Habit Experiment: December Recap, January Kickoff

December Recap

My goal for December was:

1) Read for thirty minutes a day.

I didn’t read every day, but this month did help me to shift my perspective on my Habit Experiment. I’ve not been responding well to the detailed plan, to the metrics and all of that, and I’ve not been keeping to my habits very well.

I can think of a few possible causes for this:

1) Trying to do too much at one time.

2) General fatigue at the end of the year.

3) Some habits actually take longer than 21 days to develop.

In addition, I’ve noticed that the habits I’m keeping best are the ones that I do right after I wake up. When I exercise as soon as I wake up, I exercise daily. When I get out of bed and meditate, I can do that every day. Same thing if I write just after the alarm goes off (I’ve been working ahead). Of course, the trouble is that once I do one of these things, the spell is broken (and the kids are awake). I’ve tried going back to bed and starting again, but it doesn’t seem to work that way. I get up, do one habit, then the rest of the day is a wash. Not really, but that’s how it feels when I focus on the habits I’m not doing habitually.

So, I’m letting myself re-interpret my goals. Instead of forcing myself to take a walk in the cold, dark New England morning, worrying that every shadow is a skunk ready to spray me, I’ve been doing free workout videos from Fitness Blender in my basement. It’s not the great outdoors, but there are no skunks (knock wood), and I get to watch the thermostat go up as much as two degrees by the end of my workout.

Instead of making myself meditate on my cushion, I’ve been cultivating mindfulness in random moments throughout the day and bringing my awareness to the sounds in my bedroom while I’m falling asleep at night. Starting in January, I’ll also be multitasking reading and mindfulness by reading about mindfulness. I’m pretty sure multitasking mindfulness kind of defeats the purpose, but I’m going to try it anyway.

Instead of trying to enforce a bedtime for myself, I’m developing a habit of thinking of the hours between 8pm and 6am as “sacred to sleep.” I don’t necessarily sleep that whole time, but I keep my focus on winding down and keeping things sleep-like during those hours. There are a couple of evening meetings I’ve not been able to weasel out of, so this gets derailed about once a week or so, but perfection isn’t really the goal, is it? (Certainly not the stated goal, at least.)

For those interested in my other goals:

“Mindful Internet Use”: Reading Plato’s Republic this month has made me look at the Internet and all “shadows and reflections” differently than I did before. Plato has a way of taking the fun out of lurking on Facebook or reading strangers’ funny text messages. I’m not sure if I’m using the Internet less or not, but I’m certainly more mindful of how I’m doing it.

“Drive Less”: I drove 639 miles in December (odometer reading went from 120,952 to 121,591), even more below the 800 miles/month limit I gave myself. Where the heck did I used to go that I’m not going anymore? It’s a mystery, but I like it.

And now for January’s goal:

Establish a Daily Writing Practice

My goal:

1) Write a little something every day.

In light of my December realizations, I’m going to leave this very open. I can write about what I’m reading, or I can draft a blog post, or I can write thank-you notes for Christmas gifts, or maybe I can type a silly story for my kids on the typewriter my mom sent my five-year-old for Christmas. (It’s a totally awesome typewriter. It’s a Smith-Corona Vantage that my dad bought in 1979. My mom and I had to send away to upstate New York for a new ribbon, but it was worth it. My kids love it, and so do I. And being able to load a sheet of paper into a typewriter and adjust the margins has to be a valuable skill for a 21st-century kid, right?)

So, my goal is just to put down some words about something every day. Easy-peasy. (Maybe.)

Points to Ponder:

What do you do when you find yourself falling behind your goals? Do you push harder? Reevaluate and modify your expectations? Eat more chocolate?

CIMG6559

Habit Experiment: November Recap, December Kickoff

November Recap

My one goal for November was:

1) Meditate for ten minutes each day.

The first two weeks of the month did not go well. Not only did I not meditate, I also dropped all of my other habits. I worried I’d given myself too much to juggle all at once (maybe I shouldn’t have had that spectator toss me that bowling ball), but mid-month, things turned around.

The main difference the second half of the month was that I decided to act each day the way that I thought Dorothea Brooke from Middlemarch would act. This didn’t turn out quite like I expected, but it did get me out of bed and onto the dark streets of our neighborhood before 6:00 every morning. And once I was finished with my walk, I found it easy to hang up my jacket, wrestle out of my boots, and sit down to meditate before the rest of my family discovered I was home.

Then after about a week of that, I embarrassed myself in front of a friend and then blogged about it, and ever since, I’ve been kind of ridiculously happy.

I mentioned this to my spouse in the car this morning, and he raised his eyebrows and peered at me from the corner of his eye. I suspect this was because I’d just a few hours before snapped at him for interrupting me (three times while I was trying to say the phrase “chocolate pecan pie”).

Read More

Habit Experiment: October Recap, November Kickoff

October Recap

My goals for October were:

1) Get to bed in time to sleep an average of eight hours a night every night.

2) Avoid screens for at least one hour before bedtime.

3) Avoid eating after 7:00 pm.

After spending 31 days focusing on my sleep, I think I might hate my FitBit. From what it says, I’m so restless, that I routinely get 2-3 hours less sleep than the amount of time I spend in bed. I already knew I wake up a lot and how I feel in the morning often seems to have little relation to how long I’ve spent in bed, but to have it graphed out for me every morning is just discouraging. Almost makes me want to have another baby just so I have someone to blame this tiredness on.

Almost.

Aside from #1 (which we’ve established is not my fault), I’ve kept to my goals for this month pretty consistently. I don’t feel any more rested, but I suppose that gives me data, too.

Oh, and for those interested in my other goals:

“Mindful Internet Use”: Most days this month I’ve been able to keep to my goals with this one, but the past week or so I’ve experienced a downswing in my mood, and that’s led to my clicking around less mindfully than I’d prefer. I’m making a note of it but mostly chalking it up to “ebb and flow.”

“Exercise More”: The first half of the month I was pretty sedentary, but the second half I got moving more. A trip to Washington, DC, helped that. I love walking around cities. I don’t get 10,000 steps each and every day, but the last two weeks I’ve been averaging 10,000 steps a day, and I think that counts.

“Drive less”: I drove 844 miles in October, which is 44 miles over my goal (odometer reading went from 119,401 to 120,245). Really, I have no idea where those miles came from. We had to have a coolant leak fixed partway through the month, and that involved driving to and from the shop, which wasn’t planned, but that doesn’t account for all 44 miles. *shrug*

In case you were wondering about my metrics, I’ve stopped measuring my time for the NY Times crossword puzzle, never did figure out a good way to rate my eczema symptoms (it’s spread, and that alone is more than I care to know about it), and haven’t bothered to take my waist and hip measurements for the past couple of months. I’ve weighed myself, and that’s fluctuated, but there no real difference overall.

And now for November’s goal:

Meditate Daily

Read More

Who Am I?

“Who am I?” I asked myself again and again during the weekend meditation retreat I attended in August.

It was the first time I had been away from my five-year-old son overnight. For two nights I slept in a twin bed in a single dorm room, alone for the first time in nearly a decade.

“Who am I without my children; without my husband?”

For a whole weekend, I had no responsibilities except showing up for my one-hour daily “yogi job” shift, washing dinner dishes or chopping vegetables. With everyone else, I listened to the bells telling us where to go and when, and followed the sound. We were encouraged to seek refuge in the buddha, the dharma, the sangha. I’d been seeking refuge but not in any of those things. For a whole weekend, I was not defined by what I spent my time doing.

“Who am I without my roles: wife, mother, daughter, friend, homeschooler?”

We maintained noble silence, refraining from talking, reading, writing, nonverbal communication, and eye contact until Sunday afternoon. I sat silent in a room with 96 other silent people. I walked the grounds with 96 other silent walkers, silently greeting the same holly leaf every time I returned to the hedge. Pacing slowly across the lawn and back, we looked like disoriented zombies.

“Who am I without my voice?”

I sat in hour after hour of meditation, feeling my presence in the breath tickling the back of my throat, in the movement of my digestive tract. In spite of the pain burning along my spine, I fell asleep sitting up. I had moments-long dreams, strange visions that seemed strangely real, and caught myself before falling over. The breeze from the window raised goosebumps along the left side of my body.

Here I am, I thought. But—

“Who am I?”

In my room, a familiar face looked back at me from the mirror above my sink.

“Who are you?” she asked.

I had no answer.

And that was okay.

CIMG5640

 

 

The post that helped me actually go to my retreat after I’d signed up for it:

Present Moment Wonderful Moment: Mindfulness Verses for Daily Living by Thich Nhat Hanh

Present Moment Wonderful Moment: Mindfulness Verses for Daily Living
Present Moment Wonderful Moment: Mindfulness Verses for Daily Living by Thích Nhất Hạnh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Last month I attended a women’s retreat. At the retreat center, they had these little cards up all over the building with these great little meditations on daily living. All day, the meditations prompted me to pause and reflect as I washed my hands or looked in the mirror or took a step outside the front door. I loved the feeling of calm they facilitated.

My friend and I asked the women in charge of the retreat center where the cards were from, and they said they were Thich Nhat Hanh meditations, but the cards were out of print. Through the magic of the internet, I found out the meditations were from Present Moment Wonderful Moment and managed to find two sets of the cards and a copy of the book. I gifted one set of the cards to my friend and kept the other set intending to put them up around my house. But when my eight-year-old daughter saw the book, she independently suggested that we make pretty, hand-written cards to put up around the house. So we did.

One afternoon, we used a paper cutter and some pretty card stock my daughter got as a gift a couple of years ago and made eight cards, four for her and four for me, to put up around the house. We each have the Waking Up meditation by our beds, and I have the Ending Your Day one by my bed, as well. She has the Opening the Window on her bedroom window, the blinds of which she opens every morning first thing so she can look outside and read her meditation. We also have the Washing Your Hands, Looking in the Mirror, and Brushing Your Teeth meditations on our bathroom mirrors. We are enjoying them so much, we plan to make more.

CIMG3652

It’s apparent that we need to investigate other gluing options for the silver paper, but even with their imperfections, I like our little cards.

This is a gem of a book, and I love how it’s brought these moments of mindfulness to our days. I don’t know if it’s directly attributable to the book, but since we put up the meditations, my daughter has been joining me for a short sitting meditation every morning. It’s such a lovely way to start our day! (And our cat Owen must think so, too. Every morning he climbs into my daughter’s lap and offers her a purring meditation.)

The only thing missing from this book is a meditation for when my kids are squabbling over something that seems incredibly tiny to me.

View all my reviews

Course Correction: The Little Audacious Plan

I was going to start a Big, Hairy, Audacious Plan on October 1st. It was going to be awesome. It was going to last more than a year and by the end I was going to be fitter, healthier, better rested. I’d know how to play the piano, would speak Spanish fluently, would be submitting stories and essays for publication on a regular basis, and would have read and comprehended at least one dozen literary classics.

But then reality sunk in.

At first I mistook reality for my husband being a naysayer for questioning my plan.* I called him that and many other things and then I went to bed. Even though I have not been sleeping well at all (~5 hours a night, interrupted by my three-year-old), I could not go to sleep. I lay there for an hour trying to fake my way to sleep until I finally got up and made my jittery, anxious self go to the kitchen and journal while I ate a snack.

It was during this time that I realized that I was just totally fried. The insomnia, the digestive symptoms, the eczema, the weight fluctuations, the anxiety—all of it was related. And none of it would be solved by my Big, Hairy, Audacious Plan.

So I devised another plan. A Little Audacious Plan. A Gentle Audacious Plan.

It goes like this:

1) Deactivate my personal Facebook profile. Yes, I know it was less than six months ago that I reactivated it with my cleverly devised pseudonym and all of that. I had very good reasons for doing so, but over these months I realized that, although it’s not the only cause of my being fried, my interactions on Facebook certainly weren’t fostering calm and a sense of wellbeing. On the contrary, they were making me anxious. They were making me irritable. They were making me want to move to the frozen north of Canada and live in a travel trailer with nothing but caribou and lichen and permafrost to keep me company. I lamented the fact that I would not be able to grow a beard in this scenario. Instead, I deactivated my Facebook account in a fit of insomnia. Also a rash decision, but perhaps not as rash as Option A. (My Imperfect Happiness Facebook Page remains intact, as does my @imperfecthappy Twitter account.)

2) Meditate. Like a lot of meditation. Formal meditation twice a day and informal (reminding myself to take a deep breath or, if necessary/possible, lying on the floor with my eyes shut for a few breaths at least once an hour).

3) Practice Gentle Yoga. At least thirty minutes a day of the slow-moving, breath-led variety as part of my bedtime routine. This isn’t for physical fitness; it’s for activation of my parasympathetic nervous system.

4) Write. Since I was seven, I’ve been told that I was a “great writer.” Over the years, I’ve gotten more and more bogged down by the contradiction between being told that I was a “great writer” and struggling with that very activity. If I’m a great writer, why is it so difficult? If I’m a great writer, why didn’t I get more than a polite rejection letter for that short story I submitted in 2004? Why did I get rejected for that incredibly competitive writing fellowship with the famous author’s name attached to it? Why didn’t I get into the renowned MFA program? Why didn’t I win higher than fifth place in that writing competition in seventh grade? I could reason through only one very painful conclusion: I am not a great writer. After several years of mourning, I finally decided that even if I wasn’t a great writer, I still wanted to be a writer. I don’t have to be great to have fun. So, that’s what I’ll be trying to do with Brenda Miller and Holly Hughes’s The Pen and the Bell. With a different focus area in each chapter, this book leads the reader through exercises designed to access the shared benefits of both writing and contemplative practice. I’ll focus on one chapter a month, writing every day using the exercises outlined at the end of each chapter. With any luck, this will help me to rediscover the joy and fun that writing used to hold.

There are some other nitty-gritty guidelines I plan to practice around internet usage, media consumption, fostering compassion, and building relationships, but these are the high points. I’ll plan to check in weekly and let you know how I’m doing.

The formal writing practice will begin October 1st. For items 1 through 3, I’m not waiting until October 1st; I’m starting right now.

*I still think my husband was being a naysayer, but that doesn’t mean he was wrong.

 

What Next?

Saturday marked the end of my self-guided 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program (based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living).

After eight weeks, daily mindfulness practice has pretty much become a habit for me. I’m making a shift to a vegan diet (this is not part of the program but since starting the mindfulness practice my tastes have just spontaneously changed, so I’m going with it). I’m more patient with the kids than I was. I, mostly, go to bed at a decent hour.

On the other side, though, I’m buying ridiculous quantities of kale, I can’t seem to remember people’s names like I used to, I still yell at my husband, and I’ve lost much of my old interest in reading. And meditation continues to be an almost daily struggle. I don’t feel like doing it even though I know I’ll feel better once I do it.

It reminds me of the summer my husband and I trained for a marathon. We got up before work (and before the North Carolina heat hit) and ran. We did two shorter (3 to 5 miles) runs during the week and a longer run (6+ miles) on the weekends, with cross-training in between. I hadn’t run more than a mile at once before that summer. I would sometimes curse and complain the entire time, but when I sat at my desk and felt the tingle of fatigue in my muscles and the intense relaxation that comes after a workout, it was worth it.*

As far as meditation goes, I know I’ve got farther to go. There will always farther to go because there isn’t a finish line in mindfulness. You just keep running and running and running. The progress is incremental and sporadic and often difficult to detect. Some days I totally feel it and others it’s like starting from the beginning. But even in meditation (to stretch the metaphor even more), every now and then there are water breaks and little packets of power gel to get you through the next leg. This 8-week MBSR program was the most recent pick-me-up of this sort for me.

Now I’m back in the “running and running” part wondering…what’s the next little boost that will come my way?

*For the purposes of this metaphor, let’s ignore the fact that my husband and I never actually ran a marathon. We threw in the towel after a 13-mile practice run during which we realized that we didn’t enjoy chafing. I’m hopeful that I’ll stick with meditation a little better since it doesn’t generally require the use of duct tape or petroleum jelly. Or at least neither the Dalai Lama nor Thich Nhat Hanh has mentioned chafing in anything I’ve read of theirs.

Sitting With Disequilibrium

I’ve been feeling very much off-kilter for the past couple of weeks. I’ve been working hard to just let myself feel off-kilter, but I much prefer to take a situation and reason it into submission if it’s not turning out the way I want it to. I’m a big fan of creating plans. And schedules. And lists. And making major changes and not waiting around for the dust to settle before making another major change.

But I’m still meditating. Still meeting with myself every morning to confront the very noisy silence and the restlessness in my body that just wants to get up and DO something.

Every morning I whine to my husband that I just don’t want to meditate.

Every morning I find piddling little tasks to postpone the trek downstairs to the yoga mat and the meditation cushion. I need to put these beans on to soak. I need to look up that smoothie recipe for breakfast. I need to set out today’s homeschool books in a line on the table, even though they’re all going to get stacked out of the way before we can start the math lesson anyway.

And then I pout and stomp downstairs and sit or stretch or sit and stretch, even though the struggle to get there is tough and the short-term benefits are minimal. Many times these past couple of weeks I’ve lamented that meditation “just isn’t working anymore.” But still I keep on doing it.

This week, though, several things have come together to help me feel a little more optimistic and to see that maybe the meditation is still “working,” it’s just on a different time scale than the one I’ve got in my head.

The other day, Leigh from Live Your Bliss posted about the detoxification effects of the Gerson Therapy for cancer. The “lots of veggies” shift I’ve made in my diet over the past month hasn’t been nearly (nearly) as intense as the protocol for the Gerson Therapy, but it’s still significant. Leigh’s post reminded me that perhaps some of my sense of disequilibrium (physical and emotional) is a sign that my body’s adjusting to the healthier diet and letting go of the cravings and other things I don’t need.

The weather has been warm and the children cooperative, so I’ve been able to walk every day this week. On Monday, we took an hour-long hike and found our first letterbox. On Wednesday, the kids and I walked to the library and back (5 miles round-trip). Tuesday and Thursday, the kids and I took little 20-minute walks around the neighborhood, the toddler in the mei tai on my chest and zipped into my jacket, my daughter’s hand in mine. I don’t know if it’s the vitamin D or the fresh air or the exercise or just the promise of spring (or the oxytocin from the pleasant closeness with my kids), but walking has brought me a sense of peace each day.

Then today my daughter’s history lesson was about ancient India and included a brief retelling of the story of the birth of Siddhartha, aka Buddha. After our walk, the kids and I snuggled on the bed and read Buddha by Demi, which included more details about Siddhartha’s life and short versions of two of his famous parables. As I read aloud about Siddhartha’s life and teachings, my son fell asleep in my arms.

What beautiful reminders these all have been to live in the moment.

This isn’t to say I’ve not done some scheduling and planning (exhibit A: the detailed and unrealistic homeschooling schedules littering our dining room table). But just as in meditation when I bring my mind back to the present when I find it’s begun to wander, I’ve been gently bringing myself back from the plan-schedule-ruminate rut I usually fall into so easily. These things—the walks, the blog post, the picture book, the snuggling with my kids—have all helped bring me back.

I’d love it if I were back for good, if I no longer had to work to just be present. But I’m here now. And that’s about the best I can do.

And today I had an awesome (and enormous) salad with watercress, romaine lettuce, walnuts, pears, and dried currants. Awesome salads don’t hurt, either.

An Uncomfortable Silence

Today is the last day of Week 7 of my self-guided Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program (based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living). This was the week when I didn’t use any of the recordings for my yoga or meditation. While I made it through the week, I found meditating in silence to be very challenging. My mind went 770 miles an hour without Jon Kabat-Zinn’s instructions to focus on. I guess that’s the point, but I definitely found it challenging to be all alone with my thoughts. They’re very noisy without something else to drown them out.

Up to now, I’ve used a combination of several different recordings. There’s a Jon Kabat-Zinn CD I got as part of the in-person MBSR class I did (in part) in Utah. I’m not sure where my instructor got it, although it might be from The Mindful Way Through Depression audiobook. On the recording I have is a 30-minute body scan track, and then three 10-minute sitting meditation tracks that each build on the next so you can choose a 10-, 20-, or 30-minute sitting meditation practice. I enjoy using all of these tracks. I also occasionally use the Sitting Meditation track from Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Guided Mindfulness Meditation Series 1 recordings. It’s 45 minutes long and includes much of the same guidance as the choose-your-duration recording I have.

For yoga, I use one of four recordings. My favorite is Shiva Rea’s Yoga Sanctuary. I use the Lunar Practice CD and do tracks 1, 2, 3, and 6 for a 40-ish minute practice. I sometimes add in track 4, too, which is inversions, but I’m not a huge fan of shoulder stand since I had kids, so I don’t do it that often.

I also use Lauren Peterson’s The Yogi’s Companion CD, although that’s a little more intense and takes a little more concentration to keep myself from striving to do more in my practice (rather than staying present with my breath and body).

The other two recordings I use for yoga are the 45-minute yoga practices in Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Guided Mindfulness Meditation Series 1. They are very gentle and really promote a connection with the body. The only reason I prefer the Shiva Rea Lunar Practice is that it opens up my muscles more. Regardless of which I use, I feel warm and rested after I practice yoga and ready to start my day.

This week, instead of using these recordings, I mostly used an awesome free online meditation timer to keep track of my time in sitting meditation or practicing yoga. I downloaded mp3’s for 10-, 20-, 30-, and 40-minute durations (with the Tibetan Bells option, a 40-second delay, chimes every 10 minutes, and three chimes to signal the end of the practice), and burned them to a CD so I could listen to them while practicing down in the basement.

Two mornings, I tried keeping track of time by listening to music I used to use while practicing yoga back in my early 20’s. Charles Sorgie’s Odysseys Into Alpha: Prana is very relaxing and worked well to keep me focussed on my breath for a 45-minute sitting meditation (incidentally, I once listened to this on my headphones while getting a root canal). The other morning, I did a shorter sitting meditation followed by a more energetic short yoga practice. For this, I programmed some tracks from Land of Forever by 2002 and used the song changes to tell me when to move from meditation to yoga.

I liked the music pretty well, but I found I preferred the silence. Such as it was. My son almost always wakes up about halfway through my practice. I hear my husband greet him.

“Hi, Buddy!” he says.

“NO!” our son replies.

He accepts no substitutes in the morning. When I come up from my practice, I find him sitting at the top of the stairs, waiting for me.

“Mommy!” he laughs and holds out his arms.

While I prefer to have a little more time to make some breakfast and maybe—if the stars are aligned—read for little while before being on Mommy duty, it’s difficult to maintain my disappointment with his sweet little arms around my neck and a wet little toddler kiss planted on my cheek. It’s a little more challenging when he starts in with the 2-year-old “NO!” to everything I say, but after a good mindfulness practice, I’m in the mode to live in the moment and appreciate the sweetness while it lasts.

For Week 8—the final week of the program—Kabat-Zinn sets us free to choose just how we want to practice. Sitting meditation, walking meditation, body scan, yoga, music, guided meditation cds…it’s our choice.

I’m a little nervous to have this much freedom.

Still Here: Week 6 Retrospective and Week 7 Preview

So, I made it through Week 6 of my meditation program.

(As a reminder, during Week 6, I alternated 45 minutes of yoga and 45 minutes of sitting meditation each morning this week. Well, I actually only did 30 minutes of sitting meditation on my meditation days. 45 just seemed so…long.)

The tricky part this week was that my husband was out of town and my mom was visiting and sleeping in my normal yoga-and-meditation space.

As a rule, I don’t handle upheavals in my routine very well.

I moved my morning practice upstairs and, by some miracle, kept my schedule for six of the seven days of Week 6. Each night I set the alarm for 5am, and each morning, with the help of the cats, I got up before the alarm,washed my face in cold water, bribed the cats with freeze-dried liver treats, and then retired to the office for yoga or meditation. That quiet time was quite pleasant and perhaps even necessary to maintaining some degree of calm during my not-at-all-routine days.

After my husband got home Thursday night, I found the routine harder to keep. Saturday I skipped yoga but did an abbreviated practice before bed. Sunday (day one of Week 7) I skipped entirely.

But today, I’m back in action with a morning yoga practice (and a blog post), although not without a fair amount of bellyaching.

For Week 7, I’m supposed to stop using the yoga and meditation recordings and just do 45 minutes per day of some combination of practice on my own. I’m thinking about doing 30 minutes of yoga in the morning and 15 minutes of sitting meditation in the evening because I like the feeling I get doing yoga in the wee hours of the morning and I like having a little moment of calm and reconnection to look forward to in the evenings. I missed that during Week 5 and Week 6 when all of my practice was in the morning.

I’ve got a few other blog posts floating around in my brain, but blogging just hasn’t been a priority since I started my meditation practice. I’m not sure why, but it feels less important than it once did. I also feel like I’m having a more difficult time expressing myself in writing than I have in the past. Maybe all of this “pondering the mysteries of the universe” is leaving me speechless.

Or maybe getting up before 5am most mornings is just catching up with me.