Tag Archives: Happily Lost With Cece

April: Mindful Media month

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Welcome to month 3 of The Monthly Mindfulness Community Series! Before I get into our theme for this month, I wanted to share a few notable takeaways from our community members during March, our month of mindful communication. During our mindful communication month, prompts covered both self-talk and communication with others. I also shared a podcast about the throat chakra, an article with 4 tips for mindful communication, and a podcast about altering your self talk.

I heard from one community member about a moment of mindfulness she had during a conversation with a friend. Here’s what she told me:

So after listening to the podcast about the throat chakra, I was talking to a friend who has told me before that I over think things. I tend to blow it off when he says it, like ‘I know better who I am and his comment doesn’t really matter to me’ so I just usually squash it/resist it/defend instantly. But this time, I was quiet, I let that truth, his truth prevail with no defensiveness. The results were brilliant. I saw that I needed to calm my mind and really think about what I was trying to get a across before I spoke. I even chose after that not to speak. And I found him paying more attention to the content of what I was saying the next time I spoke and I was sensitive to his defensiveness and also more willing to let go of convincing each other of anything if it we weren’t getting there. THANK YOU!

At the end of each month, I put out the prompt ‘This month I have noticed…’ to the Monthly Mindfulness Community. This gives us a way to reflect on the month and to recognize patterns we’ve seen, which is the first step in increasing our mindfulness. One community member shared the following on that final prompt for our mindful communication month:

Since I have always felt like I talk more than I listen, I have been trying the zipper trick [imagining you have a zipper over your mouth during conversations, to be more mindful before responding], and it is a good reminder to actively listen before I respond. I have also been paying attention to my inner dialogue when something feels overwhelming, and a couple times I have written down whatever is on a loop in my head, and that seems to at least slow the train. I haven’t gotten to it this month, but the other thing I want to focus on is my tone of voice. I think I sometimes sound irritated, not necessarily as a result of the conversation I’m having, but just because of my stress level in general.

After spending a month focusing on communication, I hope that much of what community members learned can translate into our theme for April: Mindful Media.

We use media in so many ways, so many times each day. We use it to connect, to consume news, to express opinions and ideas. And- I think we all know it- it can be pretty easy to be mindless in our use of media. So, this month, we are going to tune into what media looks like in our daily lives.

Our first prompt this month follows the theme of the first two months. We always spend the first week of each theme tuning into our own personal habits, tendencies and patterns. Our prompt this week is:

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As we move through our month of mindful media, we’ll do some Spring cleaning on our social media sites, tune into how we feel when we click out of a social media site and what our ‘follows’ are doing for us, and more 🙂

Are you interested in receiving a weekly prompt from me around each month’s mindfulness theme, connecting with others in the community, and having access to all of our prompts so far? Do you want to get your thoughts rolling further by checking out podcasts and articles on each theme, and completing some ‘mini-challenges’ to increase your mindfulness?

If so, come and join The Monthly Mindfulness Community!

Click here to learn more, and remember, it’s:

  • Free
  • One email per week, and completely self-paced
  • A learning experience, and a sharing experience if you choose to join discussions
  • Meant to help you learn little tips and tricks to increase mindfulness in various aspects of everyday life, like communication, self-care, and media use.

Click here to join The Monthly Mindfulness Community!

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February: Mindful Self-Care Introduction

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Welcome to the first post of The Monthly Mindfulness Community Series!

We’re starting our series by focusing on the foundation from which we will build our exploration of mindfulness in various aspects of daily life. This foundation is self-care.

When we think about building a house, we know that it will soon fall down if the foundation isn’t solid. When we think about cultivating plants, we know that they will never thrive if we don’t tend to the roots.

The same goes for us as humans, right? Think about how much more likely it is to speak or act mindlessly- without really thinking- if you are run down, stressed, and frustrated. When our foundation is crumbling, everything that sits atop that foundation begins to crumble too.

This month, we are going to take a look at what self-care means to us, what it looks like for each of us, and how we incorporate it into daily life. We’ll work to make sure that our self-care is accessible to us daily, in a number of small practices throughout the day.

Take a look at our first prompt of the series. Feel free to use this prompt for journaling, thinking, discussion, or any other manner that serves you.

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Consider trying the following exercises to help you tap into your instincts about what self-care means for you. I think this could be especially helpful if the prompt feels a little too vague for you.

When you take time out of your day for self-care, thank yourself afterwards. I began by using the phrase ‘Thank you for taking this time for you.’ After time, pay attention to whether more crops up in your mind to follow this statement. For example, I always thank myself after a yoga practice and after some time, without me trying to form this specific form of thanks, I realized I was telling myself ‘Thanks for taking this time to honor your one and only body and mind.’ From giving myself the opportunity to give thanks from a clear head space, I discovered, instinctively, what that part of my self-care practice meant to me. For me, this took time to become clear, but it started with the simple act of thanking myself for taking time for me.

Perhaps counter-intuitive, try giving up  your self-care for a couple of days. This may help you realize which aspects are the most important, as well as what you feel is missing when you don’t have that self-care practice.

On a personal note, my month of refocusing and rebooting my self-care practice is starting after about 2 months of travel, and as I return home to the United States after being away for almost 2 and a half years. In fact, as you read this, I am on a plane home! I am so excited to be exploring this topic with a community. Whether you all are facing big changes, little changes, or staying steady in your day-to-day, I believe this is one of the most important elements in moving toward a more mindful life.

Community members, you all should have received a Welcome email from me with our themes for the year, and the first February email, which includes a self-care accountability tool that I love! If you haven’t seen these, please let me know by sending an email to happilyherewithcece@gmail.com. Make sure you add that email to your contacts to avoid the messages going to junk mail, and request to join the Happily Here Monthly Mindfulness Community group on Facebook as we start discussions!

This month, community members can look forward to receiving a self-care accountability tool from me, a link to one of my favorite podcast episodes on this theme, and more!

Join this interactive, peer-based, learning community to receive a weekly prompt and additional resources from me, as well as have access to community discussions around our prompts and themes.

Click here to enter your email and join us!

The Monthly Mindfulness Community Series is a blog series, as well as an interactive, peer-based learning community, centered around mindfulness in various aspects of our daily life. Click here for more details about this series.

 

Cambodia: Feeling Ghosts

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We are on the grounds of a high school, one that looks like many other high schools that we’ve seen in developing countries: a few buildings facing a central courtyard area, basic brick and cement, barren classrooms on two levels, a wall surrounding the complex Outside of the wall motos buzz, horns honk, people on the street yell to one another. It could be any city street anywhere, but the barbed wire on the wall, spilling over like frozen, threatening tumbleweeds, are the first indication that it is not.

This is no longer a high school. It is the remains of the S-21 prison grounds, one of many such complexes used by Cambodia’s Khmer-Rouge in the 1970’s. The Khmer-Rouge was a wing of the Communist Party of Kampuchea (Cambodia) and were responsible for the killing of 2 million people in the four years that they ruled. The Khmer-Rouge drove people from cities- like Pnomh Penh, where S-21 is- to work on communal farms. Many of these people died of heat stroke, starvation, exhaustion, and a number of other conditions.

The people we learn the most about during our informative, self-guided audio tour through S-21 are the people that were imprisoned there for being intellectuals. To be honest, the complexities of what happened in Cambodia in these few short years is new knowledge for me.

The tour through S-21conjures ghosts. The old classrooms in Building A were used as rooms for administering various forms of torture. If they choose to enter, visitors see the blood stains on the floors and walls, by now more than 40 years old. The original bed frames and chamber pots remain, and each room holds a picture of one its former occupants as they were during their time at S-21. Outside of building A are the few graves of victim’s whose bodies were recovered.

In Building B, the classrooms were converted to crude, brick cells about 5 feet by 5 feet. When I entered, I could feel the prisoners here. I ran my fingers over the bricks, and quickly pulled away in a sort of shock at realizing that this all remains as it was when innocent people were held here; prisoners of the Khmer-Rouge touched the same walls that my fingers now grazed.

Past the cells and into Building C are countless display cases full of mugshots of the inhabitants of the prison, men, women and children alike. Mixed in are pictures of the the Khmer-Rouge higher-ups. Pol Pot, the leader, is pictured in glasses; he ordered many to be killed because of their glasses and the subsequent assumption that those who wear glasses are intellectuals.

Beyond that, Building D holds displays and paintings-done by a survivor- of torture tools and methods. And finally, a shelf of skulls. The magnitude, the human side, the reality of this war finally sets in.

I find myself rushing through the last rooms in utter disbelief.

I am in disbelief that so much remains as it was, the record-keeping of communist leader proving his efforts for the advancement of his party.

I am in disbelief that humans can do these things to other humans.

I am in disbelief that we always say the world will never let it happen again, but it does: Nazi Germany, the Khmer -Rouge, Rwanda.

I am in disbelief that I never learned about this war in school. In fact, it hits me, I don’t recall one ocassion in school when we learned about a war that wasn’t centered around developed nations and- for lack of more eloquent phrasing-white people.

I knew almost nothing of Robert Mugabe and the land takeovers before I moved to Mozambique and had conversations with the Zimbabweans living there that were driven from their country.

I had only once heard of Mozambique’s decades of war, and that from a Mozambican who was studying at my university.

I knew so little about colonialism and how deep the effects really run and how long they last for those colonized. This I felt in Mozambique too, and now I feel it here in Southeast Asia.

I was blown away by the complexities of South Africa when we were searching for our lodging there and asked directions. ‘Is the owner white or black?’ we were asked. ‘If white the house will be on that side of the street, if black it will be on the other side.’

I learned of the 1980’s Contras in Nicaragua when we ate dinner in a military airplane turned sundowner restaurant in Costa Rica

And sitting on a bench in the S-21 prison courtyard, imagining students there and then innocent victims of civil war and genocide, I bowed my head in sadness for the Khmer people that endured their war in the 1970’s and for the American involvement in this region- known as The Secret War during the years that the U.S. Was in Vietnam- of which I knew nothing about.

The realization of how little I know always creeps up in new places. I can read books, watch documentaries, and devour news. I can talk to people. I can listen to people. I can learn so much invaluable information in these ways. But I become only more and more convinced that there is no better way to learn about the world than to go to somewhere unfamiliar to me, be among its people, and to feel its ghosts.

Thanks Readers, and What’s New for 2018

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Hello lovely readers. Happily Lost is now in it’s 6th year, and it’s become a bit of an end-of-year tradition to check in with my stats from the year one last time. I love to see how many of you have read the blog each year and which posts were your favorites. I also LOVE seeing how many countries Happily Lost was read in each year… this always blows me away.

In 2017 Happily Lost had 5,601 views from 3,390 readers in 89 different countries (including 1 I’ve never heard of 🙂 ). Your top 5 favorite posts were Recipe Review: Thai Curry Soup (Noodles and Company Copycat (this is definitely the post that keeps on giving…hundreds of views year after year!), Health in the Peace Corps and Why I did 100 Days of Yoga, The Heart of A Mozambican, After the R: How Was Leaving and Sunday Snapshot: Parabens Moz 25.

Thanks to all of you who read in 2017! No matter where I go, sharing my own stories and reading those of others is one of my greatest pleasures. During these past 2 years, writing during Peace Corps service from rural Mozambique, my readership continued to grow steadily. I’ll be heading back to the States in a month, and I hope you’ll stick with me through the changes for a truly Happily Lost 2018. Here’s what I’ve got lined up for you!

Check out the Travel section to be Happily Lost Around the World:

Check out the Trails section to be Happily Lost Outside:

  • Adventures in our beloved home mountains..as long as we can still breathe at such eleveation. Colorado, we’re comin’ for you!
  • Other outdoor fun TBD. We’re hoping to spend some time with our neighbors, New Mexico and Utah. And perhaps mosey over to Arizona, California, and Oregon.

Check out the Our Table section to be Happily Lost in the Kitchen:

  • A recipe index with all past recipes organized by meal, as well as alphabetically, so you can follow along more easily and feed your body and soul to fuel your adventures too!
  • Culinary creations that are minmalist and truly from-scratch- we’re talking tomatoes, onions, spices> spaghetti sauce and flour, water, oil > tortillas- as I try to stick to the clean diet we had in Mozambique.

Happily Here-** Coming Soon**

  • The Monthly Mindfulness Series, in which I will be featuring a new mindfulness theme each month. I am so excited about this new, year-long series: exploring a topic that I have touched on here in the Just Talk section, and have grown more and more curious about, experimenting with podcasts/audio posts for the first time, and facilitating an interactive, peer-based, virtaul learning community for you lovely readers that choose to sign up and join in. Look for a post at the end of this month with more details about this series.

Happily Lost Snapshots:

If you’re not already, follow @happilylostwithcece on Instagram for more snapshots and mini-stories from all of the Happily Lost categories.

Looking forward to getting happily lost in 2018, and I hope you are too.

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100 Days of Moz

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Well, I don’t think I quite believe it myself, but today marks the beginning of our last 100 days as Peace Corps Volunteers in Mozambique. The time is so short, but still there is a lot to be done, and more than that even, just a lot to be soaked up.

In the next 100 days we will complete our third trimester at school, and participate in some fun, festive holidays, like culture week and teacher’s day. I will move into the health-centered curriculum with my REDES girls group, and wrap up our year together with an end of year celebration, as well as prepare my lovely counterpart Marizia to run a group on her own wherever she goes after graduation at the end of this year. I have a few loose ends at the library- finishing a policy and procedures manual, leveling new books. And we’ll keep on enjoying our favorite piece of work each week: Wednesday evening Adult English Club.

More than all these tasks to be completed, though, we are focusing on spending time with the people in our community that we have come to love so much, whether that means visiting their families, having them over for dinner, taking a bit more time than usual to chit chat, or including them all in our eventual going-away party.

I expect the next 100 days to be a bit of a blur, really. Especially considering that I am sitting here wondering where the last two years of Peace Corps have gone. So, I am committing to documenting these next 100 days with images, to give you snapshots into our day-to-day lives before they change drastically, and to give ourselves something solid to look back on after it flies by.

You can find this photo series on my newly-created Instagram: happilylostwithcece, under #100daysofmoz.  And you can look for a bit more story to accompany the images that fall on Sundays, as I will post them in my Sunday Snapshot post here on the blog as well.

Looking forward to sharing these final 100 days with you!

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