Brain drain.

I’m not a fan of sitting still.  Which is why, as much as I need to quiet my overactive, worry-prone brain, I can’t meditate.  I’m sure I could meditate if I really put my mind to it (hah!), but the act of sitting still with my eyes closed focusing on one thought gives me the heebie jeebies.  Meditation just doesn’t suit my on-the-go, always busy, serial multi-tasking personality.  I’ve been told that is exactly why I should meditate, but the fact remains that I enjoy it about as much as I enjoy chugging wheatgrass:  it’s good for me but if I need to hold my nose to get it down, it’s probably not going to happen.

So what’s a girl who needs some stress relief to do?  Enter the morning pages.  I first learned about the morning pages many years ago, the first time I tried to complete the program The Artist’s WayThe Artist’s Way is an awesome 12-week course in awakening your creativity that includes weekly reading assignments, exercises, something called the Artist’s Date (a creative date with yourself), and the daily morning pages.

While abandoning a lot of the other stuff due to lack of time and focus, the one part of the program I’ve been relatively consistent with are the morning pages.  What are they?  Essentially, they’re stream of consciousness journaling.  According to The Artist’s Way, you should start each day by filling up 3 pages (longhand) with stream of consciousness writing; basically, just write whatever happens to be on your mind.  The purpose?  Brain drain; to get all the garbage that’s in your head out and on to the page so that you can quiet the noise and self doubt and stuff that’s getting in the way of the things you need to accomplish, and more importantly, your creativity.

I tend to write a lot and very quickly, so I often find that when I get to the end of the 3 pages, I still have more to vent.  (I’m sure those who know me won’t be surprised by this.  LOL.)  So, instead of a page limit, I commit to a fixed amount of time – 20 minutes – to sit down with paper and pen in hand and just spew out whatever’s bugging me.  It won’t be elegant – it’s not supposed to be – but I find that when I really commit to writing these pages, I generally have better days.  Think of it like going for a mental run first thing in the morning:  it releases endorphins and sets you up to feel better (and be more focused), for the rest of the day.

While there are no guaranteed results, if you commit to writing morning pages on a consistent basis, you may surprise yourself.  After a few days of scribbling mundane junk like ‘I’m tired,’ ‘I don’t know what to write,’ and ‘my co-worker is so annoying,’ you start cutting through the crap to things that are more meaningful, like generating some cool ideas or finding a solution to a problem that’s been plaguing you.  All through the simple act of putting pen to paper.  So, try something for me, will you?  Rather than rolling over and picking up your iPhone first thing in the morning, grab a blank notebook and a pen (and if you’re like me, a cup of coffee) and see where your thoughts take you.  Your brain, and your newfound peace of mind, will thank you.

Until next time, friends.

Another shiny happy Monday.

Hello and a very Shiny, Happy Monday to you!  For today’s happy thought, I’d like to give a shout out to a classic institution:  the newsstand.  In an era where print seems to be dying out – why pick up a book when you can get a Kindle, why look at a newspaper when you can read all your news online – there’s something about the simple pleasure of browsing through a magazine or even (gasp!) a paper that is worth celebrating.

While I’d like to believe that the colorful glossies will always have an audience, it does seem to be the way of the world that with everything moving to the internet, magazines could, at some point, go the way of the dinosaur.

But for now, there are still a handful of excellent newsstands in Los Angeles, and one of my favorites happens to be World Book and News on Cahuenga Blvd. in Hollywood.  Open 24 hours, they have one of the biggest selections I’ve ever seen, including some pretty obscure titles.  Nothing sparks an idea or gives me a much-needed sense of escapism like thumbing through an exotic travel mag to plan my dream vacation, gathering remodeling tips from a décor magazine, or ogling cute pups in Dog Fancy.  World Book and News has it all and browsing there is always a pleasure.  (And with it being open 24 hrs AND located in the heart of Hollywood, I do confess to swinging by here once or twice after a few cocktails. . . )

But seriously, people.  When you are having one of those days when you really need a time-out, I recommend the following:  cruise by your local newsstand and allow yourself 20 minutes to browse titles you normally wouldn’t pick up (or the most gossipy gossip rag you can find – your secret’s safe with me!) and get lost in another world.  I guarantee it will be more satisfying than checking out the status updates of your 800 Facebook friends.

Wishing you a shiny happy Monday!

Shiny Happy Mondays.

Happy Monday, friends!  For this weekly post, I’m ditching the title Merci Mondays in favor of Shiny Happy Mondays.  I was going for alliteration, but after sitting with it for a week, I decided I hate ‘merci’ and most other non-French ‘m’ words.  I happen to really like the R.E.M. song Shiny Happy People, and since Mondays are usually anything but shiny and happy . . . well, there you go.

I’ve also decided that instead of generating a list of happy things (too much pressure), some weeks I may just choose to meditate on one happy thought.  Less is more.

This Monday, my happy thought is this:  beach toes.  ‘Beach toes’ is a phrase coined by my Mom.  The back-story:  my Grandparents own some beachfront property in a small town on Puget Sound in Washington State.  They bought the waterfront acreage and the little cabin situated on the property in the 1950s, when they were both working as court reporters in Seattle.  Meant to be their weekend and summer home, they called the property ‘the beach.’

My Mom often says that many of the happiest memories of her youth were spent during summers at the beach:  waterskiing, building bonfires and roasting marshmallows, and camping out with girlfriends.  And one of the favorite things she and her friends would do during weekend sleepovers at the beach was paint each other’s toenails.  Just for fun, they would paint each toenail a different color, and they called this look beach toes, for no over reason than they did it while they were at the beach.

So why is ‘beach toes’ my happy thought for this Monday?  A few reasons:  1.) It’s not really ‘grown up’ to paint every toenail a different color (you’d never display these babies through a pair of open-toed stilettos at a black tie affair), but it’s fun and quirky and celebrates being a bit unconventional, all of which I like.  2.) It’s a reminder not to take yourself so seriously.  3.) Because it comes from my Mom, who grew up as a child of the 1960s, it makes me think of think of a simpler, and likely, happier time.  And 4.) The bright colors make me smile.

So there you go.  Have a shiny happy Monday, friends!

Until next time.

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