Post-COVID Skills: Slowing Down, Paying Attention, Being Mindful, and Listening Actively

Day 4: Thursday, June 24, 2020

Cherishing Summer 2020

A time for reflection, 

relaxation,

and a slower pace.

A time for long strolls in muddy flip flops,

after a long day of gardening,

with freshly-washed hair, tied back, 

and a loose-fitting summer dress.

A time to smell the gorgeous oregano,

growing in the garden. 

A time to gather around the dinner table with family,

eating meals cooked with love and care,

sharing fond memories,

laughing at funny stories.

A time for slow sips of hot tea and cool wine,

drive-in movies,

virtual Happy Hours,

Jersey-grown strawberries and blueberries,

freshly-squeezed lemonade,

apple pie with vanilla ice cream.

When the plants wither,

when the weather gets cooler,

I know it will be difficult to say good-bye.

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It was so appropriate to start the class today with a beautiful poem by Mary Oliver titled “Summer Day” and to dedicate this class to the theme of Paying Attention. As I mentioned in class, I loved the details that Mary Oliver incorporated into her poem, especially the careful detail of the grasshopper chewing back and forth (and not up and down). Here is a reading of “Summer Day” by Mary Oliver: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16CL6bKVbJQ.

Mary Oliver, Poet

It is incredulous to me that she spent the entire afternoon watching a grasshopper. I must confess that I never slowed down to watch a grasshopper for a minute yet along an entire afternoon. I had things to accomplish, groceries to be shopped, dinner to be made, clothes to be washed, essays to be graded, kids to be transported.  

COVID slowed me down. I did not need to transport my three kids to their activities; I did not need to commute to work. And this writing retreat provided me with an opportunity to reflect, think, write, read, share, and connect –all in the comfort of my home.  

I am always in search of a good book, so I was excited when Dr. Zamora introduced me to Ocean Vuong. I adore his first name, Ocean, and the title of his book, On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous. I cannot wait to read his book! I also admire him for having the temerity to pursue his dream of becoming a writer. As a writer, I have self doubt; all writers have self doubt. Is my writing good enough? Will it be published? Yet, Ocean at the young age of 31, is a New York Times bestselling author and a 2019 MacArthur “Genius” Award Winner. Wow. 

The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 24, 2020

Thank you, Dr. Zamora, for introducing me to Mary and Ocean.

Day 4: Inhale, Exhale & Retreat

283 Handpicked Yoga Retreats in North & South America 2020

 

I’m choosing to approach today’s blog through different senses. My advice is to read through my blog then go back, hit play on Ella and escape into the picture’s beauty.

We began the morning with Dr. Zamora’s motivating blog shout outs which I’ve come to really enjoy. Although sleep is burning my eyes, I perk up and listen to the agenda. It’s strange how when you’re sleepy, you can’t hear as well or not thinking as clearly. Thankfully we stopped around 10 so I can kick the refresh button. I used our time apart to sit and think. Suddenly, I remembered I volunteered to do author’s chair. What the heck am I going to say? What should I show them? Do I repeat what I told my group? Can I just wing it? Will they notice how nervous I probably will be? Geez can I stop asking questions?

Inhale and exhale. Inhale and exhale. Inhale and exhale. Think positively. Now time to retreat from the mental strain and have lunch. I decided to take a drive to my neighborhood park for lunch. Ofcourse, I dare not sit in the heat but I chose to sit in the car and face the geese rented and pooped smothered lake.  Did I mention the air conditioning was on? Well it was and it gave me staycation vibes. A nice 20 minute escape from the mundane world. I think I’ll do it again after posting this.

I feel as if my thoughts are all over and concentrating is a challenge. The lack of sleep sometimes puts me into a super lethargic-chill mode. Now I’m craving white dragonfruit and  mini mangoes.

Thank you to my peer-retreaters for allowing me to share the real/vulnerable me. Like Cheryl mentioned being vulnerable isn’t easy. Honestly, I don’t realise it because my mentality is just ok here it is. I know I was overthinking it before but when the time comes, my mouth purges every feeling. It’s similar to a children’s book, “My Mouth is a Volcano.” By the way, it’s a good and funny book.

Anyway, for today my blog is semi-random and short but me.

Have a great weekend. Until next time.

Be safe and remain cool.

Meagan

 

17 Quotes About Finding Inner Peace | SUCCESS

 

Day 4 Reflections…

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Guys we are halfway there! It’s bittersweet and anyone who knows me knows I’m super sappy and hate good byes. But next week won’t be goodbye, it will be see you later! I hope to see you in the hallways of CAS and throughout the Kean campus when or if we do return in the Fall. Hopefully we can still recognize each other with these darn masks on! I’m going to keep this blog short and sweet. We all had a long, intensive week of reading, writing, thinking and posting, so no need for my long winded blogs before our long weekend! I’m sad that I was not able to make it to the author’s corner reading of your projects. I’m sure my friends in class will fill me in. I also look forward to being there next week to share some of “The Seashell” with you all and to hear all about the rest of your exciting projects! Today I’m prepared to work on revising and editing my draft of my memoir. I have close to thirty pages to dissect and analyze. Luckily for me I have the support from my creative non fiction professor, who is super kind and patient and willing to help me along the way. I have yet to share my memoir with Dr. Zamora, mostly due to the pandemic and the craziness of schedules and remote learning etc. Sadly I wasn’t able to connect with her. But her opinion, wisdom and knowledge matters to me the most! So I’m super excited and a little anxious to share it with Dr. Zamora next week, but I know I’m ready and it’s the next natural step to making my memoir breath and really come to life. I feel confident and secure with our entire class. I’m less afraid to share and more secure in being my authentic self with you all and I’m excited to receive all your input. That’s a special feeling considering we have only known each other for such a short time. How blessed are we?!

For this next part of my blog I’ll share my write for the day responses with you all. As far as what my writing is teaching me about myself, well it teaches me something new everyday. Throughout this retreat experience I feel like I’m able to write more easily and openly on the spot. Which in my opinion is important. I also feel more confident in gathering my thoughts and putting them onto paper without losing my train of thought. Bye bye writers block! Hello awesome ideas! I think the fast pace and nature of this particular retreat is helping me achieve that and also helping me build my confidence without second guessing my writing process as much. Which I’m thankful for. I’m feeling blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of this retreat. I’m also learning a great deal about each and every one of you. I’m listening intently to all your stories and what you share on screen and in your awesome blog posts. Listening is just as an important skill as writing, especially during such a distracting time that we are living in. Truly listening and hearing someone is a skill. To be present and mindful in each moment is another lesson that is being reinforced for me throughout this retreat. As I grow older I find myself becoming more mindful, thoughtful and introspective. That all contributes and helps me become a better version of myself and also a stronger writer. Lastly I think the value and importance of gratitude is very significant in shaping us all. Throughout my mental health struggles I at times felt very ashamed of my selfishness because when your suffering you can’t help but focus in on anything else but the demons within yourself. But over the years and through therapy, expressive writing and reading about the power of gratitude. I realized you can be depressed, anxious and have OCD and yet still be grateful at the same time. I learned to let go of the guilt of feeling like I was being selfish and realized that those dark times didn’t make me less appreciative or grateful for my family, friends and the support I received throughout the years. So if I leave you today with any thoughts just remember no matter how crappy your day, week or even year has been there is always time to practice gratitude and to be grateful for even the smallest of things. This helped feed my sad spirit and brought me more peace and hope, even in the darkest of times. So I hope my little token of wisdom helps! Consider it my fortune cookie to you all! I hope you all enjoy your weekend and see you all on Monday! Take care. Xo

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Writer’s Retreat Day 4

Once again, my thoughts are scattered…

Thought 1: I want to start by saying I love beginning each day with the writing into the day prompts. It’s freewriting, but its guided freewriting, which invites me to reflect on my journey. It’s funny because only a few people will engage in reflective writing, but I wish it were a requirement of some sort, like showering or brushing, it should just be something that’s done daily. In my perfect world, everyone would freewrite for ten minutes a day, welcome to Teethee’s Utopia, maybe a Dystopia for some of you who hate freewriting.

But there is just so much that comes about when you are reflecting; there are things I write that I don’t even know I am thinking. It’s such a fascinating process, and maybe that’s why I don’t want this journey to end because I am not self-disciplined enough to continue this process when our retreat is over.

Thought 2: As I write, I read aloud every word I am jotting down, that’s sort of my way of establishing a voice and tone for my writing. Today though, my sister decided it would be funny to go on my twitter and read aloud one of my blogs in front of my family. I was not upset that she was sharing my blog, but what bothered me was that she had no rhythm or personality when reading it. She sounded like a robot, and that made me wonder, what if everyone reading my blogs is a monotone robot and can’t hear my enthusiasm as I write? I think I may have to attach a voice recording of myself reading my own writings because I just can’t have this type of injustice occur to my writing or any writing at all.

It’s ironic because the situation with my sister occurred this morning and later this afternoon, we heard Medea narrate her story so beautifully, and I don’t think anyone else could have done a better job. It’s crazy because up until today, I never gave audiobooks the time of day. I’m a reader, a dreamer, I like adding my own voice to things, but now I think I need to give audiobooks a chance and perhaps make my own.

Thought 3: I don’t know what’s going on up in my noggin, it’s been going on since yesterday, I have nothing to say but so much to say. I’m hoping this weekend is different I REALLY need to start making progress towards my writing.

Thought 4: Have a wonderful weekend everybody.