Gratitude Challenge: Little Things In Life

As a part of Habitica‘s gratitude challenge, I will write about the little things that I’m grateful for. Some are not that little but are overlooked.

I’m grateful for living in my country and in my city. My country is beautiful, as so many countries are, but it holds a special place in my heart. My city is peaceful and rife with cultural events, coffee shops, restaurants and beautiful sites. There is a huge park, where people go to spend time, enjoy nature, do exercise and so on. I live near the city center, so it’s very convenient.

I’m grateful for all the books I have at home. We have a big collection of books and there is a lot to read. So many that I won’t be able to read them all in the lifetime (unless the longevity movement extends lifespan so much, that we become immortal haha). Books have been a big part of my life since I was little. My mother used to read me bedtime stories and we would go to book fairs and bookstores since I was a baby. Books are magical portals to other realities. You become the movie director of the film you create in your mind, that’s why most books are better than the movies they are based on. Reading is a very therapeutic activity, it soothes the soul, and it helps one to stay creative. Books inspire me to write, and help me write better.

I’m grateful for my smartphone. This might sound silly or materialistic, but I really do. It enables me to write anywhere, (yes, I could use pen and paper, but, in my opinion, writing on a cellphone is quicker and more satisfying) post to WordPress anywhere and do many other things. Apps are very helpful. I forget to drink water, so I use an app to remind me to drink water. I have a step counter app, a site aggregator and many other apps that make my life easier. To think that 20 years ago, when I had my first cellphone, it was heavy and it couldn’t do many things. Now, we can do thousands of things with our smartphones. I wonder what we’ll have twenty years from now. We’ll probably have augmenting reality glasses and we’ll be able to digitally interact with everything. Let’s wait and see.

I’m grateful for my room. Privacy is important to me, whether it is online or in real life. My room is further from the other rooms in the house. I can entertain friends, listen to loud music and do whatever. It was designed by my mother with love. It has 50% of it is windows, so there is lots of light and I have a nice view.

I’m grateful for my art supplies. I have many water soluble pencils, paint, water soluble crayons, etc. It enables me to draw and paint whatever I like. I can unleash my creativity on paper with incredible freedom. I know that you can do a lot with fewer supplies and that the supplies don’t make the artist, but it’s more pleasurable to be have more supplies.

I feel grateful for the food I eat. It’s mostly healthy food, though I do love ramen and fried food. I love eating, I truly do. Even though it feels like a chore sometimes. I wish there was a pill you would take, and you would feel full right away. Depression can interfere with your eating habits: you may not feel like cooking or eating. A few weeks ago, my dinner consisted of ramen and chopped steak meat. That is an example of a “depression meal”. You have zero motivation to cook. Sometimes, I’m hungry for long periods of time. I feel hungry but I just don’t do anything about it.

What are the little things in life that you are grateful for?

Image by DomAlberts, courtesy of Pixabay.

Advertisements

Gratitude Challenge: My parents

As a part of Habitica’s gratitude challenge, I’ll be writing every day about something or someone I’m grateful for. I said I wasn’t going to talk about my parents, boyfriend and, friends but I realized that I never talked about them in-depth, in my gratitude posts. So, today I’m writing about my parents.

My parents are a lovely and unusual couple. They are very different but complement each other. My father is a bit cold and distant but he is supportive. My mother is warm and loving and also supportive. As I said in my post, she is my biggest cheerleader. Every time I accomplish anything, no matter how small it is, she becomes happy and congratulates me. Every victory of mine is a victory of hers. When it comes to my father, he’s mostly about the bigger victories and he doesn’t pay attention to the smaller ones. He’s a very hard-working and disciplined person. Always wakes up at the same time, has breakfast, lunch and dinner at the same time every day. Everything is constant with him. My mother is a little less disciplined but she also has a routine. Every morning, she goes out and goes to a coffee shop. Then she does some shopping and comes home. Both me and my parents enjoy our time alone. My father is in his study, my mother in the living room and, I’m in my room. After dinner, we watch TV and hang out together. It’s a special time because I really enjoy their company. They are witty and funny. They are critical thinkers and very intelligent. I’m so proud of them. They are good role models. That’s not something everyone can say. Some parents are really terrible. I know how fortunate I am to have them as parents, even though we’ve had our differences over the years. We didn’t get along at all. We fought almost every day, over trivial and not so trivial things. That messed with my mental health very much. It was a source of despair and sadness. Now things are radically different: we almost never fight and, when we do, it’s just a small fight that blows over quickly. We learned to respect each other. As they changed, I started respecting them more and they respected me more as I changed, too. Sometimes parents are just so tired of our bs that they don’t know how to act and they do it impulsively. My psychiatrist once told me that stopping the fights was in my hands. She was right. Fights stopped happening when I learned to deescalate them. As the fights stopped, we could think more clearly and understood that we were a family again, like we were in my childhood. For years, something in me said that I could get them back. BPD didn’t help me with that but I tried. Sometimes I lost hope. Sometimes I hated them. Sometimes I loved them. Sometimes I was hopeful. It was a rollercoaster of emotions. The turmoil was so bad, I lost my mind several times. Weed didn’t help, it only made things worse. They didn’t agree with it, not a tiny bit. And they we’re right. It wasn’t good for me. Parents know what’s best for us, most of the time.

Apart from the bullying and some events, I had a great childhood. My parents took me to museums, the beach, the mountains, abroad and many places in my country. They were very loving and I learned a lot from them. My father usually knew the history of the places we went to and would tell me about it. My mother would read me bedtime stories, that was one of the best parts of the day. My mother was almost always available to play with me, even though I played by myself most of the time, by my own choice. We lived in a small community and I would play outside freely, in the summer I would be outside until midnight or 1 am. It was really idyllic, especially in the summertime.

They’re comfortable with me being at home, still. Most people my age live alone but most people my age haven’t battled mental conditions like I have. I find it odd that American parents want their kids out of the house by 18. 18 is far too young. They’re still teens by then and should have some time to adjust to adulting. I know it’s a cultural thing but it feels so cruel. I have been in and out of my parents’ house many times. They always welcomed me back warmly and never made me feel unwelcome or like a burden. I think that is a blessing in and of itself. It’s something I can never repay them. The only thing I can do is work to be independent and have a good life. That’s the only payment they want. I think that shows that they love me unconditionally and that they like to be with me.

I have my own space, away from everyone. I am grateful for that, too. It was designed by my mother just for me.

I feel so emotional right now, I live them so much and it’s so good to write about them. They are great people: loving, charitable, intelligent, witty, progressive, friendly, social, so many things that it’s hard to write everything down. I am grateful for them and that they provide for me in the time I need the most. I know many parents can’t or won’t do that for their kids, so I feel even more grateful. It’s like I won the lottery or something.

Are you grateful for your parents?

Image by jpedraza, courtesy of Pixabay.

Gratitude challenge: coffee, tea and cider

As a part of the Habitica gratitude challenge, I will continue to write about things that make me feel grateful.

Today, I’m writing about my favorite beverages.

Coffee and tea are a big part of my life. Every time I drink coffee, I brew tea. I let the tea cool down, since it’s summer and it’s not very pleasant to drink hot tea.

Coffee has been my favorite drink since I was a teenager. Its rich and exotic flavor really warm my soul. Coffee is my go-to drink in the morning, as it is for most people. It’s the best way to wake up. It’s now a big part of popular culture. There a lot of memes about it. People love Starbucks and other coffee places. I love Starbucks’ American coffee but I don’t go there often. I am fortunate to live in a place where coffee is great. Espresso is the default coffee here. In my country, most coffeeshops serve great coffee. People line up in the morning to have it and maybe something to eat. Coffee machines scream in anger while coffee is poured. It’s really loud and I like it because it’s a familiar sound. It reminds me of the morning.

I either drink espresso or instant coffee. Espresso’s flavor is stronger and more pleasant but instant coffee is alright. I don’t like all brands of espresso and instant coffee. Some taste like the coffee was burned, it has a really unpleasant taste. Coffee should have aroma.

Some people say they are terrible before their morning coffee. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that. I always wake up in a good mood. Unless I don’t feel good, of course but that isn’t very usual.

Tea is a beverage that I’ve been drinking more often. It’s a way of drinking less coffee. I prefer herbal teas. Green, white, black and rooibos tea are very good in the morning, when I don’t feel like having coffee. I like mixes of herbs. At night, I have a tea for sleeping well and it’s a mix. It has lavender and other soothing herbs (I should look the herbs up to translate them for you but I feel so lazy because I just woke up, sorry). I love lemongrass tea, its flavor is so good. It tastes like lemon. Raspeberry and white tea is a terrific mix that I have every day. Forest fruits are always make great tea. I have a mix of forest fruits. It’s just dried fruits but its smell and taste are just perfect.

Homemade iced tea is also great but I don’t do it very often. I really should make some. Brew some tea and add lemon or forest fruits. It’s a delicious summer drink.

I don’t drink a lot of alcohol. It’s bad for you and being drunk is not my cup of tea. But my favorite alcoholic beverage is cider. Mainly because it tastes like juice. I drink three or four times a week, one can in each of those days. It’s such pleasurable to drink cold cider in the summer. I just don’t like that it’s so sugary, there should be an alternative sweetened with stevia. It should become a trend in alcoholic drinks, too, since so many beverages are sweetened with stevia nowadays.

What are your favorite drinks?

Image by fancycrave1, courtesy of Pixabay.

Gratitude challenge: Meditation

This week, I’m doing the gratitude challenge from Habitica. Every day, I’m writing about one thing that I’m grateful for.

Today, I’m writing about meditation. It’s something that has been life-changing.

I do Anapanasati (or concentration meditation) and Vipassana meditation (or mindfulness meditation). As someone who is in recovery, it has been very important to me. It has helped decrease my depressive symptoms, regulate my mood, quietened my mind and helped me focus better (it boosted my concentration tremendously).

It’s a quiet space where I can have peace of mind and serenity. Not thinking and just observing thoughts has been proven as very beneficial for the brain. It shrinks the amygdala (the brain’s fight or flight center, which is responsible for fear and emotion, where reactions to stress start). This was only after 8 weeks of mindfulness practice. Studies show that the pre-frontal cortex gets thicker (it’s responsible for concentration, awareness and decision-making). The connection between the amygdala and the rest of the brain becomes weaker and the connection between areas associated with concentration and attention get stronger (according to this article).

Anapanasati meditation is, basically, concentrating on your breath and letting thoughts go as they arise. You don’t judge yourself or your thoughts.

In Vipassana meditation, you focus on the sensations in your body and you observe your thoughts as they arise, letting them go afterwards.

These two types of meditation should be practiced every day, at least two times a day because concentration meditation helps concentration (obviously) and gives us a better mood and mindfulness meditation (also called insight meditation) helps us become more aware of our body, helps us deal with unpleasant feelings and sensations and, can help us in having insights or mystical experiences. We can have this experience of everything being empty and devoid of essence, which can help us see things more clearly. See things as they are and without emotional attachment. It doesn’t mean that when we meditate every day we lose all emotion and become these numb vegetables: we will be more joyful and in touch with our feelings. And see the world as the vibrant place it is.

As Allan Watts said, when we think too much, we get further from reality because thoughts are abstract. Meditation helps us just be in the present moment, without the chatter of the mind. It is critical for people with mental health conditions because they affect how we think, feel and act. Sitting with a negative feeling is a good way of dealing with it, without repressing it. Understanding that thoughts are not you, that they impermanent and dynamic, helps us see them for what they are; for the illusions that they are. That is so powerful as it takes power from them and back to us. We are much more than our thoughts and they can be misleading. I’m not saying that thinking and analysing things is not important. It is very important but, for a matter of balance, it is also important to be in stillness. Too much thought can be the death of us. Overthinking is very detrimental to ourselve. Everything should be balanced in this life. We should speak but also be quiet, to learn from others. We should listen to music or someone speaking but also be in silence, as it is very beneficial for our health. So, you see, it’s all a matter of equilibrium, which is something I’m still struggling with.

I’ve also done mindful eating, which is a very interesting experience. The food tastes better, you chew more (which is good for our health). As someone who always eats in a hurry, it transformed the way I eat.

It’s also possible to walk and do other activities mindfully. I shall try them all, as I’m very curious about how mindfulness can change our outlook on experiences.

Meditation also helps with addiction. Either it’s drugs or tobacco, there are ways to let go of our attachment to these harmful habits. I want to stop smoking, so I will look into this subject as soon as possible and I will share my conclusions with you.

I notice that I’m more kind and more connected. I don’t get angry easily and I feel no need to harm others, as they are a part of this world where everything is connected. It doesn’t make sense to harm a part of you. I understand that everyone has a story and ways that they are hurting. That realization tells me that there’s a reason why everyone reacts the way they do. It doesn’t make sense to get involved in useless fights. It’s a matter of picking your battles. Some battles are just not fruitful and, in fact, are detrimental to us. They are a waste of energy, which is a finite resource. That energy could be spent on more important tasks or activities. It’s like that Indian wolf metaphor, where a wise man says that inside of us there are two wolves: a good one and a bad one. They are constantly fighting. Someone asks the wise man “Which wolf wins the fight?” and he replies “The one you feed”. It’s important to feed our good side and starve the bad side. This is the way to become a better person and to evolve. I know I have been the toxic person many times throughout my life and I want to let go of that side. Being mindful in every day life and observing my actions is the way to go. Always be curious about why you do things and what you can do to change. We have been scarred by trauma and that’s okay but it doesn’t mean that it’s the way it’s always going to be.

In the past, people thought personality was fixed. Now we know that there is plasticity in the brain. Personality is not fixed. We can decide how we want to be and act. So it’s up to us to decide our path, what we want to let go or create for ourselves.

I hope this made sense to you and I hope I can inspire someone to meditate today or in the near future.

I love you all and wish you are all well and healthy.

Image by Cbill, courtesy of Pixabay.

Gratitude Challenge: My cats

This is the second day of the Habitica gratitude challenge. I’m going to talk about my cats today.

All my cats were found in the street, when they were little.

My first one was a Siamese cat. He was very independent and he couldn’t stand me because I was always bothering him. He was beautiful, with piercing blue eyes. He lived until he was 19 years old.

Since I was young, I would bring cats home and my mother wouldn’t say anything. She liked it. My father, not so much but he got used to it.

The oldest cat I have now is 7 years old. She is a beautiful and chubby girl. Her hobbies are sleeping as much as possible and eating. She spends most of the day sleeping. Every time someone pets her, she meows in an irritated way. I don’t know why that is, she’s probably just grumpy. If I pet one of the other cats when she’s near, she gets jealous and meows, like she also wants some love. Assertiveness is one of her characteristics; when we do something she doesn’t like, she raises her paw, with her claws out and touches our hand. It’s like she’s saying “Stop it, human. Enough already”.

The second oldest one is a tuxedo cat. He was found by my neighbor and friend. She asked us to keep him and we couldn’t say no. He was (and is) so funny. He would always be looking for trouble, scratching things, running from room to room. We used to play hide-and-seek. I would stand near a wall, look at him and then hide behind the wall. He would then run to find me and meow. This cat is very vocal, he meows a lot. Sometimes, it seems like he is greeting us.

When he was little, he would sleep with me because he couldn’t be in contact with the other cats. My face was his pillow, he really liked to sleep on my face or that I hugged him while he slept. Every night, in the living room, he would cause a scene. Always trying to get behind the furniture, where the wires from TV were. Scratching chairs, the sofa and causing trouble.

He grew up to be a very loving and needy cat, that is always around us. His fur is so fluffy and soft, petting him is a pleasant experiencing.

My youngest one is a black cat. This girl is also funny but more secure. She’s the boss of the house.

I found her in the street, one night. She was meowing so loud and she was so scared. When I caught her, she didn’t even try to escape. She was like “Take me home, human. I hate this place”. She was so small that she didn’t know how to purr. Looking like a little bat, she became my companion. Every time I eat, every time I go to the bathroom, she’s there. Always asking for wet food, this cat can’t get enough of it. It’s funny, there’s always dry food available but she will get angry if I don’t feed her wet food. Biting my ankles and legs is her way to get me to feed her that delicious wet food. It doesn’t hurt a lot, it’s just a bit annoying.

When I’m awake at night, every time I go inside the house, she’s waiting for me. When I’m ready to go to bed, I feed her and she comes sleep with me. She purrs and makes biscuits (you know, that kitty massage some cats like to do). This cat doesn’t do that to anyone else, just me. I guess I’m her mommy.

She is independent and not very needy, though she is sweet. Picking fights with the tuxedo cat is her hobby. The poor thing meows, as she bites him. We have to separate them sometimes but they have been more civil lately

I’m grateful for cats because they bring life to my house. It’s a joy to be around them. Cats are very therapeutic. Petting them and listening to their purring sound, makes me feel serene. Watching them do their thing is delightful. They are elegant, majestic creatures that I love dearly. Couldn’t think of a better pet to be around. I love them unconditionally, they warm my heart.

Image by Dyadya_Lyosha, courtesy of Pixabay.

Gratitude challenge: Music

Gratitude is so important. It keeps us grounded and helps us see things in a more positive perspective.

I accepted Habitica‘s challenge of sharing things I’m grateful for. I don:t want to talk about my family, friends and boyfriend, like I always do. I’m going to focus on the little things that I sometimes overlook.

I will write about one thing that I’m grateful for, each day.

Music is something I’m grateful for. Sometimes it’s my only company. I enjoy finding new music and feeling nostalgia by listening to music I already know. It’s a source of inspiration and peace. It makes me feel so many different feelings. From melancholy to excitement. From Joy to sadness.

It’s incredible how creative musicians are. They produce amazing sounds and ambiences. You are transported to different places and different times. It can feel like an embrace, like a tender smile from a stranger. It contains emotions and messages, every song has a story and memories attached to it.

A song can help us cope with unpleasant feelings and celebrate pleasant feelings.

When I listen to music on my headphones, it’s like the musician is singing just for me, in a private concert in my ears.

Every song is like a painting made of sounds. Crafted by gifted individuals that work hard on their art. They want to perfect it and show people what they are capable of. Show their friends, family and fans what they have created.

I would like to learn to make music. It’s one of my dreams. I’ve been concentrating on writing now, I want to improve my writing skills. But, when I get the chance, I will learn how to make songs in music programs. I would love to produce electronic music. I have some ideas for songs. Melodies are always in my head.

I started listening to music when I was a baby. My parents are music lovers. There was always classical music on or bossa nova. I would watch Disney’s Fantasia and Mozart’s Magic Flute. Those were my favorite. My favorite movie as a child was The Little Mermaid. It featured many songs and I would sing along to them. It made me so happy. I knew all the lyrics, as I watched it every day. I find it interesting that I was so fascinated by that rebellious princess. It makes sense as I grew up to be quite rebellious as well.

My favorite groups as a child were teen bands that performed adaptations of popular songs. I knew all the songs by heart as well. I still like some of the songs though they are so different from the songs I listen to now. I guess it’s nostalgia.

As a teen, I loved Bon Jovi. I also loved Depeche Mode, U2, Texas, Ace of Base and very bad dance music (haha). It’s interesting how Ace of Base’s biggest hits aged so well. I know, it’s not an unanimous opinion but I think it’s still upbeat and catchy music. I really enjoyed watching MTV and other music channels. There were some really good videos then (I’m not saying that videos are bad now, there are some very good recent ones). Music videos added another angle to the songs. I liked Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun (I thought this video was very original and a good satire of the American society and it had this apocalyptic feel. You can watch it here), Annie Lennox’s No more I love you’s (this video was very funny, it featured some men in makeup, dressed as ballerinas. You can watch it here). I really liked Foo Fighters’ videos, they were always crazy and creative (this one was my favorite) and also Beastie Boys’ videos (like this one).

I could talk about more bands that I liked in my 20’s and I will do it on another post, though my memory is not very helpful.

I just want to finish my post by saying thank you to musicians, roadies, sound engineers and everyone who is involved in the music business. They make the world a better place and they provide me with entertainment, inspiration and something to hold on to in my darkest times. Thank you so much.

What do you think about music?What artists do you listen to? What was your favorite band growing up?

Image by Splitshire, courtesy of Pixabay.

Baby steps and gratitude

My father puts me down on a regular basis. I was feeling so good and he had to tell me that I’m getting worse, that my life is a tragedy and that I will regret it later. I know my life isn’t perfect, not by far. The changes have been subtle but they are constant. The thing about baby steps, which was what my therapist recommended me, is that they are not very obvious for the untrained eye. I have been doing the dishes after dinner, I went out alone last Saturday, I have a skin care routine, I’ve been studying, I’ve been waking up in the morning more often. I plan to start cleaning my bathroom every two days, starting on Wednesday. I’ve been doing my bed more often, I’ve been smoking less, I’ve been drinking less coffee. This is a big deal for me. I’ve been pushing through and becoming more active and productive.

If you are in my situation, you’re doing baby steps to get unstuck, I am proud of you. Don’t let other people put you down, just say “yes” to everything and keep doing what you’re doing. If you are too depressed or exhausted to do effort, I am proud of you as well. You will be able to start your baby steps soon, I’m sure. And as you start, after a few weeks, you’ll notice that things get easier. You get used to doing what you’re doing and you start feeling confident enough to do more. At least that’s how I feel.

My father said that he was suffering. I am very sorry for that, I just wish he could notice the effort I’m making to lead a normal life. I am going to talk to him later but I don’t know if it’s going to change anything. He is a very active man, that does many things, so my baby steps look microscopic to him. My mother is more understanding and she sees what I’m doing. I am grateful for that.

Speaking of gratitude, I am grateful for many things right now. I am grateful for my family, boyfriend and friends. They are very supportive and have been very good to me. I am grateful for my health, I wish to be more mindful of it and do more exercise, in order to stay healthy. I am grateful for my cats, they are my purring, fluffy, love baskets. Petting them and taking care of them is very therapeutic for me. I just love cats. If I believed in spirit animals, they would be mine.

I am grateful for the house I live in, the food I eat, my clothes and comfort. I am grateful for my cellphone that allows me to post on WordPress anywhere. That gives me great freedom and pleasure. I am grateful for my computer. I am grateful for my speaker, that allows me to listen to music with great quality. I am grateful for being alive and well, for being more stable and peaceful. I am grateful for my meditation practice, it has helped me immensely. I am grateful for all the information available online, it allows me to learn about a plethora of subjects. I am grateful to live in this country, I really enjoy being here. I am grateful for my therapist, she is a light in the dark and one of my biggest cheerleaders. She helps me think and understand my issues better. I am grateful for this season, that I love, the wonderful summer. I am grateful for having found and joined WordPress. I am grateful for my followers, the wonderful people that interact with me and the ones that just read my posts. You are great and I am glad to have you in my life.

Writing this gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling of comfort and gratitude. I really am fortunate in so many ways.

Update:

I spoke to my father and he agreed with me. I am very relieved. I did it, not only to defend myself but also to relieve him, too. For him to see things in a more positive way because there are positive things to be seen.

I hope you are having a wonderful day. I love you all.

Image by Free-Photos, courtesy of Pixabay.