Five.

Five.

I couldn’t decide what I wanted to write about today. I have a few ideas that I’m thinking about but they’re till stewing in my mind, and I’m not sure I have the brain power to sort through them today.

But I really didn’t want to miss a day of writing. Yesterday was day 4 of a streak, my longest since making it my goal to post every day (the previous being 3). I really didn’t want to break that. I’m on a roll. While scrolling through my post, trying to decide what to write, I realized something amazing. Yesterday wasn’t day 4. It was day 5!

5.

It’s such a beautiful round number. And the length of a work week, which is almost the length of an entire week. I’m pretty excited about this.

This post is a mini celebration, and encouragement to keep writing because that’s the only way to generate ideas.Some days will be hard, like today, and I won’t have much to say. But if I don’t keep at it, the well will go dry and it will all that much harder to get started again.

Now, I should go do some coding practice before bed.

 

A Better Week

A Better Week

I feel better after this weekend than I did after the last one. I had to work Saturday, but was off on Friday and managed to keep up with my blog posts and complete a few freeform projects on CodeCademy.I even did some cleaning around the house.I actually feel productive, and that always makes starting a new week easier.

I actually feel productive, and that always makes starting a new week easier.

I’ve always struggled with having too many interests to balance, so I have always jumped around from thing to thing and back again.I want to change industries and become a front-end web developer and web designer. So lately I have been trying to balance teaching myself how to code with trying to write every day and working full-time.

It’s  hard to know how much time to spend on each. My instinct says to spend as much time as I can on coding because building websites is what I hope to make a living doing. But I want writing to contribute to how I support myself in the future, as well, and it’s also my sanity. So how do I balance the two?

I don’t think I can answer that now. I don’t know that I ever will. It will likely take me longer to reach both of my goals splitting my time like this. But I tried not writing and focusing only on learning to code, and that didn’t work well for me.

I’m putting a lot on my plate right now, but it has never served me well to keep writing out of my life. It’s too much a part of me, and it’s something I need to do.

Somehow I will have to find a balance. Some weeks will be better than others. This was a better week.

 

Visible Ink

Visible Ink

This is a  post based on a  Daily Prompt,  “Quote”, from I don’t how long ago. I was intrigued so I started this post, but I never finished it. I worked today, and my brain is sleepy, and I had no idea what to write about, so it seemed as good a time as any to revisit it.

***

“The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.”

-Vladimir Nabokov

It’s common to be moved by the words of others. We’ve all experienced it. Sometimes someone else is able to say in a hauntingly precise and accurate way exactly what we’re feeling. There’s something magical about that. Not only does it validate our feelings, but gives us a sense of camaraderie. We know that someone, somewhere, at some point in time felt just the way we do. A kindred spirit, if only in this one way.

I debated between several different quotes before ultimately settling on this one. It seemed logical to choose the quote that inspired the name of my blog.

I have often sat with a blank page in front of me, pen in hand (or fingers on the keyboard), unable to muster a single word to put down. At times I’ve felt almost intimidated by the purity of the page.

wanted to write, but I couldn’t. I felt like there was something there, deep inside. Words that wanted to come out. I just couldn’t seem to grab a hold of them.

This quote reminds me of when you buy a new journal. You bring it home, tingling with excitement. At home, you flip through it. Smelling the pages. Feeling the smoothness of the paper. You can’t wait to write in it. But you don’t. It takes time to work up the courage to write the first word because to begin writing is to risk marring the page. To risk destroying the beauty, the pureness of the page. To risk failing. Because what you hold in your hand is more than a journal, it is possibility.  It is your dreams. The hope for what you might create in the future.

That’s what every blank page is, whether it’s a piece of paper in a notebook or a screen in front of you. Every blank page holds infinite possibility, and that is as daunting as it is exhilarating.

When I found this quote it spoke to me because it so perfectly described this feeling I had felt so many times but had never even thought to express. It was almost as if these words could have one day come from how my own mind and pen if it had not already been said by Nabokov. And at the same time, it feels as though I could never express myself so beautifully and concisely.

I started this blog for many reasons, but the main one was to write. To put words down and share them. To write more, and to learn to write better.

I chose the name Conspicuous Ink as an allusion to this quote.I wanted to represent the feeling behind what inspired me to start this blog, as well keep a reminder for myself that the words are there. Sometimes you have to work for them, but they’re there. I wanted this blog to be a tool to uncovering the words hidden in the pages.

On Peace and Reconciliation

On Peace and Reconciliation

“The practice of peace and reconciliation

is one of the most vital and artistic

of human actions.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Each month of my date-book features a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh. I’ve made it my goal to meditate on these words each month in order to process them and as a writing exercise.  These are just my thoughts and musing as I reflect. This is January’s quote.

I struggled with this quote, at first. It definitely took writing about it for me to unpack this one. As I wrote and thought through it, what really stuck out to me is Thich Nhat Hanh’s use of is rather are. He is not speaking of peace and reconciliation as two separate things but as one thing. Something that exists together.

To reconcile means to resolve something or to accept something unpleasant. To be as peace with something you first have to settle the issue or accept it as it is. Reconciliation can lead to peace, but peace isn’t possible without reconciliation.

The art in peace and reconciliation is in the symbiotic relationship between the two. The way it can manifest in any area of life, often in beautiful and surprising ways.

Peace and reconciliation is vital because without it I’m sure our inner turmoil created by the traumas of life would slowly tear us apart.

We practice peace and reconciliation often in our lives. With our friends, our co-workers. Our significant others. Family. The world that at times seems like it’s falling to pieces.But I think it’s important to make sure we practice peace and reconciliation with ourselves. As important as it is to forgive others, we have to forgive ourselves,too. In some ways it may be even more important because how can we be at peace with others, let alone the world at large, without being at peace with ourselves?

I forgive myself for taking a longer time than I thought it should to figure what I want to be when I grow up. For being lazy and unfocused when I was just starting out. For being lazy and unfocused now. For everything I’ve ever beaten myself up about. Because dwelling on the past won’t change anything.

Everyday I have to remind myself that it is my actions now in the present that matter because they are what will create the future.

 

 

 

A Beautiful Coincidence: A Reflection on Positivity and Presence

A Beautiful Coincidence: A Reflection on Positivity and Presence

“With hearts established in mindfulness,

we are truly present.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh

This quote is featured on the front of my Thich Nhat Hanh date book that I use to keep track of my daily reflection. I decided shortly after getting this planner to use the quotes featured at the beginning of each month as writing prompts so that I could reflect on them. Not only do I process things best through writing, but it would give me something to write about.But even after I made that decision, I never really registered the one on the front.I was too focused on the ones inside I suppose.

But even after I made that decision, I never really registered the one on the front.I was too focused on the ones inside, I suppose.

I love that this is the quote on the front because it so beautifully captures my goal. The reason I decided to write something positive about each day was in an effort to slow down time and experience each day independently. I wanted to be more mindful and conscious of each day, to see each day as unique in its own way.

To say that my goal is write something positive each day is a simplification. The idea originally was to write down each day what set that day apart from any other. It could be something good that happened, something I learned, something I observed. Anything. But the idea was that it had to be positive (because there’s no point in fostering negativity) and I had to make an effort to find something unique (to resist falling into the trap of using the same thing over and over again).

To simplify: I write down something positive (and unique) about the day every day.

Over time I’ve realized that there are many layers to this simple act. It is both a practice of positivity and a practice of mindfulness. I hope together this practice will not only make me more present, but happier.

When I first bought this date book, I bought it with the intention of using it primarily to plan my coding lesson plan and track my progress. It was only after I brought it home I realized it was perfect for tracking my daily positivity/mindfulness reflection (I promise I’ll figure out a less cumbersome name for this project).

It was serendipity (again). A beautiful coincidence.

(I’m a sucker for a good coincidence).

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day. It’s not always easy to practice mindfulness, but I hope in this small way I can be more present. And maybe over time, with practice, I will find ways to expand that mindfulness to become more and more present.

Adjusting

I feel like a mess this week.

I was so proud of myself last week because I wrote and published three blog posts three days in a row. Yay meeting goals!

But then Thursday was an extra long day and I was too exhausted and busy.
It was okay, though. I knew stuff was going to come up. I knew it wouldn’t always go smoothly, especially in the beginning. And besides, I had a three day weekend coming up. I figured I could spend the whole weekend writing and coding. I did

I did not anticipate feeling crappy and tired all weekend. I ended up getting very little done. And that trend continued through the beginning of the week.

I’m trying not dwell on it, though. I could have gotten so much done. But I know I must have been tired for a reason. Maybe it’s good to have a lazy, do-nothing weekend once in a while.

What really bugs me about it is that I had ideas for what to write. I just hit a wall of exhaustion every time I tried. Yet, for each day I miss writing, I feel like I have fewer ideas. They seem to fade away and dim in my memory. Writing is the best way to generate ideas and have something to write about. I know it’s true, but somehow I always need to be reminded.

I know that the best thing I can do is make a conscious effort to write and publish a post today and do some coding practice. That’s why I wrote the rough draft for this on my lunch break and used my break to type it up on my phone (to make more time for coding).

It’s not all bad, though. I don’t want to focus on my lack of productivity. That doesn’t do me any good either. To think of that time as wasted is to devalue it. I don’t want to foster that kind of negativity. I still had a good weekend. I slept and relaxed. I got my hair cut and went on a date with my husband (which is not something we get to do often) to celebrate my recent promotion. I got to spend time with a friend on Sunday, and on Monday my mother-in-law came to visit. These are all things that add value to my life, even if they don’t relate directly to my immediate goals. I don’t want to negate that.

Photo by Ryan McGuire www.gratisography.com/

Interlude #1

Interlude #1

I have to get up extra early tomorrow for a training meeting I am running at work, so I don’t have enough time to write about what I was originally going to write about and give it the thought it deserves. So instead today I decided to share my daily reflection, my one positive thing a day project I wrote about yesterday.  Here goes:

Today a co-worker approached me to ask me a question, referring to me as a guru on the topic; it always makes me so happy to a knowledgeable resource to others.

Merry Go Round

Merry Go Round

Time really gets away from me sometimes. It’s so easy to get caught up in the monotony and repetition of each day. The pattern of hurry up and wait.

It baffles me sometimes how weeks and months just past by. I lose touch with people. I feel like I’ve been less than productive. I look back sometimes, and it’s like life is going by in a blur.

It’s like when I was a kid, playing on a merry-go-round. (Not the carousel, horse kind, the kid-powered kind. The one you start up by grabbing a hold of it and running to be build momentum before you hop on.)When you’re on a merry-go-round, everything goes by in a streak, and eventually, you get a little dizzy. But you can always put your foot down, like an anchor, let it slow you down until you finally come to a stop. Sometimes, I just want to put my foot down.

This feeling of the world going by too quickly and slipping out of my grasp is one that has plagued me for years. I can’t help but think there has to be a way to regain some control over my life. A few years ago, I had an idea that I thought might help. I decided each day to write one positive thing about my day–something good that happened, or that made me happy, or that I learned. Something unique and positive about the day.

My theory was that this would allow me to connect with each day, to recognize each day as unique, even if in small ways. I believed that by reflecting on each day I could more fully experience it, remember it better, and not let it pass me by. I also felt like it would help me cultivate positivity, gratitude, and mindfulness.

I stuck with it for awhile, and it really made me happy. But as frequently happens with habits, eventually my positivity journal lay abandoned. I revisited this concept multiple times but never with any real longevity.

The idea has always been in the back of my mind, and at the beginning of this year, I decided to return to it yet again.

On New Year’s Eve, I was at Powell’s (my favorite bookstore, ever), where I saw a beautiful Thich Nhat Hanh themed journal. The timing was serendipitous. As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been having a lot of thoughts and feelings, and at this time, I was feeling particularly overwhelmed (by both wonderful and less than wonderful things) and was actively seeking some kind of inner peace. I’ve considered myself Buddhist for nearly half my life at this point, and have admired Thich Nhat Hanh and his writings since college.

I bought that journal, and since January 1st, I’ve been using it to write down something positive every day. Sometimes I fall asleep or forget and miss a day, but I don’t beat myself up about it. I just take some time the next day to reflect on the day I’ve missed.

It’s only been a month and a half. I honestly don’t know if it’s made much of an impact on my life. I think it’s probably too soon to tell. But that’s a month and a half that I’ve stuck with it, and for that, I am proud of myself. And more importantly, it feels right and it makes me happy.

Photo Attribution: By Eddau (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

A Knot to Untangle

A Knot to Untangle

I read an article the other week called the “The Uncompromising Power of Daily Habits” and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind.

It’s not the first time I’ve been exposed to this concept. Many have preached about the value of daily practice, or daily habits. It’s easy to see the logic in it.

What made the article such an inspiration to me is the way he wrote about it. His argument is concise and logical and he provides his real life example as evidently, and he does it with a clear voice. But it’s his real life experience that stuck with me.

For the last few months, I’ve been teaching myself web development. It’s been my ongoing goal to spend some amount about time, no matter how small on my coding studies. And I don’t want to jinx it, but I’ve been doing a really good job of working a little every day.

It wasn’t a smooth route. I wasn’t always consistent in the beginning, but I’ve come a long way. I’ve even learned to recognize when I need a break and take a day off.

I understand the power of daily habits. I’ve been doing daily work. But it was the writer’s specific experience that stuck with me. He started to blog daily to get better at writing.

With so much going on in the world recently, there has been a lot going on in my mind lately. I have so many ideas jumbled in my brain that I can’t see where one ends and another starts. I need to sort them out. It’s a knotted mess. Somehow, I have to untangle this knot. Writing is how I sort through and process ideas.

These are two separate experiences of mine. One, the experience of feeling inspired by this article. The second of my internal conflict that I’ve been facing in light of a reality that has changed suddenly and dramatically. Two separate experiences, but they exist together.

For weeks, all of these thoughts have been stewing in my head. I knew I needed to get them out, to write them down. For so long I hadn’t wanted to split my focus, but now the need to write kept bubbling. I just didn’t know where to begin. I was so overwhelmed.

So here is where I try to sort it all out by keeping a daily blog.

My goal: to write something, anything, whether 50 words or 500, every day and publish it here, with as little disruption to my web development studies as possible. Good, bad or bizarre.

I don’t expect it to go smoothly, at first. I’m sure I won’t be very consistent to start. But no pressure. For now, this is just for me. Because I have a knot to untangle and writing is how I do that.

photo credit: http://www.ilkkajukarainen.fi IMG_0018 via photopin (license)

Almost Midnight

This month’s Yeah Write poem was the haiku.

I don’t normally read or write much poetry, but I love haikus. I was so excited! I really wanted to write and submit a haiku. So, I have been working on one on and off all month.

Unfortunately, I forgot about it last night. We had a friend over for dinner. She comes over every week (usually on Wednesday, not Tuesday), so I was a little distracted. It happens.

But since I only get home a little before 7pm, I missed the deadline to submit this for the contest. By like a minute.

Really, it’s the minute that kills me. Especially since I was even home earlier that usual.

Oh, and because I finally finished the haiku. On Sunday.

It’s all good though. Because I worked hard on it, dammit! And I’m going to share it anyway!

Because I can.

(And besides, isn’t the point, really, that I wrote it?)

This haiku is inspired by a time, a while back, when I was working swing shift, and I was waiting for the Max (light rail) after work. I’d always wanted to write a haiku about that moment. Almost Midnight is the name of the poem.

Spring breeze sets paper

on the tracks, as the train nears.

A man plays his sax.