In between all the rush…

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Just pause.

For maybe 10 seconds.

Or maybe 10 minutes.

Pause as much as you can.

And ponder.

How Small you are, in the Universe.

Just a grain in the powder.

And how Big you are.

So big that you carry all the Universes

just inside one cell of yours.

And that you can change everything,

Everything that you are.

If you have the energy to tilt your head,

You have the energy to change everything

That things are.

Tilt your head and look above,

Tilt your head and look inside.

via Daily Prompt: Pause

17 Before 2017- and thoughts on 2016

Earlier in September, I set seventeen goals for myself to accomplish before 2017 starts. Here is what it looked like:

 

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November and December was crazy at work, so I can’t say I was great at making all of these goals come true. Let’s see how it went:

Goals 1 to 4: Minimalism

These were the goals related to my minimalism journey. Although my kitchen and vanity are quite compact as they are, I wanted to declutter them once again. However, apart from giving away empty jars and throwing away unused make-up, I haven’t been quite successful in these.

And again, although I know what to wear pretty much every day, I couldn’t set a time to organize my wardrobe just for work. I do love my winter sweaters, though!

My fourth goal was to finish 7 skincare and make-up products before 2017. I finished 2 of them, threw away 2, and working on the other 3.

 

Goals 5-9: Mind Goals

These are goals related mostly with mind. I started a novel about 4 years ago but never touched it for 3 years until I went back this year. But I am not sure if I like it anymore. I am like 5000 words in, and I’ll maybe go on, maybe not. Anyway, I would like to write an independent short story no matter what happens in my novel journey.

This is what I set out on. I’m proud to say that I wrote more than one story, in fact, I wrote 3 stories and I’m working on the 4th one. Plus, I registered for a creative writing course, which has been my highlight of the year.

FutureLearn: I managed to finish three courses at FutureLearn, which has been so great and informative. The courses are: Nutrition and Well-being, Start Writing Fiction and Mindfulness for Well-being and Peak Performance. These courses are given every two or three months, they are entirely free and given by professors all around the world, and are interactive so you get to participate in a lot of discussions. I strongly recommend the platform and these courses in particular.

In addition to writing, I wanted to read 50 books, but I could only finish 29. This is pretty big for me, I had set a rather impossible goal anyways.

And for my blog:

My blog of course is among my goals. Keeping a record here really helps me put things in perspective. Right now I have 100 followers, I want to double it by the end of the year.

I couldn’t spare much time on blogging since October, so I am a bit disappointed with myself. I have only 53 posts and 134 followers at the moment, which isn’t much progress since September. I hope I can work more on it in 2017.

Goal 10: Job

I started my new job on January 6th, and towards the New Year the committee will decide whether I will be permanent or not. Fingers crossed!

I have my final examination on Wednesday, so still fingers crossed!

Goals 11-14: Health

 

Oh I feel so guilty about this! I haven’t had my check-up, nor did I practice much yoga.

Goal 15: Crafts

I did finish the table cloth I started! Here is a close-up:

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Goals 16-17: Spirit

I’m still working on making meditation a daily habit. I think my main problem is that my days can be unpredictable, so it can be difficult to set a routine. But I am hopeful 2017 will be a better year for me to practice more mindfulness.

And last but not least, finishing the year in gratitude is so important to me. This year has been both challenging and rewarding for me. I got into a new job, and I went through a very interesting training process. Some parts of it I loved (like getting to know yourself first and being more mindful), while some parts I couldn’t really make sense. Serenity was my key word last year, yet I was more stressed than ever. Still, it is very interesting for me to see that every passing year I am growing as a teacher and a person, and it feels like I am getting more self-confident. I make more conscious choices, and behave more responsibly. I guess I have become an adult without even realizing!

As I am writing these, I am worried as well as excited for 2017. It hasn’t been a good beginning in Turkey (mass shooting at a night club in İstanbul) and it seems we can’t escape terrorism: it’s in our daily lives now. It is very distressing to live with it and go to public places, as there has been 3 massive suicide bombings in Ankara, where I live. There has been students in my school who lost their lives at the age of 18. It is just hope sometimes that keeps you alive, so my wish for the new year is to never stop hoping.

No-Spend November: Final Update

November was one busy and difficult month for me. I had so many responsibilities at work that I wasn’t surprised that sometimes I forgot about I wasn’t buying anything in November on some days. I wish that we had some sort of a winter break here in Turkey, but even New Year’s Eve falls on a Saturday. Here is a handwritten report on how November was:

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So, I made 5 purchases in total:

1. an iPhone 6S. I wasn’t sure about it, but it turns out I like my new iPhone a lot, but I have to agree I miss BlackBerry Hub and the awesome BlackBerry keyboard. I’m still not on good terms with iOS keyboard and autocorrect, especially when I  write half-Turkish half-English and don’t check what I wrote before posting. I did send some meaningless texts!

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2. A red block note for my mother-in-law. She loved it and was looking for a way to make it a permanent notebook by writing quotes or verses in it.

3. Teacher’s day gift for my teacher trainer: A journal and a nice pen in a box.

4. Rhodia pad (A6 size): I am so happy about this notebook. The paper is the stuff dreams are made of!

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5. and finally, some cartridges for my Platinum Preppy.  (and in the photo you’ll see my beautiful Christmas plant that decided to blossom a month before Christmas)

When I set out, I had 5 criteria for things I won’t be buying this month and yeah, stationery was one of them. Apparently I spend much more money on stationery in a regular month, but although I was mindfully trying to keep out, I couldn’t. Even the two gifts I bought this month are notebooks and pens. I knew I liked paper and pen and ink all right, but this challenge helped me see this is my weak spot.

Awareness is the key, after all.

Living Life on Auto-Pilot, and Taking Control

 

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Have you realized we live most of our lives on auto-pilot? How many people remember if they washed their faces or not this morning? Or how they walked/drove/commuted to work? We probably did all of them, being on auto-pilot, but without any awareness. Unless there is an  unpleasant experience, we could go on default mode all day. Without one drop of consciousness; we could go to work and come back home, chat with people and watch the news, cook and wash the dishes. This is our lovely brain’s gift to us.

Days, months, and years pass like this and one day we realize we never enjoy life, haven’t accomplished our dreams, and in fact have led a very mundane life. Worse yet, we may not realize this until the end of our lives. Most don’t. Realizing is just the beginning. And solution is not so far away.

The closest and the most permanent solution is mindfulness. Being fully aware of what is going on each moment. Not what might happen, not what has happened, just what is going on right now. If you are breathing, breathe, eating, eat, waiting for a bus, you got the point. Be one with that moment and discover it again and again. While on auto-pilot we can’t do that. And the difference is huge.

One of the teachers in the mindfulness course I am taking said this: “Focus on what is, rather than what if.” It is very memorable and effective.

The effects of mindfulness are scientifically proven, too. The best known effects are increasing performance and productivity. There is, for example, a study on university students mindfully washing dishes and enjoying it. It’s a chore many, including me, hate to do, but being aware of the moment beautifies it.

I think one of the most important effects of being mindful and taking control again is on talking and listening. This is the most difficult for me as I like talking and sometimes I realize I talk nonsense, and just chatter; only to realize afterwards. I noticed while I am not very talkative in groups, when there is the famous awkward silence, I throw a few words in. I can’t handle the silence. I also interrupt sometimes if I get impatient. What experts suggest here is to remember to breathe. When the person before you finishes speaking, take a moment to breathe. It doesn’t last a second or two, but you reset the auto-pilot and take control. So you don’t interrupt and say useless things. Although I have a long way to go in order to achieve it, I believe one day I will get there.

Just being aware is enough most of the time.

 

Oto-pilot Modunda Yaşamak

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Hayatımızın çoğunu oto-pilot modunda yaşadığımızı fark ettiniz mi? Sabah kalktığında gerçekten yüzünü yıkayıp yıkamadığını hatırlayan kaç kişi vardır? Ya da işe/okula giderken nasıl yürüdüğünü/araba kullandığını/otobüse bindiğini hatırlayan? Eğer olumsuz bir tecrübeyle karşılaşmıyorsak günümüzün çoğunu otomatik modda yaşayabiliriz. Tek bir bilinç zerresi gerekmeden işe gidip gelebilir, insanlarla muhabbet edip haberleri izleyebilir, yemek yapıp bulaşıkları yıkayabiliriz. Bu bize insan zihninin bir armağanı. Sıfır farkındalıkla günler, aylar, yıllar geçer, ve biz yıllar sonra hayattan zevk almadığımızı, istediklerimizin gerçekleşmediğini, yavan, ot gibi bir yaşam geçirdiğimizi fark ederiz. Daha da kötüsü, yaşamımızın sonuna kadar bunu fark da etmeyebilirdik. Çoğu etmiyor. Bir şeylerin yanlış olduğunu fark etmek yalnızca bir başlangıç. Ve çözüm noktası da çok uzakta değil.

En yakın ve kalıcı çözüm noktası anın farkında olmak. O an gerçekten neler olduğunu, neler olabileceğini, geçmişte ne olmuş olduğunu, gelecekteki olasılıkları değil, yalnız o anı düşünmek. Yaptığın nefes almaksa nefes almak, yemek yemekse yemek yemek, otobüs beklemekse o. O anla bütünleşmek ve her yönüyle o an’ı keşfetmek. Oto-pilottayken bunu yapamıyoruz işte. Ve aradaki fark o denli büyük ki…

Anın farkında olmanın, yani mindfulness’ın etkileri bilimsel olarak da kanıtlanmış durumda. En önemli etkileri olarak yapılan her işte yüksek performans ve üretkenlik gösteriliyor. Farkında olarak bulaşık yıkamayla ilgili bile bir çalışma var örneğin. Ben dahil çoğu insanın nefret ettiği bir iş, onu bile güzelleştiriyor anın farkında olma.

Bence en önemli etkilerinden biri de konuşma ve dinleme üzerine. “Ağzından çıkanı kulağın duysun” deriz ya, hatta kulağımız değil konuşmadan önce aklımız duysun. Benim için en zor olan şeylerden biri konuşurken anın farkında olmak. Çünkü konuşmayı çok seviyorum ve bazen de boş konuştuğumun farkına maalesef sonradan varıyorum. Toplu gruplar içinde çok konuşkan olmasam da ortamda garip bir sessizlik oluştuğunda o rahatsızlıktan kurtulmak için saçmasapan bir şey atıveriyorum ortaya. Bunu engellemek için uzmanların önerdiği şey nefes almayı hatırlamak. Karşıdakinin konuşması bittiğinde sen konuşmaya başlamadan önce bir küçük nefes al. Bir iki saniye bile sürmüyor ama beyin o arada reset atıp otomatik pilottan kurtuluyor. Yine sen devreye giriyorsun. Böylece söz kesmiyor, gereksiz şeyler söylemiyorsun. Benim bu konuda uzmanlaşmama daha çok da olsa bu noktaya gelebileceğime inanıyorum.

Yalnızca farkında olmak bile yeterli çoğu zaman.

17 before 2017

As fall starts, we have a little more than 3 months until 2017. Fall and winter are my favorite times of the year. And it is a perfect time to  review my year and my goals. This year I changed jobs, I am a little freer now so I had a chance to focus on my personal goals more easily. This list also sums what I was trying to achieve this year. Minimalism, mindfulness, writing, blogging and all.

I got the idea from BohoBerry, such a wonderful idea.

So here is the list. I don’t have to finish all of them of course, but having a list make my goals visual. And actually all of them are thought in detail. I read a lot about setting goals recently, and I will share my insights on setting goals in a future post as well.

Let me talk a bit about each:

Goals 1 to 4: Minimalism

These are the goals related to my minimalism journey. For the past couple of months I didn’t spend much time at home and it will be great if I could finish decluttering my kitchen and vanity before ’17.

Also having a capsule wardrobe dedicated to work is very crucial for me. I made some new purchases and let go of some pieces, so I want to organize a wardrobe with accessories and all and never think about what to wear to work ever again.

My fourth goal, if you have heard of these challenges, will sound very familiar. I want to finish these skincare and make-up products before 2017. The products are:

  1. Sebamed Q10 Lifting Eye Cream (best affordable eye cream so far)
  2. Neostrata Oily Skin Solution (I really like it, except it is twice the price in Turkey now and I won’t be repurchasing just because of the price. I will most likely replace it with plain soap for now.)
  3. Oriflame Red Lipstick (just love this. but it is I guess maybe more than 5 years old (eww) but I can’t just let it go because I haven’t found a red lipstick just like this. So I’ll toss when I finish)
  4. Skin 79 Sué Hydrating Water (it is a very nice moisturizer but not very practical. I would expect a spray bottle instead of squirt, so I won’t be repurchasing this either.)
  5. Sally Hansen Salon Manicure Malt (2 years old, love it, I wouldn’t mind wearing it everyday)
  6. Isana Aceton-free nail polish remover (just put it because I have one more nailpolish remover at home)
  7. Diadermine Zero Tolerance Face Cleanser (no side effects so far, but not very effective either, will replace with bar soap again)

The reason why I chose them is that although they have survived my decluttering splurges for two years, they are the oldest products that I have (except Neostrata, it is like 6 months old). And because I have (or I don’t need) replacements for them it would be nice if I could get them out of my way. The trick in these challenges is that you should put all the products of these kinds away for the time being. It will be exhilarating to finish them till the end of 2016!

Also very interesting to see I have products from all around the world (Germany, Sweden, Korea, US) I think I should consider making more local choices next time I buy this kind of products.

Goals 5-9: Mind Goals

These are goals related mostly with mind. I started a novel about 4 years ago but never touched it for 3 years until I went back this year. But I am not sure if I like it anymore. I am like 5000 words in, and I’ll maybe go on, maybe not. Anyway, I would like to write an independent short story no matter what happens in my novel journey.

I would also like to read 50 books this year in total. This was the goal I set on my Goodreads account. So far I have finished 23, but I still want to keep it to see how far I will get.

My blog of course is among my goals. Keeping a record here really helps me put things in perspective. Right now I have 100 followers, I want to double it by the end of the year.

Goal 10: Job

I started my new job on January 6th, and towards the New Year the committee will decide whether I will be permanent or not. Fingers crossed!

Goals 11-14: Health

These goals are about Yoga and health in general. Yoga has been really helpful to me, so I wish to make it a daily habit.

I have recently been drinking a mixture of ginger- honey-lemon- ACV (and garlic if I’m not going out). Among all benefits, it’s helping me with sinus infections and allergies so I would like to keep it going for as much as I can.

Goal 15: Crafts

I am really into cross-stitching this year. There is one project I would like to finish this year and it is the table runner that I started.

Goals 16-17: Spirit

I started meditating for about 4 months ago but I haven’t made it a daily habit yet. I wish to do so as soon as possible.

And last but not least, finishing the year in gratitude is so important to me.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my goals and I will be more than happy if this inspires you to set some goals for yourself!

Love,

Pelin

 

Want to learn more about mindfulness?

I recently registered to a website called “FutureLearn“, where universities around the world offer free online courses on a variety of topics ranging from business and science to nutrition and social sciences. I had heard about it from some friends over the years but I don’t know why, I never bothered to check it out.

When I finally got to it this summer, I loved it. I even got too excited and signed up for courses I won’t continue, but I sticked up for one course called Nutrition and Well-being. I’ll finish it next week!

While I was browsing, I saw a new course that started today, and I thought some of you might be interested as well. It’s called Mindfulness for Wellbeing  and  Peak Performance and it is offered by two professors at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. I am sure I will learn a lot so if you are interested join me on this journey for 6 weeks.

Here is the course:

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/mindfulness-wellbeing-performance/

Just so you know, all the courses are free, you only pay if you want a printed certificate from the university. And be sure to check the website out for some very interesting courses.

Love,

Pelin

Mindfulness Nedir?

Özellikle minimalizmle tanıştıktan sonra daha da ilgimi çeken bir kavram mindfulness. Maalesef Türkçe’de tam bir karşılığı yok. Consciousness: Bilinç ya da bilinçli olma, Awareness ise farkındalık ya da farkında olma olarak çeviriliyor. Mindfulness kavramına ise, en uygun bulabildiğim çeviri Kültegin Ögel’den “yargısız farkındalık” oldu, fakat o da bilim dilinde yalnızca “farkındalık” olarak geçtiğine işaret etmiş. “Anın farkında olma” da güzel bir çeviri olabilir.

Peki, nedir bu yargısız farkındalık? Aslında her yaşta, herkesin yapabileceği, bir kere alışılınca bırakılamıyacak bir alışkanlık. Her anı, anın tadına vararak, yargılamadan yaşamak. Etrafımızdaki her şeyi yüksek bir bilinç seviyesiyle algılamaya çalışmak, algımızı arttırmak. Kendimizi, dünyayı kabullenmek. Ve en önemlisi nefes aldığımızın farkına varmak.

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Bir yerde Buddha’yla ilgili şöyle bir hikaye okumuştum. Yalnızca 1 saatliğine nefesimize odaklanmamızı istiyordu. 1 nefes bile kaçarsa, en baştan. Sonra tekrar baştan. Bir denesenize. Bu öyle zor bir şey ki. Tek yaptığın nefes almak olmasına rağmen ona bile odaklanamıyor beynimiz. Hep bizi başka yönlere çeken şeyler var. İşte bu şeylerin farkında olmaya mindfulness deniyor.

Eğer bu anın farkında olma işini başarabilirsek, kendimizi tanımaya ve geliştirmeye bir adım daha yaklaşıyoruz. Kendini ne kadar kabullenirsen, o kadar geliştirebilirsin paradoksuna bir örnek. Dedikodu yaparken yargısız bir şekilde kendinizi izlediğinizi düşünün. O an beyninizden neler geçtiğini, aklınızdan çıkan kelimelerin her birini, duyduğunuz karşılığı, kelimelerin hepsinin teker teker toplu bilince işlendiğini… Bunu sonuna kadar yapmayı becerebilirseniz bir sonraki sefer dedikodu yapma ihtimaliniz büyük oranda azalacak. Bunu hem iyi hem de kötü alışkanlıklara uyguladıkça, hayatta kendinize dair ne kadar çok şeyi bilmediğinizin farkına varacaksınız. Çok daha güçlü ve bilinçli hareket edeceksiniz.

 

Decluttering: Komono (Part 1)

What Marie Kondo addressed in her book as “komono” (in Japanese: miscellaneous) is the source of most clutter in our homes. It is the small, uncategorized objects that hang around without much consideration. For me, there are two areas that needed work: paper and plastic bags.

i. Paper clutter.

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I work as a lecturer, so during schooltime paperwork is very demanding and paper occupies literally everywhere in the house. This may also be because I don’t have my office desk in the house, so my couch is basically a mountain of paper and pen during those days. But having a month for school to start here in Turkey, I wanted to tackle other kinds of paper in the house, especially bills and receipts. It was interesting we keep these in one pile, maybe because in Turkish both words translate to “fatura”. And I realized these “fatura”s were everywhere, from bookcase to top of fridge, to the top of shoe cupboard at the entrance. Don’t let me starting the inside of bags and purses! So when I gathered them all, it took me like an hour to decide which ones belonged in the trash and which ones we needed to keep.

For receipts, I tossed all grocery shopping, receipts for items older than a year or passed their warranty, and thought about all the purchases we made for the last year. I am glad most of it was grocery shopping, we had only a couple clothing receipts, and a couple more  for shoes. Both my husband and I went through job interviews in December, which made us realized we had no formal clothes, so I bought two shirts and a nice pair of shoes, while he bought two suits and a pair of shoes. We are approaching thirty and slowly transitioning to a more casual smart style rather than jeans & tees.

I categorized receipts as “from 2015 to June 2016” and “June-August 2016”.

For the bills, you never know what will happen in this country- like one day they can cut off your electricity claiming you haven’t been paying them- so it is best to keep the bills for a year or two. I arranged them in chronological order and tagged them “water, gas, electricity”.

ii. Plastic bags.

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This is two years’ accumulation. I always found plastic bags boring and unnecessary, but it happens. It comes with an online order, from a duty free shop, or simply you forget your fabric bag and you need to get one. I decided to toss a third of it, a third I will bring to my mother-in-law, who said she needed some. The final third in the shoe box I will keep. This is pretty much a what-if keep, but I decided to limit myself to what can fit in a shoe box. And this unnecessary clutter reminded me how much I need to carry these foldable fabric bags around.

Can you practice mindfulness while decluttering? You sure can! It is very rewarding in terms of both a clear home and a clear mind.