Evolution is Exhausting

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I try to increase my energy level with a sheer force of will. I want to focus, be productive, but my brain is drained tonight. Not even an afternoon coffee could stimulate my intellectual faculties. It’s not just my mind that is worn out; my muscles ache from yesterday’s workout. My triceps, my biceps, my quads, each movement stretches a tight pain out of my body. I’m emotionally drained, too. Implementation of a new element into one of my course threw everything out of balance and I have been concerned about how it will affect my students.

This is the cost of evolution. When you push yourself to keep improving, eventually it takes its toll. That doesn’t mean it’s time to quit. It’s just time to rest. Since I can’t get any work done now, I decided to develop another plan. Instead of working tonight, I will set my alarm for early tomorrow and go to bed early tonight.

I grab a bottle of Diet Coke from the fridge and the Captain Morgan from the cupboard. I mix a drink and settle in. What will my writing reveal tonight? It has already revealed that I am not Wonder Woman, no matter how much I want to be. I have my limitation, but I am happy to have the opportunity to reach them.

We often forget to be grateful for our difficulties. Many of my students are first and second-generation college students who struggle to work and go to school. When they are stuck in the struggle, they forget it’s the very thing they came to America for, the opportunity to evolve. We forget that evolution isn’t easy. The evolution of a caterpillar into a butterfly is not painless. It is stressful.

We should each keep that in mind. Ease is not evolution. To wish for ease is to wish that things stay the same . . . forever. If you want more, to become better, stronger, wiser, richer, happier—whatever you want more of—you will need to struggle. You will need to evolve, and evolving is stressful. Evolution is not for the weak.

How we define the stress is the important part. If we view stress as a noun it is “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances,” but if we use it as a verb it means “give particular emphasis or importance to (a point, statement, or idea).” So, stress could be a difficulty we must endure, or serve as an emphasis highlighting where we need to grow. Pointing out what we must overcome to evolve.

You’re not Superman or Wonder Woman. There will come a point when you might start to feel overwhelmed. When that time comes, rest, but don’t quit. Evolution is exhausting, but it’s worth it.

Core Values Part 2

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The summer sun is low in the horizon and there is a faint ghost of a breeze. The direct heat has subsided, but the humidity is still thick. I just finished working on my scholarly article for the day. Now it’s time to return to my nightly blogging ritual.

This morning I blogged about the first five of 10 core values I had listed in my Rituals for Living Planner. In that post, I discussed kindness, purpose, expression, the balance between individuality and community, and learning. As the sun begins to fall behind the trees, I begin to contemplate the last five:

Discipline: This is a trait that I highly value, but it is also a trait that I struggle with the most. As someone with bipolar disorder, I am prone to impulsiveness. Impulsive eating, impulsive spending. Untreated, bipolar disorder can lead to a destructive level of impulsivity. Perhaps that is why I value discipline so much. It shimmers on the horizon like an oasis. It is the holy grail of productivity, and I watch others practice with awe as though they appear invoke a super human power beyond my abilities. But, I am not completely incapable. I simply have to keep my tools close at hand, a constant reminder of what I really want and what I need to do to get there.

 Devotion: This is probably the easiest value for me to manifest. Admittedly, it is not easy to gain my devotion, but once won, it is unshakable. Like “purpose,” devotion is a core value I cannot live without. I have a deep need to love others, a small circle of others, but it is a need nonetheless. To win my devotion, there must be an unconditional bond. We know the good and bad about each other, but still consider ourselves fortunate to be connected.

Optimism: I feel I am at my best when I am optimistic. Some might say I am too optimistic, and perhaps at times I am. Although, my bipolar brain is prone to the pessimism that grows out of anxiety and depression, I see it as my false self. Pessimism is the lie my dark brain tells me as it tries to push me into despair, but optimism is a choice I make to believe in the best possible outcome.

Vision: What does vision mean? Vision is the ability to imagine your ideal reality and create the action steps to get there. Vision isn’t just a representation of the future. Vision is a manifestation through daily action. Vision breathes life into all my other core values because without vision, they are just words.

Persistence: This is the sister of vision. It is the choice to take the right action each day. Without persistence, vision would never manifest. Dreams, goals, and values would dissolve into nothing. Persistence is the next step in the right direction. Persistence is getting back up when you fall. Persistence is starting over when you fail. Persistence is a gift of love you give yourself.

I’ve enjoyed writing about these core values. Some of my responses even surprised me. I guess that’s why I love to blog so much. It’s like having a conversation with myself. I can reach out into the universe and sing my song to the endless sky. If it resonates with someone else, we have a unique opportunity to connect and our tribe grows. I hope you all have a wonderful evening.

Rituals for Living by The Dragon Tree

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I dump my colored pens onto the table and open my new planner. I uncap the orange pen and start to answer the first question: “What are you longing for most in life?” With each consecutive question, I uncap another pen, filling the planner with a rainbow of color.

This is not just another planner, it’s my new Rituals for Living Dreambook and Planner from The Dragon Tree. I have written before about my struggles to commit to my weekly planner. Although, I love the concepts of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the planning tools, though effective, felt a little too linear for me. I wanted something that was more like an art journal. I feel like I have found it with this new tool.

The Rituals for Living Dreambook and Planner starts with probing questions about core values and your vision for the future in many key areas of your life. It then uses a mind mapping technique for goal setting in 1, 3, and 10-year intervals. The ritualize section helps you break down your dream into actionable steps, then monthly and weekly calendars help you stay focused on those long-term goals on a day to day basis.

I am really excited about using this book because I feel like I can use my right brain and left brain together. I feel like there is plenty of room to make my planner colorful and personalized. More importantly, it fits in my backpack, so I can use it review it often.