Happy Friday + Randomness

city-waterfallI dated a Zen monk-in-training for a brief period when I lived in San Francisco. He was brilliant, hilarious, foul-mouthed yet eloquent and used phrases like “we are copacetic,” and I would tell him to knock it off with the pretension (and then I asked him what copacetic meant. It means “excellent”, in case you didn’t know either). We didn’t mesh as a couple, but I treasured the friendship, and I greatly admired his commitment to meditation. Like yoga, meditation is something I’ve tried and tried to do with little to no success. I remember how he rested his palm on my head once. “This brain,” he said, “it broods so much.”

I love to brood. Actually, no. If I were to get nit-picky, I love to mull since brood feels a little too negative to me. I use the end of the year and the beginning of the year and pretty much any time of the year as an excuse to ponder my life in all its glorious weirdness. My own kind of meditation involving a lot of writing, I suppose. I make list after list with all-caps titles like “LIFE GOALS” or “INTENTIONS FOR THIS YEAR” or “MONSTER TO-DO”. Take, for example, last year’s 2014 List. I had a grand old time thinking about that list. Executing it? Didn’t exactly nail it.

Out of a list of 14 so-called goals, I accomplished 3. Maybe 4 if I want to be generous. They were good ones though:

  • Met with at least one friend a week
  • Exercised at least 30 minutes every day
  • Did something creative for at least 30 minutes every day

And I’m bummed that I technically can’t include “didn’t buy any clothes for me or K for the entire year” because of those darn t-shirts and capri pants that I keep mentioning. But I still feel like it deserves an honorable mention.

I want to do a whole separate post about these three things I did accomplish because they truly revolutionized my life — and I don’t use the word revolutionized lightly. In fact, it’s made me realize how vital it is to prioritize relationships, health and creating. Even though focusing on them is common sense, I’m always tempted to cast them aside for other, less important factors. I’m well aware that I’m prone to hyperbole, but I kid you not, the quality of my life improved a millionfold in 2014.

And so I’m going to focus on those three categories this year. No specific list. No bullet points or excessive analysis of the how and why. Just: relationships, health and creating. I can already feel the need to expound bubbling up, so I’m going to stop here for today…

By the way, I took the photos of the waterfall a couple of weeks ago. It’s this little known hidden park in the gritty/urban Pioneer Square neighborhood in Seattle. Built on the site that used to house the first ever UPS headquarters, from the outside, it’s a concrete structure that looks unsexy and governmental. Once inside, you’re suddenly surrounded by foliage and engulfed by the roar of water cascading mightily down the rocky walls. Magical and completely unexpected.



A couple of housekeeping notes:

1. Thank you for all the illustration requests from the Debt-Free Life giveaway! I am slowly organizing them all so I don’t end up sending the wrong illustrations out (e.g. there are multiple people with the same first name) and I am realizing that this may be a much longer-term project. I’m really looking forward to working on them and I appreciate your patience in advance!

2. We have had such an enthusiastic response to our second annual Secret Valentine Exchange! Excited emails have been zooming between Ute and me as the count keeps going up (60 and counting so far). It was such a delightful, non-traditional way of celebrating this holiday, we’re happy to be hosting it again!

It’s not too late yet
Join us for the SVE
Sign-ups end tonite

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!


27 thoughts on “Happy Friday + Randomness

  1. I think those are three wonderful things to focus on for another year. I love your posts Sanae– they always make me think and evaluate( and make lists!) about my own life:)

    1. Thanks, Megan! I’m a list-aholic, and sometimes I might go overboard, but I think it actually helps me stay focussed on the important stuff too! πŸ™‚

  2. Focussing on those goals would make me a happier peson too, I am sure. You worded it beautifully. I will keep those in mind when I get sucked down dark alley again πŸ˜‰ .
    And yes, I am very excited about the response to our exchange! 70 (!) and counting!
    Have a wonderful weekend, too!
    (And btw, you totally got it, that gift of the first sentence. I am waiting for your first novel. Oh, and I preorderd your book recently, so looking forward to May!)

    1. Holy cow, our participant list keeps growing! Thanks, my partner in crime – it wouldn’t be nearly as fun without you! (and thank you for the encouragement about writing…a novel! Now there’s a novel idea I haven’t contemplated yet ;-))

  3. Just wanted to toss in an outside perspective: accomplishing 3 goals in a year, especially goals that require a weekly commitment is *huge*. Meeting goals does such incredible things for our inner strength, and actually aids in the development of willpower, so commend yourself wholeheartedly on such a great act of self-care!

    1. I couldn’t agree more, Jules! I’m a list making machine, but I actually don’t expect to get most of the things I write down done. I’m always trying to prioritize, though, and I think I did a pretty good job last year. πŸ™‚

  4. I’m really impressed at the 4 goals you achieved! The no-buying-clothes one definitely counts I think….
    I only made one goal last year, similar to one of yours – just to do something creative every day (I knew if I put a time-limit on it I would probably crash and burn) and I agree, it made a massive difference….

    1. Thanks Liz! I’m glad you think the no-buying-clothes one counts – I definitely think it should πŸ™‚ The time limit is tricky because it can easily de-motivate or derail me too. But the small amount of time seemed doable, and it turned out to be a good rule-of-thumb for me.

  5. Sounds like great goals for the year! I don’t make lists or plans, but I do try to keep things in mind and changes I want to make. Maybe I would benefit from a list? Maybe I am more into the freedom from lists?

    1. Nah, if list-making isn’t your thing, I say don’t sweat it. I’ve been making lists since I could barely write, so it’s in my DNA. Your approach of keeping things in mind is great and is really the reason why I write everything down (because I quickly forget). πŸ™‚

  6. I used to be really into meditation so I’m sure your buddhist monk boyfriend probably already told you that you really can’t succeed or not succeed at meditation. I just mean that there is no such thing as a ‘bad’ meditator. It is the nature of the human mind to wander from the present moment and I think every human struggles with that while meditating, whether it’s the zen monk or the newbie. Now the practice of meditation is not for everyone. Dan can’t stand it. He says he’s burning daylight. haha! And I came across a study which claimed for some people meditation really does create more and not less stress. I don’t prioritize meditation anymore in terms of a formal practice but I use the principles every day. One technique I learned is if you start brooding or mulling and it’s not in a positive way, to take a deep breath in and hold it for 7 seconds. The exhale. Repeat 3 times. Or 15 times if you need to. And then just focus what you are doing at the moment. That has been really helpful to me.That’s kind of my practice now. I also use it at night if I can’t fall asleep. Apparently it’s calming to the nervous system. Not sure if that’s true, but it seems to work for me.
    Happy weekend, Sanae. It’s always a joy to read your blog!

    1. Oh, I love the deep breath tip. Thank you, Rachel! Yep, he did tell me that there is no such thing as a bad meditator and I would fall into that category of people who get more stressed trying to sit and breathe. I seem to need to be doing something along with it, which is why I thought yoga would be just the ticket, but even after many, many attempts, it remains something I have a hard time continuing. Oh well, I’m sure I’ll keep trying πŸ™‚

  7. You know I think I might just enjoy making a list of goals if I can be content with accomplishing them or not. Thank you for the perspective!

    1. I do think not being too worried about the outcome is good when making lists. They’re more like little memory joggers the way I use them and I try not to get too hung up about getting EVERYTHING done. Thank you, Ali!

  8. It’s so hard to make permanent changes. One year, I managed to start flossing every day and felt like I’d won at life. I think the changes you made this year are monumental!

    1. Daily flossing is the stuff of champions, Morgan! Now I’m getting all off-topic, but have you ever used those stimu-dent sticks? They’re little flat toothpicks, and I swear, my dentist has told me that my oral hygiene has improved dramatically since I started using them daily. Thank you for your comment!!

  9. I must laugh because I recently, as in the last couple weeks, realized I too need to make time to create and spend with friends. It makes life so much better doesn’t it!

    1. It’s one of my many downfalls, Em. I constantly forget to connect with friends because daily life gets so full, you know? But just a quick face-to-face chat with one friend a week made such a huge difference this last year. I’m already continuing it this year πŸ™‚

  10. Oh, I really like your goal of doing something creative for at least 30 minutes every day! I also live in Seattle, and have never heard of this hidden park. I’ll definitely have to visit it when I’m in pioneer square. Cheers!

    1. The word “park” feels a little too grand for this tiny structure in the middle of the city, Tiffa, but it really is unexpectedly lovely. I hope you get to check it out. Thanks!

  11. I recently started reading your blog and enjoy your posts. What great goals to accomplish! I would like to give more priority to all of these in my life. I am always making lists and enjoy reflecting, or mulling, as well.

    1. So happy you’re enjoying my posts, April – I really enjoy putting them together! I do hope you give the goals a try. They’ve made a huge difference in my life πŸ™‚

  12. I love it when your need to expound bubbles up:) seriously, you could write about paint drying and find a way to mesmerize your audience; your writing is so engaging.
    and those three goals are pretty much a good chunk of daily well-being, aren’t they? well chosen. love that you met with at least one friend/week – that would be good for me as my introverted nature tends to get freaked out when looking at a busy social calendar. and yet I know how good it is for me – esp as I get older – to place value in the important relationships in my life. I admire you for making that a priority.
    and I’m in awe of your 30 min/day of exercise – only in my wildest dreams! I aim for 3-4 gym visits a week and call it good:)
    looking forward to hearing future thoughts about relationships, health and creating – and so very glad 2014 was such a fantastic year for you:)

    1. I’m pretty averse to overly busy social calendars – I definitely need alone time to recharge. But my schedule tends to skew on the opposite side of the spectrum of NO social contact, so I realized I needed to make concerted efforts to meet up with human beings or I was going to start talking in tongue to myself. As for the exercise…it was a very gradual, long, drawn-out process that I’ll talk more about soon! Thank you!

  13. Props on meeting those goals! Man I wish I could say the same, especially about exercising every day I really could afford to do better on that. Exercise just makes you FEEL so much better you know? So props on meeting that.

    1. Thank you, Haylee!The daily exercise habit took a very long time to develop but now it’s part of my routine — I’m very much a creature of habit! πŸ™‚

  14. Do not give up to meditate, Sanae keep try it on and don’t expect for result. I have been doing mediation many years but there’s nothing I achieve, not even first jhana (zen) because I didn’t practice it well last time. I just sit and pay attention to my breathe in and out when I have time to meditate. So, starting this year I make commitment to myself to do it everyday no matter busy I am. I feel it’s become easier now as I train my mind not to wander. The actual meditation is not just sit down but to practice it every time while you do something, you just focus on, you become aware of what you are doing. I believe you do it well.

    Congratulations on your book, feel glad of your accomplishments.
    I miss chance to participate in SVE and to get costume give away from you :).

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