I have never been very good at meditation. Ever since moving to New York City, I am constantly surrounded by noises – blaring ambulances, screeching taxi cabs, endless conversations buzzing around my head. By the time I’m finally able to sit down at the end of a long, noisy day, the last thing I can do is “clear my mind.” Although, it’s probably the only thing that I should be doing.
This weekend, I travelled upstate to visit family and spend time away from the city. It was…peaceful. Relaxing. Calm. I barely thought about work. And the new noises that surrounded me were chirping birds, warm “hellos” from strangers, and familiar laughter. Upstate, in comparison with New York City, is a whole different world.
And maybe it was a coincidence, but as if by magic, I was finally able to clear my mind this weekend. All the recent stress from work seemed to melt away. I was reminded of the bigger priorities in my life – family, friends, fun. This weekend reminded me of who I truly am, rather than a tensed-up stress-ball (which is how some co-workers might view me, especially in the most recent weeks).
And maybe most importantly, as I was sitting in my local hometown coffee shop, a feeling came over me: I finally felt ready to start writing again.
Since November, I had taken a break from the book that I’ve been trying to write for the past three years. I needed some space from the manuscript. And now, four months later, I feel ready to approach it once more. Call it a coincidence, but I feel like being upstate for the weekend allowed my mind to clear itself, which allowed more room for the things I actually care about. In particular, writing.
Sitting in that coffee shop, I looked up at my boyfriend who was visiting home with me. I said, “I think I’m ready to start writing again…” and for the next hour, I was hunched over my laptop, tapping away eagerly at the keys. New ideas flooded into my mind – breathing life into stale characters and overused plot lines. I suddenly had the motivation to organize the story into a neat outline for myself, which will inherently help me in the future. I am excited to continue this work, but I was also feeling conflicted – why did it take me four months and a trip upstate for me to clear my mind enough to be able to start writing again? And more importantly, when I’m feeling bogged down by the daily life of New York City, how can I make sure that my mind is clear, to make room for bigger and better priorities?
- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
- Reflecting now, I realize that most of the space in my mind on a daily basis is taken by things that don’t matter. Other people may think it’s important, but in reality, it’s not that serious. Perfect example: everything at my job. A student emailed me on Thursday (when I was out of the office), asking for something they needed by Saturday. Nothing in my job is life or death, and that student can wait. So, instead of stressing out about it, I’m just going to respond to her tomorrow, Monday, when I’m back in the office. No big deal.
- Focus on the Big Stuff
- I find that since so much of my daily headspace goes to the small stuff, I barely have time to focus on the big stuff. I’d love to write every day, start working out, eating healthy. But instead, it’s easier to sleep in, go to happy hour, and eat mindlessly staring at a computer. Clear your mind of the smaller, less important things, to make room for the big things you want to focus on.
- Stop Talking, Start Doing
- My friend is enrolled in a course on thanatology, or, the study of death and dying. And she has been teaching me an awful lot lately. One lesson that has resonated with me the most is this: We’re all dying, so we might as well start living. We don’t know how much time we have on this earth. We need to make the most of it, and instead of talking about what we want to do, we should just do it.
I’m also learning that accountability is a big part of my motivation and strategy. Eating healthy on my own is always a bust, but when I was doing Whole30 with my boyfriend, it became fun and easy! I asked my mom to text me when she starts working out after work, as a reminder that I need to leave the office and keep to my own workout plan. And with that said, if any of you are looking for an accountability buddy, in anything, I’m interested! Let’s start clearing our minds, focusing on what’s important to us, and creating positive life change for ourselves. It’s about time!