2022 Intentions – April Reflections

I wrote about my 2022 Intentions (as an alternative to resolutions) during the new year. After wrapping up April it’s time to reflect again. As a reminder, “intentions” are the behaviors and attitudes that I intend to promote and champion within myself each day. The intent is to do (be) my best on any given day…in any given moment. There are no rules. No broken promises. Just good intentions.


April was another challenging month with us being locked down (along with the entire city of Shanghai). For those that are not aware, Shanghai is taking a very strict approach to locking down due to the spike in covid cases. Starting in March we began to experience restrictions from leaving our community and in April we were mostly restricted to staying in our own homes with the only exception for getting covid testing. We are blessed with a garden and so unlike many that are stuck in apartments with no recourse, I do have more space to stretch, but I must say this is getting quite tiring and for all the people of Shanghai, quite sad. One bright spot is seeing the neighborhood become more neighborly with people sharing when running out of supplies and collaborating on bulk orders to secure new supplies. Ironically I’ve “met” more neighbors during lock-down then I ever met during ‘normal’ times.

With regard to my intentions, it’s been an up and down month with some low spots and some bright spots. Let’s take a look — here are my reflections for each intention.

#1 Intention: Rise and Shine

My first 2022 Intention was to ”Rise and Shine”. To get up when I (first) wake up. Given my normal sleep patterns I decided to wake and get up at 5 a.m. (with a 9-9:30 sleep target to ensure I got enough sleep to feel rested).

In April I generally kept to this 5am get-up schedule but with my working from home due to the lock-down I didn’t need as much time in the morning and I sometimes ended up taking a nap even before work started, which never really felt that restful. I’d say in the past week or so I’ve gotten more on track with this regard and am feeling less sluggish.

#2 Intention: Move

My second 2022 Intention was to “Move”. To get my body moving daily whether it be doing yoga, or taking a walk, or going for a bike ride or swim it’s all good. The idea here was whether I feel fresh or tired, I‘ll choose to move.

Moving was by far the biggest challenge for me this month with me clocking in exercise only sporadically. Walking hasn’t been a choice due to the lockdown (and it’s my preferred option for moving when I’m low energy), but I do have options for yoga and an exercise bike. So it’s really just a matter of reminding myself of my intention and taking a first step to get going.

#3 Intention: Be

My third 2022 Intention was to “Be”. To meditate each day.

My general habit was to meditate after yoga each day and with my lapses in yoga I also lapsed a bit in meditation. But in the second half of the month I started to meditate more by telling myself if I’m not going to do yoga I can still meditate. This “permission” unlocked me a bit.

#4 Intention: Create

My fourth 2022 Intention was to “Create”. To write and or create art each day.

Here, I excelled. In celebration of national poetry month the muse was with me and I wrote over 75 poems over the course of the month. I’ve been wonderfully prolific and this has been a bright light for me throughout the month. I even published my sixth book this month after starting the work on it in March — a very fast cycle from idea to fruition (and definitely atypical). The book is a collection of illustrated silly poetry and you can learn more about the book here if your interested.


So there they are. My April reflections. A mixed bag, but if I think back holistically at my month I’ve done something to take care of myself everyday and that is something I can (and do) feel good about myself for. I’m not going to make any adjustments to my intentions as I still feel that they are all positive directions for me.

I do sincerely hope that the situation here in Shanghai eases and people regain some freedom. People need to feel some lightheartedness and joy.

How was April for you?

Be well,

Monty


2022 Intentions – January Reflections

I wrote about my 2022 Intentions (as an alternative to resolutions) during the new year. After wrapping up January it’s time to reflect. As a reminder, “intentions” are the behaviors and attitudes that I intend to promote and champion within myself each day. The intent is to do (be) my best on any given day…in any given moment. There are no rules. No broken promises. Just good intentions.

#1 Intention: Rise and Shine

My first 2022 Intention was to ”Rise and Shine”. To get up when I (first) wake up. Given my normal sleep patterns I decided to wake and get up at 5 a.m. (with a 9-9:30 sleep target to ensure I got enough sleep to feel rested). In January, I awoke at or before 5 a.m. every day and my average time asleep was just over 7 hours. So I’ve been living into this intention quite well.

How do I feel? GREAT! My energy and motivation is way up. I get done with my morning routine by 6am and am ready to face the day without any rush. If I feel tired during the day, I take a nap (naps are great too!).

#2 Intention: Move

My second 2022 Intention was to “Move”. To get my body moving daily whether it be doing yoga, or taking a walk, or going for a bike ride or swim it’s all good. The idea here was whether I feel fresh or tired, I‘ll choose to move. In January, I made significant improvement in my movement. I exercised every day at least once and sometimes twice. Yoga was part of my morning routine so I did it everyday (I increased from 10 minutes to 15 minutes over the course of the month and did several 30 minute sessions as well). I also started walking. When working from home and the weather was favorable I took a ~6km walk when I had a free block in between meetings. When at work I took a shorter lunch time walk. I got major blisters the first time as I walked in my work shoes so I bought an extra pair of sneakers to keep at the office just so I could walk. I walked 16 times this month. On average I worked out for an average of 1 hour a day since I started tracking mid-month.

How do I feel? GREAT! I’m feeling much better about myself. I’m still well below average in cardio fitness level (I invested in an Apple Watch to help me better understand and track my heart health), but I’m slowly improving and most importantly I feel highly motivated to continue.

#3 Intention: Be

My third 2022 Intention was to “Be”. To meditate each day. In January, I meditated every morning for about 10 minutes depending on the length of my preferred guided meditation length. I did my meditation after my yoga practice so I was awake enough not to fall asleep. I got myself a meditation cushion with back support which has been good support and I’ve been able to really get into the flow this month. I also sprinkled in some additional meditations during the month when I needed to give my mind a break.

How do I feel? GREAT! I know. I know. It’s getting repetitive, but it’s the truth. I’ve had a number of stressful situations this month at work and they sometimes got me a bit off kilter, but I was able to use meditation to recalibrate myself and my priorities each time.

#4 Intention: Create

My fourth 2022 Intention was to “Create”. To write and or create art each day. In January, I wrote every day at least once and often created an illustration as well. I participated in a blogging event called #bloganuary that provided a writing prompt every day. Here’s a recap. In total, I posted 48 times in January on my blog. I also started to try to learn how to sketch this month and spent a lot of time working on basic skills.

How do I feel? Inspired! (Thought I was going to say great, didn’t you?). There is nothing like creating something from nothing. I love it. I also moved my blog onto WordPress this month which allowed for much more interaction via comments, which I found very rewarding and motivating.


Well there they are. My 2022 January reflections. I’m feeling very positive about my intentions and I don’t have any adjustments to make at this time. I do want to get a smart exercise bike so I can do some more cardio besides walking (especially when the weather is not cooperative). I’m waiting for my annual bonus to come in then will make the splurge.

With #bloganuary over, I’m not sure how I will approach February yet for the blog. I’m open to posting daily again if I’m inspired (if you’re aware of any February daily prompts, please let me know). But I can always write and draw for myself without feeling the need to post. Posting and getting some feedback and interaction is a bonus, but the true value is in the creating.

How about you?

Be well,

Monty


2022 Intentions

Originally posted 31 December 2021 on Monty’s Scribbles

2022 Intentions

First of all let’s address my language choice. I’m specifically avoiding the word “resolution”. I don’t know if an English major would agree with me, but for me “resolutions” are commitments that are destined to be broken. And once broken they hold no more meaning. Especially when you tie it to New Years. It’s been many years since I made any specific New Years Resolutions but when I did I inevitably failed to keep them and felt guilty about it. I’m not interested creating new ways to feel bad about myself. Instead, I’m writing out my “intentions”. As in the behaviors and attitudes that I intend to promote and champion within myself each day.  The intent is to do (be) my best in any given day…in any given moment. If I find it difficult to be my best one day, then the next day is a fresh opportunity. In fact, why wait for tomorrow? The moment is now. Missed a morning meditation? Why not throw in an evening one? There are no rules. No broken promises. Just good intentions.

#1 Intention: Rise and Shine

I’m a morning person and I’m tired of sleeping through my best part of the day. I almost always wake up in the early morning hours and depending on my mood I either role over and go back to a restless sleep (when feeling negative or low) or I get up and start my day (when feeling positive). If I roll over and stay in bed I inevitably have low energy and a negative mood the whole day. If I get up, I usually have a few good hours if not a fully productive day. I know this well yet I’m frequently making the choice to have a bad day. Especially during the colder, winter days. My first 2022 Intention is to ”Rise and Shine”. To get up when I (first) wake up.  Given my normal sleep pattern, I expect this to be something like the “5 a.m. club”, but less rigid. 

#2 Intention: Move

This is another one that if I just do what makes me feel good then I will…feel good. Funny how that works, isn’t it? Physical movement or exercise may not always feel good in the moment but it always pays off in the end. I’d gotten away from exercise over the years due to severe chronic pain (migraines) which often worsened during exercise, but I’ve paid a price for this in my energy level and mood. More recently I’ve found that I can do low impact types of exercise even with a headache (and luckily, or more accurately due to some hard mind-body work, I’ve suffered much less pain lately so it’s less of an issue). I’ve fallen off the movement wagon of late, however, and find myself constantly tired because of it. So my second 2022 Intention is to “Move”. To get my body moving daily whether it be doing yoga, or taking a walk, or going for a bike ride or swim it’s all good. The idea here is whether I feel fresh or tired, I‘ll choose to move.

#3 Intention: Be

If there is anything I’ve learned from my journey to overcome living with chronic pain it’s the power of “being present”, i.e. mindfulness. Feeling stressed or anxious about the future? Guilty about the past? There is no need when your living in the present. Easier said then done. Sure. But it’s not about perfection. Just making the effort to be present has it’s value. Mindfulness meditation has been a big part of my recovery from chronic pain. I say that yet I’ve become lax in my routine. Once again I know I will feel better if I do it, but I haven’t been. At least not as regularly as I need to. So my third 2022 Intention is to “Be”. To meditate each day. My preference is in the morning, but  hey, no time is better than the present.

#4 Intention: Create

This is one that is less intuitive. At least it was for me until recently. I didn’t start to creatively write and do visual arts until my 47th year – it was the beginning of the pandemic and suddenly I found myself with extra time and pent-up brain power  that was usually used (wasted?) at work. I took to writing. Then to drawing. I made it a daily routine. I published five books within a year. I was flourishing. But in a story as old as the last intention, this was another practice that I started to lag on. Until a week or so ago it had been months since I’d written creatively.  But when I write and draw I feel good. It’s a way for me to express myself – to get my feelings out of my brain. To reflect on life and appreciate it more. It’s also a way for me to connect with others. Through sharing my writing and art I engage more with the world around me. I’m happier. So my fourth 2022 Intention is to “Create”. To write and or create art each day. There is no word count or image targets. Just create. Anything.


Well there they are. My 2022 intentions. I’d kick them off on New Years Day, but why wait? Now is just a good as ever.

How about you?

Be well,

Monty