My long-time readers know that this is more or less the only holiday I celebrate with any fervor. This is not simply because it is Halloween but because this is my New Year’s Eve as well. November 1st in my personal New Year. Time to reset and renew, and yes, celebrate. I typically start off the month of November by declaring a 30 day observance of one ritual or another, pledging to carry out some project and post every day for the month as part of the practice. I decided a few weeks ago that I would break tradition this year because I’ve already got 366 days of Tinas to finish up and I just started another month of the Spending Fast. I feel like this is plenty on my plate right now.
You are probably also aware that somewhere near the end of each month I
throw up toss up (not vomit) a highlight reel of the previous month’s endeavors and accomplishments to keep me mindful. It loosely underscores the choices I make that support the way I want to feel. That’s been working well but in October the highlight reel morphed from a monthly practice to a daily one without any resistance from me. It was a natural side effect of the Spending Fast. I started keeping a notebook with little atta-girl entries each time I made a choice that kept me on the fast. I never meant for it to turn into anything formal but it felt so good I just kept doing it.
The thing is–noting “Spent no $!!” each day turned out not to be enough. I started adding entries to each day’s log which weren’t related only to the Spending Fast but to all the little winning choices that kept me in alignment with wellness. Again, I never meant to keep doing it every day. But every day I ended up wanting to do it, so I did. Now I’m at the end of the month and my highlight reel has been replaced with a daily log of mini-wins and tallies and gold stars. The highlight reel would have been the big deals. This new daily log was a whole lot of little deals. Suddenly it feels unsavory to pick the list apart and elevate a handful of events as worthy of mention when every event on the list supported me and my practice. I don’t want to play favorites with them.
Wellness has no Superbowl. We practice every day without a goal day to make it all worthwhile. The practice is worthwhile because being well every day is the whole point; not just being well on performance day. I turned the pages of my month-long list and saw all my practice notes with new eyes. Every entry represented it’s own sovereign act of will and purpose and desire undiminished by any other entry on the list. One action wasn’t bigger or better or more sparkly than the others because they all essentially do the same thing–keep me well. Some activities keep me well financially, some physically, some emotionally, and so on.
So I’ve talked myself out of a highlight reel for October and maybe forever. But this wellness note-taking thing? It’s working better than a To-Do list. It’s working better than a planner or a vision board or a budget. It’s keeping me engaged in real time and it’s off-line (yeay!), low-tech, simple, free, and unsullied by competition (like so many support groups). Best of all, it ain’t fancy, so there’s no pressure not to mess it up. It’s a cheap, shabby, red spiral-bound notebook. I draw pictures in it, sometimes I scribble, I spilled my lunch on it, and Saturday my dog walked all over it with dirty feet. It’s exactly like life before Pinterest. Which means I’m more likely to embrace it when my practice is less than glamorous (which is pretty much all the time, now isn’t it?).
Try it. And here–just to take the pressure off, here’s mine–so you can see how the little daily practices I might take for granted supported my wellness all month long:
Oct. 3— made a debt payment of $176.00 ~~~ spent no $ ~~~ took rewards cards out of wallet and closed accounts ~~~ yoga for 30 minutes ~~~ blogged about Spending Fast ~~~ unsubscribed from retailer email lists X 3 ~~~ learned how to trim my own bangs ~~~ took a really nice Tina.
Oct. 4— morning run ~~~ big blog post on financial wellness ~~~ spent no $ ~~~ devotional reading on growth edges and the energy of freedom.
Oct. 5— went to the gym after work ~~~ spent no $ ~~~ yoga after dinner ~~~ good Tina shots ~~~ said okay to Control Freak instead of engaging her in battle; let her get what she needed out of it; there would be nothing to gain from fighting with her so I walked away from it.
Oct 6— yoga before the sun came up ~~~ went yonder ~~~ accidentally spent $2.99 on an e-book because I forgot to disable the auto-renew; scrounged together $2.99 in spare change to pay myself back.
Oct. 7 – 13— these pages got wet when I spilled stew all over my desk; stuck together and oily; can’t read much of it; but I do remember that I finally apologized to Marlene Yester for that time two or three years ago when I playfully called her Mrs. Jerry at the bar. She didn’t think it was funny. I finally made my amends and we laughed and hugged and spent the evening in good spirits at the same bar ~~~ hugged Jerry Yester and thanked him for coming back every year so that I could make my apology ~~~ paid my annual property taxes and expressed gratitude that I live in a time and place where women may own property; said a prayer for women who may not ~~~ spent only the money previously set aside for anniversary weekend ~~~ cancelled StitchFix ~~~ ate breakfast with strangers at the B & B to reduce food/beverage costs ~~~ went for a run up to the haunted hotel ~~~ took a tour of the haunted underground ~~~ said another prayer for women who felt they had no other career choice than prostitution in a tunnel.
Oct. 14— spent no $ ~~~ cooked dinner together ~~~ yoga after dinner ~~~ made a fire ~~~ posted Tinas ~~~ video chat with family on Marco Polo app ~~~ finished Yosemite Valley loop on FitBit (24,000 steps) ~~~ went yonder.
Oct. 15— worked together on action plan for sudden unemployment ~~~ spent no $ ~~~ inventoried the freezer ~~~ went for a run together ~~~ cleaned out the gutters ~~~ went to the library ~~~ baked cookies.
Oct. 16— went hiking ~~~ spent no $ ~~~ watched the Hunter’s moon rise.
Oct. 17— meditation ~~~ spent no $ ~~~ yoga at dawn ~~~ 2 mile walk after dinner
Oct. 18— started writing Ch. 56 of novel ~~~ spent no $ ~~~ learned how minimum payments on credit cards are calculated ~~~ unsubscribed from another retailer ~~~ edited a chapter of novel ~~~ used leftovers to stock emergency lunches in the freezer.
Oct. 19— cancelled YogaGlo membership ($19 month) because I discovered Do Yoga With Me is $5 per month ~~~ yoga in the afternoon plus 20 minutes of meditation ~~~ spent no $.
Oct. 20— spent no $ ~~~ Marco Polo with nephew ~~~ wrote a blog post ~~~ run before dinner ~~~ play time with Tucker ~~~ went yonder ~~~ text time with brother.
Oct. 21— spent no $ ~~~ wrote a poem ~~~ morning yoga ~~~ took two Tinas ~~~ music therapy ~~~ didn’t engage Mr. Satan Sign (man who pickets busy intersection during local rush hour with a sign that reads A vote for Her is a vote for the Devil.
Oct. 22— big hike and picnic at the lake ~~~ spent no $ ~~~ made dinner together ~~~ phone time with sister-in-law.
Oct. 23— finished Tinas for the week ~~~ spent no $ ~~~ caged the Russian heather ~~~ easy run for post-hike soreness ~~~ cleaned up the alley.
Oct. 24— Prepped Tinas post ~~~ updated RoadID info ~~~ spent no $ ~~~ yoga 30 minutes ~~~ voted at early voting ~~~ finished off the last of the vodka; didn’t buy more.
Oct. 25— meditation ~~~ spent no $ ~~~ run before dinner ~~~ started next week’s Tinas ~~~ repaired the lamp kitty broke instead of throwing it away.
Oct. 26— early morning yoga ~~~ spent no $ ~~~ yoga after dinner ~~~ email time with Dad ~~~ broke up with the Walking Dead without watching the season premiere.
Oct. 27— really great Tina today ~~~ spent no $ ~~~ finished writing Ch. 56 of novel ~~~ text time with sister and niece.
Oct. 28— run before dawn ~~~ saw Jupiter ~~~ wore orange dress that didn’t fit last month ~~~ meditation ~~~ spent no $.
Oct. 29— harvested last of summer flowers ~~~ finished Tinas ~~~ played baseball in the backyard ~~~ went to visit Buddhist temple in Bauxite; monk gave me persimmons from his back yard ~~~ went to a flea market we found on the way home; bought nothing ~~~ spent no $ ~~~ yoga on the back deck.
Oct. 30— went for a run together ~~~ attended 90 minute service at the temple; whole thing was in Vietnamese and seated in the floor; a million (seemed like) prostrations–get up, bow, kneel, lay on floor, get back up, repeat forever ~~~ spent no $ ~~~ cleaned out rock garden ~~~ Bryce came home for a visit; stayed up an extra hour to spend time with him ~~~ gave him an old guitar stored in the closet for a decade.
Oct. 31— slept an an extra hour (dreamed about characters on Walking Dead) ~~~ spent no $ ~~~ devotional reading on inner spaciousness; emptying out; being in no rush to figure out what’s next; contentment with empty space ~~~ yoga in the afternoon.
I won’t do this every month. I mean, I won’t post this stuff every month but I fully intend to keep logging away. Like a wellness lumberjack. Or a lumberjane. Small choices, consistent habits, daily devotions; over time they form a lifestyle. May they be habits to make us healthy, make us happy, make us peaceful, and make us free from fear.
Happy New Year, my friends.
— Laguna Snedly
(auld lang syne)