Becoming Buddhist

Attempting to Live a More Mindful Life


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Mindful Resolution #5: Give Yourself a Break

I toyed with two other ideas for this last of the five mindful resolutions: “spend more time alone” and “say ‘no’ more.” I think all three get at the gist of the thing, which is that I tend to try to rise to unreasonable demands. Lately, those demands take the form of what feels like excessive socializing and community-building. Maybe that sounds a little bitter, but it has kind of felt that way: like there are social obligations I can’t get out of or enjoy as much as I would like. For my birthday in October I told Marc all I wanted was to have a weekend where we didn’t make any plans. I am craving both spontaneity and just a few days when the calendar is…empty.

So, resolved: no more double- and triple-booking; white lies are okay for the sake of my sanity; time alone is gold; yoga can be skipped in favor of staying home, if that’s how I want to roll; and it is okay to say “no.”

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Mindful Resolution #1: Embrace Abundance

Last spring, Marc and I had one of those terrible moments when we realized that the reason we were perpetually broke was that our income and our expenses were EXACTLY THE SAME. Seriously. I figured this out one day when I sat down with ye olde calculator and the checkbook and the credit card statements and afterwards I felt so bummed–we have jobs, we’re well off in the scheme of things, and it just felt crazy to think that we were incapable of even saving $100/month.

So, as is my way, I immediately sprung to action. And, as usual, action made me feel better. We needed to either increase our income by X number of dollars or reduce our costs by about the same amount, and after a month of phone-calling and moving things around and me finding a little more work and really embracing frugality, I am pleased to say that we now, knock on wood, come out ahead by a few hundred bucks a month. It’s not amazing, but it sure feels better not to be stressing out about money all the time.

So why do I still live like I’m holding onto my wallet for dear life with my fingertips?

This resolution is two-fold. One, to appreciate the abundance we have. We can afford preschool, a nice, albeit small, apartment, occasional meals out, good organic food and occasional free-range meat. We have music, books, magazines, and Netflix in our lives. We sleep on a gorgeous expensive mattress we bought during a flush period. Lex has his own room. We have bicycles, a car, and BART passes. We have generous grandparents and a safety net, should things get hairy. In other words, to quote Marc’s mother when he was a kid and whining about wanting a new toy: we have everything we need.

Resolved to remember that, every day.

Abundance at the Union Square Farmer’s Market (photo courtesy of Emma Brode)

And, on a much more practical and mundane level, resolved to keep my house full. Today I opened the fridge for the umpteenth time and found: a quart of milk, a jar of preserved lemons, some boring old vegetables, and some corn tortillas. So after I picked up Lex from school, we made a giant pot of Cuban black bean soup and a batch of granola, plus started soaking chick peas for hummus. And we cleaned the kitchen and emptied the compost and swept the floor, listening to very loud music the whole time.