"A journey isn't about expectation, it's about discovery." ~mindfulness now
A year ago today I launched Mindfulness Now. Boy does it make me happy to type that.
When I started this blog I had no idea where I’d be in life at this point. That’s always the case though. No matter how much we love to speculate, life just changes.
Did I know that in one year I would write 80 individual posts, collect over 35,000 pageviews, and get published in a pretty major online mindfulness website? I only dreamed of it. When I started this I wasn’t even sure if my close friends would pay attention, let alone 14,000 unique visitors (/humblebrag).
Did I know a year ago that this experience would lead me to quit my job so I could write and explore full-time? It wasn’t even on my radar. A funny thing happens when you get out of your comfort zone and follow your passion, instead of just going through the motions of life.
A year ago there were a number of things I hoped to get out of writing this blog. I wasn't exactly sure what I would find, but I'm trying not to fear the unknown so much these days. Now a year later, I’d like to believe all of these hopes came to fruition, or are at least in the process of growing their fruit.
Hope #1: Learn about myself by sharing a piece of myself
I had written in some form of a journal for years prior to this blog. Some of my first posts on this page were actual retreads of journal entries I'd written privately over the last few years.
It’s one thing though to write to yourself -- to take an idea that the world uncovers, filter it through your own mind, and put it on paper. It’s something entirely different to take those words a step further and put them out there on a website for all to see.
My introspective musings did help me to a degree, but it wasn’t until I started posting them here that I really began to really listen to them. Now that I was stating my ideas publicly, I felt pressure to stick to them. The blog kept me honest, grounded, and in touch with those around me.
Most of the feedback I heard was inspiring, and by inspiring others it inspired me to write more. The ideas I posted here suddenly held more weight in my own mind, and I was finally sticking to them.
HOPE #2 - Explore a new idea and see if it becomes a passion
The change in my mind was potent. I didn’t have to be restricted to one place, one thought, one group, or one desk. Writing made me feel free from the chains that society had put on me, and that I myself continued to wear.
This new found passion around writing spurred other related passions as well. Most notably, a passion for nature and outdoor activity. It spurred a renewal in old passions too, for things like music and dogs.
I have found a new and renewed set of joys, instruments that take me beyond my normal sphere. I found the start of a new path forward. I found my voice. Quite frankly, I found myself.
HOPE #3 - Gain confidence
Finding that voice was a big deal.
I tend to prefer things easy in life -- I search for comfort and routine and avoid conflict if I can. I like to think of myself as a peacemaker, but too often my peacefulness would morph into passivity. I would allow my life to pass by without really making an effort.
Writing this blog became the effort that I needed. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and into a public eye where confidence was required.
The process hasn't always been easy. Sometimes I feel like I'm overstepping. Some of my ideas have been questioned. Sometimes a friend would worry that a post was about them, even though I can assure you I would never single anyone out.
But finally, despite it all, I pushed forward with confidence. I pushed forward in life. I stopped listening to the negative. The sympathetic voices who got it, externally and internally, became louder than the voices of dissent.
I’m still working on this one and I figure I always will. But I'm so appreciative to have found an outlet that is taking me in the right direction.
HOPE #4 - Improve as a writer
As much as I always enjoyed writing to myself, even way back when, I hesitated in publishing this blog. I spent months fretting over it. Fear held me back.
I’ve found though that posting your words in a public space is a whole new motivation to write better. My private journal entries were free-flowing, riddled with inconsistencies, and lacking in structure. This blog required me to start looking at my writing with an increasingly keen eye.
There’s something about putting your feet to fire that forces you to learn more about fires and feet. I’ve learned as much about my own style and how to set myself up for a good writing session, as I’ve learned what people are drawn to, what they like to hear, and especially what they need hear.
I am certain the English majors of the bunch will find all sorts of errors in my writing, and that's OK. When I look back at blogs I wrote last summer, I definitely see an improvement, and for now that’s enough for me -- to keep improving.
HOPE #5 - Become more mindful
This is clearly the biggest hope I had from creating this blog -- it's in the title afterall. Mindfulness is the blood flowing through the veins of this space. Mindfulness now weaves it’s way into all my thoughts...and thank god, because I needed it.
I had read about mindfulness and attempted to integrate it into my life for years. But like most great ideas in life, it's easier said than done. I would tell myself to live in the present moment, to let go of the drama, worry, and anxiety, but when I inevitably failed I would scream at myself on the inside. I knew better, yet I still made mistakes. I couldn’t follow my own advice.
But here I am one year later, and light-years down my path. I am far from perfect, lord knows. I still struggle with these issues every day. But I believe I have indeed become more mindful in the last year. I’m more in-tune with myself, better able to handle life’s ups and downs, to reduce my distractions (digital or otherwise), to be more patient with my response, to disconnect more often, be smarter about my decisions, and braver when it comes to the difficult ones.
Starting Mindfulness Now was possibly the best thing I’ve ever done for myself, and I can’t totally take credit for it because the idea came from Leo Babauta on his bellwether mindfulness blog Zen Habits. Also, gratitude goes to those friends and family who I discussed it with beforehand, for their support and especially the title suggestions.
All of that, all of them, all of you, all of the last year, all of my life, have led me to where I am now...someone who is learning, growing, passionate, confident, and just a little bit more mindful in the process.
This is why I call myself a journeyman (and not just for the solo camping journey hashtag). A journeyman is someone who is educated but not yet a master. I know a good deal about the tool of mindfulness, but I’m still learning how to use it every day.
I might argue that we are all journeymen. I might argue that no one is ever a true master, because we’re all always learning. I might argue that this is one of my favorite things about life.
I now have a few years of mindfulness experience under my belt, one year that you’ve been privy to. Thinking about how far I’ve come in the last year with this blog gives me joy. Thinking of how far I’ll go throughout the journey of my life kind of blows my mind.
And I can't wait to tell you all about it.
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