enjoy small moments such as Sunday morning breakfasts, made time to read more, watched sunsets and wandered around, started writing more… And most importantly – I have learned that happiness is not just one moment, one destination to reach, but that if you pay close attention, it is all around you.