This will be a brief check-in, just so I have some sort of record of February when I return to the blog in May, after hiking the AZT. Too much has happened to catch anyone else up at this point in time.
As always, I begin looking back on the month through the lens of those focus-items I gave myself at the start of the month. (Previous post with 2019 focuses and February focuses can be found here.)
Obnoxiously Encouraging Thoughts + Non-Comparison
Specifics aside, I feel good about this area of focus. It’s very much on my mind, I’m being a supportive friend to myself, and I want to keep on tipping the scales far in this direction to find out who I could become.
- (-) Write a self manifesto of sorts, with encouraging reminders I can read to myself each morning. — Here’s a prime example of where high expectations—or the want for this manifesto to be exactly the right words for me to hear—can paralyze me from beginning. One day I did scribble a little in a notebook for this project, but I don’t have a manifesto yet. For part of my time in France I used Nikita Gill’s poem “Take This as Your Sign” as a manifesto of sorts, and for the AZT that I’ll be thru-hiking for the next two months, I’m carrying with me words that a close friend wrote to me on a birthday card ten years ago. This friend passed away two weeks ago.
- (+) Read “Mindfulness in Plain English.” — I read the book and took these notes in my journal. When I have so much free time like I did in Pornic, I tend to plow through books quicker than I can really absorb anything long-term. So I liked how I had forced myself to take in this one slower, which happened to align well with the content as well.
- (+) Do Daily Calm while staying at Damien’s — It wasn’t a daily occurrence, but below you can see when I meditated with Calm in February. On the 22 is when I found out about my friend’s death, which knocked me off all the rails.
I did have an encouraging meditation experience as I was reading Mindfulness in Plain English earlier in the month. Prior to that book, I’d always just done the 10-minute Daily Calm with the Calm app, and thought that was enough training for my brain. Well, this book recommended 20-30 minutes for “beginners,” which sounded very advanced to me. Then I read that whatever you’re comfortable with, you should add 5 minutes. All right, since I was used to 10 minutes, I was going to give 15 minutes a try. So on a walk that afternoon, I stopped on a bench and turned on the timer within Calm. After a good while of breathing, I wondered if I’d missed the timer. I’ll be so upset if I check and the time is at 14:50 or something, I thought to myself. So I breathed for a bit longer, until I felt good about my session and opened my eyes to look at the time. I’d passed 20 minutes!! Take what’s comfortable and add 5. Well, there ya go. So 20 became my new session time, but I only got in a few before the 22. I will see if I can get into the habit of meditating in my tent each morning while I’m hiking.
Filling a Poetry Notebook
- (+) Spend at least 10 minutes per day in one of these books and/or with my notebook. — I did not spend 10 minutes each day in this notebook—in fact, I’m counting 9 checks on my month tracker in the “poetry” column—but I did feel resistance lower as I increased the frequency this month, and that’s a plus in my book. I got partway through “Poemcrazy” and used those exercises, and also brought my notebook along on walks to jot down whatever came. It’s this notebook that I’m bringing along with me on my thru-hike.
Other Monthly Happenings
- Portraits: Painted two. Also painted cover art for one of my brother’s albums.
- Themes: Exterior space, DIY, remembering French concepts (carte restau, water costing less at different times of the day, organic being so important, farmer’s markets, walks being standard friend and family outings/hang-outs, bande dessignée), returning to foreigner role with new identity, being frustrated with limitations of words, eating vegan in France, and much more. Each could be a long post in and of itself; jotting the ideas here for my future self.
- Netflix: Marie Kondo, Home Made Simple, The Good Place, Dix pour cent, Sex Education
I will be thru-hiking the Arizona Trail in March and April, so that will be my main focus during those months. You know, things like finding water each day and staying on trail.
I will bring a notebook and pen, and will encourage myself to write poetic thoughts, ideas, and metaphors as they arise. I will also bring along a visual reminder to keep my thoughts obnoxiously positive.