Tag Archives: commitment

30 Day Journal Project

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I know, I know.

There are the twelve self-help books waiting to be read. The “52 lists” project. The “100 paintings this winter” agreement. The 5 day clean eating challenge. The “Timeout for Art” plan. The 366 day blog-a-day commitment. What the hell am I doing adding yet another thing to my already too-long list of things to do? Am I trying to disappoint myself?

Not really.

I would really like to not disappoint myself. I intend to take each commitment seriously, and give it my very best effort.

As for the daily writing, I’d like to try to make each post a good one, worthy of my time and yours. This daily habit has the potential to actually help me grow as a writer…if I work at it, rather than just fill pages with words. With that in mind, I’ve been worrying over subject matter so, when I saw a link to a site that offered – free – thirty days worth of writing prompts, I jumped at it. As an added bonus, the theme is “Creative Fire,” which is another thing I’m trying to cultivate this year. So here I am.

Beginning this 30 Day Journal Project feels daring because…

Write down an achievement you feel proud of:

In order to have (your proud achievement), I had to dare to begin…

Beginning this 30 Day Journal Project feels daring because I don’t know where it will lead. What will it ask me to reveal? How much will I be willing to tell?

I am proud of my “Island Reflections” radio broadcast. I am basically shy. I’m not good at public speaking. I cringe when I hear my voice on the telephone answering machine.  And yet…when asked to read my blog posts for our little island radio station, I said yes.

Closed in that room, with the microphone uncomfortably close to my front teeth, with earphones on and all kinds of buttons and dials I don’t understand, I clap my hands to signal the start of each reading. I say, “This is Island Reflections; I’m Cindy Ricksgers.” Then I read from the pages I have printed, trying to put emphasis behind the words and sentences as if I were reading stories to my children, trying not to mis-speak, trying to remember to breath quietly, and in the right places. I do it.

My segment is broadcast five times a day, five days a week. I cringe when I hear it. I still don’t like the sound of my recorded voice. I sometimes stumble over a word, and have to repeat it. Sometimes I speak too long without taking a breath, and then audibly gasp for air. I often wonder if listeners wonder and discuss how very wrapped up I am in my little world, self-indulgently believing others would be interested, too.

Still, I do it.

I know myself, and how unlike me the whole endeavor is, so from the time I said “yes,” I’ve been pleased with myself. For taking the chance. For stretching my boundaries. Just for getting out there.

What Next?

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After gaining recognition for his movie, Super-Size Me, Morgan Spurlock developed a TV show. “Thirty Days”  placed people in situations that varied wildly from their standards of beliefs, and showed them the opposing view from the inside. A “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” theme. The time frame was based on the concept that 30 days is the length of time it takes to form a habit. Beyond just habit, though, given thirty days of practice, a behavior or way of thinking can actually become an integral part of your personality.

That is the time, theoretically, when the forced adherence to a regimen becomes a lifestyle.

The thirty-day mark is where a person moves from “I’ve gone twenty-nine days without smoking”…to “I am a non-smoker.”

When the person dragging out of the house every morning at dawn to hit the pavement, wakes up and thinks, “I am a runner.”

When the dieter limiting food choices decides that light dressings actually are preferable to heavy sauces.

I love this theory!

I have been working at self-improvement all of my life. Too often, my determination gives way to boredom, distraction or just plain laziness. Many times I’ve thought I formed a good habit, only to find that cheesecake – or some other bad choice – had simply not presented itself for awhile.

I know it’s not foolproof.

Thirty days of practice can, perhaps, make it easier to follow a regimen, which can provide a sense of pride in saying, “I am a walker” or “I am a good house-keeper” or “I make healthy food choices.” Thirty days of sporadic involvement or neglect can destroy that habit as if all of the hard work and determination never happened.

I have written a blog post every day through the month of November. Where am I?

I took this on as an exercise in discipline, not to form a habit. I think of this blog as a life practice that helps me to slow down and be more aware. It gives me the opportunity to reach out to others. I will not give it up, but I do not intend to continue posting every day.

So what have I gained?

Well, in taking this seriously, I sometimes had to get up early or stay up late in order to get my writing in, around my schedule. There were times I woke up in the night, panicked at the thought that I’d forgotten to post something. There were times when I wrote very little, but I managed to get something out there every day. That, alone, is huge for me!

I didn’t let all other things go by the wayside. Often, when I start a self-improvement regimen, I use that as an excuse to neglect everything else. “How can I possibly be expected to dust when I am trying to diet?” Not this time! I managed to integrate this added discipline into my life without any more than the usual procrastination and disregard for other activities. That gives me hope!

I think this is the way to go: thirty days at a time, devote myself to one area of importance without giving up on everything else.

My head is reeling! Where to go next?

I have a series of collages underway in my studio that have been stalled for lack of time and devotion.

The studio could use a good thirty days of attention, to get it organized for work and creative function.

Shall I start compiling stories and recipes for the cookbook I’ve been planning?

The exercise regimen I’ve been working at in a series of fits and starts deserves a serious commitment.

This house would be a more pleasant place to live if I spent a month finishing half-done cleaning and home-improvement projects.

Even just a good long walk every day is a good habit to form before winter settles in.

I can’t decide!

The dogs are pacing the floor; today, I’ll start by giving them a walk.

As for the next commitment, I’ll write about it when I know.

Reflections

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The folks at WordPress notified me a couple weeks ago that I’ve now been writing this blog for three years.

That’s a pretty big accomplishment for me!

I am a terrific “starter.”

I’m also a pretty amazing “quitter.”

I have the best of intentions, always, and commit quite easily to numerous projects, endeavors, plans and resolutions.

I will call my daughters every week; I’ll write letters and send cards regularly; I’ll pay bills on time. I will walk every day, floss every day, make my bed every day. I will keep an organized studio, a tidy house, a weed-free garden, a well-groomed lawn.

Or, I’ll make those kinds of promises to myself, and give it a shot.

My gratitude journal never lasted more than five days before I’d set it aside for several months. Most exercise programs, the same. I started a diet last week and lasted four days before I sold out for chicken and dumplings.

This blog, I have been maintaining for three years.

I kept the commitment simple: publish once a week, or thereabouts, with no specifics on topic, tone or length.

Even so, I’ve been falling off quite a bit lately.

It’s not for lack of things to write about.

My thoughts seem to organize themselves into sentences and paragraphs all on their own. I’ve had a running narrative in my head about “Life with Dogs” that I add to almost daily. Another, loosely titled “Death All Around Me,” involves the lives – from mosquitoes and houseflies to mice and shrews – that I snuff out with little thought and even less guilt…most of the time. If anyone would be interested in hearing whining or complaining, I could come up with several blogs on a dozen different subjects right away.

Sometimes, it has been hard  to refrain from the complaining!

The fact is, I’ve been working a great deal, am behind in most everything, and haven’t had the time or energy to write. Or read. Or respond to comments. I’ve missed it, though.

For the month of November, WordPress hosts two different writing challenges. One is to publish a blog post every day. I think I may commit to it, just to get back on track.

Or at least give it a shot.